§ The Earl of Harrowby moved the third reading of the Irish Insurrection act.
The Earl of Darnley
said, that nothing but the strongest necessity could have induced him to give his consent to the present measure; but undoubtedly something of this kind was necessary, and the necessity would continue unless the House would agree to probe the various evils of Ireland to the bottom. Whatever was done would be useless, unless it was bottomed on the great principle of making every individual in that country equal in civil rights, let his religious opinions he what they might.
The Marquis of Lansdown
said, that he found himself compelled to give his assent to the motion; and he should give it with even greater reluctance than he now did, if he felt that it was a measure for the security of the rich only; but he had all along felt that it was the duty of the legislature, with a view to the interest of the poor as well as the rich, to maintain the tranquillity of the country and the security of property: for as many of the evils of Ireland arose from the small portion of wealth in that country, what would be the state of it, if persons of wealth were compelled, from the insecurity of life and property, to withdraw and. become non-residents? He would, next session, propose an extension of the inquiry, not to the whole of Ireland, but- 1103 to the districts where the Insurrection act had been in operation, as well as in those where it should be in force at the time.
said, that, after the repeated discussions on this measure, and the almost unanimous agreement of the committee in recommending the renewal of it, together with the concurring opinion of persons whom he had been accustomed to look up to with deference, he did not mean to press upon their lordships the objections to this measure which he deeply felt; but he should avail himself of his privilege of recording on the Journals his reasons against it. His objections to the bill were not founded on any doubt which he entertained of the disturbances in that country, but were such as were expressed by a member of that House nearly 30 years ago (then sir L. Parsons), that so far from such measures tranquillizing Ireland, they tended to perpetuate the disturbances which they pretended to allay. He objected to the bill, because it tended to make the gentry and magistracy look to the violation, instead of the maintenance of the law, for their security; and because it taught the wretched peasantry to regard the laws as a conspiracy of the rich against the poor. He admitted, that the administration of this law might be temperate and moderate, and that ministers by this inquiry had opened the door to a glimpse of hope for better things; but nevertheless, he would not give his consent to a measure which was a violation of all law, and was nothing more nor less than establishing a despotic government.
§ The Earl of Harrowby
said, that in omitting to make any statement to their lordships on introducing this bill, if he had been to blame it arose from a mistaken conception of his duty. Considering the composition of the committee, having for members of it many noble lords on the other side, and many who had great properties in the country, he had thought it best to leave the bill on the recommendation of that committee, without the expression of his own personal opinion. It was not his opinion, nor that of any noble lord on the committee, that this measure would tranquillize Ireland, or that it should make part of the permanent law of the land. It was a temporary evil to which they must submit, for the purpose of obtaining a permanent good.
§ It was then read a third time.