HL Deb 14 April 1836 vol 32 cc1013-4
The Marquess of Londonderry

said, that in presenting to their Lordships the petition which he held in his hand, he felt it necessary to trouble the House with a very few words. The petitioners had, he conceived, strong claims on their Lordships' sense of justice; and, in his opinion, their representations deserved some consideration from his Majesty's Ministers. The petition came from the Mayor, Commonalty, and Citizens of Londonderry, and was against the Irish Municipal Corporations Bill. The privileges which the Citizens of Londonderry had long and deservedly enjoyed, the petitioners complained would be fatally affected by the Irish Municipal Corporations Bill. He regretted to say, that the mode and manner in which Bills relating to Ireland were got up, evinced a spirit, an animus, on the part of his Majesty's Government, to keep down and mortify that class of persons who were most anxious to uphold the Protestant religion in Ireland. This feeling was further manifested by the coldness with which the Government appeared to view the flagrant outrage lately committed in Dublin, where the statue of King William was destroyed. When he saw this species of feeling pervading all the acts of the Government, he could not avoid examining their proceedings with a jealous and scrutinizing eye.

Viscount Melbourne

begged leave to deny that any such feeling as that described by the noble Marquess existed in the minds of his Majesty's Government. There was not the smallest foundation for any such assertion. With respect to the circumstance particularly alluded to by the noble Marquess, he should only say, that the Government of Ireland had taken the most strong and effectual measures in their power to discover the authors of the outrage. As to the Irish Corporations Bill, when it came regularly before their Lordships, he should be ready to defend it against the noble Marquess, the most strenuous defender of the Corporation of Londonderry, and, he supposed, of all the rest of the Irish Corporations.

The Marquess of Londonderry,

in answer to what had fallen from the noble Viscount would ask, whether his Majesty's Government had offered any great reward for bringing to justice the perpetrators of the disgraceful outrage to which he had alluded? [Viscount Melbourne: Yes.] He knew that a reward of 100l. was offered; but he would ask whether that was a sufficient reward, in a case where such great villainy had been perpetrated? It appeared to him as if the Government of Ireland, so far from acting promptly on the occasion, were only anxious to take the least possible notice of the outrage. As to the course which he should pursue when the Irish Corporations Bill came before their Lordships, it would be a very plain and straightforward one. He trusted that the Bill which was calculated to inflict irreparable injury on Ireland, throwing the whole power of the Government into the hands of the Catholic priests, and their political agitators, would never reach a second reading; but he, for one, would certainly oppose it in every stage.

Petition laid on the table.