HC Deb 21 June 1861 vol 163 cc1460-1

said, in pursuance of notice, he rose to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, What he considers the position of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to be with reference to the Government of that Country, and whether the Earl of Carlisle intends to retain that office? As to the office itself he (Colonel Dickson) thought the Irish people generally wished for its continuance; and if the opinion of the individual who filled the office was properly considered, and he desired to pursue a wise policy in regard to that country, it might be one of great utility. He believed that the noble Earl who at present filled that office was thoroughly imbued with the desire to promote the prosperity of the country. It was absolutely necessary, however, that the person filling that office should be consulted, and whatever opinion was entertained by him with respect to the welfare of the country ought to be fully carried out. It had been a reproach to the Government that they had not in their councils a single Irishman; but at the present time that ought to be considered more as a necessity than as a subject of reproach, because, after what had lately happened, no candidate could show his face on the hustings in Ireland with much chance of success as the regular supporter of the present Government. The present Chief Secretary for Ireland could have no very intimate knowledge of the opinions, or, if they chose to call them so, the prejudices of Irishmen. Nevertheless, unsupported as he was by even an Irish Lord of the Treasury, he stood forward on the present occasion, utterly ignoring the existence of a Lord Lieutenant, and acting more as a Minister for Ireland than as that noble Earl's secretary, lie (Colonel Dickson) had no wish to open again the question of the Galway contract, but that contract which had been agreed to by lion. Gentlemen on his side of the House, had been steadily opposed by hon. Members opposite, until the hostility to it culminated in its abrupt annulment by the Postmaster General, who stood notoriously before the public as certainly a strong partisan. The Government had taken upon itself to adopt this proceeding and to share the responsibility of the con- duct of their colleague. The Secretary for Ireland called it a departmental question, and deliberately stated that he did not think there was any occasion to consult the Lord Lieutenant in the matter, because he had nothing to do with it. If this were so he should like to know what could not be called a departmental question? If the Government acted in a similar manner to the Governor General of India or the Governor of a colony he would resign immediately. In his opinion the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland ought to have the immediate control of the government of that country—of course with the assistance of his colleagues. In saying this he spoke as an Irish representative, and asked that the same treatment should be accorded to that country which was given to other colonies or dependencies of this country, lie hoped the noble Lord would distinctly state what he considered was the proper position of the Lord Lieutenant. He could not conceive any more contemptible position for a British Peer than to be the puppet of his own Secretary, while he appeared in the borrowed plumes of mock loyalty, and aped the pageantry of a Royal Court, while he had not an atom of power to carry his own views into effect, or to do anything that he considered would benefit the people.