§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. LOWE be a Member of the Select Committee on Local Charges upon Shipping."675
§ MR. VINCENT SCULLY
objected to the appointment of the right hon. Gentleman, with the view of calling attention to the habitual exclusion of Members for Irish constituencies from public positions calculated to give them their due weight in the House, and enable them to protect the local interests of Ireland. This was not the first time that he had been obliged, from a sense of duty, to complain of the exclusion of Irish Members from important Parliamentary Committees, and other public positions, both in and out of the House. He did not assert that his countrymen had been, made the objects of intentional slight in the present instance, but it was curious that so many similar oversights of them had already occurred accidentally on purpose. The proposed exclusion of all Members for Irish constituencies from this important Committee was perhaps another of those premeditated accidents to which he had directed attention on former occasions. In the course of last Session, the Solicitor General for England had proposed to constitute his Select Committee upon the Leases and Sales of Settled Estates Bill exclusively of English Members; but upon his attention having been called, by a Motion similar to the present, to the fact that the measure embraced Ireland as well as England—a circumstance of which he did not seem to have been aware—he most properly yielded at once, and added five Irish representatives to the eight or nine English Members whom he had previously proposed to nominate. Therefore, he (Mr. Scully) did not then call further attention to the general subject, but on the last day of the Session gave notice that early in the present Session he would move a substantive Motion regarding it. It was now with much reluctance he availed himself of the present opportunity to raise a discussion. Here was a proposition to nominate a Select Committee to consider the Local Charges upon Shipping, and, although among the fifteen names on the list he observed those of some Scotch Members, he could not discover the name of a single Gentleman who represented any of the ports of Ireland. One would really suppose, on reading the names of this model Committee, that the Vice President of the Board of Trade was ignorant of the geographical position of Ireland. Did the right hon. Gentleman imagine that it was some province in the centre of India, or that the people were a species of Australian 676 kangaroos? Not many weeks ago there was an announcement in the newspapers—the right hon. Gentleman could inform the House whether it was correct or not—that he was on a visit at Newtown Anner, near Clonmel, the seat of his Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty; and, unless he had dropped down upon that hospitable mansion from the clouds, he must have entered Ireland by one of its numerous ports. At all events, his Friend the Secretary could have informed him that Ireland possessed some of the most noble harbours in the world, presenting a remarkable contrast to the famous borough of Kidderminster, which, perhaps, could boast of nothing finer than the wretched river Stour, or some miserable canal bearing a bumboat on its slimy and sluggish bosom. The county Cork, which he represented, contained at least half a dozen seaports, each of which would bear a favourable comparison with the inland port of Kidderminster. The proposal to exclude Irish Members from the Committee on the Local Charges upon Shipping was one of the most impudent—he used the word in a Parliamentary sense—ever submitted to that House; but similar propositions had been made before, and it would be unfair to blame the Vice President of the Board of Trade more than his colleagues. That very evening a Cabinet Minister—the Home Secretary—had nominated a Select Committee on transportation, on which there was only one Irish Member—namely, his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick City (Serjeant O'Brien), who, perhaps, in the present relative condition of crime in Ireland, sufficiently represented the proportion of persons liable to be banished from that country. With regard to the Committee now under consideration, the right hon. Member could offer no excuse for the exclusion of the representatives of Irish constituencies, except to say he had quite forgotten them, and so add insult to injury. That right hon. Gentleman would not venture to assert that it was impossible to find among the Irish Members on either side of the House any Gentlemen who, from their mercantile knowledge and their acquaintance with shipping, could render valuable assistance to the Committee. What objection could he have to the two Members for Cork (Mr. Fagan and Mr. Beamish), a city which possessed the finest harbour in the three kingdoms—both persons of great mercantile experience, and in every 677 respect qualified to take part in such an inquiry? The same observation applied to one of the Members for Limerick (Mr. Russell), who had an extensive acquaintance with commerce; and to the Member for Newry (Mr. Kirk), who was well known to be a shrewd, hard-headed Gentleman. On the opposite side of the House were the Members for Waterford, Drogheda, and Dublin (Mr. Meagher, Mr. M'Cann, and Mr. Vance), than whom it would be difficult to select Gentlemen better fitted to represent Irish interests in such a Committee, or more entitled to express an opinion on any question affecting the commerce of the country. Irish Members were sometimes put upon irksome Committees upon which English Members were unwilling to act, and then, when they complained, they were reminded of the story of the drummer, and were told that "hit high or hit low" they were never satisfied. He presumed this was a specimen of low hitting. He was quite sure he could supply a better Committee from the Irish Members alone; but suppose—if it were possible to suppose such a contingency—that an Irishman occupied the position held by the hon. Member for Kidderminster, and proposed to the House to appoint a Committee consisting exclusively of Irish Members, how great would be the outcry raised against such a proceeding. He did not confine his complaint, as to the habitual exclusion of Irishmen to mere Parliamentary Committees, which, after all, were not so important as other public positions, such as Cabinet offices, to which they were seldom or never admitted. He now distinctly challenged the right hon. Member to justify or excuse the course he had taken in proposing to exclude all Irish Members from this Committee.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he could assure the hon. and learned Gentleman and the House that the Government fully recognised the insular position of Ireland, and did not deny the existence on its coast of numerous ports and harbours which had important interests that deserved the consideration of the House. He could also assure the hon. Gentleman that there was on the part of the Government no disposition to treat the Irish Members with any want of consideration or respect. The hon. and learned Member was doubtless aware that Ireland, although indirectly interested in this inquiry, had directly but an extremely limited 678 pecuniary interest in its result. Offers had, however, been made to two Irish Members, the hon. Members for Belfast and Kerry, but they had both declined to sit on the Committee. The hon. and learned Gentleman had complained that on the Transportation Committee there was but one Irish Member. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) might remind the hon. and learned Gentleman and the House that upon that Committee were Mr. Serjeant O'Brien and Mr. J. Greene, and also Mr. Seymour Fitzgerald, who, although he did not represent an Irish constituency, was connected with Ireland by property. It seemed to him, therefore, that on that Committee Ireland was very fairly represented. He thought that Gentlemen on both sides of the House would agree with him that no discussions were less agreeable than debates as to the comparative merits of different Members of that House; and he should, therefore, propose, in regard to this Committee, that the number of Members should be increased from fifteen to seventeen, and that the names of the hon. Members for the city of Dublin and for Newry should be added to those which had been already proposed.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he was very sorry that the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. V. Scully) should have revived a feeling in regard to the position of Irish Members of that House which he had hoped had been extinct. He was quite sure that in this instance there had, on the part of the Government, been no intention to treat them with any want of respect; and, having had some knowledge of the original scheme of the Committee, he could bear testimony to the truth of the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the claims of Ireland were recognised by the offers made to two distinguished Members of the House. He was aware that the hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Mr. Cairns) had been invited to become a Member of it. He much regretted that the hon. and learned Gentleman did not find it consistent with his other engagements to accept the invitation. He would not oppose the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to increase the Committee, as it was made in a conciliatory spirit to obviate any objection, but he thought a Committee of seventeen Members was too numerous. It would be better, in his opinion, to diminish rather than to increase the number. He would not have felt it 679 his duty to take any part in the discussion, but for the extraordinary character of the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Cork, who had most unnecessarily sought to revive a feeling which he hoped had long since died away in the House. Even if there was any foundation in fact for his statements, the hon. and learned Gentleman ought to have refrained, but they were not founded on fact. He (Mr. Disraeli) denied that Irishmen, or Members for Irish constituencies, were habitually and systematically prevented from obtaining high places in the administration of the affairs of this country, or were excluded from enjoying the favour of the Sovereign or the sympathy of Her subjects. They were not the class of men least fortunate in that respect. On the contrary, he believed he could show that Irishmen had been of late years, peculiarly fortunate—more so than Englishmen—in attaining eminent positions in the State. Nothing could be more unfortunate than the attack made by the hon. and learned Gentleman, more especially with reference to the particular office held by the right hon. Gentleman whose name stood first on the list of the Committee. The hon. and learned Gentleman had sneered at the idea of an Irishman holding that office. When he (Mr. Disraeli) entered Parliament, that office was held by an Irishman. The then Vice President of the Board of Trade was Mr. Sheil, an Irishman, a brilliant orator, and an eminent professor of those extreme opinions which the hon. and learned Gentleman had not yet entirely repudiated. It was much to be regretted that, after such a long interval, any Member representing an Irish constituency should take such an opportunity of embittering the feelings of the House and country on the plea that the position of Irishmen was not properly recognised, and that they had not opportunities of gaining the position which was the ambition of all Her Majesty's subjects. The hon. and learned Gentleman had fixed on the office of the Vice Presidency of the Board of Trade, but many could recollect when it was filled by an Irishman, which was a sufficient answer to the allegation of the hon. and learned Gentleman. All must regret that the hon. and learned Gentleman should have unnecessarily revived a source of bitter feeling, but it was clear that nothing could be more unfortunate for him than the instance he had Drought forward to illustrate his position.
§ MR. WATSON
said, he was quite of opinion that Ireland ought to be represented in the Committee; but he had great objections to its constitution and its appointment. Looking at its objects, the number of fifteen, as originally intended, was, in his opinion, too large, and it was now to be augmented to seventeen. What would be the subjects of its inquiries? The title of different corporations to their dues upon shipping. There would be serious questions of law whether there could be property in those dues—which the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Board of Trade denied; and whether the corporations in question had such property; and, if so, whether it could be confiscated without compensation. Those were grave questions, and they were to be considered by a purely partisan Committee. It was extraordinary that not a single impartial or unpledged Member was to be appointed upon it. There were not less than five Gentlemen now, or lately, Presidents or Vice Presidents of the Board of Trade to be upon it. Then there were two lawyers and several Members for mercantile towns known to entertain particular opinions upon the subject one way, and others known to have opposite opinions upon it. All were biassed and interested one way or the other, and what effect could the Report of a Committee have consisting of seventeen partisans—nine one way and eight the other? There was not a single unpledged vote on the Committee, and he would undertake to write their Report beforehand, and to point out how each Member would vote on every question which might arise. The Report of such a Committee would have no possible effect with the country or with the House, and even for the collection of evidence it was completely valueless. He would suggest that a Committee of seven should be nominated impartially from both sides of the House, and that there should be, as in the old Election Committees, two nominees—one for the Board of Trade, and one to represent the great commercial ports. That would be a judicial body, and its opinion would command universal respect. The subject had become of much greater importance than it was at the commencement of the Session, when the Government Bill was introduced. There were few corporations in the country which did not possess tolls of some sort or other, and they were all alarmed at the commencement of a system of confiscation the end of which they 681 could not foresee. The idea which seemed to have been taken up by the Board of Trade upon the subject rendered this alarm very natural, and it would be unwise to appoint a Committee whose Report could have no weight with the country.
§ MR. F. SCOTT
said, he would mention, as an illustration of the manner in which Committees were nominated, that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had recently placed his (Mr. Scott's) name on a Committee after he had distinctly assured the right hon. Gentleman that he should not serve on it.
§ MR. JOHN MACGREGOR
said, he regretted that the Bill which had been introduced had been so suddenly thrown up. When he was at the Board of Trade, no Bill was ever prepared by that Board that did not pass. He did not say that because he was the author of the Bills. He thought that, as a general rule, Irish Members, when placed in positions in which they could be of use, performed their duties remarkably well; he considered that the case of Mr. Sheil was rather an unfortunate illustration, as that gentleman, although of great ability and of great oratorical power, himself admitted that when at the Board of Trade he always felt miserable, and, in fact, never signed his name to a single Bill. He would recommend the Government to abandon the Committee, and form one in which the seaports were fairly represented. As to the Bill itself, which was to form the subject of inquiry, it was an attempt at confiscation, unprecedented by anything but the spoliation of the monasteries by Henry VIII.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he could not understand what the hon. Member meant by confiscation, when the legality of those local charges was denied. But he wanted to know how it happened that of the seventeen Members to be placed on the Committee, there was only one who had any connection either with South Lancashire or the manufacturing towns of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Those were the places that paid the bulk of those local charges; and yet, with the single exception he had referred to, there was not one of them represented in the Committee. On the other hand, the parties interested in continuing the tax were amply represented, and he asked whether that was fair; but, whether it was or not, it was quite sufficient to silence those who said 682 the Committee would be inimical to the interest of the seaport towns.
SIR FRANCIS BARING
said, he thought that the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) was quite desirous to do justice in the appointment of the Committee; but, at the same time, it was perfectly clear that there was a decided majority in favour of the Bill upon any question that might arise. He also agreed that it would be better to withdraw the Committee and appoint a new one. He was glad, however, that the discussion had been taken upon the first name, which was that of the Vice President of the Board of Trade, because no one in the House could object to his sitting on the Committee, and therefore everything like personality was avoided. The right hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Cardwell) was the author of the original Committee, and might be said to have laid the egg—the right hon. Member the President of the Poor Law Board (Mr. Bouverie) was the hen who brooded over it, while the right hon. Gentleman the present Vice President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Lowe) might be said to have hatched it. All three Gentlemen were Members of the Committee. He thought a proper constitution of the Committee would be to take Members from either side of the House, who would be in a position to act fairly between all parties interested. He hoped the noble Lord at the head of the Government would consider the matter, so that a Committee might be appointed which would fairly represent the interests of all parties, and be in a position to make a Report satisfactory both to that House and to the country at large.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, that from what had just fallen from his right hon. Friend, there seemed to be a misconception of the objects and nature of the Committee to be appointed. His right hon. Friend talked of this being a judicial Committee; but he (Lord Palmerston) never understood that to that Committee was to be referred the question of deciding whether the measure which had been proposed on shipping dues was or was not to be adopted by the House. The history of the matter was this:—When the Bill came on to be discussed, different Members got up and stated cases of hardship with respect to particular localities, which they said had not been sufficiently understood by the House or explained to the Commission; and what was proposed was, that whereas it was impossible to enter into 683 those details in debate in the House, a Committee should be appointed, not for the purpose of suggesting to the House whether or not the measure should be carried into law, but of inquiring into the circumstances of those particular towns, of reporting the facts, and thereby enabling the House to judge afterwards more accurately as to the merits of the measure proposed. For that purpose, he thought that the Committee, as now constituted, was well adapted to perform its duties. Undoubtedly that which had passed that evening showed that it was not a very easy or light matter to satisfy the House in regard to the appointment of Committees, because the number of conflicting recommendations rendered it impossible to satisfy everybody. The right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) laid down the rule, which was a very sound one, that a numerous Committee was not a good instrument to perform the duties assigned to it. The right hon. Member said that, generally speaking, fifteen Members on a Committee were better than a larger number, but on the present occasion, he (Viscount Palmerston) thought that his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer had shown good grounds for extending the number to seventeen. Well, one hon. Member said that a greater number of lawyers should be added to the Committee; another that there should be an infusion of Irish Members; and another maintained that there was not a sufficient number of Members representing manufacturing districts on the Committee. Now, if all those various demands were to be satisfied, the Committee must be increased to twice or three times the number of seventeen Members. The hon. and learned Member for Hull (Mr. Watson) complained that the Committee was improperly constituted, inasmuch as it contained partisans on one and on the other side of the question. With all deference to the hon. and learned Member, that was precisely the sort of Committee fitted to perform efficiently the duties for which it was appointed, by accurately examining and probing to the bottom the case brought before it by collecting in their Report a mass of evidence which would enable the House to judge properly with regard to the question. Therefore he strongly recommended the House to adopt the Committee as now proposed with the augmentation recommended by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and he 684 thought that it would be found that the Committee so constituted would be an efficient instrument for procuring the desired evidence, and laying before the House, not opinions to guide its decision, but information as to facts to enable the House to form its own judgment on a matter of great importance and interest.
§ LORD HOTHAM
said, he fully concurred in every word which had fallen from the hon. and learned Member for Hull (Mr. Watson) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring); but, on the other hand, he could not find words to express his surprise at the doctrine just laid down by the noble Lord at the head of the Government. He (Lord Hotham) had sat in the House of Commons for a number of years, and he believed the noble Lord had been a Member of it for nearly half a century; but he ventured to say that, until that evening, a Minister of the Crown had never recommended the appointment of a partisan Committee. A Committee constituted as the noble Lord suggested ought not to be authorised to send for "persons, papers, and records," but, prohibited from sending for anything, should be required to Report "forthwith." The Committee, as at present constituted, would be as well able to report in forty-eight hours as if they sat for three years. His own name had been placed on the Committee, he presumed, because the locality with which he was connected was likely to be affected by the Bill. Thus circumstanced he had no alternative but to serve, and do his duty to the best of his ability. But were his situation different, no consideration on earth should induce him to serve; for a Committee so constituted to inquire was a perfect absurdity; and, if such a tribunal was to be described, it could only be described in the language of the late Lord Denman as "a mockery, a delusion, and a snare."
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, that when there were great complaints about the composition of a Committee from both sides and different sections of the House, that was rather a proof to him that the Committee was probably a fair one, nobody being satisfied that he would have entirely his own way in it. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) was not satisfied, neither were the hon. Members for the seaport towns. He, for one, must express some dissatisfaction himself that the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Lindsay), 685 who had paid great attention to this question, was not placed on the Committee; but he wanted to know on what it was assumed that the Gentlemen named would keep their minds impervious to all the evidence produced before them, and would insist on reporting according to certain preconceived opinions? He believed that if a number of Gentlemen assembled in a Committee room they would not make Reports in direct opposition to the evidence brought before them; and he also thought that one active Member in the Committee was as capable of eliciting all the necessary information on any public question as half a dozen. The Committee would have to inquire into a great number of different cases, resting on totally different grounds, and he did not believe that it could be predicted which way the Members would vote on any one particular case. He was of opinion that the proposed Committee was as fair a one as could be appointed, though he regretted the absence from it of the hon. Member for Tynemouth. After all, the House would be guided by the evidence; and if it found that the Report of the Committee was not justified by the evidence, the House would not be guided by the Report. He therefore hoped that the noble Lord at the head of the Government would stand by the proposed Committee.
§ MR. VANCE
said, he could assure the noble Lord at the head of the Government that there were several ports in Ireland that paid local dues. He rose, however, principally to say that having been proposed as a Member of the Committee he should accept the nomination under the peculiar circumstances, though at a considerable personal sacrifice and detriment to his avocations. But he had an objection to make to the appointment of the hon. Member for Newry (Mr. Kirk). He was quite willing to testify to the general intelligence of the hon. Member; still he was already acting upon two other Committees, and therefore it was impossible to expect he could adequately discharge his duty upon a third. He thought that one of the Members for the City of Cork, or the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire), who took a great interest in everything that concerned that city, might with advantage be substituted for the hon. Gentleman the Member for Newry.
§ MR. HORSFALL
said, he could not at all agree with the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) that, because a general feeling of dissatisfaction was 686 expressed against the constitution of a Committee, therefore it was likely to prove an efficient and impartial one. He certainly should have rejoiced if the noble Lord at the head of the Government had answered the appeal made to him by consenting to reconsider the constitution of the Committee. He (Mr. Horsfall) represented a large constituency, that was more deeply interested in the question than any other constituency in the kingdom. On that account he was most anxious that the Committee should be fairly constituted, and although the noble Lord had told them that there would be nothing of a judicial character attaching to the Committee, nevertheless it must make a Report to the House, with a view of enabling it to form a judgment, and in that sense the Committee must be considered a judicial one. He was very unwilling to submit an Amendment upon the Motion before them, but unless the noble Lord would consent to postpone the nomination of the Committee for a week, with a view to its reconstruction, he should move the adjournment of the debate until that day week.
§ MR. FRANCIS SCULLY
seconded the Amendment, upon the grounds that no Irishman had been named on the Committee, and the Report of such a Committee could not recommend itself to the confidence of the House or the country. Indeed, several hon. Gentlemen nominated on the Committee had been heard to declare that they could have no confidence in its Report—an announcement on the part of Members so placed which, within his (Mr. F. Scully's) experience, he must declare to be perfectly unparalleled. He thought, therefore, it would be impolitic on the part of the Government to persevere with the Committee as at present constituted. He thought it would have been more becoming in the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, if he had abstained from indulging in his sarcastic remarks upon the observations of his hon. Friend the Member for Cork. He could tell the right hon. Gentleman that Ireland was very much interested in this question. There were very large mercantile and manufacturing interests in that country which were wholly un represented on this Committee; interests which his hon. Friend (Mr. V. Scully) might well be justified in defending. It also appeared that no manufacturer was put on this Committee, a very important fact, when it was considered 687 that the Bill in question affected their interests so deeply. He felt that this Committee ought to be composed of Members fairly representing the great manufacturing and commercial interests of the United Kingdom, and that Ireland should have its proper representation upon it. Allusion had been made by the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. MacGregor) to a relation of his, the late Mr. Sheil—though in very creditable terms. Now, it appeared from the statement of the hon. Member for Glasgow, who was in office along with Mr. Sheil, that while Mr. Sheil was Vice President of the Board of Trade he never signed his name to an official document, or had it in his power to do any act beneficial to the country. This he (Mr. Scully) considered a most important circumstance, and a great loss that such abilities as he was acknowledged to possess should have been thrown away in so subordinate a position. He could only say that had Mr. Sheil not been an Irishman and a Roman Catholic he firmly believed that his talents would have raised him to the position of Cabinet Minister. With these few observations he begged to second the Amendment.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he thought that there were no discussions of a more disagreeable character than those which encouraged the canvassing of the names of particular Members of that House, and treating their peculiar fitness for a particular purpose. If, however, anything could add to the disagreeability, it was the introduction of extraneous topics not of the most conciliatory kind. He should endeavour to confine himself to the question exactly before the House—namely, the composition of the Committee. The noble Lord the Member for the East Riding (Lord Hotham) stated, in reference to what fell from the First Minister of the Crown, that it was the first time he had ever heard of the advantage of constituting a "partisan Committee" of the House of Commons. Now what he (Mr. Labouchere) understood by a "partisan Committee" was a Committee whose Members were all on one side. He would admit that a Committee so constituted would be constituted upon erroneous principles; and he should be surprised if any one with even much less experience than that of his noble Friend should proceed upon such a principle. But the accusation heard on all sides in the course of the evening had 688 been, not that the opinions of the Committee were one-sided, but that it contained Members holding the most opposite opinions. What his noble Friend had really said was, that there was a positive advantage in constituting the Committee of such diversified elements. And when the noble Lord opposite told them that the Committee did not contain a single Member who was not thoroughly pledged to a particular view of the question, and was unable to exercise an independent judgment, he (Mr. Labouchere) must beg entirely to differ from that description of the Committee. In the first place, it should be observed that the Committee was composed of Members of great weight and character, and was emphatically what, in the language of the House, was termed a "strong Committee;" and he thought the Members of it were extremely unlikely to sacrifice their character and intelligence by subscribing to a merely partisan Report. Besides, there were many Gentlemen on the Committee who had never expressed an opinion upon the subject; indeed, he was not aware what were the opinions of certain among them. The noble Lord himself (Lord Hotham), for instance, representing as he did partly a mercantile and partly a consuming constituency, could not be considered to be in a state of mind that would prevent his exercising an unbiassed judgment when he came to report upon the subject; and what he said of him might be said also of other hon. Members. He, therefore, thought that no case had been made out for constituting the Committee upon a different principle from that followed by his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Board of Trade, who, to his knowledge, had done all in his power to form a fair and impartial Committee. Reference had been made in the course of the discussion to a friend of his, now no more, who, while he lived, was a great ornament to that House and the country—he meant the late Mr. Sheil. It had been stated that Mr. Sheil, having been placed at the Board of Trade, was thus entirely thrown away, as not possessing those qualifications that would have enabled him usefully to have served the Crown and the public in that department. Now, he would not pretend to say that a gentleman of the brilliant abilities of Mr. Sheil might not have been placed in a situation more befitting his capacity than a subordinate office at the Board of Trade; and no doubt, if his valuable life had 689 been spared, he would infallibly have arrived at such a situation. Still, Laving been his colleague at the Board of Trade for several years, he begged to say that upon all occasions he had found him most anxious to render service to the public, and that while connected with the department he did render most useful service. With regard to his not having signed papers, the Vice President of the Board of Trade, especially when the President had a seat in that House, was never called upon to sign papers. He believed it was a very common mistake to imagine that the brilliant and rare gifts of genius were inconsistent with practical industry in the public service. Nor could he forbear from offering as a testimony to the memory of his deceased friend that he had throughout their intercourse invariably found Mr. Sheil's judgment as sound, and his desire for the public service as great, as that of any man he had ever met.
said, he would only say, as a Member of the Committee, that he was entirely unpledged one way or the other. The town of Dundee, which he had the honour to represent, was interested in the question to the extent of £800 a year, and he should not attempt to deny that he would endeavour to get the town compensated for the loss with which it was threatened. At the same time he could pledge himself to act impartially upon the Committee.
§ SIR WILLIAM JOLLIFFE
said, he wished to correct a mistake into which the hon. Member for the county Tipperary (Mr. F. Scully) had fallen, relative to a supposed slur cast upon the hon. and learned Member for the county Cork (Mr. V. Scully) by his right hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli). All that his right hon. Friend had done was to accuse the hon. and learned Gentleman of a want of memory, and to correct a mistake, appearing throughout the greater part of his speech, in declaring the difficulty in the way of Irish Members rising above the gangway. There was very little in the argument, but the right hon. Gentleman had met it by citing the case of Mr. Shell. Constituted as it was, he thought the Committee must be a failure. He himself had done his best by a reference to both sides of the House to assist the Government in the formation of as strong a Committee as possible. He had, however, been overcome by insurmountable difficulties, as several Gentlemen 690 best qualified to act on the Committee were prevented from doing so through other engagements. He thought the best thing that could be done under the circumstances was to postpone the nomination for a week, leaving the question to be decided either by the Committee of Selection or according to the manner that would most satisfy the House.
§ MR. BASS
said, he must also confess that he was not at all satisfied with the Committee. There were four Gentlemen representing seaport towns upon it, every one of whom was ready to declare that the object of the Bill introduced by the Vice President of the Board of Trade was to perpetrate a robbery on those towns; while, on the opposite side, there were six or seven other Gentlemen ready to declare with equal pertinacity that to leave the law as it was, involved the robbery of their constituents.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he thought the House was prepared to come to a decision, and that nothing would be gained by an adjournment. The Committee was not a Committee to judge the question, but to obtain information, and to report that information to the House.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 67; Noes 108: Majority 41.
§ Question, "That Mr. LOWE be a Member of the Select Committee on Local Charges upon Shipping," put, and agreed to.
§ Upon the Question that Mr. HARDY be a Member of the Committee,
§ MR. VINCENT SCULLY
said, he thought it would be better to substitute for Mr. Hardy the name of some mercantile Member representing one of the seaports in the south of Ireland. He had not the pleasure of knowing that Gentleman, but believed he was of the legal profession, and quite inexperienced in Parliamentary matters, having only been elected a Member of that House during the last month. Two Irish representatives out of seventeen did not form a fair proportion, and the Members for Dublin and Newry (Mr. Vance and Mr. Kirk), should they be added by Government, would still leave the whole south and west of Ireland unrepresented on the Committee. He considered there should be at least three or four Irish Members on it; but presumed that, after the declarations made by the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), 691 expressing his dissatisfaction with Government for having consented to add even two Irish Members, it would be vain now to urge that a third should be inserted. With reference to the right hon. Gentleman's observations, that he had indulged in bitter remarks, he begged to deny the imputation, and to state that neither on that nor any other occasion had he used a vituperative or bitter style in addressing an assembly of gentlemen. As a general imputation, it was more applicable to the right, hon. Member himself. As to the late Mr. Sheil, it was well known that but for his country and creed he would have occupied the position which his eminent talents fully entitled him to hold, that of a Cabinet Minister, instead of the inferior post of Vice President of the Board of Trade, with the "padlock on his lips," which he had often complained of. He presumed this padlock had descended to his present successor in that office, from the obstinate silence maintained that evening by the right hon. Gentleman, though repeatedly challenged to defend or excuse his conduct.
§ MR. R. PHILLIMORE
hoped the Government would not withdraw the name of Mr. Hardy, who, though a young Member, displayed considerable ability, and entered the House with a reputation which he bade fair to maintain.
§ MR. VINCENT SCULLY
said, that on account of the character given of the hon. Member he would withdraw his objection, especially as he saw no prospect of adding another Irish Member to the proposed Committee.
§ Mr. HARDY, Mr. MILNER GIBSON, Mr. HORSFALL, Mr. FENWICK, Sir STAFFORD NORTHCOTE, Mr. COBDEN, Mr. WATSON, Mr. BOUVERIE, Mr. HEADLAM, Mr. CARDWELL, Sir JOHN DUCKWORTH, Mr. DUNCAN, Lord HOTHAM, and Mr. MOFFATT, nominated other Members of the said Committee:—Power to send for persons, papers, and records; Five to be the quorum.