HC Deb 18 June 1852 vol 122 cc961-83

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."


said: Sir, I rise to oppose the second reading of this Bill, which was read a first time on Tuesday last, when it was asserted, on the part of the Government, that it was not a measure of a coercive or unconstitutional nature, but merely one of protection, and necessary for the repression of crime in some districts of Ireland. Now, Sir, I think I shall have no difficulty in showing to this House that the Act of 11 & 12 Vict., c. 2, which this Bill proposes to continue for a period of two years longer, contains provisions of a most coercive and unconstitutional character, and which, in their practical effect, will rather facilitate, than prevent, the commission of crime. But before I enter upon the consideration of the measure itself, I wish to mention that there is a strong objection to its being entertained at all at this very advanced period of the Session, within a week or ten days of the expected dissolution of Parliament, and when many Irish Members are necessarily absent from London. This is a Bill which might have been brought in by the present Government at any time within the last three months; and I am quite justified in stating that this is not a period of the Session at which such a measure should be introduced. It comes before us wholly unaccompanied by any measures of a remedial nature; and from the time at which it, as well as another important measure—the Irish Valuation Bill—have been presented, they appear to have been purposely delayed, in order that the Irish Members should either be absent from the House, or for the purpose of detaining them in London, and thus facilitating the proceedings of those Derbyite candidates who are now occupied in canvassing Irish constituencies. Therefore, Sir, I say it is quite unfair to go into a measure of the kind at this period. Now, I contend that this is a Bill of a most coercive character, that it is utterly useless, and further that it is likely to have a most injurious effect upon the country. And here I may state, that there is not a Member of this House who would feel more truly anxious to support any measure which would be really calculated to protect the innocent, punish the guilty, and prevent the commission of crime and outrage in Ireland; and if I seriously believed, or entertained any hope or expectation, that this would have any such good effect, I should be the very last person to stand forward to oppose its progress. But having perfectly satisfied myself, from a careful examination of the measure, and from my own knowledge of Ireland, that its practical operation will be directly contrary to its professed object—that it will deprive innocent persons of the means of protecting themselves and their property, and will subject them to severe taxation on account of circumstances outside their control—and that it will also introduce the Whiteboy acts in a most opprossive form: I must for these reasons oppose the second reading of this Bill. Sir, being perfectly aware that the House is most averse in listening to any lengthened discussion at this period of the Session, and is especially impatient in regard to Irish subjects, I shall endeavour to condense my observations as much as possible; but at the same time I shall feel it my duty so to treat the subject that English Members may understand the true nature of the Bill which is now proposed to be made law. It appears on the face of it to be a very short Bill, comprised in a few lines, for the purpose of continuing the Act of 11 & 12 Vict., c. 2. That Act was introduced by the late Government, immediately after the assembling of the present Parliament, and it was almost the very first Act placed on the Statute-book after the last general election. Is this expiring Parliament now going to conclude its labours by continuing for two years more an Act of a most coercive character? Hon. Gentlemen who voted for the Bill on its first introduction, may perhaps conceive they are bound now to support its renewal; but I would remind them that the circumstances under which they formerly voted have undergone a complete change, and that the occasions are wholly dissimilar. When the Act was first introduced, in December, 1847, it was regarded as one of a most coercive and unconstitutional character, and was considered to require a great deal of explanation before the House was induced to pass it; and they had been prepared for its introduction by a very remarkable Royal Speech, made on the 23rd of November, 1847, at the opening of the Session. Before the then Home Secretary, Sir George Grey, ventured to propose such a measure, he required a few passages from the Royal Speech, having reference to the then state of Ireland, to be read by the clerk at the table. I shall take the liberty of now mentioning those passages to the House. They were as follows:— Her Majesty laments that in some counties of Ireland atrocious crimes have been committed, and a spirit of insubordination has manifested itself, leading to an organised resistance to legal rights. The Lord Lieutenant has employed with vigour and energy the means which the law placed at his disposal to detect offenders, and to prevent the repetition of offences. Her Majesty feels it, however, to be Her duty to Her peaceable and well-disposed subjects, to ask the assistance of Parliament in taking further precautions against the perpetration of crime in certain counties and districts in Ireland. Her Majesty views with the deepest anxiety and interest the present condition of Ireland, and She recommends to the consideration of Parliament measures, which, with due regard to the rights of property, may advance the social condi- tion of the people, and tend to the permanent improvement of that part of the United Kingdom. Now, hon. Gentlemen will recollect that at the time that this Speech was delivered, the potato crops of Ireland had failed in that country for three years; famine was devastating the land, and without doubt Ireland was then in many respects in a much worse state than at the present time; and they will also remember that Ireland was then on the eve of that insurrectionary movement which gained its full maturity in the months of February and March, 1848—and at a time when rifle shooting-was being extensively practised in the various parts of the country, including the city of Dublin itself. But, Sir, that was a state of things very different from that which now prevails; and I certainly did not understand the learned Attorney General to state the other evening that disturbances now exist in any part of Ireland, with the exception of one very limited district, which has recently been the subject of an inquiry before a secret Committee of this House, called the Crime and Outrage Committee. That district I understood to be confined to a small circle of country, about eight miles in diameter, situate on the borders of the three northern counties of Armagh, Monaghan, and Louth. I am informed that the evidence taken before the Committee was confined to this very small district, and that as a general principle they refused to examine any witnesses who were not connected with it. That district extended to only three counties, and only to a very small portion of those three. Sir, I am free to confess that if the Act had been proved to have worked efficiently in that district, it might furnish a fair ground of argument to the right hon. Gentleman to continue its operation there, until the reassembling of a new Parliament. But as to the past working of the Act in that particular district, I and those other Members who were not upon that Crime and Outrage Committee are almost entirely without evidence. All the information before us is confined to a Report of two short pages, and to a paper presented by Major Brownrigge on the 30th of April, 1852, from which the Attorney General for Ireland quoted largely in the course of his speech. Now, I would wish to call the attention of the House to this document. It contains a statement of the state of crime and outrage in certain counties—in the northern counties of Armagh, Monaghan, and Louth, and in the southern counties of Tipperary and Limerick. Upon reference to it I find the following comparative statements in reference to agrarian outrages in those five counties during the years 1844 and 1851:—

1844. 1851. Increase. Decrease.
Armagh 5 96 91
Monaghan 20 48 28
Louth 5 73 68
Tipperary 253 134 119
Limerick 74 38 36
Then, Sir, on referring to those northern counties of Armagh, Monaghan, and Louth, which appear, from this return, to have lately become so much distinguished for agrarian crime, the Attorney General perhaps legitimately rested his argument on the increased number of outrages; but surely the diminution of similar outrages in the southern counties of Tipperary and Limerick, and the present tranquil state of other counties of Ireland, furnishes an equal argument for not subjecting them to the operation of this coercive and unconstitutional Act. If the increase of agrarian outrages supplies a good ground for continuing the Act as to some disturbed districts, the diminution or the total absence of those outrages is an equally strong-argument for not extending it to other-parts of Ireland. But, Sir, I understood the right hon. Gentleman to have stated when introducing this Bill that at the present moment the Act is in active operation in no less than twenty-one out of the thirty-two counties of Ireland. Well, if I am to understand that no less than twenty-one counties are now proclaimed under the Act, without regard to whether crime may have increased in those counties or not, that certainly is a state of things which appears to be most monstrous and most unjust. And though the measure may seem to be a very simple and quiet one, still, if hon. Gentlemen will take the trouble to look into it, they will find that it is a code of law even more coercive than the Bill which Sir Robert Peel introduced in 1846, although that Bill did contain what the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has denominated the "curfew clause." Now, I will just state to the House the nature of the enactments which it is proposed to continue in Ireland for another period of two years. For though the right hon. Gentleman's leader in this House, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, seemed to consider that it should be continued only until the end of the next Session of Parliament, nevertheless, whether intentionally or otherwise, the Bill is so worded that it will last until the end of the following Session of Parliament of 1854. Now, I should like to know from the Government how long do they intend that the Act shall continue the law of the land? I will now explain the nature of the measure which the present Bill proposes to re-enact. The Act of 11 & 12 Vict., c. 2, by its 7th Section, declares that after the day named in the proclamation every person who shall knowingly having in his possession any gun, pistol, or fire-arm, or any sword, cutlass, pike, or bayonet, or any bullets, gunpowder, or ammunition, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and be liable to two years' imprisonment with hard labour. Therefore, Sir, in any county to which the Lord Lieutenant may be pleased to extend the Act, any person found in possession of any weapon such as described may be prosecuted and punished in a most severe form. Again, the Lord Lieutenant has the power, under another section, to charge any district he may think fit with any number of additional police he may think proper. Now I will state to the House what will be the practical operation of these provisions of the Act wherever it may be put in force. The views which I entertain in regard to it are confirmed by the experience of persons best acquainted with the subject; and among others by the evidence of Mr. Major—whose character for high intelligence and local acquaintance with the county of Monaghan has been already mentioned to the House, and than whom I may add there would be no one more ready to give his concurrence to any measure for the suppression of crime, which he might consider calculated to effect that object. But from the passages which have been already read from the evidence of this gentleman, it is quite clear that his opinion is, that the Act has worked in a way directly the reverse from that which was intended. What are the results which have been found to follow from proclaiming a district under this Act? Why, that all peaceable and well-disposed persons give up their arms at once, while from those who are inclined to commit those outrages which it is intended to suppress, they are never got up at all; and the plain effect is, that all persons, except those few who may succeed in getting licenses to keep arms, are loft exposed to attacks from every miscreant in the district, and are deprived of the necessary means for their own protection. Not only is he without the means of protection, hut every murderer knows that he is so; and thus the man who meditates murder, who is usually a rank coward, and would never come to the house of a man known to he armed to the teeth, will not hesitate to attack the unfortunate person whom he knows to he in a defenceless state. I say that this Act will not have the effect intended, hut that it will have a diametrically opposite operation, by preventing the well-disposed in each neighbourhood from being able to defend either themselves or their neighbours, when attacked by any ruffians who may infest the district. Were I living in such a district I should a great deal prefer to be allowed to arm myself and my household against all assaults, rather than see this Bill put in force for my protection by depriving me of the means of defence. Although, Sir, this may not he the view which may strike lawyers living in Dublin, or politicians living in London, yet it is that taken by many practical men living in the country districts of Ireland. The practical effect of the Act, then, is to expose the innocent man to attack, and when he is murdered the remedy is that a number of police shall be sent down to the district, and, perhaps, it is his unfortunate widow and children that are taxed for their support. It does not appear to me, therefore, that this Act can have any useful effect; for the cause and origin of these outrages lies in a totally opposite direction from that in which you are legislating. The land system lies at the root of the whole evil; and your mode of preventing these crimes should be to alter the laud system, and place it on a proper footing. But the Act of the 11 & 12 Vict., which it is proposed to renew, besides the clauses to which I have alluded, contains other provisions of even a more coercive and unconstitutional character, because it incorporates the provisions of the two Whiteboy Statutes of 15 & 16 Geo. III., c. 21, and 1 & 2 Will. IV., c. 44, and also enacts that in any proclaimed district it shall be unnecessary, upon any prosecution for an offence against those Whiteboy Acts, to show that the offence was of an insurrectionary character, or that the district was in a disturbed state. So that, ipso facto, by the very proclaiming of a district, all the clauses of those most obnoxious Whiteboy Acts not only come into immediate operation, but they take effect in the worst conceivable form. Now, it is important to observe that the first of those Whiteboy Acts was passed in 1775, a period when the whole of Ireland was disturbed by agrarian outrage. The Steel Boys, and Oak Boys, and other unlawful societies in the north, and the Whiteboys in the south, had convulsed the country. Parties went about at night turning up the land, which it is a matter of history had shortly previous been converted, to a great extent, from tillage into pasturage, on account of the rise in the price of cattle, owing to a murrain among cattle abroad. I will not detain the House by going through the clauses of that first Whiteboy Act, which are very numerous; but I will observe they are all of a most penal nature, and inflicted the punishment of death, which has since been altered into transportation. I shall, however, direct the attention of the House to the second of these Whiteboy Acts, passed in 1831. It recites the former Act, alters it in some respects, and then contains clauses of a most coercive and unconstitutional character, and which became absolutely atrocious by the effect of this Act of 11 & 12 Vict., dispensing with all proof that the offence is of an insurrectionary nature, or that the district is in a disturbed state. [The hon. and learned Gentleman then read the 2nd and 3rd Sections of the Act.] It appears then, that by the joint effect of this clause and of the Act of 11 & 12 Vict., any person who is declared guilty of any of the offences mentioned in this section, many of which in England merely rank with petty larceny, is liable to transportation for life, or for fourteen or seven years, or to be imprisoned for three years, and to be once, twice, or thrice publicly whipped. Under the Whiteboy Acts the Irish Judges always considered that before any person could be convicted, proof was necessary that the neighbourhood around where the act was committed was in a disturbed state, and that the act itself was of an insurrectionary character; that if a person were to take the goods of another, or to take his horse or mule without his permission, or to publish a notice tending to excite a riot, the mere proving of those facts would not suffice to convict him under the Whiteboy Acts. The 17th Section of the Act of 11 & 12 Vict., abolishes the necessity of any further proofs being furnished in any proclaimed district of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman, when introducing this Bill, had argued that it was desirable to continue the Act of Victoria on account of the approaching elections. His words were— The Act was passed on the 20th of December, 1843, after a general election, when there had been a good deal of excitement in the country, and which he admitted had so far aggravated the amount of crime; but that was a circumstance that was not to be disregarded, for they were on the eve of another election, when much angry feeling might be expected. Were they, during the Parliamentary vacation, to leave the Executive without the power of repressing crime, and the peaceable people of the country and the property of the country without protection? It was the right hon. Gentleman's own argument, then, that this Act would prove most useful during the exciting period of an election. Indeed, I can conceive five hundred different modes by which a Government might make use of this Act during a general election; and, without attributing any such intention to the present Government, we know what has been done in former times by similar means. I certainly do think it is a most unwise and unconstitutional power to entrust a Government with at such a period. We know very well how very easy it might be, during the excitement of an election, to get up the cry that any particular district was in a disturbed state. What has been stated in justification of this Act? We have been referred to the old constitutional Saxon laws; and it is stated that the old Saxon laws mulcted the district where the crime was committed. Those laws have, however, been long since abolished; and they were ridiculed the other evening by the English Attorney General as quite obsolete. But, Sir, the law taxing a district on account of the commission of a murder within it, was a Norman law passed upon their conquest of the Saxons—when the latter were being kept down by the Normans, as the Irish are at the present day. It is perfectly well known that these laws were most oppressive to the Saxons. The fact is referred to in Blackstone's Commentaries, Thierry's History of the Norman Conquest, and in other writers. A heavy fine was inflicted upon the hundred where; any Norman was killed, in order to prevent the habitual assassination of the Normans by the Saxon occupiers of the soil. In order to avoid this fine, the Saxons, whenever they murdered a Norman, took care to maim and disfigure him in such a horrible form as to render his identification impossible; and then the Normans made another law that the fine should be levied unless it could be proved to the satisfaction of a Norman jury that the dead body was that of a Saxon or Englishman. That was the well-known law of Englishmen, which was repealed about the year 1340—near three centuries after the Norman conquest. In the course of his speech, the right hon. Gentleman referred to a letter he had received from Sir Matthew Barrington, desiring a continuance of the Act. But what does that high authority state, in a letter published by him in the year 1852?— From all the discussions in the Houses of Parliament, the evidence before Committees, the statements of the law officers on special commissions, and the opinions of all who have written on the state of Ireland from the year 1700 to the very last discussion upon the subject in the House of Commons, it will appear that the various disturbances were of a purely agrarian character, unconnected with any hostility to the Government, or with feelings of religious animosity. Almost every outrage, if closely scrutinised, is traceable to the eviction of tenants, or the changing possession of land; and it is remarkable that almost all the persons prosecuted for agrarian disturbances are of the lowest class of the peasantry, and scarcely ever include a respectable farmer or person possessing any fixed interest in the soil. This I can state after an experience of thirty years as a public prosecutor on the largest circuit in Ireland, having, during that period, endeavoured to ascertain the cause of every outrage for which there was a prosecution. There is a great deal of evidence in this letter to the same effect, showing Sir M. Barrington's opinion of the true cause of crime in Ireland; and he refers to a speech delivered by Sir Robert Peel in the House of Commons, in which he went through the various Coercion Bills which had been passed for Ireland since the year 1800. He refers also to a statement made by Mr. Goulburn on the same subject. Sir, in the year 1846, a Coercion Bill was introduced by the late Sir Robert Peel. That Bill did not re-enact the Whiteboy Acts. It did not contain those penal clauses which might be used as I have mentioned, nor did it contain such stringent clauses in other respects, with this one exception: it contained what was called the "curfew clause"—a most objectionable clause certainly, under any circumstances; but, more especially, where all measures tending to abolish the cause of discontent had been left untried. And what did the right hon. Gentleman opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) say upon that occasion? Why, that he objected, not merely to the "curfew clause," but to the whole Bill. That speech, a short extract from which was road by the hon. Member for Athlone the other day, contained very many similar expressions on this subject; but the greater portion of it consisted in an attack on the Government of Sir Robert Peel, for the purpose of ejecting him from office. Upon that occasion the right hon. Gentleman strongly objected to the Bill being read a second time at such a late period as the 15th of June, although the House was to sit until the month of August. Well, Sir, if upon that occasion such objections were deemed good—if it was thought that such a measure should not be introduced upon the eve of a general election—why are they not to prevail upon the present occasion, and the more especially as the House will rise in a very few days, and we find we are to have none of those remedial measures which have been so often referred to? I know there has been a great deal of vague conversation upon the Treasury benches about the measures they intend to introduce. They say they have a Landlord and Tenant Bill; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer distinctly stated the other evening that it is actually prepared, Why, then, do you not produce your Bill? The right hon. Gentleman rides off on the ground that they would be unable to carry their measure this Session. But what can be their objection to laying it upon the table of the House? I know I am ready to offer every facility, as far as I am concerned, for their doing so; and I do not believe that any Member of the House would give them the slightest opposition. The hon. Member for Rochdale made the very same offer to the House so long since as the month of March last. On that occasion the Attorney General for Ireland told us that he contemplated the introduction of three Bills: by one he proposed to condense the various statutes relating to the law of landlord and tenant—by the second he meant to simplify the rights and remedies of landlord and tenant—and by the third to entitle the tenant to compensation for unexhausted improvements. He objected to the Bill of the hon. Member for Rochdale on the ground that it was of too complicated a character, and that any legislation on such a subject should be in a very simple form. If the right hon. Gentleman's Bill is a very simple one, and if, as had been stated, it is already prepared, why is it not at once laid on the table of the House? Near three months have now elapsed since I distinctly demanded the production of that Bill, when I had the honour of addressing the House for the first time, in support of the Bill of the hon. Member for Rochdale. Why do I press this subject? Because, really everything turns upon it. Is this coercive Bill to be accompanied or not by remedial measures that will go to the root of the evil? Until we can see the measures of the right hon. Gentleman, we are totally in the dark as to their real nature. There is a very wide difference between Ministerial promises and official performances. In the year 1846 the late Sir Robert Peel is reported to have expressed himself in these terms:— It is the intention of the Ministry to introduce, before the close of the Session, several measures connected with the tenure of land in Ireland, giving to the tenants remuneration for permanent improvements, altering the ejectment process in favour of the occupants, and carrying out several recommendations of Lord Devon's Commission. Those promises were never carried into effect. They bear a singular resemblance to the promises held out by Members of the Government at the present moment, immediately previous to the coming elections. If the Government consider that the measure, which they have so long promised, and which they now state is actually prepared, would be satisfactory to the country, they will not hesitate for their own sakes to produce it at once and lay it on the table of the House, in order to obtain the credit they would in that case be justly entitled to. But if, on the other hand, they withhold that Bill, the country can come to no other conclusion than that it is of an unsatisfactory nature, and that their promises are of delusive character. For the reasons I have submitted to the House, I feel called upon to oppose the second reading of the Bill, and shall conclude by moving that it be read a second time this day three months.


said, it was his intention to second the Motion, and to resist the passing of the Bill as far as he could. The policy of the present Government in Ireland had been that of deception, and that was the case with whatever they did there. He believed the Earl of Eglintoun to be sincerely anxious for the benefit of Ireland, and that no one could be a better Lord Lieutenant, so far as wishes went; but he was a victim to the impossibility created in other quarters of carrying out his good intentions. There was, he asserted, an agitation got up, and countenanced by persons under the Earl of Eglintoun, and connected with Government, to address the Lord Lieutenant for the liberation of Mr. Smith O'Brien; but, whether orders were sent over for England or not, the tone of the reply to that address took those who were most sanguine in the matter greatly by surprise. The Earl of Eglintoun hold out all sorts of hopes, and made golden promises to the people in his speech at the Cork Exhibition; but the people were accustomed to such promises—they know them to be all moonshine, and they would turn from that speech to the speeches of former Lords Lieutenant, promising railways, and all kinds of encouragement to Irish industry and agriculture. Was Government really doing anything to improve agriculture, or take the taxation off the land? Why, the; only measure they knew of was a Bill for the extension of the Coercion Act, and it was the only measure likely to pass in the absence of the many Irish Members who had gone over to secure their seats for the ensuing Parliament. It was a singular coincidence that the present Premier had been Chief Secretary of Ireland in the Grey Government, under the Marquess of Anglesey, whose good wishes were often disappointed by his Secretary, who was thoroughly actuated by the desire for Protestant ascendancy, and choked all the Lord Lieutenant's efforts for the advantage of Ireland. Would the Bill, he asked the Government, be directed solely against Roman Catholic processions, or would it be extended as well to Orange demonstrations, which were more likely to arise now than ever, in consequence of an increase in the physical strength of the Orange party, and by the fuel of the Durham letter of the late Prime Minister, and of recent out breaks, such as at Dolly's Brae? If Government did their duty they would not allow any illegal processions on the 12th of July. They had all heard of horrible murders committed by people assembled in Lord Roden's park, who were still at large, though well known; and these Orange ruffians were far more destructive than the men who wore Ribband badges. The Ribband system was far less mischievous. [Loud cries of "Oh!"] He repeated, the Ribbandmen were not so bad as the Orangemen. The Orangemen went about exciting the people. He attributed much of the mischief likely to arise in Ireland to the wretched, fanatic Durham letter, and the Ecclesiastical Titles Act, which had put them back into the state they were in a hundred years ago. That Act would never be carried into effect, but was, nevertheless, looked on as a personal insult by the people. The present Bill might possibly be made use of for election purposes, but it would be useless for anything else. He would like to know what criminals were in prison under the Act? Let them give up Coercion Bills for once, and try a different experiment, and if there was any increase in crime, he would at once confess he was in error. Let them act towards Irishmen like Christians. At present they were as quiet as the people of any country could be, though he would not say if that quiet was not the result of disease and destitution, rather than of content. Government bad thrown away several good opportunities, and he begged of them to seize on the present, and give up the Bill. If they would withdraw the Bill, and avail themselves of even the short period of the Session that remained to introduce measures of relief, they would do themselves more good, and confer a greater benefit on Ireland, than any stringent measure for curtailing the liberty of the subject would ever enable them to do.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day throe months."


said, he was apprehensive that the House had forgotten the question which was really before it. That question was simply this, whether an Act of Parliament for the better prevention of Crime and Outrage in Ireland, which would expire in the present Session, ought to be continued until December next, and thence until the end of the next Session of Parliament. The grounds upon which Government had felt it to be their imperative duty to ask for the renewal of that Act, had already been stated by his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland. The nature of the Act which they sought to renew was this: The first seven sections empowered the Lord Lieutenant, with the assent of the Privy Council, to proclaim any disturbed district—not necessarily a county or the whole of Ireland, but a part of a county or part of a barony, as the circumstances of the case might require—and, having proclaimed a district, His Excellency was further empowered to send an additional constabulary force into that district for the purpose of preserving the peace which had been violated. Other sections of the Act provided that the district should contribute to the expense of that additional force; that no person should be permitted to I carry arms in the district without a licence 'obtained from certain officials responsible to the Executive Government; that when a murder had been committed in a district, the authorities should have power to call upon men who were described in the Bill to assist in tracing the offender, and who, if they refused to do so, would render themselves liable to punishment for a misdemeanour; and further, that no person under prosecution should be permitted to procrastinate the time of his trial by what was technically known as a traverse. Now, where was the necessity for such a measure? He begged the House to bear in mind the statement of facts which was submitted to them by his right hon. and learned Friend in introducing the Bill. That very morning a return had been laid on the table of the House on the Motion of the hon. Member for Louth, of the number of outrages which had been committed in three counties from 1849 to 1852; and he (Mr. Whiteside) would undertake to say that there was no impartial man who would not declare that the ordinary law was not sufficient to cope with the offences specified in that return, and that therefore there must be some other means of protecting life and property; and certainly none more gentle, or less oppressive, than the one which had been proposed by the Government could be submitted to the notice of the House. How was the Government circumstanced? The grand jury of Louth presented a memorial to the Lord Lieutenant, calling upon him to send experienced police officers into the county, to endeavour to discover and put down a conspiracy intended to disturb their peace and blast their prosperity. A Special Commission was sent to the county of Monaghan; but it failed in respect to the principal offenders, though it succeeded against two men, who were found guilty and punished for an offence under this excellent Act, committed while the Judges were sitting in Monaghan. But that was not all. After the failure of the Special Commission, a meeting of the magistrates of Louth, Monaghan, and Armagh, was held, and a memorial was agreed to, which was signed by 136 gentlemen, and sent to the Government, calling upon them to pass an additional Act for accomplishing that which should be the first object of all government—the protection of life and property. With these documents before them, and with returns in their possession, which he would not weary the House by reading, all showing that offences were increasing, what were the Government to do? His right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland moved for a Committee to inquire what should be done to remedy the existing evils. That Committee reported and recommended different things in addition to the renewal of the present Act; and because the state of the Session made it impossible to carry out the recommendations of the Committee, the argument of hon. Members opposite was, that things ought to be left in a much worse condition than they had found them, and that even a measure so moderate and indispensable as the present—a measure which did not interfere with the ordinary tribunals of the country—that even this small modicum of protection to life and property should be withdrawn from the people of Ireland. He confessed he could not understand the arguments by which the measure was resisted. It was said that the time was inconvenient. He had hardly ever known a measure introduced with reference to Ireland with respect to which this had not been said; but the fact was, that in the present case it was impossible, from the state of business, that the measure could have been introduced sooner. It had been said, also, that if people wanted protection, arms should be given to them, rather than taken from them. The answer to that was, that if an honest man wanted arms, he had only to apply to the Government for a licence, and he should have it. Then it was said, that it might be enforced during the elections that might hereafter take place. Well, and where would be the harm of that? It was enforced during the late election for Cork, and yet it did not prevent the electors from returning the hon. Member opposite (Mr. V. Scully). Nor would it interfere with an honest voter at any election. He contended that all that he had stated formed a strong justification of the course which the Government was adopting on the present occasion. How would the Bill interfere with the elections? His hon. Friend (Mr. V. Scully), had begun the old story of tenant-right, and this Bill and that Bill. What argument was that against the Bill now before the House, either in morals or in justice? What the Government wanted was to paralyse the arm of the assassin; and the hon. Gentleman, notwithstanding, asked, where was the Tenant Right Bill? The assassin, how- ever, should not be parleyed with, and his (Mr. Whiteside's) sympathies were all with honest men. In the evidence taken before the Committee, a Roman Catholic gentleman had stated that he was touched on the arm in the market-town by a countryman, and asked to go down the next lane. He did so; and the man, after explaining that he was afraid to be seen speaking to him in the street, told him that Mr. Fortescue, late a Member of that House, would be shot at on a given day. This statement was afterwards found to be perfectly true by the police. Mr. Fortescue had to have a guard of six men on his way to church, and he was at this moment, in common with many other gentlemen, an exile from his own country, because his assertion of the rights of property had brought him under the ban—not of his own neighbours, but—of men whose business was assassination. The hon. Gentleman had on one occasion asked, why deprive the farmers of their blunderbusses, which they only used to shoot sparrows? Unfortunately, however, it was not to shoot sparrows, but men, that they were kept; and as the end of all law was liberty and order, so it became necessary to assert it in this manner. The hon. Gentleman said the Members for Ireland were embarrassed by the Bill. Who ever was embarrassed by it? The hon. Gentleman certainly was not; nor, indeed, were there any symptoms of such embarrassment in other quarters. The hon. Gentleman had said the Lord Lieutenant, in his recent journey to Cork, had touched the Blarney-stone—having made promises that he did not perform. That was unfair to the Lord Lieutenant, and unworthy of the hon. Gentleman. The Lord Lieutenant spoke to the warmhearted people of the south in the warm language of a friend; and his wish was to do all he could for that unfortunate country. That language should be mentioned with respect by the hon. Gentleman, and not in the manner it had been mentioned, if it was only for its kindness to the Irish people. The hon. Gentleman then took the subject of May-nooth—a subject which he had on a former occasion made a three hours' speech upon, and should, therefore, know something about; and, passing from that, he referred to the recent proclamations against processions. That proclamation, however, was in strict accordance with the lave, and should be enforced equally alike upon all parties, Catholic and Protestant, who should violate it. He thought it an ad- mirable Proclamation, and one, moreover, perfectly well-timed; for when he read the account of the procession referred to, he could not help thinking that it was very like some he had seen abroad, and which, he hoped, he would never see in this country. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lawless) next adverted to the memorial in favour of Mr. Smith O'Brien, and said it was signed by several persons who supported the Government. It was so. It was signed by his (Mr. Whiteside's) own proposer in Enniskillen, and it was signed by several others of his supporters and friends. But why did they sign it? Simply because they were independent of the Government, in nowise responsible to it, and therefore yielded to the promptings of their own nature in the case. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman that they had no fear of Mr. Smith O'Brien; but they disliked the ascendancy of a system which they believed to be intolerant, without any objection to the individual. They signed that memorial, therefore, not under the sanction or authority of the Government, but simply because they chose to do so. The hon. Gentleman had, however, insinuated that the Government had got up that memorial. This was a mistake and a misconception on the part of the hon. Gentleman; and he (Mr. Whiteside) appealed to the House whether that was the candid way of dealing with the question? If the counsel of Mr. Smith O'Brien were asked whether they wished his liberation, and they said yes, it was most unfair to torture this into getting up the memorial on the part of the Government. The insinuation was absurd and irrelevant; and it should never have been made by the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman who had last spoken asked what were the Government doing, and why, in their three months of office, they had not passed useful reforms? To this his reply was, that measures for the reform of the Court of Chancery had been considered by the present Lord Chancellor immediately on coming into office, but that they had been inevitably postponed, owing to the want of time to pass them this Session. As regarded the common law, the Bill for the reform of the Superior Courts was in his (Mr. Whiteside's) possession; but it was utterly impossible that its 250 clauses could be discussed this Session, and it was consequently postponed also. But had the Government done nothing else? On the contrary, they had assisted railways in Ireland—they had reduced the interest on loans made to Irish railways, and they had made advances to railways, which would he of the utmost utility to Ireland. If, then, these things were done by them, and done to the best of their ability, was it not most unjust of the hon. Gentleman to ask such a question? But whether the Government was right, or whether it was wrong, he had always noticed that those hon. Gentlemen who called themselves "Members for Ireland," put the facts in the worst possible light. He had remarked a singular dislike in those hon. Members to the coming elections. That was strange, considering the high position they professed to hold in the eyes of the constituencies of that country. The Government, however, had no fear of the elections; they appealed to the country fearlessly, because they did not intend to govern as for parties or sects, but for the entire nation. As to the absurd statements about Orange cries and Orange processions, all he had to say to the hon. Gentleman who made them was, that if they furnished the Government with evidence of the facts, the Government would undertake to prosecute the offenders. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. V. Scully) also talked of the affair at Dolly's Brae. That, however, took place in the time of the late Ministry. But this he (Mr. Whiteside) was prepared to say, those whom the hon. Gentleman called assassins had on that occasion been acquitted of blame; while those who brought the charge against them had had true bills found against them. The Government, however, wisely discharged both parties. The subject was a stale one, as well as a worthless one, and had, moreover, no bearing on the Bill now before the House. Nevertheless he could inform the hon. Gentleman of a fact worth his knowing. In the Committee a witness was asked to point to any one of a long list of crimes that had been committed, and say if it was perpetrated by those persons whom the hon. Gentleman so unjustly maligned; but he could not name a single one. In conclusion, he must express his regret that there should be any opposition to a Bill so necessary to give peace and prosperity to Ireland.


said, he should not attempt any reply to the speech of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Whiteside), While admiring the great eloquence of that speech, he still could not blind himself to the total irrelevancy of the greater part of it to the subject before the House. He would not refuse to the Executive Government any powers which they might declare to be necessary for the preservation of the peace of Ireland; but the system of Coercion Bills had now been tried for many years, without in any way eradicating the evils they were intended to remedy, or improving the tone of society in that part of the Kingdom. He thought it might be possible to call on the gentry and farmers of Ireland to protect their own lives and property without having recourse to measures of that kind. From his own knowledge of both those classes of the people, he was sure they would promptly and effectually respond to such a call if it were made. There was no class in the community who had a better right to complain of agrarian disturbances than the farmers of Ireland. The life of a farmer there was one continued season of terror. His hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Whiteside) had spoken of the disturbances in the counties of Louth and Monaghan. But let him (Mr. F. French) remind his hon. and learned and Friend and the House that the disturbances in the county of Louth arose out of certain demands which were made for the reduction of rent. Those demands were refused, and what was the consequence? An agent was shot, and the reduction was made. The same thing was done at a place nine miles distant. A demand was made for the reduction of rent, and refused. The result was that another agent was shot, and the reduction was again made, His opinion was, that if the gentry in Ireland did their duty, the peace and tranquillity of the country would be maintained without any recourse to Coercion Bills, He thought it was worthy the consideration of the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland whether a different system of legislation might not be adopted towards Ireland. He believed if the people of Ireland were thrown on their own resources, the sequel would show that they were well able to protect themselves.


said, he must deny the accuracy of the hon. and learned Gentleman's (Mr. Whiteside's) assertion, that the present Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had won all hearts; he denied that, unless his having aggravated the Ecclesiastical Titles Bill in the House of Lords, could be called winning all hearts. The right hon. Gentleman had entirely passed over the toast, either drunk or proposed, lately, at an Orange dinner in Enniskillen; and he (Captain Magan) did not know if he would not be out of order in stating the terms of the toast to the House; but he thought it only right to say that they were of the most offensive character. One of his reasons for objecting to this Bill was an Act passed in the reign of George the Third. He might be told that that Act was repealed by an Act of William the Fourth; but it was only repealed in so far as related to the punishment of death, for which transportation was substituted. That Act said, that any person carrying any offensive weapon should be liable to transportation. Now, with the feeling exhibited in Ireland, by Her Majesty's Government, he did not know if a man carrying a crowbar or a pickaxe might not come under the Act. Another provision of the Act made it penal for a man to blacken or disfigure his face. Now, that was a thing might happen to a sweep, or the Ethiopian serenaders, if they ever were in Ireland; he, therefore, hoped that no Gentleman with a dark complexion would ever go to Ireland while that Act was in force.


said, he held a high office in the society of Orangemen, and could not allow the attack that had been made on that body to pass unnoticed. He must protest against the impudent and stupid abuse, the infamous statements, of the hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. Lawless) with regard to the Orangemen of Ireland. Whatever might be the opinions of the hon. Member, that body would continue to act upon their principles, and to be distinguished by loyalty and obedience to the law.


said, he thought the observations of the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Archdall) were not fair or courteous to his (Mr. F. Scully's) hon. Friend the Member for Clonmel (Mr. Law less) in his absence. In times gone by, he (Mr. F. Seully) remembered that very body (the Orangemen) had been condemned by resolutions of both Houses of Parliament. He knew more: that an Act of Parliament had been been passed to put down that very body as an illegal society. It was the duty of the Government to watch very narrowly the proceedings of that body in the north of Ireland; for it was a society possessing signs, pass-words, and other marks of a secret association; and in his eyes it was just as exceptionable as a Ribband society. He (Mr. F. Scully) was opposed to the Bill, because it proposed to apply to the proclaimed districts the most atrocious enactments of the Whiteboy Acts. In other parts of the United Kingdom, the police could not break into a man's house without good cause; but, in Ireland, that would be done on the merest rumour. He also objected to the Bill, because it would tax the innocent population in a very cruel and oppressive manner. On comparing the returns, he found that the agrarian crimes committed in Armagh, Down, and Monaghan, bore no proportion to those in the other parts of Ireland; and therefore there was no reason why the Bill should not be applied to those counties. He complained of the Government for postponing so important a Bill till such an advanced period of the Session. He very much regretted that they should have adopted the policy of their predecessors in smuggling important measures relating to Ireland through the House, at periods when few Members interested in the subject could be present. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Whiteside) had alluded in sarcastic terms to his (Mr. P. Scully's) friends; but a very short time would show who were the most popular men in Ireland. It was all very well for the hon. and learned Gentleman to talk about putting down religious processions; but he (Mr. F. Scully) was not aware of any in Ireland that were of a character to give offence to the Protestants. But if there were, the Government gave their sanction to similar processions in the Colonies, where the military were ordered to attend at them. He considered the proclamation as a wanton insult upon the people of Ireland. The Government would never gain the support of the people unless they brought in measures of a different character from Coercion Bills. The Irish population had no confidence in their rulers, and were leaving their country in shoals. If they did not introduce some remedial measures, Ireland would soon really become what the Premier had called it—"almost a desert"—a country which would contain none but the people in the workhouses. Irishmen expected great things from the present Government, after the excellent statements in the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer's address. Let him give them an earnest by withdrawing the Bill for the present Session, and by stating what were the measures he intended to introduce in the next Parliament.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 118; Noes 13: Majority 105.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Hill, Lord E.
Archdall, Capt. M. Hindley, C.
Bailey, C. Hope, Sir J.
Baillie, H. J. Hornby, J.
Bankes, rt. hon. G. Hotham, Lord
Barrow, W. H. Hudson, G.
Bell, J. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Bennet, P. Knox, hon. W. S.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Langton, W. G.
Bernal, R. Lockhart, W.
Best, J. Lowther, hon. Col.
Blandford, Marq. of Lygon, hon. Gen.
Bonham-Carter, J. Mandeville, Visct.
Bowles, Adm. Manners, Lord C. S.
Boyle, hon. Col. Manners, Lord J.
Bremridge, R. Matheson, Col.
Broadwood, H. Miles, W.
Brotherton, J. Moffatt, G.
Bruce, O. L. C. Morgan, O.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Morris, D.
Burghley, Lord Mundy, W.
Campbell, hon. W. Naas, Lord
Carew, W. H. P. Napier, rt. hon. J.
Chandos, Marq. of Newport, Visct.
Chichester, Lord J. L. O'Brien, Sir L.
Christopher, rt. hn. R. A. Pakington, rt. hon. Sir J.
Clive, hon. R. H. Portal, M.
Cocks, T. S. Prime, R.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. Scott, hon. F.
Cotton, hon. W. H. S. Seaham, Visct.
Davies, D. A. S. Shelburne, Earl of
Dawson, hon. T. V. Sibthorp, Col.
Denison, E. Slaney, R. A.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Stafford, A.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Stanley, Lord
Duncan, G. Stanton, W. H.
Duncombe, hon. A. Stuart, J.
Edwards, H. Sutton, J. H. M.
Egerton, Sir P. Talbot, C. R. M.
Farnham, E. B. Tennent, Sir J. E.
Farrer, J. Thesiger, Sir F.
Fellowes, E. Thompson, Col.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Thompson, Ald.
Forbes, W. Townley, R. G.
Forester, rt. hon. Col. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Fox, S. W. L. Tyler, Sir G.
Frewen, C. H. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Gallwey, Sir W. P. Vesey, hon. T.
Galway, Visct. Villiers, hon. F. W. C.
Gaskell, J. M. Waddington, H. S.
Grogan, E. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Grosvenor, Earl Wellesley, Lord C.
Hale, R. B. West, F. R.
Hall, Col. Whiteside, J.
Hamilton, G. A. Wilson, M.
Hamilton, Lord C. Wynn,H. W. W.
Hardinge, hon. C. S. Torke, hon. E. T.
Harris, hon. Capt.
Hayes, Sir E. TELLERS.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Mackenzie, W. F.
Herries, rt. hon. J. C. Lennox, Lord H.
List of the NOES.
Anstey, T. C. Devereux, J. T.
Armstrong, Sir A. Fox, W. J.
Carter, S. French, F.
Cogan, W. H. F. Greene, J.
Magan, W. H. Scully, F.
Maher, N. V. Wyld, J.
O'Connell, M. J.
Scully, V. Lawless, C. J.

Main Question put, and agreed to. Bill read 2°.