HC Deb 18 June 1852 vol 122 cc937-8

said, the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland was aware that a petition had lately been presented to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in favour of the remission of the sentence on Mr. Smith O'Brien. It was understood generally throughout Ire- land that Her Majesty's present Government were desirous that such a petition should be presented, in order that they might avail themselves of such an opportunity of releasing Mr. Smith O'Brien. Amongst others, he (Mr. F. French) signed his name to that petition. He did so under the impression that he was affording to Her Majesty's Government an opportunity for doing an act of grace. He certainly should not have signed it unless he believed it was their intention to avail themselves of that opportunity. He believed that Mr. O'Brien was now suffering under an ex-post facto law. [Cries of "Order!"] Well, he would content himself with asking the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he was not one of those persons who had given encouragement to the presentation of the petition in question? He did not put the question in a hostile spirit; in fact, he believed that the noble Lord was desirous that that question should be put to him.


Mr. Speaker, I feel very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for having put this question to me, and I beg to assure him that at no time, either directly or indirectly, by word or by letter, did I give any one reason to believe that the Government were favourable to the presentation of that petition. Furthermore, I was not cognisant in any way of the preparation of that petition beyond what I saw in the public papers.