§ On the Motion that the Vote for the Irish Secretary's Office be agreed to,
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, that the House would not expect him to agree to this Vote without offering some explanation in answer to the extraordinary statement made during his absence by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Wexford (Mr. MacMahon) when this Vote was before the House. He ought, perhaps, to apologize to the House for being absent when the Vote was taken for the salary and expense of the office which he so lately had the hon., our to fill. His absence, however, from the House was brief and accidental. After the discussion on the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Slough he went to dine, hoping to be back in time, but the earlier Votes in Supply were gone through so rapidly that when he returned the Vote for the Chief Secretary's Office had been already agreed to. He was then told there had been some discussion on the manner in which he had fulfilled the duties of his office, and next morning he saw by the report in the newspapers that the hon. and learned Member for Wexford had used the following language:—He regretted the absence of the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman), who was formerly Chief Secretary for Ireland, but he felt it his duty to say that he thought that right hon. Gentleman was entirely above his office. When the right hon. Gentleman first held the office, he (Mr. MacMahon) wished to see him occasionally on public business, but it was very difficult to find him. He. (Mr. MacMahon) perhaps found him once at his office, but he did not think he found bins twice. When he intended to put a question in the House, of which he wished to give the right hon. Gentleman notice, it was very difficult to find him there; and at last he (Mr. M'Mahon) abandoned all attempts to give the right hon. Gentleman notice of any question he wished to put."—The Times.Now, this charge, which he thought the House would agree with him in considering a very serious one, amounted to this, that 1451 for two years, during which he held flu office of Chief Secretary for Ireland, enjoying its advantages and receiving its emoluments, he was so culpably neglectful of his duty and so habitually absent from his office, that Irish Members of Parliament, wishing to transact business with him, found it impossible to do so, and were obliged to abandon all attempts to transact public business with him, If any man pretending to a character and conscience could hear such a charge without being able to refute it he ought to be ashamed to show his face, and the Minister who was said to have permitted such conduct for two years would have been censurable if he had not dismissed the person who had been guilty of it in two months. Now, he was able to state, not only that the facts as stated by the hon. and learned Member were not consistent with the truth, but that they were diametrically opposed to the truth. He meant of course—[An hon. MEMBER: In a Parliamentary sense.] He did not mean to say anything personally offensive to the hon. and learned Gentleman, but in self-defence he was bound to make a statement, and if the hon. and learned Gentleman should find it offensive lie would only have himself to blame. The hon. and learned Gentleman not only stated that he went to see him on business, but he specified the particular business, namely, to give him notice of a question in this House, and that he was at last obliged to abandon all attempts to do so. Now, every Gentleman in that House knew that the usual mode of giving notice to a Minister was not by calling on him, but by writing him a note, or better still, by putting the notice on the Votes. But he would pass that by, and he would take the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman in its broadest sense, that for two years he endeavoured to transact business with him, and was obliged to abandon any further attempt. Now when he accepted the office of Chief Secretary for Ireland he had to consider his relations with the different political parties into which Irish Members were divided. There were, first, the Liberal Members who supported the Government, with whom his relations were of an intimate and confidential character. There were then the Irish Members who supported the Government now in power, with whom, as political opponents, his relations were not so confidential, although they were characterized by the frankness and unreserve with which Gentlemen even of different political opinions could transact 1452 business. He saw many hon. Gentlemen sitting on the other side with whom he had transcted business, and he would ask them if they had ever been able to discover from his mode of transacting affairs with them whether he was a political opponent or not? There was a third section—not a party, but ft certain number of hon. Gentleman, perhaps five or six—who sat on the Opposition side of the House, and were owned by neither party. They professed to be elected on the principle of independent opposition, which meant opposition to all Governments which did not make certain impossible concessions ["No!"]—that was to say, it was their endeavour to render, as far as they could, all Government impossible. Those hon. Gentlemen styled themselves Members of the Liberal party; but he invariably and steadily refused to recognize or communicate with them in that character. He knew that the Government which he represented had no sympathy with their views. He knew that the Irish Members had no association or fellowship in their proceedings; and although he was as ready to transact business with them as with any other Members, he still had found it necessary from circumstances that had occurred to fence round that transaction of business with a degree of caution and circumspection which he did not think it necessary to exercise with other Members. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that on one occasion, soon after he had taken office, he was fortunate enough to find him, but he was never successful enough to do so a second time. He was not at all disposed to dispute that statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He recollected the interview. It was sought by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and was of some duration. It was upon a matter of public business, and his reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman was, that he could receive no verbal request, and could give no verbal answer; but if the hon. and learned Gentleman would have the goodness to place himself in communication by writing he would reply to him by letter. He did that upon a rule which he had laid down for himself that in certain cases his business communications with Members should be in writing, and recorded, so as to be produced at any moment. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] The House would remember that he was making his statement in reply to a charge made against him by the hon. and learned Gentleman. He was stating the mode of transacting business 1453 which he adopted. If a Member on either side of the House called he was readily admitted. If the hon. and learned Gentleman called he would be referred in the first intance to his secretary, who would ask whether the matter was urgent and could not be communicated in writing, and if it could be so communicated the hon. Gentleman would be requested to write. He was sorry to have to make this statement, but when the hon and learned Gentleman asserted that for two years he sought and could not find him, he was bound to state the rule which he had been compelled to lay down upon his own discretion, in the exercise of his own responsibility, and for reasons which had been forced upon him and which he should have been prepared to state and vindicate to the satisfaction of the House. Two hon. Members with whom he had frequently transacted business, appeared by their speeches the other night to give some confirmation to the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman. It was with pain and regret that he heard the impression created in the House that those hon. Members were parties to the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and he was sure that on reflection they would correct it. In defending the vote against an assault upon it, avowedly founded upon the authority of a speech which he had made at Stroud, it was natural that they should endeavour to discredit that authority, and they might convey to the House an impression rather different from that which they intended. He made no complaint of this, but as to the office itself he was prepared to adhere to every syllable of the speech, and to give evidence to substantiate it. He only regretted that he had made the statement so public, because he did it under the impression, which turned out to be erroneous, that the office of Lord Lieutenant was on the eve of abolition. If he had not felt there was some reason to believe that the abolition was intended he should have felt that the statement was inconsistent with the consideration which he felt was due to his right hon. Friend who succeeded him, and to whom he paid that consideration both as a duty and as a pleasure. To show the onerous character of the office, it was stated the other night by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the duties of the Secretary of State for Ireland were identical with those of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, but he was sure the right hon. 1454 Gentleman who made that statement would, after a moment's reflection, see how inadvertently he had expressed Ids opinion, and how calculated it was to mislead the House. The Secretary of State for the Home Department had an office in London, he presided over all the duties of the. office, every paper was under his eye, and every person who came on business might, if he pleased, have access to himself. The office of the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant was in Ireland. Its duties were performed in Dublin, and he was sure he was under the mark when he said that out of every hundred papers not more than one came under his eye. The number of letters received by the Home Secretary might be counted, not by scores, but perhaps by hundreds a day. But it was a very high average to say that half a dozen letters came from the Irish office to the Chief Secretary daily. There were about thirty clerks in the office of the Home Secretary. The number of clerks in the office in London of the Irish Secretary was one, and that one was very insufficiently employed. In the interview which he had with his predecessor on taking office, he expressed his great amazement that there was only one clerk. The answer was—"And he has not half enough to do," and his own experience very soon satisfied him of that fact. The day after his appointment, full of new official ardour, he went to the office at ten o'clock in the morning. His reception was such as any gentleman might have met with when he had arrived at an inn early in the morning and there was no one up but the "boots." The fires were not lighted, the rooms were not swept, and when he asked where was his one clerk, he was told that the clerk might be expected to appear about twelve or one o'clock. He felt that all this required great reform. He gave strict injunctions that official hours should begin at ten o'clock, that his clerk establishment should then appear, and he showed indications of such a revolution in the office that he believed every one connected with it began fervently to pray for a change of Government. This went on for some weeks, but he found that until the arrival of the Irish post in the afternoon there was very little correspondence, and that until the Irish Members began to move down to the House between three and four there were no interviews, and he got positively ashamed of the cruelty he was practising on the clerk in making him do 1455 penance from ten in the morning, sitting in solitude with no business to occupy him. After a few weeks he relaxed the discipline, and gave his clerk more liberty, and, in one respect, he took more liberty himself. His own house was in the immediate vicinity of the Irish Office—so close that, sitting in his room in the Irish Office he could see everybody who entered his own house. He therefore did take the liberty of transacting a great portion of the business at his own house instead of at the office. But the strict rule was laid down that everybody who called at the office was told that he was across the way, if they liked to go over, or that if they would sit down he would immediately come over to them. He frequently came over; and there was not an instance in which those who called were delayed so long as nineteen out of every twenty persons who called on official men. He told his secretary also to make it his business to discover the smallest complaint or dissatisfaction upon that ground, and, not once or twice, but fifty times, he asked Irish Members whether there was any objection on their part to his receiving them at his own house instead of at the office, telling them that if there were the smallest desire on their parts that he should do so, he was willing to spend the day at his office. He received on every occasion an answer as sincere as it was courteous, and he thought it was sincere because it was followed by their coming to his house and transacting business just as freely as if he had been at the office at Whitehall. The hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. Bagwell) stated that he only found him once.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, the hon. Member could not have much knowledge of the system, as he only came into Parliament a fortnight before the dissolution, and therefore he was only a fortnight in office after the hon. Member was elected. In that fortnight the hon. Member came and introduced himself as the newly elected Member for Clonmel. The conversation was general upon Irish affairs. It lasted one or two hours, and at the end the hon. Member thanked him, and told him he had had so agreeable a visit that he hoped to have the pleasure of repeating it very often. He sincerely reciprocated that desire, and one of the losses which he felt he sustained by his subsequent retirement was the loss of so many of those visits which he 1456 had been allowed to look forward to with such agreeable anticipations. But though he lost office he had not lost. the acquaintance or friendship of the hon. Gentleman. That had continued, and he hoped would continue as long as they were in Parliament together. But during the whole time that he had been in office the hon. Member for King's County (Mr. P. O'Brien) had been in Parliament, and he would appeal to him whether there had ever been any delay in answering his letters, or in fixing an interview, or whether he was aware that any single matter connected with the official business had been allowed to go into arrear. Certainly, with whatever other defect he might be chargeable he was not conscious of having shown any desire to shrink from labour, and he had never expected that the mere transaction of public business on one side of a street instead of the other would have been brought forward as a serious charge against him. The Chancellor of the Exchequer the other evening had made some observations, in a strain of pleasantry, complimentary to him as to the cause of his retirement from office, but that question was so purely personal that he should not be guilty of taking up the time of the House in alluding to it. Had his position, however, been such in the House as to justify him, he should have been most anxious to make a short statement on that point, because he knew there was nothing in his conduct during the whole of his tenure of office which was dishonourable or selfish. During his whole tenure of office, he had never exchanged a single word with any Irish Member or with any of his colleagues which he could feel pain on remembering. He had taken office under the noble Lord at the head of the Government with feelings of great sympathy for the difficulties under which he was placed in carrying on the war; he quitted office with feelings towards the noble Lord equally warm. He was quite aware that any Member, particularly one who had held office, who took any step or made any speech which was unpalatable to any parties in the House, very naturally subjected himself to a great many sinister rumours and to the imputation of personal motives. Of this result of Parliamentary warfare he could not complain, and he would only ask the House to believe that he should be able to meet any rumours in circulation with as complete a refutation, the moment they were brought forward publicly, as he had 1457 been able to give to the statements of the hon. and learned Member for Wexford. He thanked the House for the kindness with which they had listened to him; and if it should appear that he had occupied too much of their time, his only apology was to be found in his respect for the House, and his desire to retain the good opinion and confidence of those friends around him with whom he had long and consistently acted, and which he valued far more than any object of mere party or political connections.
said, he felt placed in a very peculiar position, singled out as he was by the right hon. Gentleman from among those who had taken part in the debate on this subject the other evening, and who had gone quite as far, or even further, than he had. The right hon. Gentleman who possessed every advantage that political experience and social position could give him, had attacked him, apparently, because he was a member of the smallest party in the House, numbering only sonic five or six members; and he had passed over entirely the two hon. Gentlemen the Members for Clonmel and King's County. The right hon. Gentleman had, moreover, begun his attack with this advantage, that he had led the House to believe that he (Mr. MacMahon) had made during the right hon. Gentleman's absence, a charge against him diametrically opposed to the truth. The statement which he had made was, that the right hon. Gentleman was "above his business." That was merely a matter of opinion, but he felt bound to retract it at once. He no longer thought that the right hon. Gentleman was above his office, but he should be able to show before he sat down that he was very much below it. The remainder of the charge was, that he had had great difficulty in finding the right hon. Gentleman at his office—that though be might have seen him once, he didn't think he had seen him twice. The right hon. Gentleman had just admitted that this was a perfectly true statement. The right hon. Gentleman's own account was, that he had seen him once under peculiar circumstances, and that he had never seen him again, because he had laid down a rule to treat the party to which he belonged as utterly unworthy of personal communication, and whenever any of the gentlemen belonged to it called at the office, the clerk was ordered to tell them that the right hon. Gentleman could not be seen but only 1458 communicated with by letter. He left the House, then, to say whose statement was—not in a Parliamentary but in a moral sense—diametrically opposed to the truth, and whether the statement he had made was not the very truth itself. That he had seen the right hon. Gentleman once and never again, was what he had himself just admitted, and which he had stated was the necessary consequence of a certain line of conduct laid down by him to be observed towards a certain party. He was certainly not so well known either in or out of the House as the right hon. Gentleman, but no one had the slightest pretence or warrant for saying that, so long as he had been in the House his word was not equal to that of any man in the empire; nor had any one the slightest reason for suspecting that he would be likely to make use in public of a communication made to him in private. It was true that he had ceased to give the right hon. Gentleman notice of questions to be put to him in the House, for he had got quite tired of coming down and not finding the right hon. Gentleman there, while his co-ordinate subordinates laughed in his face, as if it were a good "sell." The right hon. Gentleman, he found, was treating him and his friends just as his superiors were treating the great Liberal party. The fact was that he (Mr. MacMahon) was a member of the really independent Opposition in that House—the really independent Liberals, and they were not to be treated with the confidence and courtesy which were usual among gentlemen, because upon the hustings they had pledged themselves to certain measures, in this House had adhered to those pledges, and had not condescended to gain their seats in Parliament upon false pretences. As to the right hon. Gentleman being above his place, that was a complimentary statement, and the right hon. Gentleman instead of being annoyed, ought to have felt flattered by it. No doubt it was an entire mistake to say so. The right hon. Gentleman would have the House think that he was a most efficient Secretary, but the general opinion in Ireland was that he was about the worst they had had for many years. Not very long ago the hon. and gallant Member for Roscommon (Colonel French) had thus spoken in the House of the state of affairs in Ireland when the right hon. Gentleman was there:—"The common description of the Government of Ireland when he (Mr. Horsman) was there, was—Carlisle did 1459 the dancing, Horsman the hunting, and Larcom the business." The right hon. Gentleman was present when those words were used, but the hon. and gallant Member of Roscommon had a party to back him, so the right hon. Gentleman made no reply. To show that he was not singular in the opinion which he entertained of the right hon. Gentleman he would read to the House an extract from a speech made recently at a public meeting in Dublin by Lord Talbot de Malahide, one of the right hon. Gentleman's own order, and whom he could not charge with saying that which was diametrically opposed to the truth. In that speech Lord Talbot de Malahide was reported in the public papers to have said:—There never was a Chief Secretary that did less to carry out that administration in a proper manner. They all knew that he never set his foot in the country when he could avoid it; and when he did remain in it he never attended properly to the duties of the office. It was a very extraordinary thing that Mr. Horsman should have spoken as he did of the office, after his own conduct while holding it.Then he went on:—If he (the Chief Secretary) was not an Irishman, there ought to be a sine qua non that lie made himself thoroughly acquainted with the country, and he would begin by submitting him to one of those examinations now so popular. And, perhaps, some Chief Secretaries they had known would not have been the worse of a preliminary examination in Irish geography. He would have them taught the geographical difference between Cavan and Westmeath, and between Ulster and Connaught.Apparently a difference which the right hon. Gentleman was unacquainted with.He strongly suspected that their late Chief Secretary would not have passed such an examination creditably.That was said some time since, and the right hon. Gentleman had never contradicted it. When Lord Talbot de Malahide said that he did not think the right hon. Gentleman could have passed a competitive examination, he might at all events have attempted to rebut that charge. He assured the House, with respect to what he had stated the other evening, that he believed at the time that he alleged nothing that was not metaphysically and morally correct. He said that the right hon. Gentleman was above his office, meaning thereby that he looked down upon it as beneath him and unworthy of him. He had in his mind at the time the case of the evictions in Connaught. The right hon. Gentleman, when not in office, was a very 1460 vehement denunciator of the oppression of the Irish poor law, and as the right hon. Gentleman was in office when that case came on, he thought that it would be certain to receive a fair and impartial consideration. He called upon the right hon. Gentleman, but no, he would not state what occurred at that interview, because they were alone, and the right hon. Gentleman might deny it. He should confine himself to stating what occurred in the House when the question was discussed. Many persons took part in the debate, among others the right hon. Gentleman's chief, the noble Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston), and the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), while the right hon. Gentleman discharged the duty so long ago described by Curran as appropriate to an Irish Secretary of one of the "mutes of the Castle." He had stated that the right hon. Gentleman was above his office. That was a matter of opinion. It was now clear that he was never equal to it. During the whole course of his career in Ireland he had not left upon the Statute book a single measure worthy of the character of any man pretending to the position of a statesman, much less of one aspiring to be hereafter the premier and leader of the Liberals of this country. It might be said that he passed the Bill abolishing ministers' money. But that was not so; for that injustice was virtually abolished by the Act of 1854, passed by the Aberdeen Government. Well, what had the right hon. Gentleman done? To an Irish Secretary possessed of administrative abilities there was a great field of usefulness open in Ireland. Neither the grand jury system, nor the municipal system, nor other great evils, had the right hon. Gentleman touched; and beyond the merely technical Bills connected with bankruptcy and insolvency (and which by the way were calculated as much to promote jobbery as legal reform) and the little Bill for facilitating the ejectment of cottiers, the only two measures which this great condemner of Irish grievances—this paulo post futurum Minister—had passed, were the Crime and Outrage Bill of 1855, and the Peace Preservation Bill of 1856. He thanked the House for the patience with which they had listened to his address, and while he regretted to have occupied so much time in a matter personal to himself, he rejoiced that the right hon. Gentleman had at length been developed in his true colours. He was a type of that class of politicians 1461 who, if not pretending, at all events professed, liberal politics, and who put themselves forward as the denouncers of popular wrongs when they were out of office; but who, when they got hold of the crumbs of office, munched them until they were satiated, and then claimed credit from the public fur throwing away the residue. If he (Mr. MacMahon) were to go into the matter fully he could show that the right hon. Gentleman was not entitled to the credit of having, on his own free motion, and from pure motives, resigned his office in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman was no doubt still anxious for office. He was one of those who hovered about the outer ring of official life, always panting for place. He had once been employed in Ireland. He probably did not expect to be employed there again, His next situation therefore must be in the service of the people of England, and it was quite right that the public of this country should know the kind of character he received from his last masters.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he could not but regret that the time of the House should be occupied with matters purely and exclusively of a personal character. With repect to the charge of want of courtesy alleged to have been exhibited by his right hon. Friend in his intercourse with Irish Members, he of course had no means of judging of the nature of that intercourse; but with reference to the more general charge, that he had held for two years or more an office of considerable emolument and of high position, and that he had neglected the duties of that office, he was bound to say, that being Secretary of State for the Home Department during the whole of that period, he had always found his right hon. Friend to be well informed on Irish subjects, and that he had never failed to receive from him the greatest assistance in the conduct of Irish affairs. While a sense of justice compelled him to bear this testimony to his right hon. Friend, he could not concur in the opinion which he had expressed, that because in the Irish Office in London there was no duty to be performed at an early hour in the morning, or before the arrival of the Irish post, therefore the office of Chief Secretary ought to be abolished. He could not concur in what regard right hon. Friend had said with regard to the duties of the Chief Secretaryship, and the public would be altogether led astray if they imagined that those duties 1462 were such as his right hon. Friend had represented them to be.
said, he did not rise to continue this painful discussion to any length; but it was impossible for him to sit there and take no notice of the declaration of a right hon. Gentleman who had held the office of Chief Secretary for Ireland that its duties were light, insignificant, and unworthy of the energies of a Member of that House. Let him remind the House that the Chief Secretary was responsible in that House for the good government of Ireland. He should like to know how any man who discharged the duties of that office conscientiously could remain in it without making himself perfectly informed upon every important question connected with the government of Ireland. The government of Ireland had not been at all times one of the easiest problems that a statesman had to solve. Some of the most distinguished statesmen of the country had held the office of Chief Secretary for Ireland. The Duke of Wellington held it for two years, Sir Robert Peel for five years, Mr. Goulburn for six years, Viscount Hardinge for one year, the Earl of Carlisle for five years, Sir William Somerville for five years, and the Earl of Derby, he believed, for three years. Could it be for a moment believed that men of their character, position, and intelligence would have consented to hold that office for so long a period if it were, as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Horsman) had described it to be, little more than a sinecure? It was perfectly true that the establishment of Chief Secretary was in Dublin, but throughout the whole of the Session it was the duty of the Chief Secretary to be in attendance in that House to answer every question that might be put with regard to the government of Ireland. He believed that no man, even one of such transcendant abilities as the right hon. Gentleman himself, could properly discharge the duties of Chief Secretary without subjecting himself to great labour and patience. He (Lord Naas) did not hold himself up as a model Chief Secretary, but he could appeal to any hon. Gentleman who had ever held the office, to say whether its duties were entirely unworthy of his abilities and attention. So far as the present Session was concerned, many Bills of the highest importance had been introduced, and he hoped to be able to show that he was at least conversant with the objects of those Bills, and also 1463 that the Government of which he was a Member were endeavouring to confer great benefits upon the country by passing those measures. He could not listen to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman as to the duties of the Chief Secretary without giving to it an unqualified contradiction. The right hon. Gentleman was, perhaps, unsuccessful in his office, but he (Lord Naas) hoped that he should never have the misfortune of placing himself, with respect to any section of the Irish representatives, in the same position as the right hon. Gentleman had assumed.
§ MR. J. D. FITZGERALD
said, he did not desire to infuse anything personal into this discussion, but as the hon. and learned Member for Wexford (Mr. MacMahon) had alluded to him as one of the "co-ordinate subordinates" of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud, he begged to deny that he had ever sneered at any Irish Member when he was interrogated upon Irish matters. While he held the office of Attorney General for Ireland he had a good deal of personal communication with the hon. and learned Gentleman, and he always answered his questions without the slightest reserve. His right hon. Friend had done himself great injustice by disparaging the office of Chief Secretary for Ireland. In fact, no man in the House had done more injustice to the right hon. Gentleman than himself (Mr. Horsman), when he stated that the duties of that office were insignificant. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to have forgotten that the Parliamentary Session lasted for six months, during the whole of which the Chief Secretary was or ought to be in his place in Parliament to attend to Irish affairs, which required great labour and attention. He could state for himself (Mr. FitzGerald) that as one of the subordinates of the Irish Government during the administration of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton he had to attend twelve, thirteen, and sometimes fourteen hours a day to his Parliamentary and other duties, and was obliged to abandon his private professional business. His right hon. Friend ought to have recollected that he held the office of Chief Secretary while Ireland was, beyond precedent, quiet, contented, and prosperous; but that notwithstanding that fortunate state of Ireland, his attention ought to have been devoted to the preparation of measures for advancing the prosperity of the country. He might appeal 1464 to the right hon. Gentleman's successor (Mr. Herbert) whether he did not find the duties of Chief Secretary far otherwise than such as only demanded his attention two out of every twenty-four hours. The right hon. Gentleman's successor applied himself diligently to the discharge of his duties, and his industry was shown by the five important Bills which he had upon the table last Session relating to Ireland.
§ COLONEL FRENCH
observed, that he could see no reason why the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud should have selected certain Members to communicate with by letter, while he was personally accessible to others. If it had been said that the Government of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton had received the support of the Irish Members in consequence of the adhesion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud, it might also be said that the noble Lord had lost the confidence of others in consequence of his selection of an Irish Secretary.
§ MR. VANCE
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud had no right to make any distinction between the hon. and learned Member for Wexford and the other Irish Members. He should not have risen if the right hon. Gentleman had not appealed to Irish Members sitting on the Ministerial side of the House to say, whether he had not treated them with courtesy during his administration of Irish affairs. The courtesy with which they were treated was a matter of opinion, but his mode of conducting business was a matter of fact. He asserted that the right hon. Gentleman's mode of conducting Irish business was very much calculated to inconvenience Irish Members. The constant practice was to put Irish Bills at the bottom of the paper, so that they did not come before the House till the very latest hour. He had not only to complain of that, but also that when any Irish Member who occupied a seat on the Opposition benches during the late Administration, asked the right hon. Gentleman, whether or not he would proceed with a Bill, it was impossible to extract an answer from him, so that the Irish Members had to be in attendance every night until the House adjourned, lest Irish Bills should be pressed forward in their absence. He had not received such treatment from either the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor or his successor.
§ MR. BLAND
said, he rose to repeat in 1465 the right hon. Gentleman's presence what he had said in his absence. What he meant to say was, that in the communications which he had had with the right hon. Gentleman he had been treated with the greatest courtesy, but that he was absent from Ireland at times when his presence there might have been necessary, and he was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman had not extended the rule under which he had been treated to all Irish Members.
§ MR. BAGWELL
remarked, that he wished to state that what he had said on a previous occasion was strictly correct. He had not ever met the right hon. Gentleman at his office, although he had at his private residence. He, however, had felt that the observation which he had thus made was uncalled for, and he had written next morning to the right hon. Gentleman to express his regret fur having made it.
§ MR. HORSMAN
begged to say one word in explanation. The hon. and learned Member for Wexford (Mr. MacMahon) complained that he had singled him out from the others who had attacked him. The reason of his doing so was, that other hon. Gentlemen told him they had been misunderstood, and that they would state so in the House.
§ Resolutions agreed to.
§ Order for Committee of Supply read;