§ SIR J. GRAHAM
was bound, in accordance with the strict Orders of the House, to state that he could not, without the permission of the House, make the Motion which he was about to move. The strict rule of the House was this—that on Mondays and Fridays Orders of the Day should have precedence of notices of Motion. It was not possible, then, for him, without its permission, to make the Motion that a certain Bill—the Protection of Life (Ireland) Bill, should be read a first time. He had therefore to move—That the Orders of the Day be now read, for the purpose of their being postponed until after the Motion for reading the Protection of Life (Ireland) Bill a first time, of which Notice has been given.
§ SIR W. SOMERVILLE
rose to move that all the words after the word "being" be omitted from the Motion. He wished that the Motion of the right hon. Baronet should be negatived, and the Orders of the Day be now read, in order to be proceeded with. In doing so it was not necessary for him to trouble the House at great length. It was not his wish to embarrass Her Majesty's Government; but it was his wish to call the attention of the House to the great inconvenience that must be occasioned by postponing a measure which had now occupied a great length of time, which had absorbed much of their attention, in which were involved the hopes and the wishes of the people of England, and identified with which, he might justly and truly say, were the interests of this great Empire. Such a measure as that, for the settlement of which they were all anxious, was now before them; and the question they had to ask themselves was this, ought it to be postponed, in order that the Government might bring forward a Bill, certain to produce a long, an exciting, and an exasperating debate—to bring forward a Bill, and to 289 agitate a subject, which it was not the intention of the Government to press at the present moment; but which was now only to be moved for the purpose of its being postponed to a future day? It was not, he thought, necessary for him to enlarge upon the great inconvenience that must be suffered from the postponement of the Corn Bill. None, he believed, could be more aware of the fact—no body of men could be more alive to this inconvenience than Her Majesty's Government—no one could be more conscious of it than the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman had presented petitions to that House deprecating delay. These petitions were couched in the most earnest language—they came from most influential bodies of men—they all spoke in the same tone—and they all called upon that House to interpose in the progress of the measures of the Government no unnecessary delay. It was not, he could assure the House, that in England alone this evil was felt. He himself had received communications, and some of them from parties who were not favourable to the policy of the Government, but still who earnestly requested of that House to come to some decision upon the measures of the Government, because whilst they were undecided, and whilst the fate of the Corn Bill was unknown, commerce was arrested, trade was at a stand, and the financial operations of the country were embarrassed. It was even said, that unless a speedy decision was come to, the evils now suffered must be greatly aggravated, and the embarrassments now experienced greatly extended. When all saw this and all acknowledged this, it was not necessary for him to enlarge upon the evils of postponement. But then he should be told, that in making this Motion he was doing that which was unusual, opposing the first reading of a Bill that had come down from the Lords—that to do this was not in accordance with Parliamentary usage; but his answer to such an objection was, that there were occasions when they could not listen to these formal rules of Parliamentary usage. It was undoubtedly competent for any Member of that House to object to the first reading of any Bill; and this was a Bill, the enactments of which were of a strict and stringent nature, operating to the suspension of the Constitution; and if a Member were to be deprived of the opportunity of resisting a measure with such an object—if he were not on the very first opportunity to dissent 290 from it, then there never would be a time when a Member of Parliament could with propriety dissent from the first reading of any Bill. Why, he asked, were they now called upon to discuss this Bill? Why, if the Government were really in earnest in their proceeding with such a Bill, did they delay so long in presenting it to the Legislature? Why, if it were of paramount importance, have hesitated with it—why, if it were of urgent necessity, have dallied with it? Why were they so tardy, and why so pressing? He wished to be allowed to call the attention of the House to the mode and manner in which this Irish measure had been brought forward. It might be that some of his fellow countrymen really thought that transporting men for being out of their homes at night would arrest the arm of the assassin; but then he must say, that such of his countrymen who thought so, had just cause to complain of Her Majesty's Government. On the 22nd January Her Majesty, in Her Speech from the Throne, called the attention of the House to the state of Ireland and the unfortunate prevalence of acts of assassination there. Was it not, then, the first duty of the Government to take measures for the preservation and safety of life in Ireland? And, supposing that the Government was sincere in its intention, and that they believed this Bill could effect so desirable a purpose, ought they to have lost a single day without bringing it forward? Was the Bill produced the first week of the sitting of Parliament? No. Was it brought forward in the first fortnight? No. Was it proceeded with in the first three weeks? Not at all. Nearly a month had elapsed before they came forward with a Bill to provide for the safety of life in Ireland. Nearly a month had elapsed before any Irish Bill obtained a first reading in the House of Lords. And when it was introduced, was there any haste, any eagerness exhibited by Her Majesty's Ministers to go on with it? No, not at all. The Bill was not introduced until the 16th of February, and it did not pass the House of Lords until the 13th of March; and there they were now, in the House of Commons, on the 30th of March, and its first reading was only about to be moved? Was there, when they saw such a course pursued, anything uncharitable in surmising, either that the Government was not sincere in proposing this measure, or they did not hope for any beneficial effect from it? Why then was the House 291 called upon to interpose with such a measure as this; and why were they forced to make it the occasion of delay to another and a more important measure? The Irish Members could not consent to the first reading. Why, then, were they forced despite of themselves to enter into these debates? Why were they placed by the Government in this disagreeable dilemma? Why compelled to do that which must inevitably delay another measure, and one in which were concentrated the hopes and on which dwelt the wishes and rested the expectations of the people of England? He deeply regretted that the Irish Members were obliged to take this course; he could assure the English people that this interposition was not of the seeking of the Irish Members—that it was forced upon them, and he trusted that the course they now pursued would not be mistaken when they had given such evidence of their willingness to forward the Corn Bill. If that Corn Bill were now to be postponed for some weeks, the fault rested, not on them, but solely on the conduct of the Government. The Irish Members had supported the Corn Bill—they wished to promote its passing; but when another Bill was interposed, they were compelled to object to that Bill, and thus unwillingly to delay the Corn Bill, of which they had already recorded their approval, And now, he wished to address a few words to the protectionist party in that House, and to his noble Friend (Lord George Bentick) the leader of that party. He was aware that his noble Friend had laid great stress, in the few words he had addressed to that House upon this subject, as to the peculiar importance of the Corn Bill; and he know that there might be many Gentlemen of his noble Friend's party, who, not being anxious, like many Members on his (the Opposition) side of the House, for the speedy settlement of the Corn Bill, might be inclined on this occasion to give their support to the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) in the hope of further postponing the Corn Bill. If he understood what his noble Friend had said the other night, he apprehended that his noble Friend was on this occasion inclined to support Her Majesty's Government, if they proved themselves really anxious for the present measure, by pressing it through the House. But what Government was now doing was not pressing the measure forward. All that the Government was doing was making a Motion pro formâ— 292 playing fast and loose—reading the Bill to-night, and then not bringing it up for some weeks, until the Corn Bill had passed through all its stages. Might he then presume, on this occasion, to intreat of his noble Friend to consider the position in which he was placed? The Government was now about to do that very thing which his noble Friend had deprecated. They were about to move, pro formâ, the first reading, to take no further steps for some weeks, but to press forward another Bill. This he would say was no light matter, in which the party of his noble Friend were called upon to act. It was well before they moved that they considered what they did, and what must be its consequences. It was clear that if they now voted with the right hon. Gentleman they did so merely for the sake of postponing the Corn Bill, and not for the sake of helping the Government to pass this measure. He hoped that his noble Friend would not do that which must bring him and his party in collision with the Irish nation—that he would not seek to make a political convenience of it, nor for a party purpose trifle with the feelings of the Irish people. It was possible that his noble Friend and his party at we very distant period might have the government of Ireland intrusted to them. Yes; it might be so; and therefore it was that he called upon his noble Friend to weigh the position in which he was placed. He had confidence in the noble Lord that he would not, for the sake of postponing one measure, give his vote in support of another, and that the sole reason for his vote would be that it was in accordance with the just claim which Government might have upon him for his support. Having said thus much it was not necessary for him to trespass longer upon the attention of the House. It would be better, he was convinced, for all parties, that the Irish Bill should not now be proceeded with. Its discussion, at this moment, could only give rise to angry and exasperating debates. Better, he said, for all parties, that these should not be provoked; and he might be allowed to say it would be better for the Government itself that it should be postponed until they could produce other measures more worthy of general support. Let the Government, he said, take advantage of the delay, and let them place on the Table of the House their other Irish measures. Let them, for they had abundance of time to do so, place before them that Bill, which they said 293 they had in preparation, a Landlord and Tenant Bill. Let them place, too, before the House a Franchise Bill. Let them place on the Table a Bill for the amendment of the Municipal Corporations Bill. Let them do that, and then seek for a support which they might hope from those who would not sanction this when severed from every measure of a conciliatory character. Let the Government, he said, prove that their attention was fixed upon the welfare of the Irish people—that they sought not alone to punish the evil-doer, but that he who acted well was worthy of consideration. Let them have not merely an enactment of a severe nature, but also enactments tending to the well-being of the people, and calculated to produce peace, happiness, and security throughout the Empire. He had endeavoured to avoid every irritating topic. He had thus addressed the Government and the House because he was actuated by the sincere conviction that the attempt now to go on with this Bill would be destructive to the best interests of the country; and he could not help thinking that if the Government were anxious to go on with the Corn Bill—and he was sure they were—they would avoid the debate which a persistance in their Motion must produce. He therefore would negative the Motion made by the right hon. Baronet, and say that the Orders of the Day should not be postponed.
MR. SMITH O'BRIEN
, in seconding the Motion, said he was anxious to take the earliest opportunity of addressing the House, in the hope—and he feared it was a vain hope—that by appealing to the right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury bench, they might be induced not to persevere in their present course, with the idle expectation they could succeed in it. They were now about to enter on a contest which would continue for months—a contest, he said, which the Members for Ireland wished to avoid; but which, when once forced upon them, he could assure those who listened to him, that no inconsiderable portion of the Irish Members were determined to take advantage of every form that House permitted, and that, too, to defeat a Bill which they believed would have no other effect than to exasperate Ireland without suppressing a single crime. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman opposite to remember that the population of Ireland were starving, and that they should rather encourage Members to return to 294 their homes for the purpose of alleviating the distress of the people, than to keep them, interposing as far as they could, by every means in their power, in that House, to defeat a Bill, such as that now before them; or if there were no use in making such an appeal to the Government, then let him resort to one of another kind. Let him remind the right hon. Gentleman that he had not in that House more than 120 Members to support him; and he wished to know whether, with such an inconsiderable segment of a party, and with a formidable majority in that House against him, he was to venture forcing upon them such a measure as this? Did the right hon. Gentleman calculate on the support of those who sat on the same side of the House with him, and yet were opposed to him? And if he did, what must be the nature of that support? When the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Young) was destined to go down to posterity as "the disavowed plenipotentiary," who was to be found willing again to undertake the mission of patching up a truce, and seeking a convention between the right hon. Gentleman and that party? He was not present when the terms of the treaty were exposed; but he understood the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, that if the Government introduced this measure before Easter, then the noble Lord would consider it wise, proper, and expedient; but if after Easter, then the complexion and character of the Bill were, in the noble Lord's judgment, utterly transformed, and it was declared to be utterly untenable and unconstitutional. Was that the kind of support on which the Government calculated for passing this measure? As to the Whigs, he did not know what part they meant to take on this question; but if they followed the advice of the Lord Chief Justice of England, he must hope that they would assist the Irish Members in defeating such a measure as this. And now he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman (Sir B. Peel), whether he would allow the Irish Members to be dragged into a contest which they were willing to avoid, and which yet must afford to them the most full opportunity of exposing every portion of the misgovernment of the right hon. Gentleman and his party? And then if the right hon. Gentleman succeeded, and it could only be at the end of long and protracted Session, he believed that the only result would be to afford to them who were denounced as agitators the strongest possible arguments. He did not 295 wish to use any irritating or angry topic; but, in supporting the Motion of his hon. Friend, he begged leave to protest against the example that was given by the Ministers in invading the privileges of that House, and in attempting to interfere with its regular proceedings. According to the Standing Orders of that House, the Monday's and Friday's Orders of the Day should take precedence of Motions; and yet the Ministers called on the House to set aside its Standing Orders to proceed with this measure. Such a course fully justified the Irish Members in moving repeated adjournments for the purpose of defeating the measure.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
said: I really had hoped, Sir, that the course I took in the commencement of this preliminary discussion, would have exculpated me from the last accusation made by the hon. Member for Limerick, that I have shown any disrespect to the orders of this House; for I stated fully and explicitly to the House, that it is only by their favour that I can be enabled to make my Motion. I dissembled nothing—I distinctly stated the difficulty—and I laid before the House my reason for making this preliminary Motion. I am aware that I shall experience great difficulty in bringing before the House the particular Motion which I am anxious to submit to its consideration with as little delay as possible, except by taking the course which I now ask the House to sanction. I by no means deny the competency of this House to refuse to give a first reading to any Bill sent down from the other House; it is competent for this House to refuse to read a first time any Bill sent down to it; but on referring to the Journals, and looking at each case, it will be found that there are very few examples in which such a course has been adopted. In the other House it is open to any Member, as a matter of pure right, to lay upon the Table of that House any Bill which such Member may think proper to introduce. No leave is required, and, as a matter of course, the Bill is read a first time; and although here our Orders are different, and it is necessary for a Member of this House to obtain leave before he can introduce a Bill, yet the ordinary course, and almost the invariable rule, when a Bill comes from the other House relating to a subject the matter of which is well known, is, to read the Bill a first time at once. With the single instance of the Coercion Bill of 1833, there is not, I believe, another 296 exception to that rule. It is not possible however, to make the first reading of a Bil coming from the Lords an Order of the Day, without making a Motion for that purpose. Circumstances, therefore, have driven me to the necessity of submitting this preliminary Motion; and I assure hon. Gentlemen, after the delay which has already taken place, owing to the long discussions on the Resolutions relating to Corn, and on the second reading of the Corn Bill, the time has arrived when, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, with reference to the peace of the country, and with reference to the security of life and property in Ireland, it has become indispensably necessary that the opinion of this House should be taken upon the principle of the measure for the better security of life, sent down from the other House of Parliament by large majorities. Now, the hon. Baronet the Member for Drogheda has stated that there has been culpable neglect in introducing this Bill into Parliament, after the announcement made by Her Majesty in the Speech from the Throne at the commencement of the Session. Sir, it would be in vain to dissemble with the House—at all events I will not attempt to dissemble—the extreme difficulty in which Her Majesty's Government are placed at this particular moment. I did think it a matter of primary and paramount importance, considering the condition of Ireland, and taking also into consideration the general reasons for an alteration of the Corn Laws, that with the least possible delay, and at the commencement of the Session, the policy of the Government should be announced as to the existing law for the importation of corn. The effect of that announcement, undoubtedly, was to derange the Irish Government, and to prevent us from having the full assistance of those who had the conduct and charge of affairs in that country. For reasons which it is unnecessary now to enumerate, we lost the assistance of my right hon. Friend the Irish Secretary, under whose immediate advice in Ireland this Bill had been prepared; and his successor, the present Secretary for Ireland, a noble Friend of mine, is not now a Member of this House. I do not lay any great stress on these events; but still our decision with respect to the Corn Laws did lead to some delay in introducing the Bill, which I am now anxious to have read a first time, into the other House of Parliament. I think Parliament met at the end of January, and 297 this Bill was introduced into the other House early in February. The question then is asked, whether the Government is sincere in wishing to pass this Bill? I have stated that the primary measure which, in our opinion, ought to be passed, is the Corn Law. I have also stated our opinion that it is absolutely necessary that the further stages of that Bill should be pressed with the least possible delay; but though it is of primary importance that the Corn Bill should, with the least possible delay, obtain the sanction of this House, still, on the other hand, we do attach immense importance to the expression of the opinion of this House on the Bill to protect life in Ireland which has come down from the other House. We conceive that the moral effect of the adoption of the principle of this Bill, by giving to it a first reading, will be of inestimable value in aid of its object—to give greater security for life in Ireland; and, on the other hand, we are satisfied that if, upon this Bill, which has received the sanction of the other House, which we know from the Votes has been sent down to us by large majorities, this House, by any combination of parties, should by a large majority decide not even to entertain it, the moral effect of such a course of proceeding will be most mischievous to Ireland. Any step more fatal to the peace, more injurious to the safety, and more fatal to the maintenance of order and the predominance of the law, cannot well be taken. I am certainly aware of the fact, which the hon. Gentleman the Member for the county of Limerick has advanced, that in the present state of parties in this House, the declared adherents of the Government are a small minority; but while we are the servants of Her Majesty, charged with the conduct of public affairs, the accumulation of difficulties to which he has adverted, and the situation in which we are placed, prescribe to us only one course, which we ought to pursue—steadily and perseveringly, and to the best of our judgment to press on the adoption of Parliament the measures which we believe to be conducive to the public safety and to the public good. If it should be the opinion of the House that the course we are taking is inconsistent with that duty and inconsistent with public safety, there is an equally plain course which the majority can take to give expression to its opinion. But whilst we remain Her Majesty's servants, I again repeat that, to the best of our judgment, we 298 will take that course which we believe the public safety and the public necessity demand. We are still of opinion, that the proceeding with the Corn Law ought not to be retarded by pressing the ulterior stages of this Bill; but, on the other hand, without the total and entire abandonment of this measure, it will not be possible longer to delay or postpone reading for the first time a Bill having the sanction of a large majority of the other House. If we fail to press the present Motion, our sincerity may be questioned; but I am satisfied, as much as I can be of any proposition, that it will not conduce to the real interests of Ireland to postpone the first reading of this Bill, and the decision of the question whether this House will entertain it. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the county of Limerick (Mr. W. S. O'Brien) has adopted a tone quite different from that of the hon. Baronet who moved the Amendment. The hon. Baronet the Member for Drogheda has urged only those considerations of policy on which it is my painful duty to differ from him; but the hon. Member for Limerick has threatened us with another course of operations; he has declared that he will use all the forms which the House will permit for the purpose of obstructing the progress of the Bill, even if the majority should determine to allow it to proceed. Again, I say to the hon. Member for Limerick, that, acting solely for the public good, we should be utterly unworthy of the public confidence if we yielded to his threat. If it be the pleasure of any Members of this House, whether they be individuals or a small body opposed to the progress of this measure, to use the forms of this House to obstruct the course we wish to pursue, I will not give my assent to any such proceeding; the responsibility will rest with those who have recourse to it; but the responsibility of the Ministry is to do our duty in consistency with the forms of this House, and, to the best of our power, to press upon the attention of the House this measure, with such facts and reasonings as I shall be able, with the pleasure of the House, to adduce. I crave to be permitted to state what, to the best of my judgment, is the necessity for this Bill; if that be allowed me, I think that I can lay evidence before you, which, appealing to your impartial judgment, and apart from party consideration, will influence your decision; and I repeat, that indefinitely to postpone hearing the case on 299 the part of the Government, and coming to a judgment upon it, will, in the present circumstances of Ireland, be attended with the most prejudicial effects. I have dissembled nothing—I have told the House what is the real state of the case. I am painfully aware of the position in which the Government is placed. We are equally sincere in our former determination and in our efforts to bring the Corn Law to an early and a satisfactory termination; but, on the other hand, we are anxious—I fear to express how earnestly anxious we are—for the adoption of a measure which the present condition of Ireland renders indispensably necessary. And now, having made this statement to the House, I leave it to the majority of the House to determine the course they will adopt; but my individual judgment will remain unshaken—that to refuse to hear the case of the Government, and to refuse to read this Bill a first time, will be most pernicious and injurious to the interests of the country.
§ MR. SHAW
said: I shall support the Motion of the right hon. Baronet to proceed with the first reading of the Bill. In the present lamentable insecurity of life, and person, and property in Ireland, I cannot refuse to an existing Government leave to proceed with a Bill which they, upon their responsibility, propose as calculated to mitigate that great evil. I confess that I am not very sanguine of the success of the measure. Nothing but an imperative necessity can justify the extra-constitutional powers the Bill confers; and if that imperative necessity exists, which I believe it does, then I agree with the hon. Baronet who has moved the Amendment (Sir William Somerville), that the Government should not have so long delayed the measure; and given reason to the public to doubt whether they were in earnest in considering it of paramount importance. In the House of Lords the Bill was delayed from the 22nd of January to the 13th of March; whereas the Whig Coercion Bill, in 1833, was passed between the 29th of January and the 22nd of February. Further, the Government should not have suffered the Bill to be mutilated as it has been in its passage through the House of Lords: in exceeding the limits of the law, they should have well considered the exigency—not asked for more than they required, and not have taken less. I also agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. S. O'Brien), that in the present weak condition of the Government, they 300 will want that moral weight which is necessary for the efficacy of such a measure. The Irish Members at the opposite side of the House will of course oppose them; and I observe that in their last great division, on Friday night, the Government had of their own supporters exactly seven Irish Members — three of the seven being in office. I, for my own part, believe that if the existing law had been administered with a steady and temperate firmness in Ireland, things would not have come to the unhappy pass they have. But I am of opinion, that from the commencement of the monster meetings and monster agitation to the present time, the law has not been so administered. On the contrary, the policy of the Government in Ireland has been for some years what is only now beginning to be seen on the English side of the water—a spirit of compromise—of spurious liberality—of want of reliance on the permanent principles of truth and justice — a passing over of the best and most competent men of their own party from unworthy fears—a tampering with an inferior class of the opposite party (for the higher would not listen to their overtures) from equally unworthy hopes—in short, a trading on the generosity of their friends and the meanness of their opponents, until the Government was left without the confidence or respect of any party in the country. I am not so unjust as to blame the so-called Irish Government for this state of things; it is allowed no independence of action. I lay the blame where it is justly due, at the door of that department in England, whose mere puppets the Irish Government was required to be. No doubt the Secretary of State for that department (Sir James Graham) will say that those remarks are dictated by disappointment on my part that I am not myself Secretary for Ireland. Now, upon that point, before I sit down, I will crave the kind attention of the House for a few minutes to listen to my answer to the unwarrantable attack that was made upon me on Friday night by the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham), when I had previously spoken in the debate, and therefore could not reply to it.
§ The SPEAKER
The right hon. Gentleman can only allude to a former debate, if permitted by the indulgence of the House.
§ MR. SHAW
continued: Sir, I am perfectly aware of that, and I throw myself entirely, but under the circumstances, 301 confidently, upon that indulgence. [Loud cheers, and cries of "Go on."] Well, then, I will commence by saying that, between the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) and me, there must be no special pleading—no quibbling about words; and if his attack meant anything, it meant this—that my present opposition to the Government was influenced by disappointment that I had not been able to job my office of Recorder of Dublin for the purpose of becoming Chief Secretary of Ireland. First, then, as regards even the colour of truth of that portion of the charge which relates to the arrangement of my present office, I will state what the facts were. When the Whig party introduced the Irish Corporation Bill, they had in it a clause providing that the office should remain in all respects as it then was until Parliament should otherwise arrange it. It had become after the passing of the Bill a most anomalous office—formerly in the gift of the corporation of Dublin, it then fell to the patronage of the Crown, but with none of the attributes of a judicial office presented to by the Crown, its income being made up partly by annual votes of Parliament—partly from the funds of the corporation, with which it was no longer connected—and partly by fees. When the Government was fixed in office in 1842, among many other Irish subjects that I was then in almost daily communication about with the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government (Sir R. Peel), I brought the state of that office under his consideration. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) asked me to put my plan on paper; I consulted the Irish law officers as to the most advantageous arrangement for the public, and then proposed a plan for the consolidation of several local, judicial, and other offices in Dublin, which would have effected a saving of between three and four thousand a year to the public; but also—and I am anxious to give the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) the full benefit of the admission—it would, with increased duties, have raised the salary of the Recorder, charged it on the Consolidated Fund, and provided a retiring allowance, under proper regulations—as was the case with every other judicial office in Ireland, including the assistant barristerships of counties. In doing this I was no humble suppliant for favour, and very sensible of the difference between my own position, as a private individual, and that of the Prime Minister; still upon that, as upon every 302 other occasion of our confidential communication, I felt myself, in the sense to which I am now referring, upon independent and equal terms. Well, the result was—having conferred with the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), with the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department (Sir J. Graham), confidentially as I thought—though I don't care if he publishes on every market cross in England everything I ever said to him—with Sir Thomas Fremantle and others, they said that, considering the patronage of the office was in the Government—that I was in the House of Commons—that Dr. Lushington and the Masters in Chancery had been recently excluded as judicial officers; they thought it would be inexpedient to raise a discussion on the subject. I concurred in that opinion—I never remonstrated—I never complained—I never felt the slightest annoyance; and from that moment—four years ago—to the present, it never cost me a thought. But now I come to the real gravamen of the charge; and that is, that my object and application was to obtain the Chief Secretaryship of Ireland, or some other office, for I will give the right hon. Baronet the amplest latitude. Now, if that had been true, I think the House will be of opinion—that it would have been inconsistent with all official etiquette, with the ordinary dealings between gentlemen; and above all, unworthy of a Minister of the Crown to divulge what in its nature must be an essentially confidential communication,—for the sake of producing a momentary impression against a political opponent in this House. Again, supposing it to be true, a high and generous mind, above such sordid influences over its own public conduct, would scarcely impute them to another. But what will the House think of the Minister and the man who could make such a charge—when, instead of its being true—I declare on my word of honour there is not from beginning to end one word of truth in it. I now make my appeal direct to the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government (Sir Robert Peel): he will excuse me for mentioning—he will feel that I am forced to it—all that ever passed between him and me on the subject of office. It was very short, and I think I can accurately state it. On the return of the right hon. Baronet from abroad, in the end of 1834, and on his assuming the reins of Government, I was in constant communication with him; and, at our first 303 interview after he arrived in this country, he asked me if there was any office I would accept. I at once, and unhesitatingly, said not, and assigned my reasons: that I would not take any judicial or other office which would exclude me from Parliament; that I preferred my present office and the representation of the University of Dublin; and that I could not take any political office, for I could not afford to give up the permanent office I held. From that time I was for many years in close and intimate communication with the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel.) I co-operated with him under some trying circumstances and painful difficulties of which he is not unaware; and now, with confidence, I ask the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) whether he believes I was ever actuated by a selfish or personal motive?—[Sir ROBERT PEEL, Hear.] But, be that as it may, I solemnly aver that from that conversation, in 1834, to the present day, I never spoke to the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) on the subject of office. I never, directly or indirectly, applied to any human being for office. I never suggested, or hinted at, or contemplated the office of Irish Secretary, or any other save the subordinate office which I now hold, and which is— enough for me,My bread and independency.And does the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) think that it did not degrade him—or, at all events, degrade the high office he holds—not in the heat of the moment—not under the irritation of a speech recently made; but after three days—premeditatedly — commencing an adjourned debate, at the calmest hour of the evening, to bring an accusation that had not in it the shadow of truth; a low vulgarism—in which the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) had not even the merit of originality, but had borrowed from a local party newspaper—and to sustain which, I utterly and indignantly defy him to produce the slightest tittle, the minutest atom of proof. The right hon. Baronet then complained that I, sitting behind the Government, knew that they were falling, and kicked them because they were falling. Now, I cannot well avoid sitting behind the Government—I am, after all, as near the gangway as I can go; and if the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) means that all Members at this side of the House who have retained their sentiments are either to change their seats or mince their words to gratify the taste of the right hon. 304 Baronet—the benches behind the Government—well thinned already—would soon be deserted indeed. That the Government is a falling Government, both in power and character, I lament to be obliged to believe; and furthermore, I am persuaded that the right hon. Baronet is the evil genius who is hurrying them to their catastrophe. The party to which the right hon. Gentleman formerly belonged, three years ago made a common prediction, which the late and the present adherents of this Government will soon unite to fulfil—that no Cabinet can long exist in England of which the right hon. Baronet is a Member. As to the kicking from behind—if that is the proper description which the right hon. Baronet gives the operation—I may remind the right hon. Baronet that last year, when he was not a Member of a falling Government, I performed the same operation as vigorously as I was able upon the right hon. Baronet; but I do not kick the Government because they are falling. Let the right hon. Baronet recollect that the taunt comes ill from him, for it is not I that have changed my opinions; it is not I that have deserted my principles. I, perhaps, feel too strongly, and I speak as I feel. The habit may sometimes be inconvenient; but I am not willing to unlearn it by becoming the disciple of the right hon. Baronet. The right hon. Baronet says he prefers my open hostility to my smouldering resentment. He may depend upon it that when I feel hostility I will always show it as openly and as fearlessly as I did on the occasion to which he referred. Resentment I never felt towards the Government, and, most of all, not towards the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government; far from it. I entertain for him (Sir R. Peel) personally unaffected respect; and, my sincerest sorrow is that he has fallen into the hands of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department. Finally, I can, with truth, assure that right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) that I do not regard him with either hostility or resentment. The feeling I have for him is not so dignified; but out of deference to the House I will forbear to express it. I cannot sufficiently thank the House for the indulgent attention with which they have heard me on a personal matter, with which I am very sorry that I have been obliged to trouble them; and I still more gratefully acknowledge the general murmur of disapprobation with which the other night they received the accusa- 305 tion of the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) against me, when, according to the rules of the House, I could not be heard in my own defence.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
I can assure the House that I shall strictly confine myself to explanation. The right hon. and learned Recorder of Dublin has complained that I took advantage of the interval of two or three days for preparing an elaborate attack against him; but, after the speech he has made, I will leave the House and country to judge of the fine judicial tone and temper he has displayed upon this occasion. But I said that I would confine myself to explanation, and there are two points to which I shall refer. The right hon. Gentleman said that I had preferred an accusation against him. [Mr. SHAW: An insinuation.] Then we have already parted with that word "accusation," and it is now reduced to insinuation; and I will observe that, if it be the pleasure of the House to refer, not only to former debates, but to listen to the explanation of the allusions in those debates, it will be my duty to offer such explanation. There are two allusions in the speech to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman refers. The first is, the possible political ambition of passing from the judicial to official station that swayed the mind and judgment of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I admit that allusion; but that allusion was prospective; and it was an allusion to what I thought might possibly, and even probably, have been the object of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. It was an allusion made prospectively with reference to the formation of what I think I called a protection Government. The other allusion was to a matter of fact; and the right hon. and learned Gentleman, I think, said something about confidential communication, and a breach of confidence. Now, the House will remember—and the right hon. and learned Gentlemen himself has alluded to it—that in the course of last Session he stated distinctly that he never had been what I ventured to call him, my right hon. Friend; and he disclaimed the propriety of my using that expression—he said he never had been my Friend; that he had only a political and Parliamentary acquaintance with me; and he drew a distinction, which he has drawn again to-night, between me and my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government. He said, that with my right hon. Friend he was on terms of friendship, but that with me he had none; 306 and on a former occasion, as on to-night, he singled me out as the object of his bitterest attack. Now, then, with reference to confidential communication. There is no confidence, I conceive, under such circumstances, and after such a disclaimer. If there had been any confidential intercourse or communication, I should not be the man to abuse it; but, in the absence of such confidence, I do think I am perfectly justified in referring to a communication—an official communication—between the right hon. and learned Gentleman and me within, I think, three months after my acceptance of office. About the commencement of February, 1842, the commencement of the first Session after I accepted office, the right hon. and learned Gentleman did propose a measure to my consideration, the outline of which was that the office of the Recorder of the city of Dublin should receive a salary from the Consolidated Fund of 3000l. a year; and that provision should be made for a retiring allowance to the present occupant of that office. I deliberated upon that officially, and I returned an answer that I could not be a party to any such proposition; and since there is no confidence between the right hon. and learned Gentleman and myself, if he will refer to his correspondence of February, 1842, he will find the letter, which he has my full consent to read to the House, in which I stated the reasons, the public official reasons, why I could not be a party to any such measure.
said, the right hon. Baronet had talked of the threats of his hon. Friend the Member for the county of Limerick, of availing himself of the forms of the House to give every opposition in his power to this Bill; but what did the right hon. Baronet do himself? Did he not call upon the House to trample upon one of the Sessional Orders, and to deprive the Irish people of the protection of that Order? That Order was made for the protection of the public, that no person should be taken by surprise; and surely there ought to be notice given of any Motion for the purpose of suspending that Order. Did the right hon. Baronet believe that the Irish people would not be much more affected at finding a Sessional Order that was made for their protection trampled under foot—would not the moral effect of such a course, in order to get a Coercion Bill for Ireland, be much greater than could be produced by a majority of that House? They were accustomed to have 307 majorities of that House deciding against them; but it was now proposed that, to get a Coercion Bill against them, the Orders of that House were to be trampled under foot. He believed that the Motion before the House was to postpone the Orders of the Day until after the first reading of this Bill; but there were so many Motions on the books of that House upon the subject—he himself had an important Motion of an Amendment—that he could assure the right hon. Baronet that he would gain nothing by his perseverance. He, therefore, hoped that the right hon. Baronet would not persevere in his Motion, seeing that no beneficial effect be given to it; seeing that he could not advance himself one hour; seeing that there was no part of the Government of Ireland, not only in his—the right hon. Baronet's—time, but in past Governments, but must necessarily be involved in the debate, that there was not a measure of any Government inimical to the Irish people, that would not be a legitimate topic of discussion in this case; and that it was, therefore, utterly impossible that any advantage could be gained by proposing this irregular Motion against the ordinary rules of proceeding.
§ MR. C. POWELL
considered he was not asking anything unreasonable in calling upon the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government to listen to the real wishes of the people of England, that the Corn Bill take precedence of every other measure. He should like to ask the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord G. Bentinck) to favour the House with a minute of the negotiation which had lately taken place between him and the Government upon the present measure.
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
My hon. Friend has appealed to me as the leader of a party. I beg to say that whilst I am proud to serve in the ranks of the protectionists, I think it right to state I have never set myself up for their leader; but since they do sometimes request me to express the feelings of the greater part of them, I am able to state that, if the day should come, which some hon. Gentlemen seem to anticipate, when we shall be responsible for the government of Ireland, the principles of protection will not be extended to the broad-day murderer and the midnight assassin. Protection will be given to the loyal and the well conducted—to the honest and the poor man in the pursuit of his lawful functions. I condemn, as strongly as any man can condemn, the dilatory proceedings of 308 the present Government, when they advise Her Majesty to come down, and in Her Speech to Parliament to say that She sees with great regret the system of assassination prevailing in Ireland, and when Her Majesty calls upon the Parliament forthwith to consider measures for the punishment of those who commit these desperate crimes, I condemn the Ministers who have delayed from the 22nd of January to the 30th of March the proposal to read the measure for the first time. The present measure is warmly supported in the other House by all the principal leaders. It is supported by the Marquess of Lansdowne, by the Marquess of Clanricarde, by my Lord Cottenham, and by Lord Campbell. Therefore there is no excuse for Her Majesty's Ministers delaying to bring it before Parliament. When I look at the statements which have been made by a Minister in the other House of Parliament, and see that in ten counties alone the offences against persons, the offences against property, and the offences against the public peace, amount to four thousand seven hundred and eighty, I must say that I concur in opinion with the Marquess of Clanricarde, that no Bill has ever been introduced into this House of Parliament which can compare with the measure now before the House; and there is necessity for pressing it forward. I agree with the hon. Member for Lancashire in thinking that this measure for the protection of life in Ireland is the precursor of further measures favourable to the Irish. But it is of no use to propose measures for the improvement of the Irish people so long as no man can pursue the occupations of industry or carry out any improvements, without an immediate prospect of being arrested in those improvements by the hand of the broad-day murderer and the midnight assassin. For these reasons it is that I call on those with whom I act to give their hearty and honest support to Her Majesty's Administration, so long as they show an earnest desire to put down murder and protect property in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government has told us that this is a Bill to put down murder and assassination; and I say that as long as the Bill is delayed, the blood of every murdered man is upon the head of Her Majesty's Ministers—the blood of every man who shall be murdered, pending the passing of these measures, will be upon the head of Her Majesty's Administration, and upon the head of this House, if they and we neglect 309 to pass this measure. What is the state of things in Ireland? It is not only that those who themselves have given offence are liable to be murdered, but we see instances every day of even women with children in their arms being shot from behind ditches. ["Name."] I will name. What think you of the case of Fanny MacFennel, the wife of a wood-ranger, who was shot for no other offence than this, that her husband was supposed to be active in arresting trespassers upon the estate of his master. [An Hon. MEMBER: Where?] In the county of Tyrone, and for no other offence than that of arresting trespassers in the woods of his master. This unfortunate woman, far advanced in pregnancy, and carrying an infant in her arms, was shot from behind a hedge by a murderous assassin. She herself lingered from her wounds, and after a miscarriage and the birth of a still-born child, in two or three days she died, while the infant in her arms was severely wounded in its head, and, for anything I know, may have since died. If the passing of the measure now before the House be delayed at this present time, it cannot come into operation for at least three years. What I have mentioned has not been a solitary instance. How many days ago was it since Sir David Roche was shot at for no other crime than this, that at the bidding of one tenant he refused to turn out the widow of that man's brother whilst the body of her late husband was still lying in the house. But these are not all. The state of Ireland appears to be this—that a man can scarcely go to church—no old lady of eighty can go to church, without the risk of being shot at by assassins. What do you think of the case of Mrs. Bennet, an old lady of eighty, who was driving in her car, when she was stopped by two ruffians, one armed with a whattle, and the other with a pistol. Her offence was, that she had refused to turn off two faithful servants, one of whom had been shot at and desperately wounded in the arm whilst at his supper. Neither are these all. Have we not seen the statement made by Lord Farnham in the other House of Parliament. A friend of his was murdered in the broad day, and, though there were hundreds of people by, nobody offered either to prevent the murder or arrest the murderers. It is perfectly well known that the murderer is still in the country, and the haunts he visits are also well known, but nobody dare arrest him. What have we heard an account of on the 310 7th of this very month? Mr. Ryan tells us that himself and his wife and ten children, with five servants, were engaged in evening prayer, when a blunderbuss, loaded with nine bullets, was fired into the room, clearly showing what was designed by the assassin's fixing that period for the execution of his plans, that the slaughter might be the more universal. Because these things occur, we are charged with being indifferent to the interests of the Irish people, and therefore I shall certainly support the Government in forwarding this measure, by which a system of murder and assassination will be effectually put down. I will speak for those around me, that we will not consent to have the name of liberty prostituted to broad-day murders, and midnight assassinations.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
had risen to express his hope, that, notwithstanding the speech of the noble Lord, the House would not be led into a premature discussion as to the state of things in Ireland, and which had induced the Government to introduce this measure into the House. The time would come when the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department might state grounds which would justify the introduction of this Bill; the time might come when the House would be called upon to determine whether this Bill, framed to meet the extensive system of crime in Ireland, should pass into a law; but his hon. Friend the Member for Drogheda pressed that they should not put these questions to a decision now, but that they should proceed with a measure of the greatest interest and importance, which had occupied the attention of the House for some time. By the mode taken by the right hon. Gentleman the question was put before them, as to which of these two important Bills they would take that evening. The question was, which of these important measures—the Corn Importation Bill, or the Preservation of Life (Ireland) Bill—should have precedence. Under all the circumstances in which these Bills were before the House, he could not help expressing his decided opinion that the Bill for the importation of corn should have preference over the Irish Bill. He could assure the House he had no wish to offer any unfair impediment to the course which the Government proposed to adopt; but he would put it to them whether it was not for the convenience of the public business that the course which he recommended should be adopted. On the 311 Corn Importation Bill the debates were carried on far beyond the ordinary duration of debates, and it was argued at great length on both sides of the House. The Bill had arrived within a short period of the last stage, and he put it to the House whether they should not put an end to the anxiety of almost the whole community, including a great portion of the agricultural interest, that some final decision should be come to on this question. These proceedings had continued for several weeks; and all who had any lengthened Parliamentary experience in debates in that House must be convinced, that, if the further progress of the Corn Importation Act was postponed until after Easter, they would have much longer and protracted debates in its future stages than if the Bill was pressed de die in diem. As he understood, the Government had intended that this Bill should have gone up to the House of Lords before Easter, when it would have been printed, and the second reading could have taken place at an early day after the holidays; but, if it was put off until after Easter, he would defy any man to show any reasonable expectation of its getting to a second reading in the other House before June, July, or August. He regretted the course taken by the Government; but they must look to a defence of it in the statement which the right hon. Baronet would make to the House in justification of this Bill for the protection of life in Ireland. If the Bill was of so pressing a nature, not a day should be allowed to elapse before passing it into a law; and there might be a case which might make it incumbent, for the suppression of crime, that they should press forward this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman, however, only proceeded to take the first reading of this Bill; he must then postpone the Corn Bill, and deal with this measure. Supposing that this Bill was proceeded with, they must postpone all the further stages of the Corn Bill; and if the Corn Bill was postponed, they might depend upon it that this measure could not be proceeded with until a later period than otherwise would be the case. The right hon. Baronet said that it was essential to have the opinion of the House expressed on the principle of this measure. How long had he been of this opinion? The right hon. Baronet on a former occasion said that it was only respectful to the House of Lords that this Bill, sent down from it, should be read a first time, and he deprecated in that stage of it 312 any expression of opinion on the part of the House. The right hon. Baronet had expressed an earnest hope to several of his (Sir G. Grey's) Irish Friends around him that they would allow the first reading of this Bill sub silentio. The right hon. Baronet recommended the postponement of the debate until the second reading, which he pledged himself should not take place until the Corn Importation Bill had passed through that House. Looking to the necessity of putting an end to the state of uncertainty which existed, and to the paralysed state of commerce which this delay had occasioned, he trusted that they would proceed with the Corn Bill, and postpone the Protection of Life in Ireland Bill. If he were compelled to say aye or no to this Motion, he should not hesitate to give his cordial support to the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Drogheda.
§ MR. HENRY GRATTAN
would support the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Drogheda, although he was determined to do all in his power to put down the spirit of outrage and insubordination which existed in Ireland. He did not merely say this as a Member of Parliament, but as a resident Irish gentleman, and as a protector of his own tenantry and of the Irish people. He did not think that any asperity which was manifested towards Her Majesty's Ministers, in consequence of the delay in this measure, was justifiable, as is was clear that they could not make up their minds on a Bill which, since 1746, had singularly failed when attempted to be put in force. This Bill should be delayed; for there were now laws in existence, and officers to put them in force, which had not been resorted to. These, he was satisfied, were amply sufficient, without resorting to this infamous Bill. It was the duty of the sheriff, in case of disturbance, to call out the posse comitatus; and the gentry, instead of making speeches and dressing up addresses in grand-jury rooms, should place themselves at the head of their servants, and patrol the country day and night. The gentry, however, abandoned their duty, and made themselves unpopular with their tenantry. No man was more anxious than himself to put down this spirit of outrage; but he never would consent to stigmatize a whole country, because five or six persons in a district were infected with a mania.
§ MR. S. HERBERT
said, it was impossible to deny that the Government was placed in a position of great difficulty in 313 respect of the question as to which subject should have the precedence on the present occasion. He regretted, however, to hear the noble Lord the Member for Lynn bring forward charges of so grave a nature against Her Majesty's Government—charges, he would add, which, unless they could be substantiated in every particular, no man in that House, or out of it, should bring against any man or body of men in power or out of power. The noble Lord said, that in consequence of the delay which had taken place, the Government were responsible for the loss of life which had occurred in Ireland; and he had also stated, that in consequence of the Government not appearing to be in earnest in respect to the measure, he, and those with whom he acted, could not feel themselves in the discharge of their duty in supporting the Government in carrying it into effect. A more unfair construction was never put upon the acts of any Government than that which had been put upon the acts of the Government to which he (Mr. Sidney Herbert) belonged, by the noble Lord on this occasion. If the House would only consider all the circumstances of the case — all the circumstances under which the measure was brought forward, unless the Government could make days of hours, and weeks of days—they would come to the conclusion, that no other course was open to them in the matter. Having to meet all the difficulties of the many measures which were before them since last October, it was not within the compass of possibility that they could be ready with them all by the opening of Parliament; and to introduce them in a crude, undigested state, would be unworthy of their position—they had no alternative open to them but the course which they had adopted. It was impossible, he freely admitted, to overrate the importance of the Corn Bill to the country, or to exaggerate the necessity of its speedy passage through that House. In this he agreed to the full with the right hon. Baronet who had spoke last. But it was impossible also, he maintained, if that which had been stated in respect to the state of society in Ireland was correct, not to admit that the subject was one which could not bear any longer delay; and if the House would only have the patience to hear what his right hon. Friend had to say in relation to it, and suffer the facts to be laid before them, he had no doubt they would come to the same conclusion. The noble Lord had made serious statements 314 respecting the state of crime and outrage in Ireland; and those hon. Gentlemen who acted with the noble Lord appeared to coincide in them; but if these statements were credible, and if they were believed by the House, could there be any question that the whole case which his right hon. Friend was prepared to lay before them was not entitled to be fully discussed upon that occasion? This, however, he would say—looking at the debates which had taken place upon the subject elsewhere, looking at the accounts which were published in the newspapers, and looking at the private, information which was received—anything so horrible as the state of demoralisation and crime in which many parts of Ireland were plunged—anything so perfect as the suspension of the law which existed in those parts of that country—anything, in short, so complete as the abrogation of liberty that obtained there, was, perhaps, never known; and he thought that no man and no Minister could, under these circumstances, decline to admit that even those most important measures then under the consideration of the House, ought to be postponed until a decision had been taken at least upon the principle of a measure which had for its object the suppression of those horrors, and which, by anticipation, might have the effect of stopping or suspending the frightful progress of crime in that country. In asking to read this Bill to-night, they only intended to postpone the Corn Bill for one night; and they would not even have asked for this postponement, but that it was of the most-essential importance that the opinion of the House should be taken as to the principle of this measure. He hoped the House would not pledge itself to delay this measure by voting for the Amendment, as it would give rise to a feeling of expectation in Ireland that this Bill would ultimately be thrown out. But although other measures were necessary, he hoped that the House would not delay this one, notwithstanding they had been told that it would not have any effect for years. He hoped, therefore, that the House would not affirm the Motion of the hon. Member for Drogheda. It was not true that the Government wished to throw over the Standing Order for this discussion. The course that was proposed to be taken was the most obvious and best that could be avoided. His right hon. Friend did not propose to take the House by surprise, for he had given due notice of his intention of proceeding with 315 this Bill this evening. He did not propose to take it out of the regular order, but he moved that the Orders of the Day be read, for the purpose of their being postponed; and thus they were disposed of just as much as if they had been discussed. The course also which the hon. Member proposed to take was very unusual, as it was not customary in courtesy to postpone to a distant day the first reading of a Bill which had come down from the House of Lords. He entreated the House not to sanction this course, which, if adopted, might be fatal to the tranquillity as well as to the security of life and property in Ireland. He hoped that they would not think that he was undervaluing the importance of the measure for the admission of corn; but all that he asked was, that it might pass pari passu with the measure for the protection of life in Ireland, which the people in that country were justified in expecting from them.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, that with respect to the Motion of the right hon. Baronet as to the postponing of the Orders of the Day, so as to enable him to propose the first reading of the Protection of Life (Ireland) Bill, he was satisfied to rest on what had been said by his right hon. Friend the Member for Devonport; but one or two circumstances had taken place in the course of the debate, which he felt compelled to take notice of before going to a division. He would not interfere one way or the other in the charge of his noble Friend the Member for Lynn, or the defence of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, as to the delay which was said to have occurred in bringing forward this measure, and to not having pressed it forward when introduced. He trusted that the noble Lord who disclaimed the name of leader of his party, but who still admitted that he spoke the sentiments of the majority of those with whom he acted, would not be so rash and hasty in bringing charges against any person or party on insufficient evidence, as he thought the noble Lord had been that evening. With regard to the question before the House, both the right hon. Secretary and the right hon. Gentleman placed it on entirely different grounds from those on which it was placed the other evening by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, when they said that it was most desirable that the principle of the Bill should be sanctioned by reading it the first time, as the moral effect which such a proceeding would produce in Ire- 316 land would be great, while it would be considered that a vote carried in favour of the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Drogheda would be regarded as against the Bill. He could not so consider the question before the House. He considered, as had been justly stated by his right hon. Friend the Member for Devonport, whether this was the most convenient time to proceed with this measure. He was ready to avow that he thought that the more convenient course for the House to pursue, for the sake of the public, was to proceed with the Bill which had been so long before the House, and postpone to a future time the Bill which was not immediately before them. His right hon. Friend was justified in saying that the case would have been totally altered if the Government had said that they wished to pass immediately this Protection of Life Bill through all its stages; but on the contrary, they now said that they would resume the consideration of the Corn Importation Bill on Friday, and that the second reading of this Bill should not take place until the Corn Bill and the Poor Removal Bill should have passed. What would the moral effect be of taking the first reading of this Bill under such circumstances? He would ask whether they considered that those disposed to commit murder would be deterred from doing so, because they knew that this Bill had been read a first time? On the other hand, if they proceeded with it, they would have all the excitement arising from the discussion, without giving any power to the Executive Government by this course. They would throw, therefore, all kinds of exciting topics before the public, to be used with respect to this Bill, which would be termed an infringement of liberty, and would have a fearful effect on the public mind in Ireland. He thought that ample reasons had been given for postponing this Bill, and for proceeding with the Bill with regard to an importation of corn, the progress of which was regarded with so much interest by the public. In voting for the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Drogheda, it was not to be supposed that if the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department made out a case that he should not support the Bill. It would be for the right hon. Baronet to show, that the state of outrages in Ireland, and of the crimes committed there, called for strong measures, and also that this Bill would have the tendency to prevent them for the fu- 317 ture. This would be the case for the right hon. Baronet to make out; and if he made out such a case, he should not object to the first reading. For the reasons, however, stated by his hon. Friend the Member for Drogheda, he felt convinced that more useful effects would be likely to follow from this measure if Her Majesty's Government had an opportunity of producing some remedial measures at the same time with it. He asked for no measures on any subjects, save those which the right hon. Baronet had already declared his intention of introducing to the Legislature. The right hon. Baronet had already declared his intention of introducing measures on the subject of the relation between landlord and tenant in Ireland—on the subject of the political franchise, or for giving persons the right to vote for Members of Parliament, and on the subject of the Municipal Corporations. He did not wish to be understood as desiring to limit the questions of Irish legislation to these few topics. They were far more expansive; he did not ask the Government at present to introduce any other matters before Parliament. But when they were dealing with those awful crimes, of which his noble Friend the Member for Lynn had given them an account, and which, though justified in some particular instances, his noble Friend seemed to regard as the general state of Ireland, he thought they were bound to consider also whether there were not measures that might be introduced that would lessen the causes of these crimes. And when his noble Friend entered into the statement with which he had instructed the House, he begged to say, in reference to the newspaper accounts to which his noble Friend had referred, that he had himself read a newspaper account the other day, in which it was stated, that a whole village, containing 270 persons, had been razed to the ground, and the entire of that large number of individuals sent adrift on the high road, to sleep under the hedges, without even being permitted the privilege of boiling their potatoes, or obtaining shelter among the walls of the houses from which they had been dispossessed. That statement appeared within the last few days in a Dublin newspaper, and was given by a gentleman, the reporter of that newspaper, who had written the account from the spot, and who stated that the circumstances were known generally in the neighbourhood. He thought it would be for the advantage of legislation to take up this sub- 318 ject altogether; and immediately after the question of the Corn Bill had been disposed of. When they took into consideration these crimes, he thought they should at the same time ask themselves whether the law of landlord and tenant in Ireland should not be improved; at the same time that the Executive Government was armed with powers which would check the hands of the midnight assassin. With these feelings, therefore, he thought there would be a very great advantage—a very great moral advantage—if that House were to declare that, while they were the enemies of outrage—while they were determined to see the law enforced against the murderer and the assassin, that they at the same time felt a determination to look after the causes of this dreadful state, and to consider whether by other measures accompanying the present measure those causes might be in some degree removed, and the foundation laid for future peace, and thus that these unconstitutional Bills—for unconstitutional and harsh they were—might hereafter be dispensed with.
§ SIR R. PEEL
Sir, the other hon. Gentlemen who have preceded me made a remark, with the justice of which I concur, and in the truth of which I entirely agree—namely, that in determining the course of this Bill, to which we attach the greatest importance, the Government are in a situation of peculiar difficulty, in consequence of their present position in the House of Commons. Sir, for whatever other expressions I may have been prepared in reference to this question, I confess I was not prepared to hear a doubt suggested with respect to our sincerity on the subject of the Corn Bill. Looking at all the circumstances which attended the introduction of that measure—looking at the facts connected with its being brought forward—looking at the loss of friends which it entailed upon me—the loss of the confidence of those by whom we were heretofore supported—I can fairly adduce these facts as an answer to the insinuation of want of sincerity on the part of the Government. There is an event in connection with that Bill which I, for one, am not prepared to give in evidence of my sincerity. But, Sir, I shall not condescend to answer such a charge—the facts answer for themselves. With respect, however, to the order of the proceedings in the present instance, what are the real facts of the case? I did certainly, in answer to the question of the noble Lord the other night, 319 lay down the course which I proposed to take in reference to these Bills. I stated upon that occasion, on the part of the Government, my anxiety to pass the Corn Bill through this House; and I feel all that anxiety now as much as I did then. I said that after the Corn Bill should have been read a second time—assuming that the discussion upon it would take place on Friday night—I proposed to take the first reading of the Irish Assassination Bill on Monday before any other business; and I added, that if the decision of the House should be favourable to its introduction, I would then resume the Corn Bill, and proceed with it as rapidly as the forms of the House allowed, permitting no Government business of any kind whatever to infere with its further progress. That was the declaration which I made publicly, in reply to the question of the noble Lord, and to that declaration I now adhere. For we feel it a duty we owe to the country to ask for a decision of this House, at this time, upon the Irish Protection of Life Bill. That Bill has been since the 16th instant waiting for admission. There is hardly a case upon record in which a Bill sent down from the House of Lords has not been read a first time at once. But we are charged with precipitancy in the matter. So far, however, as precipitancy in regard to this Bill is concerned — a Bill, I admit, of an extraordinary and unconstitutional character — I said, in this case, the precedent shall be departed from, and such a delay interposed as its nature renders necessary for the purpose of a due previous consideration. Was that an indication of a desire on our part to urge on the discussion of the measure? Was that precipitancy on the part of the Government? But, Sir, if we should now consent to take no further steps whatever in the matter for the present; if my right hon. Friend be not allowed to state, on the part of the Government, what are the causes which led us to propose this measure, and what are the precautions which we propose to take against outrage and assassination in Ireland, what will be the inference drawn from such delay by the evil-disposed in that country? What will be the consequences of that departure from the course which has been usually pursued, after the House of Lords has passed the Bill, which Her Majesty recommended to Parliament in Her Speech from the Throne at the opening of the Session—if we consent to 320 postpone indefinitely a Bill which we have declared absolutely necessary, without making any statement respecting its necessity to the House, and in a total disregard of the common courtesy which has been always shown to a measure sent down from the House of Lords. Sir, it is true that the discussion on the first reading of this Bill may not, as it has been suggested, lead to any final results; but this it will, at all events, do—and under any circumstances—it will establish the important fact that the House of Commons is not indifferent to that result, or the causes which concurred to bring it about; and likewise show the country at large that Her Majesty's Government is awake to the necessity of applying a remedy to the evils which exist in Ireland. With respect to the observations of the noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck) respecting the support his Friends may give us, I can only say that the noble Lord and his Friends are as free to act as they choose in the matter. They are under no obligation to give me any support in this beyond that which honourable men, acting under a conscientious sense of public duty, are always disposed to give a Government. Sir, I know that a Government situated as we are with respect to our usual supporters, are exposed to extraordinary statements and imputations upon our conduct and motives, and we have had our share of them. The noble Lord the Member for Lynn said, for instance, that we are answerable for every murder committed in Ireland; while on the other side of the House it has been stated that we are accountable for the life of every one who dies of starvation in that country. It is certainly most unfortunate that the present Bill interferes with the progress of the other measures before the House for securing the advantages of free trade to the country: but after giving all the consideration which we could to the subject; after taking into account the inferences deducible from the facts which I have stated, we came to the conclusion that we should best consult the interests of the country, and most effectually discharge our duty, by now reading this Bill the first time, and then proceeding, without any further delay, with the Corn Bill. Sir, we are told that we shall meet with every kind of obstruction in our progress with these measures, for the purpose of promoting delay. Without despising the observations of hon. Gentlemen opposed to me, I do consider that it is the duty of a 321 Government to disregard menaces of this kind. It is our duty to propose those measures which we deem most conducive to the good of the country; and having done that, to leave it to the deliberation of the House—to the Commons of England—to dispose of them as they consider the most advisable. I know the power of individual Members to cause delay if they choose. I know the power they possess to postpone a debate, or to defeat a question, by moving continuous adjournments of the House. I cannot help it. But this I know also, that it does not release Ministers from their responsibility, or relieve them from the necessity of taking that course which in their conscience they esteem the most advantageous for the public interest. The course of the Government is prescribed by an imperative sense of public duty; and it would be unwise and unworthy to waver in it for a single moment, or permit such threats or such proceedings to have the effect of influencing its proceedings. On this point, Her Majesty's Ministers, though deeply regretting the delay which must unavoidably occur with the Corn Bill, still feel it to be their duty to ask the House to assent to the introduction of the Irish Bill. But we are told, if we do this we shall be met with all that delay which the forms of the House will permit. I deeply regret such a determination; and permit me to say I think it is hardly a proper way of meeting the subject. Such a course is not the best way of upholding the authority or of maintaining the respect due to that branch of the Legislature which contains within itself most of the democratic or popular principle. I do hope that the inconvenient course I have adverted to, will not be persevered in. It is not becoming or fitting the importance of the subject to refuse to hear us. After you have heard us you can make what Motion you please; but surely we have, a right to ask that the statement we have to make shall be first laid before the House. I do not say, by the course you say you will adopt, that you entirely debar us from the opportunity of making our statement; but I do say, by Motions of this kind—Motions of a technical or frivolous character—["No, no!"]—I withdraw the expression; nothing is further from my wish than to use a word that will call up angry feeling. I recall—I withdraw any expression that may tend to give offence; but when we are charged with trampling on the forms of the House, I am bound to say we cannot 322 under present circumstances take the ordinary course—we must waive the less pressing business to have an opportunity of bringing this Bill before the House. This course has over and over again been practised; other Bills on other occasions have had precedence, and all we now ask the House is to postpone the other Orders of the Day. Believing that we are taking the fairest path for all parties, and that my hon. Friend has a right to make the statement he is prepared to make, I hope the hon. Member will allow us to proceed.
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
said, as he felt that he had been misunderstood by the noble Lord the Member for London, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of War, and the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), he begged to be allowed to state distinctly what he did say to the House. It was, that Government would be responsible for every murder committed in Ireland if any unnecessary delay was practised on their part in passing a measure which Her Majesty's Ministers had introduced, as they said, for the better protection of life in Ireland.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
considered that the last sentence of the noble Lord's (Lord J. Russell) speech furnished sufficient materials for the vote he was prepared to give. The noble Lord said, after the declarations which had been made with respect to the outrages on life and property in Ireland, he was willing to proceed to the consideration of remedial measures; but then the question arose did Her Majesty's Ministers' measure go too far, or was this measure brought in too soon? The noble Lord the Member for Lynn had said, not that the measure went too far, or that it was brought in with too much precipitation, but that Her Majesty's Ministers had neglected their duty in not bringing forward the measure months ago. He would ask, was the evil complained of of recent date? Had there not been found for some time past in the records of crime in Ireland sufficient grounds for the introduction of a measure even of a more stringent character than the Bill now proposed before the House? The object of beginning with this measure was in order to give moral support to the means for maintaining peace and order in Ireland; and possibly, if the other Orders of the Day, perhaps referring to matters of trifling importance, were to be taken before this measure, it might be misconstrued into an indifference towards the suppression of crime and the 323 protection of life and property in Ireland. He was greatly indebted to the noble Lord the Member for Lynn for the conclusive grounds he had urged for the adoption of the proposition of Her Majesty's Government. He believed—to use words which had been used in another place—that every day lost to a measure intended to produce greater security to life and property in Ireland, involved a responsibility to which he should be sorry to see his friends exposed. And when hon. Members on the other side declared they would not support Her Majesty's Ministers in a measure which they believed was hostile to the interests and alien to the feelings of the people of Ireland, he, for one, declared he was resolved to support no Government that would not take immediate and effectual measures to protect life and property in Ireland. His complaint against Her Majesty's Government was, that they had not acted with a due degree of energy in bringing forward some such measure before.
§ LORD WORSLEY
begged, considering the position in which he was placed, to be allowed to explain the ground on which he proposed to give his vote, otherwise it might be construed into a factious vote against the Government, than which nothing could be farther from his views. He asked the House to recollect the condition in which the agriculturists had been placed since November. They had been in a state of great uncertainty. In November last the farmers expected the ports would be opened, and that a great alteration in the Corn trade would occur. Ever since that period there had been great dismay and uncertainty in the corn trade. The sales that took place were only what might be called to provide a supply from hand to mouth; and as this uncertainty unquestionably existed, he was only taking that course which, conversant as he was with the feelings of the farmers, and acting up to the feelings of his constituents, he was satisfied was the most expedient. He was desirous of putting an end to further delay on the Corn Bill. He might say he should now be glad if no further opposition took place to the Bill; for after the decided majorities on two occasions, he felt he should not be justified in resisting the third reading of the Bill. If another division took place, he should record his vote against the Bill, as he had already done; but on account of the strong feeling which he entertained of the impolicy of de- 324 lay, as far as the interests of the agriculturists were concerned, he was desirous of seeing the question settled. It had been said if the House did not immediately pass the Irish Protection Bill, that it would show indifference to the continuance of crime; but if the first reading was taken as now desired, and nothing further done, would it not be construed into an indication that the question was looked on as a piece of etiquette, and that the Bill was not viewed with that importance it merited? On the present occasion he should vote differently from those with whom he had voted on the Corn Bill: he did so from a strong feeling that it was their duty towards the agriculturists, as it was also advantageous towards the trading interests of the country, that there should be no further delay in settling this much-agitated question.
§ COLONEL RAWDON
remarked, that in one portion of his address the noble Lord the Member for Lynn had somewhat departed from the modesty of his propositions, by making use of an expression which, in Parliamentary language, he would describe as an audacious one. He considered that all the Irish Members had a right to speak on this question; and he utterly disclaimed the imputation that they wished to speak for purposes of delay, or that they were not desirous of putting an end to those murders that occasionally took place in Ireland. The noble Lord was, however, a good tactician, for he had been enabled to make two speeches already on the question. He would not follow the same course, and he would advise those friends to Ireland who were anxious to speak not to expend their ammunition now, but to reserve it for the fitting time. All he wished now to state was, that he was there to give food to the Irish people, and not to inflict Coercion Bills on them. The Irish Members had been roused by a speech in the other House of Parliament. The other side had been out of order. The noble Lord the Member for Lynn had used the name of a Peer, and he was entitled to do the same. The Duke of Wellington had made a speech which he — [The SPEAKER called the hon. and gallant Member to order.] He had heard the noble Lord the Member for Lynn make use of the name of a noble Lord, and he conceived he should be in order if he also named a Peer. ["No!"] Why did those Members call "no," and omit to do the same when the noble Lord spoke? If it was allowed on 325 one side it ought to be allowed on the other. The Duke of Wellington made a speech in another House.
§ The SPEAKER
The hon. and gallant Member is out of order in alluding to any debate in the other House. The noble Lord did not allude to any debate that had occurred in another place.
§ COLONEL RAWDON
would not allude to any debate whatever. He would only say that the Duke of Wellington had referred to some of the Articles of the Union, and had placed an interpretation on them which no Irish Member on this side of the House could approve of. When a Bill like the present measure, which so trenched on the liberty of the subject as this did, came before the House, he felt it to be his duty to take all the steps the forms of the House permitted to oppose its progress.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
—[who on rising was met by cries of "Divide!"]—said, that it would be most conducive to the convenience of the House if they listened to what he had to say, for that interruptions such as he had met with on rising would afford a strong reason for moving successive adjournments. He confessed that he wished to hear from the Treasury bench some answer to the extraordinary representations made on that side of the House. He had seen Irish Member after Irish Member, having the esteem and affection of their countrymen, get up and make strong representations to the Government on the unfairness, on the unprecedented course, and even the insolence of bringing forward this measure to-night. No answer had been given to those statements. The hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury bench had sat still; for what reason he did not know; or rather he did. The people of Ireland knew, and had long known, with what feelings and sentiments their Irish Representatives were regarded by hon. Gentlemen opposite. The right hon. the Home Secretary had deprecated the opposition which the Irish Members were prepared to give this Bill, in all its stages, and by every means, and by the use of every form, until the House chose to trample on its own forms, as they would trample on the liberties of Ireland, if they passed this Bill; and the right hon. Secretary proceeded to speak of their opposition as the opposition of a small party. He trusted that the people of Ireland would hear of that expression. The Irish Members in that House were a small party, no doubt. The Irish people had long been 326 complaining of that as one of their chief grievances, ever since the Union was carried against their wishes. In 1834, when the Irish Members, a small party then, came forward to state the opinions of the people of Ireland, and to represent that they wanted to have their own Parliament, the Commons of England met their arguments with derision, and their Motion with a negative; but the House of Commons added to that negative a solemn promise that, short of a Repeal of the Union, they would give the Irish people all constitutional rights. That promise was repeated by the House of Lords and by the Throne; but it had been foully broken. Had that promise been kept, the Repeal agitation (which had now risen to such a height, and which, by fair means and foul, they had tried to put down, but which would still effect its glorious object) would have been rendered comparatively weak, instead of being, as it now was, strong. Those who turned out of office men that endeavoured to be friends to Ireland, defeated or mutilated every beneficial measure promised by the three branches of the Legislature twelve years ago, and now came forward to taunt the Irish Members with being "a small party." They were a small party, but they had 8,000,000 of Irish hearts at their back. Let these not be despised. There had been no answer given from the Treasury bench to any Irish Member. The hon. Member below him (Sir W. Somerville) had been passed over; and the only answer drawn from the Government had been to an English Member (Lord G. Bentinck), who was, indeed, a leader of a "small party," who almost spoke as if he were Minister already, and misgoverning Ireland, but whose party must become still less, for it was a party that was opposing the first and commonest dictate of humanity—to give cheap bread to the poor man. The right hon. Baronet, indeed, told hon. Members not to allow their conduct to have the appearance of sanctioning crime; but with the same energy with which that imputation was put forth, did he throw it back on the party of the right hon. Baronet. That party was sanctioning crime; that party was guilty of crime. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had complained that two inconsistent charges were brought against him; but the charges were not inconsistent; he was guilty of both. As to that of starving the people, was he not giving proof of its truth in impeding the 327 Corn Bill by forcing on this discussion, so useless on his part, so unavoidable on that of the Irish Members? And was he not liable to the other charge? He had to accuse that right hon. Gentleman and his party of being accessary to the crimes of the peasantry of Ireland. Two years ago, when the right hon. Baronet issued the Devon Commission, some of the Irish Members came over and said, "For Heaven's sake, for humanity's sake, for Christianity's sake, take care what you are doing; you are raising the most extravagant hopes in a people driven almost to madness by long suffering and misery, such as no other people on the face of the globe would have borne without having recourse to insane and criminal, but perhaps successful, measures; do not issue the Commission unless you are prepared to act instantly upon its report, for you will disappoint in the breasts of desperate men the wild hopes which their wretchedness causes them to conceive." That Commission made representations that ought to have had their effect; but what had been done? Why, a Bill was produced last year which would have been ludicrous, if the subject were not too serious. If there was any intention to throw upon the Irish Members the imputation of giving the slightest encouragement to crime, he turned it upon the right hon. Baronet, and told him, that he and those who acted with him were deep dyed in guilt on that score—that they had had warning and neglected it, and they alone were to blame. The right hon. Baronet had used some strong expressions that night; as he had withdrawn them, his apology should be accepted; but it was to be hoped there would be no recurrence of such language. He, however, had an objection of his own to take to this Bill—there was injustice in its title. When he put a notice of Motion on paper, giving what he conceived to be its proper designation to a deputation of persons, he would not call them gentlemen, because he thought they were not deserving of the name of men, who prayed the Lord Lieutenant to oblige them by shedding the blood of a man (Bryan Seery) whom his countrymen believed to be innocent, he being then most kindly remonstrated with in a quarter where he had always received great courtesy, consented to the erasure of a phrase objected to as pledging the House to an expression of opinion on a subject not as yet discussed; but this Bill did that very thing by its 328 false and calumnious title. It pretended to be a Bill "for the better protection of life and property in Ireland;" but it was an invasion of property, and it would increase crime. There was also a direct case in point in the instance of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. P. Scrope), to whose Motion for the better protection of life by giving outdoor relief, the right hon. the Home Secretary objected, that with such phraseology it ought not to be entertained. The Irish Members would offer to the present most inefficient Bill every opposition to the very last moment; if it were "factious" to defend a portion of the few remaining rights enjoyed by the people of Ireland, he (Mr. John O'Connell) should be proud to have the epithet applied to him, in resisting this most wanton, useless, and tyrannous oppression. They were not seeking to defeat the Corn Bill; they were as anxious as any hon. Gentlemen for the success of that Bill, though the charge had been trumped up against them in some protection quarters, that the Repealers considered the Corn Law an advantage given by the Union to Ireland. If it were, they would not support an advantage purchased at the price of the misery and privations of another people; but there was no advantage in what was strangely called the Irish monopoly of the English market. One reason why he wished for the repeal of the Corn Law was, that it would remove the difficulty of commercial arrangement between the two countries when the Union came to be repealed. [A laugh.] The noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck) laughed; he would have laughed as much three years ago at the prophecy of what was happening now. A few words to that future Minister. He had spoken of a murder of which the Irish Members had not heard before; and the right hon. the Home Secretary had not produced the returns ordered, though he promised them before this Bill was moved; and there would be so much the less means of answering the made up and garbled statement from the officials in Ireland, which would presently be made by the Government. But did that noble Lord say a word about a Coercion Bill for South Wales, when an unfortunate woman was murdered in the Rebecca riots, and the country was in the possession of a lawless and violent mob? Why did he seek to inflame the minds of hon. Members by bringing forward this isolated case, when there were no means of meeting it on the instant? Were the 329 noble Lord and his fellows to talk of high honour and chivalry, while they were keeping up an odious tax on the poor man's bread, enabling the landed aristocracy to remain the grudging shopkeepers of corn; and while they stood forward ready to pledge themselves, without even hearing the case, to cleave down the last remaining portion of a people's liberties? The chivalry that would take two such opposite lines of conduct, was not a chivalry that would reflect honour on any country. The proposed measure was insulting to Ireland, and as unconstitutional as it was unnecessarily exasperating in its character. The right hon. Baronet opposite ought to take the good advice which had been given him, and avail himself of the present opportunity of bringing in his remedial measures, to show that he was in earnest in his desire to benefit Ireland. But if the right hon. Baronet would not do that—if he would have coercion—if he would proceed against the wishes and remonstrances of the Irish people, then let the consequences be as they might, and must be, upon him and him alone, not only as regarded his Corn Bill, but as to the connexion between the two countries.
§ MR. COBDEN
had not exactly understood a remark which had fallen from the right hon. Baronet at an early part of the evening, as to the course which was to be pursued with regard to the Irish Bill. Did the right hon. Baronet mean that the statement, and only the statement, was to be made that evening by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department; or did he intend to state that it was his intention to press for a division upon the Motion?
§ SIR R. PEEL
said, that in the remark which he had made, he had by no means intended to imply that he wished only that his right hon. Friend should make the statement; but having done that, it was for the House to determine in what manner to deal with the Bill.
§ MR. COBDEN
said, he could not help then expressing his sincere regret at the course which Her Majesty's Ministers had taken, for he regarded it as likely to inflict a great calamity both on England and Ireland. Though that coercion measure was introduced as one which would be likely to contribute to the peace of Ireland, they must recollect that those who represented the feelings of the people of Ireland in that House, and who led public opinion in that country, were decidedly opposed to it. But 330 whilst that was the case with regard to that Bill, on the subject of corn, which was to give food to the people, there was no difference of opinion; for his hon. and learned Friend, who might be said to represent Ireland, had come over to London on purpose, if he (Mr. Cobden) had understood him rightly, to aid Ministers in carrying a measure which was to give food to the people. The Corn Bill, therefore, should take precedence of the Coercion Bill, inasmuch as it would tend to pacify the people of Ireland, by supplying them with food. What, however, would be the delay to the Corn Bill which would be incurred by proceeding with the Coercion Bill? They would go into that discussion that night. The hon. Member for Limerick had told them that the Irish Members were prepared to oppose it for three nights. That was a Government night, Friday would be another Government night, and Monday another. Those three nights would be absorbed in discussing that measure, and they could not depend on private Members withdrawing their Motions on private nights to make way for the Coercion Bill. They might have to-morrow and the following Tuesday and Thursday, if they liked, upon the Corn Bill, because private Members would give up their private Notices to accommodate the Government on a subject on which they were so generally agreed. But by proceeding with the Coercion Bill at that time, they prevented the possibility of taking another step in the Corn Bill before Easter; and the consequence would be, as had already been observed, that those hon. Gentlemen on the protectionist benches would return to that House, trusting that hon. Members had forgotten all their bad arguments, and would repeat the same things over again. In all human probability, then, the Corn Bill would not enter the House of Lords before the beginning or middle of May; and when it would come out again, Heaven only knew! He certainly regarded it as a great calamity. He was not going to impute motives to the Government; but something had actuated them which he could not understand. There were reasons, he was sure, which they had not had explained in that House, because in his opinion no sufficient reasons had been stated in, that House to warrant the Government in the course which they had pursued. At the same time he altogether repudiated the idea that there had been a base compact between the Government and the hon. 331 Gentlemen opposite. The conversation which had been retailed and published in that day's paper, ought not to have been published, had it even occurred; but he did not believe that any such compact as was referred to had been entered into. The right hon. Baronet, however, had been actuated by decisions which took place in the Cabinet four or five days ago, before he knew what course the Irish Members proposed to take; but even if the right hon. Baronet persisted in pressing the Coercion Bill, when he knew the course which the Irish Members intended to adopt, he (Mr. Cobden) should certainly blame him for the consequences. But when he said that, he would repeat his belief in the right hon. Baronet's sincere desire to pass the Corn Bill; and he rejoiced, and the country would rejoice, that the right hon. Baronet had declared that nothing should prevent him proving his sincerity of resisting any curtailment or mutilation of that measure. He had a perfect belief in the sincerity of the right hon. Baronet; but he regretted the course which he had determined to pursue. There were petitions from the manufacturing districts every day praying that there might be no further delay in passing the Corn Bill. The agricultural classes were almost equally anxious for a settlement: though they might not wish it exactly in his way, yet all concurred in deprecating uncertainty and delay; and under those circumstances he should regret having to vote against the Government upon the Motion before the House.
§ The House divided on the Question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—Ayes, 147; Noes, 108: Majority, 39.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acland, T. D.||Boldero, H. G.|
|A'Court, Capt.||Borthwick, P.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Botfield, B.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Bowles, Adm.|
|Baillie, Col.||Bramston, T. W.|
|Baillie, W.||Broadley, H.|
|Baird, W.||Brace, Lord E.|
|Baldwin, B.||Buckley, E.|
|Bankes, G.||Buller, Sir J. Y.|
|Barkly, H.||Cardwell, E.|
|Baring, rt. hn. W. B.||Carew, W. H. P.|
|Baskerville, T. B. M.||Carnegie, hon. Capt.|
|Beckett, W.||Chelsea, Visct.|
|Benbow, J.||Chute, W. L. W.|
|Bennet, P.||Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Clive, Visct.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Cochrane, A.|
|Beresford, Maj.||Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.|
|Blackburne, J. I.||Collett, W. R.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Colquhoun, J. C.|
|Bodkin, W. H.||Coote, Sir C. H.|
|Copeland, Ald.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Maclean, D.|
|Cripps, W.||McGeachy, F. A.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||M'Neill, D.|
|Deedes, W.||Mahon, Visct.|
|Denison, E. B.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Dick, Q.||Meynell, Capt.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Morgan, O.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Mundy, E. M.|
|Douro, Marquess of||Neville, R.|
|Drummond, H. H.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Duncannon, Visct.||Owen, Sir J.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Packe, C. W.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Palmer, R.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Patten, J. W.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Floyer, J.||Peel, J.|
|Fox, S. L.||Polhill, F.|
|Frewen, C. H.||Rashleigh, W.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Reid, Col.|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Round, C. G.|
|Gore, M.||Round, J.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Russell, J. D. W.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Greene, T.||Shaw, rt. hon. F.|
|Grogan, E.||Sheppard, T.|
|Hamilton, W. J.||Shirley, E. J.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Smythe, hon. G.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Heathcote, Sir W.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Henley, J. W.||Spooner, R.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Stuart, J.|
|Hodgson, R.||Taylor, E.|
|Hogg, J. W.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Hope, A.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Hope, G. W.||Tomline, G.|
|Hudson, G.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Ingestre, Visct.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Trotter, J.|
|James, Sir W. C.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Wall, C. B.|
|Jocelyn, Visct.||Walpole, S. H.|
|Johnstone, H.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Jones, Capt.||Worcester, Marquess of|
|Kelly, Sir F.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Kemble, H.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Kirk, P.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Lascelles, hon. W. S.||TELLERS.|
|Legh, G. C.||Young, J.|
|Lygon, hon. Gen.||Baring, H.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acheson, Visct.||Butler, P. S.|
|Aldam, W.||Carew, hon. R. S.|
|Archbold, R.||Chapman, B.|
|Baine, W.||Christie, W. D.|
|Bannerman, A.||Cobden, R.|
|Barclay, D.||Colebrooke, Sir T. E.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Collett, J.|
|Bernal, R.||Cowper, hon. W. F.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Craig, W. G.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Curteis, H. B.|
|Bridgeman, H.||Dawson, hon. T. V.|
|Bright, J.||D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T.|
|Brotherton, J.||Duncan, Visct.|
|Browne, R. D.||Duncan, G.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Dundas, Adm.|
|Buller, C.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Busfeild, W.||Elphinstone, H.|
|Escott, B.||O'Connell, J.|
|Esmonde, Sir T.||O'Conor Don|
|Etwall, R.||Osborne, R.|
|Ferguson, Col.||Paget, Col.|
|Fitzgerald, R. A.||Philips, G. R.|
|Forster, M.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Gibson, T. M.||Powell, C.|
|Gore, hon. R.||Power, J.|
|Grattan, H.||Protheroe, E.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Ross, D. R.|
|Hatton, Capt. V.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Hawes, B.||Rutherford, A.|
|Hill, Lord M.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Horsman, E.||Somers, J. P.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Stanton, Sir G. T.|
|Humphery, Ald.||Stewart, P. M.|
|Hutt, W.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Kelly, J.||Strutt, E.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Langston, J. H.||Thornely, T.|
|Layard, Capt.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.||Tufnell, K.|
|Macnamara, Maj.||Vane, Lord H.|
|M'Carthy, A.||Wakley, T.|
|M'Donnell, J. M.||Warburton, H.|
|Marsland, H.||Ward, H. G.|
|Mitcalfe, H.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Wilde, Sir T.|
|Morpeth, Visct.||Williams, W.|
|Morris, D.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.||Wood, C.|
|Muntz, G. F.||Worsley, Lord|
|Napier, Sir C.||Wyse, T.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|O'Brien, T.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|O'Connell D.||Somerville, Sir W.|