Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to be made to Motion [2nd August]—
That leave be given to bring in a Bill to continue, for a time to be limited, an Act of the eleventh year of Her present Majesty, for the better prevention of Crime and Outrage in certain parts of Ireland;' and which Amendment was to leave out from the word 'That' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, 'the distressed people of Ireland have borne unexampled sufferings, produced by famine, and by evictions from the soil, with praiseworthy submission to the Laws; and it is the opinion of this House, that it is not just to renew and continue measures of coercion subversive of the constitutional rights of the Irish People as British Subjects, whilst the redress of acknowledged grievances connected with the Laws which regulate the relations of Landlord and Tenant, recommended to the consideration of Parliament in Her Majesty's Speech, has been neglected or postponed'—instead thereof.
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. MOORE
said, he must oppose the Motion, although he had originally given it his support when it was brought under their notice. Although agrarian outrages and crimes had formerly been deplorably prevalent, no one could deny that they had lately very much decreased in consequence of the improved feeling of the population. He had seen those who were the foremost to protest against the remedy, the first to hail the cure; and, above all, he had seen the bloody, and capricious, and sanguinary ebullitions of unhallowed vengeance give place to a calm and mighty protest against the injustice from which they had sprung. The most exasperated, the most perverse, even the most guilty of the people of Ireland, had acquiesced in the justice of that wise sentence which proclaimed that murder under no circumstances, under no provocations, should dare to assume the seat 867 of justice; and they now demanded in return that those legal murders which had hitherto obtained impunity, not in the bosom of a guilty populace, but in the dark recesses of a conniving law, should no longer be permitted to defile the land. And what was the answer to that appeal? It was this—that, no matter how blameless might be the demeanour of the people, no matter how offensive might be the conduct of the landlords, that House was determined to legislate for the landlords, and against the people. [Expressions of dissent.] Hon. Gentlemen dissented, but what was the state of the case? What was the great social scandal of Ireland at the present day, which affrighted the mind of every passing traveller, and filled the whole land with wailing and desolation? Was it the assassination of the rich by the hands of the poor? Was it the landlord or the agent slain on the highway by the arm of the vindictive peasant? They heard of none of these things, but, on the other hand, smouldering hamlets and roofless villages; evicted families cowering round their desolated hearths; others, hunted from that last retreat, dying by the wayside; children, with scarce a vestige of humanity, crowded in festering throngs within the walls of the poorhouse, or shivering in cold, and hunger, and nakedness in the rain outside—all, in fact, that met the eye from end of the country to the other, denoted a ruthless and exterminating war against a meek, forbearing, and unresisting peasantry, such as eye had never seen, nor ear heard, in the whole history of human wrong and human endurance. And was it to be credited that, as a remedy for such a state of things as this, they were now called upon to forge fresh fetters for unresisting poverty, fresh weapons for overbearing power, measures of prevention lest the hapless worm should turn, measures of enforcement lest the armed heel should not tread sufficiently heavy or sufficiently sure? He thought that amidst the scenes that were enacted in Ireland, to intrude three such measures as were now in progress through the House upon the gloomy stage, to enforce the strong and restrain the feeble, where strength was already rampant, and feebleness had almost sunk into collapse, was a scandal upon our legislation, and almost justified the calumnious imputation which had been alleged against our laws—that they were enacted against the many "by and for a particular few." The arguments alleged in support 868 of this Bill were three. First, his right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland said, that its provisions were directed against wrongdoers only. To this proposition he gave his entire assent. But he replied, in the words of the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government on another occasion—"This is the argument put forward by despotic Governments." Of course this Bill was intended for wrongdoers alone. The same might be said, and said truly, of the torture, the knout, and the wheel. The objects of despotic and constitutional Governments were pretty much the same—it was upon the means that they essentially differed. It was the means, and not the object, which they were then debating; and he conceived no more indisputable axiom of constitutional government than that every arbitrary enactment which was not absolutely necessary was absolutely injurious. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin said, that this was a measure of prevention; and he added the somewhat musty proverb, that "Prevention was better than cure." He was sorry to hear an hon. and learned Member of his talents and character put forward an argument so unworthy of him; for he thought the House would agree with him that, whatever necessity might occasionally exist for arbitrary measures for the purpose of repression, the enactment of such laws for the mere prevention of possible and anticipated dangers was not only unworthy of a free Government, but one of the worst and basest expedients of despotic power. As for the argument of the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government—that, because this measure had been successful in repressing outrage, they should persevere in a remedy which they had found so efficacious—it was about as reasonable as if a physician who had relieved a patient suffering from violent inflammation by copious bleeding, were still to persist in bleeding on, after the inflammation had subsided into atrophy and decline. In fact, the Government had no case. They frankly avowed it, and begged of the House to excuse the trifling deficiency. He, for one, must decline making that concession. He voted for this Bill on a former occasion, because he thought there was a full, complete, and imperative case for interference. He now voted against it in the same spirit, because there was no case, and worse than no case.
§ COLONEL RAWDON
could not refuse to 869 continue the Act if the responsible Government of the country considered it necessary to secure peace and order, and more particularly knowing how temperately it had been administered, and to what satisfactory results it had led. It was true that the state of things had changed since the Act was passed; but could any one who was at all familiar with Ireland venture to predict that the evil which had called it into existence might not again arise? He, for one, could not, and therefore he felt that he should not be doing his duty if he refused to continue a power in the hands of Government which could only be directed against the criminally disposed part of the Irish community, though he could not help regretting that the Bill for its continuance had first originated in the other House of Parliament, which had so peremptorily rejected the measure introduced by the Government for the extension of the franchise of Ireland.
§ MR. SCULLY
said, it was his determination to oppose the Bill, and expressed some surprise that the hon. and gallant Member who last addressed them supported the Bill, because it was demanded by the Government. The state of things which called for this Act no longer existed, and he, for one, would be no party to its continuance, when the only reason that could be urged in its favour, was simply that Government wished it, though he was quite prepared to support a measure for the prevention of crime and outrage in Ireland of a remedial character. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland, when he originally proposed the measure, said it should be limited and partial in its character, and that it should he accompanied by remedial measures. The Session had now endurd for a long period, but no remedial measures had been proposed. The Irish people were disappointed; they received nothing hut coercive measures. The land question was undecided, and the Franchise Bill had been a failure, and would not give satisfaction to the people. The Church question still remained unsettled. Ireland was in a perfect state of tranquillity, crime had almost entirely diminished, the Judges at the assizes stated the fact in their grand-jury charges, and there was nothing to justify the continuance of this measure. He felt a pride in stating that in one division of the county which he represented (Tipperary), there had not been one capital conviction for the last four assizes. In no part of Ireland 870 were there any of those murders and outrages which formed the justification of the measure of 1847. In fact, the characteristic feature of Ireland at present was not crime but distress. In the nine months previous to April last, there had been no fewer than 225 deaths from starvation. In place of coercive measures, it was the duty of the Government to introduce measures of practical relief—measures to employ the poor and to relieve the farmers from the grievances of which they complain. An agitation had sprung up respecting the land question, which was supported not only by the Roman Catholic priesthood, but by clergymen of all denominations in Ireland. The Government might depend upon it that, if they did not take this question into their consideration, a solution of it might be forced upon them which they would grievously regret.
§ MR. TORRENS M'CULLAGH
I am not surprised, that so few upon this side of the House should have been found ready to defend, in discussion, the measure which the Government now asks leave to bring in. With the exception of what has been said by the hon. and gallant Member for the city of Armagh, not a word has been offered in justification of the course we are called on to sanction, by any one who is connected with Ireland, and who in this House is reckoned among the friends of popular rights. My hon. and gallant Friend has volunteered, however, his support of Her Majesty's Government, when support was never more needed. For whatever the numbers upon the division may be, there never was surely a measure so stringent in character, and of such wide applicability, for which so little by way of reason or argument has been advanced by its authors. Yet I must say that the statements and the admissions made by the hon. and gallant Member, so far from justifying the conclusion to which he has come, seem to me to warrant exactly the opposite inference, and to furnish grounds, if any were wanting, for coming to a different conclusion. He has told us that the agrarian oppressions and hardships the people endure, have been, and are, unparalleled. He admits that their long-suffering and forbearance have been, and are, unexampled. He confesses that Parliament has not hitherto done anything which might palliate this terrible wrong and misery; and therefore he says we should lose no time in passing this harsh and repressive Bill. The country is perfectly tranquil, and that is the 871 reason, for want of a better, why we should pass a law of an exceptional character, to quell non-existent disturbance. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland attempted to make no case to justify the present proposal. I say so not as meaning thereby to insinuate any species of reproach. I can understand and appreciate the undisguised reluctance with which one so circumstanced as my right hon. Friend lends the weight of his name and experience to wholesale charges and accusations against the people of his own country. And when in a case like the present, matter of imputation is wanting, I honour the feeling which leads him to refrain from hinting that which he could not openly assert, and recurring to times of unhappily worse repute, in order thereby to darken the fame of the present. I would that others had been equally forbearing, and that the deeds of a former period had not been referred to when an impeachment was to be brought against this. But fresh materials were scanty, and the temptation was therefore great. I am sorry that the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin was unable, as it would seem, to resist it. Not content with citing the deplorable fate of Mr. Mauleverer, and with stating that case, as I shall show, in the spirit and tone of an advocate, rather than in that which befits a legislative judge, the hon. and learned Gentleman sought to excite still further the indignation and disgust of the House by connecting therewith, as though in a natural course of retrospective suggestion, another terrible case of lawless vengeance in the self-same locality. Passing rapidly over all that in fact and fairness ought to have been distinguished, he told us that in the devoted district where Cross-maglen is situated, another victim, the late Mr. Powell, had fallen by the hand of an agrarian assassin. But he forgot to mention that between the one deplorable event and the other, a period of not less than nine years had intervened. And it was only in answer to an interruptive question that my hon. and learned Friend admitted the fact to be so. Now, Sir, I say that it is alike unworthy and unwise to rummage the records of by-gone guilt and misery in order to eke out the short reckoning of present sin and shame. I say it is not our duty to dig at the foot of the gallows for the remains of well-nigh forgotten crime. And I humbly trust that this House, for its own sake, as well as for that of a 872 libelled and suffering people, will not be swayed in the judgment to which it may come on the merits of this most uncalled-for Bill by any reference that has been made to stale and irrelevant topics like those I have named. But, as they have been dragged into discussion, I too have a word to say regarding them. The hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin dwelt with much emphasis upon many details of the narrative he undertook to give respecting the fate of Mr. Mauleverer. He told you, in confutation of statements which had appeared in the public journals, that not a single ejectment had been executed under the orders of that unfortunate gentleman; and he took care to say "executed" in italics. But why was the cardinal fact omitted, that in the space of the twelve months preceding, no fewer than 321 processes or civil bill suits in ejectment had been brought by the ill-fated Mr. Mauleverer against persons who occupied portions of the property under his management? It happens, moreover, that in the county of Armagh, and more especially in its mountainous and impoverished districts, resort to ejectment, as a means of enforcing rent, has long been but too common. The evidence of Mr. Tickell, who fills the office of assistant barrister in that county, given before the Devon Commission, attests this sad truth. According to him, the number of ejectments brought at the quarter-sessions in that county alone during the years 1839–1845, were 1,953. It was during that period that Mr. Powell came by his untimely death. God forbid that I should say that those by whose hand he fell, perpetrated what, in any sense, ought to be termed a "natural crime!" That ominous phrase did not fall from any opponent of the present coercive Bill. I have never consciously uttered, and I earnestly hope I never shall, one word that by any construction could be wrested from its intended meaning into a palliation of deeds of vengeance. Did no higher consideration govern me, I should feel bound by that sympathy which I so deeply feel for the wrongs and oppressions of the people, not to allow anything to escape my lips which could by possibility be supposed to sanction crimes against life or property. I fully believe that those who would do so are not the true friends of the people, but that, on the contrary, they are evil advisers, who would lead them to their own undoing and destruction. But, on the other hand, I would with confidence put it 873 to every English Member who hears me, whether he can realise easily the state of panic, of pain, and of passion, into which a whole community of poor and unfriended men may be thrown, when the fate of each and all of them seems to depend upon the capricious and all-powerful will of a single man? And what if, in addition to all the fears and animosities arising out of the letting and occupation of land among a neglected and rackrented tenantry, there be added the withering suspicion of sectarian antipathy, and of a desire to abuse the power that property confers, to purposes of proselytism? I say not that, in the case of Mr. Powell, such imputations were just, but I say that they were prevalent. And I further say, that being so, it is not surprising that the vindication of the law by the condemnation and public execution of the person accused of being his murderer, instead of producing a salutary effect by way of example, tended to create, on the contrary, feelings of new exasperation and aversion between the owners and occupiers of the soil; for how was that condemnation obtained? If my recollection of the circumstances of that frightful case does not very much deceive me, the person who was accused of the crime alluded to was a Roman Catholic. His name, I think, was Hughes. He was first tried by a mixed jury, who disagreed as to his guilt. At the next assizes he was again put upon his trial; but upon the second occasion the jury was exclusively composed of the religious denomination to which in Ireland the dominant class belong. By that jury he was found guilty. He died upon the scaffold protesting his innocence. It is not for me to hazard any opinion as to the justice of the verdict. He is gone to his account, and no man now can lift the veil that hangs over that miserable tragedy. But, guilty or innocent, I say that he had not a fair trial; because, in a country like Ireland, no trial can, under such circumstances, deserve to be called fair, when the jury is packed with the members of the favoured creed, while the accused professes the faith of the down-trodden race. I think the House will concur with me in opinion that the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin would have done better had he refrained from alluding to this case. With regard to this Continuance Bill, I can but repeat what has already been said by my hon. Friends around me, and admitted, indeed, by every one who has spoken, that the country 874 never was so tranquil, and that outrage never was so rare. Every grand jury lately assembled—every Judge who has recently, addressed them—has borne the same testimony. In the words of Baron Lefroy, when opening the assizes of Westmeath, not three weeks ago, "a new day of peace and loyalty seemed to have dawned upon the land." Is this a time for the renewal of coercion? It has been said that we owe our present tranquillity to the application of this law. I asked a friend of mine the other day, who has had peculiar opportunities of knowing, to what extent this Act has been really put in force. He told me, to a very limited extent. How then, I asked, can its efficacy have been so great, that we must now continue it? His answer was, "It is useful as a threat." Sir, I must protest against the system of governing Ireland by threats. We have been told that, during the present Session, there has not been time to deal with remedial measures on the subject of agrarian grievances. But how does it happen that time never seems to be wanting for measures of agrarian coercion? Of the Bills that have come down from the Lords, this, though the last, is not the least. We have broken the neck of one of those birds of prey which lately alit upon your table; to-morrow we shall have to deal with another; and the question to-night will be, what must we do with a third? That which is now before us cannot be classed with these, for it is a Government Bill; but fearing, as I cannot but fear, that in Ireland all will be looked on alike; and fearing, as I cannot but fear, that the provisions of all may be most widely abused, I cannot agree to give my vote for leave to have it brought in.
§ MAJOR BLACKALL
said, he had never heard a speech in that House more calculated to excite angry feelings, or to draw attention from the real subject before them, than the speech which the hon. and learned Gentleman had just delivered. The hon. and learned Gentleman had altogether mistaken the character of the Bill. It would not give additional powers to the landlord. He was also mistaken in supposing that it was not in operation in Ireland at the present moment. It was in operation in the county which he (Major Blackall) had the honour to represent, and he defied any one to deny that its operation had contributed to the peace of that county; and yet he had never heard any one say that it had interfered in the slightest degree with the 875 rights and liberties of any one. Believing, then, that if the powers given by this Bill were exercised with the same prudence and discretion with which they had hitherto been exercised, the happiest results would follow, he should give his cordial support to the Bill.
§ COLONEL CAULFEILD
said, he was glad to find that by the 18th clause, accessories after the fact of a murder were punishable to the same extent as the principal, even were he not overtaken. He should not have wished to have supported the Bill as it came from the House of Lords, but with the amendments which had been introduced by the Government, he would give it his support.
§ MR. R. M. FOX
said, that, although he might be willing to give the present Lord Lieutenant the powers conferred by this Bill, he was not willing to give them to those who might come after him, who would not only deprive the people of their constitutional liberties, but would raise their food to a starvation price. In the next Session of Parliament, he would move, as an amendment to the first important Government measure, that the landlord and tenant question in Ireland was of paramount importance, and should be first taken into consideration.
§ LORD C. HAMILTON
hoped that nothing would induce the House to believe that the moral, high-minded, and well-meaning people of Ireland looked with the slightest jealousy upon restrictions like those contained in the present Bill. On the contrary, they rejoiced in the tendency of such a measure to check the career of evil-doers, and to enable the peaceable and well-disposed to exercise their industry in peace. He regarded it as the grossest libel on the people of Ireland to represent them as so addicted to the commission of crime, or the protection of criminals, that any measure of restraint or repression must be odious to them. He thought the Government deserved great censure for having allowed the whole Session to pass without the introduction of a measure to correct the maladministration of the poorlaws.
§ MR. E. B. ROCHE
said, he was one of those who from the commencement objected to the introduction of this Bill. He was fully alive to the great amount of crime which existed at the time the Bill was brought in, but he then said the existing law was sufficient, and that all they had to do was as they did in 1831, to issue 876 special commissions. By applying the law as it stood, they did put down crime in Ireland. He said then that it was an unconstitutional law, and that they did not require it. Events had proved that opinion, and the same objection therefore applied much more strongly now. The argument for the Bill was, "True there is no crime in Ireland, and therefore give us this Bill that there may be no crime;" one of the most extraordinary arguments in favour of an unconstitutional law he ever heard. It was admitted on all hands that the great cause of crime in Ireland was the unsatisfactory relations of landlord and tenant. Surely, then, they had a right to say they would not agree to this Bill till they put these relations in a sound and satisfactory state. He must say that when at the latter end of the Session they had withdrawn measures for the amelioration of Ireland, it was unfair in the Government to bring in a measure of coercion without making out any case for it, and when many Irish Members were absent. Without this Bill there was law strong enough to put down crime, but the people of Ireland were tranquil; every Judge who had gone the circuit had congratulated them on the absence of crime, and therefore he trusted that even now the Government would consent to withdraw the Bill.
§ MR. STAFFORD
said, that there was one person who must be considered as being highly complimented by the whole course of this discussion; he meant the present Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; for, with all the ingenuity of the hon. Members who opposed this Bill, they had not been able to point to one instance in which he had used the large powers with which he had been intrusted in an unconstitutional manner. He maintained that the long and the short of the question was a vote of confidence or no confidence in the Government. The Government came forward and said, "We require such and such powers to enable us to conduct the Government of Ireland till next Session of Parliament." If hon. Members considered the Government of Ireland entitled to their confidence, there never was an occasion on which they might with greater propriety yield to their convictions than this. If, on the contrary, they thought the Government undeserving of their confidence, they ought not to have waited till the eleventh hour of the Session before bringing its conduct under the notice of the House. Attention had been called to the Irish 877 Church—to the state of landlord and tenant—and to the Irish Poor Law. He must own his regret that the Government had not pushed on the Landlord and Tenant Bill, and thought the explanation of the noble Lord at the head of the Government on this head was unsatisfactory. As to the Irish Church, when a Motion was brought forward regarding it, hon. Gentlemen opposite mustered so thinly that the House was counted out. It was in the power of any hon. Member to bring forward a Motion for the amendment of the poor-law, but it had not been done. No one, however, had found courage enough to blame the administration of the Earl of Clarendon, for all parties concurred in eulogising the wise and conciliatory policy of that noble Lord. On a former occasion he opposed a similar Bill to this, not because he disapproved of its powers, but because he thought it was for the interest of the country that the then existing Government should be thrown out; and he was ready to admit, that if those who approved this Bill felt the same towards the present Executive, they were justified in their opposition. But, on the other hand, if they were not ready to take upon themselves the government of the country, or could point out a party ready to do it for them, they were bound to pass this Bill, because the Ministry had declared that they could not carry on the Government of Ireland without the powers of this Bill. For his own part, he knew no man to whom he would more readily intrust the extensive powers of the Bill than the Earl of Clarendon; and, as he was not prepared to undertake the responsibilities of the Government, he should give the Bill his hearty support.
§ MR. P. SCROPE
said, it was rather a strange thing that the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House, justified his vote because he had confidence in Her Majesty's Government, seeing that he generally voted against them. The hon. Gentleman voted against another Coercion Bill, because he had no confidence in the then Government, so that the hon. Member had been consistent. He agreed in the compliments paid to the Earl of Clarendon; but it must be recollected that those extra constitutional powers might be vested in other hands. The fact was, hon. Gentlemen opposite supported the Bill, because those powers were to be exercised against Ireland, and to coerce the Irish people. They seemed to have a notion in 878 that House that the Government of Ireland was to be conducted on a different principle from that of England. No such Bill had ever been introduced for England. But it had been said that there had been a repression of crime during the existence of this Bill. Why, that was an argument that would justify their continuing such a Bill for over. His opposition to the Bill was the same as that declared by the present First Minister of the Crown in 1846, when he opposed the Coercion Bill then proposed, because there had been no case proved—no amount of crime proved to exist—which could justify the introduction of such a measure. It had been said, on the other side, that the measure ought not to be characterised as one giving extra powers to the landlord: but it strengthened the power of the Government for giving effect to the decrees of the landlords, whereby large districts were depopulated. What would history say of the conduct of a set of landlords who seized the opportunity of a famine visitation to eject their miserable tenants from their holdings, and of a Government who gave the landlords facilities for effecting this object? He opposed the introduction of this Bill, because it was unaccompanied by any remedial measures.
SIR D. NORREYS
supported the Bill, on the ground that the coercive powers had operated as a preventive of crime. Without saying that those powers were absolutely necessary now, he would ask who could take upon himself to say that they would not be so soon? In the transition state in which Ireland now was, it was better that these powers should be continued, than have a constant renewal of these discussions. He was convinced that to make the law felt, was the only way to ensure its observance in Ireland. He regarded the cry about the landlord and tenant question, as one of the popular delusions which were constantly prevalent in that country. As the Government asked for a renewal of this Bill, he would give it with confidence; nor did he fear its being abused by any other Government or any other Lord Lieutenant.
§ COLONEL CHATTERTON
confessed he was greatly surprised that any Member from the sister country could for a moment offer any opposition to the re-enactment of this measure. He considered it one of vast importance to Ireland. It had, in a great measure, restored tranquillity to that distracted country. It had restored 879 confidence to the minds of the well-conducted, by punishing the disturbers of the public peace; therefore he, knowing well its value, would hope that Her Majesty's Government would use every exertion to have it carried through the House before the close of the Session, and it should have his warm and decided support.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 81; Noes 28: Majority 53.
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ MR. HUME
contended that if the people of England were treated like those of Ireland, they would resist by force such an attempt to deprive them of their rights. The Government had made out no case for this Bill; in fact, there was no case to make out. On the former occasion he had thought it right to arm the Government with these powers. Nothing had been done since to give the people the civil rights enjoyed by the people of this country; on that ground he thought the representatives of Ireland fully justified in resisting this measure by every means which the forms of the House would allow. Sound policy alone would dictate to the Government some attempt at conciliation. This was the interest of England as well as Ireland; for in the absence of good government large and costly bodies of troops were necessary to keep the people of Ireland quiet. He should give every assistance to hon. Members who thought fit to avail themselves of all the forms of the House in opposing this measure.
§ MR. REYNOLDS
tendered his thanks to the hon. Member for Montrose, on his own behalf and on that of his constituents, for his manly, generous, and frank declaration, which was, to him, consolatory and refreshing. He looked upon this Bill as a brand, a stain, and an insult on the Irish people. The right hon. Secretary for Ireland acknowledged that the country was tranquil, and yet he, because of his office, advocated this arbitrary measure. The Government asked for this Bill as a child asked for a toy—to play with during the recess; but, as the fable of the bull and the frogs had it, "what is sport to you, is death to us." Would they dare to propose such a Bill for England or Scotland. They would not. He felt that on his return to Dublin his constituents would naturally ask him why he supported a Government which thus treated Ireland; and he confessed the question would be a difficult one to answer. He was determined to oppose 880 the introduction of this Bill, and would even record factious votes to put down this wanton infringement of the rights of the Irish people. If he had any influence with the noble Lord at the head of the Government, he would ask him not to tarnish his high character by agreeing to any measure of coercion towards the Irish people. He thought that Irish Members had some claim on the noble Lord, for on a late occasion, when an attempt was made to oust the Ministry on the question of their foreign policy, the noble Lord owed his success to the support he received from Irish Members, for it would be found that the noble Lord's majority of 46, included 58 independent Irish Members. [Laughter.] He very well understood the meaning of that laugh; but he was not so unacquainted with the rules of arithmetic that he did not know that 58 could not be included in 46. He meant no such thing, but he meant this—that 58 Irish Members had voted in the majority with the noble Lord, and if they had voted the other way, it would have made a difference of 116 against the noble Lord. And what would have been the consequence? In all probability they would have seen the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon changing over to the Ministerial side, supported by a number of—he would not say "loose fish," but of those who, from their talents and position, could assist in forming a piebald Administration. He could tell the noble Lord that, during the recess, the Irish Members would get up a little constitutional agitation, and he would advise that the first pledge exacted from a candidate in case of there being an opportunity afforded should be, that he would not give his support to any Ministry who would introduce such a Bill as that they were now discussing. This might appear an empty threat, but he would remind the noble Lord that when parties on both sides were so nicely balanced, 80 Irish votes might at any time disturb his or any other Administration.
§ MR. MOORE
, with reference to the remark of the hon. Member for North Northamptonshire, that he had voted against a Coercion Bill on a former occasion because he bore a grudge to a particular Minister, and wished to drive him from office, said, he could not conceive that motives more abominable could possibly be avowed. He would say, moreover, that as long as Ireland was legislated for by such men as this, and upon principles such as these— 881 as long as she was legislated for, not according to the interests of the country, but the exigencies of a particular party—as long as Ireland was made the battlefield of faction, and ruled with reference to the support or defeat of Ministers, so long would she have bitter cause to complain of the spirit of their legislation, and to agitate, however vainly, for legislation at home.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
said, as the hour was approaching at which the House would probably adjourn, he wished to ask whether at the adjourned sitting they would proceed with the Orders of the Day, or with Notices of Motion?
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
thought it desirable that the House, after discussing this question for two days, should finish the debate before they adjourned. He was desirous that the Orders of the Day should have preference at the adjourned sitting; but if hon. Members who had notices on the paper insisted on their right, there was nothing to prevent their bringing them on.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, that he would give an opportunity of bringing the subject before the House on Friday or Monday.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
hoped the hon. Gentleman would reconsider his view on the subject. The evidence was very voluminous, and it being doubtful whether it should be reported to the House, the Committee decided that it ought not. It appeared to him that the best course to take was to inform the Governor of Ceylon of the evidence which had been taken, and in the next Session of Parliament he would be prepared to support a Motion for the production of the evidence. But he did not think it fair to circulate the evidence where the parties concerned were at a great distance, and before they could ascertain whether the charges were true or false.
§ MR. S. CRAWFORD
wished to say a few words on the question really before 882 the House. He begged to express his gratitude for the speech of the hon. Member for Montrose, because it showed that there were some English Members who desired to maintain the rights and liberties of Irishmen. It had been said that the Amendment was tantamount to a vote of want of confidence. Well, without meaning offence to Her Majesty's Government, he for one would say that he had no confidence in their policy for Ireland.
§ SIR J. WALMSLEY
said, that when the measure on which the present Bill was founded was introduced in 1847, it was sustained by an array of figures and statistics which induced a large number of the Members of the House, and especially the English Members, to vote in favour of it. A large number of Irish Members also were induced to vote for the Bill for the same reason. He believed that there were thirty or thirty-five Irish Members voting in favour of the Bill, and only four against it. That showed that the Irish Members were anxious and desirous that every measure necessary for preventing crime in Ireland should be introduced and carried. But on the introduction of the Bill in the present Session, the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland made out no case for the measure before the House. On the contrary, it appeared to him he showed as plainly as words could show, there was no absolute necessity for the Bill. Neither had the noble Lord at the head of the Government made out any case in its favour. On the contrary, all that he could say in its favour was that it was a measure of precaution. It had been said that this question was a want of confidence in Her Majesty's Government. He could not concur in that view of the case. If he did, he should not follow the course he was about to do on the present occasion. He felt convinced that Her Majesty's Government would deal fairly, justly, and honestly towards Ireland, but they had a long series of misrule to contend with. He would, therefore, put it to the Government not to go on coercing the people of Ireland, for they had now arrived at a period in the history of both countries when Ireland must be governed by love, and not by fear. They never could rule Ireland by fear. He would therefore urge the Government to withdraw the Bill. This was not a vote of want of confidence in the Government, but this measure showed a want of confidence in the people of Ireland, and on that 883 ground also he would recommend its withdrawal. But if it was persevered in, he, as far as he was able, would oppose its further progress in that House.
said, he so entirely concurred in what had been said by the hon. Member for Bolton, that it was very little he should add. He was strongly impressed with the necessity of creating a real and substantial union between England and Ireland. Times were coming which would call for everything in the shape of union which this United Kingdom, as it was called, could effect. Statesmanship was like seamanship. The best of seamen might go to the bottom; but if he was to keep afloat, it must be by watching the signs of the times, and taking early precautions against danger. So it behoved the statesman who saw the dangers approaching, to guard against them by a timely union of heart and mind, between England and Ireland. He hoped he had done something towards promoting that end, by impressing the necessity for such a course.
§ MR. R. M. FOX moved the adjourment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 24; Noes 85: Majority 61.
§ Main Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 84; Noes 24: Majority 60.
|List of the AYES.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Fortescue, C.|
|Arkwright, G.||Freestun, Col.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Frewen, C. H.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Bernal, R.||Greene, T.|
|Blackall, S. W.||Grey, R. W.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Gwyn, H.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Brotherton, J.||Hatchell, J.|
|Brown, W.||Hawes, B.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Henley, J. W.|
|Carter, J. B.||Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Chaplin, W. J.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Chatterton, Col.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Cockburn, A. J. E.||Jones, Capt.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Craig, Sir W. G.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Cubitt, W.||Locke, J.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Lockhart, A. E.|
|Dick, Q.||Mackinnon, W. A.|
|Dickson, S.||Matheson, Col.|
|Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Duncan, G.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Dunne, Col.||Mullings, J. R.|
|FitzPatrick, rt. hn. J. W.||Napier, J.|
|Nicholl, rt. hon. J.||Stafford, A.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Nugent, Sir P.||Stuart, H.|
|Ogle, S. C. H.||Thornely, T.|
|Parker, J.||Townley, R. G.|
|Patten, J. W.||Tufnell, rt. hon. H.|
|Prime, R.||Wall, C. B.|
|Rawdon, Col.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Rich, H.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Romilly, Sir J.||Wilson, J.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Wilson, M.|
|Scrope, G. P.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.||TELLERS.|
|Sotheron, T. H. S.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Spooner, R.||Bellew, R. M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Cobden, R.||Pilkington, J.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Power, Dr.|
|Devereux, J. T.||Reynolds, J.|
|Fox, R. M.||Salwey, Col.|
|Fox, W. J.||Scholefield, W.|
|Grace, O. D. J.||Scully, F.|
|Greene, J.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Higgins, G. G. O.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Hume, J.||Thompson, Col.|
|Kershaw, J.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|M'Cullagh, W. T.|
|O'Brien, Sir T.||TELLERS.|
|Pechell, Sir G. B.||Roche, E. B.|
|Perfect, R.||Moore, G. H.|
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Sir William Somerville, Lord John Russell, and Sir George Grey.