MR. C. W. MARTYN
Sir, in rising to move an Address in answer to Her Majesty's most gracious Speech, I feel that although I have been for some years a Member of this House, I have nevertheless been so little in the habit of addressing it that I need almost as great a measure of its indulgence as those who address it for the first time. We have been told in general terms by Her Majesty, in the Speech which has been just read from the chair, the reason that Parliament 87 has been assembled at an unusual period of the year,—that distrust of the most aggravated character has arisen in a large portion of the mercantile community, and that but for the measures that Her Majesty's Ministers have thought it right to adopt wide-spread disasters would, in their opinion, have ensued. We have also been informed in the Speech from the Throne, that it is the intention of the Government to submit an Act of indemnity for themselves for having recommended that the law should be violated, and to the Directors of the Bank of England for having violated the law. I believe it will be found that in strictness the Act of indemnity need only apply to those who have been guilty of a violation of the law—viz., the Directors of the Bank of England; but Her Majesty's Ministers have felt that as they have authorised the act of the Directors they ought in candour to bear the consequences of their advice, and to submit themselves, as well as the Directors of the Bank, as it were to a trial before Parliament and the country. I think that in so doing they have taken a wise and manly course, and that no Minister of this country will ever have to regret the error, if so it can be called, of being over-scrupulous in observing the forms of the constitution of this country, and guarding against the slightest appearance of having violated it without adequate cause. It is well known to those whom I am addressing that the particular law which has been violated is the Act of 1844, introduced by the late Sir Robert Peel for the regulation of the currency of this country. The main object of that law was to put the currency on a sound basis, so as to insure the convertibility at all times of the notes of the Bank of England into the coin which they promise to pay. It had a further object, namely, to assimilate, as far as possible, the action of a joint currency of gold and paper to that of a currency of gold alone. These two objects have been accomplished by restricting the issues of the Bank on credit to £14,500,000 which sum has been selected because it very nearly represents the minimum amount of notes that ever remained in circulation after a call had arisen for gold. It was therefore presumed that at no future time would it be possible, or at all events likely, that gold would be demanded for that amount of notes. The remainder of the note circulation of the Bank was only to be issued in exchange for bullion actually lodged and bonâ fide deposited in the 88 coffers of the Bank, and it was therefore concluded that the ebbing and flowing of the notes which represented that bullion would be such as would occur if there was nothing but bullion, and no issue of notes in excess of the £14,500,000 had at all existed. The system has been in action for some years, and seems to have operated in such a manner as to give very general satisfaction to the mercantile world. It is true that there are some eminent dissentients from the policy of the Act, but when we look to the evidence which has recently been given before the Select Committee of this House by my hem. Friend the Member for Southampton (Mr. Weguelin), by Mr. Norman, and by Mr. Hubbard, who represented that the Act commanded the cordial concurrence of the Directors of the Bank of England as a body, and when, added to their evidence, we have the testimony of so able a financier and distinguished an authority as Lord Overstone I am, I think, justified in saying that, in its main provisions and practical working, the Act has been satisfactory to the most eminent and leading members of the mercantile community. Nevertheless it is true that in the course of its career the operation of the Act has twice been suspended. The first suspension took place in 1847. It appears that previous to that time there had been a considerable amount of speculation. There had also been a considerable investment of the capital of the country in railway undertakings, and, in addition to those two causes, which were very powerful in themselves in relation to the reserve of the Bank, came the failure of our own harvest and the failure of the Irish potato crop, which necessitated the importation of food for the use of the population, requiring no less a sum of money than £33,000,000 to pay for it. Even those enormous drains would, in all human probability, have been surmounted if, concurrently with them, a panic had not arisen in the money-market. The panic in the money-market in 1847 appears capable of being assigned to the fact that the mercantile community were not aware of the usual action of the reserve of the Bank—that they did not perceive that it was reduced to an unusually low point by the payment of the dividends, and that just before the famous letter of 1847 was issued a turn had taken place, and that the funds of the Bank had again begun to accumulate. Whatever might be the truth in that particular—and such was the view main- 89 tained by Mr. Hubbard—it was certain that the very issue of the celebrated letter of the Government in 1847 allayed the panic. Although the Government of that day, as the Government of this day, authorised the Bank Directors to exceed the limits imposed on them by Act of Parliament, and to make such further issues as they might think necessary on securities as well as bullion, not a single note in excess of the amount allowed by the Act of 1844 was issued in 1847, and, if I may use the expression, the money-market righted itself by its own inherent elasticity. What was done at that time had the cordial concurrence of the late Sir Robert Peel, the author of the principles embodied in the Act of 1844. Although not usually supporting the Government then in power, Sir Robert Peel very honourably rose in his place in Parliament and gave his complete sanction to the course which had been taken, saying that panic was not to be legislated for or reasoned with, but met from time to time by special and exceptional means, and that he thought the Government justified in the precise means which they had adopted on that occasion to relieve the pressure. From 1847 to the present time, notwithstanding that the war with Russia entailed a heavy cost on this country to maintain troops in the Crimea and required remittances of bullion to the extent of not less than sixty millions, the Act has been continued to be maintained, and no inconvenience has been felt by the country which is fairly traceable to its operation. But in the present year a state of things has occurred very similar to that which occurred in 1847. An enormous drain of bullion to the East Indies and China went on for months, and then came one of the greatest commercial disasters which had ever visited a commercial country, the crisis in the United States of America—a disaster so great that its effects are not limited to this country, but as I saw by the papers of that morning, are more severely felt in Hamburg than in London or Liverpool. The drain of 1857, also, would in all human probability have been surmounted without any violation of the law or abrogation for the time of the system of 1844, if it had not been that a panic among the mercantile community supervened; for, as I am informed upon the best authority, late in October the position of the Bank was satisfactory. There were then four millions of reserve 90 against three millions of deposits, and the exchanges had turned in favour of this country, when disasters began to occur in the north of England—first by the failure of the Liverpool Borough Bank, and then by the failure of Messrs. Dennistoun and Co. Those failures were followed by the failure of a large bank in Glasgow, not only having a large amount of deposits, but a right of issuing its own notes to the extent of no less than £500,000. Other failures of a similar character continued to occur to such an extent that mercantile confidence was shaken. Every bank, every discount house, and almost every trader, felt it necessary to strengthen their resources, and to put themselves in a safe position, by which means the immense amount of capital usually employed in the discount of mercantile bills was suddenly reduced to a most inconvenient extent, and a pressure occasioned unequalled perhaps in the history of the mercantile affairs of this country. When we reflect that the amount of the floating fund which is usually invested in discounts has been estimated at £200,000,000, and by more moderate calculations of those who place it at the lowest amount at £120,000,000 or £130,000,000, we shall at once perceive that a derangement or curtailment of that gigantic fund to the amount of five or ten per cent, would withdraw from the mercantile community capital equal to £6,000,000—more probably amounting to £12,000,000. The four millions of reserve which the Bank possessed against their deposits having been reduced to £2,000,000, and the mercantile pressure continuing to such a degree that the discount houses could not go on discounting without the assistance of the Bank; and the Bank being so exhausted it could no assist the discount houses, the Bank of England, I believe, applied to the Government, and under those aggravated circumstances Her Majesty's Ministers felt imperatively called on to sanction an infringement of the existing law. A letter was addressed to the Bank, authorising the issue of notes to such an amount as the Directors thought expedient on their general resources, and on securities, and without regard to the restriction as to the amount of bullion which the law required. Under that letter, an issue of notes immediately took place, amounting to £2,000,000, and the Bank discounts were augmented in one week by no less a sum than 91 £6,000,000. If we compare one crisis with the other, it will at once he manifest, that the crisis of 1857 was far superior in intensity to the crisis of 1847, and that if, in the estimation of all mercantile authorities, the Government of 1847 were justified in the course they took, à fortiori the Government of the noble Lord was justified in issuing the letter to which he has referred. I therefore feel no doubt that the Act of indemnity sought by the Government and the Bank will be cheerfully accorded and passed, without a division, by both Houses of Parliament. Her Majesty, in the next passage of the Speech, has called our attention to the distress which has been suffered and is still being suffered by a large portion of the labouring and industrial population of the country. Her Majesty has expressed her cordial sympathy with them, and I am sure the House will not be behindhand in testifying its concurrence with Her Majesty in that expression of her sympathy. We have often of late seen privations arising from similar causes, submitted to by the labouring classes, with a patience so exemplary as to excite the admiration of the community and even of the whole of Europe. I have no doubt that the same patience will be exhibited by them now. They seem conscious that relief can only come with the revival of mercantile prosperity and mercantile enterprise, and I also hope they are aware that, if anything can be done for their relief in the way of legislation, neither that nor the other House of Parliament will be remiss in supporting Her Majesty's Ministers in any proposal which may be made with that object. Our attention was next called to the topic of the late occurrences in India. Her Majesty has expressed her sympathy with those, alas! too numerous persons who had suffered bereavements by the recent calamitous events in that country, and I am here again certain that House would not be slow to testify their sympathy together with the sympathy of Her Majesty, for the victims of the Indian mutiny. This is no common disaster. It is painful enough when soldiers fall in battle, or relatives are removed by the ordinary operations of disease. But when we regard the aggravated circumstances under which our fellow-countrymen and fellow-countrywomen have come to their ends at the hands of miscreants, who, with a degree of cruelty unappreciable in its full atrocity, exhausted all the inventions of 92 malice to increase the sufferings of their victims by every form of bodily and mental torture, I think we have such an incentive as was never given by any former calamity, to join most heartily in the feelings, so graciously expressed by Her Majesty, of commiseration and sympathy. The next topic to which Her Majesty has directed the attention of Parliament—the successes of our troops in India—is of a more cheering character. If the unparalleled difficulties with which those troops have had to contend are taken into consideration—when we see a handful of men scattered over an immense territory, in a moment of fancied security, without warning or suspicion of what was going to happen, suddenly called upon to take up arms throughout the length and breadth of the land, against what appeared to be an overwhelming foe, and when we find those troops exhibiting the superiority and indomitable courage of the English race, and making head against the overpowering numbers of their enemies, I for one can set no bounds to the admiration with which this country ought to view the achievements of her victorious soldiers. I am sure there is no necessity for me to point out to this House the names of those who have, in leading those troops, deserved well of their country during this struggle. Nothing could be more admirable than the patient calmness with which Sir Archdale Wilson had maintained himself before Delhi—the besieged rather than the be-sieger—for so many long weeks, until he received reinforcements which, though slender in themselves, yet made success possible to a handful of daring and undaunted men. Nothing could be finer than his final assault, in which, after a loss almost unparalleled in the annals of warfare, he was ultimately successful in driving the enemy from their stronghold. Need I point to the gallantry with which, in another part of the country, Sir Henry Havelock, alternately advancing and retreating with daring only equalled by his judgment, until he had attained his desired object of throwing relief into beleaguered Lucknow, had gained unperishable laurels? Who has not admired the self-devotion and chivalrous feeling with which Sir James Outram, though the senior commanding officer, consented, or rather offered to accompany General Havelock in his civil capacity until he perfected this great achievement? The House does not need to be reminded of the per- 93 sonal acts of self-devotion of such men as Lieutenant Willoughby, Home, and Salkeld; or, coming to the humbler grades of the service, of Sergeants Carmichael and Smith; and of Corporal Burgess. The House will agree with Her Majesty, in admiration for the zeal and courage displayed by the Civil Service in India, by such men as the Lawrences and Colvil, whose names have already become household words among us, and by those who acted under their orders. There is nothing in history more touching than the story of Lieutenant Osborne, the political agent at Rewah, related in the papers of yesterday,—living in his tent alone 100 miles from any European, in such a state of illness from liver complaint that he was unable to he down on his bed, surrounded by mutineers who daily threatened to put him to death by torture, and nevertheless enabled, by his energy and the strength of civilized intellect acting on barbarians, to hold his own, defended alone by the threat—which he would undoubtedly have realized—to take six lives before his own, and in that position having still influence enough to induce those who had no communication with the mutineers to do his bidding and carry his messages so long as they were not prevented by physical force. The names of these men are received with a thrill of admiration and gratitude wherever they are heard throughout the country. This country has nothing to fear from any enemy so long as it can boast of heroes such as these, and I cannot better sum up my own feelings with regard to the great qualities which had been displayed by Englishmen in the East than by quoting the words used by the Roman poet in reference to his own countrymen:—Felix prole virum: qualis Berecynthia materInvehitur curru Phrygias turrita per urbes,Læta Deum partu, centum complexa nepotes,Omnes cœlicolas, omnes super alta tenentes.Her Majesty has assured us that on account of the strong and powerful reinforcements which have been sent out from this country the Indian authorities will be enabled to ultimately suppress this rebellion and trample out the last sparks of this great conflagration. When that chastisement, which was due to such misdeeds as those of the rebels of India—a chastisement called for by the voice of humanity, when rightly understood, as much as by that of justice—has been signally inflicted, and tranquillity has been restored to India, Parliament will be called on, according to 94 a promise in Her Majesty's Speech, to turn its attention to the management of that great country and the amelioration of its Government. Papers connected with this subject will be laid before this House, and I am sure that when the proper time arrives, this House will apply itself to that task in no spirit of faction. It will remember that it is legislating for the destinies of 150,000,000 of fellow subjects, and that consideration alone will induce it to enter upon that important duty calmly and deliberately, with an honest desire to devise such reforms as should be for the lasting welfare and happiness of the inhabitants of that great empire, which has been committed to our charge. The hand of an overruling Providence has been plainly conspicuous in all these events. It has been plainly shown, I cannot help thinking, that India has been committed to our charge for no ordinary purpose, and it will be the duty of this country to conduct itself with Christian energy but with Christian discretion, so as not to impede or mar that course of events which seems to shape itself as though directed by an invisible hand, to the ultimate fulfilment of a great and happy destiny, the consummation of which, I confidently believe, will be at some time though we may not live to see it, the spread of our own blessed religion throughout the length and breadth of that land. I cannot quit this part of the subject without noticing the further allusions made in Her Majesty's gracious Speech to the loyalty of the great bulk of the population, and the obligations under which we he to those native Potentates who still hold the rank of independent Sovereigns. The friendly and cordial spirit with which these Princes have acted towards us merits the gratitude of this country, and has been of material service to us in holding out against this extended revolt. Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to inform Her Parliament that the whole of Europe was in a state of peace, and that the most satisfactory assurances were received from all foreign Powers. To this information was added the assurance that the only point of importance which remained to be settled was the question of the Danubian Principalities. That question is now in train for settlement, and it is to be hoped that the arrangement arrived at will be such as, while respecting the rights of the Sultan, will confer on the population of those Principalities the privileges best fitted for 95 the existing state of things among them and most conducive to their ultimate happiness and prosperity. Her Majesty next informed Parliament that the Shah of Persia has loyally and faithfully carried out the treaty which had been entered into with this country, and that his troops have been withdrawn from the territory of Herat. On our side, Mohammerah and Bushire have been evacuated, and Karrack, I. believe, will not remain much longer in our occupation. The next subject to which Her Majesty's Speech alludes was the Estimates for the ensuing year. In this part of the Speech the House will notice that there is a slight difference from the ordinary language. Owing to the early period at which Parliament has been summoned together these Estimates are not yet complete, and they are spoken of in the Speech in the future tense. Her Majesty, however, has given us the satisfactory assurance that they will be constructed with a view to the exigencies of the country—a right view in my opinion to he taken in forming the Estimates, because it seems to indicate that, while there will be no extravagance, there would at the same time be no shrinking from the legitimate expenditure which is really wanted for the purposes of the country. Her Majesty's Government have also announced that it was their intention in the ensuing Session of Parliament to take into their consideration that great and important subject—the representation of the people of this country. I congratulate the House and the country upon the energy with which the noble Lord at the head of the Government has made an opportunity, in spite of the many arduous duties which have pressed so heavily on his time, for taking into his consideration this complicated and important question, thus fulfilling the pledge which he has given to the public, that he would in the ensuing Session bring forward a measure on the subject. I have such confidence in the prudence and discretion of the noble Lord, and I have so often witnessed the happy tact with which he catches even the wishes as well as the interests of the people that I confidently expect when this measure shall be brought before us that it will prove satisfactory to the great majority of the people. Of course, at the present moment it would be premature to speculate even upon what that measure might contain, and it would not be in accordance with usage for the Government to reveal piecemeal, portions 96 of a plan which they are maturing; but I for one am content to wait until it shall be brought whole and entire before the House, and I repeat with unhesitating confidence my belief that when produced it will be found to be a satisfactory measure and one highly conducive to the interests of the people. We are further assured that measures are in contemplation for improving the law of real property, more particularly, I believe, with respect to the transfer of land. The transfer of land has been hitherto encumbered with difficult and expensive forms which press most onerously both upon the buyers and sellers of property, and I am sure that a great portion of the community would hail with real satisfaction any important change which it may be in the power of the Government to introduce upon the subject. Furthermore, a consolidation is promised of several important branches of the criminal code, which I believe it is proposed to effect by referring the Bills which had been introduced into the other House of Parliament last year to a Select Committee with a view of seeing where the law is imperfect and what has been already done before coming to a conclusion. Finally, Her Majesty has made an appeal to them which I am certain would be responded to in a becoming manner. She invites us to implore the blessing of Divine Providence upon our deliberations. That is a most legitimate ending to any Royal Speech., but more particularly to one which embraces such important topics as the present, and I am perfectly certain that it is an invitation to which we all shall most cordially respond. In conclusion, I thank the House most heartily and sincerely for the kind indulgence with which they have received my observations in introducing the Royal Speech to their notice, the Address in reply to which I beg leave now to propose. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving
"That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to convey to Her Majesty the thanks of this House for the gracious Speech which Her Majesty has made to both Houses of Parliament:
"To thank Her Majesty for informing us of the causes which have induced Her Majesty to call Parliament together before the usual time; for informing us that the failure of certain Joint Stock Banks, and 97 of some Mercantile Firms, has produced such an extent of distrust as to lead Her Majesty to authorise Her Ministers to recommend to the Directors of the Bank of England the adoption of a course of proceeding which appeared necessary for allaying the prevalent alarm: and to thank Her Majesty for intimating to us that, as that course has involved a departure from the existing law, a Bill for indemnifying those who advised and those who adopted it will be submitted for our consideration:
"To assure Her Majesty that we sympathize in Her regret that the disturbed state of commercial transactions in general has occasioned a diminution of employment in the manufacturing districts, which cannot fail to be attended with much local distress; and that we partake in Her trust that this evil may not be of long duration, and that the abundant harvest with which it has graciously pleased Divine Providence to bless this land, will in some degree mitigate the sufferings which this state of things must unavoidably produce:
"To assure Her Majesty that while we join with Her in deploring the severe suffering to which many of Her subjects in India have been exposed, and in lamenting the extensive bereavements and sorrow which have been caused, we share in the satisfaction which She has derived from the distinguished successes which have attended the heroic exertions of the comparatively small forces which have been opposed to greatly superior numbers, without the aid of the powerful reinforcements despatched from this country to their assistance; and that we trust, in common with Her Majesty, that the arrival of those reinforcements will speedily complete the suppression of this widely-spread revolt:
"To assure Her Majesty that we share in the warm admiration which Her Majesty evinces for the gallantry of the troops employed against the mutineers; their courage in action; their endurance under privation, fatigue, and the effects of climate; the high spirit and self-devotion of the of- 98 ficers; the ability, skill, and persevering energy of the commanders; and also in the gratification which She expresses that many civilians, placed in extreme difficulty and danger, have displayed the highest qualities, including, in some instances, those that would do honour to veteran soldiers:
"That we rejoice to learn that the general mass of the population of India have taken no part in the rebellion; while the most considerable of the Native Princes have acted in the most friendly manner, and have rendered important services:
"To thank Her Majesty for directing that papers relating to these matters shall be laid before us, and humbly to assure Her Majesty that we will give our earnest attention to the affairs of Her East Indian Dominions:
"That we rejoice to learn that the Nations of Europe are in the enjoyment of the blessings of peace, which nothing seems likely to disturb; that the stipulations of the treaty which Her Majesty has concluded with the Shah of Persia have been faithfully carried into execution, and the Persian forces have evacuated the territory of Herat:
"To thank Her Majesty for having given directions that the Estimates for the next year shall be prepared for the purpose of being laid before us, and for informing us that they will be framed with a careful regard to the exigencies of the public service:
"Humbly to assure Her Majesty, that we will direct our earnest attention to the laws which regulate the representation of the people in Parliament, with a view to consider what amendments may be safely and beneficially made therein; and to the measures for simplifying and amending the laws relating to real property, and also for consolidating and amending several important branches of the Criminal Law:
"Humbly to thank Her Majesty, for being pleased to assure us, that She confidently commits to our wisdom the great 99 interests of Her Empire, and humbly to assure Her Majesty that, in common with Her Majesty, we fervently pray that the blessing of Almighty God may attend our Counsels, and may guide our deliberations to the objects of Her Majesty's constant solicitude, the welfare and happiness of Her Majesty's loyal and faithful people.
§ MR. AKROYD
rose to second the Address. The hon. Gentleman said, that in endeavouring to discharge the honourable duty which had been intrusted to him, he must claim the indulgence of the House, feeling deeply conscious of the responsibility of his position, and diffident of his abilities adequately to discharge that responsibility. In the speech from the Throne, Her Majesty's Government had brought before the consideration of the House three important questions—the first relating to the suspension of the Bank Charter Act, by which the commercial prosperity of this country was more or less affected; the second, respecting the maintenance of the vast empire of India; and the third, with reference to a Reform Bill, and a proposition for enlarging the basis of our constitution. On the first of these questions, as a manufacturer himself, and the representative of a manufacturing town, perhaps he might be permitted to extend his observations to a greater length than he should otherwise have presumed to do; and probably the House might find some difference between the views which he was disposed to take on that question, and those which had been advanced by the hon. Mover of the Address. That difference might perhaps be accounted for by the fact that his hon. Friend, happy, as he was sure he must be, in his country retreat, took a cool calm view of the question, while he (Mr. Akroyd) stood in the midst of the excitement and had a fellow feeling with those who suffered. Now, he would not consider the subject in that narrow light in which most of the writers of the present day did—as if it merely affected the money-market or the dealers in Lombard-street, or as if it simply enabled the lenders of money to obtain an usurious rate of interest at the expense of the needy borrower; nor would he admit that all borrowers were speculators; for it was impossible to shut one's eyes to the fact that many an honest trader might be brought to the necessity of becoming a borrower. On looking at some of 100 the money articles which he had seen in the newspapers he could not but admire the ability of the writers; but it struck him that they often took a professional view of the question—they dealt with it pretty much like a skilful surgeon who looked upon the disease of a patient as it might tend more or less to illustrate his own particular theory: or where he got hold of a subject, and had put him on the dissecting-board, he endeavoured to illustrate his professional views of the nature of the disease by a post-mortem examination. So the writers of some of the money articles got hold of a Bankrupt commercially defunct, and endeavoured to sustain their own system by dissection. He (Mr. Akroyd) took a strong interest in this subject, and if he had the power he would relieve the sufferings of the one patient and would try to restore the suspended animation of the other. He would ask the House to take a broad view of the question, to consider its bearing upon our national prosperity and upon the interests of the working class in this country, and to bear in mind that our ability to sustain the burdens of war depended upon the productiveness of the country. He was glad that the agricultural labourers were comparatively well off, and long might prosperity shine upon them, whatever might be the troubles by which the people of his own district might be affected. He felt that it was unnecessary for him to attempt to enlist the sympathy of the House on behalf of the people of the working classes. He was quite sure that every Member of the House had a deep regard for them. If it were necessary to enlist the sympathy of the House on their behalf, he would remind the House that those classes furnished the soldiers who fought our battles, that they in their turn had to bear the heavy burdens of war, and that no less fortitude might be required to meet a starving wife and family than to fight battles upon the cold heights of Sebastopol or the burning plains of India. What was the state of things when the monetary crisis first occurred? There was no alarm of the coming danger. The newspapers did not point to any occasion for alarm in any quarter of the globe. The only drawback to the prosperity of the country arose from an increase in the price of the raw material. He came from the manufacturing districts and could therefore speak from his own personal observation of the state of things there immedi- 101 tely before the crisis. The first symptom of danger was the raising by the Bank of England of the rate of discount to 5½ per cent on the 2nd of October. By successive advances the rate was within the same month raised to 8, 9, and 10 per cent. But the warning came too late. Each successive rise only served to aggravate the panic. The storm came in full force. There was no time for the manufacturers to prepare themselves against it. Since the panic arose many a goodly vessel had been stranded, and many a goodly vessel had foundered. He himself knew in his own neighbourhood many who had sunk in commercial relations, and whom he should probably know no more. Country gentlemen might, perhaps, look upon the panic among the commercial classes with somewhat of the feeling with which landsmen looked upon a storm at sea; but sure he was that their commiseration would be extended to the sufferers. On the 11th of November the storm was at its height, and on the 12th the Government letter came out, informing the Bank of England that they might during the present emergency exceed the limits prescribed by the Act of 1844. Those limits had since been exceeded, and no one could deny that there was a necessity for that excess, and that the indemnity sought by the Government ought to be granted. If the letter of the Government to the Bank of England had not been issued, the consequences within 24 hours would have been most serious. The trade and commerce of the country would have been brought to a deadlock, and general confusion, and a vast amount of ruin would have ensued. He was not one who blamed the Bank of England, for he believed they had made every possible effort to relieve the manufacturing classes. They were tied down by the Act of Parliament, and they went to the very verge of prudence in order to relieve the commercial classes. The position of the Bank in 1857 was much more critical than in 1847, and the pressure more severe. Hence there was greater necessity in 1857 for exceeding the limits prescribed by the Bank Charter Act. Let us then pause to consider the relative position of matters in those years. In the year 1847 the amount of bullion in the Bank was £8,313,000 and in 1857 it was £7,171,000. The reserve in 1857 was £957,710, but in 1847 it was £1,547,000; so that the position of the Bank of England in 1857 was 102 much more unfavourable than it was in 1847. The panics of 1847 and 1857 were similar at least in one respect; that in both cases the Government found it necessary to suspend the Bank Charter Act. The panic of 1847, directly, and the panic of 1857, indirectly, had been occasioned by railway speculations. The Lords Committee came to the conclusion that the panic of 1847 was aggravated by the operation of the Bank Charter Act and by the proceedings of the Bank. The hon. Member for Kendal had given very able evidence before that Committee, and he (Mr. Akroyd) was glad to shelter himself behind such high authority. The hon. Member was of opinion that the pres sure in April arose from the large importation of foreign corn; but that the pressure in the following October arose "from an apprehension on the part of mercantile men that the reserve in the Bank had become very small, and that, in point of fact, people possessed of property would not be able to convert it into Bank of England notes." The hon. Member further added "that the Government letter stopped the crisis and abrogated the Act." The House of Commons in the subsequent session had arrived at the conclusion that the Government, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, was justified in suspending the Bank Charter Act. In 1847 the Government interfered when discount was at 8 per cent, and in his opinion the Government would have done well if it had interfered in the present crisis when discount had reached that amount. Looking however, to the present financial difficulty, there seemed to be no natural cause to account for it. Harvests were abundant both in Europe and America; and if it should be proved to the House that any portion of our legislation had had the effect of producing this commercial disturbance, throwing tens of thousands of people out of employment, he trusted hon. Members would not hesitate to alter any enactment which might appear to them to have brought about that evil. It was said that things were greatly improved; but he confessed that until discount was reduced to 8 per cent, he had no expectation that trade would improve, or that failures would cease. It was a strange fact that, notwithstanding the recent discoveries of gold and the large importations of it into this country, it had slipped from our fingers in a marvellous manner, and the country at large was no richer by 103 those importations. He could not but feel that we should not be able to retain that gold in this country until gold was sold at its market value. We were the only nation who had a fixed standard price of gold, and it was clear that unless we gave the market price for gold the only other means we had of getting it to this country was a sacrifice in the price of our commodities. The commercial classes in France, where speculation had been carried to a much greater extent than in this country, had passed comparatively unscathed through the present trial, while in this country they had suffered most severely. The difference, he believed, was attributable to our having a standard price for gold. Again, owing to our laws, we had discounts running to from 2 to 10 per cent. The value of money did not depend on gold. If at any time the owner of the £100 got only £2 for it, and that in commodities at a high price, whereas at another time he got £10 for his £100, to spend upon commodities at a low price, of course the value of his money was more than quintupled. There was no commodity, not even hops, which was so varying and fluctuating as the price of money. It had been the practice of the Bank of England at an early period to maintain the rate of discount at an equable rate, and from 1704 to 1844 it had never been higher than 5 per cent, or less than 4 per cent, except during six months of the year 1839, when it had risen to 6 per cent. The limit of £14,000,000 fixed under the Act of 1844 was clearly not sufficient. For the information of hon. gentlemen not so practically acquainted with mercantile pursuits as himself he would mention to the House that business transactions were generally carried on through the medium of bills of exchange, and therefore it was for the general interest of commerce that sufficient facilities should be afforded for discount. While that, however, was the case, it was at the same time necessary that no facility should be afforded for discounting accommodation bills. It would be well for trade if all that sort of spurious paper money, like base coinage, was weeded out of the market. He himself, although he saw the necessity of a paper currency, was an advocate for its ready convertibility. Manufacturers were not mere speculators in paper, but what they wanted was a solid currency. He knew that he had already trespassed largely on the patience of the 104 House on this branch of the subjects referred to in Her Majesty's gracious Speech. In reference to the condition of the working classes, it was a fortunate and Providential circumstance that cheap food enabled them better to bear the sufferings to which the state of commerce had exposed them, and he was sure that as long as those classes believed in the disposition of the Government to relieve their sufferings by wise legislation, they would endure them with fortitude. He would trespass very shortly upon the time of the House in reference to the state of affairs in India. He had observed with great satisfaction, from what had taken place in that country, that the commercial spirit of the nation had not weakened its martial vigour, and he would add that among no portion of the population of this country did there exist more sympathy for the deeds, the sufferings and privations of our gallant soldiers than was to be found in the manufacturing districts. The working classes had relatives and friends of their own in the British army, and they were proud of the gallant bearing of their friends, and sympathised deeply with their sufferings. As an instance of the extent to which that feeling prevailed, he might state that in the town which he had the honour to represent there had been raised for the sufferers by the Indian mutinies nearly £2,000; and he believed that the working classes generally were willing to bear their share of the taxation which those unfortunate occurrences made necessary. With respect to the Government of India, it ought to be a single and supreme Government—a Government which, while it possessed ample power to vindicate its authority, would, at the same time, exert itself to develope the resources of the country by encouraging the growth of cotton, by the construction of railways and canals, and by promoting internal improvement. He now came to the subject of Parliamentary reform. He rejoiced that on that subject the Government had redeemed their pledge. He, for his own part, hoped that the coming measure would be a large measure, and that it would, without giving predominance to any particular class, include an infusion of the honest working men of the country. He would revert to the old principle of the constitution, which admitted scot and lot voters; and he was sure that the best of the working class would compare advantageously with the small tradesmen as re- 105 garded not only discernment, but also devotion to the interests of the country. He was glad also to see that the Government had determined to carry on the work of law reform, and, although no mention had been made in the Speech from the Throne of any reform in that branch of the law which chiefly had reference to commercial interests—namely, the bankruptcy and insolvency laws—he hoped that if measures relating to them were ever brought forward by the Chambers of Commerce, they would obtain general concurrence and would receive at the hands of Her Majesty's Government a favourable consideration and support. Upon the subject of the Danubian Principalities, to which his hon. Friend had alluded, he would not enter further than to say, that the free navigation of the Danube would be a great benefit to commerce. He would now conclude his remarks. He had not been accustomed to address the House, and having, as a manufacturer, been more used to act than to speak, he might find it difficult to adapt himself to the particular tone of the House, and to express himself in strict Parliamentary fashion. But this he knew, that whatever thoughts he had expressed they were his own conscientious convictions; and that, whatever opinions he might have uttered, he had never failed, to the best of his ability, to act up to those opinions. And although, perhaps, he might not altogether obtain the ear of the House, sure he was that he should be sustained by those in his own neighbourhood whom he represented in that House, and with whom he had been connected all his life. In conclusion, he would join devoutly in the prayer which had been offered by Her Majesty at the close of Her most Gracious Speech, that the blessing of Almighty God might attend their counsels, and guide their deliberations to the happiness and prosperity of a loyal and faithful people. He begged to second the motion.
§ The Address having been read from the Chair,
§ MR. DISRAELI
rose and said;—I think, Sir, that the surprise at this autumnal meeting of Parliament which has been expressed by the hon. Member who has just addressed you, is not limited to the people generally, or even to the independent Members of this House, but that it must in some degree be shared in by Her Majesty's Ministers 106 themselves. It appears that upon the 4th of November a Privy Council was held, the result of which was that Her Majesty was recommended to prorogue Parliament to the 18th of December (then not to meet for the despatch of business), while eight days later the Government found themselves under the necessity of violating a most important statute and consequently of advising Her Majesty to call Parliament together. The hon. Gentleman who seconded the Address is, I am sure, under no necessity to apologize for his speech. The subject which he treated is one of which he has had much practice, and is of great interest to the House at this moment, more especially to those hon. Gentlemen connected with commerce. Well, Sir, that hon. Gentleman, in his reply—and, I think, his able reply—to the speech of the Mover of the Address, has informed us that on the 4th of October the difficulty had commenced, and that in the middle of that month there was actual danger; and yet at the beginning of November Her Majesty's Ministers recommended the prorogation of Parliament to the 18th of December, even then not for the despatch of business, and then find, a few days later, that it is absolutely necessary to rescind their resolution and not only to rescind it and seek the advice of Parliament in the emergency in which the country finds itself, but themselves to perform an act of a very extraordinary character. Now, what one very naturally wishes to know is, what was the opinion of Her Majesty's Ministers in the months of October and November respecting the condition of the commerce of the country? I apprehend that that would be a subject which would almost primarily occupy the attention and consideration of the Minister of the greatest commercial country in the world. No doubt there are other subjects of vast importance demanding anxious consideration by Her Majesty's Ministers. They might have been maturing their Reform Bill, though they have had so considerable a space for that effort that I should have thought their attempts would have been considerably advanced at that period, or they might have been continuing their energetic efforts, which unfortunately have not been successful, to add to the forces of the gallant Wilson and the daring Havelock: but, even under those circumstances, I should have thought Her Majesty's Ministers would have given some 107 inquiry to the condition of the commerce of the country. There is a Member of the Cabinet whose peculiar duty it is at all times, and under all circumstances, to study our commercial condition. The President of the Board of Trade is a Member of the Cabinet, and, I apprehend, was present at the deliberations of the Cabinet when the prorogation of Parliament was decided upon, and I take it for granted that he communicated to Her Majesty's Ministers the conclusions he had arrived at, no doubt by painful investigation and by deep thought. I take it for granted the President of the Board of Trade said to the Prime Minister, and his colleagues,—"Be quite easy so far as the commerce of the country is concerned; count on that domestic tranquillity which results from the full employment of the working classes. The commerce of the country is established on a sound basis. We have now no old-fashioned protective restrictions to thwart its development, we have established it on that principle of unrestricted competition which you have all agreed to maintain. It is not only proved by its immense extent, by the increase of our exports and imports, that the principles of our commercial system are sound; but I can tell you not only that our trade is extensive, but that it was never in so healthy a condition as it is at present." That must have been the recommendation on which Her Majesty's Ministers acted, notwithstanding all that was occurring in the country, notwithstanding that, according to what a practical man has just told us, early in October serious difficulties had commenced in the commercial world, that in the middle of that month danger had accrued, and that at the time when the Council which fixed the prorogation was sitting occurrences were taking place tending to shake to its very centre the whole of our commercial system. I say Her Majesty's Ministers must have acted on conclusions quite the reverse before they could have taken the course that they have done. But, Sir, under what circumstances do we meet now? Her Majesty's Ministers have thought proper to violate an existing law, and that one of the highest importance. I do not want to enter to-night into the question as to whether the temporary or permanent suspension of that law is expedient. I think I rightly interpret the feeling of the House when I conclude that a currency debate is not one which they wish 108 this night to pursue, and that on an occasion when we are considering the response we ought to make to a Speech from the Throne, of so varied a character, it would be highly inconvenient that we should take the opportunity of incidentally discussing a subject of so much importance, which demands a precise treatment and a concentration of attention. There are topics enough to discuss without entering into any controversy on the principles on which the monetary circulation of this country ought to be conducted. We are asked tonight, or rather we have notice given that we shall be asked to grant a Bill of indemnity to Her Majesty's Ministers for departing from an existing law with regard to that important subject. I know it is too often the habit of this House when a Bill of indemnity is the question before us to treat it as a very light matter. It is generally supposed that when such a Bill is asked for it will be conceded as a matter of course, and that no opposition to it will be attempted, and therefore it is a matter which is treated lightly; but the fact is, that a Bill of indemnity is of so grave a character that it should never be so treated. On the contrary, when accorded, it should be accorded liberally, and even generously, but it should never be accorded lightly. This House should never agree to a Bill of indemnity, especially upon such a subject as is referred to in the gracious Speech from the Throne, without well weighing the circumstances under which the infraction of the law has taken place. Ten years ago,—to which reference has been made by the hon. Gentlemen the Mover and Seconder of the Address,—there was a similar though technically not an identical state of affairs with the present. There was not then an actual violation of the law, but virtually there was one, for Her Majesty's Ministers had adopted the responsibility of recommending its infraction. I ask any hon. Gentleman whether he has a clear idea of the circumstances under which the Government then recommended the suspension of an important Act, and were obliged to come to Parliament, not absolutely to obtain a Bill of Indemnity, but its sanction to the advice they had given? We were then told that that interference saved the Bank of England from breaking. We were then told that immense calamities would have occurred had not the Bank of England appealed, and not unsuccessfully, to the interference of the Government. But by 109 the evidence taken only last Session upon this very subject, ten years after the event—evidence given by some of the most considerable commercial witnesses, men who have held the high office of Governor of the Bank—we find that in 1847 the Bank of England made no appeal to Her Majesty's Ministers, that they never asked for their interference, that they even protested against that interference, that they did not require protection, and that they were prepared in 1847 not only to maintain the convertibility of the bank-notes which they had issued, but even to protect the deposits which had been entrusted to their custody. Now, what evidence have we that the same circumstances have not occurred at the present moment? So far as the language of Her Majesty's gracious Speech would guide us, I should be induced to believe that the Bank have not appealed for assistance to the Government. There we learn that "the failure of certain joint-stock banks and of some mercantile firms produced such an extent of distrust as led Her Majesty to authorise Her Ministers to recommend to the Directors of the Bank of England the adoption of a course of proceeding which appeared necessary for allaying the prevalent alarm." It is therefore evident that it is the Government which has again recommended the Bank to suspend the law and to pass the limit fixed by the existing Statute; and therefore when Her Majesty's Ministers come forward and ask for a Bill of indemnity I think I am only recommending a prudent and a proper course when I say that we ought, as the condition of granting such a Bill, to require a frank declaration from the Government of the circumstances which induced them to recommend this policy, and of the reasons which they believe sufficient to render the pursuance of this policy necessary. Now, Sir, from recent discussions, and from the investigations of a Committee of this House which sat for some time on the subject, the House is so familiar with the whole scheme of the Bank Charter Act of 1844 that it would be a waste of time to enter upon its details—in fact I need only allude to its existence. The House is also aware that among those who are resolved to support the practical convertibility of the bank-note—a principle which I trust a majority of this House will always support, though, from the language of the hon. Seconder of the Address, if he represents the opinions of the Government, I won't at all 110 answer for the conduct of Her Majesty's Ministers in this respect—but the House is aware that among those who are in perfect accordance of opinion on that great principle there are still many men of the highest authority, not inferior to any of those statesmen or literary economists who have obtained such celebrity from their connection with the Act of 1844, who dispute the very principle on which that Act is founded, and to the fallacy of that principle attribute the occurrence, or the aggravation rather, of those evils which have been referred to, and who have given to a Committee of this House ample evidence in support of their opinions. For myself, I offer none of my own on the subject on this occasion, when by common consent we are not to be considered as engaged in a currency debate; but it is, in my opinion, the duty of Her Majesty's Ministers, or of men who aspire to be Ministers, or have any following in this House, to have on these points of controversy a distinct and definite judgment. I learn with great regret that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given notice that to-morrow he will move to introduce this Bill of indemnity in Committee of the whole House, and also that he will move for a Committee to consider the operation of the Bank Charter Act of 1844. Now we shall be doing exactly what we did in 1847. In 1847 the country was panic-struck and half ruined. Parliament was called together, and the country looked to it for the expression of some distinct opinion. A Committee was appointed. Ten years have elapsed. The same occurrence take place. Parliament is again called together; and what is Parliament, and what are Ministers—the most influential Members of Parliament, about to do to meet the difficulty? Again they are going to evade doing that which is the duty of every statesman in this country—to lay down in this House the opinion which they have formed on this subject and to call on the House to maintain that opinion. Instead of that—and I deeply regret it—we are to have another Committee on the Bank Charter Act of 1844; and I suppose that in 1867, after a repetition of the same mischances and the same miseries, the same fruitless and bootless process will be adopted of appointing a Committee on that subject in this House. Why, Sir, just consider the previous Committees which have been appointed by this House with reference to this subject. Before the 111 Bank Charter Act was passed you had a Committee on the subject of the issue of bank-notes. It was a Committee appointed to prepare the public mind, to inform Parliament on the question, and lead to the adoption of that project. You had the most eminent men called and examined before that Committee. A great body of evidence was offered, mainly by the supporters of those views which were afterwards embodied in the Act of 1844. You had that body of evidence placed before you. In consequence of the report of that Committee you passed the Act of 1844; but only three years elapsed when you were obliged indirectly to suspend the Act, and then in 1848 you appointed a Committee of Inquiry. You again collected evidence, and evidence of the highest class, from all quarters, from the representatives of all schools and the professors of all doctrines upon the subject. At the beginning of the present year, again another Committee was appointed. Thus you have had three Committees. A crash comes, and now we are to enquire again. And this too at a time when there is a great programme before us, for although we are called here suddenly merely to consider the violation of an Act of Parliament from a sense of duty on the part of Government, it is a very important programme of policy that is placed in our hands. These are no mean subjects that are placed on this paper. This is not a Queen's Speech like some documents of the kind that it has been my fate to criticise from this table, embodying a pompous enumeration of petty questions. You may have it expressed in somewhat mystical phrase, but, according to the expositions of the authorities of the evening, we are called together to consult about the form of government of the greatest of our dependencies; we are to consider how we can reconstruct the constitution of this House; and we are also to consider the principle on which the currency of this country ought to be established. Now, I say without any hesitation that of these three important subjects the one that is bound up in the discussion of this Act of indemnity is the most important. You may regain an empire you have lost, you may alter and not improve the constituent body of this House; but a currency established upon just principles exercises the most general influence that can affect society. It touches all classes, and men who are dull and insensible to imperial 112 grandeur or even to political rights have a very nice and near interest in the decision we may come to on this transcendent point. Well, then, I say this is a subject on which Her Majesty's Ministers ought to have made up their minds. Are Her Majesty's Ministers going to stand by the Bank Charter Act of 1844, or are they not? That is really the question which the country wishes them to answer. If they are going to stand by the Bank Charter Act of 1844, I shall myself hesitate before I can agree to the Bill of indemnity, because I do not think they were then justified in departing from the letter of the law. If, on the other hand, they are not going to stand by the Bank Charter Act—if they have a policy—if they come forward and tell us they are prepared to make amendments and mitigatory arrangements with respect to that Act, and that because they are convinced they are necessary they did not hesitate at a moment of suffering and emergency to recommend the suspension of the law—then, I say, we must not be scrupulous about this Bill of indemnity, but grant it without reserve or reluctance, and wait with respect and interest for the propositions which Her Majesty's Ministers are going to make. But, if, after all the country has gone through, we are to do exactly that which we were doing before these difficulties and dangers and all this dislocation occurred, it appears to me that we should forfeit the confidence and respect of the country. And if indeed the noble Lord wants to lay a good ground for an extensive measure of Parliamentary Reform, I think he could have no better than to be able to say that the representatives of the people met in consequence of the summons of the Sovereign to consider a great emergency, and that they could do nothing but follow the same fruitless, bootless ceremony that we were pursuing before these sad events occurred. I make no doubt that hon. Gentlemen have during the recess given some attention to the labours of their Committee on the Bank Charter Act. I make no doubt there are many gentlemen in this House whose studies and researches on the subject have not been limited to the inquiries of that Committee. I have no doubt from the interest they have taken in the subject, that they have gone back to the report of the Committee of 1847 and to that of 1840, and have also made themselves acquainted, as the Seconder of the Address announces he has done, with the 113 labours of the Committee of the House of Lords on the same subject. Now, I ask those who have taken this pains—including, I have no doubt, the majority of those I address—whether in the report of the Committee of last session, though it contains a great body of evidence, distinguished by the knowledge which it brings to bear upon the question, by the thought it displays, and the commanding and sufficient information which it gives as the bases of legislation—they have found a single new fact or a single new principle? Not one; and I defy any man to bring more information, or to imagine more theories than were submitted to the scrutiny and sagacious criticism of that committee. You have Lord Overstone before you, a man of commanding intellect, and who is singularly happy in the expression of abstract ideas; you have him conveying, in masterly language, the conclusions at which he has arrived with his peculiar powers of investigation. But are we to have the evidence of Lord Overstone in 1857 repeated in 1858 before this projected Committee, which I trust the House will not grant? What would it be but a repetition of those admirable pamphlets which we all of us have in our libraries? Then you have Mr. Tooke or his pupils, who ably represent his opinions. Nothing can be more extensive than their researches, nothing more painstaking or instructive than their investigations. I do not think that in the literature of any country there is to be found a mass of economical knowledge arranged with greater carefulness, or compiled with greater accuracy, or the results of which are placed with more lucidity, than Mr. Tooke has exhibited in his great work on "Prices." But we have his great work on "Prices." These are library works, let us study them there, and not seek these results by fresh vivâ voce investigations before a Committee. On the Treasury bench I see experienced statesmen, who have sat in this House for a long period of years, who have been Members of all the Committees to which I have referred, and taken part in all the great debates on the currency, and on the principles on which the circulation of the country should be established—men thoroughly competent to understand any subject, and to enlighten and guide this House; and am I to be told that the moment when of all others it is important that this subject should no longer be left in uncertainty, in that state in which 114 it has remained for ten years, all of us are to give up any attempt at its solution in despair, and that we are to allow it to drift on and drift on till fresh calamities and renewed disasters occur, and we are forced to adopt measures which we may afterwards have cause to deplore? Under these circumstances I must express my hope that Her Majesty's Ministers will reconsider the notice that they have given us this evening through the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I hope that Ministers will frankly answer the question whether they intend to stand by the Bank Charter Act or not. If they do intend to stand by the Bank Charter Act without amendment and without mitigation, I hope they will communicate frankly and fully to the House the circumstances under which they thought themselves justified in recommending the suspension of an Act which, if they stand by it, they must consider one of vital benefit to the country. I do not see how they can justify the advice they then gave if they now tell us "that Act we are prepared to uphold." If, on the other hand, they announce that while they ask for a Bill of indemnity for adopting a step which, in a great emergency, they thought was for the public good, they have not shut their eyes to what has occurred; that they have been learning the lessons of experience, and that they are now prepared to recommend a measure for the adoption of Parliament which will be be a remedy for acknowledged grievances, which will prevent the aggravation of a similar pressure, which a staunch adherence to the Bank Charter Act under all circumstances will occasion—a measure which in their opinion is a just, fair, and scientific settlement of the difficulty—then it will be the duty of Parliament to accord them that Bill of indemnity without delay, and to assist the Government in the solution of the difficulty. But against the course which has been intimated to-night I humbly and earnestly protest, and if hon. Gentlemen who are anxious that the Bank Charter Act shall remain untouched and uncriticised support the Government in this course, I think they are taking a course perilous to those principles of currency which they wish to see upheld. I would say, indeed, that nothing can be more injurious to the policy they uphold, than to allow a law to exist which in moments of emergency and difficulty is always suspended, and which in moments of tranquillity is always submitted for in- 115 vestigation to Committees of the House of Commons. That is a monstrous state of affairs to exist with regard to any law, and much more with regard to a law regulating the currency, and therefore I do hope that before these discussions are finished, conducting them, as I trust we shall do, with the utmost temperateness, we may induce the Government to take that course which will be for their own honour and for the benefit of the country. Sir, there are several other subjects which I shall feel it my duty to touch upon to-night. It must be a source of the greatest satisfaction if my interpretation of one of the paragraphs in the Speech from the Throne be correct—I mean that which declares that our relations with our neighbours are of an amicable character. I qualify my remarks by assuming that my interpretation, is right, for I am bound to say that the passage has led some minds to a very different conclusion. The paragraph is as follows:—The nations of Europe are in the enjoyment of the blessings of peace, which nothing seems likely to disturb.Now, several of my hon. Friends have put upon this passage an interpretation that may be correct, but which I, taking a more hopeful view, can scarcely suppose to be accurate. They seem to think that something like an expression of regret is conveyed in that paragraph—as if the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) had said "I have done all I could to get up a difficulty with the European Powers, but, I am sorry to say, I have not succeeded. We are still at peace; and I am able to bring before you nothing, really nothing, that promises to disturb the universal tranquillity;" as though in that bold language which renders the noble Lord at all times popular, he said, "I have done my best, but for this once the turbulent and aggressive policy has failed. I cannot help it, but we are in for it; we are at present all at peace." [Loud laughter.] That, however, is not my interpretation of the words, though I perceive that it is accepted by the House. I presume the paragraph to mean that there is a considerable chance of tranquillity in our foreign relations, and I enter the more willingly into that belief because about a month ago, when Parliament had been prorogued to the Greek Kalends, and just when Her Majesty's Ministers were going to violate an Act of Parliament, there occurred a great anniversary, which in this country is not only of social but 116 political importance, and as such is appreciated by all parties. The occasion is one when all the head men of the country attend, and which during the absence of Parliament affords an opportunity for the Minister of the Crown to give that information on weighty affairs which in a free land like this ought to be imparted to the people. The right hon. Gentleman who is at the head of the magistracy of the city is a Member of this House, and fortunately sits on this side of it, and he will correct me if I am inaccurate as to what occurred when the noble Lord attended that anniversary. Judging from the speech which the noble Lord is reported to have made on that occasion, I own I shared the pervading alarm that we were about to be involved again in those difficulties, in which we have generally found ourselves under him, and from which he is so proud to extricate us. An appeal was then made by the noble Lord to all the belligerent passions of the country with that eloquence and emphasis which the noble Lord always employs. Since that memorable speech of old Harry Dundas, delivered during the revolutionary war, when he declared that one Englishman could beat three Frenchmen, and which was recorded afterwards as a statistical fact, I hardly know any speech which has produced so great an effect, and which was more calculated to animate the heart of a country on the eve of being tried by exigencies of the most perilous character. It was quite clear from the expression of the noble Lord that it was a Sovereign, and one apparently of no mean order, who must have meditated war, and some thought even the invasion of the country. That it was a Sovereign of no mean order there could be no doubt. It was clear there had been an Emperor who had threatened us, and the people of England, seeing no further than their noses, could not make out who it could be. The Emperor of Russia, they supposed, might have had enough of it, and so they thought it must be the Emperor of the French. But the speeches of to-night have dissipated that belief. If there be a King who is going to make war upon England, it must be the noble Lord's old friend the King of Naples; and if an Emperor is going to invade our territory, it must be the other old friend of the noble Lord, the Emperor of China. I will not stop a moment here, when we have so many subjects of importance be- 117 fore us, to remark upon the situation in which our plenipotentiary in the Chinese waters is now placed. Still, one naturally regrets that that "deep and eternal stain upon the honour of the flag of England" about which we heard so much at the beginning of the year has not been washed out. A "ruffian and miscreant" still presides over the city of [Canton—notwithstanding the invectives of the noble Lord from the hustings of Tiverton, and it is not difficult to perceive that the quarrel in China has served Commissioner Yeh as well as some one else. But, as we have graver matters before us, I will leave that once all-important subject to be amply discussed on the report upon the Address. Her Majesty in Her Gracious Speech today has adverted to that subject which, apart from the sufferings of the commercial world, has commanded and absorbed all the thought and feeling of the country. There are none of us here or in any part of Her kingdom who will not, I am confident, sympathize with Her Majesty in Her admiration of the heroic efforts of our gallant troops in India. Sir, it was said in 1848, when the very foundations of society in France seemed shaken, that "France was saved by the army." I am sure it may be said with more truth that our Empire in India has been saved by the Army—saved, too, by an Army which we must never forget owes nothing to Cabinets in London or to Councils in Calcutta. "Alone they did it;" and long will the memory of those startling acts live in the recollection of the proud nation which inhabits these isles. Mr. Canning once said, in a speech in this House, speaking of India, "that it was a land fertile in heroes." Mr. Canning, when he used that glowing expression, must have spoken as much from prescience as from memory, for if we look through the long list of heroic men who have illustrated the history of this country since that great land was under our dominion it is doubtful whether in civil prudence, military skill, or soldierlike valour there are any who excel those names which are now in the mouths of the people of England. Many of them remain; many of them will receive from their Sovereign and a grateful country those acknowledgments of their great and gallant qualities which every Englishman is proud to express. I hope we shall be appealed to in this house to show that we are not wanting as the representatives of the people in 118 the expression of those feelings which such achievements deserve, because, depend upon it, however splendid may be orders of chivalry, however proud a man may feel of obtaining by his sword a glorious independence, still we know it, from the frank confession of some of the most eminent men this country has ever produced, that the thanks of Parliament have a charm with them which few recompenses can equal, and that often in the hour of battle they have felt they were doing that which might entitle them to the sympathy of the House of Commons. Some may receive that sympathy. Some unfortunately are gone. But when we remember the name of Wilson—when we remember the name of Havelock—and others who have distinguished themselves, let us never forget the intrepid Nicholson—let us spare a tear to the fiery Neill. What these men have done cannot be calculated until some time has elapsed. What has been neglected to be done by others can only be estimated when some months also have passed away. What strikes one throughout these extraordinary transactions is the total un-preparedness of those who were responsible for the government and the condition of this great Empire. I had occasion before Parliament was prorogued to make some observarions on the state of our Indian Empire, and while I took the liberty of stating some of what I conceived to be the causes which had led to a chronic state of discontent among the most powerful classes in that country, I said then there was a primary and proximate cause for the insurrection, which is now acknowledged in Her Majesty's Speech to be a widely-spread revolt, and I said that was the annexation of Oude. What happened on that occasion? Why, Her Majesty's Government treated that allusion to Oude as the cause of this widely-spread revolt with derisive amazement. They said nothing had ever occurred which could in any way connect Oude with the melancholy intelligence which we were then just receiving. They said of all imaginable causes of discontent the annexation of Oude was the last to be referred to. No doubt, speaking with the authority of men who ought to have been masters of the subject, this greatly influenced the opinion of the House. But I ask the House now, are they of opinion that the annexation of Oude had nothing to do with this widely-spread revolt? However multifarious the controversies as to the various causes, is there any point on 119 which men are more agreed than this—that among the chief and certain causes of that widely-spread revolt was the annexation of Oude? I am not mentioning this with the view of entrapping the House into a discussion of our Indian position at this moment, but to illustrate a point of very great importance, and to show the fatal consequences of a neglect of the principle which I then endeavoured to force on the adoption of the Government and the attention of the House of Commons-I said then that it was absolutely necessary to begin by ascertaining the cause of this revolt, because unless you ascertained the cause it was impossible to apply an adequate remedy. "No!" said a great authority, "that is quite unnecessary. All that we have to do is to put down the revolt, and we will inquire into the cause afterwards." Now, look in what a position you have placed the country by neglecting that important principle I endeavoured to impress upon you—of endeavouring to ascertain the cause of this widely-spread revolt. Very early in the year there was intimation of the great disasters which have since occurred. On the 8th of February there was a mutiny, and not an inconsiderable mutiny. It may be said, "There have been mutinies before, and we had no right to suppose that the mutiny would become a widely-spread revolt." Such may be the language of mere Members of Parliament, or of people in the streets, but it is not the language of statesmen who are responsible for the safety of an Empire—because, I say, the mutiny of a regiment or of four regiments of Sepoys must have been to a Minister always meditating on these things an incident of some significance. That was known in England on the 10th of April, but was not enough to make men think. One month afterwards there was another considerable mutiny, and in a different part of India. That showed concert. There was evidence, as I pointed out in July, at least popular evidence, of great concert throughout the country. Was that not enough to make men think? If Her Majesty's Government—I care not whether in Downing-street or in Calcutta, for we can only look to the Government who are responsible to the people—if Her Majesty's Government had only given their minds to the subject as wise and prudent men, instead of allowing it to come upon them with the surprise of children—if they had been awake and alive to what was passing, would they 120 have left a recently-annexed kingdom, with all the elements of danger in a discontented nobility and a disbanded army, uncared for? Would they not have felt that their eye must be on that kingdom, that they must have resources sufficient, that they must be provided and prepared? Would they not under such circumstances have put their finger upon Oude, and thought, and reflected, and acted? What did they do? Oude was left without a soldier. I am not going into the general neglect of Indian administration and the cause of your disasters. I am not asking whether, when you heard of mutiny, you ought to have left a place like Delhi with a Sepoy garrison. I am discarding the whole of the general question, and confining myself to the proof of the validity of the principle which in July I endeavoured to enforce upon the Government of the Queen. Oude was left without a soldier. Not the slightest attempt was made either to send up forces from Calcutta or to bring them down to Lucknow. Oude was totally neglected, and for a very sufficient reason—the reason confessed by the Minister who followed me in that debate, that in the opinion of the Government Oude had nothing to do with this question of mutiny, and there was not a symptom of disorganization or insubordination prevailing in that kingdom. What have been the consequences of not ascertaining the cause of the revolt before you attempted to put it down? After your long unpreparedness, after the strange manner in which you involuntarily imbibed at last a conviction that your empire was in danger, after a loss of weeks and months in fruitless questioning in this House, in desperate efforts to attract your thoughts to the dangerous position in India, at last, when Parliament is about to be prorogued, at the very last hour almost, your eyes are opened to the greatest emergency which ever occurred in the history of this country, and you take those steps which the public force you no longer to neglect—you command your resources to be sent to Calcutta. What was your position? You had the North-western Provinces in insurrection, and the whole of your communications were cut off between Calcutta and those provinces. And why? Because you had not thought of Oude. An insurrection raged in Oude and the provinces connected with it, and the massacre at Cawnpore and the siege and extreme peril which even now beset Lucknow are totally owing to 121 that unfortunate misconception of the cause of the mutiny. But is that all? There is another grievance arising from the same source. You have, I will assume, an immense army at Calcutta and the neighbourhood. How are you to advance that army into the interior? What are your means? No doubt you suppose that if you import the strength of the country there will be no difficulty in obtaining commissariat and transport supplies in India itself. But Bengal cannot furnish such supplies. A country of sultry plains, consisting of nothing but rice fields, does not produce means of transport. You must have arable land, and agriculture in various forms, and then you have carts, bullocks, camels, and elephants. You do not arrive at this kind of country until you get to Oude and the provinces contiguous to it. You have now no means of moving up your troops, because you counted upon obtaining them, as you did in the old days of Indian warfare, from this very Oude. When you invaded Affghanistan you wanted means of transport, and you went to Oude for them. Even the war elephants of the King of Oude were presented to you for that expedition. It was from Oude that you always obtained your means of transport, and those means are not now at your command. If you had known of the condition of Oude—if you had foreseen that which has occurred—you might have got transport elsewhere. You might have got 20,000 bullocks from Madras, which would have moved your army, but not a single provision has been made, because you counted upon your usual sources of supply, and you have at this moment only 700 miserable bullocks, the common Parcel's Delivery Company of the country, which will not move more than a single battery of artillery. All these consequences—your communications cut off with the principal scenes of action and the total deficiency of the means of moving your army—have arisen from your neglecting to ascertain the cause of the revolt before you devised a remedy to put it down. There is a paragraph upon this subject of India in the Queen's Speech upon which I must solicit the interpretation of the Government Her Majesty says:—The affairs of my East Indian Dominions will require your serious consideration, and I recommend them to your earnest attention.I think the Government are bound, and I cannot think that they will refuse, frankly to explain what this paragraph means. 122 Under ordinary circumstances I certainly should have supposed that Her Majesty's Ministers, having measures of great importance of a legislative character to introduce to Parliament on the subject of India, had felt it their duty in the most solemn and formal manner at the commencement of the session to call the attention of Parliament to the purpose which they entertained. But we live in such a remarkable age, an age of confidence and semi-confidence, of communications which are official, and communications which, though anonymous, are thought to be more authoritative in some instances than communications which are official, that there is great ambiguity as to their intentions, which is extremely inconvenient, and which should be explicitly removed at the earliest possible period. It is quite impossible that the Government can intend to treat India in the same way as the Bank Charter—refer it to a Select Committee. If that he the case, the only Act which will be passed this Session will be the Reform Bill. I am sure that cannot be the intention of Ministers, and I hope they will feel that if it were necessary to introduce into the Speech a paragraph of this character, it is also necessary that it should be accompanied by a frank interpretation. I think I could describe this paragraph myself, if the Ministers have no better explanation of their own to give. I should say that it was "a compromise paragraph." It gives one the idea that somebody has wanted to do something about India, but that somebody else has not been of the same mind, and it has been decided, therefore, that there shall be something introduced into the Speech which shall give the country and the House of Commons to understand that Her Majesty's Government are deeply sensible of the gravity of affairs, and of the weight of responsibility, but at the same time are not prepared to do anything to vindicate the one, or to remedy the other. This is no trifling matter. Is it the intention of the Government to legislate for India? Is it their intention to propose a new form of administration for that country? We have heard a great deal about the double Government and its evils. In 1853, a noble Friend of mine made a Motion, not asking you to condemn the double Government, but asking the Ministers not to establish that double Government without previous enquiry. That was resisted, and I can hardly believe, therefore, that, 123 having established the double Government without inquiry, Her Majesty's Ministers in 1857, after all these great events, are only going to do that which my noble Friend recommended in 1853. Everybody knows the evils of a double Government. Its weakness is contained in the very phrase itself, but the faults of the double Government have not been particularly displayed in the recent transactions. I am not aware that any one has alleged that that form of Government has been the cause of the recent events in India. What has occurred in India has been produced by policy—by the conduct of those who had the government of India. It has not been an affair of administration, it has not arisen from the mode of taxation, nor from the way in which justice has been administered, at least not primarily and particularly; but in the first instance by policy, aggravated by the great neglect of those who are responsible for the Government. I am not at all aware that the double Government is particularly responsible for these great calamities (though I trust we shall find out at some time who is responsible for them), but really, if the double Government is to be abolished, I, for one, should hesitate before I agreed to commit the powers which it still possesses to the hands of those who in the exercise of their present amount of power have shown neither discretion, sagacity, knowledge of what was going to happen, nor readiness at devising remedies for evils after they had happened. Nevertheless, if such a measure is brought forward, I have no doubt the House will give it a candid consideration, but at this stage of the business it is but due to the country and to Parliament that Ministers should be frank upon the subject. As they have thought fit to introduce ambiguous sentences on this important subject into the Speech, they should in debate explain to the House what their intentions are, and whether they mean that they are prepared to recommend to Parliament to legislate for India, and to devise a new form of Government for that country, and if such be their intention to say when that proposal will be laid in detail before the House. There is one subject on which it is unnecessary to trespass on the House for more than a moment, but which I cannot pass over without notice. Her Majesty in Her gracious Speech says:—Your attention will be called to the laws which regulate the representation of the people 124 in Parliament, with a view to consider what amendments may be safely and beneficially made therein.It is not for us to be captious on the conduct of a Government which thinks itself able to deal at the same time with varied and important subjects. Heretofore it has rather been our habit to say of our Governments that they do nothing. At the end of a session it has come to be a sort of constitutional custom to prove satisfactorily to the country that the Government have really passed no measures, and ultimately there has been a want of confidence in an Administration if you could show that it was an Administration which did nothing. But if we have a Government which goes upon a different tack, and which, instead of being a Government which does nothing, is to he a Government which does everything, it does not become us to be captious and critical before the time. I am therefore perfectly ready to believe that Ministers have their measures matured upon all these great questions—the currency, the government of India, and the reconstruction of the representative body, and that in due time, more particularly as the Session has commenced at so early a period, we shall have them all before us. With regard to this particular measure of Parliamentary Reform, I trust that whenever it is introduced to our notice we shall find that it has been devised fairly for the public weal, and not to increase the political following of any particular party. I will do more than express my hope—I will express my belief that it is no longer on this subject in the power of any political combination to force such a measure through Parliament. We are all of us, all sides and all sections, much more learned upon this subject of Parliamentary Reform than we were in 1832. The brazen bellowings for "the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill," have proved a very fruitful and salutary lesson to the people of this country. All the people who hallooed most loudly in that manner have since done penance in public, and have expressed their sincere regret at having so deluded themselves. I took the liberty at the early part of the last Session of moving for certain returns with regard to the taxation and population of the country which I thought would assist hon. Members in their consideration of this subject. Probably many hon. Members, not so sanguine as to think that the Reform Bill would be referred to in the 125 Queen's Speech, have not studied those returns; but I would humbly recommend them to the earnest attention of every one. They will find them full of accurate information; they have been drawn up by official men, totally incapable of personal prejudice or party feeling, and they offer such a mass of information on the subject that I am sure, if well digested and acted on in a wise and comprehensive spirit, the consequences will not be hostile or injurious to those ancient institutions which I trust we—on this side of the House at all events—shall always be prepared to uphold. But there is one observation which I would make on this somewhat curious matter. The subject is not one of novel invention; it is not one with respect to which the Government have been called upon to legislate hastily; but it is one which has for a considerable time been under the notice of Parliament. For the last five or six years there have been Ministers who have either introduced, or have promised to introduce, Bills with respect to it, and there have been several such Bills, though they have not been further advanced, laid upon the table. The subject, therefore, is perfectly matured. Certainly it must be matured by the Cabinet of the noble Lord, because on the very first day that he took office we were assured that there were great facilities for the formation of his Government owing to the complete understanding that existed throughout all the Liberal party on the question of Parliamentary Reform. In fact, the noble Lord intended to bring forward a Bill last year. Under these circumstances I think I am only making a fair request of the noble Lord—and it is one which I trust the House will by its sympathies enforce—if I ask him to lose no time in introducing that Bill. I do not expect that he should solicit the immediate and precipitate decision of Parliament upon it; but I say, let us have it introduced at once, and let us have the advantage of the Christmas recess and during the holidays of becoming acquainted with its provisions; because nothing is more unwise, and nothing can keep public feeling in a more fretful state, than the constant idea of a Parliamentary Reform Bill being held over the heads of the people of this country. We want to know, if there are to be changes in the most important of all our institutions, what those changes are to be. That is a feeling which is not confined to this side of 126 the House, or to what is called the Conservative party in the country; but I should think that all men must be of the same opinion, and that all must feel the great importance, now that we have a Reform Ministry, a Reform Minister, and a Reform Bill, that we should have the Bill at once. The House will see, if the course which I recommend be not adopted, the extraordinary inconvenience which will accrue. No person can bring forward a Bill which affects the distribution and disposition of political power in a country like England, and expect that such a Bill is to be passed like a Bill of indemnity for violating a Currency Act. Of course the country will expect, and the House will insist upon, ample time for study and consideration after the noble Lord shall have introduced his measure and made an exposition of his policy. But if this Bill is to be brought in in the spring, and if great delay takes place before the second reading, the result will be that we shall either have a Bill which will be ultimately hurried through Parliament, or we shall have the question again postponed, and, it may be, considerable agitation with respect to it. Parliament and the country, then, being now in a good temper on the subject, and the time being not unfavourable to the calm and candid consideration of any measure brought in upon the responsibility of a Minister on such a topic, if the noble Lord will only take an early opportunity—perhaps he will name the day to-night—of introducing his measure, we shall be perfectly prepared, on the reassembling of Parliament at the end of January or beginning of February, at once to enter upon the debate. It may be a warm debate, it may be animated, it may be even acrimonious; but it will pass, it will be forgotten, and the thing will end. But if that course be not adopted, the result will be great public dissatisfaction and much Parliamentary inconvenience. I trust that the noble Lord, therefore, will think very favourably of this suggestion. It is clear, if the noble Lord gets his Indemnity Bill as a matter of course,—which he will do if he makes a frank statement of the changes to be proposed in the Bank Charter Act, and which I am sure will be consistent with the perfect and practical convertibility of bank-notes—that there will be very little business before us during this short session. We have nearly a month to Christmas-eve, and, after passing the Indemnity Act, nothing could be more 127 profitable or agreeable than to hear from the noble Lord a complete exposition of the scheme of Parliamentary Reform which is now introduced into Her Majesty's Speech. I must apologise to the House for having detained it so long; but on an occasion of this sort one's observations must necessarily be desultory. The topics which we are invited to consider are, however, very important, and in treating them I think that we can do nothing better than agree with Her Majesty in "fervently praying that the blessing of Almighty God may attend our counsels."
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
It is certainly quite natural that the right hon. Gentleman, who is of course more at home and at ease in this House, leading as he does a great party, than he can be at any other time and place, should be in the height of good-humour at finding an unexpected opportunity of actively displaying the ability which distinguishes him; and no doubt his speech is one of which it is impossible to say otherwise than that it is marked by that good-humour and that plenitude of wit which usually characterize the right hon. Gentleman's performances. The right hon. Gentleman began by criticizing the course which Her Majesty's Government pursued in regard to the prorogation of Parliament on the 4th of November, and the calling it together again on the 3rd of December, and the right hon. Gentleman thinks that there were circumstances connected with the condition of the country in the end of October and beginning of November which ought to have led to some different course being adopted from that which the Government did adopt. He did not exactly state that, but he left it to be inferred. There was, however, nothing on the 4th of Nov. which appealed to Her Majesty's Government to call for that course which we afterwards found to be necessary, and we therefore pursued the ordinary mode of proceeding, and prorogued Parliament to the usual period to which from time to time Parliament is prorogued. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to argue as if we had in some way or other, by having prorogued Parliament from the 4th of November to the 17th of December, precluded ourselves from calling it together at an earlier period, even if unforeseen events should arise to make it necessary. The proof that that was not so is the fact of our being assembled here to-day. We knew perfectly well, if any unforeseen event 128 should render an earlier meeting necessary, that the constitution afforded the means of calling us together sooner; and therefore there was nothing in the course which we pursued which could have prevented us meeting at an earlier period, if an earlier period were desirable. The circumstances which led us to recommend to the Bank the step which has been adopted were circumstances which fell suddenly upon us. It became evident to my colleagues and myself that the state of public credit, the state of the different banks and of commercial transactions generally, did require that measure, and if it had not been adopted I believe that great evil and disaster would have resulted. To recommend to the Bank or to any public body to overstep the law is not a matter to be done lightly and without due consideration, and we were unwilling to adopt that course until we found that its necessity was urgently pressed upon us. I believe we did not delay it too long; I am quite sure that we did not do it too soon; and I am satisfied that those who are best acquainted with the state of matters at that moment will do us the justice to think that the occasion required us to do that which I admit no Government ought to do without real, grave, and urgent necessity. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, however, in moving to-morrow the preliminary stage of a Bill of indemnity, will state to the House more in. detail than is expedient at the present moment the various circumstances which made us think that step necessary. In referring to that paragraph, which the right hon. Gentleman treated in his usual gay manner, respecting the perfect peace which fortunately prevails all over Europe, the right hon. Gentleman made some allusion to what fell from me on that festive occasion to which he referred, and he seemed to consider that I had announced to the country that we were in danger of some great invasion, not from the Emperor of China or the King of Naples, but from some other Government from whom aggression was to be apprehended. Sir, I made no such intimation, and I felt no such apprehension. On the contrary, all the Governments of Europe had expressed the most friendly disposition towards us; and with respect to France, I am sure that it is impossible to speak too highly of the friendly communications which we had received from the Government of that country. Not only did the Emperor of the 129 French say that if we were desirous of sending our troops across Egypt to the succour of our East Indian possessions, he would use any influence which he might be supposed to possess over the Government of Egypt for that purpose, hut he even said that if we thought it desirable to send our troops through the territory of France, he would be happy to afford us all the facilities in his power. It would be most ungrateful and most unfounded, indeed, if we were to entertain the slightest notion that there was any unfriendly feeling towards us on the part of a country which had done everything in its power to show the sincerity of the friendship which they felt to this country. The right hon. Gentleman said that the few words which I spoke on that occasion were calculated to animate the hearts of this country. Why, Sir, that was my intention, and not without grounds, for I think that the events in India of which we were then receiving accounts from time to time were calculated to animate the heart of every Englishman. I think that the contemplation of the heroic deeds of our countrymen, scattered as they were throughout every part of India, fighting sometimes as single men, and at others in very small numbers, and resisting the surprises and attacks of superior numbers, were calculated to animate the heart of this country; and the language which I used on that occasion only spoke the sentiments of my fellow-countrymen, and I believe that it was re-echoed from one end of the land to the other. With regard to what the right hon. Gentleman said about the gallant deeds of our countrymen and the gratitude which every man ought to feel towards those brave men who showed themselves worthy of their country in every part of India, I am sure every man in this House must have gone to the full extent of those sentiments which the right hon. Gentleman with so much eloquence, and in a manner so worthy of himself, expressed. I think there is nothing that anybody could say in addition to the high praises which the right hon. Gentleman has passed upon those distinguished men to which this country would not cheerfully assent. It will be my duty on the earliest day which the forms of the House will admit, to bring down a message from the Crown recommending that a provision should be made for Sir Henry Havelock, in addition to the rewards which have been already bestowed upon him. I am 130 sure that the House will feel pleasure in associating itself with the Sovereign in marking the distinguished services of that gallant officer. General Wilson, who has also been created a baronet, is, as is well known, in the service of the East India Company—or, at least, the East India Company claim to have the privilege of doing for him an act similar to that which the Crown will do for Sir Henry Havelock, who is one of the Queen's officers. The right hon. Gentleman wishes that we should now explain to the House what course we mean to recommend with regard to the Government of India and Parliamentary Reform. He would, no doubt, be glad to have these measures to con them over during the Christmas holydays. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman may have the means during that recess of occupying himself in a manner more agreeable and more suited to his genius than in considering the dry details of a Bill about India, or the more complicated details of a Bill about Parliamentary Reform. But, however much he may wish for this sort of Christmas occupation, I am afraid that I cannot indulge him, because it is not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to enter upon these subjects during the short period which will elapse between the present time and that at which we shall adjourn for the Christmas recess. It will be our duty when Parliament meets after that recess to state our views upon these important matters, and I am afraid that till that time the right hon. Gentleman must amuse himself by his own speculations. I cannot but rejoice that upon an occasion on which the heart of the country is fixed upon events which are passing in the other hemisphere—at a moment when the minds of all Englishmen must be dwelling upon the brave actions of our countrymen in India, and upon the mighty events which are dependent upon the exertions of our troops, it has not been thought expedient by the right hon. Gentleman to move any alteration in the Address which this House is desirous of presenting to the Throne. I trust that we shall to night unanimously concur in the Address which my two hon. Friends have with so much ability and good feeling proposed. I trust that we shall exhibit to the country and to the world a spectacle worthy of this great representative assembly at a moment of so much anxious interest, when such great con- 131 cerns are hanging in the balance as the reassertion of our authority over the vast dominion of India—and that this House, feeling the magnitude of the interests at stake, and anxious to show that in moments of danger and difficulty this House and the nation are unanimous in supporting the national interests and in affording every possible assistance to the Crown—I trust, I say, that the party of the right hon. Gentleman opposite will agree with the rest of the House—and that this House will unanimously concur in the Address.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee appointed, to draw up an Address to be presented to Her Majesty upon the said Resolution:—Mr. WYKEHAM MARTIN, Mr. AKROYD, Viscount PALMERSTON, The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER, Sir GEORGE GREY, Mr. Secretary LABOU-CHERE, Sir CHARLES WOOD, Mr. VERNON SMITH, Mr. BAINES, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Mr. HENRY HERBERT, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND, the JUDGE ADVOCATE, Mr. HAYTER, and Mr. FITZROY, or any Five of them:—To withdraw immediately:—
§ Queen's Speech referred.
§ House adjourned at a quarter to Eight o'clock.