presented a Petition from a large and respectable body of the Freeholders of the County of Mayo, praying for a more effective Representation of the Irish Counties. The county of Mayo was a very important county, with 700,000 inhabitants, and a most numerous and respectable body of freeholders, and some important sea-port towns, and was, for all these reasons, well entitled to a Member, in addition to those which it already returned to Parliament. The great error in governing Ireland had been the not considering it as a component part of the British empire, but treating it as a conquered country. It was, however, absolutely necessary, in order to ensure the good government of Ireland, that it should be treated in every respect as a component part of the British empire, and, therefore, the counties, in respect of the Representation, ought to be put on the same footing as the English counties, and the same principle ought to be acted on in both cases. The petition was well worthy of their Lordships' attention.
Laid on the Table.
The Order of the Day for the Second Reading of the Reform of Parliament (Ireland) Bill read.
§ Viscount Melbourne
rose to move, that the Bill be then read a second time. This was the last in the series of those great and important measures of Reform which had so long and so anxiously occupied the attention of Parliament and of the public. But, if the attention bestowed on them had been laborious and painful, he fully expected, and confidently trusted, that the greatest advantages would result from them; and that the expectations of those would be disappointed and defeated, who thought that the consequences which would 624 result from these Bills would be anarchy and confusion, misfortune and calamity. In moving the second reading of this Bill, he thought himself entirely relieved from entering upon any discussion of the general question of Parliamentary Reform. He apprehended that it was unnecessary to do so on the present occasion; since, in all the discussions in the other House on this subject, it was never said, that the Reform ought not to be extended to Ireland. If the nomination boroughs were done away here, they ought to be done away in Ireland; and if the elective franchise was extended in England, it could hardly be contended that it ought not also to be extended in Ireland, in a manner suited to the circumstances of that country. He would only remark, as to the general question, that it had been sometimes urged against his Majesty's Ministers, that, in their measures of Reform, they had not only gone too far, but had gone much further than was expected of them by the Reformers themselves. To that he would only answer, that when it became absolutely necessary to adopt some measure of Reform, it was also necessary that the Reform should be carried to the extent to which these measures had carried it, as, otherwise. Ministers would have involved themselves in inconsistences and difficulties from which it would have been impossible to extricate themselves. In considering, for instance, the question of the disfranchisement of the nomination boroughs, it was utterly impossible for them to make any distinctions by abolishing some and preserving others; for then they might, with every appearance of truth, be accused of gross partiality and injustice; and if some had been done away, and others retained, they would have subjected themselves to a much stronger condemnation, even from their opponents, than they could possibly incur by abolishing these boroughs altogether. But if the making of any invidious distinction would have been bad here, it would have been still worse in Ireland. If they had retained some of the boroughs there in the hands of certain individuals, while they disfranchised others, the measure would have been productive of much greater scandal than the disfranchisement of the whole. In calling their Lordships' attention particularly to the Bill now before them, it would not be necessary for him to travel back into the history of the Parliament of Ireland. When his noble and learned friend on the Woolsack moved the second reading of the Scotch Reform 625 Bill, it was necessary for him to enter at some length into an exposition of the tenures of Scotland, and into its history and antiquities. But nothing of that kind was required here, as the Representation in Ireland had been much the same as that in England. It only remained for him, therefore, to state generally the provisions of the Bill, and to point out in what respects they differed from those in the English Reform Bill, and the reasons for that difference. In the first place, with respect to the numbers to which the petition presented by a noble Lord (Lord Teynham) referred, it was impossible that, in a measure of this kind, the question should not be thrown open as to the number of Representatives which it would be proper to assign to the various portions of the empire. The utmost care had been taken to settle that point in the fairest and most impartial manner, and with as little disturbance of the former system as possible. Their Lordships were aware that the county Representation in Ireland had been settled at the time of the Union. The amount of the Irish county Representation, as then settled, was, two Members for each of the thirty-two counties, making sixty-four; which, together with ten Members for counties of cities, twenty-five Members for towns or boroughs, and one Member for the University of Dublin, made up the whole amount of 100 Members now returned for Ireland. That scale of Representation was considered to be as fair as possible, when the relative situation of the two countries as to their respective property and population, was considered. The numbers of the county Representation were not decreased, but increased, on that occasion, by those who were drawn from other sources, by removing Members from such boroughs as at that time were not considered to be entitled to their then scale of Representation. That was the state of the Representation for Ireland, as settled at the Union; and though he was not very conversant with the proceedings of those times, he did not believe that that measure of Representation was much attacked. To this number of 100, there were, by this Bill, five more Members to be added, making the whole number 105. And as the same anomaly existed in Ireland to a small extent, which so long prevailed in this country, of large and populous towns, having great wealth and trade, and possessing all the elements that characterize a constituency deserving of a direct participation in political rights being yet altogether but imperfectly represented, it 626 was in this class of the Irish constituency that the principal addition was to take place, by giving an additional Member to each of the cities of Limerick and Waterford, the borough of Belfast, and the county town of Galway, which, with one additional Member for the University of Dublin, would complete the number of Irish Members to be returned on the present scale. As to the Representation of this University, and the petition presented by the illustrious Duke (the Duke of Cumberland), the matter to which it referred would come more properly to be considered in the Committee. Then, as to the counties, leaseholders had been admitted to the franchise to a considerable extent—leaseholders of sixty-years, at 20l. rent; of twenty years, at 10. rent; of fourteen years, at 20l. rent. The elective franchise would thus be brought into the hands of a very respectable constituency, and would restore that connection between the landowners and the most respectable part of the population which had been of late but two much interrupted. Then, in the cities which were counties of themselves, the votes of the 10l. freeholders had been added, and in the boroughs the franchise had been given to the householders paying 10l. rent, as had been done in England. The other principal provisions of the Bill related to the registration of votes, and the manner of taking the poll, into which it was unnecessary for him to enter minutely, but he hoped that they combined every facility for voting, with effectual means for preventing fraud and expense. These were the principles of the Bill, and he hoped that it would be considered as a fair and equitable enactment, suited to the situation and circumstances of that country, and likely to give general satisfaction. He submitted it, then, to their Lordships, as a fair and equitable arrangement, worthy of their Lordships' best attention and consideration. It was founded on the principle—first, that some Reform must take place; secondly, that the proposed Reform was in substance the same as that proposed for England; and, thirdly, that it was well adapted to the situation and circumstances of Ireland. He moved, that the Bill be now read a second time.
§ The Duke of Wellington
did not consider that the most convenient opportunity to discuss this subject, as most of the noble Lords who wished to deliver their opinions upon the principle of the Bill were absent He, however, could not suffer the Bill to be read a second time without offering a few 627 observations upon it. He certainly did not intend to follow the noble Viscount through the details into which he had entered. His own opinion was, that it might be exceedingly expedient to Reform the system of Representation in this country, and even in Scotland, and yet not to touch the Representation of Ireland. What his noble friend who sat near him had said on a former occasion was true—the Representation of the people of Ireland was considered and settled thirty years ago. Then, again, in 1829, a very important measure was adopted, by which the Representation of the different interests of that country were considered, and, as they thought, finally settled. In truth, the measure that was then adopted was founded upon that other measure, which was adopted at the same time—namely, the abolition of the 40s. freeholders. That measure was founded upon the necessity of putting an end to the improper influence of the Priests of the Roman Catholic religion. And he must say, even supposing that it was now, in consequence of what had lately passed upon the subject of the reformation of the Representation of the people in this part of the United Kingdom—supposing that it was now necessary to adopt a similar measure in Ireland, surely it was necessary to found that measure upon the principle of the measure of 1829, and not upon any newfangled notions of the present day. That was the ground upon which he rested the opposition which he intended to give to this measure. The noble Lord, who had just addressed the House, had stated, that this measure for Ireland was founded upon the same principle as that which had been passed for England. He (the Duke of Wellington) begged to remind their Lordships that there was a most important point raised in 1829, with respect to the voters in counties of towns. Those places had two descriptions of voters—freemen admitted by the Corporation, and 40s. freeholders. A noble Lord had urged on him, when the measure of 1829 was under consideration, to adopt towards the freeholders of counties of towns the same principle that he had adopted in the counties at large—that was to say, to take away from the 40s. freeholders in towns the right of voting for them. He, however, was not disposed to accede to the noble Lord's Representation, because he thought that the balance between the interests—the freemen and the freeholders—should be preserved; and as the Corporations had the power of extending to any amount the 628 number of freemen, he would not consent to disfranchise the 40s. freeholders. But the first thing that the noble Lord now did, in the measure which he had proposed to be read a second time, was to put an end to the 40s. freeholders and freemen by declaring that those rights should expire with the individuals who at present possessed them. But the noble Viscount did more than this. The freemen, unless they were resident, lost their votes immediately; not so the freeholders, and, therefore, he begged to ask, whether the preponderance would not be given to the 40s. freeholders, or in other words, to the Roman Catholic interests? But what did the noble Lord do besides? He said, that the voters should be resident 10l. householders, and 10l. freeholders hereafter. What did that do? It gave, of course, a preponderance of power to the Roman Catholic inhabitants of those towns. In fact, the noble Lord extinguished the rights granted under the charter of the Corporations, which was a principle that had not been adopted in the English Bill. The Corporations were deprived of their rights, and the Roman Catholic population was placed in possession of them. He must, therefore, object to the Bill, because the noble Lord, with respect to these counties of towns, had departed from the principle and practice laid down in the Act of the year 1829. He would admit, that, when the principle was adopted in the Reform Act for England, of putting an end to what were called nomination boroughs, it was quite right that the same description of Representation should be put an end to in Ireland. He did not pretend to say that boroughs of that description should continue to exist. But, if such an alteration were to be introduced into Ireland, in addition to the alteration already made in respect to counties of towns, he (the Duke of Wellington) maintained, that it ought to be on the principle of the Act of 1829; and care ought to be taken to secure the Protestant interests, and those interests connected with property, with the Crown, and with the Established Church. This Bill effected directly the contrary—first of all, it abolished the rights of freemen and the rights of Corporations; it then gave the right of voting to 10l. householders, and 10l. freeholders, far the greater part of whom were Roman Catholics. Thus the power of the Roman Catholic priesthood would be established, instead of the interests of the great proprietor being protected, or the interests of the great monied 629 man, who paid for his seat. Such an arrangement was not consistent with the public interests, which required that property—not the priests of the Roman Catholic Church—should have influence in elections. It was also totally at variance with the principles followed at the period of the Union, and in the measure of 1829. Upon these grounds he should decidedly object to the present Bill. A plan of Reform might have been introduced, leaving the influence of Corporations in possession of persons of property; at all events there was no necessity whatever to hand it over to a class of persons who must be under the influence of the Roman Catholic priests. The noble Viscount justified the introduction of this measure upon the notion that it was founded upon the same principles as the English Act. But he (the Duke of Wellington) begged their Lordships to observe, that the noble Viscount had abandoned the example of the English Bill, wherever it suited his purpose. In doing that the noble Viscount had sacrificed, he thought, the interests of the Crown, the interests of the Protestant Church, and the interests of property. On these grounds he should give the Motion of the noble Viscount a decided negative.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
could not concur with the noble Duke in his objections to this Bill, and he was rather surprised that the noble Duke should now turn round on his own measure, and that, too, the measure which he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) thought the proudest of the noble Duke's Administration. He wondered how the advocate of that great measure of justice and toleration could now endeavour to trip up and inflame religious distinctions which he had hoped were destroyed for ever. The noble Duke, by his Act of 1829, had advanced the freehold qualification to 10l., as a security against the influence of the Catholics; but he thought at that time, and he thought so now, that it was taking away the proper influence from the landowners. The noble Duke admitted, that it was proper to abolish the rotten boroughs in Ireland, as well as in England; but he objected to giving an extensive franchise to the people. And what did the noble Duke's argument amount to? Simply that the people of Ireland were chiefly Catholics. Was that a reason why they should be shut out from the benefits of the Constitution? If the Catholics possessed wealth and power—were in a situation in which they could 630 independently exercise the right of suffrage—why should they not be invested with the suffrage right? In the cities and boroughs the greater number of the freeholders and the householders would be Catholics; but then they would much more depend on Protestant men of property than on Catholics. Would any man at all acquainted with Ireland, venture to assert, that the Catholic influence would predominate in Belfast, Newry, and other such towns; or venture to deny, that when the Catholics, as in Galway, would be the chief electors, that they possessed every claim of property, intelligence, and independence? He thought that the noble Duke's objections, in that respect, were entirely without foundation. As the only objection of the noble Duke was founded on the single circumstance of the influence of the Catholics, it was unnecessary for him to enter further into the subject; and he would only add, that if the noble Duke expected that the country could be governed by force and by bayonets, and means of that description, he was quite mistaken. A country, to be well governed, must be governed by justice, and by a due regard to public opinion, and to the sympathies of the people. The Catholics ought not to he disfranchised on account of their religion, and if they ought not, there was no weight in the noble Duke's argument.
The Earl of Limerick
could not allow the present occasion to pass without saying a few words, although, under all the circumstances it was with great reluctance that he made any observations on the subject of this Bill, and he confessed that he was induced to say a few words only in consequence of a remark which had been made by the noble Viscount who moved the second reading. The noble Viscount was pleased to say, that he flattered himself that this measure would defeat the expectations of those who thought that it would be attended with calamitous consequences, and stated his conviction that it would be attended with the most beneficial effects. For himself, he had only to say, that he should be the last man in the world to wish that the measure should be attended with ruinous effects; and he should be most happy if the expectations of the noble Viscount should be realised. But he agreed with the noble Duke that this Bill went to overthrow the national agreement made at the time of the Union, and the arrangement made in 1829. There was a noble and learned Lord (Lord Plunkett), now in the House, who was one of the most violent opponents of the 631 Union, and that noble and learned Lord had prophesied, that if Ireland parted with its distinct political power, it would get itself entirely within the grasp of the more powerful country. He begged the noble and learned Lord's pardon for alluding to this. He was one of those who thought that the boroughs in Ireland were preserved at the time of the Union, for the purpose of forming a security for the Protestant Church, and the Protestant interests generally. In 1829, the 40s. freeholders in the counties were destroyed, and a new constituency formed, and this had been held out as a corrective of the other Bill passed at the time for removing the disabilities of the Catholics, and as a security to the Protestant interests. If Ireland were in the same condition as before the Union, he was sure that these boroughs would not have been suppressed; they were intended as bulwarks of Protestantism; but if the Bill passed they would be so no longer. There would be thirty or forty Irish Members returned solely by the influence of the priests, and it was for their Lordships to judge if such a body, acting in concert in this country, might not produce the greatest mischief. Such were his views and feelings; but he knew that it was vain, after the passing of the Scotch and English Bills, to struggle against the measure. He hoped, however, that the evils which he apprehended from it would not be realised; and no man would be more rejoiced, should his expectations prove unfounded.
said, he was unwilling to provoke further discussion, and would only trouble their Lordships with a few words. His noble friend (the Earl of Limerick) had alluded to the Union between England and Ireland. At that period they were both Members of the Irish House of Commons; but upon this question they had entertained very different opinions, and had given opposing votes. He had opposed the Union vehemently. No question had ever since arisen, or ever could arise, which would so claim his attention and so occupy his heart as that measure had done. He had considered that the passing of the Union would have been the extinction of the independence of his native land, and he had struggled against it with all his might. But he had lived long enough to find that he was then mistaken, and to correct the prophecies he had then uttered, and the anticipations which he had then entertained. He did then imagine that Ireland would have 632 been thrown, bound hand and foot, at the mercy of England, and that the power thus conferred would have been mercilessly abused. He was entirely and agreeably disappointed. He never, since the period of the Union, knew a question affecting the interests of Ireland, which was brought before the United Parliament, that was not only treated fairly, but even with partiality and kindness, in consideration of the former misgovernment to which the country had been subjected. He, therefore, confessed, that he had been entirely wrong in his views, and would now protest as strongly as might be against a Repeal of the legislative Union, for he felt that from that might follow a separation of the two countries, which would be alike prejudicial to the best interests of both. It was accordingly with great grief that he heard the noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington) declare, that he would give his vote against going into Committee on the Bill under consideration. For this was in effect to declare, that he would deny to Ireland that Reform which had been conceded to England and Scotland. It was saying, that in England and Scotland, by the mass of the people, and by large majorities of the House of Commons, and by the decree of Parliament, rotten boroughs were rooted out as a disgrace to the Constitution—were excised as sores and ulcers; yet, nevertheless, they ought and should be continued in Ireland, as part of the Constitution of that country. Now he contended, that if there was one course of conduct more than another, which was calculated to fill the ranks of those anxious for a Repeal of the Union, it was this. To hold out to the people of Ireland that, although abuses had been swept away in England and Scotland, they should be continued in Ireland, would be, he repeated, the most disastrous sentiment which could possibly be held out to that unfortunate country. He lamented likewise the observations which the noble Duke had made. The noble Duke had argued the question as if it were one of Protestant and Catholic. He considered that he might, even taking the question in that light, prove that the noble Duke was mistaken in the conclusion at which he had arrived; but he would not condescend to argue the question on such grounds. He would ask, had the noble Duke's great measure indeed been carried, if they were now-a-days to legislate or argue upon the authority and existence of those ancient grudges between the two religious parties? 633 If they were so to do, he had no hesitation in declaring the noble Duke's measure was one of two things—useless or mischievous. He remembered that, when the subject of the Union to which the noble Earl had alluded had been brought forward there had been no question entertained respecting Catholic or Protestant: the promoters of it were wisely anxious to keep all such questions out of view. The measure was carried, and how?—with strong objections on the part of the Protestants, and by nothing approaching to an unanimous approval on the part of the Catholics; and yet great exertions had been used to reconcile them to the measure. And then, as to the towns and the counties of towns to which Representation was granted; how were they selected? Thirty-four boroughs received this right. But he never heard that any portion of them received it on the principle that they were to be bulwarks of the Protestant interests. Let them only recal to mind how these boroughs were selected. Laying aside the University, thirty-three great towns were chosen, which, in the aggregate, possessed a population of 800,000 souls. Were these selected as the bulwarks of Protestantism? He never heard it intimated at the time. The feeling on the part of those who made the arrangement was, "We are doing a fair thing by Ireland in reserving the representation to the most wealthy and populous towns and cities." In what way was it subsequently acted on? Why, the Representation of seventeen of those places, having an aggregate population of 180,000 persons, was disposed of by seventeen gentlemen. Would it be then said, that in doing away with this scandalous monopoly, they were dissenting from the principles of the Union? He never, certainly, did understand the principles of the Union after this manner. It never occurred to the opponents of that measure, that they could use such a supposition as an objection to the measure itself. He never used it; and yet he had opposed the measure as vehemently, and as industriously, and as strenuously, as he could. But then it was said, in objection to the Bill, that the 40s. freeholders in the counties of cities ought to be disfranchised. If so, why were they not done away with at the time of the Union, if these boroughs were, indeed, intended as the bulwarks of the Protestant interest? It was urged that these 40s. freeholders were entirely under the influence of the priests. This he did not believe; but if it were so, why were they 634 continued by the noble Duke? Again, it was said, that in this Bill they would be departing from the principles of the measure of 1829. He did not think that adjustment had been made upon the principle which the noble Duke had that night stated—that was, that originally 40s. freeholders in the counties of cities had been preserved as a balance to the power of the freemen; and, therefore, that now that you limited the power of freemen, you ought to disfranchise the 40s. freeholders to preserve the balance. But here it was, in the first instance, assumed, that the 40s. freeholders were entirely a Roman Catholic constituency, under the influence of their priests. Now, this was not the argument used for the disfranchisement of the 40s. freeholders in counties. The argument was, that they were a constituency always under the influence either of their priest or landlord; therefore, they were to be disfranchised, not because they were a Roman Catholic constituency, but because they were an incapable constituency; because they were not an independent constituency. Now here, too, was a second assumption respecting freemen. Was it true, that freemen were of necessity Protestant?—certainly not. Roman Catholics might be freemen of corporations at any time. Until after the passing of the Relief Bill in 1829, they were excluded from corporate offices by the Oath of Supremacy, but by this only; and now that it was done away with, they might accordingly be freemen, and hold any corporate office. In short, they enjoyed every corporate right. Why was it, then, that these boroughs became to be considered as bulwarks of the Protestant interest? Because there was a monopoly upon the part of those who possessed the right of election, and they never would elect Catholics. Well, then, how did the case stand? how was the measure of 1829 to be viewed? It was either meant to operate or not to operate. Now, if it was intended not to operate, it was a mere mockery and delusion. But if it were intended to operate, why should they object to measures that gave or secured to Roman Catholics those rights to which they were fairly entitled under the Relief Bill? But really he was wandering from the question before their Lordships. What they had to consider was this, were they likely to have an independent constituency? Noble Lords opposite said, this Bill would let in Roman Catholics, who would form the great majority of the constituency. Now, he did not believe it 635 would. But if Roman Catholics were in possession of that station and wealth which entitled them to a majority in the constituent body, why should they not have it? On the occasion of the production of the Belief Bill in 1829, how was the matter argued? On the one side, they said, take care how you pass this measure; it is not a small body of Roman Catholics you will admit into the Imperial Parliament; but if it be passed at all, let it be frankly acted on. The same sentiments respecting the mode in which it should be acted on were uttered from the other side. And if they did not so, the Roman Catholics would be more exasperated, and justly, than if the measure had been completely rejected. Undoubtedly it would be more galling to be now shut out from advantages to which they were entitled by law, than to have been refused the concession of them originally. His noble friend (the Earl of Limerick) had attacked the influence of the priests in Ireland as most mischievous. Now, of all things, he would most earnestly deprecate the giving a religious tincture to the disturbances which unfortunately prevailed in Ireland. This was the only thing wanting to dissipate all hope of peace, and tranquillity, and union, in that country. He could give a distinct denial to the allegations which charged the great body of the Roman Catholic priesthood with advocating the cause of mischief and separation. Of the higher portion of that body he could not speak in terms of too strong approbation, or too great respect. Their exertions, he maintained, had been most meritorious to preserve the peace. But he at the same time allowed, that there were some most mischievous persons in the Roman Catholic priesthood—men who had incurred most desperate responsibility. He declared that he would not have on his soul the weight of responsibility attaching to some of those persons for any earthly consideration. But were they not thus looking merely on the one side? Had they no priests but the Catholic priests to disturb the country? Were there no other priests who used violent, and abusive, and inflammatory language—who attended public meetings as agitators, and lost no opportunity of giving offence to their Catholic fellow-subjects? Would it, however, be fair to throw all the odium which must attach to such proceedings upon the great body of the Church of England clergy? Certainly not. He did not believe there was a more exemplary class of men in the world than 636 the Protestant clergy of Ireland. They were humane, charitable, generous, learned, and pious; their existence in affluence and respectability was a source of support to religion and peace in that country; they were the most eminently serviceable class of resident gentlemen in Ireland. But should not equal justice be rendered to the Roman Catholic clergy? Nobody could venture to deny it; and, further, he would say, as to the great body of the Roman Catholics, that it never should be assumed they were on one side, and the Protestants of Ireland on the other. The fact was, the great body of the Protestants were no more represented by those who came forward in that House and elsewhere, and declared—"I say upon the part of the Protestants of Ireland"—than was the great body of the Roman Catholics by the demagogues and agitators. He believed that the great body of the Roman Catholics were fully sensible of the benefits they had derived from the Union—of the increased prosperity—of the additional comforts they had acquired since that period. A great portion of the country had visibly improved under the benefits conferred upon it by commercial relations with England; and he firmly believed, that if one-half the influence had been used to reconcile and unite the two classes which had been directed to embitter their hostility, they would now have a peaceful and a prosperous country. It had been frequently said, that he was an enemy to the Protestants of the north of Ireland. He denied that he ever was. They formed, in his opinion, as good materials for excellent and peaceful subjects as could possibly be found. They were loyal, religious, industrious, courageous, rational; but they were persons capable of being excited and impelled to embody themselves for mischief, if their superiors chose to excite them. And he could not acquit men, in a station of life from which one might have expected better things, of having resorted to those acts which were used by the demagogues in inflaming the passions of the foolish portion of the Roman Catholic body. But all those tumultuous and illegal proceedings must be put down. The full powers of the law should be directed to this object; and if those powers were not sufficient, they would call for new laws and greater powers. He agreed, however, with the noble Marquess, that the best way to take the arms out of the hands of the agitators, and resentment out of the hearts of the public, was by 637 the removal of real grievances. He had no doubt that deciding that this Bill should not go into Committee would be regarded by the great body of the people as a refusal to remove their grievances; and he did believe, that this Bill would, if passed in its essential principles and details, be received with gratitude by the people, and would be eminently calculated to allay the disturbances which prevailed.
§ The Duke of Wellington
, in explanation, stated, that he objected in particular to the principle on which the execution of that part of the measure which related to the boroughs was founded, and also to the principle on which the measure in general was to be carried into execution.
The Earl of Limerick
remarked, in allusion to the learned Lord's observations touching the influence of the priests, that the anti-tithe meetings, and the opposition to the payment of tithes, had been first excited by a Catholic Prelate, and was encouraged and maintained by the exertions of the priests.
The Marquess of Westmeath
was surprised that he had not heard the learned Lord's objections to the close Irish boroughs at an earlier period of his parliamentary history. In no part of Ireland was there the slightest expectation of any measure like this, until it appeared in the general plan of Reform which Ministers had taken upon themselves to bring forward. There was neither the same necessity nor the same demand for Reform in Ireland, as there had been in England. The alterations which Ireland wanted were of a very different nature from the speculative advantages presented to his view in that Bill. It was a wanton creation of his Majesty's Ministers, for some reason or other to them best known. There was no reason, at all events, for enlarging the Representation on account of trade or commerce, and making the constituency more democratic. What part of the trade of Galway, for example, required more than three Representatives? Except the exportation of oysters and kelp, he should like to know what trade there was in the west of Ireland requiring Representation? He should not, any more than any other noble Lord, oppose this Bill, but he must say, that he had heard nothing to alter his opinion as to there being no necessity for it.
§ Lord Templemore
asked the noble Lord what he would say to the town of Belfast, which contained 42,000 inhabitants, and only returned one Member? The noble 638 Marquess could scarcely think that the Representatives of that large commercial town should be returned by a sovereign and two burgesses.
The Marquess of Westmeath
said, that his observations were more particularly directed to the west of Ireland.
thought, it would be better that the discussion should be taken on Thursday next, in consequence of the shortness of the notice, and the absence of the noble Lords connected with Ireland.
§ The Bill read a second time.