HL Deb 21 June 1832 vol 13 cc944-8
The Lord Chancellor

rose for the purpose of making an appeal to the noble Earl (Roden) who had given notice of a motion for to-morrow night, on the state of Ireland, and with the hope of being able to induce the noble Earl to postpone his motion for a few days, until his noble friend (Lord Plunkett) who filled the high office of Lord Chancellor for Ireland, should be in his place. In the debates which had recently taken place in that House on Irish questions, the conduct of his noble and learned friend formed a considerable portion of the debate, and he doubted not the same thing would occur whenever the noble Earl brought forward his motion. The indispensable duties of his office rendered it impossible for his noble and learned friend to leave Dublin before Wednesday next; and, under those circumstances, he hoped the noble Earl would consent to postpone his motion. The noble Earl might meet this appeal by saying, that he had no intention of impeaching the conduct of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland; but that would give no security that other noble Lords, who took part in the debate, would refrain from doing so; and therefore, as a matter of justice to his noble and learned friend, he hoped the motion would be postponed.

The Earl of Roden

felt himself placed in a position of some difficulty, by the request now made. He had given notice of the motion he was now asked to postpone, a fortnight since; and when another postponement was urged, he begged noble Lords to recollect the calamitous state in which Ireland was now placed. Evils of a paramount nature now presented themselves; assassinations were not unfrequent; and a large portion of the people were in such a state of lawlessness and confusion, that no time ought to be lost. As to the absence of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, be did not think it very material;—the Home Secretary was responsible for, and ought to be acquainted with the state of Ireland; and as the Home Secretary was in town, he thought it rather too much to ask him to postpone his motion, when Ireland was in a greater state of misery than it had ever before been. He should be glad to accede to any request put to him so courteously, but he did not know how he could justify himself in the eyes of the Protestants of Ireland, and of its loyal inhabitants, who were suffering under dangers and miseries, which, they conceived, a little determination and firmness on the part of the Government, might have prevented, if he consented to postpone his motion upon such grounds. He did not know that the motion he was about to submit, which was an Address to his Majesty on the state of Ireland, involved, in any degree, the personal conduct or character of the Lord Chancellor of that country, and he believed he should be able to show the House, from documents, that not a moment was to be lost.

Viscount Metbourne

said, it certainly was his duty, and he was prepared to give such explanations as were required, touching the state of Ireland. There were many subjects, however, connected with that country, which came peculiarly under the consideration of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland; all questions, for instance, relating to the Commission of the Peace; and it was impossible that he could be so intimately acquainted with those matters as his noble and learned friend (Lord Plunket) was. The noble Earl (Roden) said, he only meant to move a simple Address, but every one knew that such an Address implied a distrust of the Government. Under all the circumstances, and as the Lord Chancellor for Ireland was so soon expected, he put it to the candour and fairness of the noble Earl, whether it would not be more satisfactory to postpone the Motion until after his noble friend's arrival from Ireland, and whether such a course would not be more for the public welfare, as well as more consistent with the honour and dignity of that House?

The Earl of Roden

certainly could not consent to withdraw his Motion after what had just fallen from the noble Viscount (Melbourne), who insinuated that he (Lord Roden) wished to take advantage of the absence of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland to bring on his motion. The Lord Chancellor of Ireland had a fortnight's notice of the Motion, and if he was not able to attend now, he might find many other occasions for declaring his sentiments.

Viscount Melbourne

said, the noble Earl was altogether mistaken, in supposing that he had imputed to him a wish to take advantage of the absence of the noble and learned Lord. He (Lord Melbourne) had stated the very reverse; so that that could form no ground for the noble Earl's pressing his Motion. The noble Earl was mistaken, if he supposed that the wish not to have the subject discussed in the absence of the noble and learned Lord, arose from any desire on the part of Government, to share any part of their responsibility as to the general measures relating to Ireland. The Government were ready to undertake the whole responsibility of those measures, but, he repeated, there were local matters which the noble and learned Lord, from his station in Ireland, was more competent to explain.

The Lord Chancellor

said, that seeing the way in which the noble Earl took every thing that was said, he should not certainly repeat his request; but he had asked for the postponement of the Motion in justice to his noble and learned friend (Lord Plunkett), who was unavoidably detained by his judicial duties. His Majesty's Government did not shrink from the responsibility of meeting the noble Earl's Motion, nor did they wish to divide on it, and the noble Earl was utterly mistaken if he conceived that they had any such wish.

Lord Ellenborough

said, that as his noble friend's (Lord Roden) Motion did not involve any personal charge against the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, but was merely in reference to the afflicting state of that country, he could not see that the Lord Chancellor of Ireland's absence was a ground for calling on his noble friend to postpone his Motion. From what had fallen from the noble Viscount (Melbourne) it appeared to him, that his Majesty's Government felt that the state of Ireland was such that it could not bear discussion. He hoped that this consideration would induce noble Lords, whenever they came to the discussion, to address themselves to the subject with the greatest calmness and moderation. The Lord Chancellor of Ireland had not much to do with the state of that country, and, as the government had always hitherto been conducted, the Home Secretary was responsible. The presence of the Lord Chancellor for Ireland, therefore, was not necessary; but if the noble Viscount (Melbourne) would say that he considered the discussion of his noble friend's (Lord Roden) motion would be detrimental to the public service, he should certainly entreat his noble friend to postpone it.

Earl Grey

thought it useless to prolong a discussion which was not likely to lead to any very satisfactory conclusion. It was right, however, to state, that it was not until yesterday, his noble friend (Lord Melbourne) had known that the Lord Chancellor of Ireland would not be able to attend to-morrow night. It was quite true, as had been stated by the noble Baron (Ellenborough), that the Home Secretary was generally responsible for the state of Ireland, and that it was his duty to answer all questions concerning that country. But charges had frequently been made against the present Government, of omitting the names of certain Magistrates, and removing others, and in those charges the Lord Chancellor of Ireland was particularly concerned. In fact, those charges formed a considerable part of every recent discussion on the state of Ireland; and he was not sanguine enough to expect that such topics could be excluded from the discussion which would probably arise on the noble Earl's Motion. He could not sit down without emphatically declaring, that he had heard nothing fall from his noble friend (Lord Melbourne) which could justify the interpretation of the noble Baron (Ellenborough), that the Government was afraid of a discussion on the state of Ireland, or that the state of that country was such as would not bear discussion. His Majesty's Ministers did not apprehend any danger from discussion. The situation of Ireland, he admitted, was dangerous, but the danger was not increasing in such a way as to make his Majesty's Ministers apprehensive of the effect of discussion in that House. Indeed, he had the pleasure of being able to state, that on some late occasions the power of the law had been exercised in Ireland with complete effect; and he trusted that great benefit would result from its successful operation.

The Earl of Roden

felt himself placed in a very painful situation; but, after the fair and candid manner in which the subject was placed by the noble Earl (Grey), he felt himself bound to yield to his suggestions, though he thought the postponement of his Motion would produce some evil.

Motion postponed.

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