§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, he believed he was now in order, and he wished to ask a question of the right hon. Gentleman opposite.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not in order if his question is not relevant to the Bill before the House.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, he would put himself in order by moving the adjournment of the debate. In doing so he did not wish to intrude upon the attention of the House, but he thought it most important that they should clearly understand whether these papers which had been received by the Government to-day would certainly be laid upon the table of the House, and be printed by to-morrow. In a debate of this great importance—["Order!"]—he wished to ask again whether there was any reason of which the right hon. Gentleman knew why these papers should not be in the hands of Members tomorrow? He wished to know whether it was the intention of the Government to produce them or not?
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCEQUER
I thought my answer to the question was sufficiently clear. The hon. Baronet must remember that when papers of importance are received by the Government (and I have only seen these papers within the last hour), there are many considerations for a Minister before he can give a promise that they shall be placed upon the table, of the House, The Government have not only to consider the public interests, but the feelings of many individuals whose names may be introduced before they can conic to a decision. All I undertook was, that if these papers are presented to Parliament—and on this point I can give no opinion—I shall take I, care that they are presented in sufficient time to be in the hands of Members tomorrow morning.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I think the question of my hon. Friend (Sir J. Shelley) is perfectly reasonable. He asks that papers which have reached this country—some of which contain observations against the Proclamation, and others contain the views of Lord Canning—shall be placed I before Parliament. I can understand that there may be remarks affecting individuals, or statements which ought not to be published; but I cannot conceive that because we are in a great debate, and it is admitted that up to this time we are not in possession of the grounds upon which the Government have acted, it would be right for the Government totally and entirely to refuse the production of these papers. Some modification may be necessary, but I think the right hon. Gentleman cannot but agree to the production of papers which certainly ought to be in our possession.
§ MR. W. VANSITTART
said, the noble Lord opposite (Viscount Palmerston) had said that the late Government received four Letters. He wished to know whether Lord Canning had sent any more than four?
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been quite misunderstood by the noble Lord the Member for London. He understood his right hon. Friend to say that important despatches had arrived which required consideration. Surely the 930 noble Lord would not be an advocate for laying papers upon the table without due consideration being given to them. The House had already read them a lesson upon the subject, and therefore he thought his right hon. Friend would neglect his public duty if he, in the absence of concert with his colleagues, and without due consideration, promised to lay those papers upon the table.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I did not say that the papers should be produced without due consideration. I meant only to say that they should not be totally refused.
The despatches received by the right hon. Gentleman the late President of the Board of Control relate directly to the present subject of debate, and appear to be a sequel to other despatches and letters previously received. I think it but fair that the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton, and the right hon. Gentleman the late President of the Board of Control, should give us all those parts of the despatches and letters which do not relate to private matters, but do relate to the public affairs of India; so that they may be laid upon the table at the same time as the despatches which have just been received from the Governor General. I have no doubt the noble Lord will see the reasonableness of my request, and, as he had full time to consider the nature of those letters, that he will entirely concur in my views as to the desirableness of placing the documents on the table of the House.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
If we had received any despatches, we should have been happy to lay them on the table of the House.
I refer not to despatches, but to letters relating to public matters, although some people have called them "private communications."
said, he could not but think the noble Lord the Member for London had mistaken the answer which his right bon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave to the hon. Baronet. It was perfectly clear that a Minister of the Crown, who had received important despatches only an hour before, could not promise to lay them before the House without consulting his colleagues. All his right bon. Friend could say was, that if, after consulting his colleagues, the papers could be laid before the House, they should be in the hands of the Members to-morrow morning.
§ MR. AYRTON
wished to point out the extraordinary course which was being pressed upon the Government. The Motion was framed with the express object of excluding from consideration the cause and the consequences of the Proclamation; but now there was a wonderful desire to have both the cause and the consequences considered. If the mover of the Resolution wished to go into those questions, he should do so honestly, by amending his Motion. Why not ask for all papers, and demand either the approval or condemnation of the Proclamation? Let the right hon. Gentleman take that course, or abide by that into which he had fallen—namely, of considering the despatch apart from the question which it raised. Though it might become the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cardwell) to abide by what he had done, it would not become the House to follow so bad an example.
§ Motion by leave withdrawn.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 2°,and committed for Friday, 28th May.