§ On the Motion for the House going into Committee on this Bill,
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
rose to move an instruction to the Committee. It was intended to bring out what might be the real meaning and scope of the powers to be given by this Bill, because as yet he said they were not able to judge of the whole extent and bearing of those powers. There was a difference amongst the parties to whom they were referred. In the first place, look at the Queen's Speech. He saw that Her Majesty's Ministers in drawing 569 up the Speech distinctly stated that insurrection still existed in Ireland; and the necessity of renewing the powers was distinctly based on the asserted fact that disaffection still existed there. The statement in the Royal Speech was put in for the sake of the dishonour of the thing. It was not thought right that the less excuseable objects and the true objects should be put into the mouth of the illustrious Occupant of the Throne. There was little care how the parties acted in common fairness to the country, provided they set their feet on the neck of the country. We had the letter of the Lord Lieutenant corroborated by the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and then the pretext of disaffection was utterly thrown aside; they did not attempt to bring it forward, or maintain it for one moment. On the contrary, the Gentlemen who were put forward to speak the echo to the Speech, distinctly admitted that no such thing as disaffection existed in Ireland. The Lord Lieutenant himself came out with the real reason. He confessed that the real meaning of the Bill, the real object of the powers accorded to him, was to put down discussion in Ireland, to put down constitutional agitation in Ireland. We had then this discrepancy between the Monarch on the Throne and Her advisers in the House. We had still more—we had discrepancy between those advisers themselves in the House. The last night when this Bill came before us we had the Secretary for Ireland (Sir W. Somerville) standing up to give his version, and the Prime Minister contradicting him entirely. The Secretary for Ireland said that the Bill was not to be applied to such agitation as that to which he had alluded. The Prime Minister said, on the contrary, that it was to be so applied. Of course from the higher position in the Ministry of the noble Lord, we were to lay more stress on his words.
§ [The hon. Member was here interrupted by a Message from the Lords, desiring a conference on the Resolutions respecting the ingrossing and inrolling of Bills.]
resumed. He had pointed out these four contradictions, and as the Bill itself gave no information on the subject, he thought it had now become absolutely necessary to make that other half of his speech which he received permission from the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) on Friday night to do. He begged to thank the noble Lord for that permission. It was something to be permitted to speak 570 in that House, though they were denied the right in Ireland. He begged also to thank the noble Lord for the certificate of character which he had been good enough to give him. He would now refer again to the contradiction between the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) and his Secretary (Sir W. Somerville). The Secretary for Ireland said that the Lord Lieutenant would not presume to interfere with an agitation carried on for the repeal of the Union; the Premier said he would. He had no doubt the Premier was correct. He believed the Lord Lieutenant would presume to do anything after the audacity he had shown in mixing together men whose only crime consisted in their having done their duty honourably and blamelessly to their country, together with others who had been engaged in treasonable practices. The noble Lord had, in his explanation, laid great stress upon the danger of the Repeal Association. But if the noble Lord yielded the right to the people of Ireland to meet and hold adjourned meetings, he (Mr. J. O'Connell) would promise him he should have no cause to complain. He did not know whether the people of Ireland would wish to hold such meetings he did not know whether or not he (Mr. J. O'Connell) would attend them. All he contended for was that their rights should not be taken from the people.
§ [The hon. Member was again interrupted by a Message from the Lords.]
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
again resumed, and said, that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had implicated the Repeal Association most unfairly in the charge of tending towards insurrection and conspiracy. But he (Mr. J. O'Connell) begged to remind the House, that not one member of the Repeal Association had been for a single hour imprisoned by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland under the powers entrusted to him by the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. And when he (Mr. J. O'Connell) and the other members of the Association had been tried for sedition, it was proved that not one breach of the law had ever been committed at any of the meetings held under its auspices. It should be recollected, too, that that was proved after every means had been tried to catch them. They had an able reporter, sent by the Government, present at each of their meetings, and two constables to watch them. They were watched, in fact, as a cat watches a mouse. And, after all, the noble Lord was obliged to make the most he could of the—he would not call it 571 "mock insurrection,"—but the wretched attempt at insurrection which had taken place. He called it a wretched attempt, for it was proved by the letters from America, to which so much allusion had been made, that not more than 200 persons were at any time gathered together; and that not more than thirty were armed for the purpose of taking an active part in it. He did not wish to say any thing harsh of the unfortunate persons who had taken part in that wretched affair: but he (Mr. J. O'Connell) thought they were the worst enemies of repeal. Reverting to the part taken by the noble Lord on the present occasion, he begged to ask him what he would have said had the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth come down to the House at the time of the reform agitation, and said, they could see what Chartism was—that Chartism was an offshoot of the reformers; and that the constitution should be suspended in order that Chartism might be put down? And further, that as the reformers were criminated by the fact of Chartism being an offshoot of reform, it was not enough that Chartism should be put down, but the agitation for reform should be put a stop to reform also. If it were brought home to himself in that manner, the noble Lord could feel it; but as it was only an Irish Member who had such a complaint to make, he took no notice of it. But did the noble Lord think they had heard nothing about the manner in which the Reform Bill was carried—of the manner in which the pressure from without was brought to bear upon the House of Lords? Did he think they had hoard nothing of the fifty francs from the Home Office, that were sent on the letters to the leaders of the political unions through the country, encouraging them to march upon London? And had they heard nothing of the celebrated letter dated from the Home Office, signed by Thomas Young, and directed to Sir William Napier, asking him to take up arms? [The hon. Gentleman read the letter, which has so often appeared.] That letter was not the production of Thomas Young, but of his employers; of those who now occupy the Ministerial benches, and who were endeavouring to prevent constitutional agitation by those who had never broken the law. After that, he wished the noble Lord joy of his love of the constitution, and his zeal for the preservation of order in the country. He should beg to refer to one other subject which had been alluded to in the debate the other night—the conduct of the Irish Members during 572 the great struggle between Whigs and Tories, from 1835 to 1840, and in particular the conduct of Mr. O'Connell. It was said that Mr. O'Connell had obtained patronage in return for the part he then took. But there was the evidence of Lord Melbourne that there never was a man who so little used any right of patronage he might have had. He (Mr. J. O'Connell) called upon any one to point out where and how his father had used the Government patronage for the benefit of himself or his family. There was indeed one brother of his (Mr. J. O'Connell), and another member of his family in Government employ; but that brother was appointed to the situation he held, not only without application, and without his knowledge, but actually whilst he was labouring earnestly and hard to place another person, an old and veteran reformer, in the situation. He (Mr. J. O'Connell) defied any man (and he had plenty of calumniators both in England and Ireland) to show that his late father had ever sold his country for patronage or profit. He defied any man to point out a single vote of his father's given in that House, that was not in accordance with his well-known opinions out of doors. In one case, that of the Appropriation Clause, it had been charged against Mr. O'Connell that he had yielded a principle. But what were the circumstances? The clause had been abandoned by Ministers, Ireland was being goaded into frenzy by the tithe massacres, and to prevent further bloodshed Mr. O'Connell agreed to a Tithe Bill without the clause. But he could tell the House that an equitable settlement of the Church question was still anxiously looked for by the Irish people. It was one that must be taken up, and before a fortnight he should himself submit a Motion to the House; then they would see whether the noble Lord at the head of the Government would stand by his old principles, and consent to apply the revenues of the Irish Established Church to secular and national purposes. He should now return to the noble Lord's allusions to agitation in Ireland; and he must say, from what he could gather, the mind of England was disappointed that there had not been better opportunities for using force in Ireland. The same mind would carry the present measure; but he warned the House that their success would only weaken the bonds between the two countries. It would do more towards separation than the most violent agitations supported by the ragged, shoeless, shirtless crew that had lately 573 created disturbance could effect. He (Mr. J. O'Connell) expected more sympathy for the Irish nation from the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) than he had exhibited. There was a sort of similarity between their positions, that should have caused that hon. Gentleman to lean more towards them. They formed the forlorn hope of constitutional liberty against tyranny. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had also a forlorn hope, but it was the forlorn hope of an exploded injustice. That hon. Gentleman ought to recollect the denunciations of Holy Writ against avarice and robbery and the grinding of the poor; and surely there could be no greater crime than for the rich to rob the poor man of his bread. So it was, however, that the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire took part against the Irish, for reasons which he (Mr. J. O'Connell) could not agree in, for he and those who acted with him were not disposed to—Compound for sins that were inclined toBy damning those we have no mind to.If the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire were "the coming man" whom he promised, he (Mr. J. O'Connell) thought that the day of his coming would be a day of bad omen indeed for England. For she would then have to prepare for a renewal of those restrictions which had fettered her trade, and Ireland would have to prepare for a renewal of that armed sectarianism which had been so long her curse and bane. The cry of English politicians had always been for peaceful applications for redress. The people of Ireland had agitated peacefully for years; but how little had they obtained by their forbearance. What consolation would it be to England to know that she had caused increased misery and ruin in Ireland, and that bloody devastation overspread the fair face of that country? Fox had been lately quoted in that House, but he prayed attention to two brief extracts from other constitutional writers. The first was from Locke's Essay on Government, and was as follows:—Absolute power is inconsistent with civil society, and can be no form of civil government at all. Wherever any two men are who have no standing rule and common judge to appeal to for the determination of controversies of right betwixt them; there they are still in a state of nature and under all the inconveniences of it, with only this woful difference to the subject, or rather slave, of an absolute ruler, that whereas in the ordinary state of nature he has a liberty to judge of his right, and according to the best of his power to maintain it; now, when his right is invaded, he has 574 not only no appeal as those in society ought to have, but, as if he were degraded from the common state of rational creatures, is denied a right to judge of or defend his right; and so is exposed to all the miseries and inconveniences that a man can fear from one who being in the unrestrained state of nature is yet corrupted by flattery and armed with power.Now this would be the exact position of the people of Ireland if the present Bill passed. They would be in the hands of a man "corrupted by flattery and armed with power;" they would have "no judge to appeal to for the determination of controversies of right; the dictator Lord Lieutenant of Ireland would rule over them, and they would be," not the subjects, but the slaves of an absolute ruler." The next extract was from Mr. Wyndham's remarks, delivered on the 8th of February, 1806, on which occasion that Gentleman said:—Vast and extraordinary powers ought not to be delegated merely because some mischievous persons had been taken out, and that the persons to be entrusted with them were of a mild and moderate disposition. We ought to be most tender in granting vast and extraordinary powers with respect to Ireland; not only a power exercised at a distance from control and inspection, but also because there is an obligation of honour and consciousness to be delicate in granting power, the "weight of which would fall exclusively on others, while it could not touch ourselves.Now, it would be extremely desirable if these important words were attentively considered by the House, because if the present measure were adopted, the weight of the blow inflicted would fall on the unfortunate Irish people, who were already sufficiently sunk in misery and wretchededness. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had told the House of a sop he meant to give to Ireland in the shape of an extended franchise; but at the same time he, the noble Lord, thought that the Irish people had not made quite the use they ought of the franchise they already possessed. It was quite possible the noble Lord might be led to entertain this opinion, because at the last election, the Irish people had refused to return two of his officers. But why had not those officers been elected? Simply because they had refused to go with the popular voice, and that they preferred the interests of England to the demands of the Irish people; and therefore every right-minded man would approve of the use the Irish electors had made of their votes on that occasion; for they had vindicated what they conceived to be the interests of their country by voting according to the dictates 575 of their conscience. He (Mr. J. O'Connell) would not enter upon the miserable game of recrimination, or institute a comparison between the mischiefs, the miseries, and the crimes which had been caused on both sides of the Channel; but if he were to do so, what hideous scenes might be not reveal of bribery in civilised England? Why, if reports were true, the election of the noble Lord himself for the city of London had not been conducted on very pure principles. The noble Lord had alluded to the Revolution of 1688, and seemed to think that, as the English people had then begun to prosper, the Irish people ought to have prospered likewise. But at the time England recovered a portion of her liberties, what did she do for Ireland? Why, she almost immediately after, by positive legislative enactment and Parliamentary interference, struck down with one blow the staple trade of Ireland the woollen trade; and she did so professedly and declaredly, in the words of the address of that day in the House, because the woollen traders of England thought that that trade would interfere with the woollen trade of their own country. But did England stop there? No. She next passed the penal law system, which, besides interfering between man and man on the subject of religion, had the evil effect of disturbing the economic condition of the country, of preventing many from acquiring wealth, of crippling industry and enterprise, and of robbing Catholics of whatever property they happened to possess. How could the country be expected to prosper under circumstances such as these? In 1782, England being obliged to abandon her encroachments, Ireland started on a course of prosperity; and for the eighteen subsequent years, during which the Irish Parliament existed, that country, even according to the confession of some of the chief artificers of the Union, including Lord Castlereagh and the Earl of Clare, prospered more in wealth and general prosperity than aay other country ever did in the same length of time. Then the Irish Parliament was taken away, and since that time England had been made the centre of attraction, Irish manufactures declined, and a refusal was given to interfere between Irish landlords and tenants, with the view of preventing the latter from being robbed. Could it be wondered at, then, that the Irish people had not become rich? But it was not even now too late to redress the grievances of that people. Let conciliation 576 be tried, if it were only for the sake of novelty. Let the House be advised in time. Ireland was paralysed now. She was struck down to the enrth; and therefore there was all the aggravation of wantonness in the present insult. He asked Her Majesty's Ministers to be true to their ancient principles, and he called upon the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tam-worth (Sir R. Peel) to look at the storm with which the political atmosphere was now surcharged, and to consider whether it was not desirable for England to have a firm and attached friend by her side, instead of a wretched and miserable slave. The hon. Member then moved—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.
The SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, that it was not his intention to follow the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell) throughout his very discursive speech. He would confine himself strictly to the resolution which the hon. Gentleman proposed as an instruction to the Committee, and he would endeavour in a very few words to show that that Amendment was totally inconsistent with the scope of the Bill, and would, if adopted, fail in advancing the end which the hon. Gentleman himself had in view. The House would observe, if it looked to what the object of the measure was, that the Bill before them was a Bill solely for the purpose of empowering the Lord Lieutenant, or the Chief Governor of Ireland, to apprehend and detain persons whom he should suspect of conspiring against the Government or the person of Her Majesty. Now, it was possible that there might be many acts apparently of an extremely innocent nature in themselves, but which, coupled with other acts, and viewed in respect to information which might be in possession of the Lord Lieutenant, might constitute proofs that the persons who had committed these apparently innocent acts had really been conspiring against the Government or the person of the Queen. But how was a Bill providing for such cases to prevent, or act as a curb upon, legitimate public meetings held for legitimate purposes. In the case 577 of a public meeting held for legitimate and proper purposes, that meeting would be as lawful under the Bill now before them, as it would have been before any Bill of the kind had been introduced, and as it would after the present Bill would have ceased to exist. In point of fact, they might just as well enumerate, in such an Amendment as that now proposed, any other species of acts which, by themselves, were perfectly legal and innocent, as public meetings. They might just as well propose an amendment declaring that no man should be legally interrupted and imprisoned for receiving his friends in his own house. Such an Act might be perfectly proper, nay, highly commendable in itself; but, yet, viewed in connexion with other circumstances, and in connexion with information in possession of the Lord Lieutenant, it might amount to a meeting held in order to conspire illegally against the person or the Government of Her Majesty. It would, therefore, be a stultification of Parliament to provide that this Bill should not interfere with or be applied, under any circum-stances, to public meetings. It might be the opinion of the hon. Gentleman, that in Ireland it was impossible to hold a public meeting for political purposes, without giving an opportunity to some ill-disposed persons of carrying the proceedings of the meeting further than its originators wished or intended. On that point he would give no opinion; but if such were the case, it was clear that such a meeting was one which ought to be prohibited, although the right of holding it was not affected by the Bill before them. There was, in fact, in this Bill nothing whatever to prevent any gentlemen from holding a public meeting, if they thought it could be conducted in such a manner as to make it one proper and desirable to be held. In a Bill of this description they must leave a considerable amount of discretion in the hands of the person in whom the administration of the measure was to be vested. But in the present state of society, and in the face of the knowledge so easily obtained by everybody of what took place in all parts of the empire, he thought that they had a reasonable security that no improper results could take place from putting in force the powers of the Bill against those who had done anything to deserve it. The proof that such was likely to be the case was, that no complaint had been made of any undue severity under the Bill of which the present was a continuation. The hon. Gentleman 578 the Member for Limerick admitted that not a single member of the Repeal Association had been arrested under the present Bill. Was not this a strong proof, both that the members of the Association had no reason to complain of the Bill, and that the Lord Lieutenant bad not considered that they entertained any treasonable motives? He thought that the House might, therefore, safely leave to the Lord Lieutenant a discretion in applying the provisions of this Bill. It was a measure which had this advantage over every other Coercion Bill—that whereas other measures of the class involved very considerable evils and inconveniences to persons purely innocent, this Bill, the provisions of which were to be applied only upon good information and good grounds by the Lord Lieutenant, could only affect persons who were either really guilty, or so culpably indiscreet as reasonably to give rise to a belief that they were engaged in conspiring against Her Majesty or Her Government. No Bill could have been more efficacious than that which it was now proposed to continue; and, he might add, the manner in which Parliament had passed that Bill had done much to prevent the insurrection from being more serious than it was. He hoped, therefore, that the House would not consent to cripple the present measure by introducing a provision which would make it impossible to carry the Bill into effect. The Lord Lieutenant believed that without this measure he could not, with safety, carry on the government of Ireland. Under these circumstances he (the Solicitor General) hoped the House would reject the Amendment, and pass the Bill in its integrity as speedily as possible.
§ MR. E. B. ROCHE
said, that the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Solicitor General had only tended the more strongly to convince him of the undesirableness—to use the mildest term—of this measure. What a difference of opinion there appeared to exist in the minds of Her Majesty's Government, as to the intention of this measure! They had the noble Lord at the head of the Government and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland saying that this Bill was intended for one purpose; and they had the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland and the Solicitor General saying that it was intended for another purpose. Now, the right hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down had distinctly stated that this Bill was not intended to 579 put down political agitation; but the Lord Lieutenant, in the letter which he had recently written to the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Office (Sir G. Grey) had as distinctly stated that he applied to Parliament to be armed with the powers which this Bill would confer, for the purpose of putting down all kinds of political agitation, which he declared to be the bane of Ireland. His hon. Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell) was, therefore, quite right in asserting that the noble Lord at the head of the Government (Lord J. Russell) and the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland (Sir W. Somerville) were totally at variance in their declarations as to the object and effects of this measure. He (Mr. Roche) did not intend, after the repeated occasions on which he had already addressed the House on this subject, to weary them by going over the same ground; but he could not sit down without protesting in the strongest manner that man could protest, in the name of his constituency, and, indeed, of the entire Irish people, against this unnecessary and unjustifiable attack upon their constitutional rights.
§ COLONEL RAWDON
said, the object of the Bill was to put down treason and treasonable practices, in Ireland, and that if he thought any Portion of it would obstruct the free right of discussion for the repeal of an Act of Parliament, no one would more readily vote against it than he would himself. But he (Colonel Rawdon) took a very different view of its provisions, and believed that neither the noble Lord at the head of the Government, nor the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland, would have placed their names to a Bill of this description, unless they felt the heavy responsibility which would attach to the Government if a measure of the kind were not introduced. They conceived it essentially necessary for the prosperity and tranquillity of Ireland. He believed the Act was considered to have more the character of a protective Act. He understood that during the time of the violent meetings in Ireland, a father had gone to the authorities with his misguided son and said, "Take this young man, and keep him from taking part in the insurrectionary movement. "He believed that in these days of newspaper power and free discussion, there was nothing whatever to dread from any abuse of the power which now, for the second time, was about to be entrusted to the Lord Lieutenant. He 580 had stated, both in and out of that House, that his great objection to the measure of the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) was, that it was injudicious and vexatious, and that he would have preferred a suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act as infinitely more efficient and less vexatious. Believing that tranquillity was essential to Ireland, that no right of discussion would be affected by the Bill, and that the powers conferred by it would be wisely and humanely exercised, he should give his vote in favour of the Bill in all its future stages.
§ MR. REYNOLDS
said, that as there seemed to be some misconception with respect to the provisions of this Bill, he would read to the House the first three or four lines of it, which bore upon the powers to be conferred upon the Lord Lieutenant. The Bill stated—Whereas an Act was passed in the last Session of Parliament, intituled 'An Act to enable the Lord Lieutenant, or other Chief Governor, or Governors, of Ireland, to detain until the 1st day of March, 1849, such persons as he or they may suspect of conspiring against Her Majesty's person.Now, it appeared to him (Mr. Reynolds), that, according to the explanation of the Bill given by the right hon. Gentleman the Solicitor General, the Lord Lieutenant was to be the solo judge of the party who ought to be arrested. It seemed clear to him that the Lord Lieutenant would have full power to interpret the law, and to "suspect," as he might please, any person whom he might find troublesome. He (Mr. Reynolds) concurred in the opinion offered in a recent debate, and repeated during the present discussion, that the Lord Lieutenant had not abused the powers entrusted to him, but that he had administered them with great temper, judgment, and mercy. But entertaining that opinion, he (Mr. Reynolds) still objected to the extension of these powers to the Lord Lieutenant, because he was not prepared to place the liberties of the subject on so slender a footing as the opinion of any peer or commoner in the realm. To say that the Lord Lieutenant had not in any instance abused the power in his hands, was but begging the question. Was it not saying to the House that they ought not to hesitate to suspend the constitution, because the power was in safe hands? It should not be forgotten, that if the Bill were passed in its present shape, it would be impossible to hold any 581 meeting for the purpose of petitioning Parliament for the redress of grievances, because the terror of arrest would act on the minds of the people to such an extent as to prevent them assembling. It was said that political agitation was a great evil. He admitted it to be an evil, if carried to an unconstitutional extent; but it was the reverse of evil when carried on peaceably and constitutionally. He was of opinion that the privilege of political agitation had conferred great and substantial benefits, not only on Ireland, but on England. If the free-traders had been told that a perseverance in their agitation for corn-law repeal would cause a suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, they would not have succeeded. Now, suppose he (Mr. Reynolds) was desirous to agitate for a repeal of the Union—a measure which, while it would confer a benefit on Ireland, would not do an injury to England—or for any other measure—suppose, as he had said the other night, the Irish people should take it into their heads to agitate for the abolition of the temporalities of the Protestant Church, would they be threatened with this Act? Formerly a man who refused to pay tithes was called a traitor. It was called treason to refuse to pay tithes; but tithes were abolished, in name, although not in fact. With respect to that question, he might say, that agitation had ended in making the Irish Protestant Church richer, and poor Catholic people poorer. He had heard an allusion the other night to the Appropriation Clause, and one hon. Gentleman had stated that that question was dead. He had great doubts of that. That question might be entombed, but the inscription on the tablet was "Resurgam." That question would be revived, but not on such narrow limits as the Appropriation Clause. When that question should be revived, he believed the Irish people would declare that the temporalities of the Protestant Church were an infliction which could not be borne. He believed that the people would demand that 1,000,000l. annually should no longer be applied to the exclusive support of the clergy of a small section of the Irish people, but should be devoted to the purposes of the Irish nation. What, he asked, was the meaning of forcing this Protestant Church upon Catholic Ireland? Why not apply the same principle to Ireland that you did to England and Scotland? [An Hon. MEMBER: Scotland had to fight for it.] Yes, Scotland had fought for that 582 principle, and it was worth fighting for. Ireland's altars were not free. The Protestant Church in England was the Established Church, because the Episcopalians were in the majority; the Presbyterian Church was the Church of Scotland, because the Presbyterians were in the majority; but the Protestant Church in Ireland was the Established Church, because the Protestant Episcopalians were in a great minority. Here was a contradiction with a vengeance. The Irish people were sick of being slaves; they felt degraded; and they would feel degradation so long as the present system was continued. The people of Ireland, he could assure the House, were not apathetic on this question. The people of Ireland had thought that by repealing the Union, they would repeal the present Church Establishment. But now the people were told, that they would not be allowed to agitate. If they were not allowed to agitate, he called upon the House to do something for them. Let them get rid of the temporalities of the Irish Church, and let them fully emancipate the people. With respect to the measure before the House, he was sorry that the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell) proposed to persevere in his Amendment. If that hon. Member persevered, he (Mr. Reynolds) should vote with him; but he objected to the Amendment, as it had the appearance of compromising a great principle. It was as much as to say to the House, "If you will agree to the Amendment, I will agree to the Bill." [Mr. J. O'CONNELL: No, no!] He thought the Amendment must bear that construction. But, returning to the Bill itself, he must call it an unnecessary, an uncalled-for, and an unprecedented invasion of the rights of the subject. He begged the House to consider what the state of Ireland was at the present moment. Ireland was tranquil. It was admitted that the people were tired of agitation. [The O'GORMAN MAHON: Hear, hear!] He understood the meaning of the cheer of the hon. Member for Ennis. The people were not tired in the sense which he meant; they were looking for some substantial relief. Tranquillity, he repeated, reigned in Ireland. Some of the most troublesome of the political opponents of the Government had been transported, and others had passed upon them the sentence dictated by the brutal Act of Edward III., which directed that the offenders should be drawn 583 and quartered, und their bodies be disposed of according to the pleasure of Her Majesty. He hoped that such a savage sentence would never be carried into effect on any subject of the Crown. But the Government had even a better guarantee for tranquillity than the convictions they had obtained. They had 30,000 or 40,000 troops in Ireland, and 11,000 police—thirty or forty of whom, by the by, had gained the great battle of Waterloo at Ballingarry. And yet, in the midst of all this tranquillity, it was proposed to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act. He believed that he was as well acquainted with the feelings of his fellow-countrymen as most Gentlemen were; and he had no hesitation in assuring the House that they need be under no apprehension of any danger to the public peace. What the people required was relief; they had discharged from their minds all notions of fighting. The raw material of disaffection had disappeared. It was notorious that nineteen out of twenty of the disturbances which had occurred in Ireland, had grown out of competition for land. But agrarian outrage had disappeared altogether; the poor-law and the famine had destroyed that, and land was now no longer a bone of contention. The people were expatriating themselves. They would not take land now for which a few years ago they would have shot their landlords, if they had attempted to disturb them in the possession of it. As to the measure before the House, he regretted that the Government, whom he recognised as the old and tried friends of civil and religious liberty, should have brought it forward. He should not have addressed the House had he not wished to urge upon the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell) the impolicy of placing his opposition to the measure on such narrow grounds, and to recommend him to give his opposition to the entire proposals of the Government.
§ MR. ANSTEY
also rose to appeal to the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell) not to press his Amendment to a division, as it seemed to him it would be impossible for the House to come to a satisfactory vote upon it. He thought the Amendment took more the shape of a question to be moved in Committee than any other. In the Committee, the Act might be amended so as not to press upon persons engaged in the agitation for the repeal of the Union. Now, if that was a treasonable agitation, the matter was ended; 584 if it was not, then the proposed measure did not bring it within its scope. Under all the circumstances it appeared impossible for him to hesitate as to the vote which he should be obliged to give. In one point of view the Amendment was unnecessary, in another pernicious. He should, therefore, oppose the Amendment.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
rose to explain. He wished to know whether he rightly understood the hon. Member the Solicitor General to state that the letter of the Lord Lieutenant and the commentary of the Irish Secretary, in both of which it was said the powers of the Bill were to be used against an agitation described by the one as for an object that could not be attained, and by the other as for an impracticable purpose, did not refer to the agitation for the repeal of the Union?
§ SIR G. GREY
said, neither the letter of the Lord Lieutenant nor the speech of the Chief Secretary for Ireland could be supposed to have the force of law. He was quite willing to concur in the opinion expressed by his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General, and the hon. and learned Member opposite (Mr. Anstey). He thought the hon. and learned Member (Mr. J. O'Connell), who proposed the Amendment, would act wisely in attending to the suggestions which had been thrown out.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
then withdrew his Motion, intimating that its substance might be embodied in a clause in Committee.
§ The question was then put that the House should go into Committee.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL moved a negative, and the House divided on the question, that Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair:—Ayes 84; Noes 14: Majority 70.
|List of the AYES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Crowder, R. B.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Cubitt, W.|
|Anderson, A.||Drumlanrig, Visct.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Duncuft, J.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Dundas, Sir D.|
|Baines, M. T.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Bellow, R. M.||Ellis, J.|
|Bernal, R.||Ferguson, Sir R. A.|
|Bernard, Visct.||Fordyce, A. D.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Bremridge, R.||Grace, O. D. J.|
|Brisco, M.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Brotherton, J.||Granby, Marq. of|
|Brown, W.||Granger, T. C.|
|Butler, P. S.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Clements, hon. C. S.||Gwyn, H.|
|Craig, W. G.||Harcourt, G. G.|
|Harris, R.||Nugent, Lord|
|Hastie, A.||Owen, Sir J.|
|Heathcote, G. J.||Pigott, F.|
|Henry, A.||Raphael, A.|
|Herries, rt. hon. J. C.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Heyworth, L.||Rice, E. R.|
|Hood, Sir A.||Rich, H.|
|Hotham, Lord||Romilly, Sir J.|
|Howard, Lord E.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Hume, J.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Kershaw, J.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Somerville, rt. Hn. Sir W.|
|Lacy, H. C.||Spooner, R.|
|Lascelles, hon. W. S.||Stafford, A.|
|Lemon, Sir C.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Lewis, G. C.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Lockhart, A. E.||Thompson, Col.|
|Macnamara, Maj.||Thornhill, G.|
|Mahon, The O'Gorman||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Maitland, T.||Walter, J.|
|Mandeville, Visct.||Willyams, H.|
|Masterman, J.||Wilson, M.|
|Maule, rt. hon. F.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Milner, W. M. E.|
|Moody, C. A.||TELLERS.|
|Morison, Sir W.||Tufnell, H.|
|Napier, J.||Hill, Lord M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Anstey, T. C.||O'Flaherty, A.|
|Fagan, W.||Power, N.|
|Grattan, H.||Reynolds, J.|
|Greene, J.||Scully, F.|
|Meagher, T.||Sullivan, M.|
|Morgan, H. K. G.||Williams, J.|
|O'Brien, T.||O'Connell, J.|
|O'Connor, F.||Roche, E. B.|
§ House in Committee; Mr. BERNAL in the chair.
§ On Clause 1 (Persons imprisoned in Ireland for high treason, &c. may be detained) being proposed,
§ Mr. ANSTEY
rose to propose, pursuant to notice, several Amendments of which he had given notice. In moving these Amendments, he avowed himself opposed totally to the principle of the present Bill; but as the House had affirmed that principle, he conceived that the Bill would be modified and improved considerably by carrying out his suggestion. He would propose the very reverse of what the Bill contemplated, and would only give the extraordinary powers which it invested in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant to a Committee of the Privy Council. It appeared to him strange that so many hon. Members on both sides of the House should feel so apathetic about a measure which went so much to infringe upon one of the oldest and most important principles of the constitution He concluded by announcing his intention of dividing the House on the first of his Amendments; and if it should be lost, he would not divide upon the 586 others. He would move to leave out the words "is, are, or."
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, he was sorry he could not accede to the hon. and learned Member's Amendment. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said he wished now to take the sense of the Committee not merely upon the technical alteration of the words embraced in his first Amendment, but practically upon the broader question as to the effect of the whole of his Amendments generally. But when the Committee contrasted for a moment the real effect of the hon. and learned Gentleman's Amendments, with the title of the Bill itself, which they had just affirmed by so large a majority, they would see at once that when they had voted the second reading of the Bill, they had virtually decided upon negativing these Amendments. For what was the object of these Amendments? Why, the hon. and learned Gentleman proposed to omit the whole of the 2nd clause of a Bill consisting of but three clauses. He proposed to strike out the power now given to the Lord Lieutenant and the Government to apprehend persons suspected of treasonable practices, and only gave authority to proclaim them. The Bill was brought in for the purpose of continuing the Act of last Session, whereas the hon. and learned Gentleman did not wish to do that, but to introduce an entirely new Act for a different object. His (the Attorney General's) answer to this was—he admitted that the powers demanded by the Government were very large, and granted that they might be abused, although he hoped the House had confidence in the Government, and believed that it would not not abuse its powers. If they were abused, however, the Government would still be open to responsibility and inquiry quite as much if the Bill were passed as it now stood, as they would be if it were altered in the mode which the hon. and learned Gentleman suggested. But his (the Attorney General's) further answer was this—that in dealing with large powers of this doubtful nature, it was far better to follow the old established form; and when Bills like this were renewed, so far as his recollection extended, it was always done ipsissimis verbis, according to precedent. It was always far safer to follow the old form, than open a door to what was not understood, and the effect of which could not be controlled by previous practice. For these reasons he must resist the Amendments.
§ The Committee divided on Question, "That the words proposed to be loft out stand part of the clause:"—Ayes 79; Noes 12: Majority 67.
|List of the NOES.|
|Fagan, AV.||Roche, E. B.|
|Greene, J.||Scully, F.|
|Meagher, T.||Sullivan, M.|
|Morgan, H. K. G.||Williams, J.|
|O'Flaherty, A.||Anstey, T. C.|
|Reynolds, J.||O'Connell, J.|
§ The remaining Amendments proposed by Mr. Anstey were then severally rejected without a division; as was also an Amendment moved by Lord Nugent, to limit the continuation of the powers of the Act to the 1st of June next, instead of to the 1st day of September next.
§ Clause 1 was then agreed to.
§ On Clause 2,
§ MR. ANSTEY moved the omission of the clause. He thought it would be unreasonable and unjust to confer on the Lord Lieutenant the power of selecting any place he might please as a gaol for carrying out the object of the Act; because a person might by that moans be removed to a part of the country where he would have no opportunity of entering into communication with his friends, or of preparing his defence.
§ The Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman was negatived without a division, and the clause was agreed to.
§ Clause 3 having next been agreed to,
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
wished to bring up some additional clauses. The first clause he would move was to the effect—Provided always, and he it enacted, That nothing in this Act contained shall be construed or taken to warrant the arrest, committal, or detainer of any person procuring, or seeking to procure, in a legal and constitutional manner, the holding of meetings to petition Parliament, or to address the Queen, in accordance with the law and constitution, or of any person attending or taking part in the proceedings of such meetings,His object in wishing to introduce these words into the Bill, was to protect the liberty of the subject in holding meetings of a peaceful and constitutional character. Ho, of course, did not admit that the Association with which he was individually connected was guilty of treasonable practices—at the same time the Act was left in a very dangerous—because very ambiguous and equivocal—state. They had already had four different Members of the Government all contradicting each other as to the 588 object and intention of the Act; and it was not safe to pass a measure that gave rise to such contrariety of opinions amongst its principal promoters. He wanted it defined by positive words, that the right in question should not be interfered with when only exercised in a legitimate and legal manner, and must, therefore, divide the Committee upon the clause he had just read.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
hoped the hon. and learned Member for Limerick would see the propriety of withdrawing his Motion. He (Mr. J. O'Connell) had already occupied a considerable portion of time in laying before the House the grounds for the instruction which he wished to be given to the Committee, and which instruction was substantially the same as the words of the present Amendment. The discussion upon that instruction had altogether occupied the House about two hours, and the opinion of hon. Members had been so generally expressed against it that the hon. Gentleman had been prevailed upon to withdraw it. He (Sir G. Grey) thought the hon. and learned Member ought to be satisfied with the clear explanations of the hon. and learned Member for Youghal (Mr. Anstey), and the equally clear argument of his (Sir G. Grey's) hon. and learned Friend (the Solicitor General) near him. They had convincingly shown that the instruction could not be entertained, and the same remark equally applied to the present Motion, which was practically the same as the instruction that had been withdrawn.
interrupted him, and said, a question arose upon a matter of form, as to whether the Motion could come within the scope of the title of the Bill.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
said, if the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey) could answer one question fairly, he would withdraw his Motion. Was it intended by this Bill to interfere to prevent the subject in Ireland from agitating for the repeal of an Act of Parliament—that Act being the Act of Union?
§ SIR G. GREY
said, the Lord Lieutenant would adopt such a course, in carrying out the powers of the Act, as he thought proper; but he would assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that neither his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant, nor any other Member of the Government, would promise or hold out an immunity to any person bringing himself within the suspicion of entertaining treasonable designs.
§ After a few words from MR. HUME,
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
recommended the hon. and learned Member for Limerick not to press for a division. It was impossible to make the Bill any better; and if he (Mr. J. O'Connell) was so anxious to get a practical answer from the Minister as to what course he should take with respect to the Repeal Association, it was very easy for him to do so. He (Mr. J. O'Connell) had only to go over to Ireland and begin again to agitate, and he would then soon find out the truth.
§ The Committee divided on Question, "That the said clause be now brought up:"—Ayes 11; Noes 105: Majority 94.
|List of the AYES.|
|Fagan, W.||Roche, E. B.|
|Grattan, H.||Scully, F.|
|Greene, J.||Sullivan, M.|
|Meagher, T.||Williams, J.|
|O'Flaherty, A.||O'Connell, J.|
|Reynolds, J.||O'Connor, F.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Grenfell, C. P.|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Grenfell, C. W.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Armstrong, R. H.||Gwyn, H.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Harcourt, G. G.|
|Raines, M. T.||Hastie, A.|
|Bass, T.||Hawes, B.|
|Bellow, R. M.||Hay, Lord J.|
|Bernard, Visct.||Heathcoat, J.|
|Birch, Sir T. B.||Heathcote, G. J.|
|Blakemore, R.||Henry, A.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Herries, rt. hon. J. C.|
|Brisco, M.||Heyworth, L.|
|Brotherton, J.||Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Brown, W.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Carter, J. B.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Clements, hon. C. S.||Hood, Sir A.|
|Craig, W. G.||Hotham, Lord|
|Crowder, R. B.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Cubitt, W.||Hume, J.|
|Disraeli, B.||Humphery, Ald.|
|Drumlanrig, Visct.||Jervis, Sir J.|
|Drummond, H.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Duncuft, J.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Dundas, Sir D.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Ellis, J.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Estcourt, J. B. B.||Macnamara, Maj.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Maitland, T.|
|FitzPatrick, rt. hn. J. W.||Mandeville, Visct.|
|Fordyce, A. D.||Martin, C. W.|
|Forster, M.||Masterman, J.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Gooch, E. S.||Miles, W.|
|Gore, W. O.||Milner, W. M. E.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Granby, Marq. of||O'Brien, Sir L.|
|Granger, T. C.||Owen, Sir J.|
|Parker, J.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Perfect, R.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Power, N.||Spooner, R.|
|Prime, R.||Stafford, A.|
|Raphael, A.||Stephenson, R.|
|Rawdon, Col.||Thompson, Col.|
|Rice, E. R.||Thornely, T.|
|Rich, H.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Romilly, Sir J.||Walpole, S. H.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Russell, F. C. H.||Ward, H. G.|
|St. George, C.||Wilson, M.|
|Scrope, G. P.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.||TELLERS.|
|Sheridan, R. B.||Tufnell, H.|
|Slaney, R. A.||Hill, Lord M.|
§ The Bill reported: the House resumed.