HC Deb 31 May 1861 vol 163 cc378-9

Sir, I rise to detain the House for a very few minutes on a matter in some degree personal to myself. In the course of the debate of last evening, the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs alluded to a transaction which he said affected the honour and the character of the Government. At the time I was under the impression—and there were many Irish Members who agreed with me—that there was another class of persons whose character and honour were also affected, and I, therefore, communicated with my noble friend the Member for the town of Galway (Lord Dunkellin), who was one of the persons most prominently interested in the transaction; and, in common with many others of the Irish Members, I requested of him to rise for the purpose of removing the impression which must have remained upon the Committee. The noble Lord, however, was not sufficiently fortunate in catching the eye of Mr. Massey, and, therefore, the Committee went to a division very unfavourably impressed with reference to the Irish Members. At a subsequent period the noble Lord at the head of the Government gave an account of the transaction, which, when informed of it—for I was not present at the time—filled me with surprise. The noble Lord gave an account of the meeting which took place between himself and a reverend gentleman. Now, for my part, I rise to vindicate my personal honour, as well as the honour of several other Members for Ireland, who have requested me to do so, and to declare that the rev. gentleman was totally unauthorized to make the statement which he did. If any such a proposition as the noble Lord describes was made, I cannot find that he had any authority for it—it was a most unwarranted and impertinent interference. I shall not detain the House by dilating on these circumstances, but I am sure hon. Gentlemen can well imagine that our feelings must have been hurt by what has taken place; and I am sure the House is aware that there are gentlemen in Ireland as well as in England. The noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs said he alluded to the matter because it had been commented on by a paper that was universally read. It must be remembered, however, that that paper is not very friendly to Ireland; and this very day there is another insulting article in it on the subject. I am obliged to the House for allowing me to make this personal explanation, and I trust that for the future, though, of course, the noble Lord could only speak according to the information given to him, such accusations as these will not be believed without strict inquiry.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."