Lord Fitzgerald and Vesci
said that, considering the great importance of the subject on which he was going to address their Lordships, no one more deeply felt the difficulty of the situation in which he was placed. He certainly should have approached the task which he had undertaken with a great deal more hesitation, if he had not been aware of the effect produced by the appeal, still unanswered, which had been made to their Lordships by his noble and learned Friend (Lord Lyndhurst) when this measure was last before them—an appeal still fresh in their minds—an appeal still uneffaced from the memory of their Lordships. He relied greatly on the conclusive arguments which had been adduced by his noble and learned Friend, and he entertained a confident hope that the luminous and powerful exposition of his noble and learned Friend would render it less necessary for him to claim their Lordships' attention for any considerable 234 length of time. His first wish was to endeavour to imitate the only point in which he could hope to succeed, the tone of moderation adopted by the noble Viscount opposite, in the speech with which he introduced this important subject to their Lordships' consideration. Though the noble Viscount avoided many topics which he conceived might with propriety have been noticed, he was hound to say, in justice to the noble Viscount, that he did not introduce into the discussion any matter of an unpleasant or irritating nature. He felt that this course was on the part of the noble Viscount a prudent and a wise one. Few men, looking to the Report which had been laid on their Lordships' table, a Report which inculpated individuals and bodies, could have refrained from touching on points of a painful nature. But the noble Viscount placed his recommendation on general grounds of policy, and not on the conduct or proceedings of individuals. In that respect he meant to follow the example of the noble Viscount, which in his opinion ought to be generally pursued. It was not his intention, therefore, to introduce topics that were calculated to give rise to irritation, or to provoke asperity: for he was ready, on his own part, and on the part of others, to concur in the general principle on which the Bill was founded; and there was no necessity for him to enter on the defence of individuals whose names and whose conduct had not been introduced or mentioned in the preceding discussion. Before he entered on the immediate subject of discussion, there were one or two points on which he wished to make one or two observations, connected as they were with what passed on the former occasion. The first point was one which he was very anxious to notice, on account of the personal allusion made to him by the noble Viscount. The noble Viscount had stated that the Bill came recommended on the part of the Commissioners of royal inquiry, against whom, so far as the noble Viscount had heard, no imputation had ever been cast, whose conduct was not questioned, the correctness of the conclusion of whose Report was admitted by those who were most opposed to it, and whose statement had not been impugned, except by one petition, which had been presented by a noble Lord on that evening. The reference thus made, on that occasion, by the noble Viscount, was made to him in consequence of his having presented a petition from the Corporation of the county of the town of Drogheda against the Bill. 235 But although he stated, on their part, that they not only did not decline inquiry, but that they courted investigation into the management of the corporate funds, although he stated that they claimed for themselves the right to show that they had not abused the trust reposed in them, and that they expressed an anxious hope that an opportunity would be afforded to enable them to prove that they had complied with the terms on which the funds were confided to their care, still it should be remembered that he did not recommend any such proceeding, because he understood that no person was anxious to continue the existing system. He had, therefore, alleged nothing against the Commissioners. Indeed, having had more than one opportunity of seeing how the gentlemen employed on the Commission conducted themselves, he felt that he had not the least reason to complain of the manner in which they had deported themselves. In consequence of a family connection with more than one borough he had tendered his evidence to the Commissioners of municipal inquiry, and he was perfectly satisfied with their courtesy and their candour as well as with the whole spirit of their proceedings. He had been compelled to detain their Lordships for a few moments on this point, because he felt it necessary to state what his sentiments were with respect to it. There was another part of the observations of the noble Viscount to which he should now refer. The noble Viscount had said, that there was no necessity to go into a history of the objects for which the Irish Corporations were originally created, because they were not only inefficient to effect the objects that were originally contemplated, but that a system had grown up which totally disqualified them from being in any respect useful. He, however, thought, that before they proceeded to the immediate matter of discussion for to-night, it would be well if they attended a little to that subject. He would say, "let us look to the original constitution of the Irish Corporations. Let us not deceive ourselves by the general clamour that has been raised against them, and the blame that has been cast on them." No man could say but that the Irish Corporations were created for purposes totally distinct from those of the Corporations in Great Britain—that the objects to be answered by each were not the same. Looking to the means given for the attainment of those objects, it was only justice to those who preceded us, and to those who were now corporators, to examine 236 and to point out what really were the objects to effect which those corporations were first instituted. It was plain, if they looked at the Report, and still more evident when they compared the fact with history, that those Corporations were first planted to induce English settlers to establish themselves in Ireland, in order to supply the want of English law and of English civilization in that country. The charters were originally directed to the King's English subjects resident in Ireland. The first charter was directed "To the King's citizens of Bristol resident in Dublin." That was the charter of Henry 2nd, in which he was styled Fitz-Empress, and was given after his first invasion of Ireland. One of the first duties of these Corporations was to keep watch and ward against the native Irish. Recollecting, as he did, what the state of Ireland was up to the reign of Queen Elizabeth—recollecting, that all the Lords of the Pale were then Catholic—recollecting, that all the property of Ireland was then Catholic—recollecting, also, that in settling Ulster the object was to create Protestant Corporations, in order to create Protestant ascendancy in Ireland, he was surprised to hear it asserted, as it had been asserted elsewhere, that these Corporations had not been created for Protestant purposes. A decisive proof of the purposes for which the Corporations of Ireland were created, was to be seen in that portion of the Report which related to the Corporation of Londonderry. The franchises granted to the corporate boroughs were confined to electoral and parliamentary franchises. The Report showed to what an extent that principle was carried. The borough of Longford or Granard, he forgot which, was granted to the Earl of Longford of that day in a charter which gave him, a Peer of Ireland, the power of sending two burgesses to the Irish House of Commons. It had been said, that Protestant ascendancy could not have been the object contemplated on the creation of the Irish Corporations, because, at the time of their creation, Catholics were eligible to Parliament and office was open to them. Now it was exactly because Parliament and office were accessible to Catholics, that those who wished to have English ascendancy in the Irish Parliament created these new Corporations. In one of the histories of Ireland, the two parties into which that country was at that time divided, were distinguished as the English party and as the Recusant party. A great effort had been made in the Irish House of Commons by the latter party to 237 resist the admission of the Representatives of the newly-created boroughs. On one occasion, there was a bitter struggle between them respecting the choice of Speaker. Sir John Everard was the candidate for the Speakership, supported by the Catholic party, and Sir John Davis was the candidate supported by the Representatives of those boroughs who were strongly characterised in a remonstrance of the Catholics of that day addressed to the Throne. Sir John Davis, however, was confirmed by the English or Government party; and he could not mention his name without noticing that he was distinguished both as a lawyer and an historian, while he was one of the most impartial statesmen ever seen in Ireland. To him, Ireland was indebted for many improvements in her laws and her polity. He had gone into these details to show that, however defective the constitution of these Corporations might now appear, still their character and constitution and the avowed object for which they were established, parallel much of what their Lordships were disposed to condemn. The noble Viscount had, therefore, acted with great propriety, and with prudence in not raising up or re-affirming all those imputations against the Corporations which the opportunity might have suggested. The noble Viscount has referred, with justice, to that act of the Irish Parliament which, by relieving from the obligation of residence the members of corporate bodies, made the Parliamentary franchise itself the absolute property of individuals and of families. He alluded to the Act introduced by Mr. Ponsonby (commonly called the Newtown Act), by which residence was dispensed with altogether. The character of corporate property was still further affirmed—(he vindicated it not)—by the last Act of the Parliament of Ireland, giving compensation to individuals for the franchise which they possessed. Again, he vindicated it not; yet, let him observe that, as the first was a measure which no one at the present day would dream of proposing, so the latter, which no Minister would now dare to suggest, and no Parliament would, for an instant tolerate, was yet the means by which the Act of Union, which could not otherwise have been carried, was at last successfully accomplished. Having adverted to these points, with a view to disembarrass the question of considerations which were not regularly before their Lordships, he should proceed to the proposition of the noble Viscount, and apply himself to the arguments by 238 which it had been recommended. He would state to their Lordships his grounds of dissent from that part of the proposition which was alone debatable at present, and should lay before them suggestions for that plan which, in the opinion of himself and others of his noble Friends, was better calculated to meet the necessities of the case. Admitting, then, to the full extent the evils which the noble Viscount had enumerated—not being desirous to shield anybody from the responsibility which ought to belong to all public functionaries—being desirous to abolish and abrogate for ever that state of society in which the people of Ireland now lived, and which created civil jealousy, religious animosity, and political excitement,—he wished to avow his readiness to participate in extinguishing for ever the existing Corporations of Ireland. Whatever doubt there might be as to how far the delinquency of the Corporations was established, no man, whatever were his prejudices, had ventured to defend the continuance of the exclusive system which those Corporations fostered now that Catholic Emancipation had been conceded, and had been followed by the measure of Parliamentary Reform. His friends, as well as himself, were prepared to go with the noble Viscount to the full extent of the abolition of the existing Corporations. He, therefore, hoped it would not be said, either in that House or elsewhere, that they had been found either deaf or unwilling to the reform of abuses. Still, in joining the noble Viscount in the first part of the reform which he called for, and in joining him in applying a remedy to the vices and misfortunes of the exclusive system, and to the unfortunate spirit which was generated by it, he thought that they had a right to ask the noble Viscount not to create under his system of reform a new ascendancy, not to institute a new system as exclusive as the old,—not to build up a fabric full of danger, exposing the community to still greater mischiefs and terror than those to which it was at present liable. Having stated this as the ground of the course which he intended to pursue, he now approached the proposition of the noble Lord. If the noble Viscount had contended that in the present state of Ireland municipal government was the best form of government that could be applied to that country, and that for the pure administration of justice, for the good government of the police, and for the proper discharge of the high functions of administrative bodies, it was the 239 most effective mode of government that could be adopted, he might, perhaps, have had some difficulty in resisting that proposition. If there were not peculiar circumstances in the social and political situation of Ireland, he should say, that for the proper administration of the functions of justice and police, if you could guard against the undue influence of passion and prejudice, no system was so sound and safe as that of municipal government. He freely admitted that the principle of allowing the people to administer their own affairs was a just and valuable principle. But had the noble Viscount told their Lordships that this system of municipal government was the best that could be adopted for the people of Ireland? No; quite the reverse. The noble Viscount had stripped them of all powers strictly municipal. The noble Viscount had told their Lordships that he would not confide to the people of Ireland the administration of justice among themselves. The noble Viscount had told their Lordships that he did not think it prudent, and therefore not safe, in a country so full of excitement as Ireland, to confide to the people the function of administering their own regulations of police. He had not, therefore, any argument to meet on either of those two points. But it had been said, "You must give Ireland municipal institutions, because the chief advantage of those institutions is, that they make cities prosperous and communities flourishing." In reply to that argument he would say, "Look at Manchester and Birmingham. Go forth to the new municipal boroughs in this large metropolis." Did they prove that municipal institutions were necessary to the prosperity of cities or the wealth of communities? Look also at Belfast, from which a petition had been that evening presented. It had a corporation doubtless—it was one of those created by King James for Protestant purposes, and till the Reform Bill passed, it certainly exercised franchises not very acceptable to the town at large. And yet that corporation of thirteen was not granted to the people at large, but to the constable of the castle, and he was not certain whether it was not granted to the Lord Deputy Chichester by the Deputy Lord Chichester himself. The corporation of Belfast had for years been nominated by the Lord of the Castle. It was a municipal institution in nothing but name; and yet that town had risen to a degree of opulence and respectability greater than that enjoyed by any other port or borough in Ireland. Supposing, however, for the sake of argument, 240 that the noble Viscount had proved that municipal institutions were necessary in the good government of Ireland, there was another proposition which he was also bound to establish—and that was, to show that if municipal bodies were to be created, the provisions of the Bill were those best suited to the country to which they were to be applied. He thought it but fair, as a preliminary explanation, to say, that those who resisted this Bill were bound to show that in the present state of Ireland, looking at its moral, political, and social condition, municipal government was not that best suited to it, and that, even if it were, this Bill was not calculated to give it a good system of municipal government. In showing that, they would also be able to show that this Bill, so far from applying an effective cure to admitted evils, would aggravate all those which existed already, and would create several new ones. He had given all the attention in his power to the speech in which the noble Viscount introduced this measure; but he had watched in vain for any attempt on the part of the noble Viscount to show that municipal government was the best government for Ireland. The noble Viscount had said that he would apply to Ireland the same principles of government which he applied of England. He must deny, on the principles of the noble Viscount himself, the wisdom of that proposition. It was not, in his opinion, the duty of a wise statesman to apply practical legislation to any country without reference to the practical results of the principles on which he proceed. You should not merely show that there would be no danger, but you ought also to show that there would be great advantage derived from your legislation. If one might be permitted to inquire on what principle this Bill proceeded, he had no doubt that the noble Viscount would reply that it proceeded on the principle of similarity. The advocates of the measure in another place had contended that that was a complete justification of the course pursued by Ministers on this question. Now he would ask, what was the answer that had been given to such an argument by the legislation of the noble Viscount himself? If similarity was the principle on which the noble Viscount proceeded, why had he departed from the English Bill as to the powers given to these corporations not only in the details, but also in the principles applicable to the administration of justice and to the regulations of the police? The noble Viscount had told their Lordships that it could not 241 be denied that there might be such a difference in the circumstances of two parts of the same empire, that the system of municipal government applicable to one of them could not be applied to the other; and then the noble Viscount admitted, that Ireland differed from England as to the temper of its population, as to the state of its civilization, and as to the state of the church. "Ireland," said the noble Viscount, "had in consequence a police under regulations very different from those of England, and practically a system of government which had no existence in this country. But," continued the noble Viscount, "though there might in some respects be great differences between the two countries, there were also great points of resemblance, and those points of resemblance overbalanced the points of difference. The two countries were both under the same Parliament; they were both under popular control; they were both subject to the same legal mode of procedure; they were both under the same system of trial by jury; and they were both under the same unlimited freedom of the press;" and therefore the noble Viscount implored their Lordships once and again to reflect that the points of resemblance were much greater than the points of difference. It was not a little remarkable that the points of resemblance on which the noble Viscount vindicated his proposed legislation were the constitution, the courts of justice, the trial by jury, and. the freedom of the press, all which were created by law; but that the points of dissimilarity were all in points applicable to this Bill. They consisted in the temper of the population, in the state of civilization, and in the state of the church. Now, if a candid man were called upon to judge of the qualifications which would enable the people to discharge properly the functions of municipal authority, what would be the most likely qualifications to enter into his consideration? Would he say, that their qualifications consisted in their having a constitution, courts of law, trial by jury, and freedom of the press? and would he exclude from his contemplation their temper, their state of civilization, and their feelings on that unhappy question, which blends with and embitters, and is at the bottom of, all their other feelings—namely, on the state of the church? He asked their Lordships whether the noble Viscount had made out his case, and whether he had established his point, so far as this Bill was concerned, that the points of resemblance overbalanced the 242 points of dissimilarity? There had been laid before their Lordships, within these few days, the opinion of a body of men on a question which was of more importance to the population of the country for which they were about to legislate than any other. It involved the principle of relief to the poor. That document was second to none in the interest which attached to it. He referred to the third report of the Poor-law Commissioners; the passage to which he alluded was as follows:—"It has been suggested to us to recommend a poor law for Ireland similar to that of England, but we are of opinion that the provision to be made for the poor in Ireland must vary essentially from that made in England. The circumstances of the two countries differ widely, and legislation, we submit, should have reference to circumstances as well as to principles." He used the same language as those able and acute Commissioners; he thought that "legislation should have reference to circumstances as well as to principles;" and if he had succeeded in convincing any of their Lordships that the points of resemblance did not counterbalance the points of non-resemblance between the two countries, he had a right to avail himself of their opinion to justify his resistance to the proposition of the noble viscount. He must once more repeat what he had said before—that he was ready to abolish the existing corporations, and to withdraw from all irresponsible, and, what was worse, from all self-elected bodies, the power which for centuries had been vested in their hands. Was that a niggard or a paltry application of reform? And ought the people to be told, either that night or hereafter, when their resolution should be carried into effect, that the Lords were an obstacle to every efficient, salutary, and searching reform? He asked of their Lordships to consider the peculiar social circumstances of Ireland. In referring to those circumstances, he wished particularly to guard himself from any expression which might be offensive to any individual. He was not then going to re-argue the Catholic question. The votes which he had given upon that question he was prepared to defend, and to give over again, if occasion required. But having done what justice demanded, he cautioned their Lordships not to blind themselves to the consequences which must ensue, if, under the pretext of doing justice to the Catholics, they did injustice to the Protestants of Ireland, and involved them in serious dangers 243 of new creation. Could any man who had witnessed the feelings which had prevailed in Ireland within the last few years, caused in the first instance by the denial, and afterwards by the concession, of the Catholic claims, and since increased by the measure of Parliamentary reform following so close upon it—could any man, he said, who had contemplated the state of society in that country, in which religious and political animosity prevailed, not only in every public, but also in every private and social, meeting, haunting men at every step, following them into the very sanctuary of their homes, and mixing itself up with all their domestic transactions—could any man who had seen all this say that it was either prudent, politic, or safe to adopt a measure which gave to one party an absolute and uncontrolled ascendancy? But their Lordships were told, that they were bound, in spite of the existence of this excitement, which all admitted to be an evil, though they differed as to the extent of it, to give to Ireland a new system of municipal institutions. Their Lordships had been asked this question:—"Do you think, that because you withhold from the people of Ireland the right of meeting in a corporate character, you will therefore put down agitation in a country where the press is free, and the people claim the right of meeting in public to petition for a redress of grievances? "He admitted, that to a certain extent the noble Viscount's argument was just; he admitted, that where the press was free, and discussion frequently took place in public, you could not prevent the existence of political agitation. But, because the law permitted the existence of it at present, did the noble Viscount therefore mean to say, their Lordships ought to increase the facilities for generating that political agitation? Ought their Lordships to call into being a municipal constituency, unchecked by the possession of either property or intelligence, and unqualified for control by their religion and their want of education? Was it the duty of Government to give to such a constituency such powers as this Bill contemplated? If their Lordships looked in detail to the boroughs for which this Bill provided Corporations, and to the amount of population they contained, and if they calculated upon data which, though not very accurate, were still an approximation to the truth, what the number of electors in each of these boroughs would be, would they allow it to be contended, as the noble Viscount contended, that they 244 ought to create such Corporations, to be elected annually by such a constituency, with an annual rotation of officers, and a continual canvass carried on by a self-styled liberal club or caucus of the most turbulent electors? Would they admit the argument, that they ought to permit such means to be adopted to increase political agitation, merely because that agitation could not be prevented were such Corporations not to be called into being? He would now ask their Lordships to consider what were the rights withheld from the people of Ireland under the proposition which his noble and learned Friend had dimly shadowed out on a former night, and which he (Lord Fitzgerald) was going to explain to their Lordships more fully that evening. What right was withheld from the people of Ireland by that proposition? None that he was aware of, unless, indeed, the noble Viscount were going to contend, as he understood had been contended elsewhere, that to have municipal institutions was the natural right of man—an assertion to which he should merely reply, "Sir, your reasoning is very ingenious, but pray look to Manchester and Birmingham." The noble Marquess (Lansdowne), on a former occasion, had referred to a speech which Mr. Pitt had made in favour of the union between the two countries, and had said, that the resistance to this measure was contrary to the policy laid down in that speech, which went upon the perfect equality of the two countries. The noble Marquess had, however, forgotten to cite one of the lines quoted from Virgil on that occasion by Mr. Pitt. Mr. Pitt commenced the quotation with the words—Non ego nee Teucris Italos parere jubebo,and then proceeded with the other lines which the noble Marquess had quoted—Nec nova regna peto—paribus se legibus ambæ, Invictæ gentes æterna in fædera mittant.Mr. Pitt did not mean to say any thing about the inferiority of the terms granted to Ireland in the compact between the two countries. When taunted with the inequality of the representation of the two countries, he said, "Confide in the representatives of a great nation—confide in their sense of justice. 'Non ego nec Teucris Italos parere jubebo.'" But when the noble Marquess made such quotations, he (Lord Fitzgerald) must beg leave to call upon him to define what he meant by them. What did the noble Marquess mean by "paribus legibus?" Would the noble 245 Marquess tell him what he understood by this parity or uniformity of law? If by "pares leges" the noble Marquess meant that all Irish subjects ought to be equal in the eye of the law, then he would reply, that the law distinguished not between the Catholic and the Protestant subjects of his Majesty, and that it gave no immunities to one which it denied to the other. If such, however, were the meaning of the noble Marquess, was not the proposition of his noble and learned Friend better calculated to accomplish the object which he had in view, even than the proposition of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. The proposition of his noble and learned Friend (Lyndhurst) was, that all classes of his Majesty's subjects in Ireland should be placed on a footing of equality. Whilst we abolish one system because it is exclusive, we are not willing to create another which is to be equally exclusive, but in another direction. If the object of both sides of the House were to put an end to ascendancy, which project is most entitled to support—that which gives the elective franchise to one great party exclusively, or that which asks protection for the Protestant, and endeavours to prevent him from being made the victim of an exclusive system? "Pares leges" indeed! He would, ask the noble Marquess, who assumed this motto of "pares leges" for his badge, whether, if any person were to introduce into Parliament a Bill for assimilating the police of England to that of Ireland, he would still stand by his uniformity of law in both countries? Would he not say, "God forbid that any such measure be enacted for England! it is uncalled for, it is unjust, it is unconstitutional. He asked the noble Lord, if they legislated upon the principle of parity of laws when the Protestants of Ireland were denied the assistance of the police in enforcing their rights, when it was with difficulty that that force was allowed to carry into execution the edicts of the superior courts? It was admitted that the Protestants of Ireland were a minority of the population, and the noble Lord dealt harshly on that account with the property of the Protestant Church. But when the Protestants demanded that protection to which a minority was always entitled, the noble Lord returned to his first proposition, and talked of the principle of "pares leges," as interpreted by himself, for the basis of his legislation; and, after dealing in an unequal manner with the Protestant 246 pastor and his Protestant flock, satisfied himself that it was thus that an equal union was effected—thus thatInvictæ gentes æterna in fædera mittant.He would beg to draw their Lordships' attention to another observation of the noble Marquess which had also been made in another place. It had been said, that the measure of the noble Lord opposite was a great act of justice required for the peace and happiness of Ireland; that the powers it proposed to confer would not be abused, but if they were, that Parliament would not have abrogated its legislative rights; that they had it in their power to resume those powers, and to repeal the Act so far as regarded them. Now, he would ask the noble Lord if he thought it would be fitting, or that it would be possible, on account of the misconduct of individuals, or the abuse of power of which they might be justly accused, to resume a power conferred from great public principles and on large communities. He should like to see the noble Lord make the experiment. He did not think the noble Lord would have courage to make it; and if it were made, he should be himself the first to maintain, that if the system were not in itself vicious—if there was no exclusiveness or delinquency to be charged upon it, the power had been given as a public trust, and ought not to be taken away on account of the individuals who might happen temporarily to be invested with it. Although he might have little to add to the clear statement made by his noble Friend, yet as he proposed to examine some details of the Bill of the noble Lord opposite, he would lay before the House the heads of the scheme which he deemed preferable to it. It was intended by those who concurred with him in the necessity of reform to agree to the proposition of the noble Lord for abolishing all the existing Corporations, after the 18th of January, 1837. They coincided in the provisions of the noble Lord's Bill for preserving the rights of freemen as to property, and also as to the elective franchise; and they further proposed in addition to these provisions of the noble Lord, that the claims of freemen should be determined by the assistant barristers in their courts. They agreed with the noble Lord, that the administration of justice, and the appointment of officers connected with that administration, should not be con- 247 fided, in the peculiar situation of Ireland and in the present state of her society, to the Town-councils. They, therefore, concurred in the alteration made by the noble Lord opposite and his colleagues in the Bill, as originally proposed in the House of Commons—an amendment not forced upon them by any hostile course in another place—not the result of any victory, nor carried by any majority against them, but admitted in deference to the arguments by which their first proposition was met. They had rightly determined that sheriffs and magistrates in counties of cities and counties of towns should be appointed, not by the Town-councils, but by the Crown. It would be proposed to their Lordships that Commissioners should be appointed by the Lord-Lieutenant, in whom corporate property, and property held in charitable trust, should be vested, It was proposed by the noble Lord that those persons who, as members of Corporations, were engaged in the management of charitable trusts, should continue to hold them in their individual capacity, although they might have ceased to be members of the new Corporations. He was not sure, that the proposition of the noble Lord was not better than that now made, and if it were the feeling of others that it should be retained, he should not propose that the Commissioners for managing corporate property should be the same as those for charitable trusts. With respect to these trusts, it had been suggested to him that they might be committed to the care of the board of charitable donations in Ireland. But he at once admitted that that Board being composed of prelates of the Established Church, he had not thought it fit to call men from the duties which properly belonged to their station, as such an appointment might give rise to suspicion and complaint. He thought there were other reasons why it was desirable that the power should not be confided to them. He should propose that power should be given to the Commissioners of corporate property to take into their hands all the corporate revenues, and to appoint local Commissioners in those places where funds existed for the purpose of applying it to those objects to which it was applicable. It would be provided that reports should be made to the Lord-Lieutenant on the state of corporate property, on the means of paying off debts, and on the probable surpluses; 248 power would be given to sell off lands, and invest the proceeds in Government funds; to report all unnecessary offices, and appoint compensation for them; and the Lord-Lieutenant would be empowered to act on these reports. The next provision related to a subject of the greatest importance, not merely to local interests, and to the prosperity of particular towns, but to the peace of Ireland. The Commissioners, it was proposed, might, with the consent of the Lord-Lieutenant, abolish tolls, if the revenues of the Corporation afforded adequate security to creditors. The local acts with relation to police would be continued; the powers with respect to police, now given to the Corporations, or any portion of them, would be discontinued, and in cases where no local acts were in force, the general Constabulary Act would apply. The exclusive criminal jurisdiction would be continued in counties of cities and towns. It was proposed that the Lord-Lieutenant should have the power of appointing, with the advice of his Privy Council, separate Quarter Sessions in any town. The Crown would have the appointment of a recorder, who should be sole judge at Quarter and Borough Sessions, and also hold civil bill courts. Where none existed, provisions would be made for the fulfilment of these duties by the assistant barristers. The Lord-Lieutenant would have the appointment of clerks of the peace. The powers of the statute 35th George 3rd, would be extended, and the number of assistant barristers increased where there was no recorder. The courts of conscience would be preserved, and the judges appointed by the Lord-Lieutenant. The provisions of the Act, 9th George 4th, would in all cases be continued. It was proposed that all the proceedings of the Commissioners with respect to corporate property should be annually laid before Parliament. He conceived that these propositions answered all the objects proposed to be attained by the Bill of the noble Lord, and in a much more effectual manner. He would claim for it that it would give rise to none of that suspicion and jealousy to which the measure recommended by his Majesty's Government would infallibly lead. It was proposed to give to the Crown, or to the Lord-Lieutenant and his advisers, powers equally ample with, those conferred by the measure of noble Lords opposite. He believed that, acting 249 on his own responsibility, any man at the head of the government, of any government, might be trusted with such powers. At all events they preferred the responsibility of a public Minister—the situation which the Lord-Lieutenant, or those under him, might hold, to the irresponsible, transitory, illusory system which would arise out of such a scheme of Corporation Reform as that brought forward by the noble Lord opposite. The statute 9th George 4th, gave a power, under certain provisions, to the inhabitants of the Irish towns to assemble and elect Commissioners for the purpose of performing all the local duties which the Bill of the noble Lord assigned to the new Corporations. Having thus stated, generally, all the provisions he should desire to see introduced, he would now draw their attention to some of the details of the noble Lord's Bill, and would endeavour, as shortly as he could, by a reference to some of its chief provisions to show how inapplicable and injurious was the plan of the Ministers. The noble Lord, in introducing his Bill, had stated to the House the points of difference between this measure and the law of Municipal Reform which had last year received the sanction of Parliament. But the noble Lord had not adverted to the difference between the Bill on the Table, and that which the Attorney-General for Ireland introduced to the House of Commons. Some of these differences were remarkable. As originally intended, the town-council had control over the harbour dues, and similar charges. This was objected to, and the authors of the Bill felt that it was better not to commit this control to the town-council. Then, as to sheriffs, objection was made to their being elective, on the ground that those who had the summoning of juries ought not to be influenced by party motives—ought not to be the nominees of a party. The Ministers felt that they could not maintain, and they therefore abandoned, their own proposition. Next came the police. In England the Corporations had all the management of it, and the first Bill of the Government proposed to invest the town-councils in Ireland with a portion of the same authority. But this would hardly do, for the Constabulary Bill was going through along with their Municipal Reform Bill; and while the power which they professed a willingness to leave to the Corporations was withheld, in their Con- 250 stabulary Bill, from the magistracy and gentry of the country, they could hardly maintain an inconsistency so flagrant. The police were thrown over along with the sheriffs, and all essential authority was equally given up; the argument of the mover of the Bill was abandoned along with the leading provisions of his measure, and the appointment of a watchman, as far as he was aware, was all that was left to these public bodies, from whom the Minister and his supporters claimed that they should be invested with all the immunities and all the powers which were intrusted to Corporations in England and Wales. So much for the difference between the Bill on your Table and the Bill introduced to the House of Commons. He had next to notice what the noble Viscount had professed to consider the difference, both as the Bill stood then and now, between it and the Bill enacted for England. The first discrepancy to which he felt anxious to call their attention, was one passed over very carelessly and even lightly by the noble Lord—that relative to the franchise. The noble Lord said, that in the eight principal towns of Ireland they had determined to adopt a 10l. qualification; but that if they had fixed on the same standard in the remaining towns, the constituency would have been so limited that the system would not have partaken of the character of popular election. Now he would ask the noble Lord how he knew this? With respect to some of the towns, there was a difference of statement in the number of electors so remarkable as to tempt one to ask how it arose. A return had been made of the number of persons who had registered themselves with a view to the Parliamentary franchise, but there was no return of the number of 5l. houses. He defied any man to calculate to what amount the 5l. constituency would extend. The House knew, that in thirty towns of Ireland, the noble Lord had adopted a 10l. qualification for the Parliamentary constituency, and yet he told them that the adoption of the same standard in all those towns as the municipal qualification would limit the constituency too much. Their Lordships were told, that the number of registered electors in those towns being less than was estimated at the time of the passing of the Reform Bill, they must guard against a deficient constituency in the new municipalities; and the town of Lisburn had been quoted as a proof of the 251 insufficient number of qualified and resident electors. Why, my Lords, what an instance was that. First, the 5l. qualification was the Parliamentary franchise in the town of Lisburn. Next, if the inhabitants had net registered there, it was a proof of their attachment to the noble person under whom all the property in Lisburn was derived, and against whose influence there, no contest, or canvass had ever been attempted. But look to the great majority of the boroughs, and what would this 5l. constituency be? In England the 10l. qualification was limited by enforcing a term of residence for three years, while in Ireland six months only were required. Here, then, was a point in which there was no public principle involved, and where uniformity might have been preserved; and, for the purpose no doubt of elevating the constituency, the noble Lord dispensed with three years, and required only six months. Would not the adoption of the 5l. municipal franchise place a powerful and dangerous argument in the hands of any one who contended that the Parliamentary qualification ought to be reduced to the same standard? He did not mean to impute any such design to the present Government, but he did not see how they could well resist such an appeal. He knew, too, that such an argument was used upon the Scotch Reform Bill—he meant the Borough Reform Bill, where a 5l. qualification was contended for, and was resisted, lest it should be a precedent for the lowering of the Parliamentary franchise. It had been remarked in another place, that the word "office," introduced into the clause of this Bill which fixed the qualification, was not to be found in the English Bill. The answer was, that it was really to be found in the Act of last year. But in the present Bill it was admitted, though the constituency was reduced to 5l., and he entertained no doubt that the fact of retaining if would be to degrade the character of the electors. The measure before their Lordships proposed that a power of incorporation should be given to the Crown, not, as in the English Bill, on the application of the majority of the inhabitants of a place, but of any two, three, or four persons in a town, and that the wishes of the majority might be completely disregarded. Surely, then, the noble Lord would not propose to introduce such an enactment as this into the Bill. The amount of population sufficient 252 to entitle any borough to a Corporation under the present Bill was 2,000, a scale which might have the effect of creating 125 new boroughs in addition to fifty appointed by the existing Bill. As to the importance of reconstructing Corporations in Ireland, it was proper that their Lordships should have in view the objects of administration contemplated by the present Bill. First of all came the question of corporate property. It appeared from the Report, that the whole income of the Irish Corporations was about 33,000l. a-year, the greater part of which was derived from tolls. That was exclusive of the city of Dublin. The whole property of the boroughs enumerated in schedule B did not amount to more than 10,000l. per annum, including ten boroughs, some of which had no revenue, whether arising from tolls or from property. The third Schedule contained twenty-one boroughs, six of which had no income. Of six more boroughs, the aggregate income did not amount to 60l. a-year, leaving only nine with property to be administered. The whole revenue of the twenty-one towns of Schedule C. amounted only to 1,500l. a-year, the larger portion of which was derived from tolls; and for the administration of this trifling sum it was intended to create twenty-one Corporations, with a full complement of town-councillors and public functionaries. He would ask, then, if every thing proposed to be accomplished by the Bill of the noble Lord could not be effected with much greater safety and simplicity by the scheme he (Lord Fitzgerald) proposed? Of these twenty-one last-mentioned there was not one which possessed an exclusive jurisdiction. In no one was a separate provision made for the police, and all the duties of that body were performed by the constabulary force of the country. It would, perhaps, be inquired what were the duties to be performed by the Corporations thus reconstructed, and he confessed that of necessary and useful purposes he did not know one that would not be more effectually attained by the enactments of the statute 9th George 4th, which had already been proved to be sufficient for such objects. He might, perhaps, be told that any objection to the 5l. franchise was unreasonable from one who proposed to adopt that Act, but he begged to remind them, that its provisions were confined strictly to lighting and watching 253 the towns. Were these limited powers to be compared with those of a Bill which provided for annual elections? Was the Board of Commissioners appointed under the former measure to be compared with a body of persons clothed with a municipal title, having the right of assembling in town-halls and settling questions of local Government, and representing their opinions to this House as those of persons in important offices? Was there any analogy between these cases? It was found that in almost all the towns contained in Schedules B and C the provisions of the 9th George 4th., were carried into effect at the solicitation of a minority of the inhabitants, who wished to improve the town, even at a small expense to themselves. But if this were the case with respect to an Act whose machinery was so little liable to the charge of being cumbrous and expensive, what must be the practical working of this measure, which proposed to create a borough rate, and levy an assessment that would press very hard upon the inhabitants of a small town? He apprehended that this Bill would not be quite so popular in such places when it was better understood, because it could not but be admitted, that in very few of these towns were there any means available at all for defraying, he would not say the expense of the machinery of this Act, but even that of the 9th George 4th, one great advantage of which was, that it was not compulsory, but permissive. He conceived that the universal demand had been for the abolition of the old rotten Corporations, but he could not see there had been any loudly expressed desire for the adoption of the details of the noble Lord's measure relative to the reconstruction of those Corporations. It was worth while also to remark, that there might be great inequality in bringing into operation the provisions of the Bill. The county of Wexford had a population of 182,000 souls, and under the Bill there would be four corporate boroughs in it. In eight other counties there would only be the same number of Corporations, and if these were to be regarded as advantages or constitutional blessings, the population of the counties amounted to 2,100,000. There would be but three boroughs in the whole province of Connaught. He did not blame the promoter of the measure for this inequality, which arose out of the prin- 254 ciple of reconstructing only those boroughs which had formerly possessed Corporations, but was it not a recommendation of his plan that it did not apply in this partial manner? It was not at all limited by the circumstances of ancient boroughs, for the 9th of George 4th, was applicable to any place, whatever its extent, that called it into action, and was willing to submit to the rate imposed by it. He wished particularly to draw their Lordships' attention to the subject of tolls, which was inferior in importance to none connected with the measure. These vexatious and onerous taxes interrupted the prosperity of towns, and impeded the operations of business. They frequently gave rise to riots, breaches of the peace, and bloodshed, and no one system was so fatal to the peace of the country, and so pregnant with mischief. In Corporations where the property was heavily mortgaged, it would be impossible to abolish them without making adequate provision to satisfy demands upon the revenues of the town. But he thought there could be no greater blessing to the population than the extinction of tolls, whatever might be the result of his proposition, or of that of the noble Lord. But it was plain that a commission would be most likely to adopt beneficial regulations with regard to tolls, as the local bodies were interested in the income they derived from that oppressive source. The subject of tolls, be the fate of the present measure what it might, he pledged himself, if no other person should do so, to bring again under the consideration of the House. Having thus stated the grounds of preference which had induced him to recommend the proposition he offered—that it was simple,—effectual,—safe,—was it necessary to vindicate it from the charge of innovation or destruction ascribed to it by the noble Viscount? The noble Viscount was pleased to acquit the noble Duke (Wellington) and a right hon. Gentleman, a distinguished Member of the House of Commons, (Sir Robert Peel) of being its authors. The noble Lord ascribed it to men more young,—more rash,—less guided by that safe policy and cautious prudence which distinguished the noble Duke and his right hon. Friend. He claimed for them, however, that they were responsible for the course pursued by the opposition, and that the right hon. Baronet who had been referred to, while, as 255 the debates in Parliament shew, he had the concurrence of those whom the noble Lord described as young—intemperate,—rash,—had yet not acted without a deliberate investigation of the subject, nor without a full consideration of the state of society in Ireland,—after communication with the representatives of Ireland,—with individuals and with public bodies, qualified to offer dispassionate advice,—and after the existing Corporations had consented to sacrifice their exclusive privileges and to abrogate their authority for ever. To this they consented for the sake of terminating the ascendancy complained of, though they denied that it was the ascendancy of faction; but, consenting, they yet implored those who advocated their cause in Parliament, not to transfer to others an ascendancy of which they, in their turn, would have a right to complain. In offering themselves as a sacrifice—in consenting to the abolition of corporate rights, which had been for centuries enjoyed, they did—and do ask—that in place of them should be created a system of equality, under which they, too, may be protected, and enjoy the benefits of equal law. But the measure which the Opposition offered, bore, said the noble Viscount, the mark of its author, and the character of rash and violent advice. He had no right to vindicate the noble person who had been not indistinctly referred to in this temperate censure. That noble person had been more fitly justified on a former night by a noble Earl (Ripon), who, in vindicating the absent, asserted his own consistency. That noble Earl had shown how little the imputation was deserved which had been cast by the Minister of the Crown upon his late most distinguished colleague. Who, said the noble Viscount, was most likely to be the author of a measure proposed in the other House of Parliament, which he described as precipitate and violent? Who was the man portrayed? A noble Lord, the brightest ornament of the Cabinet of Earl Grey—who sat as the Minister for Ireland in that Cabinet, along with the noble Viscount—who seceded from that Cabinet because he could not give his assent to measures of precipitancy and violence—who had been the most influential and able supporter of that great measure of Reform on which they who survived him as Minister, rested their fame—of one who was compelled to leave them when they attempted to deal with 256 the Irish Church on principles which were then only darkly hinted at, but which had been since boldly avowed, principles to which they were compelled to adhere, in consequence of an engagement they could not shake off. He had not the honour of an intimacy with the noble Lord; he presumed not to answer for him; but the day might come when he would successfully vindicate himself,Turno tempus erit, magno cum obtaverit emptum Intactum Pallanta.And when the noble Viscount would wish that he had reserved in his quiver the shaft he had launched against him. He had heard it said, that they who objected to this Bill ought to go further, and be prepared to repeal, not only the Catholic Emancipation Act, but also the Reform Act. That objection had been already, in the place where it was first made, battered to pieces. He would ask, on what grounds it was that the Question of Catholic Emancipation was defended? He was aware that on this subject he was speaking in the hearing of many of his noble Friends who differed widely from the noble Duke, and from a right hon. Gentleman in another place, as to the introduction of that measure, who differed from the authors of that measure which levelled all religious distinctions, and admitted a whole people to constitutional rights and equal laws; yet the authors of such a measure had been spoken of as having narrow views, and as following a too tardy policy. He knew that many of his noble Friends had opposed that measure, but he knew also that the remembrance of that difference had passed away, and many noble Lords who differed from the noble Duke and the right hon. Gentleman on that question, were now restored to their full confidence, and they looked to the noble Duke and the right hon. Gentleman as the best and surest supports of constitutional principles. They had not forgotten the grounds on which that right hon. Gentleman defended the introduction of the Catholic Bill. It was that one class of his Majesty's subjects should not have privileges from which another class should be excluded. He might be told, that it was the object of this Bill to put Protestants and Catholics on a footing of equality; but he would reply, that being, as they would be, in all these Corporate towns in a minority, they would be excluded from any share in the management or control of Corporate affairs. 257 He begged noble Lords to recollect, that Catholics had been free to enter Corporations in Ireland since 1793, but they had been virtually excluded from them, though he did not justify it by those who had the power of election, and it made little difference whether inflicted by the law or by the people through the law allowing them. The House should bear in mind that by this measure not only would power be taken from one class, but it would be given exclusively to another. Above all, they should recollect, that they took power from that class in which there was a great portion of the property of the country as well as its intelligence, and who were most fit to be trusted with the local government, and they would give it to an exclusive class liable to the most serious objections, and possessing little property and not much knowledge. He felt strongly the force of this argument; but he was still more impressed with the correctness of his opinion on the subject, when he considered the increase of power which had been given to the body of the people by the Reform Bill. It was on this ground, that he dreaded the creation of such a power as this Bill would give, and the placing it in the hands of a dominant majority. He objected to it because he believed it would tend to perpetuate political and religious domination—because it would create never-ending agitation, instead of that peace and harmony amongst all classes which it was the duty of every good Government to support; and it would generate disorders which every Government ought to put an end to. But there were other circumstances to be considered as signs of the times which tended to render the power about to be conferred on those Corporations still more dangerous. Amongst these he might mention that measure which had not long since been introduced in the other House of Parliament. He was aware of the delicacy of adverting to the proceedings in the other House, but on this occasion he was relieved from any scruples, by having the fact to which he was about to refer mentioned in the published votes of the House of Commons. From those votes he perceived, that a proposition had been made by a right hon. Friend of his in the other House to reduce the Stamp-duty on newspapers from its present amount to one penny on each paper. He knew that, in the earnest desire to suppress unstamped papers, many individuals were 258 sent to prison for vending the latter; but he believed that the public feeling would have gone much more in favour of those individuals, had the character of the papers themselves been more worthy of public estimation. He found that his right hon. Friend in the other House proposed to reduce the duty to one penny on each paper, and he had since learned that an appeal had been made to his right hon. Friend from Ireland, to have the Stamp-duty on newspapers in that country reduced to one halfpenny—an appeal which it was probable would be successful. Perhaps, from old fiscal recollections and prejudices, he might be disposed to continue the tax; but looking at the subject, not merely as a fiscal regulation, there were circumstances connected with this change which he could not view without some alarm. When he considered the character of the papers, which, under the almost total removal of the Stamp-duties, would be brought to bear as powerful auxiliaries in aid of the new Corporations—considering that 100 or 200 of those publications might be established to support what would then be the popular, the dominant party, he owned he could not look at the proposed change without some degree of alarm. He knew that this remission of duty was intended to give general satisfaction to the public, but he believed that it would fail in doing so to those who were most interested in the removal of the tax, and he could easily conceive why—for, on mere fiscal grounds, there was no objection which could be made to a tax of 5d. on a paper that might not with equal force be applied to the tax of 1d. Perhaps it might be asked, what connexion was there between the Bill before the House, and the tax on newspapers? He would in a few words show to their Lordships, that the two subjects were not unconnected, and to show it, he would venture to quote from a letter of an able public man. That respectable individual would not, he was sure, blame him for thus publicly using his letter, as it had been given by himself to the public without any reserve. He had the less scruple in doing so, as the hon. Gentleman to whom he alluded was one of the most stern and uncompromising character in the expression of his opinions of public men and public measures, and who never affected to conceal what he thought of either. The letter to which he alluded, was from the hon. Mem- 259 ber for Middlesex, [Is it Mr. Byng?] He thought, that when he had mentioned the "stern and uncompromising character" of the hon. Gentleman in the expression of his political opinions, he had sufficiently designated the man; but if noble Lords did not recognize the description in those terms, he would state, that the hon. Member to whom he alluded was Mr. Hume. That hon. Gentleman had received an application from the town of Roscrea, deprecating the continuing any Stamp-duty on newspapers, and adding, that if the tax was to be reduced to a penny in England, it ought to be reduced to a halfpenny in Ireland. Now, as an Irishman, he would not object to this, though, as he was reminded by his noble Friend near him, it did not fall strictly within the line of the pares leges; but passing that, the hon. Member for Middlesex, in his reply, described the conduct of the Government on this occasion of the Newspaper-tax as "paltry and pitiful." "Such conduct," continued the writer, "from avowed Reformers, shows one or other of two things—it shows either their ignorance, as statesmen, of what would tend to the interest of the many, or that they are not sincere in their professions as to Reform. Such men as are at present placed over, and whom circumstances oblige us to support, show their inconsistency, in thus leaving any shackles on the press." The next passage which he was about to quote, would show the connexion between the repeal of the Stamp-duty on Newspapers, and the Bill then before the House. The writer went on to say, "I know the policy of the United States in this respect, and please God, when we get the Irish Corporation Bill passed, and some other Reforms, we shall talk to them in the House of Commons in a very different strain." This extract, he was sure, would justify him in calling the attention of their Lordships to the connexion between the Bill then before them, and the reduction of the Newspaper Stamps. He knew, of course, that the noble Viscount (Viscount Melbourne) opposite, did not adopt such opinions, but the noble Viscount must feel, that there were some who gave him their support in Parliament, but who still felt, that his policy was on too narrow a basis; and when the noble Viscount next rose, he would find, that he would have to go somewhat beyond his present point, in order to please the parties to whom he 260 alluded. There were many other topics connected with the subject before their Lordships, on which he was disposed to touch, if he were not afraid that he had already trespassed too much on the indulgence of the House, though he hoped he had not abused it. The question before their Lordships was one of the highest importance, and there were many important considerations to be weighed, before they should adopt the plan proposed by his Majesty's Government. The noble Viscount recommended this plan as one which would put an end to the heart-burnings, and the excited feelings of those who had long been excluded from any share in the municipal government of the towns and cities of Ireland. In these respects, the plan which he and his noble Friends proposed, did not yield to that of the Government. They also went to the reform of existing Corporations, and where did they stop? They stopped at that point where the noble Viscount would confer considerable powers on the Corporations, though the actual duties they had to perform were comparatively unimportant, and might be performed by a much more simple machinery. My Lords, said the noble Baron in conclusion, I know the history of my country, and am aware that it is stained with many a bloody page. I wish to see its troubles cease, and that peace and improvement should take place of discord and derangement, which I know cannot be accomplished amidst continued agitation and excitement. But let me say, that while you are asked by the noble Viscount, in the name of Ireland, to give to it the blessings of those new Corporations, I ask of you, in mercy, to adopt our plan, and to give to Ireland repose. The noble Lord concluded by moving, "That it be an instruction to the Committee, that they have power to make provision for the abolition of such Corporations, and for such arrangements as may be necessary, on their abolition, for securing the efficient and impartial administration of justice, and the peace and good government of cities and towns in Ireland."
§ The Lord Chancellor
was anxious at that early period of the debate to address their Lordships on the motion of the noble Lord. He had intended to have done so on the other evening, when his noble and learned Friend (Lord Lyndhurst) propounded the principle of the amendment in the speech which he ad- 261 dressed to the House, but he thought it better to wait until the matter came forward in a more regular form, and for full discussion; as the opportunity had now occurred he was anxious to avail himself of it. Disguised as the proposition might be by the noble Lord—explained as it had been on a former night by his noble and learned Friend, it involved principles which it behoved their Lordships solemnly to consider. The House was called upon by it to abolish all the Municipal Corporations in Ireland, and to hand over the administration of their affairs to the management of others. He knew that it was proposed that the property of those towns should be directed to the same purposes as it now was; but was there no intention to take the management of it from those who had it, and hand it over to others who had not some interest in the places? The noble Lord said, that he was anxious to discuss the question with the greatest moderation, and he certainly did so in the early part of his speech, but in the latter part of it, where he described the persons who he supposed would have the greatest credit in the direction of the corporate towns under this Bill, he departed from his intention, but he would not follow the noble Lord in the deviation from the rule which he laid down, by going into the inquiry as to whom belonged the credit or discredit of having made the first suggestion of the amendment now before the House. To him it made little difference who originally suggested the proposition. He had only to deal with it as he found it. The noble Lord had thought it necessary to go at length into the history of the Corporations in Ireland. There could be no doubt that the Corporations of Londonderry and Colerain arose from the circumstance of establishing an English settlement in the north of Ireland. No doubt, those Corporations were formed for facilitating this object. The same circumstance might apply to other places, but it was quite immaterial to the general argument. The noble Lord himself admitted, that since 1793, they had been thrown open, and that all the inhabitants of the corporate towns, without reference to their religious tenets, had a legal right to become members of the Corporation. The inhabitants of the towns, however, were divided into corporators and non-corporators, not because the law gave an exclusive privilege 262 to any portion of his Majesty's subjects; not from any law or right; and the system of exclusion which existed before the change of the law continued, because those who were in the possession of power refused to share it with their fellow-citizens. Was it not, then, a mere mockery to tell the Catholics of Ireland that the Corporations were open to them—that they were open by right as well as law, while the exclusive system was allowed to remain in operation? He did not ask whether it was possible that the framers or supporters of the Act of 1793, by which Catholics were admitted to Corporations, intended that it should be executed. It was intended to remove the grievances of which the Catholics then complained, and it was impossible for any person to imagine that such was not the intention of the Legislature. In every corporate town in Ireland, all classes had since that period a right to share in corporate rights and privileges, though the Corporations, by their system of self-election, had remained as exclusive as they were under the law. There was no novelty, then, in the proposition which was now made, for it was only practically carrying into effect what was intended in 1793. The government of these towns now rested in the corporators, not, however, for themselves, but as trustees for the inhabitants of these towns? These persons held the property of the Corporations, not for their own exclusive benefit, but only for the benefit of the inhabitants at large. No man who had read the evidence in the Report of the Commissioners but would admit, that in the administration of the property and the possession of the government of these towns, the grossest abuse and corruption prevailed. The state of things was such as to call imperatively for the reform of the Corporations in Ireland. All parties agreed that a change must take place; no one had risen to defend the existing Irish Corporations. They came, then, to the remedy. A measure had been prepared by his Majesty's Government which had received the sanction of the other House, and which he was satisfied would remove the grievances complained of, and afford an efficient cure. No cure or remedy, however, would be afforded, if they adopted the amendment of the noble Lord. Their argument was, the patient will prove troublesome if you restore him, 263 therefore put him to death. Before, however, such a prescription was followed, noble Lords should be satisfied that no milder remedy would be successful. The noble Lord had endeavoured to show, that the proposition he had made was not essentially different from that inserted in the Bill before the House, as the object of both was to abolish the present exclusive system. So far he agreed; but the one plan cured and restored, the other killed and destroyed the Corporations—curing and killing the patient. In the Bill, it was proposed to preserve all rights and properties which were now in Corporations. He said all rights and properties, because both the rights and properties vested in the population at large, and were only held in trust for them, at least for those who it was intended should be benefited by it, by the Act of 1793. It left all rights untouched, correcting certain abuses which had grown up in the administration, and it placed the whole under the control of popular election, whilst the plan of the noble Lord and his friends would take them wholly from that control, and vest all the property in the Crown. Their Lordships would require a strong case to be made out before they thus interfered with corporate rights—rights which might have been acquired by royal grant, or by purchase, and to which the Corporations had as good a title as any of their Lordships to their estates. It was no slight matter to abolish those rights, unless a sufficient cause for it were made out, which had not yet been achieved. The idea that the proposition of the noble Lord did not go much beyond that contained in the Bill appeared to him extraordinary. The noble Lord said, take away from the Corporations all rights, and let them cease to exist; and the noble Lord laid great stress on the fact, that the present Corporators were willing to surrender their privileges, provided the Corporations were abolished; but were those for whom they hold them willing that they should be surrendered. He did not think that they deserved credit for offering to surrender usurped privileges in despair, when they found that they were no longer able to retain them. They wished, indeed, not much to their credit, to destroy the Corporations altogether, when they could hold them no longer. The noble Lord had made an addition to that which seemed to be the leading argument for the amendment for- 264 merly urged by his noble and learned Friend. His noble and learned Friend appeared to attach great weight to a casual sentence which fell from the hon. and learned Member for Dublin; and the noble Lord had to-night, added to that another sentence which fell from the hon. Member for Middlesex. If these sentences of the hon. Members were to be duly appreciated, they ought to be taken in conjunction with the rest of the speeches of the hon. Member, and with the circumstances under which they were used. He had never heard of the letter of the hon. Member for Middlesex until that night, but the observation of the other hon. Member he had heard, though he could not conceive what reference it could have to the principle of the measure. The proposition of the noble Lord was to abolish all Corporations, and take from them all their property, and give it for administration to persons not connected with the places. In his opinion, this was not a very likely way to promote peace and tranquillity in these places, or prevent that agitation which was the assigned reason for proposing the plan. Was it now to be argued that Catholics were less fit to be admitted to Corporations now than in 1793? Why had they been excluded since? Because they were Catholics; and how was that exclusion kept up? By a mode which constituted the grievance reasonably complained of. The cause of this grievance had been the power of self-election, which, wherever it existed, produced grievances of the worst description. The existing mode of election was a bar to all responsibility, preventing all investigation into the conduct of the members of the Corporations, rendering them responsible to no man, and giving them the power of electing themselves. This system occasioned great and grievous evils. What was the obvious remedy? To abolish the system of self-election, and to place the election of the members of the Corporations in the hands of those who were interested in the property intrusted to their management. The inhabitants of the towns were interested in the due administration of the corporate property, and the due exercise of the corporate rights, and to them the Bill intrusted the power of election. The remedy just met the evil, and no more. The cause was obvious, and the cause was removed the moment this correction was applied. This was the measure; it was simply this. Details were undoubtedly 265 both necessary and unavoidable, but this was the general principle of the Bill; and if this principle were not to be acted on, a sufficient reason for departing from it must be advanced by those who opposed it. Ever since the year 1793, had not the principle of all parties been, to relieve the Catholics from their disabilities, to admit them to the privileges of free citizens, to invest them with the rights they ought never to have been deprived of, and to put them upon a par with their fellow subjects? The Act of Union with Ireland had proceeded on this ground; the Catholic Relief Bill had proceeded on this ground also. But the noble Lord who had spoken, said, that this was of all others the very reason why the Catholics should be excluded from their rights. If they laboured under their old disabilities, said the noble Lord, the danger would not be half so great. [Lord Fitzgerald expressed his dissent.] He was very sorry if he had misunderstood the noble Lord, and he could assure him that it was quite unintentional. He certainly had understood the noble Lord to say, that the danger of intrusting the Catholics with these rights was rendered greater by the Act of Union, but as it appeared that he had not comprehended the noble Lord's meaning, he would pursue the subject no further. He had adverted to the principle upon which all parties had acted since the year 1793; he had adverted to the Act of Union and to the Catholic Relief Bill, for the purpose of showing the degree of confidence Parliament had placed in the Catholics. This was the principle on which all their legislation had proceeded. Parliament had found, that the great evil of Ireland was, that it was not governed as an integral part of the empire, that the Catholics had real grievances to complain of, and that they had a right to be considered as members of the same community with the Protestants. Upon these grounds they had been admitted to Parliament; upon these grounds they had been invested with civil rights; and yet now they were met with the solemn warning, "Trust not the Catholics with the election of a councillor; and above all, do not let them vote for an alderman or mayor." It really came to this after all: there was no other objection made, no other danger apprehended. Catholics were at present intrusted with civil rights, Catholics were eligible to sit in that or the other House of Parliament, 266 and yet they were to be prevented from voting for a mayor or an alderman, and this notwithstanding the undisputed and indisputable fact, that from the year 1793 down to that moment, the great evil had been admitted to be, that they were practically excluded from a fair participation in the rights of Protestants. Now, was there any consistency in this? Was this legislating for Ireland on the principle on which they had legislated in times past? Let their Lordships look to the results of their own practical experience. He spoke not of individuals in Parliament; but when they were told that because the great majority of the population of Ireland were Catholics, therefore Protestants would be excluded from the Corporations, he begged them to look to the returns of Members to the House of Commons, and judge whether the result of the Parliamentary elections in Ireland justified this apprehension. When they knew that the great majority of the population of Ireland were Catholics, and when they found that a considerable number of Protestant Members were returned to the House of Commons, what conclusion could they arrive at but this, that admitting Catholics to the rights of Protestants had not a tendency to encroach upon the privileges of the latter, and was not handing over the rights of the Protestants to the Catholics? and yet on the assumption that such would be the tendency and effect of the measure, was the proposition of the noble Lord who had just sat down, alone attempted to be supported. It was said, that there had hitherto been a system of exclusion on one side, and that, if that Bill were passed, there would in future be a similar system of exclusion on the other—that the Catholics were the great majority, that the Protestants had hitherto kept out the Catholics, and that, if that Bill were passed, the Catholics would keep out the Protestants. Now, if this were the argument, as he apprehended it was, their Lordships had, at least, some means of judging whether such was likely to be the result of the experiment. They had the election of Members of Parliament, and another and a closer test, the election of Commissioners under the Act of 9th Geo. 4th, the great majority of whom, it appeared, were Protestants. They were elected by the very same men who it was proposed should exercise the right of electing the town-council; they were the occupiers of 5l. houses in towns, and possessed at this moment pre- 267 cisely the same motives and the same reasons for excluding Protestants from being Commissioners, as they would have if the Bill were passed for excluding them from being councillors. These were the persons who it was proposed should administer the corporate property, and preside over the local rights; these were the men who were to preside over the watching, paving, and similar local wants. And yet they found that the majority—the large majority—of these men were Protestants, although, at this moment, they were elected in towns where the majority of the population was greatly in favour of the Catholics. Now, here were two good tests; and was it not apparent that the Catholics either did not or could not exclude the Protestants, but that there was a fair balance on the one side and on the other? Was there any reasonable ground for supposing, that under the proposed law a contrary result would take place? And yet it was on the mere supposition that a contrary result would take place, that the noble Lord contended for the adoption of his proposition. It followed from the very constitution of the existing Corporations, and the fact of their electing themselves, and never appealing to the mass of the people, that those who once gained possession of them retained it. They had got into the hands of the Protestants, and they had taken care, with the exception of a very few instances, to exclude the Catholics; but, under the proposed measure, they would be open to all the inhabitants. The elections would be as open as the elections for Members of Parliament—as open as the elections of Commissioners, under the Act to which he had referred. The apprehension of the result alluded to by the noble Lord was not justified by any reasoning a priori, by analogy or experience; and he, therefore, contended that it could not fairly be anticipated. The measure proposed by the noble Lord was one of great extent and vast magnitude. It amounted to no less than the annihilation of the existing Corporations, and the transfer of their property. To justify such a proceeding, an exceedingly strong case, indeed, must be made out; to proceed on light grounds would be the height of impropriety and injustice. It was unjust to interfere with the rights of property, and it was unjust to interfere with corporate rights. Unless a case of imperative necessity were made out, and it was clearly shown that such interference was for the 268 public benefit, they should not be touched. Not many nights ago, when the question of the disfranchisement of a single borough was before their Lordships, his noble and learned Friend (Lord Lyndhurst)expressed a very strong opinion, in which, without going to quite so great a length as the noble and learned Lord, he fully concurred. The noble and learned Lord stated, that where the question at issue was the disfranchising individuals of the right of electing Members of Parliament, not only did it require an extremely strong case, but that he would not trust to evidence when before another tribunal, and that he felt bound to hear the evidence adduced, in order that he might satisfy himself that the disfranchisement proceeded on just and legitimate grounds. The noble Lord said this in the case of a particular borough, proceeded against for an alleged misapplication of the elective franchise, in converting it into money. In the present case, not one individual borough, but 100 Corporations were in question; and their Lordships were called upon to deprive them of their corporate property, on the ground that certain alleged evil was likely to ensue from permitting them to retain it. He believed there was no dispute about the fact, that the corrupt or erroneous management of these Corporations had been such as to call for legislative interference; but he in-treated their Lordships to remember, that there was a very wide difference between correcting an evil by substituting another authority of a similar, though improved description, and destroying the authority altogether, and transferring its powers to an entirely different jurisdiction. If, then, no case had been made out in favour of the proposition of the Noble Lord; if, so far as the experiment had been tried, experience had proved it to be successful, and if there were no necessity established before their Lordships for adopting that which must, at all events, be considered as an extremely violent measure which nothing but absolute necessity could justify, let him call their Lordships' attention to the supposed policy of the proceeding. He repeated, that their Lordships had no right to interfere with the property of Corporations, unless some strong necessity were proved to exist; and that, at all events, such a measure required the strongest demonstration before they could be called upon to give their assent to it. Where was the evidence 269 of that necessity upon which their Lordships were asked to resort to this extreme proceeding? They were asked to adopt it simply OD the ground that the proposed Bill might possibly give an additional share of undue influence to the Catholics of Ireland. Beyond all doubt, where one description of persons formed a large majority of the population, provided religion were made the ground of difference between the parties, the exclusion would be on one side, and the large number would have the preponderance. Yes; but their Lordships were called upon to assume that the question would be Catholic or Protestant, the one religion or the other, and that the Catholics being in power, and being the majority, would exclude the Protestants; all this was mere assumption. What reason was there for supposing such would be the fact? On such an assertion as this, their Lordships were called upon to place Ireland on a different footing from either England or Scotland. The remedy had been applied in England, the remedy had been applied in Scotland; in both cases their Lordships considered the evil one which admitted of cure—in both they had applied the remedy by legislative enactment; but when the case of Ireland came under discussion, they were told not to attempt it, but to annihilate the Corporations at once and for ever. Was this placing Ireland on an equality with England? Was this the mode in which their Lordships hoped to conciliate Ireland? Was this their way of keeping faith with Ireland, after holding out to her the pledge and promise that she should be treated as an integral part of the United Empire, and should have equal rights and equal laws with England? It was not a mere refusal to extend to Ireland what had been given to England and Scotland, but it was actually taking away from her an advantage she had enjoyed—he meant the benefit of municipal institutions. The question at issue really and in fact was, whether that House would proceed to deprive Ireland of the right which the Crown had conferred upon her in former times, and which the Legislature had since guaranteed. The noble Lord had alluded to the original establishment of the Corporations of Ireland, and he had said that they had been devoted to particular purposes, instead of being intended to promote the welfare of the whole. Why, it was this circumstance that rendered the Bill before 270 the House necessary at all; and if Ireland had not participated in the advantages of municipal institutions, if she had not derived as much benefit from her Corporations as might have been expected, the fact was to be attributed to the circumstance alluded to by the noble Lord. It was strange that a proposition should be made to that House to abolish municipal institutions throughout Ireland, when the whole scheme of European civilisation, from the earliest period down to the present time, had been to promote and encourage them? The Corporations were the means by which the power of the nobles was originally restrained. They were the means of restraining the power of the nobles when that power was injuriously exercised against the Crown and the people. They were the means by which the powers of the Crown had been restrained when they were exercised injuriously to the interests of the people; and they were the means by which the rights of the Crown could be protected and preserved. It was supposed that the existence of Corporations in Ireland would increase political agitation in Ireland. No other ground of opposition to the Bill had been stated. But it if did not necessarily arise, that an extension of corporate rights would increase agitation, where was the argument in favour of the proposition of the noble Lord? He apprehended that the experience of all mankind was in direct opposition to it. Was it from a population exposed to violence and commotion—was it in a state of society where the people were expected to be excited from time to time, and to act with violence, that they considered it expedient to take away any connecting link between them and the governing powers? Were the people likely to be turbulent when they had Municipal Corporations? or, were they not much more likely to become so when their meetings would be held without any responsible magistrate to preside over or organize their proceedings? In a corporate town, the persons of the greatest weight, property, and influence would be found in the municipal offices. If any disturbance took place, if any political meeting were called, these were the persons who would be on the spot, and who would preside. Would it be safer to leave an excitable population without any persons to regulate their proceedings or to enforce order, or provide them with the means of legally meeting. Another reason for the 271 proposed annual elections being beneficial, and of their not being productive of the danger which was apprehended from them was, that they would divert the attention of the people; there would be the elections for their Mayors and Aldermen, and local matters constantly passing before them, which would divert their thoughts from those political matters to which they would otherwise be alone directed. It appeared to him this was a complete mistake in point of policy, and that if the object were to prevent the population of Ireland from becoming turbulent on general political subjects, it could not be better secured than by enabling them to express their opinions and give utterance to their feelings on local matters. Before their Lordships proceeded to do what the noble Lord required of them, let them be well satisfied that it ought to be done; let them not interfere with the rights of property, unless they felt assured that the public interests, the public safety, and public justice required it. He could not conclude without observing, that in all the arguments which had been addressed to the House by the noble Lord in favour of his amendment, there was one great and manifest inconsistency. They were told that the Bill itself vested the Corporations with very few powers, and that, in point of fact, the amendment called upon them to do very little. If that little were unjust, however, why should they be called upon to do it at all? The House was called upon to deprive those Corporations of their rights by force, and to take away their chartered property by force; and yet the argument on the other side was, that the Bill of the noble Viscount had left them almost powerless. If the House were called upon to intrust the Corporations of Ireland with increased powers in the appointment of Sheriffs or Magistrates, there might be some ground for the noble Lord's argument; but he must again repeat, that after the Catholics had been intrusted with the highest civil rights, he could not understand why they were not to be intrusted with a voice in the election of Mayors or Aldermen.
§ Lord Abinger
wished he had been enabled to arrive at a clearer understanding of the meaning of his noble and learned Friend, for it appeared to him that at the commencement of his speech he had made a very great confusion between "Corporations" and "towns." His noble and learned Friend professed very great alarm 272 at the notion of stripping a Corporation of its property. Why, did not his noble and learned Friend know, that when one Corporation was abolished and another erected in its place, one Corporation at all events must be deprived of its property? His noble and learned Friend sometimes, in the course of his speech, considered the Corporations as having property in their own right, and at others as holding it in the character of trustees for the towns to which they belonged. If their property was their own, his noble and learned Friend had no right to deprive them of it; it was a measure of mischief, and the creation of new Corporations was no remedy whatever. If, on the other hand, they were trustees for the towns at large—a proposition, by the bye, in which he did not entirely concur, but he would assume it for a moment, as his noble and learned Friend, in his alternations, had stated the proposition—if they were trustees for the towns, and had not satisfactorily executed their trusts, it was a mere question of policy whether you should appoint a new set of trustees by the nomination of the Crown, or by a Parliamentary Corporation. Again; his noble and learned Friend said, that it was a violent measure to abolish the Corporations. So it was. He admitted it was a measure which nothing but necessity could justify. The question then resolved itself into one of necessity. Now he supposed it was agreed on both sides of the House, that there was a sufficient argument of necessity to justify the abolition of these Corporations; but he begged to state to the noble and learned Lord, that the moment he consented to do this he passed the Rubicon; and that erecting a Corporation of another kind was no remedy at all. He would simplify the case, by reducing it to a single instance. Suppose an Act of Parliament were passed to abolish the Corporation of Bristol, and that then another Act was passed to constitute a new Corporation altogether different, and composed of entirely new members, would any one be found to contend that this was no abolition, because a new Corporation was erected? If the new Corporation were composed of the same persons as the old one, he could understand such an argument; but when it was composed of altogether different people, he confessed he was wholly at a loss to do so. Again, if a Corporation were merely trustees of certain property 273 for the benefit of the town—an opinion, he believed, not quite consistent with the legal construction of the charters—what was proposed by his noble Friend (Lord Fitzgerald)? That the same property should be applied effectually for the benefit of the town by trustees nominated by the Crown in lieu of the inefficient trustees whom it was proposed to abolish? Was there any sense, was there any consistency in saying, that the Corporations of Ireland could not be abolished with propriety or justice, unless new ones were created in their place? It was requisite to abate the nuisance, undoubtedly; but when the nuisance was abated, did any measure of justice require that another should be substituted in its place? He wished the House to consider this question, would the erection of the new Corporations be an equal nuisance with the existence of the former bodies? If they should think it would, there could be no doubt of the propriety of adopting the amendment of his noble Friend. It was plain to his apprehension, that those who introduced the Bill were very much afraid of the new Corporations. Why did they not allow them to retain the powers of the old Corporations? What were they alarmed at? Why not give them precisely the same powers, and make the elections popular? What reason could his noble and learned Friend assign for the new Corporations not exercising just the same power, influence, and authority, as the bodies in whose places they were substituted? He could imagine no other reason than the apprehensions entertained by those who introduced the Bill, of the dangerous tendency of such bodies. One of the main objections to the existing Corporations was, that they proceeded on an exclusive system. But it was argued on the other hand, that constitute these Corporations as you would, if you made the elections free, they would still be exclusive, because the inhabitants of the towns were Catholics for the most part, and under the influence of their priests; and they all knew enough of religious differences, and the feelings on which they proceeded, to know that Catholics would be elected to the exclusion of Protestants. This was the influence of one party; if such a result were probable, it ought to be strictly guarded against, because, if it did ensue, they would erect precisely the same nuisances as they abolished. Gene- 274 rally speaking, persons of small property would be elected to the different corporate offices in the towns, while those having the greatest property in the towns would be excluded. That might be no objection with some noble Lords; but it was a very great objection to him. He thought that property should always be an ingredient in the administration of public affairs, whether local or general. He thought the best security the public had for a faithful administration was, that power and property were united. Of this he was sure, that unless they were united, they never could have peace and quiet, because a constant struggle would be going on to bring them together. This was an additional reason why he believed that the nuisance they were about to establish was greater than the one they proposed to abate. Admitting the Corporations of Ireland to be, in their present state, so misgoverned as to make it not desirable for them to be retained, still he did not see the necessity of creating new Corporations, and thereby running the risk of having again the same species of nuisance in a more aggravated and more offensive form. He did not understand why, at this very late period, there should be such an excessive regard evinced for Municipal Corporations. Some new light seemed to have been thrown upon the mind of his noble and learned Friend on this subject, for he had not always been so very much disposed to favour Corporations. Corporations, for the most part, were instituted for the encouragement of trade. His noble and learned Friend had spoken of the Corporations of other countries, but it was well known that they were of quite a different nature. But, supposing the Corporations of England to have been instituted for the purpose of encouraging trade, everybody knew that in the progress of time they had become the greatest obstacles to trade. Adam Smith was of that opinion, and he was a good authority upon that subject. Look at the Corporation of London. As far as the interests of trade were concerned the existence of that Corporation was detrimental to it. The vast trade of London was not at all connected with the Corporation. Had Westminster any Corporation? and yet did their Lordships find that there was any want of peace and quiet in Westminster? No complaint had been made by the inhabitants of the want of a Corporation, 275 Again, Manchester had no Corporation, and he very much doubted whether their Lordships could prevail upon the people of Manchester to accept one. He did not mean to say, that he was an enemy to Corporations where property was united with power, and where there was no exclusion; but to exclusive Corporations he certainly was an enemy, and he therefore was not willing, when they should have abolished the present Corporations of Ireland, to revive them again with all their exclusive privileges. Upon these grounds he should give a very sincere and honest vote in support of the amendment of his noble Friend.
I certainly feel myself very unequal to follow the noble and learned Lord's speech, who has said that the question before your Lordships is, whether the property is vested in the Corporation, or in the town; but I think, in the course of what I shall have to address to your Lordships, I shall have the opportunity of showing that the view, at least, which the noble and learned Lord has taken of the nature of Corporations in general, is one repugnant to the very notion of a free country, and directly inconsistent with the principles of the British Constitution in particular. The noble and learned Lord has all through his speech, been alternating, as he himself expressed it, between town and Corporation. He seems to have forgotten that the Corporation itself belongs to the town; he seems to have forgotten that a Municipal Corporation is no other thing than a representative government—that it is the delegated authority; and that its property and powers belong to the locality in which it is placed. My Lords, I should not venture to lay down this maxim so strongly, if I was not backed and seconded in it by authorities which I am sure the noble and learned Lord will himself respect. My Lords, we heard on a former debate, that this is a mere transfer of power from one party to another. We heard, at the same time, that the power so transferred was little or nothing; but still that it was a transference of power. It is unquestionably a transfer of power. But what transfer is it? It is a transfer from the attorney to the principal; it is a transfer of power from those who have usurped it, to those to whom it properly belongs. This is the principle upon which I have considered this reform; and I shall presently come to consider the two questions more immediately before your Lordships. But while I am 276 speaking of the transfer of power, I cannot help remarking upon a transfer of power which has taken place in this House. I am rather curious to know why the noble and learned Lord with whom this motion originated, did not bring it forward? Why was it transferred from its original parent, to the foster-father who introduced it to your Lordships this night? What was it that made the noble and learned Lord shrink from the support of his own child? I have been considering this matter, and it seems to me just possible that the noble and learned Lord, albeit eager to pass his amendment, and thoroughly satisfied with the propriety of the object he had in view, yet might have thought that it would not have been altogether becoming in a noble and learned Lord who had passed that Chair, to propose to your Lordships so unusual, so extraordinary, so irregular, and so unparliamentary a proceeding as this which is now submitted to your Lordships' consideration, and which I shall be able to show your Lordships is nearly unprecedented" in this House; and that it may be a matter of doubt and question, whether it is such as your Lordships are competent, according to the rules and orders of your Lordships' House, to adopt. ["Hear!" from Lord Lyndhurst.] By possibility the noble and learned Lord may have had some opportunities of late, to search into the Journals to see as to what were the means by which he might carry his object into execution; and yet he might also possibly have been a little bashful in being the executioner of that very corporation system which he, a short time ago, so highly extolled in this House. I have heard some persons of great authority, for whom I have a great respect, and whose sayings I have much treasured up, though I do not choose now to mention their names—but I have heard some very wise and sensible men say, that a year's reading changes men's opinions very materially. I think the noble and learned Lord must have been very studious during his retirement last autumn and winter. The noble and learned Lord who spoke last, has said something as if some change had taken place on the part of my noble and learned Friend on the woolsack upon this subject; but no such change has taken place with respect to my noble and learned Friend, as we have seen on the part of the noble and learned Lord (Lyndhurst). Do none of your Lordships recollect the beautiful imagery, the happy pencilling in which that noble and learned 277 Lord portrayed the mayors, aldermen, and town-councils of the ancient Corporations of England? Do not your Lordships recollect the sort of camera lucida in which your Lordships saw yourselves reflected in the furred robes of the mayor and aldermen, the mace, and all the paraphernalia of a country municipality? And yet—oh inhuman and monstrous!—all these are to be swept away without the least remorse or the least reflection of all their uses, or of all the ornaments which appertain to them, and which the noble and learned Lord then so poetically described. Some of the arguments used by the noble and learned Lord on that occasion, will directly bear upon the subject now under your Lordships' consideration; for he did not confine himself to the particular advantage resulting from English Corporations. No; he described, and described in glowing and feeling terms, the sort of satisfaction which men received from the knowledge that they were at least of importance in their own Corporations. He alluded to the sort of pride which men under such circumstances felt—nay, my Lords, he touched even upon that very subject which lately, however, he chose, when advanced by another, to speak of with considerable contempt and derision. He touched upon the advantages of being a representative under a system of free government, and of being educated in and familiarised with the principles of that government in which there was a combination of order and liberty, by the discharge of their duties as members of a Municipal Corporation. But when, in the mouth of another, these Corporations were alluded to as being "normal schools for peaceful agitation" (to which, if I have strength, I will come presently), then the noble and learned Lord derided it. But, my Lords, I said that the noble and learned Lord might possibly have shrunk from being the immediate instrument of this measure, when he reflected upon what would be the condition in which he would place this House in making it, I know, my Lords, that upon all subjects, and especially upon the subject of the Orders of this House, and of Parliamentary proceedings, it is dangerous to propound too large a negative; but every man must know that it is an irregular proceeding to move an instruction to a Committee upon a Bill which comes up from the other House of Parliament. Precedents show that it is unusual; precedents may show more—they show that it is not ray consistent with the safety, 278 the dignity, or the advantage of this House. But not only precedents, but rule and reason, and the principles of those rules, reasons, and orders which guide the two Houses of Parliament, still more strongly show, that it is a proceeding to which there are strong and forcible objections. As far as precedent goes (I have with some little degree of pains been searching for them), I find none where such a motion has been earned, and where the House of Commons has acquiesced in it. It is true, that at a very recent date—1808—two motions of the kind were made, but both of them were rejected; one was negatived by the House itself, and the other was negatived in Committee. But, my Lords, I find that in 1695 a Committee was appointed—at least directions were issued to the clerks of this House to search for a precedent of such a proceeding, and they found—what? Two precedents; and neither of them, my Lords, establishes the propriety or safety of the practice; for one of them was extinguished by the intervention of a prorogation, and the other was connected with the transactions of those turbulent times—the attainder and impeachment of the Earl of Danby—and which strongly proved the impropriety and danger of proceedings of this kind, and that they were not fit for your Lordships to carry into execution. For what happened on that occasion? It is not necessary to fatigue your Lordships with the whole of the details. A Bill of Attainder was brought up to this House from the Commons. A noble Lord who was anxious to save the Earl of Danby from all the consequences of an attainder, but not venturing to oppose the Bill directly in those turbulent times, moved that it should be a direction (that is the word in the Journals) to the Committee to leave out the attainder, and introduce the punishment of banishment. What was the consequence? When the amendment was communicated to the Commons, they disagreed to it; and it appears upon the Journals, that the Lords assured the Commons that the proceedings in the matter of the Earl of Danby should not be made a precedent, and that they would willingly agree to introduce in the Bill an enactment that it should never be considered as a precedent. Now, my Lords, let us consider the reason and meaning of these things; let us look at what is the meaning of it. I have the less scruple in dwelling upon this point, because there is in it but little of an argument in answer to an ar- 279 gument of the noble Baron who introduced this discussion. The meaning of an instruction to a Committee is this: there is no Committee of this House which sits without instruction. When your Lordships go into Committee on a Bill, what is your instruction? It is the principle which appears in the Bill. The instruction of the Committee is to revise, amend, and consider the means of carrying into execution that which they collect to be the principle on the face of the Bill. The Bill itself, therefore, is the instruction to the Committee to devise the means to carry its principle into execution. But the Committee has not any authority to depart from the instruction; that is, from the principle contained in the Bill; therefore the two Houses of Parliament have, when Bills have been put into Committee, assumed to themselves the right of giving instructions when they wish to alter the principle of the Bill. But mark, my Lords, that this is well enough where it is your own Bill, and where the Committee is sitting under your own instructions. You have a perfect right to say to them, "I meant to pass one law, but I now choose to pass another; and I instruct the Committee, which I have appointed, to make that alteration." If this Bill had originated with your Lordships—there were nothing to prevent you from converting it into a Bill to reform the Church, instead of reforming Municipal Corporations. But mark what the lex et consuetudo Parliamenti gives to each House of Parliament. It gives the House the power of reading a Bill a first and a second time when the principle may be settled; it then gives it the opportunity in Committee of settling the details; and afterwards it gives another opportunity of expressing an opinion on the third reading, whether, upon further consideration of the principles and the details, the Bill is such as to induce them to pass it. But an amendment made in this House to a Bill originating with the Commons, is sent down to the Commons, who have the power simply to say whether they agree or disagree to it. Now, if that amendment be in effect a new Bill, it is an attempt on the part of one branch of the Legislature to extort a Bill from the other, without giving the other the opportunity, which the constitution of Parliament gives it, of considering the principle and details of every Bill. For that reason, my Lords, I say this is an unsafe, and an unusual ex- 280 periment; and I can therefore easily conceive why the noble and learned Lord did not like to contaminate his hands,—albeit their powers are so plastic and cementing, and so apt at bringing contrary principles into one converging vote,—with such a proceeding. He left it in the hands of the noble Lord who introduced it to your Lordships this evening, and certainly to more able and powerful hands he could not have committed it. Of this I am sure, that everybody who heard his speech this night will allow, a more impressive, a more able, and, in some parts, a more just and philosophical speech was never heard, than that which introduced the monstrous and extraordinary proposition now before your Lordships; for the motion is the very reverse of that speech. The motion of the noble Lord is only a modest proposal to your Lordships to substitute the Bill of the noble and learned Lord for the Bill submitted to this House by the other House of Parliament,—and to Parliament itself by his Majesty's Ministers. What your Lordships have to consider is, a choice of two measures—the Bill brought up from the other House, and the Bill of the noble and learned Lord. Now, the noble Lord, with great ingenuity, and with considerable talent, endeavoured to prove, that the Bill which he proposed was not more an abolition of Corporations than ours. That a Bill, however, to extinguish, is the same as a Bill to regulate, Corporations, is a proposition which I cannot possibly understand. I believe, if this Bill of the noble Lord goes into Committee, not one word of the title of the present Bill will remain. But we are all agreed—and it is fortunate that we can agree upon anything—as to the great abuses in the existing Corporations of Ireland. Those Corporations have been unquestionably, in their practice, a complete usurpation upon the rights of the people? It is true, and I heard with very great delight, that part of the speech of the noble Lord, in which he stated it, that the history of the Corporations of Ireland is very different from the history of the Corporations in this country, or in any other part of the world. It is very true, that in many instances, (though not in all) they were founded upon a principle either of exclusion or of national hostility. I was glad to hear the noble Lord make that statement, because he at once thereby accounted for the consequences that have attended these Corporations in Ireland, and also proved the pro- 281 priety of the line of conduct which my noble Friend (Lord Melbourne) has adopted. I will say, that so far from Municipal Corporations and Local Government being inconsistent with the state of Ireland, as described by noble Lords over the way, it is an institution precisely and more peculiarly adapted to such a state of society than any other whatsoever. So far from that want of civilization, of respect for the laws, of subordination,—which is described as being part of the Irish character at present—so far from that being an objection to the introduction of Corporations, it supplies the very reason and the ground of introducing them. My Lords, it has always been found to be so. I am not sporting any paradoxes—I am not entertaining any strange or fanciful theory—I am speaking the language of all the most able writers on the Constitution of England—and the language of these very charters themselves, which say that it is for the quiet and good government of the town that they do—what? Not—that they establish such Corporations as those described in your Report, or such as those Corporations in England which we fortunately got rid of last year; but that they establish Corporations founded upon popular election and responsible Government. Dr. Robertson states distinctly—[Here the noble Lord, who had been speaking for some time, in a state of considerable excitement, paused for a few moments. On recovering, his Lordship continued]—"Do not be alarmed, my Lords, although I am in a state of great agitation;" [Laughter, in which the noble Lord joined.] The noble Lord, over the way, in the course of his speech, has used some general expressions, such as pares leges, and so on, which are very vague, because they cover a multitude of things. So, also, the word "agitation" conveys no very accurate and definite idea; because there are included in the idea of "agitation" all the principles of a free Government. Your Protestant religion was agitation—your Houses of Parliament, agitation—free Government is agitation,—and it is by agitation, only, that the great difficulty in the science of Government is accomplished, and great order, and a great love of liberty are ever united. I do not know that I can repeat the words of Dr. Robertson, but he distinctly states, "that perhaps the thing which has most contributed to the diffusion of civilization, of subordination, and of rational liberty—and not merely the extension of trade— 282 has been the establishment of these free municipal Corporations founded upon popular election." He says, and I wish the noble and learned Lord who sneered at the expression of "normal schools of agitation," to hear this—he says, "nothing added so much to the security and tranquillity of a whole country, to the authority of the King; and the authority of the laws, as the scattering of these little republics about the different parts of the empire." If any man had ventured at this day to say, that those Corporations were "little republics," it would, no doubt, have been considered as still worse than calling them "normal schools of agitation." But little republics they are; and I wish I could borrow some of the eloquence of the noble Lord to describe them aright. They are the mirror of the Government under which we live. When the noble Lord asked whether any one could wish to see these municipal bodies converted into schools of agitation, I cheered. The noble Lord immediately thought he had caught my meaning, and said, I know what you mean, you mean, that by withdrawing from the people the power to meet and manage their own affairs, you will create more agitation." My Lords, I meant that, but I also meant something else; because this legal kind of agitation not only prevents that discontent which is diffused from its denial, but it does more, it teaches the people to value subordination, and it teaches them the wisdom of authority. There is nothing in this country—and here again I could quote from one whom I quoted last year, but who cannot be quoted with too much praise and approbation, I mean Sir Francis Pal-grave—there is nothing (says that able writer) which so much distinguishes the people of this country as their respect for the law, and there is nothing to which that respect is so much owing, as to trial by jury, and municipal Corporations; to which Sir Francis Palgrave annexes this passage:—"I mean by municipal Corporations, Corporations based upon popular right of election, and a responsible Government in the towns." My Lords, that is the real way to prevent any mischiefs arising from agitation. These are the reasons which induce me to agree with my noble Friends in recommending your Lordships to pass this Bill. But I have still to state a very strong objection to the measure brought forward by the noble Lord opposite. I think it is a most un- 283 generous, and a most dangerous, and faithless measure. Allusion has been made as to a noble Lord having said something, somewhere, about "shaking off an engagement." I do not want to enter into any personal considerations, but with respect to shaking off an engagement, permit me to ask your Lordships, are there no engagements upon this country towards Ireland? Is not the Union an engagement? Is not the Bill alluded to, and so powerfully and convincingly explained by my noble and learned Friend,—I mean the Act of 1793,—an engagement? Is not Catholic Emancipation—is not Parliamentary Reform—an engagement? And is not what you did for the people of England and of Scotland, last year, an engagement to the people of Ireland that the same measure of justice should be dealt out to them? I ask, but I do not wish to do so in inflammatory terms, is it not what Mr. Hume, on some other occasion, has called "petty and paltry conduct," to take refuge under the distinction that the details of this Bill are not exactly those in the English Bill? "The details may not be exactly alike; but, my Lords, the principle is the same. The noble Lord very carefully avoided describing what was the principle and what were the details. The principle of this Bill is, to regulate the Corporations of Ireland, and to restore them to that which, if not the original principle of Corporations in Ireland, was the original principle of the Corporations of England and Scotland—and which is happily now restored to those two parts of the empire—namely, popular election and responsible Government. The noble Lord has said, that his proposition is a gradual reform. Does the noble Lord take so very disparaging a view of the intelligence of his own countrymen, as to imagine that his motion will be regarded as a motion of reform? Does he not perceive that they will immediately demand of him, "Why not give us the same reform as you have given England and Scotland?" "Why," says the noble Lord, "because you are not fit for it." My Lords, I contend that they are fit for it, and I do so without having any personal knowledge on the matter. I take the fact to be so, from those who say that they are not. I say that one-half of the arguments on the other side not only show that the people of Ireland are lit, but that they are in great need and want of it. But might not the people of Ireland say,—might not this great bugbear, whom we so 284 often hear mentioned in this House, say, "You hold us not fit:—then repeal the Union. Why did you invite us to the dinner, and then make a resolution to give us nothing to cat? What is the meaning of this? Are they to be told that they shall be admitted by the Union into the bosom of the British Constitution, which has produced such mighty effects in this country—and let me tell your Lordships, which owes much of its greatness to those very Corporations, by which its great advantages have chiefly been wrought out? Are we to say to the people of Ireland, "You shall Have, in name and appearance, a union with this country—you shall have Roman Catholic relief—you shall be put on an equal footing with us before the law; but when you come to enjoy the law, we will take very good care that you shall have no part of it; or, if we cannot help admitting that the principle of the law would give you part, then we will take away the principle, itself, altogether; and where the law gives you anything, now, there shall hereafter be no law of the sort?" The noble and learned Lord who spoke last, has advanced an argument which every person must see is a delusion. But I cannot pass it by, because the argument goes to the very principle of the change I advocate. The argument is, that we are only going to institute a greater nuisance than that which we propose to abolish. The noble and learned Lord says, that the only question is between two nuisances. I really was very sorry to hear so learned a lawyer, and so distinguished a man as the noble and learned Lord, speak of liberty, of freedom, of a representative Government, as a nuisance. The nuisance we propose to take away is a self-elected Government; a combination of men, defeating and evading the law, for the purpose of usurping to themselves illicit authority. The remedy we apply is simple and effective. We have heard much talking about Catholics and Protestants, Whigs and Tories, and various other nicknames and distinctions; but the persons' to whom we have given the power are, according to the showing of the noble Lords themselves, the people of the country. Those noble Lords say that the people are the majority: Why, my Lords, do you mean to give the people of Ireland the Constitution of England, and yet intend that the great majority shall have no advantage over the minority? I wish to know by what beautiful device even the 285 noble and learned Lord, whose plastic and cementing hand I described before, would accomplish the difficult task of giving the benefits of the British Constitution to Ireland, and yet shutting out the majority of the people from their municipal governments? This is a problem to be solved; but it is a problem which the noble and learned Lord never can solve. He was upon much better ground of opposition to the Bill of last year than he is now. It is astonishing, after the denunciation passed by the noble and learned Lord on the destructive measures of the last year, that he should be the person to propose the total annihilation of all the Corporations in Ireland. Last year, he, in the most eloquent, clear, and luminous manner, pointed out the singular advantage derived from these local Governments, and the great good they effected. He then sang—Darius great and good!But now he hasChanged his strain,And hasSeized a flambeau with zeal to destroy.It has always been proved that the simplest remedy for all disorders against the law, and all collections of factious and seditious men, is—the granting to the people their due share of government; letting them know by practice, how often the calumnies against those in authority are unfounded, and letting them also know the advantages of tranquillity and subordination. Be this true philosophy or be it false—and possibly the despot of Russia and the heads of the other despotic Governments in Europe may be right—but, be this principle right or be it wrong, it is the principle, my Lords, of the British Constitution; it is the principle of the people of England; it is that principle which has raised this country to what she has long been, and what, I trust, she will long remain—one of the freest and greatest communities that ever yet existed an the face of the earth. It is by trusting to this principle, and this principle alone, that you are likely to heal the long-existing and destructive divisions that have so painfully afflicted Ireland. But if you give them the semblance only of a Constitution—if you adopt the short-sighted policy of shutting people out where you have promised to let them in—if you place in their hands a key, but at the same time carefully alter the lock—if you do this you seal the fate of Ireland. 286 In point of fact, you say to the people of that country—"For some reason, inherent either in you or in ourselves, we find it incumbent upon us to shut you out from the enjoyment of the advantages we some time since promised you." I have already stated that agitation is the true Conservative principle. [Laughter] You may laugh, my Lords, but I repeat, that agitation is decidedly the true Conservative principle. Those noble Lords, indeed, who laugh must know that they are themselves great agitators in their way. I wish to know what is all debate in this House, but agitation? What are we now doing, but agitating? There may be agitation in good causes or in bad causes, and the merit of the agitation will of course depend on the character of the cause in which it is exerted. But I maintain, that agitation is a sacred principle of the Constitution. If I were disposed to cite, or if I thought your Lordships were inclined to listen, to a long list of authorities, I could quote many—ay, and grave authorities of the Church too—in support of that proposition. In the words of one of those authorities, your Lordships will find that agitation is the great security for liberty; that security which every state requires, and all true policy demands. The works of man, my Lords,—the noblest, the boldest, the most sublime,—crumble beneath the mouldering hand of time; the mountains and the hills are washed away by the slow workings of the stream, or shivered at once by the fury of the elements; but the calm and smooth river flows on, perpetually, from year to year, and from age to age.Quæque immota quies nimium premit, ista peribunt;Sed quæ perpetuo sunt agitata manent.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
said, it was with great and unfeigned reluctance that he rose to address their Lordships on this occasion, but having been so pointedly and so frequently alluded to by the noble Baron who had just sat down, and also by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, notwithstanding the long draft he had made upon their Lordships' patience on a former night, he felt himself still called upon again to address their Lordships on this subject; but he assured their Lordships that what he had to say should be compressed within the smallest possible compass consistent with a due expression of the observations he felt himself called upon to make. The noble Baron (Hol- 287 land) supposed, that from some feeling of timidity he shrunk from the performance of that duty which had devolved upon his noble Friend (Lord Fitzgerald), and which he had so ably and so admirably performed. But he begged to assure the noble Baron—he begged to assure their Lordships and the country—that whatever he recommended, he trusted he should always have courage, if necessary, to bring forward. It was because he had made all the observations that occurred to his mind on the subject on a former night, that he did not on this occasion think it fitting to trouble their Lordships by treading over again an already trodden path. He therefore requested his noble Friend to undertake the task of moving those instructions to the Committee with which their Lordships were now made acquainted. But, perhaps, considering the profession to which he belonged, the noble Baron would excuse him if he referred to precedent to justify the course he had taken. He would refer the noble Baron to the precedent afforded by the proceedings of the other House, only a short time since, on this very question. The course adopted in that House with respect to this measure was precisely similar to that which he had pursued. The noble Baron charged him with inconsistency for having in the last Session of Parliament appeared as the defender of the English Corporations, whilst on the present occasion he came forward with a proposition to destroy all such institutions in Ireland. He felt that in the course he had taken he had been guilty of no inconsistency; because between the Corporations of England and Ireland there was in fact no similarity. Therefore, because he had defended the one, it by no means followed that to be consistent he must necessarily defend the other also. The Corporations of Ireland, with very few exceptions, were close Corporations, and all established for particular purposes, which would be entirely defeated, and the whole character of the Corporations changed, if such a measure as that proposed by the noble Viscount (Melbourne) were allowed to pass into a law. When he came forward as the defender of the English Corporations, he did not advocate the principle of exclusion, or the principle of placing the administration of justice entirely in the hands of one party. The principle on which he then proceeded was perfectly consistent with the course he was now pursuing, and which he thought he was 288 justified in pursuing, notwithstanding the fact that it necessarily led him to support a part of the proposition of the noble Viscount. The noble Baron had suggested, that he had quoted no authority for the proposition which he had offered to the House, and that the motion made this evening by his noble Friend was inconsistent with the usual form of proceeding and practice of the House. But his noble Friend, in moving the instruction of the Committee, had carefully drawn the distinction which the noble Baron intended to point out. The noble Baron stated, that instructions might be given to a Committee when a Bill originated in that House, but that when a Bill came up from the House of Commons such a course could not with propriety be adopted. He begged to call to the noble Baron's mind what took place in that House in the year 1808, on the Report of the Bank Charter. The Bill upon that subject originated in the other House; it was brought up to their Lordships' House, and Lord Grenville then moved an instruction to the Committee as foreign to the principle of that Bill as anything contained in the motion on the present occasion could be to the Irish Municipal Corporation Bill; because the purport of Lord Grenville's motion was, that Roman Catholics might be allowed to become members of the body to which the Bill in question related. If he mistook not, the noble Baron himself voted in support of that proposition. At all events, he knew that the noble Baron was in the House at the time; and he knew, also, that the whole of the party with whom the noble Baron was in the habit of acting, supported the proposition of Lord Grenville. So much, then, for the question of form as being inconsistent with the practice of their Lordships' House. Nor, indeed, could it be consistent to pursue any other course than that which he had adopted. If they were to go into Committee without previously moving instructions, what would be the consequence? Why, that every Clause of the Bill would be brought forward to be discussed in a tone consistent with the principle of the Bill, as it was allowed to pass on the second reading. So much then for the objections raised by the noble Baron on points of form. He came now to another point. He confessed he participated in the feeling expressed by his noble and learned Friend on the bench below him (Lord Abinger), that he did not distinctly understand the ob- 289 servations that fell from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. It appeared to him, however, that that noble and learned Lord seemed disposed to charge him with something like inconsistency. Sure he was, that at the time to which the noble and learned Lord referred, propositions were started from the Woolsack, such as never before had proceeded from that place. There was a vast difference between the case of the Stafford borough and that of the Corporations generally. The case of the one was that of individual delinquency and individual punishment, for crimes supposed to have been committed. The case of the other was widely different. But what did the noble and learned Lord say: the noble Viscount does not abolish these Corporations—far from it; he tells us that these corporations are for the benefit of the inhabitants at large, and therefore we are bound to have two Corporations in the place of one." He agreed with the noble and learned Lord, that if this measure were for the benefit of the inhabitants of Ireland, it would be right that the House should concur with him in adopting it. It was because he (Lord Lyndhurst) thought it was not for the benefit, but would be productive of the worst mischief to the people of Ireland that he opposed it. But, said the noble Viscount, "We are bound, if we abolish these Corporations, which were established for a specific object, to provide a substitute for them." If he thought that the noble Viscount's measure would go to establish a proper substitute—if he thought it would benefit the inhabitants of Ireland—he would lend it his name and readily support it; but believing it would be productive of nothing but unmixed evil, he felt compelled to oppose it. The noble Baron told them that the Bill of the noble Viscount was not a Bill to abolish but to renovate. [Lord Holland: regulate.] Regulate the noble Baron said at first, but to renovate he said afterwards. A Bill to renovate the Corporations of Ireland! Why, in one year, almost in one day, forty of the Corporations of that country were created by charters of James 1st. Renovate them! Look on the charters on which they were founded. The noble Baron spoke but of one or two of all the Corporations of Ireland. Let him read the Report of the Commissioners. The noble Baron would there find that forty of these Corporations were founded in one year on the closest possible principle, and for exclusive political objects. How were these to be renovated? To re- 290 novate was to restore. Did the noble Baron mean to say that it was the intention of the noble Viscount to restore the Corporations of Ireland to all the exclusiveness—all the one-sided political objects for which they were established by James 1st. What did the Commissioners tell their Lordships upon that point? Why, that in the case of Sligo an application was made to the Court of King's Bench, as an experiment, to try the possibility of opening the Corporations of Ireland. Did the Court of King's Bench entertain any doubt as to the continuation of the charter? None whatever. Nay, they stated that usage was in favour of the charter, and they therefore refused the application which had been made to them. It was plain therefore, that these Corporations had, from their origin, been close and exclusive bodies. Could anything be more absurd than to talk of renovating them. The noble Viscount (Viscount Melbourne) was not guilty of this absurdity; the noble Viscount did not renovate, he destroyed—he removed by one sweep from every Corporation all its existing Members—he changed the constituency—he altered the form of the Corporation itself—he took from its members all the duties they had ever before performed, and gave them other duties which till now they never had performed. This, the noble Baron informed them, was renovation. He (Lord Lyndhurst) confessed it appeared to him to be total change. Then what was it that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack stated by way of argument? That all these Corporations were altered by Act of Parliament in 1792. What did that Act do? It put Roman Catholics on the same footing, as far as Corporations were concerned, as Protestants. It effected no other change; it made no other difference in the preexisting law. Did it open the Corporations of Ireland? Did those Corporations cease to be close Corporations on account of the Act of 1793. Surely the noble and learned Lord must have been very much pressed for argument, when he resorted to such an argument as that. It certainly was not usual to hear such a description of argument coming from the Woolsack. He came next to the point of property. Upon that part of the subject, however, after the very able remarks of his noble Friend (Lord Fitzgerald), he did not think it necessary to say more than a very few words. If the Corporations were annihilated, the property which they held in trust for dif- 291 ferent objects must be transferred to other hands. The question then was, whether new Coporations should be created to undertake the management, and to have the control over this property; or whether the management and control, on the annihilation of the present Corporations should be transferred into the hands of individuals. In some instances a transference of the latter description had already taken place. The property of Corporations might be said to consist of two parts. One, property in trust for charitable purposes; the other, property (yielding for a moment to the arguments of noble Lords on the opposite side) held in trust for the benefit of the inhabitants of the town. Now their Lordships must be aware that they had already taken from Corporations one part of their trust, that which related to the property of charities, and vested it in the hands of individuals. Yet the noble Lords opposite contended, that they were acting without precedent when they proposed to take the other part of the property held in trust by Corporations, and to place that other in the hands of individuals—Commissioners—and for what purpose? for the benefit of the inhabitants of the town. Did they violate any rule or principle of propriety by proposing to adopt that course? The question then came to this, and it was the sole question—and all questions, however complicated they might appear at the outset, usually at last resolved themselves into a. few plain principles—the sole question was this: The Corporations of Ireland were dissolved by the Bill of the noble Viscount; they were extinguished, and there was an end of them. They, on that side of the House, adopted that part of the noble Viscount's proposition. They said, "We will meet you there; we will not defend Corporations which are absolutely exclusive; we will not defend the policy of vesting the administration of justice exclusively in the hands of one party." What did they do then? The question was, what they were to substitute for the abolished Corporations. The noble Viscount (Melbourne) said, "substitute new Corporations." For what purpose? No adequate object, no adequate purpose had been stated as a foundation for the establishment of new Corporations. They, on that side of the House, thought that new Corporations would be productive only of mischief; they, therefore, proposed to pursue a different course to attain the object which 292 both sides had in view by different means. The noble Baron (Lord Holland) said, that they (the Opposition) had determined to take no part of the Bill proposed by the noble Viscount. He was sure they had more respect for that Bill than to abandon it altogether in the way stated by the noble Baron. He begged to assure the noble Baron, that they should draw largely upon the Bill of the noble Viscount. The noble Viscount in his Bill, had provided for the administration of justice in these corporate towns. They, the Opposition, did the same, and would take the noble Viscount's clauses. The noble Viscount provided for the administration of the funds of charities. They did the same, and would take the noble Viscount's clauses. The noble Viscount provided for the election of the sheriffs of towns. They did the same, and would take the noble Viscount's clauses. The noble Viscount had provided also for the disposal of the Church patronage at present possessed by the Corporations of Ireland. They did the same, and would take the noble Viscount's clauses upon that point also. Thus it would be seen, that they treated the noble Viscount's measure with much greater respect than was supposed by the noble Baron. When the administration of justice, the management of charitable funds, the election of Sheriffs, and the disposal of Church patronage, when these powers were taken away from the Corporations of Ireland, as by the noble Viscount's Bill they undoubtedly would be, what would be left for the Corporations to do?—Nothing. The noble Viscount felt this; he saw it would be ridiculous to establish Corporations with power to do nothing, and, therefore, in order to give them something to do, he placed in their hands powers of a description totally different to any they ever possessed before. By the Report of the Commissioners it appeared, that the cares of watching, paving, lighting, and the removing of nuisances, were detached from the Corporations and devolved upon Commissioners. What did this Bill propose to do? The noble Viscount said, "as we have taken from the Corporations all the important duties which they formerly performed, we must find out something else for them to do; therefore, we will take from the Commissioners those duties which they are stated in the Report to have performed well and satisfactorily, and vest the performance of them for the future in the Corporations." He asked, whether the new Corporations proposed by 293 the noble Viscount would not be created for that purpose, and for that purpose only? Then, was it surprising that they, on that side of the House, should say, "There is no use in establishing Corporations for these purposes; there is no necessity to create excitement and tumult, for the attainment of such petty objects. Let us remain as we are; let us adopt the first part of the noble Viscount's plan; but let us not follow it up by creating these new Corporations, for the purpose of giving such unimportant and insignificant duties to them." He would remind their Lordships that petitions had been presented from Cork and Dublin against the Bill proposed by the Government, in which the petitioners stated, that they felt alarmed for a continuance of the integrity of the empire, if such a bill were allowed to become a law. When their Lordships were considering these new Corporations, and the trifling duties which they would have to perform, it was material to advert to a point which he believed had not been noticed or referred to before—he meant the expense by which they would be attended. This was by no means a slight consideration, and one which he was sure would be felt in Ireland. The mayor, the town-clerk, the recorder, and many other inferior officers, were all to be paid. And how were they to be paid? Why, according to the discretion of the town-council. Their Lordships' would recollect, that this was in Ireland, where every corporate officer would be elected by party men, and paid for party purposes. Then, again, compensation was to be given to all officers that were dismissed from their employment. Did not their Lordships know, that as soon as this Bill passed there would be a general clearing—that all the old officers would be turned out, and that to each of these, according to the provisions of the Bill, compensation must be given. Here there were to be annual election, lists of voters annually to be made out, notices to be given and duly printed, polling booths to be erected—in short all the incidents and all the expenses of a popular election, and this to take place once in every year at the expense of the public. The expense was to fall upon the town. Then, although the towns of Ireland were already subject to a heavy charge for the maintenance of a large constabulary force, yet in each there was to be an additional watch, presided over by a chief officer, having a good salary, the men having good wages, allowances being made for the sick or the 294 wounded, extra pay allowed for extraordinary activity or zeal, and a variety of other modes of getting rid of money, which, in these days of economy and retrenchment, it was perfectly surprising to read. How were these expenses to be paid out of the borough fund? In nine cases out of ten the borough fund would not be sufficient, and the only alternative would be a rate upon the inhabitants. If, therefore, the inhabitants of any of the Irish corporate towns had been anxious to support the present measure, he thought if it were allowed to pass they would soon have cause to repent their imprudence. All the other points of the Report had been so well treated by his noble Friend (Lord Fitzgerald), that he did not feel it necessary to go into them even for a moment. There were, however, one or two questions which he (Lord Lyndhurst) put the other night, and to which the noble Viscount (Melbourne) had not given a reply. He trusted, therefore, that he might be pardoned for repeating them. He said, that in this country the lists would be made out in such a manner as to secure impartiality; and that the marginal notes to the present Bill led one at first sight to suppose that they would be made out in nearly the same way in Ireland; but in point of fact there was a material difference. In Ireland it was proposed that the churchwardens should make out the lists. In England the overseers performed that duty. But on examining the Bill a little closer, it appeared that the churchwardens in Ireland were only to make out the lists for the first year after the passing of the Act, and that subsequently that duty should be performed by another person. And performed by whom? Who did their Lordships suppose was the officer selected for this purpose? The town-clerk; he who held his office at the pleasure of the town-council—who was entirely dependent on their will—whom, they could at any time turn out of his office—who was their mere creature. This man after the first year was to make out the lists. Could their Lordships conceive any officer more objectionable? This was one of the objections which he stated on a former night, and to which the noble Viscount gave no reply. There was another point which he thought of importance, and upon which he must also beg the noble Viscount to give some explanation. Their Lordships were most anxious and careful in the English Municipal Corporation Bill as to the division of towns into wards. 295 They took care that the Bill should not go into operation—should not have any effect until that division had been effected: there was a provision in the present Bill for dividing the towns of Ireland into wards, but there was no provision to prevent an election of corporate officers before the division took place. So far from it, indeed, that the division of the towns at all was in a great degree made dependent upon the passing of another Bill which had not yet gone through all its stages in the other House; and if any thing should occur to prevent its becoming a law, the election of municipal officers would take place in each town in Ireland by the great mass of the inhabitants. This, in his opinion, constituted an important distinction between the present Bill and the Bill which had been carried for England. But, passing that part over, he would briefly observe that one of the chief evils of the Bill was the evil of annual elections in all these large towns in Ireland. He addressed himself now to those noble Lords who came from that part of the empire, and who from being resident there had been frequent witnesses of elections in Ireland: and let those noble Lords tell him whether it were possible to inflict a more severe grievance on that country, than an annual popular election in each of its chief towns, conducted in the spirit and manner which commonly prevailed in that part of the empire. If there were any doubt upon the point he would only refer their Lordships to what had taken place at Kerry and Carlow, and would then ask whether it were possible for any statement made by man to exaggerate the evils of annual elections in Ireland. When the other night he spoke of Corporations with no duties to perform, but at the same time exercising a powerful political influence, he was charged with having alluded particularly to a Member of the other House. What he stated was, that these new Corporations, wholly unnecessary for any useful purpose, would become seats of agitation and sedition; and, after he had made that observation, and offered his arguments in support of it, what was the course he pursued? He might be taunted for it, but it was a legitimate course. He selected an individual whose testimony upon the point was beyond all dispute, and repeated to their Lordships what that individual had stated before 300 or 400 witnesses. He certainly thought that he might have been allowed to refer to such testimony, not as a proof or a confirmation, 296 but, at any rate, as an illustration of the point he was endeavouring to impress upon their Lordships' minds. But then it was said, "Is not Ireland to have the benefit of this Bill? Is Ireland to be excluded from the benefit of Corporations?" For the reasons he had stated he did not believe that Corporations would be a benefit to Ireland. Look at the preamble of the Bill. What did it state as the object of the Corporations to be established? That the towns might be well regulated and well governed. Did their Lordships believe that the Bill would tend to those ends? Did they believe that the provisions of the Bill were calculated to effect the object declared in the preamble? Instead of producing regularity and securing good government, he believed that the only effect of the Bill would be to create disorder, tumult, discord, and strife. His noble and learned Friend below him had alluded to some of the large towns of England, and compared those with Corporations with those which had none. He would only ask their Lordships to compare Birmingham with Coventry, Manchester with Norwich, and then ask themselves which they knew to be best regulated and most quietly governed? Let them compare any other large town with Boston, and then let them say, whether it was quite clear that Corporations did tend, in the present day, and in the present state of society, to secure regularity and good government. Under the new English Corporation Bill, any town of a certain size had an opportunity of applying, by petition to the King, for the benefit of a Corporation according to the new form and fashion. Had any such application been made? If there had, he had never heard of it. It seemed, then, that the English towns were not sufficiently alive to the great benefit which was within their reach, and which they might have for the mere asking. But they were told in a vague and genea1 way, that all the countries of Europe were full of Corporations, and this was urged as an argument, that Ireland ought to have Corporations too. But what was the object of a Corporation at its establishment? Defence, protection. He objected to this Bill for Ireland, because it produced offence, instead of defence. He admitted that some weight might be attached to one of the observations which fell from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, if that observation stood by itself and 297 was not destroyed by those which preceded and followed it. The noble and learned Lord said, that in the popularly constructed Corporations of Ireland, a sort of vent would be established, out of which much of the ardent and active spirit of the inhabitants might harmlessly escape; that the discussion of municipal affairs would draw many from public tumult, and deter them from meddling in matters of a higher nature. That would apply extremely well, as a general observation, to counties in general; but what was the condition of Ireland? An organized system prevailed there, connected, from one end of the country to the other, by the priesthood and agitators. There the attention and the energies of the town councillors, instead of being engrossed in local matters, would be directed to one point, by one mind, for one object. But it had been said, "England and Scotland have Corporations, why should not Ireland?" Ireland stood in a situation quite different either from England or Scotland. Ireland originally consisted of two parts—one part English, the other Irish—and these two were diametrically opposed to each other. Unfortunately, at the time of the Restoration, another principle of division was introduced between these two parties, and it was now English and Protestant, Irish and Catholic. These parties were opposed to each other with great bitterness, and on many occasions with great intensity of feeling. Who then would say, that what was good in one country, must necessarily be good in the other. That what was adopted here, and found to be beneficial, must necessarily be beneficial to Ireland, and ought at once to be extended to that country. The reasoning was perfectly childish, and if it were allowed to obtain, for any length of time, or to govern the mind of such an assembly as their Lordships, it would, indeed, be working out one of the sayings attributed to one of the Chancellors of Ireland, who called history an old almanac. The very Bill proposed by the noble Viscount acknowledged the distinction which existed between the two countries, else why withhold from the Corporations of Ireland the same authority, power and influence as were conferred upon those of England? Again, there was a coercive Bill for Ireland, but nothing of the same description for England. There was a Constabulary Bill for Ireland. There was no such Bill 298 for England. "Do not let us be weak, then," continued the noble and learned Lord; "Do not let us be childish. Let us look at Ireland as it is; let us regard her people as we find them, and legislate for them accordingly." On the present occasion, the short question for your Lordships' consideration is this:—Both parties are agreed on the extinction of the Corporations in Ireland; and the question is, what we shall substitute in place of them? I agree with the view taken by my noble Friend; the noble Viscount prefers his own. It will be for your Lordships to decide between us.
§ Viscount Melbourne
I am, my Lords, happy to say, that I do not consider it necessary to intrude, at this late hour, and at this protracted season of the debate, but for a short period upon your time. The noble Lord who opened this debate, began his statement by referring to the different relative situations of the boroughs of Ireland, and of this country, referring to the different objects for which they were created, and for which they had been preserved Although, my Lords, I admit that there were many of those boroughs that were instituted for political purposes—that those boroughs were established, in a great measure, for political purposes—that they were political institutions—that they were the outguards of the Protestant and the English party in that country; yet I believe, that the noble Lord will discover that he is mistaken if he supposes that the English boroughs were created upon different principles—that they were not created for political purposes—that they were not formed for political ends—that they were not originated for precisely the same ends as the Irish Corporations. We know that the principal part of the Corporations received their charters in the latter times of the Reformation—that the Corporations in the west were generally established by the Duke of Somerset, for the purpose of maintaining the Protestant interests, and of securing a majority in the House of Commons that could carry the measures then in contemplation. We, on the other hand, are aware, that when the Catholic interest prevailed in the time of Queen Mary, that charters were conferred upon many towns in the north, in which the Roman Catholic religion was the strongest. Therefore it is, that I beg leave to tell the noble Lord, that there is not that difference in the origin of Corporations and Boroughs in this country 299 and the Corporations of Ireland which he seems to suppose. Not, my Lords, that this has anything to do with the real question now before us, and respecting which we are now discussing; it is not why they were originally instituted, not for what purpose, that is not the question here; but the question is, and it is the main question and object of the present debate—being agreed, as we all are, that the Corporations of Ireland, as they at present exist, ought to be done away with—the question for your consideration is, what you are to substitute in their place? Having listened to the able and eloquent speech of the noble Lord who commenced this debate, I am prepared to admit this, that he has stated one principle in which I entirely concur—I admit that there are points of difference between this country and Ireland. In that I agree with him. Yet, looking at the whole of his speech, I cannot discover how that fact bears upon the argument advanced by the opponents of the measure—namely, that the specific difference between this country and Ireland renders the existence of local management by Corporations improper in Ireland, and yet proper in England. If there be any specific difference which incapacitates Ireland from exercising local Government—the noble Lord certainly has not demonstrated its existence. I do not now enter into the legal question of the extinction of Corporations, or their establishment. There can be no doubt that the Corporations of Ireland are as much extinguished by the Bill proposed by us, as by the amendment intended to be introduced by the noble and learned Lord. The question is, what are we to substitute? Are we to give to the people of Ireland local governments or not? We say, that the people of Ireland ought to have the advantage of local municipal government—we say that doing this would be agreeable to sound policy—we say that it is more, that it is the Constitution of every country to allow them; but it is particularly wise, prudent, and politic, to permit them in the present circumstances and situation of Ireland. I understood the noble Lord who opened this debate distinctly to admit that municipal institutions were wise and prudent in themselves—I understood him distinctly, in speaking upon the general question, to admit that municipal government was wise and prudent in itself, and that he would be most happy, could he do so with propriety, to adopt them in the country to which he belongs, 300 The noble and learned Lord who spoke last broached an entirely new principle; his theory, if carried into effect, would tend to overthrow Corporations in towns and cities; he says, that towns and cities are better without them—that towns without Corporations have been well governed, and badly governed with them. The noble and learned Lord thus introduces a new principle, and which, I must remark, is entirely inconsistent with the principle, laid down as I understood, by the noble Lord who commenced this debate. The noble and learned Lord points out all the powers that are taken away from the Corporations. "You have (says the noble and learned Lord) taken away the management of the police, the Courts of Justice, in fact all the powers exercised by former Corporations. What then remains?" I tell him the Corporations remain, and that we contend they ought to remain—that they ought particularly to remain in Ireland, where, if anything be wanted, it is a species of local aristocracy; there a local government (a point which has been too much lost sight of) is demanded, and ought to be encouraged and cherished; it should be restored to that country instead of being done away with, as is now proposed. A noble Lord the other night said, that Ireland was not in a proper state of fusion—that the conquest of that country never was completed. Now Scotland has amalgamated pretty well with this country; Scotland never was subjected to a conquest; there were a great many wars carried on against that country with alternate success; she never was thoroughly tranquil, until in the course of time a Monarch-came to the Throne who was equally the Monarch of Scotland as of England, and both Crowns were united upon the same head. Since then the two countries had lived on friendly terms, till they had become completely united. The noble and learned Lord has broached a theory respecting the state of Ireland, and the hostility between English and Irish being succeeded by hostility between Protestants and Catholics. Possibly the theory is correct. Whatever was the parent cause of the evils of Ireland, they certainly have produced in that country a disposition in every party to look entirely too much to the Government—to have their attention too much fixed upon the Castle. Why? Because there has been an absence of local management, and of local government. I will not gay, that we have had too much 301 of the local governments of this country, but I will say, that they have been too little under the control and supervision of the supreme Government. There has not been with them in the jargon of the present day—enough of centralization. But as for Ireland, we ought to cherish, and to foster, we ought to do everything in our power to promote and encourage local authority, local management, local distinction—all of which it is now proposed to do away with at one blow, by this measure. You are going to do away with them in large towns and cities—in cities well known to be growing every day in wealth and importance. You are going to hurt their pride, to wound their feelings, to injure their interests; all are compromised by the course which in this manner you have been called upon, and I must say in my opinion hastily and rashly, to pursue. The noble and learned Lord has mentioned one or two points respecting which he says no explanation has been given. I should have given the explanation to both those points if I had not thought they were fitter for explanation in Committee than for discussion in this House. They were not points that affected the question of the second reading of this Bill. One of those points is respecting the town clerk making out the lists. It is evident that is liable to objection; but some one is necessarily required to effect that object. Now, with respect to the second point,—the wards of towns. It was not absolutely necessary to place that in the Bill. Besides, I understood that the division of towns into wards is very nearly completed, and when they are, a measure will be brought forward to effect that arrangement. That, too, is a matter which is still for the Committee. If the noble and learned Lord will please to recollect, an alteration to this effect was made in the Corporation Bill of last year. Such an alteration was made in the Committee on that Bill, and I cannot myself see why this Bill is not also liable to an alteration in this respect. The real question here is, whether these town-councils in Ireland, constituted in the manner that is proposed, are liable to the objections that have been stated against them—whether they are, as the noble Lord has declared they will be, nuisances, or "normal schools of peaceful agitation," as an hon. Gentleman is stated to have said that he hoped and expected they would be. My Lords, I cannot undertake, as to this or any other measure, to answer 302 for the opinions which may be expressed by others as to its practical effects, nor can I receive the assertions of its opponents as arguments against it. Is it because some persons think that a measure will go farther than it is intended to go—because they anticipate effects from it which may favour their own views—is it because they suppose this, your Lordships are not to pass a measure of great importance? Why, if that were to be an objection to a measure, never would any measure have passed. Why, when the petition for a Bill of Rights was acceded to, there were many men who hoped and believed that it would ultimately lead to more violent consequences. If such an objection were to have prevailed, the Habeas Corpus Act would never have passed; because it was the opinion of James the 2nd that a regular Government could not go on under it. What say you of the Revolution? Were there not many who favoured it because they believed that the disturbance of the succession to the Throne would lead to a more violent revolution? If you were to permit yourselves to be swayed by arguments like that, you could not take a single step; because you would find persons to anticipate from it greater consequences, and such as favoured their own views. I say that no great measure ever would, or ever could be passed, if men differed, or you now permit such an objection to be a valid one against an important measure. But I beg now to ask what are the reasons assigned to prove that the town-councils would become normal schools of agitation, or engage entirely in politics? Is it, after all that has been said, proved that the town-councils in England have so engaged in politics, or even if they had, what power do they possess? I know of nothing more weak, nothing more feeble, than any assembly that steps beyond its province, and interferes with what does not belong to it, and which does not come immediately and directly within its cognizance. So it must be with those town-councils; if they entered into any species of conflict, or engaged in political warfare, they would be utterly powerless; for there is an evident and clear distinction between misusing power and mere perverting the authority with which they are invested. After all that has been said of the state of Ireland, let me ask this—is there proof given to us of the exclusive use of the power now committed to the Roman Catholics? Where is the proof of it? Is 303 it in the Parliamentary branch that such a power is exercised? You say that the Roman Catholics would use their power in electing Members of the town-council—that none but Roman Catholics would be returned. Now of the 105 Irish Members returned to the House of Commons, thirty-six are Roman Catholics, and four or five of these are all of one family, elected, too, under very particular circumstances, and such as are not likely to occur again. Now, whether Mr. O Connell be man or devil,A spirit of health, or goblin damned,still he is but an individual; and being, too, one of great and unusual courage, he is thus peculiarly situated. Now, no man springs up exactly like another, nor is ever the precise situation that he holds likely to be filled up. The pre-eminency that he holds, the situation that he fills in the Irish representation, is one occupied under peculiar circumstances; and it is not fitting nor prudent in a great assembly to legislate upon a particular case. No possible reason has been laid down to induce us to infer that the Roman Catholics will naturally or necessarily predominate in those elections, or that they will have more than that fair share which necessarily belongs to their numbers and power, and which always must have their weight and influence. I think it less likely that spiritual influence can be exercised with effect in the election of town-councils; I do not consider that it can be used in reference to those matters—the influence of priests is very likely to be much less in great cities than in the country. I apprehend that the influence of no minister of religion is as great in a populous town as it is in the remote and distant villages—in this respect, then, the influence declared to be so overwhelming and commanding, will be far less effective in the town-councils and assemblies of cities than it is in the country. I cannot help observing, that the influence so much complained of is carried to a very great extent; there is not only the influence of the priests, but there is also the influence of others. It is an influence not peculiar to one class, not exercised by one class alone, but carried into and acted upon in every state of society. The great disease of society, the great impediment to quiet government, the great evil of the day, the greatest prevailing abuse at present, is, that every one thinks he has a right to employ his influence over another—each practises it, and each exclaims against its practice in another; the land- 304 lord enforces it on his tenant, the customer over his tradesman; they force conscience, and they drive persons against their will to the poll to vote contrary to their own wishes. I say, then, upon whatever side this influence is exercised, it is a cruel tyranny and a gross injustice. I say that it is a great evil; it is one, too, prevailing in a greater degree in this than in any other country; and that in no other country but this, where there is a popular form of Government, does it prevail. With respect to the influence of the priests, the noble and learned Lord lays great stress upon it. We cannot too much complain of the extent of that influence when improperly exercised; but let it be recollected that it is very difficult to separate the influence of the minister of religion from religion itself. This is, my Lords, a very delicate subject to touch upon. Where, a religion is exercised as it is in Ireland, where it ha, great influence, as it has, over the minds of the Roman Catholics of that country, where its rites are considered necessary, and are constantly administered, it follows that those ministers to whom the people thus frequently resort, have a great and commanding power over them. That power may be a blessing or a curse, according to the manner in which it is exercised; but we cannot hope, you may depend upon it, to lessen that power by railing at it; we cannot hope to diminish it by reviling it—by doing that you only drive it still more deeply into the habits and feelings of the people. Influence over others is not more exercised in that country than in this, and yet the exercise of that influence would be no good reason for doing away with the constitution of this country, or exclaiming against the right of property. Your Lordships have to make your election which proposition is to prevail—the extension of rights and privileges to Ireland— rights and privileges which are greatly prized by all men, or the curtailment of the rights and privileges of which Irishmen are already possessed. I shall not address your Lordships any longer. I have only to express my strong opinion that it is better to go into the Bill originally proposed, and consider its various enactments in Committee, and that you will commit a very hasty, a very rash, and a very imprudent step, if you accede to the instruction moved by the noble Lord.
Lord Fitzgerald and Vesci
replied: It did not much matter, he said, whether Roman Catholics were elected or not, pro- 305 vided that Protestants could be sent, bound hand and foot by Catholic constituencies, to destroy all the institutions of the country. He might mention the town of Clonmel as an example of the observation which he had just made. In Clonmel there were a great number of the Society of Friends, who possessed large establishments, and were in the enjoyment of large properties. The affairs of that town had been managed by a local board previous to the Act of the 9th George 4th coming into force. The number of persons who constituted this local board was twenty-two, and the whole of these persons were Protestants and Quakers, whose property was rated to the extent of 2,410l. annually. What was the consequence after the Act of Geo. 4th came into operation? Why, that the twenty-two Protestants who formed the local board had been displaced, and substituted by twenty-two Roman Catholics, whose property was not rated to any greater amount than 3571. He only stated this fact to show what the ascendancy of the Roman Catholics would be in all places where there was a large constituency. There were some other points to which he should like to advert, but seeing the disposition of the House, he should abstain from doing so. The noble Lord opposite had complained that he had not explained the difference between the two countries, and why the same principles should not be equally applied to both. He would tell the noble Lord that it was that difference—a difference which was on all hands admitted to exist, that constituted the reason why the administration of justice should be withdrawn from the Irish Corporations, though placed in the hands of the English Corporations.
merely wished to say in explanation, that the noble Lord was quite mistaken in supposing that he had denied that the noble Lord had a perfect right, according to the usages of the House, to propose an instruction.
Lord Fitzgerald and Vesci
observed, that in 1823, it appeared by the Journals of their Lordships' House, an instruction was proposed on the question for going into Committee on the Tithe Composition Bill, in order to introduce a particular clause. The instruction was rejected, but the clause was inserted in the Committee, and the Bill passed, and was sent down to the Commons.
said, that he had not been aware that such an authority existed 306 to show, that proposing an instruction, under the circumstances, was improper. He did not say it in triumph, but he could not help observing, that the noble Lord had cited an authority against himself.
§ The House divided on the original motion,
§ Contents—Present 72, Proxies 47; 119:—Not-Contents—Present 133, Proxies 70: 203—Majority 84.
§ Main question, as amended, put and agreed to. Instruction to the Committee ordered. The Bill to be committed on Tuesday.309
|List of the Contents.|
|MARQUESSES.||Melbourne (Viscount Melbourne)|
|Breadalbane.||Minster (Marquess Conyngham)|
|Scarborough||Somerhill (Marq. of Clanricarde)|
|Radnor||Rosebery (E. of Rosebery)|
|Craven||Kilmarnock (Earl of Erroll)|
|Burlington||Sefton (E. of Sefton)|
|Camperdown||Clements (E. of Leitrim)|
|VISCOUNTS.||Kenlis (Marquess of Headfort)|
|Leinster (D. of Leinster.)||Howden|
|Paget (E. of Uxbridge)||Templemore|
|Howard of Effingham||Dinorben|
|Saye and Sele||Godolphin|
|Teynham||Solway (Marquess of Queensberry)|
|Howland (Marq. of Tavistock)||Denman|
|Boyle (Earl of Cork)||Hatherton|
|Sundridge (Duke of Argyll)||Langdale.|
|Marlborough.||Rowland (Marq. of Tavistock)|
|Winchester||Carleton (E. of Shan non)|
|Derby||Mendip (Vis. Clifden)|
|Huntingdon||Wellesley (Marquess Wellesley)|
|Essex||Granard (Earl of Granard)|
|Fitzwilliam||Ranfurly (E. of Ranfurly)|
|Mulgrave||Fingall (Earl of Fingall)|
|Durham||Rossie (Ld. Kinnaird)|
|Granville.||Chaworth (Earl of Meath)|
|Lake.||Ludlow (E. Ludlow)|
|BARONS.||Hamilton (Lord Belhaven)|
|List of the Not-Contents.|
|DUKES.||Hillsborough (Marq. of Downshire)|
|Sandwich||Vane (Marq. of Londonderry)|
|Doncaster (Duke of Buccleuch)||Amherst|
|Harrington||Gordon (Earl of Aberdeen)|
|Gort||Oriel (Visct. Ferrard)|
|Willoughby de Broke||Penshurst (Viscount Strangford)|
|Hay (Earl of Kinnoul)||Tenterden|
|Monson||Melross (Earl of Haddington)|
|Bagot||Stuart de Rothesay|
|Montagu||Clanwilliam (Earl of Clanwilliam)|
|Gage (Viscount Gage)||Wallace|
|Stewart of Garlies (E. of Galloway)||Fitzgerald|
|Saltersford (Earl of Courtown)||De Lisle|
|Fitzgibbon (Earl of Clare)||Canterbury|
|Loftus (Marq. of Ely|
|Meldrum (Earl of Aboyne)||Bangor|
|Ker (Marquess of Lothian)||Gloucester|
|Clanbrassil (Earl of Roden)||Llandaff|
|Down and Connor|
|Manchester||Norwich (Duke of Gordon)|
|Clinton||Sheffield (E. of Sheffield)|
|Gray||Ardrossan (E. of Eglintoun)|
|Walsingham||Hopetoun (Earl of Hopetoun)|
|Tyrone (Marquess of Waterford)||Delamere|
|Wigan (Earl of Balcarres)|
|Stuart of Castle Stuart (Earl of Moray)||Wynford|
|Wodehouse||Bath and Wells|