HC Deb 25 May 1846 vol 86 cc1201-2

adverted to the fact, that the first Order of the Day was the Second Reading of a Bill called the Protection of Life (Ireland) Bill. It would be remembered that Her Majesty, in Her Speech from the Throne, on 22nd January last, stated the increase of the crime of deliberate assassination in Ireland, and advised that measures should be adopted to put an end to the progress of a crime so dreadful. He need not state that they had now arrived at the 25th of May, and the House had not yet heard any statement from a Minister of the Crown regarding the Bill for the Protection of Life in Ireland. He should have thought that when so serious a measure was proposed by Government, they would have deemed it necessary to inform the House why it was introduced, since it was to the full of as much importance as any vote in the Miscellaneous Estimates, which it seemed were nevertheless to have precedence. Ministers ought either to make some statement of their Bill, or if they had seen reason to change their minds, they ought to inform the House of the fact. It seemed hardly consistent with their duty to the Crown and to the House to leave the matter entirely unnoticed, putting it off, perhaps, to the month of July, when the general massacre of measures would probably commence. It appeared unadvisable for the House to entertain a measure of this severe description without coming to some determination upon it. Having given the fullest consideration to the subject, and having consented to the first reading of the Bill as proposed by Ministers, he (Lord J. Russell) had come to the conclusion that it was his duty to oppose the second reading; but it was absolutely necessary, for the sake of Ireland, and with reference to public expectation there, that Ministers should state what were their intentions.


observed, that in justice to Government the noble Lord ought to bear in mind the circumstances that had hitherto prevented them from naming a day for the second reading. Only on Friday week the Corn Bill had been read a third time, and on Monday last the Customs Duties Bill went through the same stage. It had been understood and agreed to by the House that those measures should have precedence. On Friday last, at the instance of his hon. Friend the Member for Dorsetshire, he had consented to give up a Government day that the decision of the House on the Factory Bill might be given. There had been two preceding debates on Wednesdays on the subject, and it had been strongly urged upon him to assign a Government day for the sake of bringing the discussion to a termination. He had, therefore, relinquished Friday last. This evening Ministers brought forward the Estimates, because from the lapse of time it was necessary to pass them. It was, in fact, impossible further to postpone asking the House to sanction a vote of money in order that the public service might be conducted in its usual course. Consistently with the general wish, and for the convenience of the country, a day had been fixed for the financial statement, and that day was Friday next. He proposed to postpone until Friday the second reading of the Bill to which the noble Lord had referred, and then he would appoint a day when the discussion upon it should be taken.