HC Deb 27 May 1852 vol 121 cc1255-62

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [11th May], "That a Select Committee be appointed, to inquire into the system of Education carried on at the College of Maynooth:—[Mr. Spooner:] And which Amendment was to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will resolve itself into a Committee, for the purpose of considering of a Bill for repeal- ing the Maynooth Endowment Act, and all other Acts for charging the Public Revenue in aid of ecclesiastical or religious purposes,"—[Mr. Anstey,]—instead thereof.

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed.


moved that the debate on Maynooth College be adjourned till To-morrow, at twelve o'clock.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be adjourned till Tomorrow at Twelve o'clock."


said, he felt it his duty to oppose the Motion. It was now nearly two o'clock in the morning, and it was too much to ask the Speaker and hon. Members to come down again at twelve, and then sit till four or five, and expect the Government to go on with their business after that. It would be impossible for the Government to discharge its functions—it would be impossible for any Ministry to get through the business of the several departments of the Administration, if the Members of it were in this way to be obliged to sit from twelve o'clock in the day until two o'clock the next morning. He trusted the hon. Gentleman would not press the Motion.


had no doubt the hon. Member for Boston would accede to the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman. He had no doubt the proposition was made to invite the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman. ["Oh, oh!"] If the hon. Gentlemen who cried "Oh" had been present at eight o'clock on Tuesday, the difficulty would not have arisen. There would have been four hours to continue the discussion, and bring the question to a division. But it was known to every one that it was not intended to make a House at eight o'clock. He himself heard it stated. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire, in answer to a remark of that kind, said that he himself must be present. He meant the hon. Member who moved for the continuation (Mr. Newdegate), because his hon. Colleague was absent. And so with the hon. Member for Boston, who, having moved the adjournment, was entitled to precedence on resuming the debate. Every single Member of the Cabinet was absent; and with the exception of the hon. Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Hamilton), every Gentleman in the remotest degree con- nected with the Government was also absent. The majority of those present were Members of the Opposition side of the House. The hon. Member for Peeblesshire (Mr. Mackenzie) was absent. Why did he mention those facts? In order to enable the Government to do something to facilitate the object of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire and the hon. Member for Boston, and to enable them to resume the discussion at an early day. As the difficulty had been created by the Government, whose duty it was to make a House at eight o'clock, they ought to give up a night for the discussion. They took care not to be present at eight o'clock, and other hon. Members took care that the debate should not be brought on on Wednesdays; and now, at two o'clock in the morning, they were called upon to enact this most idle farce. If the Government would not fix a day, the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, and those who acted with him, instead of making impossible Motions, ought to move that the Order be discharged.


said, the hon. Member was mistaken in supposing that he had a right to resume the debate at eight o'clock on Tuesday; for the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord R. Grosvenor) was not willing to postpone his Motion, and there were two other Motions on the paper afterwards. He was willing to make any arrangement, so that it should be understood he was willing to go on with the debate.


did not complain of the proceedings of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner). On the contrary, the hon. Member's proceedings met with his entire approbation. There was not a Roman Catholic Member who would not join with him in saying that the hon. Member was the most harmless antagonist they ever met with. He (Mr. Keogh) was not in favour of a twelve o'clock sitting this day, and he should like to know who was. What was the condition of the Government on this question? There sat the hon. Member for Peebles—he who had jumped through three hoops upon this question. There sat the hon. Member for Peebles, the whipper-in of the Treasury bench, and there sat the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, with that tone of deep anxiety which had characterised his whole career, said he could not think of asking the Speaker to resume the chair earlier than eight o'clock, leaving the impression that the Government would make a House at that hour. But what was the fact? There was not a single Member of the Government present, except the Secretary for the Treasury (Mr. Hamilton), who did not profess to take the active part of the hon. Member for Peebles, the candidate for Liverpool. It only wanted the hon. Member for Peebles to make a House. Where were all the Members of the Government, who had been going from John o'Groat's to the Land's End, declaring hostility to the Maynooth Grant? They shirked the debate because they wanted to go to the Derby. All the Committees were allowed to sit on that day; and yet forty Members could not be found to discuss the all-important question of Maynooth. Having asked where were Her Majesty's Government, he would ask where was the National Club? A club within earshot of the House could only muster three Members, and Her Majesty's Government contributed one. But where was the Colleague of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire? He asked the country to put this question to each eager and earnest opponent of the grant—why were you not there at eight o'clock last Tuesday evening, and why did you come at two o'clock in the morning and ask the House to get you out of the scrape in which you find yourselves?


expressed his regret at having been taken by surprise by the hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Hayter), the whipper-in of the late Government. He certainly did not expect the Whig whipper-in would have taken such a course, when there were on the paper three Motions on that side of the House—one by the hon. Member for Lambeth, one by the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex, which he insisted on bringing forward, and one by the hon. Member for Finsbury. He was at the door six minutes after eight, and, to his surprise, heard that the Whig whipper-in had counted the House. The most persevering attempt had been made to bring the question to a division; and the hon. Member for Athlone, gifted with the acute-ness which was the characteristic of his countrymen, could not so far humbug, or rather delude, the people of England, as to prevent their understanding the process which, as the leader of a certain section of Roman Catholics, the hon. Member was pursuing. He would ask the Government whether there was no day at twelve o'clock, or any other hour, at which the question could be brought to an issue? The advo- cates of the measure had endeavoured to do so, and would persevere; and although the hon. Member for Athlone might try to talk the question out of the House, he would see that its advocates were determined to let the people of England understand who were really favourable to an inquiry into Maynooth, and who were not.


said, that it was in that House first that he desired the subject to be discussed, for out of it discussed it would be. A grave and disastrous imputation had been indirectly cast upon the members of his Church, on account of the books that were said to be used as text-books at Maynooth. Now, he would boldly state that to all the imputations thrown out upon the loyalty, the truth, and the purity of the doctrines of the members of his Church, he would give a flat denial. If the documents which the hon. Member for North Warwickshire quoted from, had any existence at all, they were repudiated by the clergymen of his religion. He courted discussion on the subject; and he, therefore, called upon Her Majesty's Ministers to respond to the appeal made to them by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate).


thought it was a mere waste of time to continue this discussion. It could scarcely be expected, considering what the hour then was—a quarter past two o'clock—that the debate could be resumed at twelve that day. He would therefore suggest that the most convenient course would be to put a stop to this desultory conversation, and to endeavour, when the House assembled in the evening, to come to some arrangement with regard to the day on which the debate might be resumed.


said, the House ought now to be made acquainted with the opinion of Her Majesty's Ministers. It was clear they could not carry on this discussion without facilities from the Government, and the Government ought to say whether they were willing to afford these facilities. It was too much to say that the Irish Members wished to burke the discussion; for, after the speech of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, it was impossible to go to a division without first having a full discussion of the subject. There had been as yet very little opportunity afforded for discussion; but the Irish Members were entitled to it, and the Government ought at once to say that they could not give them that opportunity, or that they would arrange for continuous morning sittings until the question was discussed.


considered it most desirable that the debate should be resumed as soon as possible, to enable the House to come to an early decision upon the question; and as he found that a strong feeling existed amongst Members around him that the Government should place no impediment in the way, and that another whole night should be given for the consideration of the subject, he would suggest that the debate be resumed at 5 o'clock this day. The hon. Member for Youghal had broadly asserted that the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex, and two hon. Members who had notices on the paper for Tuesday night, were willing to give way. He should wish to know upon what grounds the hon. Member made that assertion after the unequivocal declaration of the noble Lord that he would not consent to abandon his right to priority. He (Mr. Edwards) would not have taken notice of this had he not been censured as one of the absentees at the time the House should have been made. This was a question of such general interest throughout the country, and one in which a great portion of his own constituency felt so strongly, that he certainly would have been at his post at 8 o'clock on Tuesday evening, had he not believed that the discussions upon the other Motions on the paper would have occupied some hours. He would only add, that if instead of an investigation into the system of education pursued at Maynooth, the proposition had been one for the entire abrogation of the grant, he would have supported it with much greater satisfaction.


said, an hon. Gentleman (Mr. Keogh) had taunted the hon. Member for North Warwickshire with insincerity, while he claimed for himself and those who acted with him a sincere desire to bring the question to an issue. Now, he (Mr. Portal) would put the hon. Gentleman's sincerity to the test by asking him whether he was inclined at once to go to a division? Both sides of this question had been amply and fully discussed; and, considering the period of the Session, and the extreme difficulty in finding a day for renewing the discussion, hon. Members opposite ought to give evidence of their sincerity by assuring the House that if another day were fixed they would not occupy unnecessary time, and would on the day so named bring the debate to a close.


denied that hon. Members on his side of the House had had a fair opportunity afforded for discussion, for only two Roman Catholic Members had as yet spoken in this debate. Four hours occupied in a morning sitting would not be sufficient for the discussion of this question, and the Government were bound to afford not part of a morning, but a whole evening, for the renewal of the debate.


said, the House might have come to a division long ago if it had not been for hon. Gentlemen opposite. As for the renewal of the discussion, if the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole) would tell him that the Government would give a day for that purpose, they (the Government) should have their own day and their own hour. But, if not, he would take the sense of the House now as to whether they should adjourn until twelve to-morrow.


called upon the hon. Gentleman to observe in what a position the Government were placed. He had given a day once in his hon. Friend's absence in the hope that this debate would be concluded then, or, if not in the morning, that it would, at least, be concluded at the evening sitting. Now the Government were asked to give another day, when they had themselves hardly a day to spare to get through the ordinary business of the Session, in order to facilitate a dissolution as soon as possible. The House would remember that they could have no day now until after the Whitsuntide recess, and then probably a similar objection to that made before would be urged again—namely, that it would be putting the debate off to a day which would be making a division futile. It had been said that this was a Motion brought forward by the sanction of the Government. Now, that was not so. The Motion was brought forward by his hon. Friend (Mr. Spooner) upon his own account alone; and he (Mr. Walpole) had felt it his duty, as a Member of the Government, to take a course independent of any which his hon. Friend might think it right to take. The Government had nothing to do with this Motion, except just as any other person in that House had a right to express his sentiments upon the question, and he protested therefore altogether against the idea that the Government were bound to give a day on the ground of its being a Government Motion. He wished very much the debate had been brought to a close on Tuesday evening; but he thought if a morning were appointed for a renewal of the discussion, there could be no doubt there would be another adjourned debate. If another day were given, he hoped it would be understood that the House would come to a division on that day.

After a few words from Mr. SCULLY,


said, he had intended to move that the debate be adjourned till the 12th of August; but after what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole), he should withdraw his Motion, and vote with the Government in opposing the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, if the House came to a division. He was sincere in his desire to quash further proceedings in this matter; but he did not believe there were ten sincere men in that whole assembly at that moment who were not heartily sick of the question, and who did not wish they were out of it.


said, the only sincere Member in the House was the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Edwards), who said that his constituents were deeply interested in it; and he was anxious to be able to tell them that he had voted for the inquiry into Maynooth. He congratulated hon. Gentlemen opposite on the dissolution of partnership between the hon. Member for North Warwickshire and the Government. To repeat the phrase of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, applied to the late Sir R. Peel's Government, the present position of affairs was nothing less than "a reorganised hypocrisy." The Irish Members did not want to divide—they wanted to speak, and they would put the opposite party on their trial, and convict them of rank and unadulterated bigotry and hypocrisy. If the Committee was granted to-morrow, they could not act, and he was then entitled to call it a rank unadulterated hypocrisy.


regretted the tone and temper the debate had assumed. The Government was placed in a peculiar position. They wanted a day, and if the matter was postponed to the end of August, a day must be had. The Protestant feeling of the country required it. He proposed to postpone the debate till that day, and then let the Government be prepared to name a day. The question must not be blinked, and the country required that it should be fully and entirely discussed,


then withdrew his Motion for resuming the debate at Twelve.

Motion by leave withdrawn;—Debate further adjourned till To-morrow.

The House adjourned at Three o'clock.