HC Deb 12 May 1853 vol 127 cc219-35

The Order of the Day for the House to go into Committee of Ways and Means read.

On the Question, That the Speaker do leave the Chair,


Sir, I perhaps ought to apologise for again bringing before the House a subject which has been so frequently alluded to; but as it is one in which I am personally concerned, I hope I shall be excused for so doing. I wish to be allowed to repeat what I said in this House on Monday evening, and to point out to the hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. E. Ball) that what he attributed to me was incorrect. The hon. Gentleman asked me if what I had stated on Friday night had been accurately understood by him, and he also requested me to be so good as to repeat to the House the statement I made; and he followed up that request by several other requests, with which I have no power to comply. With reference to the first part of the question, I have to inform the hon. Gentleman that what I said was not correctly understood by him, nor anything like correctly understood. What I said was, that certain Members of Parliament who attended a certain meeting asserted that if the party that was expected to come into office should succeed in accomplishing their object, no income tax should be imposed on Ireland. I never in any way alluded to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Hayter). He was not there; and I think it was rather a mischievous interpretation to put upon what I did say, and an interpretation which has annoyed me very much. There is no objection to my naming the Members who were present at the time, because they have all had sufficient notice. I have managed to squeeze a notice on the paper, which the hon. Gentleman refused to do. As long as he thought he should make a party question of this subject, and it suited his purpose, he was willing to urge the matter; but the moment he found it would not answer the purpose he had in view he dropped the question, as if he had picked up a red-hot potato. I may be allowed to say that I made a mistake in alluding to three Members, I was rather uncertain at the time as to one hon. Gentleman, but I have asked one of them, and I find that the course of conduct he pursued was different from that which on Monday I thought he had pursued. ["Name! name!"] I will not name that hon. Gentleman, because it is unnecessary now to bring his name into the discussion. I think it right to say that it is not the hon. Member for Mallow (Sir Denham Norreys). His name never entered into my head at all. The hon. Members to whom I alluded as having conveyed the information to me were the hon. Member for Roscommon (Mr. F. French), and the hon. Member for Tralee (Mr. Maurice O'Connell).


I am sure, after the statement which has been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Westmeath (Captain Magan), the House will think it right that I should say something, either to contradict the statement which he has made, or to confirm it. I have to say, then, that I have no contradiction to offer to the statement of my hon. Friend, except this much—that I think he gave the House to understand that there had been some secret negotiation on the subject; whereas there was no secret negotiation whatever. Everything that did happen was open and aboveboard. There was nothing to conceal, nor any attempt made to conceal anything. If the House will allow me, I will state exactly, so far as I am aware, what was done. There was a meeting of the Irish Members held to consider what course it would be advisable to take in respect to the Budget which was brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks (Mr. Disraeli). At that meeting a good deal of dissatisfaction was expressed at the proposed partial extension of the income tax to Ireland; but it was said by some Members present that, in the event of the Government of Lord Derby being turned out upon the Budget, what reason had we to suppose that an income tax, limited in extent, or probable in its entirety, might not be imposed upon Ireland by the Government which succeeded them? The debate was going on when I left the room upstairs, and, on coming down, in the course of the evening I met the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wells (Mr. Hayter). I stated to him what objections were being urged; and I rather think I asked him whether there was any foundation for supposing that a change of policy was likely to be adopted by the leading Whigs; and whether or not it was likely that, should they again come in to power, they would introduce the income tax into Ireland? The right hon. Gentleman told me, if my memory serves me rightly, that he had spoken to some—and I think he mentioned the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Sir C. Wood) as one of them—and he believed that it was not the intention of the leading Whigs, if they again returned to power, to depart from the policy which they formerly pursued. After this the meeting adjourned. I went up to the next meeting, and at that meeting the chairman, the hon. Member for Tralee (Mr. M. O'Connell) stated, as well as I remember—and I have spoken to two Gentlemen who were present, and they tell me that my recollection is correct—that he had authority to state that if the Whigs returned to power, it was not their intention to impose the income tax upon Ireland. I am not aware that I made any similar statement to the meeting; but I will not shrink from saying that, if my hon. Friend has not stated it, I should have done so. I may be asked why I have not accused the present Government of a breach of faith in extending the income tax to Ireland after that statement. The reason is, that from the formation of the present Government, before, indeed, it was actually formed, reasoning from what I had known of the noble Lord at the head of it, I considered that it was out of my power to recognise it as a Whig Government; and I did not think it would be honourable in me to consider them as Whigs in one case, and to refuse to treat them as Whigs in another. It was under these circumstances—and under these only—that I did not make that charge. I may add, that I have never thought of asking the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wells whether the right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer was of a similar opinion with respect to the income tax as the leading Whigs of whom he had spoken. It never entered my head to do so. I have had no communication, directly or indirectly, with that right hon. Gentleman since the occasion to which I have referred. I trust I have not misrepresented him. If I have, I assure him that it has arisen solely from having misunderstood him. I desire to say, also, that if I have misled any hon. Gentleman by my statements, I have done so unintentionally. I gave them what I believed then, and believe now, to be an accurate statement of what took place. Under these circumstances I presume it is unnecessary for me to apologise for the course I took. I think it a fair and legitimate course to ask of any person likely to come into power with a new Government, what are the intentions of that Government, so far as they entertain any.


Sir, as my name has so frequently been alluded to in the course of this debate, I think it right to offer a few observations to the House in corroboration of what has just fallen from my hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon (Mr. F. French). There were no secret negotiations whatever between myself and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wells (Mr. Hayter). I met that right hon. Gentleman casually, and he asked me how I was likely to vote upon the Budget? My answer was, that I never gave a Tory vote since I had entered Parliament, and that I never would give one. The right hon. Gentleman then asked me what I thought the feelings of the other Irish Members were upon the subject? I replied that it was my opinion that if the Irish Members could have anything like an assurance that the party which was expected to come into power in the event of the overthrow of Lord Derby's Administration would not impose an income tax upon Ireland, such an assurance would have great influence in determining the course which they would take. This conversation took place upon the steps of the Reform Club just as I was preparing to come down to the House. The right hon. Gentleman called my attention to the Budget of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Halifax, and to his speech in the year 1851, in which the right hon. Baronet had stated that he did not mean to extend the income tax to Ireland. I mentioned what had taken place during this conversation at the meeting of the Irish Members, not as an announcement which I was authorised upon the part of the present Government to communicate, but merely as a statement of what had fallen in conversation from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wells. There was a meeting of Irish Members held afterwards, at which it was asked whether the right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. Wood) would repeat his statement in the House? I mentioned that to the right hon. Member for Wells, and the right hon. Baronet did again state it in the House. That is the entire matter as it occurred. But I must say that my vote was not influenced by what transpired; and my reason for voting as I did was this—that I thought the interests of Ireland would be safer in any hands than in those of the late Government.


Sir, I trust, now that this matter has been more fully explained, that I may be permitted to say a few words as to the share I had in the conversation which took place between the hon. Members for Roscommon and Tralee and myself. I dare say that the statement of the hon. Member for Roscommon (Mr. F. French) is perfectly true in substance, but I have no recollection of it. I do not at all dispute the facts. I have no doubt that he had a communication with me in the hurried manner in which many such communications are made, and with the recollection of which I confess I cannot charge my memory. I think, however, it is quite impossible that I could have said that I was permitted to state, or that I had any authority or ground for stating, the opinions of any of those who may be called the Whig party, further than has been mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Tralee. I have a distinct recollection of what took place between the hon. Member for Tralee and myself. He alluded to the financial statement of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he certainly asked me whether I thought it probable that the Government likely to suceeed, composed of that party of which I am a humble member, would be likely to impose an income tax on Ireland. I referred him to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Sir C. Wood) in 1851, when the right hon. Baronet distinctly stated that he thought Ireland was in too exhausted a condition to bear the imposition of the income tax. I stated, moreover, my belief that my right hon. Friend (Sir C. Wood) still retained the opinion which he expressed in 1851, and that I had no doubt he would say in the House what he had said out of the House. I said I believed that if my right hon. Friend were called upon to do so, he would have no hesitation in stating that Ireland was in too exhausted a state—considering the encumbrances then pressing upon her—to bear the income tax. I never stated, however, to the hon. Member for Tralee that I had any authority from the right hon. Baronet (Sir C. Wood), or from any other persons, to express their opinions. I think I had a right—as I conceive every man has a right—to state what I knew to be the political opinions of those with whom I had the honour of acting. Between the statements of the hon. Member for Roscommon and of the hon. Member for Tralee, there is no material difference, except that the hon. Member for Roscommon says, as far as his recollection goes—and no doubt he states what he believes to be perfectly true—that I said I was expressing the opinion of the leading-Whigs, or of the Whig party. I can only say, that if I did make such a statement, I was incorrect in doing so; I have no recollection of it, and it is inconsistent with what I said to the hon. Member for Tralee.


Sir, I am glad that this matter has been fairly brought before the House, and that we are no longer dealing with insinuations. I feel grateful to the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. G. H. Moore) for having called attention to the subject the other night, and to the hon. Member for Westmeath (Captain Magan) for having brought it so clearly under the notice of the House this evening. With regard to my share in the matter, what I said was said in this House, and it is recorded against me in Hansard, I have not the least doubt. As I do not say one thing in the House, and another out of it, I must have said to my right hon. Friend the Member for Wells (Mr. Hayter)—though I do not recollect having done so, or to anybody else—exactly what I had said in the House—namely, that in the then circumstances of Ireland, with the charges pressing upon her at that time, I was against extending the income tax to that country. I said I thought the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) to extend the income tax partially to Ireland, could not be maintained. I stated that the charges imposed by what was called the labour-rate in Ireland pressed so heavily upon the western districts of that country that they were not in a condition to bear the income tax in addition to those charges; and I am sure that if any one will take the trouble to refer to the record of what I then said, he will see that no other construction can be put upon my statement. That was my opinion then, and it is my opinion now. I say now, as I said a fortnight ago, that if it had been proposed to impose the income tax upon Ireland in addition to those charges, I would not have been a party to such a measure. I think, however, when the western districts of Ireland are benefited, as they will be, by the remission of the consolidated annuities—and I showed the other night that many of those districts will gain relief far beyond the charge imposed upon them by the income tax—that the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a measure which will be very advantageous to that country. I see no inconsistency, therefore, in now voting for the imposition of the income tax generally upon Ireland.


I think what has passed ought to be a caution to some Members of this House as to the manner in which they make statements purporting to be matters of fact. Correctness and accuracy are still more incumbent upon them when they state matters of fact with the declara- tion that such matters came within their own knowledge; but most of all is correctness and strict adherence to the exact truth required when they state "matters of fact" which affect personal character. The hon. Member for Westmeath distinctly stated that certain Irish Members were waited on by the accredited agent of the Whigs and Peelites, who made this proposal to them, that if the Irish Members joined in turning out the Derby Government, the Whigs in return would undertake that the income tax should not be extended to Ireland. When I heard that statement, my belief was that it arose out of a misapprehension; for though I am politically opposed to the Gentlemen who sit opposite, I trust no political differences will ever induce me to think less highly of their personal honour; and, therefore, when, a few nights ago, the noble Lord the Member for the City of London denied that he had done a certain thing, that denial was conclusive in my mind. I believed him implicitly, and there was an end of it. But the charge having been made by the hon. Member for Westmeath, in such distinct terms, I thought the House was called upon to have the matter satisfactorily explained. It now turns out that the hon. Member for Westmeath did make an erroneous statement—


I did not—I deny it. ["Order, order!"]


It now appears that the "accredited agent," whom I ventured the other night to say we know as well as if his name had been mentioned—for the House could not have understood the words to refer to any one else—was not a party to any compact whatever; but that, so far as he was concerned, the whole thing from beginning to end, was one of those numerous conferences to which the right hon. Gentleman was a party—and I suppose no one is a party to a greater number of conferences than my right hon. Friend—it was one of those loose conversations in the lobby—one of those loose conversations in the lobby, the library, or on the steps—in which I suppose every Member of the House from time to time, takes a part. I admit that I do. Although politically opposed to the right hon. Gentleman, I have known him for twenty years; he is a member of the same profession as myself, and I must say it always affords me pleasure to converse with him. But when an hon. Member, on the strength of one of those "loose conversations," gets up and makes a statement like this, and brings a charge against the Government, which, if true, would involve a degree of perfidy entirely unworthy of the Government of this great nation, that hon. Gentleman, according to my views of sight and wrong in these matters, owes an apology to the House for having made such an erroneous statement. For I proceed upon this principle, that the characters of public men are the property of the nation, and that anything which is calculated to lower public faith in public men—in the men who govern this country—is also calculated to lower the character of the nation itself. Therefore, I may be permitted to repeat what I set out by stating, that the discussion which has occurred ought to be a lesson to all hon. Members, before they make statements of facts involving personal character, to be careful to ascertain that those facts are correct.


Sir, I must be allowed a word in explanation. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has thought proper to state, in plain English, that I have not told the truth. He has fastened upon an expression which I made use of—"an accredited agent." Now, Sir, I considered the hon. Members who communicated with the Irish representatives—and I maintain I have a right to consider any hon. Member in whatever light I may think proper—I considered those hon. Gentlemen who were favouring a change of Government, as acting in the capacity of. accredited agents, and I believe I was fairly entitled to regard them in that light, from the circumstance of their being generally favourable, one to the Whig party and the other to the Peelites, and from the fact also of their being strongly in favour of a change of Administration. But I did not state that they were accredited agents.—I merely stated that they were considered as such; and I contend that I had a right to consider them as such, in the same manner as I have now a right to consider the hon. Gentleman who last addressed the House as the accredited agent of Lord Derby. Sir, I certainly dispute the statement which that hon. Gentleman has made with respect to what fell from me on the present occasion. I suppose, Sir, I must speak to him strictly in a Parliamentary sense, but, nevertheless, I will say that his statement was both malicious and untrue.


The hon. Gentleman has made use of words which cannot be permitted in this House, and I therefore call him to retract them.


Sir, I have no objection to withdraw the epithets, but the sense remains.


Sir, I am anxious to say a few words upon this subject, especially because I was present at all the meetings held by the Irish Members in the early part of the Session; and, because, as I have voted very frequently against Her Majesty's present Government, I cannot be supposed to have any bias in their favour. Now, Sir, I can only say that at not one of those meetings did I hear any communication, either by an accredited agent or by any other person, as to the intentions of the Gentlemen who now occupy the Treasury benches with respect to the extension of the income tax to Ireland. No doubt, as we have been told, conversations were held on the subject, in some of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wells stated his impression of what he believed would be done in the event of Her Majesty's Opposition becoming Her Majesty's Ministers; but, Sir, I am quite sure that nothing more took place than that, I may say, that I knew nothing of this matter till two or three days ago, when it was mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member for Westmeath; but as a circumstance which corroborates my impression of what took place, I may mention that at the meeting of Irish Members held immediately before the debate which resulted in the expulsion from power of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire and his Friends, there was a feeling among some of us that some communication ought to take place between those right hon. Gentlemen who now constitute Her Majesty's Government and ourselves, before we should resolve to give a vote which would in all probability produce a change in the Administration. There was also an opinion among us—an opinion entertained by myself and others—that such a course was not desirable upon the whole; but if communications had already taken place, through means of an accredited agent, or any other authorised person, as to the intentions of the Whig party with respect to the imposition of an income tax upon Ireland, I think the discussion to which I have referred would not have taken place among us; and I submit that the mere fact of a difference of opinion among us must show that no communication by an accredited agent bad taken place between the Whig party and the representatives of Ireland in this House.

[MESSAGE FROM THE LORDS—That they have agreed to certain Bills.]


Sir, I do not wish to prolong the discussion; but as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dundalk has thrown some doubt upon the fact of a communication having been made to the Irish Members, I will take the liberty of stating the main facts, which I recollect as distinctly as any facts that have come under my observation. There had been such a discussion as the hon. Member speaks of at a previous meeting of the Irish Members; but at the adjourned meeting the hon. Member for Tralee, who occupied the chair, told us that he had a communication to make by authority from a leading Member of the Whig party. I do not know that "authority" was the exact word he used, but the effect of his communication was, that he was authorised to state to us, that if by our votes Lord Derby's Government was ejected from office, the Whig Government that succeeded to Lord Derby would not put an income tax upon Ireland. I have not been a party to bring this subject in any way, either directly or indirectly, before the House. I have nothing whatever to do with the question which has been raised, except in so far as a doubt has been expressed as to a matter of fact; but I thought it my duty to state to the House what was my own clear and distinct recollection of the circumstances in dispute. I am perfectly certain of this, that a statement was made to us, which I have no doubt was intended with a view to the course we might take on the Budget of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire. There can be no question it was made to us to influence our votes. Now, Sir, when a Gentleman has to make up his mind as to a particular course, and when a number of considerations of various kinds equally influence him, it is impossible for him to say which has most influence in determining his conduct; yet, Sir, as a matter of fact, there can be no doubt that the communication referred to—authorised as we were entitled to consider it, and as we did consider it—followed up by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax, who warned us not to be gulled—I am repeating the very words in the re- port of the right hon. Baronet's speech which I read a few days ago in Hansard—by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, and who told us that Irishmen were less alive to the interests of their country than he considered them to be, if they should be gulled by any proposition to introduce the small end of the wedge of the income tax into Irish finance; I say there is not the smallest doubt that that authorised communication, which it seems now, in some sense or other, did actually proceed from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wells—that that authorised communication, which unquestionably had its origin with the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and which was followed up by the strong, vehement, and pointed remarks of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Halifax, almost entreating us not to allow ourselves to be deluded, did really, positively, and as a matter of fact, to some extent influence my mind and the minds of others. That it did clearly, and in some small degree—I am not making more of it than it really deserves—influence the course we took, I pledge my honour as a gentleman. I have the most distinct recollection that, to some small but distinctly rememberable degree, the authorised assertion of the hon. Member for Tralee did influence my mind towards the course which I subsequently took; and I have no doubt that it produced the same effect upon the minds of others.


Sir, with reference to what has fallen from my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Meath, I have only to say, that I do not for one moment deny that there had been conversations as to what the Whig party would do, or would probably do, in the event of their coming again into power; but I still assert, that I, for one, did not understand that any statement was made to the Irish Members by an accredited agent, or other authorised person, and that, in short, I did not understand that anything occurred beyond the conversations I have mentioned.


Sir, the hon. Member for Meath has asserted, in seeming contradiction of what I stated to the House, that an authorised communication was made by me to the Irish representatives. Sir, I never made such a statement. My recollection is perfectly distinct upon the question, and I repeat, I never stated that I was authorised to make the communication which I did make. I could not have stated anything of the kind.

What I really did say was, that I had the fact communicated upon the authority—I mean that it had been mentioned to me in the course of a casual conversation with my right hon. Friend the Member for Wells. But I did not state that either he or any other person had authorised me to make such a statement.


Sir, I merely wish to say one word; and certainly I should not have ventured to do so, or to trespass for a single moment upon the attention of the House, if there had not been some difference of opinion as to what took place at a meeting of the Irish Members. Having been present upon that occasion, and the statement of my hon. Friend the Member for Heath as to what occurred having been called in question, I hope I may be permitted to state what my recollection is of what took place. As far as I understood the hon. Member for Tralee, who occupied the chair on the occasion in question, he distinctly said that he had authority—he did not say from whom—to make this statement, that if the effect of our votes would be to throw out Lord Derby's Government, and to reinstate the Whig party in power, the income tax would not be extended to Ireland. I have the most distinct recollection of those words having been used.


I am sure every hon. Member must feel with me the extreme inconvenience of having such lobby conversations made the subject of serious discussion in this House. I have a very clear recollection of all that passed at the meeting of Irish Members, to which so much reference has been made; and having taken rather a prominent part at that meeting, I shall at once clear up all mystery about it, by putting the House in possession of what actually did occur. That meeting was held on Friday, the 10th of last December; the day after the Irish Tenant Right Bill of Mr. Sharman Crawford had, along with other Irish Land Bills, been referred, with the consent of Lord Derby's Government, to a Select Committee. We, the Irish Liberal Members, had assembled, not secretly but in an open and straightforward manner, after the example of the Scotch representatives, and as it was our clear right and duty to do, in order to consider together the course that we ought conjointly to pursue for the benefit of our country. It was stated at that meeting by the hon. Member for Meath, that we had obtained from the Government of Lord Derby what we had never obtained from a Whig Government, namely, that Mr. Sharman Crawford's Bill should be referred to a Select Committee. That statement was evidently made with the view of inducing us to give our support to Lord Derby's Government, and this was the first open manifestation of an intention on the part of Irish Liberal Members to keep that Government in office. Many of us had already made up our minds to do our utmost to put out that Government; but there were others who spoke of giving it what they called "a fair trial." At the very moment we were deliberating at that meeting, Lord Derby was occupied in the House of Lords in making his celebrated declaration, that no matter what might be the report of the Select Committee, he should have nothing whatever to do with Sharman Crawford's Tenant Right Bill, but would repudiate it altogether. But we were not at the time aware of that declaration. Then it was suggested on the other hand, in order to influence us the other way, and induce us to vote against the Budget proposed by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), that he had introduced the small end of the wedge in his proposition to extend the income tax to Ireland. Some Gentlemen said, "What will the Whigs do if they come in?" Others said—"Let us go on a deputation to ascertain what they will do?" Then it was added by an hon. Member—"Oh, with regard to their intentions, we have it from a very active Member of the Whig party, that if they come into office, they will not impose an income tax on Ireland." I had not in any way interfered, or said one syllable, up to that moment. I immediately rose and said that the Irish Liberal Members represented a great portion of the nation, and that I, for one, would never consent to our placing ourselves in the ignominious position of going on a deputation to any Gentlemen not in office, for the mere purpose of ascertaining their personal intentions towards our country. I said further, that we were an important body, and that if those Gentlemen wanted us, and had anything good to offer us, in order to obtain our support, they knew very well where to find us; but that if they had nothing to offer, there was no use in our running after them. I added that there was nothing in what had recently occurred to encourage us to go on deputations to Gentlemen, whether in or out of office; for that a few days previously some Irish Members had taken it on themselves to go on a deputation to the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), for the purpose of ascertaining his intentions in regard to Mr. Sharman Crawford's Bill; but that right hon. Gentleman had refused even to receive them. And further, that on the previous day the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Serjeant Shee) had ineffectually sought an interview on the same subject with the Irish Attorney General for the late Government (Mr. Napier). Indeed, that hon. and learned Gentleman told us at our meeting, when expressing his perfect concurrence with my observations, that when he had asked the Attorney General of the late Government to come out of the House in order to talk over the subject, that right hon. and learned functionary, to use an expressive though not very classical phrase, had actually "snubbed" him on the occasion. That was precisely what occurred at our meeting in reference to this matter. It appeared to me that the sentiments which I had enunciated in regard to our not being influenced by any lobby conversations, and as to not lowering our position by voluntering to go on deputations, were assented to and adopted by the meeting. I am sure the hon. Member for Meath is correct in his present assertion, that his vote was influenced to some very slight and infinitesimal extent by the statement made to us as to the intentions of the Whig party, in respect to not enforcing an income tax on Ireland. I confess, however, that at that meeting it appeared to me, and others present, that the hon. Gentleman and some few who acted with him, were using every exertion in their power to induce us to come to a determination to retain the Tories in office. That was our very distinct impression from all that took place—[Mr. LUCAS gave marks of dissent]—although it was not, perhaps, the real intention of the hon. Gentleman, and, of course, if he now denies it, he must be the better judge of what may have been passing in his own mind, but I could only form an opinion from his acts and statements. I must now conclude, as I commenced, by protesting against the inconvenience of making these lobby arrangements or conversations the subject of serious debate in this House. I have never been a party to any such proceedings. To illustrate the inconvenience of attaching any weight to matters of that nature, I shall mention a circumstance which took place within the last few days, when some Irish Members were still in the balance as to the way they should vote on the very difficult question proposed for our consideration by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, namely, the extension of the income tax to Ireland, coupled with a remission of the consolidated annuities. It was stated publicly in an adjoining apartment—the dining room of this House—by the hon. Member for the King's County (Mr. P. O'Brien), that his individual vote upon the question would be influenced by a conversation he had held with the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. G. II. Moore), who assured him that if the Tories were to come back into office, we should have a total remission of the consolidated annuities, without the imposition of any income tax; and, further, that the spirit duty question should be settled in the manner originally proposed by the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, without the imposition of any additional duty upon Irish spirits. Now, I want to know whether, if the hon. Gentlemen opposite were restored to office, they would for one instant hold themselves bound to carry out the promises conveyed in that lobby. conversation? Of course, it had no influence whatever upon my mind; but the hon. Member for the King' County stated publicly to many of us, that it would induce him to give his vote against the present Budget, and his vote was afterwards given accordingly. That hon. Member at the time mentioned that he would state the whole matter to this House, and I believe that (luring the discussion on the Budget he rose more than once for the purpose. I informed him that if he did not find an opportunity to state the circumstances himself, it was probable I should do so. I mention them now in order to illustrate the absurdity of being influenced by such unauthorised statements made in the lobby of this House by Gentlemen not in office. For my own part, I have no hesitation in repeating what I declared at the meeting of the Irish Members, that the course which I took at that period to aid in putting the Tory Government out of office, was not in the remotest degree influenced by any conversations which may have been held between Irish Members and persons supposed to represent the Whig party. Neither have any lobby conversations influenced my vote upon the present Budget. I regret exceedingly that an income tax is to be imposed upon Ireland, and hope it may be introduced in the most modified form possible.


Sir, whether the practice of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down corresponds with his professions—whether or not he has introduced the authority of lobby conversations—whether this discussion has been raised on sufficient grounds—whether it is calculated to elevate this House in the public estimation—whether representative institutions though out Europe may not be prejudiced by the manner in which this first of all representative assemblies has latterly permitted its proceedings to be interrupted, it is not for me to determine. But I do hope that the good sense and good feeling of the House, looking to the mass of public business that is, before us, will consider that sufficient space has been allowed to hon. Gentlemen to sot themselves right in the judgments of each other out of the House, and that we may at last be permitted to resume the business for which we were sent here. I do not allude to any particular Members—I cautiously abstain from saying any one word that can give offence to hon. Gentlemen on either side; but I do respectfully submit to them that we have had enough, and perhaps more than enough, of this discussion: and when you, Sir, called the Serjeant at Arms to introduce the Messenger from the House of Lords, I must say that I had hoped that proceeding would have interrupted the conversation, and would have induced hon. Gentlemen to think that its continuation was unnecessary.