§ MR. O'FLAHERTY
said, that he had not heard one single argument advanced which could induce him to agree to the present oppressive measure. It was stated to be necessary for the purpose of putting down political agitation in Ireland. So far from there being any symptoms of agitation in Ireland at the present time, he believed the feeling of the people of that country amounted to an absolute disgust at agitation. But it was constitutional agitation that the Government wanted to suppress; and he warned the House, and English Members in particular, that they were arming Ministers with a power which would come in the end to be turned against themselves, and used to put down freedom of expression in Lancashire and Yorkshire. The present measure was to be accompanied by another for the relief of the distress which existed in some parts of Ireland. He would not oppose that vote. On the contrary, he warmly advocated the proposal to save the poor starving people from death by hunger. But he must express his conviction that votes for the relief of Irish distress were the result of the misgovernment of that country, and as long as the present system of governing her continued, so long would similar votes be required. He had looked for some large measures from the present Ministry for effecting a change in the administration of public affairs in Ireland, and for amending her institutions. He felt disappointed, and he must record his vote against the Bill.
§ MR. SADLEIR
said, he did not mean to deny the importance of maintaining the constitution of the country unimpaired; but he maintained that no case whatever had been made out by Her Majesty's Ministers to justify them in appealing to the House at this moment for a further suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland. He had felt it to be his duty in 1847 and 1848 to give his support to the proposition then brought forward by the Government, and he had done so under the conviction that tranquillity and the absence of political excitement were essential for the social amelioration and improvement of the country; and he believed that every man acquainted with the condition of certain parts of Ireland admitted at the time the 501 necessity of some such measures as were then proposed. But his belief was, that on no occasion whatever had there been a measure like that now before the House brought forward on such slight grounds as at present. In the document chiefly relied upon by the right hon. Baronet (Sir W. Somerville), when introducing this Bill, he (Mr. Sadleir) could find no proof of the necessity of such a power being continued in the hands of the Executive Government. He felt bound, from his acquaintance with the rural population of some of the proclaimed districts in Ireland, to state his conviction that they were attached to the constitution of this country—that they were devoted to the person and Crown of Her Majesty—and that if there were discontent and dissatisfaction amongst them, that discontent and dissatisfaction arose solely from the policy and the conduct pursued by the existing Cabinet. The Lord Lieutenant stated, in his letter, that—It is to secure for Ireland this continued repose which is so vitally essential to her prosperity, to protect the country from the renewal of an agitation for objects that cannot be attained, and which for many years has disturbed its tranquillity, scaring away capital, destroying confidence, and rendering impossible the steady application of industry, that I desire strongly to impress on Her Majesty's Government the importance of applying to Parliament for a renewal of those powers which the 11th and 12th Victoria, c. 35, placed at the disposal of the Executive Government in Ireland.Now, he would beg to remind the House, that it was not a country whore the constitution was suspended—it was not a country where the personal freedom of the subject was allowed to hang on the breath or dictation of an individual, that the enterprising and the speculative would choose as the field of their industry and enterprise. He had heard that if they desired to scare away capital, and to drive the peaceable and industrious portion of the population out of the country, the best course to adopt was to continue this miserable, this wretched make-shift policy which the present Cabinet pursued. It was not where an armed soldiery mixed in the social policy of the country that industry and enterprise were likely to flourish. As to the repeal of the Act of Union, it was not just, or discreet, or fair, to place the continuance of this measure on the ground of a necessity existing for the prevention of agitation for that or any other legitimate object. On the contrary, the right hon. Baronet (Sir W. Somerville) 502 had distinctly declared that this Bill was not intended to prevent agitation for a repeal of the Union. It appeared from the letter of the Lord Lieutenant that only 120 persons had been arrested under the Bill of last Session; but the House was not informed what number of these persons were still in custody. If but six persons still remained imprisoned under these extraordinary powers, it would furnish a strong argument against the measure. He had had occasion during the period of greatest excitement in Ireland last year, to propose, at a meeting of the humbler classes, in one of the proclaimed districts, the health of Her Majesty, and he could assure the House that it was received with a degree of enthusiasm that would have done honour to any society in the empire. He then felt anxious to propose a similar compliment to the Nobleman at the head of the administration of affairs in Ireland; but he could not succeed, as he found it impossible to sever the personal conduct of the noble Lord (Earl of Clarendon) from that of the Ministers with whom he was associated. It would be well for the Government to remember, that the Irish people were remarkable among the nations of the world for the tenacity of their political recollections. They could not, therefore, now be expected to forget that the present Ministry, when in opposition, had put forward the grievances of Ireland in the strongest manner. The Government should remember that the Irish people were not a nation of barbarians—that they were not a set of unmitigated boors—that the light of education had been extended to them; and they were not, therefore, likely so soon to forgot the time when the noble Lord at the head of the Government had carried his opposition to the coercion system so far as to spend the greater part of a night in protesting against the payment of 25,000 men who had been employed in enforcing the Queen's authority in Ireland, or when he had so strongly dwelt on the Church Establishment in Ireland as an intolerable grievance. When the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had thus excited hopes, that it was to be admitted were extravagant, he ought at all events to have availed himself of those great exigencies which had occurred since his accession to office, presiding as he did over a House of Commons in which all parties were anxious, and united, and willing to give him a cordial and generous support in the introduction and discussion 503 of any system of policy of a comprehensive character calculated to ameliorate the miseries and to redress the grievances of the people of Ireland. The noble Lord at the head of the Government took occasion during the last Session of Parliament to defend the policy of the Government in the dispensation of the millions of the public funds in Ireland; and he cast the blame of that lavish expenditure upon the gentry and the ratepayers of Ireland, alleging that they had within themselves the power of directing into more productive channels the expenditure of that immense fund. The noble Lord, however, omitted to inform the House that there was no discretion whatever as to the disposal of those funds with the people of Ireland, but that the whole responsibility and control rested with the Government. Could anything be more disheartening to the people of Ireland than the exhibition which three Members of the Government had made during the last week in that House? The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland, in the first instance, assured them that the question of the area of taxation in connexion with the poor-law was one of such importance and difficulty that it was impossible to legislate upon it, and that the matter should be referred to a Committee. In the same week, the right hon. Gentleman informed the House that that vital question was to form no portion of the investigation of the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had occasion to advert to the appalling destitution in certain districts in Ireland, but he had no remedy to propose. [The speech of the hon. Member was here interrupted by a Message from the House of Lords requesting a Conference. The hon. Member resumed.] He was about to refer, he said, to the arguments of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as illustrative of the undecided and the divided state of the Cabinet, which had created in Ireland so much distrust of the legislative capacity of this House. The noble Lord at the head of the Government, when called upon to state his opinion as to the principles and details of the Irish Poor Law, did not state to the House the opinion which he had formed, and contented himself with assuring the House that he had formed certain opinions which he would lay before the Committee. The right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary had intimated in the most direct manner that he was favourable to a diminution in 504 the area of taxation, while the right hon. Baronet the Chancellor of the Exchequer assured the House last Session, that he was in favour of an increase in the area of taxation. He could not help saying, that this condition of the Minister forcibly recalled to his recollection a story of the late Chief Baron O'Grady, who being called upon to decide a complex and difficult legal question, on which his two colleagues, Baron M'Lellan and Baron Foster, had given opinions diametrically opposite, his lordship answered, in that brief and laconic manner which so remarkably characterised him—" I am compelled to agree with my learned brother M'Lellan, for the reasons assigned by my learned brother Foster." So he expected to hear the noble Lord state to the Committee, that he was compelled to agree with the right hon. the Home Secretary, for the reasons assigned by his Friend and relative the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was this indication of all want of decision upon important questions, on which rested the development of the industrial resources of Ireland, that was the true cause of dissatisfaction and discontent in Ireland. Nothing had yet emanated from the present Administration but successive promises and successive professions. There was among that Administration either a want of disposition, or a want of legislative capacity, or a want of that political knowledge and acquaintance with the affairs of Ireland, which would enable them to grapple with the difficulties of the country. No steps had been taken to preserve the staple industry and staple manufacture of Ireland, no measure had been introduced for maintaining the selling and setting the value of land, and therefore the people were driven to despondency. And even if the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) were now to come forward and announce some comprehensive system for the advantage of Ireland, he, for one, would have no faith or confidence in such a declaration, though if those declarations were realised, no one would rejoice more than he should. He distrusted them because he saw among them no humble and unostentatious habits—no industry and application brought to bear upon Irish questions—none of those primary movements made, on which the construction, the preparation, and the introduction of remedial measures, which had nothing to do with political or party questions, ought to rest. They found that the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland was obliged to divide his time 505 and his energies between his Parliamentary duties in the House, his official duties in the Irish Office, and his administrative duties as an Irish Poor Law Commissioner. He thought the first arrangement in the way of improvement was the retirement of the right hon. Baronet from one or other of these duties, as it was impossible that he could find time properly to discharge them both; and he had forgotten to say that if they intended to introduce measures of improvement, the sooner they made an arrangement by which one of the Irish law officers should be introduced to this House the better. If they failed in doing that, they would be condemned to the miserable repetition of the wretched bungling of last Session, when measures were introduced by Gentlemen who, however great their acquirements might be, were ignorant of the laws, the habits, or the circumstances of Ireland. He believed that the present proposition, taken in connexion with the other proposition to vote 50,000l. for Irish distress, was intended for the purpose of enabling the existing Administration to continue in office, and to resist the widespread spirit of disaffection and disappointment which was prevalent in every district in Ireland. It was idle to pretend that the measure was introduced to allay political excitement. The people of Ireland were not in a spirit which would dispose them to receive the poison that might be spread among them by political firebrands, but they were in a disposition to turn their attention to those questions on which the social regeneration of the country depended. They were anxious to consider and to examine any proposition which might be brought forward in that House to improve the relations between landlord and tenant, for the security and protection of industrious, skilful, and enterprising tenants. They were discontented, because of the physical wretchedness of the country—they were discontented, because no means were taken to enable those individuals to maintain themselves by their own industry, who were now forced to become mendicants in the workhouses—they were dissatisfied, because three millions of the people of Ireland were reduced to a condition of utter destitution—they were discontented because no measure had emanated from the Government calculated to relieve their distress, or to bring into operation that capital which he believed was to be found in all needful abundance in Ireland itself. He thought it would be 506 well for the Government to consider whether a measure to allow the Bank of Ireland to invest its surplus capital, by way of mortgage, in the land of Ireland, would not be an agreeable substitute for a Coercion Bill. It would also be well for them to consider whether a Bill to provide for the better management of that mass of landed property which was now under the control of the Court of Chancery, would not be found a great improvement. He would ask, was it wise, was it just, was it statesmanlike to introduce a Bill last year, which would cast into the management of the Court of Chancery still more of Irish property? Yet that was the direct result of the Encumbered Estates Bill. You had not increased the facilities for the sale or transfer of landed property in Ireland, but you had rendered it necessary for every inheritor and creditor to place the property under the control and operation of the Court of Chancery. Had you not continually inveighed against the evil results which ensued from the introduction of landed property into Ireland? Could any one look at the property of which the Lord Chancellor of Ireland was at this moment the landlord—at the destitute condition of the people on these estates—without regretting that Government was not guided by sounder principles? And would it not be better for them to substitute for the present Bill one which would entitle and compel the trustees of Trinity College to a better management of their vast territorial possessions in Ireland? Hon. Members had heard much of the pernicious practice of middlemen in Ireland, and yet it was a fact that the collegiate estates were constantly demised, not to the tenant occupiers, but to a middleman, and it was perfectly indifferent to the managers whether he lived one mile or 1,000 miles from the estate. Two remarkable instances of this occurred only last year, where the lauds fell out of lease, and the former lessees declined to renew them, but gave their opinion to the managers, that the tenant occupiers should be the immediate tenants. The tenants themselves were anxious for such an arrangement, and offered a rent amounting to the full value of the land; but the managers, in their wisdom, thought proper to reject the offer, and to demise the land in each instance to middlemen, who were absentees, and who gave rents under those offered by the occupying tenants. Would it not also be wise if the Government would turn their 507 attention to the condition of the lands man-aged by the Ecclesiastical Commission? The pages of the blue books and official reports abounded with information of the destitute condition of individuals who were located on property held by the Ecclesiastical Commission. In one instance it was proved that sixty families on one estate held by that commission were in the receipt of outdoor relief; and there was incontestable evidence to show that if these sixty families were provided for, the destitution on the remaining property of the district would be merely nominal. They were willing to emigrate to any of Her Majesty's colonies; but the Ecclesiastical Commissioners refused to bear the expense, and the sixty families were left to weigh down the energy, the industry, and the self-reliance of their neighbours. The Government had ventured to lecture Irishmen on the importance of self-reliance. He fully agreed in the importance of the principle; but he told them that they had already done more to break down that spirit of self-reliance than the legislation of a Session could cure. The object of the Government should be to devise some direct and speedy means to induce the industrious, the skilful, and the solvent cultivators of the soil to continue in the country—to hold out to them some direct and intelligible inducement to show that it would be for their own interest and prosperity to continue in the land of their birth. It would be well if any measures could be adopted to induce capitalists to take courage, and to believe that it would be safe for them to invest their capital, and that it would not be destroyed by the amount of poor-rates and taxation. They ought to bear in mind that the actual population in Ireland could not, for a century to come, execute the requisite labour which was incidental to the improvement of the cultivable land alone. By requisite labour he meant the necessary drainage, the formation of good fencing, and the erection of suitable farm buildings. He felt certain that there was abundance of capital in Ireland itself to improve the country, and to employ the agricultural population. He was not ignorant of the important and appalling fact, that of the thirteen millions of rental in the country, no less than five millions must change hands. No legislation, no event, no harvest, could prevent the inevitable sale and conversion of laud to that effect; and that fact ought to force upon the Government the necessity of directing 508 their attention to all the laws that related to the devising the sale and the transfer of lands in Ireland. These were plain practical subjects for which it would be unnecessary to issue a commission. But he would ask them, was it wise to act as they did last year, when, at the fag end of the Session, they introduced a Bill which, he acknowledged, contained some important improvements—he meant the Bill for abolishing leases by way of covenants of perpetual renewal—a Bill which was first introduced by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland in a shape and form which no man practically acquainted with Ireland could give his assent to; which the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) afterwards introduced in a much amended form, but which, at the slightest symptom of opposition, was again withdrawn. He would ask, was it becoming in the right hon. Secretary for Ireland to introduce a Bill which had paralysed the industry of the country, adopting a new principle of elective franchise, and then immediately withdrawing it again? Was that calculated to inspire confidence in the Government? Did it not give just reason to reproach the Government with having abandoned all their old principles, and with having adopted an inverted system? Something had been said about the necessity of preventing clamour in Ireland. He asked, was it not well that there should be clamour in Ireland, so long as grievances, such as no other nation on the face of the globe endured, were allowed to continue unredressed? Was it not natural that clamour should continue so long as the masses were suffering miseries which were unknown in any other civilised portion of the globe? Adopting the idea of Burke, he would say, it was better that the slumbers—that was to say, the apathy of the Treasury bench should be broken by the alarm of the fire-bell, than that they, their families, and their property, should perish in the flames. Thanking the House for the patience with which they had heard him, he begged to move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
§ SIR H. W. BARRON
opposed the measure of the Government, because it would give pabulum to the dangerous and disaffected in Ireland. It was the most unwise course that, in his opinion, the Government could possibly have adopted in the present state and condition of the country. He regretted to be obliged to speak in such strong terms of disapprobation. 509 But such was his fervent and decided opinion. At the present moment there was no tendency, nor did the Government allege there was, to political excitement in Ireland. This he knew, that many who had opposed him at the last Waterford election in favour of Mr. Meagher, the Young Ireland candidate, now deeply regretted the course they had taken, and were now quite disabused of the delusion then so prevalent. He thought it his duty to warn Her Majesty's Ministers, that in pressing on this measure they were adopting a course which was sure to prove destructive to the peace and well-being of Ireland. According to Government logic, it did not seem to matter whether a country was tranquil or seditious. When the country was, to a small extent, disaffected, the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act was demanded to tranquillise it; now, when all was peace, the same measure of coercion was asked for, lest disturbances should break out again. Such reasoning might do for Algiers, but surely it would not find acceptance in a British House of Commons. The only plausible argument advanced for this Bill was, that the country was not, although tranquil, generally so well affected as the Government could wish. He was surprised to hear such an argument put forward by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), who was the head of the liberal party. Would the noble Lord have attempted to use such an argument in the case of the English Chartists? Would England, would Englishmen, when Chartism had been put down, have supported the noble Lord if he had said, "The Chartists have been put down, all fear of disturbance is at an end; but as they are still discontented, I demand a suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act?" What he (Sir H. W. Barron) wanted to know was, whether or no the Irish people were living under the British constitution. He could tell the House that until they were—until they had an equal share of British rights and privileges, there would never be peace or tranquillity in Ireland. They had expected something very different from the present measure on the meeting of Parliament. They looked for measures calculated to stimulate the industrial energies of the people, and develop the resources of the country. They expected to have heard some proposition for reclaiming the waste lands, or for giving some additional stimulus to the landed proprietors to till and improve their properties by draining, sub- 510 soiling, or other works that would give employment to the labouring population—these were the things he had looked for on the opening of the Session. A great deal was being constantly said about the laziness of the Celt; all he could say was, that in his neighbourhood the people were only too anxious to be employed, and when employed they gave full value for their wages. The landlords had also come in for their share of censure. In the Times of that very day, there was an article charging the landlords with having caused all the miseries of Ireland, by the minute subdivision of their properties. He could tell the Times, that for the last twenty years the landlords of Ireland had been using their utmost endeavours to diminish the number of small holdings. But they had many difficulties to contend with, of which he could give an instance which had happened within his own experience. He had a small property within seven miles of Waterford, which about thirty years ago was lot on a long lease. On this property, which was only 150 acres, the tenant had squatted forty-two under tenants, each of whom had paid him 5l., 10l., or 15l. premium on entering upon their holdings. How was the head landlord to be held accountable for such a state of things as this? He was no more accountable for the misery of those forty-two cottiers than was the writer in the Times himself. It was very unfortunate that men, who knew nothing of what they were talking or writing about, should make such assertions. It was thus that prejudices were raised against the Irish land-lands as a class and body, and thus it was that they were doomed to destruction—Delenda est Carthago was the cry—"Destroy the Irish landlords utterly." It was ignorance and malice combined, which induced those persons, who must give something to feed the vanity and bad passions of their readers to raise such an outcry. He warned the House and the Government against the course they were pursuing. They would find that, by stimulating industry and employment, they would create peace, content, and happiness throughout the country. Let them by remedial measures bring in a good Landlord and Tenant Bill, give the farmer an interest in his land, and they would soon see an improvement in the condition of the Irish people. The English manufacturers had an interest in promoting that welfare, for the Irish were their best customers. They took millions upon millions of the products of 511 Manchester, of Leeds, and of Birmingham; and as they became more prosperous, their consumption would be doubled or trebled. In his opinion, English and Irish interests were identical, and you could not injure one without sensibly impairing the other.
§ MR. SHARMAN CRAWFORD
wished to state briefly his reasons for refusing his assent to the proposition of the Government. If the only consideration to be taken into account in the matter were the personal qualifications of the individual who was to administer the law, the character of the Earl of Clarendon would make him (Mr. S. Crawford) hesitate to refuse to entrust such powers to him. But it would be a bad principle to grant unconstitutional powers on account of the personal character of the administrator. The reasons, therefore, which were put forward by the Earl of Clarendon for demanding the continuance of those powers, should be examined by themselves and upon their own merits; and in his (Mr. S. Crawford's) opinion those reasons were totally insufficient. The first question was, that—On the part of those engaged with the late treasonable movement, no indication whatever of sorrow or repentance for their misdeeds had been observed.He (Mr. S. Crawford) submitted that that should be no element of consideration in the question. The particular opinions of one set of politicians should not be put forward as a consideration on which the acts of that House should be founded. The second reason put forward by Lord Clarendon was—That there was no reason to believe that the recent orderly conduct of the people in the districts where disturbances prevailed, or were threatened, proceeded from any improved feeling as regarded either the law or the Executive Government,Such a supposition was quite inadmissible as a reason in so serious a case. The third was, that the Executive Government had not the support of the people in suppressing the late insurrection; and the fourth, that the population in the proclaimed districts had not delivered up their arms when called upon. Now, there should not be too much stress laid upon the latter fact. It was a natural feeling that in disturbed times people should be in possession of arms for the protection of their houses, their families, and their persons. And these being all the reasons assigned by the Earl of Clarendon for demanding the great powers which he sought, he (Mr. Crawford) 512 submitted to the House that they were not sufficient. But it was necessary not only to give reasons for putting Ireland out of the pale of the constitution; the objects to be gained by such a course should be stated also. And what were they? The object which the noble Lord (Lord. J. Russell) had chiefly in view was the repression of political agitation. Now, that political agitation which had gone on for many years in Ireland existed no longer; and he asked the House, was it possible for any one to believe that any man existed, or was likely to exist for many years to come, who was or would be capable of carrying on again such an agitation as that which had been carried on by a deceased hon. Gentleman? It was impossible. He wished to cast no reflection upon the opinions of the deceased; but he (Mr. Crawford) was always of opinion that that agitation was delusive in its character, and that it would not answer the purposes for which it was intended. But he thought it would be now impossible to renew that agitation again. There might be, indeed, an honest open agitation for the repeal of the Union. He did not know that there might not be large meetings held for the purpose of obtaining a repeal of the Union; but he denied that there could ever again be such agitation as that which was gone by. He had opposed the Treason and Felony Bill, because it was not accompanied by any remedial measures, and had expressed his conviction that until such measures were proposed and carried, there would never be tranquillity in Ireland. He should oppose the present measure on the same grounds, and because Government had taken no steps to redeem the pledges made in the course of last Session. He opposed it as an Irishman, because it deprived his countrymen of their rights; and as an English Member, because he believed that it might form a precedent for the future coercion of his constituents.
said, if the Chartists had ever got the length of necessitating the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, few English Members would have hesitated to consent to a further suspension on the credit of the Government. But there were many English Members now who were anxious to show that, though fully disposed to support the Government in every necessary power, they were also jealous of every suspension of popular rights. More Members than himself were in straits with their constituencies on this 513 point; for Irish Members would be much mistaken if they believed there was not a strong Irish feeling among the constituencies, and a strong disposition in English Members to unite in every way they deemed practicable in promoting the welfare of the less fortunate portion of the empire. He hoped Members with these feelings would have an opportunity of expressing them by voting for a reduction of the period of extension in Committee; and with the understanding that he should not be prevented from doing that, he should vote for the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
said, it had not been his intention at that stage of the Bill to offer a single observation upon it, but that after the speech of the hon. and gallant Officer who had just sat down, he felt that he could not refrain from expressing his opinion, particularly when he found an hon. Member, possessed of the pure intentions of the gallant Colonel, imposed upon by such a letter as that written by the Earl of Clarendon. Now, when the present measure was first brought before the House, he (Mr. Osborne) gave it a willing support, because he considered then that Ireland was placed in a very perilous position, that the insurrection was not a mock one, and that a single success upon the part of the rebels would have plunged the country in blood. But he must say that there was a different state of things in Ireland now. Without at all depreciating the efforts of Lord Clarendon, he thought there had been a most unnecessary mead of adulation paid that noble Lord, and he could not for the life of him see what his Lordship had done to warrant the general conspiracy of all parties to bow down before his shrine. The Lord Lieutenant had simply done what any other able general officer would do. He had had an army of 30,000 men, commanded by most able officers, besides the patronage of Dublin Castle at his disposal, and with that assistance, he had succeeded in putting down the factious proceedings in Tipperary. He was quite prepared to give credit to the Lord Lieutenant, or to the Government, had they proposed some comprehensive scheme for the future policy of Ireland, and not, what he would call, the policy of kicks and halfpence now proposed—the object of which was to take away the liberty of the subject. Had the overtures lately made by the noble Lord at the head of the Administration to a distinguished individual on the opposite benches (Sir J. Graham) been successful, he (Mr. Osborne) 514 confessed that he should have felt more strong confidence in certain parts of the Government plans, for then he would have felt that, at least one statesman and a man of great administrative ability had joined the Ministry. It was well known that the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) had left the noble Lord's party on the Irish Church question—that he left them in the year 1834, because of their views on the Appropriation Clause; and yet now, in 1849, the Whig Government were making overtures in their necessity to the right hon. Gentleman, who had years before separated from them on a vital question. He (Mr. Osborne) knew that this Irish subject was a disagreeable one to speak about, because hon. Gentlemen were so intent on glorifying the Earl of Clarendon; but he felt and believed that the Lord Lieutenant's government in Ireland was not founded on public opinion, but on Her Majesty's Army. The Government were now about to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act. What position would they be in at the end of six months? Were they to go on perpetually suspending this Act, and calling for grants from the Consolidated Fund? because as yet those were the only two measures for Ireland which Her Majesty's Ministers had propounded. One night they came down to the House and asked for a grant of 50,000l, and the next they came down and asked for a suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Did they call this government? What was the result of the Devon Commission? Why, that after a great expense had been incurred, and many blue books presented, that Commission did nothing more than saddle the Consolidated Fund with the payment of the Irish Constabulary. That Commission concluded its report in 1843, and from that day to this all that was done was to saddle the payment of the Irish Constabulary on the Consolidated Fund. The Government were now coming to the Consolidated Fund again, and when they had pulled that string sufficiently long, they then suspended the Habeas Corpus Act. He dissented from this plan, and also from the letter of the Lord Lieutenant, which he considered disgraceful. The gallant Colonel who had just addressed the House was for suspending the Act for three months; but he (Mr. Osborne) would not consent to its suspension for one day longer, because he did not think it necessary, and he was sure it was not founded upon the principles of justice. 515 He wished to know what had become of all the measures which the noble Lord at the head of the Government had considered necessary some time since to cure the evils of Ireland? What had become of the Irish Church question, and all the other measures and plans which the noble Lord was to bring forward on coming into office? Why had he, as an honest man, turned out the Government of the right hon. Member for Tamworth, if he was not prepared with some grand scheme for Ireland? He (Mr. Osborne) contended that the party to which he belonged had been fraudulently imposed upon at the time they turned out the late Government, which he believed in his conscience was an honest Government, merely to put a select family circle in office. He knew that this was the feeling in Ireland, and that the noble Lord had utterly destroyed the remnant of the Whig party in that country, because no man would now come forward on the hustings and gain the votes of an Irish constituency by saying that he was attached to the Whigs. Let the noble Lord tell the House what was the policy he intended to pursue with regard to Ireland if this perpetual system was to go on of suspending the Habeas Corpus Act and granting money. He regretted that the Lord Lieutenant had thought it right to reflect on the men who were now paying the penalty of their crimes in a gaol, and to state that he saw no signs of contrition on the part of the men who had participated in the late disturbances. He had no sympathy with the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell) in his agitation for the repeal of the Union; but Her Majesty's Ministers were throwing power into that hon. Member's hands, and giving an impetus to the repeal agitation, by proposing such a measure as the present; and he, for one, would cheerfully vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. REYNOLDS
observed, that last Session, on the second night on which the House sat, they had been called upon to pass a Coercion Bill for Ireland. Soon after, they had been called upon to pass another; and about the termination of the Session, they had been asked to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act. Upon these occasions he had felt it to be his duty to vote with the minorities; but notwithstanding this, he felt that there were then some grounds for calling for these coercive measures. It was then said, and truly, that an active and angry agitation was being carried on in Ireland. It was then said, 516 and truly, that in many instances the law was violated, and he confessed that he had found some difficulty in recording his vote against any measure of coercion. But upon the present occasion he felt no difficulty at all. He had read the debates upon the introduction of the present measure, and he could find in them no argument to justify the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act until next September. Ireland was found profoundly tranquil. He feared that that was the tranquillity of poverty. It was almost the tranquillity of the grave. The physical, and almost the mental, energies of the population were so prostrate that the people were not at present in a fighting humour. The last fight ended with the row at Ballingary, which some persons had facetiously called the Waterloo of the revolution. Reference I had been made to the Lord Lieutenant. Now he saw nothing improper in the Lord Lieutenant writing a letter to the Minister of the Crown, giving his opinion as to what course of policy ought to be pursued in Ireland. He thought it a proper thing in a Lord Lieutenant to give advice; but whether the House ought to adopt that advice was quite another question. For his own part he was not inclined, in this instance, to follow the counsels which had been given by the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. Osborne). It was said that the Lord Lieutenant had done nothing to deserve approbation. He (Mr. Reynolds) did not think so. He thought that he had done much to deserve approbation. He had refused to arm the Orange yeomanry against the Catholic population; he had preserved the peace of the country; and it was because he (Mr. Reynolds) was anxious to support his government, that he was sorry that the letter in question had been written—a letter which, if it should be acted upon, would be productive of deep and lasting injury to Lord Clarendon's administration. He understood that one paragraph of that letter had been misinterpreted. He understood that it was not intended to interfere with agitation carried on by peaceable and legitimate means for the repeal of the Union, but it was intended to interfere with agitation against any other of the grievances under which the people of Ireland laboured. If so, he had no hesitation in saying that the policy of Government would fail. The people of Ireland had other grievances to complain of, of a leading and cardinal nature, exclusive of the repeal question. Did it over 517 enter into the imagination of hon. Gentlemen that the people were dissatisfied and discontented under the temporal oppression of the Irish Church? Could seven millions of people professing the Catholic religion, he content that the Ministers of a Protestant Established Church should receive in round numbers upwards of a million annually? He spoke as an Irishman and a Roman Catholic, and he declared that he would not feel that he was fully emancipated so long as the Protestant Church was established in Ireland. But in wishing to get rid of that Church as an establishment, he did not wish to introduce another. He was opposed to established churches of all denominations, and he held that the people should pay their pastors as they paid their doctors, and that it was utterly hopeless to expect permanent tranquillity in Ireland while the Established Church existed. He believed also that many of the grievances in Ireland were traceable to the Irish landlords; and that if the latter performed their duty as the landlords of England performed theirs, it would be far easier to govern the country than it was at present. In conclusion, he had only to repeat that he would oppose the measure before the House, and to express his surprise that no hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House, who would vote for the Bill, had favoured the House with his reasons for doing so. He believed that most of the votes would be upon the one side, and all the argument upon the other.
§ MR. TRELAWNY
intended to support the Bill, thinking that Government deserved great credit for the promptitude and energy with which they had acted, and for the success with which they laboured to preserve the public peace. As regarded the future prospects of Ireland, he could not see any hope for that country so long as the people indulged their progenitive tendencies without having means at hand for the support of a rapidly increasing population. He blamed the conduct of the Irish Members in opposing the Bill. They were too apt to delay and thwart all Irish measures which did not include a grant from the Treasury in behalf of their constituents.
§ VISCOUNT BERNARD
was anxious to have an opportunity of thanking the Government, and especially the Earl of Clarendon, whose conduct had been beyond all praise, for the manly way in which they had come forward to suppress rebellion in Ireland. 518 He denied the assertion that there had been no danger. He had been on the spot at the time, presiding over the deliberations of the grand jury of the largest and most important county of Ireland, at the time when they thought it necessary to memorialise the Lord Lieutenant to send war steamers to the coast. He was, therefore, a witness who could speak to the greatness and imminency of the danger. At that period the county of Cork had been proclaimed; but had the arms possessed by the people been given up? This was a deeply important question. There had been a large importation of arms into Ireland, and no one could tell now where those arms were. It was not such outbreaks as that of Ballingarry which they had to fear. It was cowardly and skulking traitors who possessed these arms, and who would use them, he feared, in pursuance of a system of secret conspiracy and assassination. He believed that the present Bill was necessary, not only to preserve the peace of the country, but to promote its future welfare; and agreeing, as he did, with the Lord Lieutenant, that agitation was the bane of Ireland, he would now cheerfully support the proposition of Government.
§ MR. E. B. ROCHE
observed, that one of the most remarkable features of the present debate was the studied silence of the Members of Her Majesty's Government upon this question. He had heard but two reasons for the measure alleged during the evening. The one was that of the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Trelawny), touching the alleged progenitive tendencies of the Irish, and the other was the reason of the noble Lord (Viscount Bernard), who had just spoken, and who wished the constitution to be suspended because the grand jury of Cork were in a great fright. He could not help thinking that the great body of English Members were about to pursue a very extraordinary course upon this Bill. He had often acted with these hon. Members, particularly with reference to the free-trade question, at the risk of his own seat; and he saw with great pain the course upon which they were now bent in reference to the suspension of the constitution in Ireland. It was quite clear that the Earl of Clarendon's letter meant that the constitution ought to be suspended, in order to put down agitation for the repeal of the Union. Now, all he wished to say upon this point was, that a very large party in Ireland thought 519 that the repeal of the Union was a very desirable measure; and he begged to ask the free-trade Members how they could reconcile it with their principles and their practice, to come down and vote for the suspension of the constitution in Ireland, in order to prevent a large body of the Irish people agitating peaceably and constitutionally for the repeal of the Union? The result of the measure would be that they could not have in Ireland what they had in Manchester. He wished, therefore, to inquire of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), and the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), whether they were prepared to support this measure—suspending the constitution in Ireland—in order that a large body of the Irish people might be prevented expressing their opinion with regard to the legislative union of the two countries? In Manchester there existed an organised association for financial reform. If this measure were passed, that which was lawful in Manchester would not be tolerated in Dublin. The hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright), and the hon. Member for the West Riding (Mr. Cobden), had come up to Parliament after attending a great meeting at Manchester; but when the Irish Members made an appeal to them, to support them in obtaining the same constitutional rights which England enjoyed, these hon. Gentlemen took up their hats and walked out of the House. If anything could make him regret his free-trade votes, it was the conduct of the free-trade Members on this occasion. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Colonel Thompson) might be taken as a fair representative of the Radical party in general. Now, all that he (Mr. Roche) could gather from his speech was, that he intended to support the Government. The hon. and gallant Gentleman told them that he had often been in great straits with his constituency upon Irish questions. Now, all that he (Mr. Roche) would say was this, that he sincerely hoped the vote of the hon. and gallant Colonel to-night would place him in a greater strait than ever. He trusted that some Member of Her Majesty's Government would answer the question put by the hon. and gallant Member for Middlesex, and state what policy they proposed to pursue towards Ireland after they had got a suspension of this Act for six months, and after they had, consequently, kept the people of that country under their feet, trampled upon their liberties, 520 and degraded them in the eyes of Europe? Were they to expect another suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act after the expiration of that term? He thought it was the duty of the people of Ireland, who were in distress, and still more of the people of England, who were about to administer relief to that distress, to ascertain from Her Majesty's Government the manner in which they proposed to govern that country for the future. He should like to know whether, in case another Chartist outbreak in England should occur, and tranquillity should be restored, any Minister would call for a suspension of the liberties of the people? He denounced the present proceedings of Her Majesty's Government as an insult to the Irish people. The Government might disclaim such an intention; but he gave them little credit for it. What Ireland wanted was good and statesmanlike laws; and the peace of the country required preserving, not by force and violence, but by a line of policy which should rally round the Government the good opinions of the people, and which should be based on justice and a spirit of fair dealing. Depend upon it, that so long as a system of coercion was maintained in Ireland, she would be a blot upon this country, and that she would in time drag England down to her own level of misery and degradation.
§ SIR W. SOMERVILLE
said, that he should not trespass upon their attention with more than a very few remarks. His hon. Friend (Mr. Roche), who had just sat down, had paid himself a very bad compliment, which he (Sir W. Somerville) certainly should not have ventured to have uttered. His hon. Friend, in addressing himself to this measure—a measure of great importance, involving the interests, not only of Ireland, but of the empire—had endeavoured to establish what he (Sir W. Somerville) might be permitted to call a quid pro quo system. The hon. Gentleman said to those on his (Sir W. Somerville's) side of the House, who had taken into consideration the events which had occurred in Ireland during the last few months, and who no doubt had arrived with pain at the conviction that it was their duty to support the measure of Her Majesty's Government—he said to those hon. Gentlemen—" How can you think of doing such a thing as that? I voted for your free-trade measure, and I now expect you will come forward and assist me in resisting the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act." 521 That was a line of argument which he should not presume to address to the hon. Gentleman, for he had that opinion of him that he was persuaded that when the hon. Member voted in favour of the principle of free trade, he thought he was doing what was right, and what he was hound to do; and in like manner he was prepared to believe that the same spirit animated those Gentlemen who now felt it their painful duty to vote in favour of the present measure. [Mr. B. OSBORNE: They will not vote at all.] Where "they?" He did not know who "they" were. [Mr. B. OSBORNE: The Manchester School.] He did not refer to the "Manchester School," but to the two hundred and odd Members of the House who had voted with Her Majesty's Government on a recent occasion, because they had thought it to be their duty to do so, as they had equally thought it their duty to vote for free-trade measures. The hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Sadleir), who was not then in the House, had addressed to him (Sir W. Somerville) a number of remarks personally, to which he should have offered some reply had he been present; but as that hon. Gentleman was not in the House, he should not follow his example by going generally into the question of Ireland, and making reference to the question of landlord and tenant, the franchise, and other topics to which the hon. Gentleman had alluded. But he should beg to address a few remarks upon the proposition immediately engaging the attention of the House, namely, the proposal to suspend, for a limited time, the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland. The hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Reynolds), in the remarks he had addressed to the House, had laid a stress upon certain expressions in the letter of the Earl of Clarendon; and he argued that those expressions had led him to believe that, should the Lord Lieutenant be entrusted with the powers asked for, he would use them for the purpose of putting a stop to any agitation for a repeal of the Union. Now, did any man suppose that, in the present state of public opinion, any Lord Lieutenant—any individual entrusted with the Executive power in Ireland, even if he had the inclination, which the present holder of that office certainly had not—would presume to use those powers to stop an agitation for so peaceful and legitimate an object. Certainly not. What was intended to be conveyed by the expression which his Excellency had used, was, that if any agitation should be carried on in a 522 treasonable manner, and in a way inciting to insurrection, such powers should be trusted to the Executive in Ireland. The expression did not therefore apply to such a system of agitation as that adopted by the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell), because that agitation had been carried on for a number of years without interference on the part of the Executive Government, but it did apply to agitation carried on for treasonable purposes. Having said thus much, he confessed that, in addressing to the House any remarks in favour of the measure before thorn, he found himself in a different position to that in which he should have been had he addressed the House on the subject in the course of the last Session. A Motion to continue an Act of this description—an Act which had been found necessary only six months ago—was quite a different proposition, and rested on altogether different grounds to those on which the original proposition had been based, and did not require the production of that absolute proof for the measure which it absolutely required on its first introduction. The vote of to-night, he admitted, was, to a certain extent, a vote of confidence in Her Majesty's Government, and in the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, judging from the best information at his command, and conceiving that there was a lull, as far as any insurrectionary movement was concerned, at the present moment in Ireland, had come forward and had stated on his own responsibility to Her Majesty's Government—and on that statement Her Majesty's Government had proceeded—that he did not think it was safe at the present moment to deprive the Executive Government of the powers with which they had been entrusted during the last Session. It was easy to talk about this measure being an insult to the people of Ireland. Hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House seemed to think they had a monopoly of love for Irish freedom and Irish interests. But he (Sir. W. Somerville), too, felt that love towards his country, and he thought he had shown it all his life through. He not believe there was any party of men in Ireland who would look upon it as an insult to their country. For his own part, he believed it to be not only an act of necessity, but still more an act of humanity. Suffering, as the Irish people were at the present moment from an unheard-of amount of destitution, it 523 was right that they should be defended against those who would prey upon their wants and destitution, for ulterior purposes of their own. Whatever the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. B. Osborne) might say to the contrary, he (Sir W. Somerville) believed that no man more completely enjoyed the confidence of all parties than the Earl of Clarendon. It had been felt that if the outbreak in Ireland could not have been put down without bloodshed, the precautions of the Lord Lieutenant would have been successful in checking it, and that he would act successfully against any future attempts at insurrection, or at disturbing the peace of the country. He (Sir W. Somerville) would not trouble the House with any further remarks. Every man who loved the liberties of his country must feel pain at being obliged to vote for a measure of this description; but he believed that such a vote was at this moment necessary, and was called for under the present circumstances of Ireland; and, for his own part, he should not shrink from any responsibility which might attach to a vote at which he had arrived in accordance with his conscientious conviction.
§ LORD CLAUDE HAMILTON
agreed with the right hon. Gentleman (Sir W. Somerville) who had last spoken, that no person could feel satisfaction in any vote which he might be called to give on this question. As the representative of a large Irish constituency, he (Lord C. Hamilton) must say that he thought it but just that such an Act as that which they were now discussing—an Act which went to deprive so large a portion of their fellow-subjects of their liberties, on the score, as it was said, of humanity—should not he allowed to pass without the Government, which had brought it forward, coming and showing how it happened that so large a portion of Her Majesty's dominions had been brought into such a state of social disorganisation as to require the imposition of such a measure. He (Lord C. Hamilton) must ask the House to remember what party it had been in that House which had uniformly advocated the measures which had mainly contributed to the present state of things. The right hon. Baronet (Sir W. Somerville) had stated that this measure was to be regarded somewhat as a vote of confidence in Her Majesty's Government and the Earl of Clarendon. He would vote for it irrespective of all party considerations, for he should be ashamed of himself if he did not 524 come forward to give expression to his admiration of the Earl of Clarendon, to whose unceasing mental and physical exertions it was owing that Government were enabled to state the insurrection in Ireland had been suppressed. He rejoiced, then, that the vote would be taken as a vote of confidence in that noble Lord. But he regarded the proposition of Her Majesty's Government very much in the light of an indictment against eight millions of the Irish people—a right was about to be withheld from them, which, properly, they should enjoy so long as they lived under the British constitution; and, considering the magnitude of the issue at stake, he thought that Her Majesty's Ministers should have given a more distinct and accurate account of the causes which had led to the present state of things. He held in his hand the communication from the Earl of Clarendon to the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and which was put forward as the foundation for the continuance of this measure. He found in that letter a reference made to past Parliamentary history, in which he (Lord C. Hamilton) had taken a humble part; he found a reference to the difficulties of getting in the arms by proclamation, to a system of agitation which had long prevailed, and to the difficulties which must attend any attempts to wean the people from their past courses. Those statements led him to reflect upon the reasons which should induce him to give his vote on the present occasion. He could not forget that on Irish questions he had frequently found himself in opposition to the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) and the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey). On the question of the Arms Bill, he had found himself night after night voting for adjournments. He could well remember how the Opposition spoke against what they then called governing by force, and lauded a policy which was based upon public opinion; nor could be forget the prolonged cheering with which the right hon. Gentleman, the late Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Macaulay) was greeted, when in rounded periods he charged the then Prime Minister of this country with governing the people by means of armed men and entrenched camps. He well remembered also the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) moving for a return of the number of troops then in Ireland, and declaiming against the attempt of the Government, to which he 525 was then opposed, for their attempt by force to overawe the wishes of the people. He (Lord C. Hamilton) would ask how Ministers would like it, were he to move for a return of the troops, artillery, pensioners, and police in Ireland during the month of August last—were he to compare the number of troops employed under a Minister who had come into office by the rejection of the mild measures proposed by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, with the number employed when the noble Lord at the head of the Government made a distinct attack upon the late Administration, that they governed by force and not by opinion? With respect to the present measure, he (Lord C. Hamilton) felt that it was not right to punish a people until it had been shown who had led them into error—until it had been shown who had drilled them in that system of agitation for which the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act was now asked as a remedy. In the space of two short years Her Majesty's Ministers had come down to the House to ask for measures which totally threw into the shade the milder measures of the Government which preceded them—measures which had then been denounced with all that eloquence about popular rights which seemed to animate hon. and right hon. Gentlemen when they happened to sit on his side of the House. He did not know whether it was any particular current of air, or peculiarity in the atmosphere of the House or not, but it always happened that speeches about popular rights, made for the purpose of catching votes, always proceeded from his side of the House. [Laughter.] Of course he meant the speeches of hon. Members who now sat on the Ministerial side. Could the Government wonder that we should have to deplore the existence of the present state of things in Ireland, when they reflected upon the system of demoralisation which had been pursued in that country for years past? He thought that the Government were responsible for much of the misery which now afflicted Ireland, and he trusted that they would express some little contrition for having in past years abetted a system of agitation which was now deplored by all parties in the State. The hon. Member for Armagh (Colonel Verner) had been deprived of the commission of the peace for doing that for which the hon. Member for Limerick had been praised, and had patronage put in his power. [Mr. J. O'CONNELL: No, no!] 526 The noble Lord and his Colleagues ought to look back with remorse on their former conduct, and acknowledge that they had been instrumental in leading the poor unfortunate Irish into the agitation which the Earl of Clarendon now denounced. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham) said the other day, of the vote for the relief of Irish distress, that he hoped it would be "the last of the series." He (Lord C. Hamilton) hoped that the Bill now before the House would, in like manner, be the last of the series; that Ireland would cease to be driven, like a shuttlecock, from conciliation at one time to coercion at another; and that its interests would be regarded rather than the expediency of securing sixty or seventy votes for the purposes of a party. The first great vote which was taken after he entered the House was for the appropriation of the revenues of the Irish Church. It put the party in power which now held the Government; they retained office for six years, but never thought more of the Appropriation Clause. It was a stepping-stone to office. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had again succeeded in driving the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir R. Peel) from office, and again upon an Irish question; but sixteen months had not passed away when Ministers found it necessary to introduce measures of a more stringent character than those on which they had defeated their predecessors. He hoped this would be the last time he should have to give a vote in favour of a Bill which was so exceptionable and liable to abuse.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
said, he had to beg pardon of the noble Lord (Lord C. Hamilton) who last addressed the House, for having interrupted him in the course of his speech. The noble Lord had stated an inaccuracy with reference to a deceased Gentleman, whose character was very important to him (Mr. J. O'Connell); he alluded to the late Mr. D. O'Connell, who had never induced nor countenanced the people's taking up arms, as the noble Lord had represented. [Lord C. HAMILTON: I did not mean to convey any impression of that kind.] He was perfectly satisfied with the noble Lord's explanation, and he had only interrupted him to correct what he (Mr. J. O'Connell) had understood him to assert, but which he had now disclaimed. The speech delivered by one hon. Gentleman that night (Mr. Trelawny), he (Mr. J. O'Connell) would scarcely con- 527 descend to allude to—it was couched in the language of a bully of the stews, and he would pass it by with sovereign contempt. To come to the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland (Sir W. Somerville). That speech, much pleasure as it must give him (Mr. J. O'Connell) and his friends, was not sufficient to remove their objections to this Bill, because it was a very grave matter to suspend the constitution of the country in any part whatever of Her Majesty's dominions; and leaving out of the question the agitation which the right hon. Baronet had distinctly and expressly excepted and excluded from the operation of this Act, the right hon. Baronet had entirely failed to make out any case for its necessity at all. He (Mr. John O'Connell) held in his hand long extracts which went to prove the perfectly legal and constitutional character of the agitation against which he had understood, until the right hon. Baronet had spoken, this Bill to be directed; but as the right hon. Baronet had specially, and in terms, excluded that particular agitation from the operation of this measure, it was, of course, perfectly unnecessary now for him (Mr. J. O'Connell) to read these extracts in detail to the House. He (Mr. J. O'Connell) had had great pleasure in noting down the right hon. Baronet's words. He (Sir W. Somerville) had declared that they (the repeal Members) were under a total mistake as regarded the meaning of the Lord Lieutenant's letter, and also, of course, as regarded the commentary which the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir George Grey) had made to the House respecting the statements contained in his Excellency's letter; and, therefore, those remarks which he (Mr. J. O'Connell) would have thought it his duty to continue that night upon that letter, and those comments, he did not feel it necessary now to pursue, inasmuch as he had just been told that this Bill had no application to the peaceful and constitutional agitation with which he (Mr. J. O'Connell) was connected. The right hon. Baronet's (Sir W. Somerville's) words were—" Of course the Lord Lieutenant will not presume to meddle with any peaceful, legal, and constitutional agitation; "and did him (Mr. J. O'Connell) the honour of referring to him, as a humble member of the repeal body, in order to mark more distinctly the application of his exceptional illustration, because he (Sir W. Somerville) 528 knew that he (Mr. J. O'Connell) was, though but a powerless instrument, yet still an individual strongly identified with the repeal agitation—one who was connected with every move and intention of that body—one of the committee of the Association, who frequently took part in its proceedings, and one of those who were now preparing the way to renew its peculiar career of usefulness by peaceful, legal, and constitutional agitation. The right hon. Baronet had referred to him that night, and saved the character of the Ministry to which he (Sir W. Somerville) belonged. He had so far weakened the charge of consistency against them, inasmuch as that he had told the House that the Government did not intend to carry the outrage upon the liberties of the country as such a Bill as this inflicted, to the extreme lengths of proscribing the expression of public opinion, or to the most unconstitutional and tyrannous length of preventing a discussion of the propriety of repealing an Act of Parliament. He had asserted that if this Bill were to pass into a law, the Lord Lieutenant would not presume to interfere with any legal and constitutional agitation, such as that in which he (Mr. J. O'Connell) was engaged. He had said also that the species of agitation which this Bill was directed against, was agitation of a treasonable kind, for treasonable objects, and conducted in a treasonable manner. Now, he (Mr. J. O'Connell) did not know if in any excitement that had occurred in this House on any previous night, he (Mr. J. O'Connell) and his Friends (the repeal Members) had been regarded as being mixed with any of the disturbances that had broken out in Ireland last year, and with regard to which the right hon. Baronet had distinctly denied that night that they (the repeal Members) were at all in any way implicated; but if any one attributed to him (Mr. J. O'Connell) any conduct of a treasonable character, he would reply to him by the use of the shortest and most direct word in the English language. But even admitting, for a moment, that the slightest imputation of treasonable practices could fairly be applied to their (the repeal Members') agitation, then who, he would ask, would be to blame for it? Who would be the guilty parties? Why, not only the Ministry here (pointing to the Misisterial benches), who tolerated that agitation, but the ex-Ministry on the other side of this House, who never attempted to put it 529 down either. And why not? Because they could not—because those who conducted that agitation had kept within the constitution, and could, therefore, defy any interference from the Government. He (Mr. J. O'Connell) had intended to give a determined and vexatious opposition to this measure to the utmost of his power, because he considered such a course perfectly justifiable where an act of tyranny was attempted to be perpetrated; but now that the right hon. Baronet (Sir W. Somerville) had disavowed any intention to direct the measure against the repeal agitation with which he (Mr. J. O'Connell) was connected, he would not pursue a course altogether so hostile as, under other circumstances, he would have felt compelled to adopt. He had placed on the books a notice of Motion for a Committee of the whole House upon the necessity for this measure; and he wished the Committee to receive an instruction; for he did not believe the new Orders interfered with the case of an instruction. His Motion on the books was—That it be an instruction to the Committee to introduce such provisions into the Bill as shall guard and save intact the right of the subject to hold meetings, to petition for the enactment, repeal, or alteration of Acts of Parliament, or for redress of grievances, or other constitutional object, without other or further restriction of that right than existed under the operation of the Common and Statute Law of the Land, previous to the passing of the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act of last July.This right of the subject, which it was his object to conserve unimpaired, was a right without which this House itself would have no existence; and surely the right to appeal or petition against any grievance, and especially against those worst of all grievances, grievances perpetuated by Act of Parliament, ought not to be taken away upon such weak and miserable grounds as those alleged in the present instance. [The hon. Member then briefly glanced at the various documents which he had intended to quote to the House, with the view of proving that all the movements and proceedings of the Repeal Association, from its original foundation up to the present time, had been strictly peaceful and constitutional, and always determinedly hostile to anything approaching to violent or unlawful measures of agitation. Among these documents was the report of the committee of the Association, dated July, 1846, respecting the secession of the Young Ireland party from Conciliation Hall; also an address to the people, issued on the 8th of March last, denouncing everything tending 530 in the remotest degree to evince disrespect for the law, or lead to a broach of public order. Another address was likewise published by the Association, cautioning the people against the wild doctrines then abroad, and against the mad, rash, and criminal attempts to imitate the disastrous movements then taking place in many countries on the Continent, and holding out to them legal and constitutional agitation as the only sure and safe course to pursue for the achievement of their liberties.] He said, he would also have read another document, in which the Association protested against joining the Irish League, even although it had been formed with the laudable view of endeavouring to effect, if possible, a reconciliation between the Young Irelanders and their former associates, and to induce the former party to abandon physical-force principles, and combine with those with whom they had formerly co-operated in a cause of agitation strictly and exclusively moral, peaceful, and constitutional. It was totally unnecessary, as he had before said, for him to go into these details now, because he had no longer to combat an attack upon the conduct of the Repeal Association, since the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland had declared that that Association belonged to the category of legal and constitutional movements, with which the Lord Lieutenant would not presume to interfere. Dismissing from his mind all the bitterness which he might have evinced in the warmth of debate on the previous evening, he would earnestly appeal to the Government not to throw away their reputation as constitutional Ministers and statesmen by urging this Bill any longer, when they had not made out a case even for the necessity of such a measure to suppress any agitations not—like that of the Repeal Association—admitted to be excepted from the operation of this Bill. Above all, he begged of them not to suffer any ambiguity to exist regarding the right of public discussion. He (Mr. J. O'Connell), so far as he was individually concerned, was perfectly content to let the matter rest with the personal explanation made in that House by a Minister of such high honour and integrity as he was satisfied the right hon. Baronet (Sir W. Somerville) was, to the effect that such legal and constitutional agitations as the Repeal Association, with which he (Mr. J. O'Connell) was connected, would remain perfectly untouched by these powers proposed to be continued in the hands of 531 the Lord Lieutenant. At the same time, for the sake of the interests of the public and the country in general, he (Mr. J. O'Connell) must ask to have the necessary words inserted in the Act, restricting the exercise of the Lord Lieutenant's powers under that Bill, in accordance with the explanation given that night by the right hon. Baronet; because the sacred right of the subject in question was of far too vital importance to be left on any future occasion—should it be called in question out of that House—to be jeopardised by depending upon the more oral explanations of a Minister, made in connexion with the measure when it was under debate. He (Mr. J. O'Connell) would now turn to English Members of that House of liberal politics. He could not but contrast the readiness and alacrity with which they seemed, in contradiction of all their distinctive principles, disposed, in mere compliment to one man (the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland), to pass a Bill voting away the constitutional rights and privileges of their fellow-subjects—he could not, he said, help noticing the marked contrast between their hurry and haste to do this, and their determined repugnance to voting a paltry grant of 50,000l. for the relief of the poor unfortunate starving people of the west of Ireland, and regarding which grant more than one distinguished Member of that House had declared, that to refuse it to these miserable and perishing wretches would be equivalent to passing a sentence of death upon them. Then hon. Gentlemen had declared, too, that it was not the amount of the grant to which they objected—they must, forsooth, withhold it upon principle. One of these hon. Gentlemen had said, the grant was altogether an un-philosophical and unstatesmanlike expedient. But where was the principle—where anything philosophical or statesmanlike, in the support these friends of popular rights and popular liberties were about to give to this unconstitutional and tyrannical measure, to continue the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act? Some of them, too, afraid of having openly to falsify and betray all their former principles and professions by their votes upon this Bill, absented themselves from the House, in order that they might preserve their reputation for consistency in the eyes of their constituency. This was most ungenerous conduct towards Ireland, and it would take a long time to forget such treatment. It was a cowardly proceeding; but, however, 532 it all tended more strongly than ever to impress upon the Irish people the lesson that they must not look to England for help, but must rely solely upon their own independent exertions, by peaceful agitation, to redress their own wrongs and ameliorate their own condition. The most obnoxious part of this measure, he admitted, had been removed, after the explanation of the right hon. Baronet; still, as it was, it would inflict a flagrant outrage upon the constitution; and no case had been made out to prove its necessity. Ireland was admitted on all hands to be now tranquil; and the unfortunate leaders of the late violent proceedings in that country were now either in prison, and under the power of the law, or were miserable refugees in a foreign land; and were persons now more entitled to their pity than their enmity. He (Mr. J. O'Connell) must, therefore, still oppose the measure before the House, and he believed that England was as much interested in its rejection as Ireland herself was; because, if the House adopted it, they might strike a deadly blow at the constitution, and lay down a most fatal and pernicious precedent. Under the present peaceful state of affairs in Ireland, ought they not at least to postpone the application for such a measure; and he was sure, if a recurrence of ominous circumstances at all calculated to justify such a measure took place again in Ireland, that the Government would find the House perfectly ready to arm them with the needful powers of repression.
§ MR. HUME
said, if he was anxious to address the House after the speech of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Roche), he was still more so after that of the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell), who had indulged in an attack on the free-trade Members on his (Mr. Hume's) side of the House, accusing them with cowardice and everything discreditable; because, as he (Mr. J. O'Connell) alleged, they had deserted their principles. But the hon. Gentleman seemed entirely to forget the charges to which his own conduct that very night laid him open to—the very charges which he had been so liberally dealing out against others. Where was his own consistency in saying what he had just said (for really this was what his speech after all amounted to)—" I thank the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland (Sir W. Somerville), for leaving our Repeal Association alone—provided you do not interfere with my agitation, I 533 shall be perfectly satisfied?" [Mr. J. O'CONNELL: No, no!] Where was the hon. Gentleman's regard for the general liberties of his country, if such a paltry sop as this was to be enough for him? So long as he and his coadjutors were let alone themselves, and escaped the lash, they did not appear to care who else came in for it. For his own part, he (Mr. Hume) objected to measures of this kind, though he had voted for a similar Bill last Session; but if the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Connell) had attended to the speech of the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Sadleir), he would have learned the reasons which had influenced him (Mr. Hume), as they had that hon. Member, to support that measure; it was because the country was in a state of disorder, and that no remedial measures could be introduced until it was restored to a state of tranquillity; and he believed, as he had said before, that the Lord Lieutenant had exercised the extraordinary powers with which he had been intrusted with great discretion and judgment. And now that the country had been reduced to a state of tranquillity and order; and after the former declarations of the present Ministry, about the necessity for large remedial measures for the permanent good of Ireland, he (Mr. Hume) could not think the Government would hold their seats without intending, after they had had these extraordinary powers continued in their hands for a few months longer, to address themselves energetically to the task of boldly grappling with the social and political evils of Ireland, and carrying out large and comprehensive plans for laying the foundation of its future well-being and prosperity. It was upon this understanding, and upon this understanding alone, that he (Mr. Hume), who would yield to no man in his respect for the liberties of his fellow-subjects, had been reconciled to vote for the continuance of the suspension of the constitution on the present occasion. These he (Mr. Hume) believed also influenced his free-trade friends in their votes upon this question. He did not believe that any of them shrunk from candidly expressing their opinions. They were not a whit behind the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell) in their attachment for the liberties of the people: and they all regarded the Government as pledged to apply its best attention to bringing forward measures to avert the lamentable state of things now going on in Ireland, and which must be expected to grow 534 still worse and worse every day, so long as they went on suspending the constitution in this manner, and shrank from undertaking any other kind of legislation for Ireland but measures of coercion and force. He (Mr. Hume) would like to ask the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell), and those other Irish Members who did little else but complain and find fault in that House—he would like to ask them, seeing they must be supposed to have more experience of their own country, and its social evils and sufferings than anybody else—what they would have the Legislature do to improve the social condition of the Irish people? Let them boldly and fairly propound what measures they wished for. He (Mr. Hume) and his friends were anxious that Ireland should be brought within the pale of the constitution, and receive the benefit of the same laws and liberties, and the same protection to life and property, as any other part of the empire. He thought it necessary, then, for him now to state he would give the measure his support, under the impression and in the confident belief that Her Majesty's Ministers were prepared to bring before the House measures of a comprehensive class. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) intimated to the House his conviction that the measure was necessary for the peace of Ireland. England demanded that peace should be restored to that country; and he well knew that peace must first be restored, and prosperity, together with the full enjoyment of political rights, would follow. It was in that hope that he accepted the present Bill; it was in that view that he interpreted the present position of the Ministers with regard to Ireland, whom he begged to remind of their wish, oft repeated, to do justice to that country; he said he voted for that measure as the means of creating an opportunity for the Government bringing in those great and comprehensive measures which were necessary for Ireland. If, however, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell), and those who were with him in the Repeal Association, were again, in spite of the Government, to commence their old course, he asked him when they might expect to see the end of disturbances in Ireland? He thought that men who wished to promote the improvement of Ireland, ought first to wish her peace. Peace was necessary to her prosperity; on that ground, and on that ground only, he would vote for that measure. He had already 535 asked the hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. O'Connell) to define the measures he would propose. Let him point out what he would do at this moment if he were in the position of Her Majesty's Ministers? That instant, repeal would be the cry. Would he embody it in a measure? and if he did, what would be the consequences? [Mr. J. O'CONELL: Try it.] Try it? It had been already long tried; these trials had been the occasion of the evils which were now deplored; they had too long made trial of these delusions. For such a reason as that, and on the grounds he had now stated, he would now give his support to so unconstitutional a measure.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
explained, that while he had expressed satisfaction with the course taken by the Ministers, that satisfaction only went so far. For he had likewise said that the Bill now before the House was outrageous, fatal, and dangerous, as applied to freemen.
§ MR. GRATTAN
said, the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), in his speech in favour of the Bill before the House, had animadverted on certain inconsistencies which he professed to have seen in the conduct of his hon. Friend (Mr. J. O'Connell). But he (Mr. Grattan) was of opinion that the hon. Gentleman, in the course of his speech, had cleared his conduct just as little as did that of the right hon. Baronet near him (Sir W. Somerville). Now, among the reasons urged by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) for voting in favour of this measure, he had set forward the character of the present Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The Earl of Clarendon was said to be a man of ability, of great industry, great personal exertion, and great caution; and in all that he (Mr. Grattan) perfectly agreed. But then that could not be offered as a reason for justifying or proving the necessity of the measure. The Earl of Clarendon, it ought to be recollected, was an executive magistrate; they were legislators—he acted as the case required; they advised as the case demanded, and they were bound, as legislators, to advise in accordance with the principles of the constitution; but the Earl of Clarendon asked them to do away with the constitution itself. There were two classes of principles that guided legislation, and induced men to submit to government, The one was derived from property, the other from liberty. Property was vanishing in Ireland, and they were now called on to vote away her constitution. 536 The hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Trelawny) had taunted Ireland and Irish Members with mendicancy and menaces. He wondered, after what had occurred in their own country, that Englishmen could throw out such imputations upon the Irish. He (Mr. Grattan) asked, had menaces been used by Irish Members, or where had the opportunity been offered them? The fact was, that instead of using menaces they had been duped. The words of Flood about "the generous credulity of Irish Members" might be repeated again in the House with perfect truth—they had been deceived by the Minister with words—they had been led into a compact which went far to sacrifice the interests of their country, and in return for this they were repaid with the most renegade conduct on the part of Gentlemen who walked out of the House, and left others to support the liberties of their country. What had Ministers done for Ireland? All their measures had failed—their Crown and Government Security Bill had failed—the Felony Bill had failed—and other Bills had all failed. What did they look for from their prosecutions—what from their indictments, which had been so numerous? They also had failed. Conviction had followed conviction, packed jury after packed jury; men were detained in gaol for months; and five indictments were drawn up against a single individual still in confinement; but yet they were not satisfied, and another Bill suspending the liberties of Irishmen was before the House. It suited some hon. Gentlemen, and especially the Member for Tavistock (Mr. Trelawny), to speak of "menaces," but it might not suit them to say openly that their object was to suppress the expression of opinion in Ireland. It suited them better to misrepresent that country. And what country was so liable to be so misrepresented for the independent expression of opinion? In the year 1779, when Irishmen wished to have what was now so popular, even with the Government, under the name of free trade, the Secretary immediately charged it as the opinion of faction. In 1782 they had a liberal Lord Lieutenant; but the Secretary—that adder who poured his poison into the Lord Lieutenant's ear—represented Irishmen as factious, and deserving to be impeached; and if that young Member (Mr. Trelawny), had studied the country and its history, he would have known that their chief leaders 537 would have been indicted, but that 100,000 volunteers were at their back to support them in their patriotic efforts; yet it was not till the volunteers came forth, and their artillery had been brought to bear, that the virtue of Ireland rose to defend the independence and liberties of the country. Tell him of "mendicancy" and "menaces!" He would rather that they would take hack their money, than listen to such taunts. There would be less of the mendicancy with which they were reproached, if the landlords of Ireland lived on the estates from which they derived their fortunes. Let the Earl of Portsmouth, Viscount Palmerston, the Marquess of Lansdowne, the Marquess of Anglesea, Egmont, Hertford, and a host of others, go back and reside in the country; then Ministers would have to deal with men who were acquainted with the state of the country. England was a commercial nation, and her people were, commercial men, and in a commercial spirit they dealt with it—money was their object, and to get money their endeavour, whether it came from the wilds of California or from the wilds of Connemara, no matter, so that it was money they got. They took money from Ireland; but now, when money was to be voted for that country, all were up in arms. The present cry for peace to Ireland was the old story that worked so miraculously in 1829; then it was, "Don't disturb the Church—don't attempt to coerce the Government." That policy was pursued by one of the ablest men in the kingdom, one of the greatest generals in modern times. In 1828, appeared the celebrated letter of the Duke of Wellington, addressed to Dr. Curtis, the Roman Catholic Archbishop, and his words to that prelate were, "Let this question rest for some time." He recommended—repose!—the repose of the sepulchre; but the Divine Spirit that lay within rolled back the stone from the entrance and appeared in triumphant and everlasting glory. He had not heard a single argument advanced in favour of the Government bringing forward this measure. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) had failed to show that there was any necessity for it. What extent of power would satisfy the Government? Had they not everything they asked for—the law, the military, and the police—30,000 soldiers and 10,000 police—were they not all on their side? But suppose the Bill were to pass, it was only to be in force for six months; what, 538 then, were they to do at the end of that time, when the Bill expired? They had proposed nothing—not a single measure to be carried in the meantime for the benefit of the country, which, at the end of six months, was to be thrown loose from this new control, and they who lived in the country with their families and their tenants were to be exposed to the presumed danger. The only measure spoken of was the old Bill alluded to by the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), respecting the franchise. So they were now coming to register the population when the population was gone: just as they came to alter the municipal corporations, when these corporations had sunk in corruption. There was no statesmanship in that. He held a document in his hand, giving the statistics of the population of a place in the south of Ireland, containing, at one time, 30,000 inhabitants. This document exhibited the number of births which had occurred in that place annually since the year 1843. For three months of the year 1843, the number of births were 332; for 1844, 300; 1845, 314; 1846, 285; 1847, 227; 1848, 33. He had never contemplated such a case as that where the births from 332 had decreased to 33. The Government, if they would be influenced by no other motive, ought to consider how much they were concerned in this state of the population for the supply of the Army and Navy. There were 42,000 in the Army who were Irishmen, and 20,000 in Her Majesty's Navy; what would Government do when the best of the people of Ireland had left the country? The great farmers and the wealthy tenants were going; and the lower classes would speedily follow them into another country. Could any one believe they would remain in a country stript of its nobility, its gentry, its manufactures, its wealth, and its liberty—in truth, they were not discussing the Habeas Corpus but whether there would be any corpus there at all. He said he looked upon all this as a retribution on the British Government, for the conduct which had long been pursued towards his country. Before he sat down he would read two letters which he had received, applying for his aid in behalf of persons who were suffering deeply under the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. He read a letter from Mrs. Meyler, who complained that her husband was at present confined in gaol; that on the 1st day of July last he had 539 been taken while dining with his family by seven or eight detectives; that he was conveyed immediately, without the opportunity of bidding his family adieu, to Newgate; and after lying in the gaol at Belfast for some time, that he was removed to Kilmainham gaol, where he was locked up for sixteen hours a day, in a cold damp cell, without light or fire. The letter added, he wished for a trial, and that up to the present time he did not know any reason for his being arrested. It might be supposed that the person so treated was of the lower class; but he was of a family moving, before the calamity overtook them, in a very respectable circle—the father of five children—money to the amount of 100,000l. passed through his hands—he was realising a fortune of 800l. a year—he was a Member of the Royal Society, Dublin, and of the Chamber of Commerce. He therefore bogged that Ministers would take these cases into their consideration, for the facts disclosed appealed to their humanity—not to say justice. He finally called upon the Ministers to bring in measures such as were demanded by the momentous nature of the present crisis. The Bill proposed was to prevent insurrection. But at this very time a revolution was actually in progress in the country; a revolution such as had not existed since 1688; it was a revolution of property, a revolution of people, a revolution which, if it progressed, would soon leave the country waste, without wealth and without liberty. The hon. Member concluded by expressing his determination to offer his utmost opposition to the further progress of the measure.
§ MR. DISRAELI said
Sir, it was my intention to have given a silent vote in favour of the measure of Her Majesty's Government. When this measure was introduced to our notice last Session, I felt it a duty to express the reasons why I supported it, and I did so without reserve. But after the speech of the Chief Secretary (Sir W. Somerville), I feel that I might be under misapprehension of the motives which induce me to support the Government, if I remained silent on this occasion. Sir, the reason why I support the measure of the Government is, that I think it is demanded by the exigency of the case. The circumstances since it was proposed to our consideration may have in some degree varied; there may have been some features of an alarming character then very evident, which no longer are visible; 540 but I believe the general aspect of affairs is not so changed, that I for one can incur the responsibility of refusing to support the Government on the present occasion in a similar proposition. But when I am told by the Chief Secretary that the Government require our support for their measure, not on account of the exigency of the case, but on account of our confidence in Her Majesty's Government, I feel it my duty not to pass such an application without some comment. It is rather too much for Her Majesty's Government to claim the support of this House, on the principle of confidence in themselves. In my opinion they have obtained sufficient support here, without being too curious as to the cause. I certainly am not inclined to go out of my way to express any want of confidence in the Administration which exists; but when the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) and the right hon. Gentleman (Sir W. Somerville) challenge a declaration of confidence in their policy, I may be allowed, I hope, without offence, to express my protest. Certainly I cannot think that with regard to Irish policy the conduct of the Whig party during the time I have had any experience of public life, will afford an emblazoned page in the history of Whiggism. Sir, I have not forgotten the circumstances under which the Administration of 1835 was subverted; I have not forgotten, and I should think there are few persons in this country who have forgotten, the celebrated "Appropriation Clause." I have not forgotten the means by which the Whig party then acceded to power, the tenure by which they held that power, and the unfulfilled ends for which they continued in power, when they were no longer in a position to realise their public compact. I have not forgotten the events subsequent to that memorable political transaction, till they terminated in the renewed expulsion from office of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) may tell me, that I and my friends joined in the vote which expelled the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth from power on that occasion. We did so, but we did it with a frank expression of the opinions which we entertained. We looked upon that Government as a pernicious Government; we disapproved of their policy; we seized the first occasion on which we could hurl them from office; but was that the position of noble Lords and 541 right hon. Gentlemen opposite? Were they impugners of his policy? Were they critics of the courses he pursued? On the contrary, they had been found in every division in favour of his policy; they were the ready adherents of the right hon. Gentleman; and when they did seize the occasion to turn him out of office, they did it in opposition to a policy which they themselves are now obliged to pursue in an aggravated spirit. Well, then, Sir, I think I am justified in saying that I am supporting this measure, not on account of my confidence in the general Irish policy of the Whig party. But then I am told by the Chief Secretary (Sir W. Somerville) that I am to support this measure on account of the confidence of the House in the Lord Lieutenant. I have heard tonight the noble person who occupies the office of Viceroy of Ireland spoken of in terms not only of respect but admiration; indeed, one Gentleman who addressed you, Sir, even compared his influence to that of Providence. But I cannot forget that only very recently many of those Gentlemen who are to-night so loud in praise of this distinguished functionary, voted in favour of a Motion for doing away with the office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; and upon that occasion I can well recollect that feeble was the opposition and scanty the arguments which were offered against the Motion then brought under our notice. I hope we shall at least draw one inference from what is occurring—that the Lord-Lieutenancy is an office not of such light importance as it has been the fashion of economists and liberal critics to impress upon this House. But if I have little confidence, as far as their Irish policy is concerned, in Her Majesty's Government—if I must hesitate, after all I have heard in this House, before I believe that a Lord Lieutenant—even if that Lord Lieutenant be an Earl of Clarendon—is an efficient security for the good government of Ireland, I have less confidence, I confess, in another party who to-night have expressed their loyalty, and in whose future conduct we have been assured we are to find the best security for the good government and prosperity of that country; I mean those Gentlemen whom I believe I may call, without offence, the professional patriots of Ireland. These Gentlemen have favoured us to-night with a minute and curious exposition of their political feelings. They have instructed us how they are prepared with a sort of tariff—a sliding-scale—of opposition to extend to public 542 affairs; how they are furnished, according to circumstances, with a vexatious opposition on the one hand, on the other a determined opposition; a vexatious opposition being, I suppose, an opposition that dies upon the floor of the House; a determined opposition, that milder, though firm, opposition which is not unwilling, under peculiar circumstances, to devote its services to its country. But when we have these unsatisfactory elements before us, how alarming is the speech of the Chief Secretary! He comes forward to-night in the midst of a violent opposition to appease the waters; and he succeeds. Because he tells his opponents "this vote does not apply to you; there is a difference," says the Chief Secretary, "between treason and agitation; this Bill is only directed against treason, not agitation; don't be uneasy." I believe there is a difference between agitation and treason: about the same difference as there is between adultery and rape. This is a Bill, says the Chief Secretary, against treasonable practices carried on in a treasonable manner—not against treasonable practices that are not carried on in a treasonable manner; whereupon an hon. Member (Mr. J. O'Connell) tells the House that his speech will only be half as long as he intended, because he finds he has only to defend treason, and not to vindicate agitation. This is the position in which the question has been put most unexpectedly to me, by the chief Member of the Government who has addressed us. A measure is brought forward—in my mind a wise, a politic, a necessary measure; it is opposed by those whose policy, in my opinion, has, whether intentionally or not, occasioned the evils which it is devised to control. No sooner is it opposed by them, than a Member of Her Majesty's Government rises and assures them that in no circumstances will they be affected by the measure. It was not an unnecessary assurance; they are not only honourable, but learned Gentlemen; they have read and studied the Bill, and they find a law-proposed which was to put down their pernicious system of agitation. The instant they discover that—the instant they appeal to the Government, and oppose the Government on that plea—the Government immediately rises and tells them they are to be saved harmless. Sir, the measure, which I doubt not, will pass; the measure will put down, I hope, not only treason, but agitation. It will secure, I trust, calm and tranquillity in Ireland. The Bill will, I 543 trust, give the Members of Her Majesty's Government an opportunity to bring forward those comprehensive measures which England feels to be necessary for Ireland, and for which we mainly support this Bill, that the Government of the country may have an opportunity to bring forward those measures. This is not the only measure under our consideration which will make every Gentleman in this House feel that the Government can no longer delay bringing forward those measures. The very question we expected to be discussed tonight, but which has not been brought forward, has already produced an intimation from one of the most distinguished Members of the House to Her Majesty's Ministers that these comprehensive measures can no longer be delayed. In dealing with this Bill, I vote for a measure that by securing tranquillity in Ireland will give the Government an opportunity of there introducing those remedial measures that are necessary. For my own part, I have confidence in the future tranquillity and prosperity of Ireland, not only from those measures, but because I have confidence in that portion of the population of Ireland, whom still, it seems, we must not allude to except in a whisper. But I believe the time has now arrived when their religion will no longer be considered a reproach, nor their loyalty a crime.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
Sir, the House appears to have so far made up their mind as to the necessity and policy of this measure, that I thought it would not be necessary for me to address the House to-night; and I should not do so, were there not certain misconstructions of the measure to be set right, in consequence of the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland, and certain allusions to my past conduct, that I cannot pass over, though I regret I am obliged to take up a portion of the time of the House in doing so. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) who has just sat down said, I think excusably enough, after the speech of the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell), that parties would be allowed to carry on a system of agitation, free from any interference from this measure. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Roche) says that this Bill will have the effect of putting an end to all discussion in Ireland, no matter upon what subject, however constitutional—that petitions could not be proposed, nor grievances complained of, if this measure were 544 to pass. But the House will recollect that my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland distinctly stated that the object of the Bill is not to put a stop to discussions upon constitutional subjects, and that it would not have that effect. He (Sir W. Somerville) stated, that it would aim at agitation connected with treasonable practices, and discussions which tended to the promotion of any such practices; but that any discussions, calmly and constitutionally conducted, upon any question with the view of asking Parliament for redress, are not intended to be prohibited by the Bill, and cannot be interfered with under the terms of the measure. The hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell) adroitly indeed, but not with a very fair inference, says, that the Association with which he is connected in Ireland meets solely for the purposes of legitimate agitation, and he complains that their fair discussion of political matters will be put a stop to by this Bill. Now, Sir, I must say very plainly, that the Bill itself contemplates treasonable designs and treasonable practices; but the power of imprisoning persons suspected of treasonable designs and treasonable practices is to be placed in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant. Sir, I have had much conversation with the Lord Lieutenant since the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended, in reference to agitation in Ireland; and my noble Friend told me that agitation must be carefully watched. That species of agitation which tends to the getting up of a petition to Parliament upon constitutional grounds, the Lord Lieutenant has not, and ought not, to have the power to prevent; but that the meetings of an association, which is likely to fall very rapidly into a club or a conspiracy, and tend, therefore, immediately to treasonable practices, ought to be carefully watched, is not only the opinion of my noble Friend at the head of the Irish Government, but the opinion also of myself. And should any treasonable practices be carried on, it will be the bounden duty of ray noble Friend to secure the peace of the country by the application of the powers of this Act.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
Does the noble Lord mean to say that I have been guilty of treasonable practices?
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
The hon. Member has asked mc a question, and I will answer him. My opinion is, Sir, that the hon. Gentleman would wish to carry on what he may think a wholesome, but which I 545 think is a pernicious system of agitation, without any intention of committing treason or of being guilty of treasonable practices; but seeing what I have seen with regard to the proceedings of the Association of which the hon. Member was the leader last year, and, although the loader, left in a very small minority upon a great question, inasmuch as the majority were of opinion that moral force was altogether a delusion—[Mr. J. O'CONNELL: No, no!]—and that they concurred with some confederation over the way, of which physical force was the doctrine intended to be practised—seeing, and knowing, and remembering all this, I must say that I could have no confidence in any association which the hon. Gentleman might set up in Dublin. I, however, acquit the hon. and learned Member for Limerick personally, I acquit him fully and sincerely, of any treasonable design or any treasonable practices; but I am not prepared to say that those whom he might assemble together in the form of an association would be equally innocent of treasonable designs or practices; and I do believe that any political association with which he may be connected in Ireland is not unlikely to be liable to penalties under this Bill. Now, Sir, I have at least answered the hon. Gentleman fairly, and he may take what course he likes with respect to this Bill. He may, if he pleases, make the second part of the speech he intended to deliver to-night; but I will not deny, nor will I conceal from the hon. Member or the House, what will be the effect of this measure. Now, Sir, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) who spoke last, following the noble Lord the Member for Tyrone (Lord Claude Hamilton) has referred to some matters over which he glided rapidly and skilfully, but with regard to which the noble Lord entered into greater detail, but with remarkable inaccuracy. The noble Lord (Lord C. Hamilton) said, that in 1835 I brought forward a resolution with respect to the Appropriation Clause, solely and entirely with the view of displacing from power the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir R. Peel); and that having carried that resolution I allowed the question to slumber, and never mentioned it again. The history of the Appropriation Clause is well known, and can easily be referred to in the annals of Parliament. It is a history which cannot tell of a successful issue, but nevertheless it cannot sully the object I had in view. Concurring with Earl Grey, 546 I was a party to a Coercion Act in 1833—a measure of very severe repression, and I did think, in the following year, that it was the duty of His Majesty's Government to prepare itself with a measure by which part of the revenues of the Irish Protestant Church, not needed, in my opinion, for the members of that Church, should be made useful to other religious communities, such as Roman Catholics and Presbyterians. Sir, I urged that opinion upon the Cabinet, and the discussion of the question ended in retirement from office of four of the most distinguished Members of the Cabinet. The Cabinet then proceeded according to the course which I thought the wisest, and a Commission was appointed to inquire into the state of religious communions in Ireland, and a measure was ultimately proposed with the view of carrying out my original proposition. It pleased His Majesty William IV. then to dismiss from His Councils Earl Grey, and Viscount Melbourne came into office; and upon the occasion of the death of my lamented Friend, Earl Spencer, His Majesty declared that there was no further occasion for Lord Melbourne's services. The right hon. Member for Tamworth again came into power. Sir, I never relinquished my views with respect to the Irish Protestant Church, and I continued to press them upon the attention of my Colleagues. I was not obliged to forego them because the right hon. Member for Tamworth was in office; neither was I compelled to sink them because they were not carried out by the Government with which I was connected. I, therefore, Sir, as an independent Member of this House, brought forward the resolution, which is contained in Parliamentary history, with respect to the property of the Irish Church. When the right hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) retired from office, a measure was prepared upon the subject according to the views of the then Government. It was submitted to the House of Commons once, twice, thrice, or perhaps, four times, and was carried, in every instance, by small majorities; but upon each occasion it was rejected by the other House of Parliament. So untrue is it, Sir, that I invented this scheme for ousting the right hon. Member for Tamworth; and it is equally far from the truth that I allowed the question to slumber after I had taken it in hand. The measure was rejected in the House of Lords, whilst English opinion was in its favour. and the opinions of the Irish amounted to 547 indifference. [Cries of "No, no!" and "Hear!"] That, Sir, was my view of the case, and entertaining that opinion, I certainly proceeded to take measures for the settlement of the tithe question, without insisting on the appropriation principle. I may have mistaken public opinion—I may have made an error in considering the subject; but this I must claim for myself, that such a measure would have been of great utility in Ireland, could it have been carried; and it was, Sir, with that view I proposed it. There were, Sir, other measures in contemplation for the benefit of Ireland at the same time. One of these was with respect to the establishment of municipal corporations, and putting them upon a proper basis. That measure year after year was rejected by the House of Lords; but it ultimately passed into a law. The noble Lord the Member for Tyrone (Lord C. Hamilton) said, that Lord Melbourne's Government committed all their power and patronage in Ireland to the hands of the late Mr. O'Connell—that they were absolutely subservient to his will. Sir, I totally deny that charge. Lord Melbourne advised his Sovereign to place the Marquess of Normanby at the head of the Irish Government. My belief is that the conduct of the noble Marquess in that capacity was conciliatory and wise, and that he procured a period of tranquillity to Ireland that was adapted to the wants of the period, and also that he retained the authority vested in him, notwithstanding the great and powerful influence upon public opinion of Mr. O'Connell; and great as was his influence over public opinion, the authority of the Marquess of Normanby as representative of the King, was paramount in that part of the united kingdom. Sir, I therefore feel no remorse with respect to my share of the Government of 1835. The noble Lord the Member for Tyrone also spoke of the opposition to the Bill of 1846 for the protection of life and property in Ireland. Sir, upon that occasion I declared that I would not oppose the Bill on the ground of want of confidence in Her Majesty's Government, but thought it was a Bill ill adapted to the circumstances of that time—that shutting up persons at night who had committed no offence was a vexatious proceeding; and, therefore, holding these opinions, I voted against the proposition made by the noble Lord (Lord Eliot), the then Secretary for Ireland. Sir, it is a popular topic to say, that we turned out a 548 Government upon a question of coercion, and that we are now resorting to coercion ourselves. It is quite true what has been stated upon that point, but there is a difference in the circumstances of the cases. My belief is, that the various measures we have brought forward have been adapted to the condition of Ireland; but it is entirely a matter of opinion that the Bill of 1846 would have at that time proved a useful measure. I can only say that, whether in or out of office, I shall propose or oppose those measures according to the dictates of my own judgment, which I think best suited, or otherwise, to the circumstances of the country. Sir, I am sorry to detain the House with matters which I felt necessary to allude to in my own defence; but the noble Lord (Lord C. Hamilton) has thought fit to make such personal and bitter attacks upon me, I could not well have avoided repelling them. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli), in alluding to this measure, and his support to it, adverted to other measures of a comprehensive nature which he thought it would be the duty of the Government to bring forward. Certainly the Government intends, if possible, to pass a series of comprehensive measures for the benefit of Ireland, of some of which notice has been given. Others will hereafter be proposed. But, Sir, I think that I should not be acting fairly to the House if I did not say that any measure which we do bring forward will, in my opinion, prove totally inoperative without those two qualities which I mentioned in 1846, namely, a spirit of self-reliance, and a spirit of co-operation. Other Irish measures would now have been under consideration had the debate on this question not lasted so long. It is intended to propose a Bill for extending the right of voting in Ireland—a right which I believe ought to be extended. But I must at the same time confess that, in my opinion, the same use is not made of those constitutional privileges in Ireland as in England. The Acts which passed after the Revolution of 1688 were sufficient for a century afterwards to enable the people of this country to exert themselves in extending their trade, manufactures, and agriculture—were sufficient to enable them to convert barren soils into fertile fields, and to raise flourishing towns throughout the country. But observe, those laws by virtue of which they did these things, were not laws for creating industry, commerce, and comforts. They were laws which enabled men to 549 exert their faculties for the purpose of obtaining distinction; and, in proposing such measures for Ireland, we shall do the utmost which, in our opinion, it is proper for us to do. Measures for local improvement will also be brought forward; but with respect to these, there is much difficulty to contend with. There is, for example, a danger of sending the industry in a wrong direction, and thereby creating a feeling that we had done that which we ought not to have done. However, Sir, Parliament will duly deliberate upon all questions of that nature. My opinion is, that the ultimate result of the privileges which were twenty years ago granted to all sectarians and parties, will enable the people of Ireland to take that place in society which they ought to hold in right of their great natural talents, their great power of physical exertion, and their industrial habits. I am not sanguine enough to think that any great changes in the social and moral condition of the mass of the Irish people will occur, or that all treasonable correspondence will be suppressed in the course of the next six months, for which term we ask for the continuance of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. All I can say is, that it is the earnest desire of Her Majesty's Government to improve the condition of Ireland. It will be for Parliament to judge whether the measures they propose are calculated to effect that object; and if they do not succeed, it will be for others to bring forward measures which will prove more advantageous.
§ LORD C. HAMILTON
explained, that in what he had said he had no wish to raise a personal question. What he said was, that the first important vote on Irish subjects at the time to which he referred was with reference to the Appropriation Clause, and that on a division on that question, Gentlemen opposite obtained the Government; while, for a period of six years, when they were in office, the question had never been carried out. He did also venture to say, that the course taken by those hon. Gentlemen did somewhat encourage agitation.
§ SIR R. PEEL
Sir, it is my intention to support the proposition of Her Majesty's Government, and to give my vote in favour of the second reading of this Bill. I do so with the reluctance which every friend of constitutional liberty must feel in giving a vote for restraining that liberty; but my firm belief is that there is public danger in now permitting that 550 Act to expire—that if you do permit it to expire, you must look forward to a renewal of those attempts by which the public tranquillity was disturbed in Ireland during the last year. I acknowledge that some obligation is due to those who organised that disturbance of the public peace, inasmuch as they have contrived to cover Irish treason with ridicule. They have thus done more to discourage rebellion than all the laws we can pass, or than all the advice that the temperate or the sagacious could give. But notwithstanding the ridicule that has been thrown upon Irish disaffection, still there does prevail among them an animus not yet repressed. They still profess their mischievous intentions, and I will pay them the compliment of believing them to be sincere. I shall not give my vote on this measure from any personal confidence in those by whom the law is to be administered—that is, I would not consent, from my confidence in any set of men, to restrict constitutional liberty, if I did not believe the restriction to be absolutely necessary. I have a great respect personally for the Earl of Clarendon, but my respect for the Earl of Clarendon does not influence in the slightest degree my resolution to support this proposition. Unless I were satisfied that the measure was called for by a pressing necessity, no respect for the person of Lord Clarendon, no belief that the powers conferred by it would not be wantonly abused, would induce me to give my support to such a Bill. There is great evil in the precedent of imposing a restriction on the liberty of the subject, no matter to whose hands the power may be entrusted, no matter how high may be the personal character of those by whom it is to be exercised. You cannot set the precedent of suspending the Habeas Corpus Act, without doing great public injury, even if the extraordinary power which suspension confers, be never called into action. With respect to the question of confidence, I have heard much for the last twenty or thirty years about powers being refused to Government from a want of confidence in them. Now, I believe that no Government ever asked for such extraordinary powers as the suspending of the Habeas Corpus Act, unless they believed them to be necessary for the public safety. There is no pleasure in the conflict for unnecessary powers. Neither Lord Heytesbury nor Earl De Grey would have abused these powers any more than the Earl of Clarendon; and it is 551 childish to justify a vote for placing such powers in the hands of any man on the ground of having confidence in his personal character. I agree to this Bill because I believe it to be necessary, and on that ground alone would I consent to its enactment.
Nothing can be more painful to me than to refer to the history of past contests on questions of Irish policy. So much evil has arisen from the practice of making Ireland the arena of our party contests, that I, for one, have resolved never to set the example. There is ample ground for our mature and dispassionate consideration of the measures that are necessary for the improvement of that unfortunate country, without reverting to past conflicts, or making Ireland the stage upon which to determine our present party strifes. But the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) has undertaken to give us what he calls a history of the events of 1846; and it is very difficult for me to listen to him, and to remain absolutely silent, without being supposed to acquiesce in the truth of that history. The chief measure alluded to, the Appropriation Clause, has been now defunct for thirteen years, and if the noble Lord had said that he was about to pronounce a funeral oration, to favour us with a panegyric on a faithful and departed friend, I should not have objected to some allowable exaggeration of his merits. But the noble Lord appears in the character of an historian, and professes to put on record the true account of the Appropriation Clause. Now, my memory differs in some important points from that of the noble Lord. The noble Lord states truly, that in 1835, soon after I succeeded Lord Melbourne in the Administration, I brought forward a measure for the adjustment of the question of Irish tithe. The noble Lord says, "In bringing forward the Appropriation Clause, in connection with that measure, I acted in my individual capacity. Could anybody expect that I should abstain from putting upon record my own personal opinions?" I had always thought that the Motion which led to the extinction of that Government had more of the character of a party Motion than the noble Lord is willing to admit; that it was not a mere individual Motion on the part of the noble Lord; but that the noble Lord and the whole of his party determined to obstruct the proposal with respect to tithe unless the Appropriation Clause formed a part of it. The noble Lord was 552 not content with moving an Amendment during the progress of the Bill; but, if I recollect right, he called upon the House to put upon record this proposition—that no adjustment of Irish tithe ever can be satisfactory, unless a portion of the revenues of the Irish Church be appropriated to educational purposes. I remonstrated against that proceeding. I said, "Pass this Bill, the object of which you approve; or if there must be a condition attached to it, take the opportunity of moving amendments in the Bill during its progress." I also said to the noble Lord, "Beware of fettering your future course by any abstract resolution, declaring that at no time to come shall there be any adjustment of Irish tithe, unless there be an alienation of ecclesiastical property." I was giving friendly advice to the noble Lord at that time. I could have had no other motive, according to the noble Lord's own account, for he says, that during the three months I remained in power, I never had the good fortune to be in a majority. I must have known, therefore, that my doom was sealed. But the noble Lord was not merely content with passing the abstract resolution. Nothing could satisfy him but that the whole House should wait on King William, and inform His Majesty that no adjustment of Irish tithe could over take place, unless there was an alienation of Church property. The noble Lord, however, notwithstanding all this, thinks that the Motion he then brought forward, did not at all partake of the character of a party Motion. This shows how apt contemporaries are to be deceived. It certainly was the impression, the erroneous impression, at the time, that there was a determination on the part of the noble Lord and of his Whig supporters, and of the Irish Members generally, that to settle Irish tithes without alienation was not to be tolerated—that the attempt was an iniquity not to be borne. It occurred to some—(but of course that was quite a subordinate consideration)—that there was an opportunity for a good party Motion, which would be the best way of turning out Sir Robert Peel. And so it proved. The noble Lord returned to power, and what account does he give of his Irish allies? He says, "I came into power—I found the House of Lords against the Appropriation Clause—the English public were not very well disposed towards it, but my Irish friends relieved me from any difficulty about it, and I found among the people of Ireland complete indifference on 553 the subject." This is the account we have of the great Irish party, who for five or six years before were so clamouring against the abomination of the Irish Church—who declared that there never would be peace while that Church remained in possession of her revenues—who insisted upon it that the Government which was formed in November, 1834, could not be permitted to exist, guilty as it was of attempting to remedy some of the evils accompanying the tithe system, without consenting to an alienation of Church property. What a picture the noble Lord draws of his Irish allies when he says, that the moment the personnel of the Government was changed, their clamour on this subject abated!
§ SIR R. PEEL
Well, it took the noble Lord three years to make them cool. I appeal to any man whether it would have been decent for them to lose their heat at an earlier period. They were gradually exposed to the mild influence of office; it is no imputation upon them whatever to say that under a Whig Government they got their fair share of official patronage; and about two or three years afterwards their hostility to the Established Church abated, and they fairly told the noble Lord they could give him no cordial support in an attempt to divert its revenues. I trust that if they should again press the noble Lord upon any particular measure he will ask them to pause—that he will remind them of the Irish Church—that he will tell them to wait two or three years, and he will then possibly find that, in the interval, their zeal will be less ardent. There can be no doubt that in deciding on the merits of Irish questions, it docs make a very material difference who are the persons who occupy that [pointing to the Treasury] bench. The noble Lord has received from the Irish representatives a much more cordial support than would have been accorded to me, if I had proposed precisely the same measures, under precisely the same circumstances. To conclude the history of 1835, the noble Lord's resolution was resisted by the House of Lords. I said to the noble Lord, "You shall hear no reproach—no taunt from me; but you had better settle the tithe question without the Appropriation Clause." He took my advice, and there let the matter remain. Now, with regard to what occurred in 1846. I am sure I entertain no ill-will to the noble Lord—I entertain no ill-will towards 554 anybody, for the course that was taken in 1846. I, and those who concurred with me in 1846, as to the necessity of repealing the corn laws, felt the alienation of the party with which we had acted to be inevitable. The loss of their confidence was the certain consequence of the course we considered it was our duty to take. In what manner that loss of confidence was manifested, is a matter of subordinate concern. But the noble Lord will give me leave to remind him that he is not quite accurate in the account he has given of the events of 1846. Several shocking murders were committed in Ireland, and we proposed a measure for the purpose of giving security to life and property in that country. Perhaps the noble Lord remembers the way in which that measure was encountered. The application for leave to introduce the Bill was opposed, and on, I believe, the second reading we were defeated. I made an appeal to the noble Lord to allow us to put the Bill into Committee. I said, "Do not reject this measure, intended for the protection of life, and the prevention of assassination, on the second reading. You object to the curfew clause; strike it out in Committee; but do not give agitators and assassins a triumph by refusing to give a second reading to a measure which has such objects in view." The noble Lord now says that he thought particular clauses were not calculated to attain the professed objects of the Bill; but why not have proposed to omit such clauses in Committee? Why not permit a fair deliberation on the details of the measure? "But," says the noble Lord, "you intended to commit the enormity of confining people to their houses at night." It is a bard necessity that compels public men to propose measures of coercion. The noble Lord himself is now proposing a measure which will enable him to confine people without trial both by night and day. This is all I have to observe with reference to the history of 1835 and 1846. I certainly shall not attach to my support of this Bill even that condition which the noble Lord suggested when opposing the Bill of 1846—that comprehensive measures of a healing nature ought to precede measures of coercion. I know the extreme difficulty of proposing measures of a healing nature. I believe we are all deeply convinced that the one great evil of this united kingdom is the condition of Ireland. I believe there is an universal desire to administer remedies; but 555 I know perfectly well that no Government can propose any measure which could have any immediate tendency to improve the social condition of Ireland. It is rather by the slow and healing process that we are to hope to overcome these difficulties—not by great measures, which everybody calls for, but which few choose to shadow out. What are the great measures which are to restore peace? I believe one of the greatest evils in Ireland at present is connected with the administration of the poor-law. That subject you are about to consider in the Committee which has been appointed; and most gratified I shall be if from that Committee there comes forth any plan calculated to improve the condition of the poor, and to remedy the defects in the administration of the poor-law. I shall give my support to this measure for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, because I believe it to be called for by regard for public peace. I believe that the Government has—and I believe that other Governments have also had—a sincere desire to improve the condition of Ireland; and I will not weaken or qualify my support of this measure of coercion by insisting, as a stipulation, that before I assent to it I will know what remedial measures are contemplated. I give an entire and cordial support to a Bill which I believe to be necessary for the vindication of the law, and for upholding the authority of the Crown.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
explained: In respect to the Motion of 1835, I do not believe I said—at least, I did not mean to say—that it was not a party Motion; what I said was this—that having consented to separate from my own friends in the Cabinet upon that question, I was not to refrain from bringing it forward because the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) was in power, inasmuch as I had advocated the same views while in office.
§ MR. MOORE
read an extract from a former speech of the First Lord of the Treasury, to the effect that measures to suppress crime in Ireland should not be introduced unaccompanied by such other measures as might enable the peasantry of that country to obtain subsistence. He (Mr. Moore) refused his assent to the present Bill on similar grounds, and he entreated the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) to suspend its progress until he had had time to introduce such remedial measures as the state of the country required.
|List of the AYES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Dod, J. W.|
|Adair, H. E.||Dodd, G.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Douglas, Sir C. E.|
|Alcock, T.||Douro, Marq. of|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Drumlanrig, Visct.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Drummond, H.|
|Arkwright, G.||Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Duff, G. S.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Duke, Sir J.|
|Bagshaw, J.||Duncuft, J.|
|Baines, M. T.||Dundas, Adm.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Dundas, Sir D.|
|Baring, T.||Dundas, G.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Bateson, T.||Egerton, W. T.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Ellis, J.|
|Bennet, P.||Elliot, hon. J. E.|
|Beresford, W.||Enfield, Visc.|
|Berkeley, C. L. G.||Farrer, J.|
|Bernal, R.||Ferguson, Sir R. A.|
|Bernard, Visct.||FitzPatrick, rt. hon. J.|
|Birch, Sir T. B.||Floyer, J.|
|Blackall, S. W.||Foley, J. H. H.|
|Blakemore, R.||Forster, M.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Frewen, C. H.|
|Bourke, R. S.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E.|
|Bremridge, R.||Glynn, G. C.|
|Broadwood, H.||Godson, R.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Gooch, E. S.|
|Brotherton, J.||Gordon, Adm.|
|Brown, H.||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Brown, W.||Grace, O. D. J.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Bunbury, E. H.||Granby, Marq. of|
|Burke, Sir T. J.||Granger, T. C.|
|Burroughs, H. N.||Greenall, G.|
|Buxton, Sir E. N.||Grenfell, C. P.|
|Campbell, hon. W. F.||Grenfell, C. W.|
|Cardwell, E.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Grey, R. W.|
|Carter, J. B.||Grogan, E.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Gwyn, H.|
|Chaplin, W. J.||Haggitt, F. R.|
|Charteris, hon. F.||Hallyburton, Lord J. F.|
|Childers, J. W.||Halsey, T. P.|
|Christopher, R. A.||Hamilton, J. H.|
|Clay, J.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Clements, hon. C. S.||Harris, R.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Hastie, A.|
|Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.||Hawes, B.|
|Cockburn, A. J. E.||Hay, Lord J.|
|Cooks, T. S.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Cole, hon. H. A.||Headlam, T. E.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Heald, J.|
|Coles, H. B.||Henley, J. W.|
|Copeland, Ald.||Henry, A.|
|Craig, W. G.||Herbert, H. A.|
|Crowder, R. B.||Herries, rt. hon. J. C.|
|Cubitt, W.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Dalrymple, Capt.||Heyworth, L.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Deedes, W.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Dick, Q.||Hodges, T. T.|
|Disraeli, B.||Hogg, Sir J. W.|
|Divett, E.||Hood, Sir A.|
|Hornby, J.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Howard, Lord E.||Powlett, Lord W.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Raphael, A.|
|Howard, Sir R.||Renton, J. C.|
|Hume, J.||Ricardo, O.|
|Humphery, Ald.||Rich, H.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Richards, R.|
|Jackson, W.||Romilly, Sir J.|
|Jervis, Sir J.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Russell, hon. E. S.|
|Keppel, hon. G. T.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Ker, R.||St. George, C.|
|King, hon. P. J. L.||Sandars, G.|
|Knox, Col.||Sandars, J.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Lascelles, hon. W. S.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Law, hon. C. E.||Seymour, Lord|
|Legh, G. C.||Shafto, R. D.|
|Leslie, C. P.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F.||Shelburne, Earl of|
|Lewis, G. C.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Sidney, Ald.|
|Lindsay, hon. Col.||Simeon, J.|
|Littleton, hon. E. R.||Slaney, R. A.|
|Locke, J.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Lockhart, A. E.||Smith, J. A.|
|Lockhart, W.||Smyth, J. G.|
|Lowther, H.||Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W. M.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Mackinnon, W. A.||Spearman, H. J.|
|Macnaghten, Sir E.||Spooner, R.|
|Macnamara, Maj.||Stafford, A.|
|M'Gregor, J.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Mahon, The O'Gorman||Staunton, Sir G. T.|
|Mahon, Visct.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Maitland, T.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Mandeville, Visct.||Stuart, H.|
|Mangles, R. D.||Talfourd, Serj.|
|Marshall, W.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Martin, S.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Masterman, J.||Thompson, Col.|
|Matheson, A.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Matheson, Col.||Thornely, T.|
|Maule, rt. hon. F.||Towneley, J.|
|Melgund, Visct.||Townshend, Capt.|
|Milner, W. M. E.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Milton, Visct.||Trevor, hon. G. R.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Monsell, W.||Turner, G. J.|
|Moody, C. A.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Morgan, O.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Mulgrave, Earl of||Verner, Sir W.|
|Mullings, J. R.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Napier, J.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Neeld, J.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Neeld, J.||Walpole, S. H.|
|Newport, Visct.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Newry and Morne, Visct.||Walter, J.|
|Ward, H. G.|
|Norreys, Lord||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Nugent, Lord||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Pakington, Sir J.||Williams, H.|
|Palmer, R.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Palmer, R.||Wilson, J.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Wilson, M.|
|Parker, J.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Patten, J. W.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.||Wyvill, M.|
|Peel, Col.||Young, Sir J.|
|Pigot, Sir R.||TELLERS.|
|Pigott, F.||Tufnell, H.|
|Plowden, W. H. C.||Hill, Lord M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Anstey, T. C.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Barron, Sir H. W.||O'Connell, J.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||O'Connor, F.|
|Bright, J.||O'Flaherty, A.|
|Callaghan, D.||Osborne, R.|
|Caulfeild, J. M.||Pilkington, J.|
|Corbally, M. E.||Power, N.|
|Devereux, J. T.||Reynolds, J.|
|Dunne, F. P.||Roche, E. B.|
|Fagan, W.||Scholefield, W.|
|Fox, R. M.||Scully, F.|
|Grattan, H.||Sullivan, M.|
|Greene, J.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Kershaw, J.||Thompson, G.|
|Lushington, C.||Williams, J.|
|Moore, G. H.||Crawford, W. S.|
|Mowatt, F.||Sadleir, J.|
§ Main Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time.