§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. HATCHELL moved the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
§ MR. REYNOLDS
objected to proceed- 715 ing at that late hour (a quarter past one) with a Bill consisting of near 160 clauses, and which would alter the whole practice and procedure of the Civil Bill Courts in Ireland. He should like to have an explanation of the Bill from the hon. and learned Irish Attorney General before being asked to consent to the second reading; but instead of doing so, the hon. and learned Gentleman had not said a single word, except to move the second reading of the Bill. He begged to move that the House do now adjourn.
§ Whereupon Motion made and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."
The O'GORMAN MAHON
denied that the hon. Gentleman the Member for the city of Dublin spoke the sentiments of the Irish people in opposing the second reading of this Bill, which was one for the better administration of justice in Ireland. The House ought at once to agree to the second reading, and amend what was defective when the Bill came before them in Committee. He would be no party to the factious opposition shown by some Members to every measure brought forward, whether for the benefit of the country or not, because it came from those who happened at present not to act in accordance with the opinions of certain individuals who assumed to themselves the character of being the only real Irish representatives. He protested against the conduct of those individuals, and would tell them that, as an Irishman, he was prepared to support every measure brought forward by Government that he thought would be for the benefit of Ireland.
§ SIR W. SOMERVILLE
said, that the Bill was brought in in pursuance of a pledge which he gave to the hon. Member for Cork last Session but one, and of an intimation which the right hon. the Home Secretary gave to a deputation of Irish Members who waited upon him last year to press this subject upon the attention of the Government. If the principle of the Bill was opposed, there was no wish on the part of his right hon. Friend to press the second reading at that time.
§ MR. KEOGH
thought that the course pursued by his hon. Friend the Member for the city of Dublin was misunderstood by 716 the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland. He (Mr. Keogh) did not understand any of these hon. Members alluded to had objected to the principle of the Bill, nor did he understand them to insinuate that there was anything like a party principle involved in the present question. He could not imagine anything of a party discussion in it. They did not oppose the principle of the Bill, but it was one of such magnitude and importance as claimed at least from the first law-officers of the Crown for Ireland some statement as to what the principle of the measure was. The opinion entertained by the majority of the Irish Members was this—that measures of this kind should not be introduced by the law officers for Ireland without some explanation as to the grounds upon which they were founded. And they also objected to these measures being handed over from the law officers in Ireland to the law officers in England, who had quite sufficient business of their own to occupy them. The Irish Members did not think that such a system should be continued, nor that the business of the Irish law department should be carried on at one or two o'clock in the morning.
§ MR. HATCHELL
said, he thought he had a right to complain of the manner in which he had been dealt with in this discussion. When he introduced the Bill, he stated that its object was, in the first place, to consolidate and codify fifty Acts of Parliament that had existed for nearly a century; he explained these parts of the Bill that were new; his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dundalk was present, and made some observations on the Bill, and his impression was, that all the Irish Members were in perfect possession of the contents of the Bill. He was disposed not to propose the second reading that evening, but he was pressed to do so; then when hon. Members opposite objected, he offered to postpone it, but that did not appear to suit them, and so he again proposed it. In fact it was not on the Bill, but upon him (Mr. Hatchell) that they wished to express their opinion. He asked the assembled Commons of England—English Gentlemen and Irish Gentlemen—whether this was a course of conduct that ought to be pursued, This course of conduct must and, as far as he was concerned, would be resisted if repeated. It was admitted that the principle of the Bill was unquestionable; he was, however, quite prepared to postpone the second 717 reading for the present. [Cries of "Go on!"]
§ MR. TORRENS M'CULLAGH
said, that what the Irish Members complained of was the habitually late hour at which Irish legislation was brought on in that House.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
hoped his hon. Friends would consent to the second reading, in order that the Bill might be referred to a Select Committee.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, the House was sometimes occupied with discussions on which there was really a difference of opinion, but it was very hard indeed they should be kept up so late (half-past one) when there seemed to be no difference of opinion whatever. His right hon. Friend first said he was ready to postpone the Bill. That course was objected to, and his right hon. Friend was met with cries of "Go on, go on!" and yet when he was proceeding with the Bill, he was told he ought not to bring it on at so late an hour. It did seem most unreasonable that hon. Gentlemen would not accept the liberal offer of his right hon. Friend, and consent to the postponement.
§ Motion and original Question, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Bill to be read 2° on Wednesday next.
§ The House adjourned at Two o'clock.