HC Deb 18 April 1872 vol 210 cc1479-81

I wish, Sir, to make a short statement, which I think may be for the convenience of the House, with respect to the Motion which stands for to-morrow evening in the name of the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne), who has given Notice of his intention to bring under the consideration of the House the subject of the further provision for the widow of the lamented Lord Mayo. I am not sure whether my hon. Friend will be able to bring it on, but the House will feel it is a subject with regard to which suspense is to be deprecated. When Her Majesty's Government first had the sad occasion put before them which led to the consideration of this question, they, of course, thought it their duty to look back to the precedents which appeared to be most nearly analogous to the case of Lord Mayo, with reference to determining both the amount and the source of a proper provision for the widow of that distinguished and excellent person. Upon examination of these precedents we, of course, found, as might be expected, that none of them precisely corresponded with the case before us. Those which we principally took into consideration were the cases of the widows of Mr. Perceval, Lord Elgin, and Lord Raglan, all of which were in some respects analogous, though none of them presented a complete analogy. We could not arrive at the conclusion that these constituted such a series of precedents as to have become a rule, so that we should make a proposal beyond that which was granted by the Indian Council, and that we should move the Secretary of State for India to urge his Council to make any further grant. The course taken by my hon. Friend the Member for Waterford, in placing his Motion upon the Paper, has given us ample opportunity of ascertaining what is the state of feeling in the House, and there is no question that there is a very general desire in the House—by no means prevailing in any one quarter of it more than another—that some further provision should be made. I should not be doing full justice to the case if I did not add there is a corresponding feeling out-of-doors. We thought it our duty to form our conclusions according to what appeared to be the rules applicable to the case; we do not at all contend that the same limitation applies to Parliament, nor do we think it our duty to carry our own opinions, so formed, to the point of resistance to the general desire. On the contrary, we think any such resistance in a matter of this kind would be a public evil far more serious than any deviation—if there be any deviation—from the strict rule in the consideration of the further provision for Lady Mayo. It is, therefore, our intention to take the matter into consideration—I am not prepared to state at this moment in what precise form; but I am prepared to state, as far as regards the substance of the Motion of my hon. Friend, that we are prepared to concur in the opinion that it is well, under the circumstances, that an addition should be made to the provision already made. I will only say, in conclusion, that it is far more agreeable to me to make that announcement, and to concur in that course, than it would have been to adopt any other line of action; for we are very deeply sensible that every claim that can apply to a case of this kind does exist in the case of the distinguished person the loss of whom we all so much deplore. While making this intimation we, of course, leave it open to my hon. Friend to pursue the course he may think best.


Sir, after the satisfactory statement just made by the Prime Minister, I think I should be wanting in respect to him and to the House generally, if I did not say I am sure that statement will be received by the majority of the House and by the people of this country as a most generous exposition of the sentiments of the Government. Under these circumstances, I cannot hesitate to at once withdraw the Motion which stands in my name for tomorrow night.