§ MR. REYNOLDS,
seeing the Adjourned Debate on Maynooth stood No. 28 on the Orders of the Day, begged to ask the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) whether he had had any understanding with Her Majesty's Government in reference to fixing a day for resuming the adjourned debate, or whether it was his intention to move that any day should be fixed for resuming that debate?
§ MR. SPOONER
said, he had had no communication whatever with Her Majesty's Government on the subject; and as to his fixing a day, it must depend entirely upon what should take place when the Order of the Day on the subject came on.
§ MR. HINDLEY
asked, whether it was not desirable that some arrangement should be come to; and if the Government would not fix a day for the question?—otherwise he gave notice that he should move that the Order of the Day be read for the purpose of being discharged.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he was about to rise for the 1294 purpose of moving that the House at its rising do adjourn to Thursday next; and he would therefore take the opportunity presented by the hon. Member's question of also stating the course which he meant to propose for the order of public business after the recess, should the House consent to adjourn to Thursday. He should still adhere to the plan of taking the Committee on the New Zealand Bill on Thursday. The House would observe from the paper, that, besides the Motion for adjournment, he meant to propose certain resolutions, which he trusted would receive the assent of the House, in the course of the evening. The object of these resolutions was to make the morning sittings more satisfactory, and the course of business more efficient, by more precisely limiting the duration of those morning sittings. At present, when they had morning sittings, it frequently occurred that they were protracted until the House was exhausted; and then they did not again meet in the evening: so that, instead of increasing the time at their command by meeting in the morning, they had had less than they would otherwise have had. But by adopting those resolutions they would be able to conduct the morning sittings in a more satisfactory manner; and if the House assented, he should avail himself very frequently of these morning sittings. He had thought it better not to ask the House to give up the Tuesdays, but to leave them still in possession of private Members, as he thought it desirable that the Opposition should always have the means of controlling the conduct of business in that House; but, at the same time, he should, if it were necessary from the peculiar state of the business of the House, appeal to the forbearance of hon. Members to assist him in promoting the despatch of important public business even in that regard. If, then, the resolutions were agreed to, he should, as he had stated, take the New Zealand Bill on Thursday, and on the succeeding Monday and Tuesday he proposed to have morning sittings for the Metropolitan Burials Bill and the Metropolitan Water Bill. With regard to the question which the hon. Gentleman opposite, and several others, had referred to, in relation to the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire, on the College of Maynooth, it was his (the Chancellor of the Exchequer's) opinion, after all that had taken place, that it was expedient that that question should 1295 be brought to an issue; and with that view he should propose that the House continue the debate on Friday morning next—this day week—and he hoped there would be a determination on both sides of the House to bring the question then to a conclusion. Those were the prospects which he had at present to hold out as to the course of public business immediately after the recess. He should add that after the debate on Maynooth on Friday evening next, he meant to take the Committee of Supply. He had now to move that the House, at its rising, adjourn to Thursday next.
thanked the Government for giving them the opportunity of bringing the question to an issue. When they considered there would be only four hours for the discussion on the day named, it was in the power of hon. Gentlemen who chose to move the adjournment, and thus destroy their coming to an issue. But now that the Government had kindly given way, and had stated broadly to the country that they thought the question should come to an issue, he trusted the country would see that if the adjournment were again moved on Friday, it would be done only by the opponents of the original Motion, for the sake of delay and of destroying the effect of the House coming to an issue; and that, if the House should come to a division on the adjournment, it should be taken as a division upon the main issue, and that those who voted for the adjournment it should be taken by the country as being opposed to inquiry, while those who should oppose the adjournment should be taken as in favour of inquiry.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
was sorry to be obliged to give expression to sentiments entirely at variance from those which had fallen from his hon. Friend the Member for East Somerset. He had heard, with no other feelings than those of sorrow and surprise, the announcement that had just been made by the right hon. Gentleman who was the leader of the House of Commons. It was not the least important of the many duties which devolved upon the person who occupied so elevated and so responsible a position, to protect the character of the House of Commons, and he greatly feared that the proceedings of that House with reference to the Maynooth question were not calculated to raise its character in the estimation of the public. There was no one in that House less anxious than he to evade a genuine, fair, and searching inquiry into the system of edu- 1296 cation pursued at Maynooth. After all that had taken place in that House and in the country, it was befitting that such an inquiry should be instituted; but he put it to the candour, the honour, the common sense of hon. Members to say whether it was within the bounds of human possibility that any such investigation should be prosecuted within a fortnight of the rising of Parliament. The very idea involved an absurdity, and he could not but think that to wrangle for an inquiry under such circumstances was to engage in a proceeding totally inconsistent with the dignity and the duty of that House. He was anxious—no man could be more so—for an honest and impartial inquiry respecting Maynooth; but he could not give his assent to any course of proceeding which bore the appearance of insult to his Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen. He was persuaded there were many hon. Members who viewed the question just as he did, but who nevertheless took a course which their consciences could not approve, apprehensive lest their motives might be interpreted erroneously out of doors. But he believed that in so doing they acted very foolishly, for he did not believe that even amongst those who were most determined in their hostility to Maynooth, there was a desire for an inquiry not conceived in a fair spirit, and not conducted on terms of the strictest impartiality. He appealed to the hon. Member for North Warwickshire to say whether he thought it possible that during the present Session even the foundations of an efficient inquiry could be laid. If the Committee was constituted to-morrow, the Members would find it impossible to attend, for they would be obliged to visit their respective constituencies, and to canvass them for the ensuing election. An inquiry instituted under such circumstance would be a farce—a delusion—a mockery—and it would conduce but little to the dignity of that House, to the interests of truth, or to the preservation of religious harmony throughout the country, to raise the question at an impracticable moment, and to prolong discussions which could not lead to any practical good. He should vote against the Committee, not because he was hostile to inquiry (under proper circumstances he should have supported it), but because to propose it at such a moment was to practise a delusion on the public, and to offer an affront to his Catholic fellow-countrymen.
§ MR. SPOONER,
in answer to the ap- 1297 peal as to whether he thought that in this present Session the inquiry could be carried to a satisfactory conclusion, would at once say that he did not think it could be. But it would be exceedingly satisfactory to the country at large if the House should say that night that it was willing to entertain the question. It was right the country should know that a sufficient case had been made out before the House for inquiry, and that would be the effect of his Motion when a vote was come to on it. With respect to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Labouchere), he did not think anything had been done either by those who brought forward or supported the Motion to injure the character of the House, whatever might have been effected in the way of the factious opposition with which the Motion had been met by those who, while professing themselves willing that the inquiry should take place, occupied the House with long speeches and personal abuse, instead of at once, and without further discussion, agreeing to the inquiry, to which they said they were not adverse.
§ MR. GOULBURN
felt, with the right hon. Gentleman and others on that side of the House, that an inquiry into Maynooth was unavoidable, after all that had transpired; and therefore he was prepared to support the Motion for inquiry, without committing himself to the opinions of the hon. Gentleman who had made the Motion; and if he rose on the present occasion it was only in the hope of reconciling the conflicting opinions which had been expressed just now. The hon. Gentleman had stated that he did not conceive it possible that any satisfactory inquiry could be come to this Session. The object of the hon. Gentleman's Motion would not be advanced, therefore, by agreeing to his Motion. He (Mr. Goulburn) would then suggest to the Government to institute a strict inquiry into Maynooth by means of a Commission, and to have their report ready to present to Parliament when it should again meet; and then the House would have before it the materials whereby to judge whether it should refer that report to a Committee of the House, and so decide upon the joint evidence taken before the Commission and the Committee, as to whether Maynooth had satisfied the expectations of its original founders, or of those who had increased the grant. By that means the desire of the country on the matter would be satisfied, and they should 1298 avoid the recurrence of those debates in which they had been engaged, and in which he concurred with the right hon. Gentleman that they did not reflect credit upon their proceedings.
The O'GORMAN MAHON
maintained that there was a sincere desire, on the part of the Opposition, to have the question brought to a satisfactory issue. They deired that the matter should be fairly debated; but in this ambition they were continually thwarted by hon. Gentlemen opposite. They might have made a House on Tuesday evening, but they were absent. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire was himself absent when the Speaker resumed the chair at Eight o'clock. [Mr. SPOONER: Not I.] Well, if the hon. Gentleman was not absent, his Colleague was—and so, too, were those who affected to support him; and all the Ministers. Friday morning was not at the disposition of hon. Gentlemen opposite; it belonged as much to hon. Members on his side of the House. If hon. Members opposite had a sincere desire to come to a conclusion on the matter, let a proposition be made by Ministers that the House should meet tomorrow, at Twelve o'clock, and let the debate be continuously pursued. It did not lie in the hon. Gentleman's mouth to taunt the Opposition with making long speeches, seeing that he had himself favoured the House with a speech of three hours' duration. That speech was full of matter hurtful to the feelings of the Catholic community; but in the debate to which it had given rise, not more than two Catholic Members had spoken. He would suggest that the House should sit to-morrow (Saturday), at Twelve o'clock, for the resumption of the debate.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
denied that either he or any hon. Gentleman with whom he acted in this matter, had done anything which was at all calculated to injure the character of that House. Nothing that they had done could be so derogatory to the dignity of the House as that a small section of Members should pursue a factious course, and endeavour to coerce the majority. With respect to the charge brought against him by the hon. Member for Ennis, of not having attended in the House on Tuesday evening, he begged to remind the hon. Member that he had come down to the House and was just entering the door, when he met the hon. Member himself coming out, and was told, to his great astonishment, that the House had 1299 been counted out. He could not give his sanction to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn) because he believed that inquiry by means of a Commission would not be effective. Both the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goulburn) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Taunton (Mr. Labouchere) believed that an inquiry into the educational system pursued at Maynooth was indispensable, and he could not perceive their consistency in resisting an expression of opinion to that effect upon the part of the House.
§ MR. HUME
asked of what avail it could be to proceed with a discussion of this kind, when only two Roman Catholic Members from Ireland had had an opportunity of expressing their opinions, and many more would wish to do so. In what situation were they? It was expected the House would be prorogued about the 20th June—the day fixed for Her Majesty to leave town. On Tuesday, in the Income Tax Committee, he had been unable to collect five Members at any hour during the day. Even if a Committee on Maynooth were granted that night, they could not expect to do anything on a question of such importance. They would hear one side; that evidence would go forth to the country, the witnesses being of the same opinion as the hon. Mover of this Resolution; and this would aggravate the evil that had arisen. He put it to the Government whether it was not better to adopt the suggestion of Mr. Goulburn? Let them appoint a Commission of Inquiry, taking upon themselves the whole responsibility of that inquiry. The Roman Catholic Members had expressed their readiness to meet it. Was it not better that such an inquiry should be free from the prejudice that would attach to it if it were undertaken under the honourable auspices of the Mover (Mr. Spooner)?
§ MR. H. HERBERT
said, he admired the command of countenance of the hon. Member (Mr. Newdegate), when he talked of the grave nature of these proceedings. The House was not discussing the merits of Maynooth, but a Motion for Inquiry, which every one knew—whatever vote they came to—could neither be commenced nor concluded this Session. He could not but look at this discussion in one grave light. As a Protestant—he hoped a sincere one—he had lived for years in the midst of a Roman Catholic population; and he knew how powerful for evil was the slightest 1300 word uttered in that House which had a tendency to excite the evil passions they all lamented. For years he had painfully seen that the great misfortune of Ireland had been made its religious differences. And when he reflected on the small amount of eloquence or ability which might enable any hon. Member of that House to inflict an infinity of evil on that country, he could not but regard the subject as one of a most grave and serious nature. Discussions carried on as this had been, inflicted more injury—material injury—upon even Protestant interests in that country, than ten Colleges of Maynooth could possibly effect. He responded to the appeal made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn). If the Mover wished for inquiry, and the Government desired to second his wishes, a mode had been pointed out by which some satisfactory conclusion might be come to—the Government instituting the inquiry, and laying the results before the House early next Session. Coming from such a source, the sincere Protestants of the country must approve the suggestion. After the expression of opinion on that side the House, if the supporters of the Motion did not accede to the proposition, the country would understand that it was but a sham and a delusion—and that the real object of those hon. Gentlemen was to get up a cry at the hustings.
§ MR. P. HOWARD
said, the Opposition had been accused of creating unnecessary delay; but Mr. Spooner should recollect that he at first proposed to adjourn the Motion till the 16th of June; and that it was only at the repeated remonstrances of that side of the House that an earlier day was appointed. He believed that those who had signed the petitions against Maynooth had been led, by want of information, to attack the olden faith; they had done it not from malice, but from ignorance; many who were occupied in daily toil had doubtless taken this step without adequate information. If this question was to be revived, the sooner it was done the more contented he should be; for it would be his duty to refute the arguments and dispel the fallacies that had been adduced by the hon. Mover; and as soon as those arguments were met, they would vanish in smoke.
§ SIR BENJAMIN HALL
said, that he wished to say a few words with respect to the suggestion which had been made by 1301 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Goulburn). He (Sir B. Hall) believed that it would be generally admitted that it was impossible that this inquiry could produce any beneficial result. But even supposing that the Motion of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Spooner) were carried by a large majority, and a Committee were appointed, there would be a discussion with respect to the name of every hon. Member proposed to be placed on that Committee. Under these circumstances, looking at the importance of the question, be must venture to express a hope that between this time and the meeting of the House on Monday next, the Government would take into its consideration the suggestion which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goulburn). The Chancellor of the Exchequer had already stated that he would consider the subject; but as the Government had spoken in favour of a Committee of Inquiry, and as it was impossible that a Committee, if appointed, could make any report during the present Session, he hoped that hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they were sincere, would be prepared to answer the question which be now gave notice he should put to them on Thursday next, namely, whether or not l they had considered the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goulburn), and whether they would agree to the appointment of a Commission?
§ MR. REYNOLDS
thought the Gentlemen who were so tender of the character of that House were labouring under a false alarm. As to its character for liberality, the less they said about it the better. It would be impossible for any House to have a worse character in that regard; therefore, he trusted they should hear no more about it. It was complained that the time of the House was wasted, and he believed that was a substantial grievance, for it had very little time to spare—its days were numbered; it was likely to live about three weeks, and then it would be entombed with all the Capulets, and this inquiry along with it. He should like to hear a speech from one or two of the Ministers on this question. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had promised them a morning sitting on Friday, and Mr. Miles had thanked him for it. They had to thank him for nothing, for Friday belonged as much to that side as to the other side of the House. But he could not avoid noticing the silence of the hon. Member for 1302 Peeblesshire (Mr. F. Mackenzie) who was the candidate for Liverpool, and who bad pledged himself, through his committee, if elected, to vote for the withdrawal of the Maynooth grant. It would not be respectful to the House, nor to the Liverpool gentlemen, if the hon. Gentleman did not repeat in that House the contents of the Liverpool placard. He saw sitting opposite the guardian angel of Protestant ascendancy the Irish Solicitor General—what account was he prepared to give to the loyal and independent Protestants of the loyal and independent borough of Enniskillen? He left the whole defence of the Protestant Church in Ireland, and the scolding of Maynooth, to three English county Members. As the hon. and learned Gentleman now sat, he reminded him of Sir Joshua Reynolds' picture of Garrick seated between Tragedy and Comedy. An hon. Member had complained that long speeches were made; but the longest speeches bad been delivered on the other side; the Mover had occupied about three hours. An hon. Member (Mr. Miles) said that any one who moved an adjourment of the debate when it next came on, would be held up to the country as factious. Who had moved the adjournment last? The hon. Member for Boston (Mr. Freshfield). Last night the Home Secretary had said that Government never sanctioned the Motion. How did that consist with his speech in support of the Motion? He had adopted the proposition, and supported it, and stated that he would vote for it on a division. Last night he had totally disavowed it, divorced himself from all connexion with the Mover of the Resolution. He said, in effect—"I have nothing to do with you; you brought me into a scrape, and I wish I was rid of it." This was a very pretty quarrel as it stood; the least explanation would spoil it. Still they must have explanation. The supporters of the Motion would not be permitted to go to the country and tell the honest electors of England and Scotland that they J who professed the Roman Catholic religion I had at all opposed the Motion. They invited and courted inquiry; but they were not prepared to consent to it until they answered, not the arguments—for there had been none—but till they dispelled the cloud that had been thrown before the independent electors by raising a cry of "No Popery," after the Government had been totally and entirely defeated in the attempt to raise a protection cry. He wished to 1303 afford the hon. Member for Peeblesshire (Mr. Mackenzie) an opportunity of explaining to the House. That the hon. Gentleman, now the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and candidate for Liverpool on "No-Popery" and "No-Maynooth" principles, voted in 1845 against the grant of 9,000l. to the College of Maynooth; in 1846 he superseded Mr. Pringle, and became a Lord of the Treasury, under Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Pringle being dismissed for having opposed the Maynooth Bill. Mr. Mackezie then voted and spoke in favour of the Motion for 26,000l. a year, not as an annual grant, but as an endowment by Act of Parliament. What was then his excuse? That he had voted against the 9,000l. because he thought it too little, but he would vote for the 26,000l. He was now Chief Secretary of the Treasury; Lord Derby was Prime Minister; and the Ministerial benches were closely studded, entirely occupied, by noble Lords and hon. Gentlemen who had invariably recorded their votes on every question by which the liberties of the Catholics of Ireland could be curtailed. The hon. Gentleman went to Liverpool—Liverpool, which was not less powerful because 100,000 Roman Catholics lived there, and several thousands of its electors were Irish Roman Catholics—and he said—"Vote for me, and I will repeal the 26,000l. a year granted to Maynooth." To him might most aptly be applied the lines from Hudibras:—What makes all doctrines plain and clear?Just twelve hundred pounds a year.And that which was proved true beforeProve false again? Twelve hundred more.How could the leader of the House say that the Government had not supported this brutal and intolerant cry? How could the Home Secretary declare that he had not sanctioned it, when a subordinate official was sent into that great emporium of commercial traffic and prosperity to sound the tocsin of religious discord, by declaring that he would vote for the withdrawal of the grant to Maynooth? The Irish Solicitor General (Mr. Whiteside) had over and over again proclaimed that, if he had a seat in that House, he would never sit silent when the Protestant religion was to be vindicated on one hand, or to bring Popery into its proper diminution on the other. Where was he now? Echo answered, Where? A Commission of Inquiry was suggested: what did they propose to inquire into? They assumed that, in consequence of recent circumstances, inquiry was necessary. 1304 What were those circumstances? The Durham letter? The Episcopal Titles Act? Or was it the conspiracy carried on in this city by a half-clerical, half-lay Committee, sitting at the National Club, and writing to all the towns in the United Kingdom imploring them to send up petitions against Maynooth? They knew well there was nothing to inquire into; but they adopted the principle—"Throw plenty of dirt, and a portion of it will stick." Their principle was that adopted by a man at an election, who had nothing to say against his opponent but this: he said—"The hon. Gentleman's character is excellent, but I will ask him one question—Who killed his own washerwoman?" All the women in the crowd screamed out—"Yes; come, answer that question;" and there was so much shouting and bellowing, that the man was pelted off the hustings, and lost his election. It was assumed that there was something terrible to be inquired into at Maynooth. That college was governed by a president and a certain number of professors; it educated about 600 young men, entirely devoted to the priesthood in Ireland. Its rules were embodied in a blue book of that House. A list of books was presented for the perusal of the students; and the only political question that ever entered into their studies was this—that they were compelled to take the oath of allegiance before entering on their studies. But all political works were excluded, even newspapers of all denominations; if one was found twice in a student's room, he was expelled. The proposer of the Motion admitted that the inquiry was not to be into the religious principles taught at Maynooth. The Legislature had no right to make such an inquiry. But it was said that this was a Protestant country, and ought not to support the education of Catholic priests. He denied that this was a Protestant country; the presence of himself and others there disproved it. One third of the population was Catholic, and they paid at least one-third of the taxes. If hon. Gentlemen denied it, let them prove the contrary. What was the pretext for withdrawing this paltry 26,000l.? All that could be alleged was what had been done by the Synod of Thurles; but he denied that such was the case. He would make no promise that the debate should be closed on Friday next. They required the question to be fully and fairly discussed; and it was not fair that the Irish 1305 Members should be told, on the eve of an adjournment, that they must come back the day after the recess to hear a renewal of those senseless and besotted denunciations which so much destroyed good feeling between Catholics and Protestants. All he would say of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Spooner) was—God forgive him! Though he had already sown the seeds of that discord which prevailed so extensively last year he (Mr. Reynolds) forgave him, and hoped God would do the same.
§ MR. FRESHFIELD
repudiated the charge of being the cause of any delay in the discussion of the Motion. He had only moved the adjournment at an hour—half-past three o'clock—when the House was close on the period of proceeding with other business; and he had done so to give the House an opportunity of fixing a further day for the resumption of the debate. His Motion was strictly in accordance with the rules of the House, and was, moreover, made to facilitate, and not impede, the discussion of the question at issue.
§ MR. CHISHOLM ANSTEY
observed, that if the hon. and senior Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) had been in the House, instead of at the door, as he admitted he was at eight o'clock on Tuesday evening, the adjourned debate might have been resumed. The country would form its own opinion of such conduct. The hon. Gentleman who made the Motion on the subject of Maynooth, said, that he despaired of effecting any good by it, because it was now too late to inquire. But if that were so, why did the hon. Gentleman, on the first occasion, propose to postpone the question till the 16th of June, which had not yet arrived? The hon. Gentleman now proposed the appointment of a Select Committee to prosecute an inquiry which he says cannot be made. The suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Goulburn) suggested the only possible and unobjectionable mode of inquiry; yet the Government did not say that they would adopt it. The fact was, that not inquiry, but aspersion, was the object of hon. Gentlemen. They wished to create political capital, but they had exhausted and gambled it away. The result of the discussion would satisfy every man, that, however much hypocrisy there might be in the House, there was not one atom of bigotry in it.
§ MR. KEOGH
wished to say a few words 1306 on the subject before the House, thinking it was right the country should understand the game that the Government were playing on this occasion. He understood that the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) was anxious to have this discussion prosecuted, and was anxious also that this question should be supported with the whole strength of the party opposite. He had heard something said as to its being the wish of the hon. Member to raise a cry in the country; but he (Mr. Keogh) did not believe that that was the object of the hon. Member. He believed him to be really opposed to this grant, and to be anxious to see it repealed. He did not, however, give the same credit to other parties, who had encouraged and advised the hon. Member for North Warwickshire to bring forward this Motion. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had spoken on this subject, and, to a certain extent, had assented to the proposition made by the hon. Member; but the leader of that House had not favoured them with his opinions on this question, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer knew whether or not there was any other Member of Her Majesty's Cabinet, distinct from the Secretary of State for the Home Department who, before he held the high office in which he was now placed, counselled and advised the hon. Member for North Warwickshire to bring forward this Motion. As regarded that right hon. Gentleman, he would recall to the attention of the House what his idea was upon the plan of "raising a cry" in the country. Tragedy and comedy had been referred to; but there were two characters, Tadpole and Taper, immortalised in the writings of the right hon. Gentleman, who met a Mr. Rigby on one occasion, and told him, "We can never do anything without a cry in the country." Now, what was the designation of that cry? In this country it was Protestant Derbyism; in Ireland it was Roman Catholic Derbyism. He believed that there were secret practices going on out of the House; because (and he begged the attention of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire to this) he had heard of and had about him at that moment an address from a Derby candidate—and there were numbers of them in Ireland—who came forward professing to be earnest supporters of the present Administration, and yet who had in every case stated in their addresses that they were wholly opposed to the Ec- 1307 clesiastical Titles Bill of last Session, and that they were determined, totis viribus, to support the grant to the College of Maynooth. Was the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Spooner) and the Protestant party, whose organ he was in that House, satisfied with this state of things? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in 1845, when he was assailing the late Sir Robert Peel, in warning words told the House that Protestantism was in the same position then as Protection was in 1841. He (Mr. Keogh) asked the hon. Member for North Warwickshire whether he could place any confidence in the Treasury Bench, which sent its supporters to Ireland to raise a cry in favour of Derbyism and Maynooth, while they had their followers in this country going from one end of the kingdom to the other in favour of Derby and Protestantism? That was the position in which this question was placed; but how was it with regard to the declaration of this evening? The question was, that a Committee should be appointed to inquire into the system of education at Maynooth; the leader of the House of Commons supported that proposition; when forthwith the hon. Gentleman who made it got up and told that House that the Committee for which he sought could never meet, that the inquiry he demanded could never take place in the present Parliament. And was this House of Commons, then, to concede an inquiry to an independent Member who had the candour and manliness to get up and tell the House, "I believe the result of the investigations of the Committee will be wholly inoperative—I am asking you to grant that which can never lead to the slightest possible result?" He (Mr. Keogh), when independent Members had made Motions in this House applying for Committees, had frequently heard Ministers say, "I may be favourable to your proposition; but at this period of the Session to accede to it would be to waste the time of the House, and produce no useful result." But the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who frequently said that the character of Parliament was of far more importance than the position of parties, had told the House in this instance that its time must be wasted, and that he, with the whole force of the Government, would support this important proposition. He (Mr. Keogh) had also heard of independent Members bringing forward propositions, to which the right hon. Gentleman, when he sat on the Opposition side of the 1308 House, had replied that they might be good in themselves, but that they were of such importance that they ought to be taken up by Her Majesty's Government. But here was a question which was described to be, and was truly, a question of the most important nature, in which the whole population of this country were said to be deeply interested—a question which he (Mr. Keogh), in his conscience, believed would convulse the whole Catholic population of Ireland;—and yet Her Majesty's Government intrusted it to the guardianship of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, while the whole of the Treasury bench remained silent, and they left the great interests of the country to be determined by what he supposed would be called a "compromise." Was it not one of the followers of the hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer who, in 1845, upon the second reading of this very Maynooth Bill, came down to this House and called the attention of the late Sir Robert Peel to the fact that two Members of his Administration had voted against him on that question, and tauntingly asked, did he mean to allow himself to be trifled with, and to allow those two Members to run right against him? Sir Robert Peel's answer was, that he was the controller of his own intentions, and that he would have the whole weight of the Government to carry out his views. But what did we see with regard to the present Administration, the leader of which in the House of Commons had spoken whole hours, and had written continually, upon the importance of making public men adhere to their principles? We found the second law officer of the Crown in England the first to raise upon the hustings the anti-Maynooth cry, in the very teeth of the recorded opinions of the Chief of the Administration; and then the Secretary of the Treasury, who, of all men in this House, ought to have refrained from placing himself a third time in a position in which no public man ought to stand, had gone down to one of the most important constituencies in England, which had been dignified by being represented by such men as George Canning and Huskisson, and had set up the same pretensions. He (Mr. Keogh) had some consolation, however, as to this, for he felt satisfied that if there was to be a vacancy in the next Cabinet, and there was any chance that the hon. Member (Mr. Porbes Mackenzie) would obtain the appointment, he would fling to the winds his 1309 late expressed opinions, and desert the constituency of Liverpool upon the question. He (Mr. Keogh) believed the Maynooth grant was but a small instalment of justice; but there was in this country a great party, of which the hon. Member for North Warwickshire was a member, who thought it ought to be withdrawn. He now warned that party that the Ministerial bench opposite were playing a most deceptive and delusive game. In one instance, a recognised adherent of the noble Premier, in his address to one of the Irish constituencies, had stated that he was a decided supporter of the endowment to I Maynooth, and had led every person in that constituency to believe that the noble Earl entertained the same opinions, and that nothing was further from his intention than to concede the object of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire. If, with the perfect knowlege of these facts, the party to which he referred believed they could count securely upon the present Government, they were the greatest dupes that had ever existed. Their proposition would lead to no result; he apprehended nothing from it, except that they would once more irritate, exasperate, worry, and torture the feelings of the people of Ireland, and all this about a miserable grant, which, divided and subdivided again, would exactly leave one penny per head to the Roman Catholic population of that country.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, availing myself of the privilege of reply, I should have risen at once to notice the suggestion of the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn) had I been aware that the noble Lord (Lord D. Stuart) was about to commence a new subject. I have been subjected, in common with other Members of the Government, to the charge of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Taunton (Mr. Labouchere) of not being able to justify our conduct in consenting that on Friday next the House should resume the debate upon Maynooth. No one is more aware than myself how unequal I am to the responsible duties I have unexpectedly been called on to perform; but in the course which I have taken to-day I feel I have done that which my conscience tells me is right, and I am prepared to adopt the responsibility of that course. We have heard appeals not to do anything likely to lower the tone of this House, and to diminish confidence out of doors; but I think 1310 very little—nothing, perhaps—can more lower the tone of this House and diminish confidence out of doors, than to let the public get hold of the belief that there is a systematic effort to avoid discussion, and suppress the judgment of the House on this question. I have already expressed my views with regard to the conduct of this debate. I have been most anxious that it should not be prolonged; and I gave counsel to the House last Tuesday, which, if it had been followed, the debate would most probably have been then concluded. I made appeals to the hon. Member for Middlesex, and some other hon. Gentlemen who had Motions on the paper—which, without meaning any disrespect, I considered undeserving the consideration of the House under the present circumstances of Parliament—to postpone them. When we consider the duties of the leader of the House of Commons, one ought not to be omitted, that, consistent with his own convictions, it is his bounden duty to consult the general feeling of the House as to the conduct of affairs, especially of debates. It will be fresh in the recollection of the House, and, therefore, I need not dwell upon the point, how repeatedly I have been taunted because I would not give a day to the discussion of this question—because, as it was called, I would not manfully come forward and assist the decision. Only a few nights ago, Gentleman after Gentleman on those very benches from which they are now denouncing the Government because I have endeavoured to assist the debate, rose and said it was our duty to come forward and secure a fair hearing for the hon. Member for North Warwickshire; and now we are told that this debate ought not to be resumed because inquiry is impossible. Why, inquiry is not more impossible now than some very little time ago, when many Gentlemen opposite were anxious to have a decision upon this question, and not only anxious for a decision, but they said they were anxious for inquiry. We know very well what this vote means. It means that the House of Commons should express an opinion that inquiry into the system now carried on at Maynooth is or is not desirable. And when I hear of mockeries and farces—when I hear language such as that with respect to the debate and the manner in which it is conducted—it appears to me, with regard to those out of doors, it will indeed be a farce and mockery if after all that has been said, and all the feeling that 1311 has been expressed, the House does not endeavour to arrive at some conclusion. With regard to the expressions of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just addressed the House—insinuating, and more than insinuating, that we are endeavouring to use this subject for party interests—I can only say I am perfectly conscious that I am innocent of such a charge. Had I wished to use this question for party interests, I might perhaps have adopted a very different tone; but no one can accuse me of introducing into this discussion any expressions of acerbity, or sentiments which can fairly be denounced as of a bigoted nature. On the contrary, I have expressed the ground on which I shall vote for inquiry. It is the same ground that has been more ably explained by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State; but it is the ground which has always animated the Government: that ground is, that after a question of this kind has so occupied the public mind, and, may be, so inflamed public passion, it is both highly expedient and highly politic that we should ascertain whether the national intentions in the endowment of Maynooth have been fulfilled. I say we might enter upon that inquiry in that spirit without at all prejudging the question. One word upon the suggestion of the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge, as to another means of prosecuting an inquiry in the expediency of which the right hon. Gentleman is himself a believer. That suggestion is similar to one thrown out by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, in the course of this discussion. I expressed then the objection of the Government to such a step, and I shall not wait until next Thursday to express my opinion upon this new view in which the matter has been placed. Any inquiry by a Royal Commission, which cannot compel the attendance of witnesses, would not, in our minds, be a satisfactory course to pursue in the present state of public opinion on this question. No inquiry can be satisfactory unless it receives legislative sanction, and unless those powers are exercised which a United Legislature alone can confer. I ask what chance, if the hon. Member for North Warwickshire finds a difficulty in carrying on an ordinary discussion upon a mere Motion for a Committee—what chance have Her Majesty's Ministers, even if they thought it expedient to carry on a law to enable the Commissioners to exercise those pow- 1312 ers? Every Gentleman, I am sure, feels that it is impossible. If we cannot do that, would it be expedient to adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge, and which more than one hon. Member has stamped with his approbation? I state the broad grounds on which I think such a course objectionable. Inquiry of that kind cannot be an efficient inquiry; and when I hear so much of mockeries and farces, I can conceive nothing more calculated to disgust the people of this country than to take the matter out of the arena of their own popular House, to introduce it to the Cabinet to devise some schemes of investigation which really can produce no results. This is one of the several, but the most important, grounds on which Her Majesty's Government opposed the issuing of a Commission of Inquiry. I am bound to say, having mentioned that I felt it to be part of the duty of the leader of the House of Commons to consult the feelings of the House—I am bound to say, in my own vindication, it was not until I received a general expression of opinion, it was not until representations were made to me by Members of almost every shade of opinion, and of every section of party on each side of the House, that I, unwillingly, in the present state of business, consented to give a day to continue this discussion. It has been mentioned that I have given a Friday—a Government day; but I had placed on the paper those Resolutions which virtually place every morning at the disposition of the Government—therefore, whether I had fixed it for Friday or for Tuesday, the result would have been exactly the same. It is because, on the whole, I thought, after the discussion which has taken place—after the public feeling which has been expressed—after the general understanding which now prevails that the vote on this subject would not be a mockery, not a vote for inquiry which cannot take place—and it is because it will give, the House of Commons the opportunity of expressing their opinion whether they think an inquiry should take place into the conduct of this College or not, I have felt it my duty to take the course I have done to facilitate that inquiry. I have done it, Sir, with no other object than to fulfil that which I conceive to be my duty; and the feeling that I have performed my duty sustains me under the attacks which I have experienced.
§ On Motion, "That the House at rising adjourn till Thursday next,"