HC Deb 30 July 1866 vol 184 cc1666-8

I ask permission to make an explanation of a personal nature, and in order to facilitate my doing so I shall conclude with a Motion. I have seen attacks made upon me in the organ of the hon. Member for Birmingham, and as these attacks have been copied and widely circulated I think it is incumbent on me to notice them. I regret that I have been previously unable to do so, having been prevented from attending the House both on Thursday and Friday evenings. The charge made against me was that I stated in this House, when it was not the fact, that the letter of the hon. Member for Birmingham inciting the collection of the mobs in the Royal Park was written subsequently to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the statement of the right hon. Baronet the late Home Secretary. Now it appears that in making that statement I was wrong. [Cheers from the Opposition.] Perhaps hon. Members opposite who have given that cheer will not again cheer in the interest of the hon. Member for Birmingham when they hear the entire of my statement. It is perfectly true that the letter was dated on the 19th of July, and that the debate took place on the 19th. The writing of the letter, therefore, preceded the discussion; but it is equally true that the publication of that letter did not take place until Monday, the 23rd of July, and it was sent for publication on the 22nd of July. Therefore, when the hon. Member sent his letter for publication in the morning papers of the 23rd of July, he must have perused the debate that had taken place in this House on the 19th of July. The mistake which I made was, I should have used the word "published" instead of the word "written." With that exception my statement was perfectly accurate. This, then, presented only another feature showing the want of frankness with which the hon. Member for Bir- mingham has behaved throughout these painful discussions. The charge of misstatement, and in one case of falsehood, which has been brought against me will not prevent me from expressing the opinion which I still hold, that the letter of the hon. Gentleman was a most pernicious letter. ["Order, order!"]


rose to order. He asked whether it was fair of the hon. Gentleman to attack an hon. Member thus in his absence.


said, he understood the hon. Member for Honiton to rise for the purpose of making a personal explanation. The distinction between that and making a charge against others was very great. But when any charge was to be made against a newspaper, the rule of the House was that the objectionable paragraph should be read at the table, and then the Member complaining should proceed to make a Motion. The hon. Gentleman rose to make a personal explanation, and he must confine himself within the limits of his explanation.


I bow, of course, to your authority, Sir, although I have been grossly attacked. I maintain that I have virtually stated the exact truth; and the charge of misstatement may be applied to the hon. Member for Birmingham and not to me. [Cries of "Move, move!"] I move that the House do adjourn.


said, he begged to second the Motion for adjournment, considering that the hon. Member for Honiton had only added aggravation to his original charge—the aggravation being as unfounded as was the original charge. The hon. Member had stated that night that although the hon. Member for Birmingham wrote the letter on the 19th instant, which, as had been admitted, was before the speeches referred to were delivered—the hon. Member for Honiton had stated another gross inaccuracy, by saying that the hon. Member for Birmingham sent the letter to the newspapers on the 22nd. [Mr. BAILLIE COCHRANE: I said it appeared so.] And the letter appeared on the 23rd. His belief was that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham never sent the letter for publication. It was addressed to a private individual, and that individual probably sent it to the newspapers. It was not because any of them addressed a letter to an individual and he forwarded it to the newspapers for publication some days afterwards, that the original writer was to be called to account for the other's publishing it.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Baillie Cochrane.)


Will the House permit me—["Order, order!"]


called the attention of the House to the fact that these statements were made in the absence of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham was the last man in Great Britain and Ireland to shrink from responsibility in consequence of any letter he had ever written or any act he had ever committed. This course of proceeding was not in accordance with the usual practice of the House or with English feeling.


said, he took advantage of the Motion before the House to inform the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland that he should move an Amendment to the further extension of the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland on the second reading on the proposed extension Bill.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.