§ Viscount Melbourne
I now rise, my Lords, for the purpose of calling 875 your Lordships' attention to the amendments which have been made by the Commons in the amended Bill sent down by your Lordships. The great extent and number of the amendments which were in the first instance made by your Lordships, and the great extent and number of the amendments which have been made by the other House of Parliament in the present Bill, have necessarily caused a considerable time to elapse before this matter could be brought, with all the necessary information, under your Lordships' consideration. I cannot say that I regret in any respect this lapse of time; I cannot say that in any respect I do otherwise than rejoice in this delay, because it has afforded time for anything like irritation to subside—for anything like feelings of anger to die away, and renders it more likely that your Lordships will do that which in any case I should have expected, but which I do in this expect, with the utmost confidence—namely, that you will give these amendments that cool, that calm, and that impartial consideration which their importance and the authority from whence they are derived clearly and evidently demand at your Lordships' hands. My Lords, we concur in the wish expressed by the noble Duke opposite, on the presentation of a petition in the earlier part of this evening. We hope that your Lordships will not suffer yourselves to be in any respect intimidated by clam our; that you will not suffer yourselves in any respect to be affected by threats; that you will not suffer yourselves in any respect whatsoever to have your judgments biased, warped, or irritated by any recent propositions which may have been made, but which, in my opinion, fall in their very statement by their own absurdity, and therefore require no further allusion from me. But, my Lords, while we express this wish on the one hand, we hope, on the other, that your Lordships will not suffer yourselves to be so affected by any considerations of this nature, or by any observations that may have been made, as to be induced not to give these amendments that full, that calm, and that impartial consideration which they deserve. If you shall find, upon consideration, that you have taken a hasty and an erroneous view of this subject, you will, I am sure, be the first to act the manly part of retracting what you feel to be a mistake, and of evincing a readiness to yield to reasons which appear to you to be 876 more sound, more just, and better founded. With these few preliminary observations, my Lords, I will proceed to call your attention to these amendments. I think it is impossible but that you must admit the fairness and justice of the very calm and temperate statement with which the Commons have prefaced them. I think, too, that your Lordships must feel, if these proceedings should really terminate and conclude in a difference between the two Houses, that you have commenced this warfare, rather in a rough, rather in a rude, and rather in an offensive manner. My Lords, you sent down to the other House of Parliament a Bill totally changed in its nature, altered in all its provisions, changed in its title, altered entirely in the whole of its principles, bearing no resemblance or similitude to the Bill sent up to you from the House of Commons except in its subject matter, and excepting so far that it is also a Bill having reference to Municipal Corporations in Ireland. It is impossible that your Lordships can do other than feel that this is a very strong mode of proceeding, and one which, if it were adopted towards your Lordships, I feel quite certain, not only that you would refuse to acquiesce in, but that you would reject with the utmost indignation. If your Lordships do not feel on this subject that it is a strong measure you have taken, if you do not feel that it is a measure in a great degree offensive in its character, if you do not feel that it is one in which you could not expect the other House of Parliament to acquiesce—then, my Lords, I will only say, that I view with considerable surprise, and can very imperfectly understand, the nature of the judgments which arrive at such a conclusion. I have only now to stale the amendments which the Commons have proposed to your Lordships in this Bill; those amendments are so very distinctly, clearly, succinctly, and fairly stated in the concluding reasons alleged by the Commons, that I cannot give your Lordships a better general idea of them than by reading the paragraph to which I allude. "In the Bill, as now amended, the Commons have consented to confine the establishment of town-councils to twelve considerable cities and towns, of which their wealth and importance render them well suited to such system of local government." Carrick Fergus, I understand, possesses considerable wealth and property, and is, moreover, an assize town, 877 It is For these reasons that these towns have been selected for the purpose of having established in them those institutions which we contend are essential to the interests of the country at large, and which we contend are more particularly essential to the interests of Ireland, where local government is more particularly required. "The Commons have further provided for the local government of twenty Cities and towns of lesser extent and population by applying to them the enactments of a statute specially relied upon in the amendments of the Lords." Seventeen of these towns are Parliamentary boroughs; three of them do not return Members to Parliament, but they are, I understand, in point of wealth and importance, next to the other towns; and therefore the Commons have thought proper to include them in this schedule, thereby insuring to them the benefit of local and municipal government, free from all the inconvenience and is advantages of the Act to which they refer. The provisions of that Act being left to the rate-payers to carry into execution, were, as your Lordships know, very seldom adopted at all. You are very probably aware, from a perusal of the amendments, of the measures which are proposed to render the adoption of the Act compulsory, and it is therefore unnecessary for me to detail them. In addition to empowering two justices of the peace to call a meeting of persons, who are in fact compelled to adopt the provisions of the Act, there are in the amendments of the Commons others of great importance, including one in reference to the appointment of coroners, which, contrary to all former precedent, is vested by your Lordships' Bill in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant. But as the question now is, whether your Lordships will adopt the general principle of these amendments, or whether you will reject them, I will not waste your time with minor details, which, if you are prepared to adopt the general principle, will be easily settled hereafter, and which if you are not prepared to adopt it, it is wholly unnecessary for me to repeat. This question has been already so very amply and fully discussed in so many debates in both Houses of Parliament, and the grounds on which we have argued the question are so very distinctly, clearly, and forcibly laid down in the reasons alleged by the Commons, that it would be only wasting your Lordships' time if I were to do 878 more than briefly recapitulate the very strong reasons which should induce you to accede to these amendments. In the first place, your Lordships' amendments adopt a different principle with respect to Ireland from that which prevails in any other part of his Majesty's dominions; different from that which prevails in England different from that which prevails in Scotland, different from that which prevails, I apprehend, in any of the colonies belonging to England. In adopting that principle, my Lords, you are taking a step which is undoubtedly hurtful and mortifying to the feelings of the Irish people. Now I ask you is that wise or prudent—is that wise or prudent in what you yourselves represent to be the state of Ireland at present? Is it wise or prudent, when the wounds of the people of that country are just beginning, as it were, in a certain degree, to cicatrize, to tear them open afresh, as you must inevitably do, by this course of proceeding? Even if your Lordships' measures were in some degree preferable to those which we propose, would it be wise to obtain them at this sacrifice? Is it, I ask you, wise or prudent to do that which, although it may not create a great feeling at the present time, (as a noble Friend of mine thinks, whether justly or not I will not say), still will hereafter be referred to, and looked back upon and quoted as an instance in which the British Legislature has undervalued and insulted the feelings of the people of Ireland, by making a marked difference between them and the people of the other parts of the empire? In the next place, even if you give up the advantages of local municipal government, which we ask you to preserve, will you give up the advantage of distinction—will you give up the advantage of authority—will you give up the advantage of influence, all of which we have already argued, and I say justly argued, are more highly prized in Ireland than in any other part of the King's dominions? And further, my Lords, will you depart most plainly and decisively from the principles of the Act for the removal of the Catholic disabilities? My lords, the main principle of that Act was, that every office of distinction, every office of power, every office of emolument, should be thrown open to the whole people of the country without any distinction of religion. What do your Lordships do? You immediately make a distinction, and found it most plainly and 879 distinctly upon the religious differences which exist in Ireland. My Lords, I am surprised that the noble and learned Lord (Lyndhurst) who brought forward the amendments in this House, should have adopted the principles involved in them. The noble and learned Lord, as we well know, has held very different opinions at different times on the subject of these Roman Catholic disabilities. On the 6th of March, 1827, the noble and learned Lord, then Master of the Rolls, made a speech against concession to the Roman Catholics in the House of Commons; again, on the 10th of June, 1828, the noble and learned Lord, sitting on the Woolsack in this House, as Lord Chancellor, made another speech, also, against the concession of the Catholic claims. The first of these speeches appears to me to be very cursorily and imperfectly reported; the second is reported more clearly and forcibly, and seems to be sanctioned by better authority. Both these speeches go very strongly against the principle of the proposed concession; the second puts very strongly the danger of concession without adequate security; and it was on this ground that the noble and learned Lord refused his assent to the measure. On the 3rd of April, 1829, the noble and learned Lord, still sitting as Chancellor upon the Woolsack, makes a most decisive speech in favour of the concession of these claims; he puts them upon the broadest principles, and boldly states "The Roman Catholic was in no manner incapable of exercising the privileges of a free citizen in a free state. His opinions regarding civil power and civil matters accorded with those of other men; and in no manner, therefore, did they incapacitate him from discharging the duties of a legislator."* My Lords, if they do not incapacitate him from discharging the duties of a legislator, they surely do not incapacitate him from discharging the duties imposed upon him by this Bill. In mentioning the noble and learned Lord's speeches, I have no intention whatever of reproaching him for the suddenness with which he changed his opinions; such a reproach would come with but an ill grace from anybody, but perhaps it would come peculiarly ill from me, for I have myself changed my opinions on great public questions; I have felt it my duty to do so, without being actuated by any interested motives, and the allowance which I claim for myself I am perfectly* Hansard (New Series), vol. xxi. p. 215.880 ready to mate for others. But what I have always observed, and what I have always found relative to these inconsistencies in public men—which, after all, are rather awkward features in a man's public life, which always afford points upon which attacks may be made, which always require defence, the more particularly as they generally wear at first rather a questionable aspect, and one difficult to be explained— what I have always observed, and found, my Lords, has been, that the error in conduct invariably is not in the second step, but in the first. The first change of opinion is generally right; it is generally founded upon sound principles; it is generally called for by circumstances; but the error is in having rapidly, in early youth, or under the impressions of party, or perhaps in deference to the authority of others, pledged yourself irrevocably and voluntarily to measures, to opinions, and to principles, which afterwards, on mature consideration, and under altered circumstances, you find it impossible to support or maintain. What I complain of in the noble and learned Lord on the present occasion is, not that he changed his opinions rapidly, but that in all the arguments he now advances he seems disposed to recede from those sounder and better opinions which he professed in 1829, and to return to those which he held in 1828 and 1827. And, my Lords, whatever may be the dangers of Ireland at the present moment—whatever may be the feelings of the Roman Catholic population—whatever may be the power possessed by the Roman Catholic Clergy—and whatever may be the manner in which they employ those powers, let the noble and learned Lord depend upon it that the remedy for those evils is to be found in other measures than in a return to anything like those exclusive principles which prevailed before 1829, and before the Act of 1793. My Lords, the noble and learned Lord, on a former occasion, made a speech which has excited a great deal of observation, both within and without the walls of this House. I wish to advert to it, not with reference to any expressions to which it may have given rise—not with the view of making any attack upon the noble Lord, or of exciting anything like feelings of animosity or indignation on the present occasion, but merely for the purpose of adverting, coolly and calmly, to what I conceive to have been his argument. The noble and learned Lord said—" We were told, when 881 the Roman Catholic Relief Bill passed, that it would be perfectly acquiesced in—that it would be completely and wholly satisfactory, and that all would be peaceful and tranquil; whereas, on the contrary, we have had more tumult than ever; we have had measures most injurious to the Protestant Religion; we have had the spoliation of the Protestant Establishment; we have had all the attacks upon tithe; and now, at last, it has come to this— that the population of that country stand in array against each other, in a state of uncompromising hostility." My Lord?, I must beg leave to say, that I have some observations to make upon every stage of this speech. In the first instance, the noble and learned Lord says, "We were told," and so forth; as if he had not himself, in the speech of 1829, to which I have before adverted, held out as strongly as any body could a prospect of the peace and tranquillity which were to ensue from the passing of that measure. My Lords, it is very natural, when people wish measures to be passed which they intend should operate as measures of conciliation, which they intend should be considered as a boon, that they should be inclined to exaggerate the effects of that boon; and in speaking of such provisions they are apt to draw pictures of tranquillity and happiness which are not likely to be realised. But, my Lords, I confess I do not recollect any sound or distinct argument which was held out at that time from which it was to be inferred that the measure would necessarily be the immediate instrument of peace, satisfaction, and tranquillity. I ask your Lordships to reflect, that it is out of the question that such results should have ensued from it, that it is totally contrary to the history of man, that it is totally contrary to the Experience of ages that any such effect should have been caused by a measure which affected the situation of so large a portion of the population, and which was an admission into power of a vast number of persons who had been previously excluded from it. It would have been perfectly unnatural to expect that it should have done so at once, without any checks, without any changes, without any alterations. Look to our history, my Lords—look to those periods to which we now look back, with the greatest pleasure, satisfaction, and gratitude. Look to those events which are never mentioned in this House without praise and admiration, especially from many noble Lords whom I 882 see on the opposite side of the House. Consider the Reformation—consider the Revolution. Those events, when we look back upon them, diminish to a single occurrence; but they were a series of frightful and tremendous events notwithstanding. To the Reformation we all look back with the greatest satisfaction and gratitude. I, myself, am sincerely and devotedly attached to the principles of the Reformation; I am sincerely and devotedly attached to the spirit of free inquiry and the right of private judgment—principles which I consider characteristics of the Reformation—principles which I trust will be maintained by those from whom we have a right to claim their support; although feelings of a very different nature may show themselves in the bosom of the Church, or of the Universities. What, my Lords, were its immediate effects? Bloodshed, civil discord, dreadful rebellion! re-billion in the eastern and western counties, rebellion in the Scottish counties that was successful for months, and superseded for a time the authority of the King of that day in this country. A series of events occurred, my Lords, which I will not recapitulate, but which render it to my mind perfectly clear, that the benefits of the Reformation were never really felt or established until the Revolution. This great event, certainly the bulwark and security of our liberties, if not the foundation of them, was at the moment the cause of a most dreadful state of political society —father was in arms against son, and son against father, and all the ills of a disputed succession. We may call that Revolution bloodless in itself, but we must recollect that it was purchased at the expense of two long, protracted, and bloody wars, under the effects of which we are suffering at the present day. My Lords, I do not place Catholic Emancipation on the same level, but I consider it as an event of sufficiently similar character to justify me in saying that, judging from history, it was not in human nature, nor was it to be expected, that things would at once subside into that state of peace and tranquillity, the non-result of which has, according to the noble and learned Lord, occasioned so much disappointment and surprise. The noble Lord mentions, among the evils which have flowed from the Catholic Emancipation Bill, the Church Temporalities Bill, and the diminution of the Church Establishment in Ireland—
§ Viscount Melbourne
Of the Church Temporalities Bill, my Lords, I may say, in the first place, that it was an Act of the Legislature; and I believe the effects of that measure, notwithstanding the strong feelings that prevail in Ireland, have been in the highest degree salutary and beneficial. I believe that it has given the clergy more power and more weight, and that they are much more likely to support the cause of religion now than they were before its passing. I declare solemnly, my Lords, that in this, and in all the measures I have introduced, or may propose, I have had no other object in view than that of relieving the Protestant religion from that which evidently does not facilitate its progress, and which has been already sufficiently long tried, and applying the resources of the Establishment to means that may better conduce to the purification of the religion of the country. The noble and learned Lord, in the speech to which I refer, also alluded to the question of tithes, a most painful subject certainly, on which I will not further debate upon the present occasion. I will not ask you, my Lords, whether you might not have prevented much of this evil by seizing the opportunities which have been presented to you for that purpose. With respect to the noble and learned Lord's last assertion, that the population of Ireland stand arrayed against each other in a state of uncompromising hostility, I believe that is a most exaggerated statement, and one which is in no respect borne out by the real state of feeling in Ireland. The observations which were made by the noble and learned Lord were, as I have taken occasion to say before, of the greatest importance, from his well-known abilities and the station he has filled in this country. I have therefore thought it right, without the least degree of asperity or acrimony, and without the slightest reference to any expressions that might appear to form a ground for other observations, to state in what respect, and why, I differ from the noble and learned Lord on this occasion. My Lords, I have already stated the great principle and the grounds on which the Commons have founded their amendments. I have already stated, that your dignity, your weight, your influence, your authority in this country, are sufficiently fixed and founded upon all the advantages which 884 result from your character. Nobody can injure it, my Lords, but yourselves. The possession of present power and the right of individual property are apt to mislead all men. My Lords, I implore you not to be led away by the undisputed sway you possess in this House, to mistake your position with respect to the other House of Parliament. I beg leave to call to your recollection, for the purpose, if possible, of opening your eyes a little, some facts which I really think seem to have escaped your memory. In the year 1834, the Government of this country was dissolved by circumstances which it is unnecessary for me to repeat. The noble Lords coming into office chose to do that which I shall ever consider as a most violent and unjustifiable act, of which, if I were in their situation, I would not have been the author—the violent and unjustifiable act of dissolving the Parliament. My Lords, I say, that if they could not form their Government without dissolving that House of Commons, they were bound to give up the attempt. However, they did dissolve that Parliament. A new Parliament was chosen, under all the power and influence, whatever that may be (much exaggerated, I believe), which the possession of Government gives. They met that Parliament; they were in a minority of seven; they were in a minority of ten; they were in a minority of thirteen. This year their minority commenced at about forty-five, and it had grown in the last division to nearly double the number. Now, I ask your Lordships to consider, what has been the cause of this progression? I ask you to consider, whether it is not owing to your own imprudence—whether it is not owing to your own misconduct— whether it is not owing to your own blindness—whether it is not owing to the manner in which you seek to separate your selves from the whole body of the people— from the manner in which you have tried to do every thing that is unpopular, and abstained from doing anything that has in it the elements of generosity and popularity. I wish you to consider, whether this is not the cause; and, my Lords, it will be well for you to think, of the causes which have occasioned this retrograde movement in the other House of Parliament, while, at the same time, it is very remarkable that the whole of the intermediate elections have, for the most part, been in your favour. There is another point my Lords, to which I wish to refer. We are often told, and we have been frequently 885 informed in the course of the present Session, that you have with you, and we have against us, the great majority of the intelligence, the power, the weight, and the importance of the country; that you have with you the majority of the gentry, that you have with you the majority of the clergy, that you have with you, distinctly, the voice of the two Universities. My Lords, I will not deny that this may he the truth; nor will I stop to inquire what really is the truth of the matter. But if you have this support, I implore your Lordships not to be too confident, and not to rely upon it too far. I have the greatest respect for the majority of the gentry of this country; I have the greatest respect for the clergy; I have no disrespect for, nor do I feel anything of ill-will towards, the Universities; but depend upon it, my Lords, these interests are not omnipotent in this country; nor were they omnipotent when other interests, such as those of towns and cities, the interests of commerce and manufactures, the interests of the Dissenters, and the general opinion of the people, were all as nothing compared with what they are now. My Lords, great measures have been carried in opposition to their interests; whole dynasties have been changed, families have been placed, ay, and maintained, upon the throne in opposition to the majority of the gentry; most distinctly and certainly in opposition to the great majority of the clergy, and in opposition to the decided opinion of the two Universities. My Lords, I only pray you not to rely too much upon the opinion and support of your party. I earnestly entreat you, to unite together the interests and feelings of all classes of society; and I entreat you to take the first step towards this desirable result by acceding to these amendments which have been sent up from the Commons, and thus establishing your weight, your authority, your power, and your dignity in the feelings and affections of the people of Ireland. The noble Viscount concluded by moving that the amendments be now taken into consideration.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
said, my Lords, the noble Viscount, instead of calling your Lordships' attention to the detailed amendments contained in the paper on your Lordships' table, has thought proper to employ the greater part of his speech in a personal attack upon myself, and the course which I have pursued upon this occasion. The noble Viscount has recalled to your Lordships the part in the proceed- 886 ings which I took with respect to the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, and has pointed out, for disapprobation, as I understand him, the inconsistencies of my conduct with respect to that measure, I can only say, my Lords, that I acted, in the course I followed, with men of as much honour, of as much attachment to the constitution, as deeply read in the laws and history of Britain, as independent in their views and conduct as any body of men that ever existed in this country. When that vast measure was adopted it was adopted by noble Lords in connexion with me, after a calm, cool, and deliberate investigation of the whole question; and because we felt it to be our duty to represent to our Sovereign the necessity of pursuing that course, because we felt that we had no alternative at that moment with reference to the situation in which this country was placed, it was that, we adopted that measure. At the time we did it, it is quite impossible to suppose that we were influenced by interested motives, because there was not one among us who did not feel and know that the probable result of the course we were pursuing would be, that we must retire from office, and that the noble Lords opposite would succeed to our position. Still, however, considering the subject, maturely, deliberately, and in all its circumstances, we felt that we were bound to pursue that course. The noble Viscount has stated that I said upon a former night, that the consequences which resulted from that measure were contrary to the expectations which I formed. I repeat that observation. The consequences which have resulted from that measure, the conduct of those individuals who were parties to it, and who were eager for its accomplishment, have disappointed my expectations; and I cannot do better for "the purpose of illustrating what I mean upon this occasion, than to recall to your Lordships' recollection a quotation made at that time, descriptive of the consequences that would result from granting the measure of emancipation to the Roman Catholics of Ireland:——simul alba nautisStella refulsit,Defluit saxis agitatus humor:Concidunt venti, fugiuntque nubes,Et minax, quod sic voluere, pontoUnda recumbit.That was the quotation made for the purposes of illustrating the consequences that 887 would result from the passing of the; measure of Catholic Emancipation. Mark the effects which have flowed from it, and say, whether they are not directly the reverse of all that are denoted and indicated in the passage to which I have referred. Step by step, since that time, encroachments have been made upon the Protestant establishment, and continued with pertinacious animosity, contrary to the pledges at that time made as an encouragement to pursue the course we then adopted. The noble Viscount further goes on to say, that at the time we entered office, in 1834, we pursued a most unjusti6able course in advising his Majesty to dissolve his Parliament. He made that statement and assertion, but upon what grounds he has advanced the statement, and what are the reasons assigned for the assertion, we are left in utter ignorance. What, my Lords, can be more regular, what. more proper, what more in accordance with the principles of our free constitution than this—that when his Majesty is advised to make a change in his Councils, an appeal should be made to the sentiments and wishes of the people of England to sanction and support, an act so done by his Majesty? It was in accordance with that principle, almost uniformly acted upon on a similar occasion, that Ministers then advised a dissolution of Parliament. I. appears to me a constitutional course, a legitimate course, a wise and proper course to pursue. I state this my Lords, not in opposition to the reasoning of the noble Viscount, for he supported his opinion by no reasoning upon this point, but in opposition to the bare statement and assertion of the other side of the House. With respect to the course we are now pursuing, the noble Viscount has told us that we are not to give way to intimidation or to threats, and yet the greater part of the conclusion of his speech consisted in nothing but a series of implied threats, an attempt to inspire us with feelings of apprehension as to the consequence of the course we are about to pursue. I shall only refer your Lordships back to the commencement of the speech of the noble Viscount, in which, addressing your Lordships in the spirit in which you ought to be addressed, he told you it was impossible to abandon your judgment and opinions upon a measure of state policy from any base and low motives of that description. Contrast that part of his speech with the other—compare the 888 cool and deliberate commencement with the impassioned declamation with which it closed, and will any of your Lordships doubt which is the course we ought to pursue? What, then, my Lords, is that course? It was pointed out to you by my noble Friend (the Duke of Wellington) when presenting a petition in the former part of the evening. For a series of years the towns of Ireland were governed by a certain form of municipal institutions; both Houses of Parliament agreed that those institutions are vicious, and ought to be reformed. Both have assented to this proposition, but they are not agreed upon the means by which it is to be effected. What is the consequence? The present system must continue till the Houses come to a distinct understanding upon this subject. The noble Viscount seems to conceive that we are to a certain extent bound to follow the opinions of the other House upon this subject. I beg leave to say that this House also represents the nation—that we are no less the representatives of the nation than the House of Commons, which is stated to represent the people, and I believe at this moment, whatever may be the noble Viscount's opinion, that we as fully, and no less fairly represent the opinions, the sentiments, the feelings of the great body of the nation, as their representatives in the other House of Parliament. I feel, and the noble Viscount has expressed, the utmost possible respect for the opinions of the other House, and whenever I have the misfortune to differ from them upon any conclusion of state policy—and I am sure my noble Friends around me are impressed with the same conviction—I feel it to be my duty cautiously to deliberate, and fully to consider that difference; but when I am not entirely convinced by the reasons they allege, it is my duty, as an independent Member of Parliament and of this House, to act according to the dictates of my un biased judgment. That is the course I have pursued—the course which the noble Lords with whom I am acting, have, I am persuaded, pursued. It is because we feel that the consequence of the measure as sent up to us originally by the other House, and presented to us in its amended form, would be productive of mischief to the united empire, and of great evil and calamity to Ireland itself, and that it would be fatal to the Protestant interests of that country—it is be- 889 cause we are impressed with this conviction that we refused to pass the Bill in its former shape, and it is on the same grounds that we are disinclined to adopt the amendments now proposed to us. The noble Viscount employed the greater part of his speech, not in pointing out the bearing soft he altered Bill now before the House, but in accomplishing a purpose to which I have referred, and in adverting to what fell from me on a former night. I am extremely desirous of saying something to your Lordships upon that subject. I am desirous of redeeming the pledge I gave with reference to it, and I am conscious that I owe it in some sort to your Lord ships as well as to myself to do so, because, as what I uttered at the time was not reproved by your Lordships, I feel that the censure heaped upon me, and the attacks directed against me, are in some sort also directed against your Lordships. First, as to my accusers. The first of my accusers in order of time was a gentleman a Member of the other House of Parliament, who immediately after the Bill was sent down to the other House, was sent off to Ireland as an apostle of agitation for the purpose of creating a movement in that country. Meetings were called, resolutions were prepared, justice to Ireland—the usual topic, —equality of civil institutions, and those words to which the noble Viscount has alluded, aliens by descent or aliens by blood, or some expression of that kind, were descanted on, for the purpose of getting up a little agitation. Unfortunately, however, the plot did not entirely succeed. But that Gentleman who had been used to missions of this kind, was not without his resources, for, as has been stated in the course of the evening, he threw another ingredient into the cauldron which he knew was powerful in its operation. He created a little bustle for a day or two, which however, happily has, since in a degree subsided. I bear no enmity to that hon. Member; he was labouring in his vocation; and if I had shown any enmity to him, it would have subsided almost in a moment, from the great pleasure I have derived over and over again from his light and brilliant eloquence, and above all from the abundant amusement he has lately afforded me by his felicitous explanations, and the extraordinary drollery by which the end of that statement was accompanied. That Gentleman was my first accuser. The next, my 890 Lords, was a man of a very different stamp, for nothing can be more strongly contrasted with the well-tempered weapon of the Gentleman to whom I have referred, than the coarse rusty blade of his associate. I lave not powers of description adequate to the task of painting him, hut I wish I were for the moment possessed of those which the noble Viscount so eminently enjoys. I shall never forget, and your lordships, I am sure, never will, the portrait which he drew on a former night of this person—how he appeared wrapped in mystery, and heralded by portents, visiting our planet once only in the revolutions of a century—those who gazed upon him, doubtful whether he ought to be considered as a benevolent or as a malignant genius— "a spirit of health or goblin damned." According to the quotation of the noble discount, the noble Lord seemed almost as if he would say, wraps in a spirit of adoration, pursuing the quotation—" I'll call thee king, father!" I wish I possessed the powers which the noble Viscount displayed upon they— occasion; but this person has so scathed himself, has so exhibited himself in a variety of postures, not always the most seemly and decent, amidst the shouts and applause of a multitude, that all description upon my part is totally unnecessary. But these exhibitions have not been rootless to him; he has received lavish contributions, I may say, ducal contributions from the connexions of the present Government, while at the same time he has wrung, by the aid of the priests, the miserable pittance from the hands of the starving and famishing peasant. This person has in every shape and form insulted your Lordships, your Lordships' House, and many of you individually—he has denounced you; doomed you to destruction, and availing himself of your courtesy, he comes to your Lordships' Bar, he listens to your proceedings, he marks and he measures you as his victims—" Etiam in senatum venit—notat, designatque oculis adcædem unumquemque nostrûm." The person whom these expressions originally had at least one redeeming quality—witness the last scene of his life, if you read it in the description of the historian. Mindful of his former elevation and dignity, so able, so politic, so eloquent, he ever retained the virtue of courage. Where was the accusation against me made, and under what circumstances? At a meeting of the in habitants of Middlesex, in the midst of the friends of free institutions, those declaimers 891 for justice—eternal justice—there did he for the edification of his audience, vent his coarse and scurrilous jests at the murder of a monarch, and at the same time and almost in the same breath, insulted by the insidious venom of his flattery the successor of that monarch, our present most gracious Sovereign. Such is the man who has as sailed me, such the circumstances under which the assault was made. Another assaillant to whom I must allude, is one of some gentler demeanour, of bland speech, of most amiable manners, a little too strongly tinctured with ultra-liberalism. When I say the individual to whom I am now referring is my assailant, I mean that he is my reported accuser; for allow me to be incredulous on the subject, and I am quite sure that you will share that incredulity with me. The noble Lord to whom I refer has long been a Member of the other House of Parliament. As a Whig he must have studied the Constitution and forms of that House. As the leader of it, it is his duty particularly to attend to the order and regularity of its proceedings. He is a writer on the Constitution, and knows the importance of preserving the independence of the two Houses of Parliament. Is it possible, then, to suppose that a person so circumstanced should, availing himself of your Lordships' courtesy, come to the Bar of this House, collect words spoken in the heat of debate, and, then going to the other House, there repeat them, and attack and denounce the Speaker of them? Is that possible? Am I not doing justice to the noble Lord in supposing that he could not so have acted? But this is not all: I have another ground for my incredulity. I long had the honour of a seat in the other House of Parliament, and I know well, from my observations of the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman who then filled the chair, that if any individual, whatever his situation in that House might have been, had come from your Lordships' Bar repeating and attempting to observe upon what he had heard there, he would instantly have been called to order. I am now speaking of past times. But I know the right hon. Gentleman, who at the present moment occupies the chair of the other House of Parliament, and am proud to call him my friend. He is a lawyer by profession, and sat for many years on the Whig side of the House, and therefore must of necessity be acquainted with constitutional law and practice. I cannot, then, but suppose that he would have in- 892 terfered for the purpose of checking a proceeding of so much irregularity as that which has been attributed to the noble Lord. This is my second reason for being incredulous on the subject. But, my Lords, I have yet another reason. The noble Lord to whom I allude, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, presides in some sort over the justice of the country. He must be well acquainted with the first principles of justice, and no principle was more sacred than this—that a man should not be put on his trial in his absence. I cannot, therefore, easily believe that the noble Lord would have made such a charge in a place, where it was impossible for me to answer it. I am not defending the noble Lord; I am stating reasons for believing that the observations attributed to the noble Lord never could have fallen from him. I cannot, I repeat, imagine that the noble Lord had made a charge against me in my absence, when, of course, I had no opportunity of replying to it, or of explaining my meaning. I am the more confirmed in this opinion, when I recollect that that noble Lord is the author of a dramatic work, in which the grand inquisitor is made to boast of the fair manner in which his court is conducted in comparison with ordinary courts. He observes, that even an act of accusation is not allowed to issue against a person until he has been heard in his defence. The poetical lines, my Lords, are these:—It does not hold its prisoners accusedTill they themselves are heard.I do therefore think, that if that noble Lord had intended to make a charge against me, he would, in common courtesy, and in accordance with the ordinary rules which prevail in both Houses of Parliament, certainly in this, and formerly in the other, not have done so without first giving me notice, in order that I might have had, if necessary, communication on the subject with some Member of the other House. These are the reasons which induce me not to give credit to the report of a charge and accusation having been made against me by the noble Lord. Now, as to the charge itself, what is it? It is this—that I stated as a reason for not granting municipal institutions to the Irish, that "they were aliens by descent, that they spoke a different language, and had different habits from ours; that they considered us to be invaders of their soil, and were desirous of removing us from the country." I made no such statement, nor did I say anything 893 at all resembling it. No expressions ever fell from me upon which any person, not of a weak intellect, or not disposed to misunderstand and misrepresent what I stated, could have put such a construction. That this was the case is obvious, I think, from the conduct of the noble Lords opposite. What did the noble Viscount (Melbourne) do on the occasion when, it said, those words were uttered by me? He remained perfectly quiet in his place, and made no comment whatever on what are now considered as most extraordinary and unjustifiable expressions. The noble Marquess, who, it will be remembered, took so active a part in those debates, remained equally silent. In fact, no notice at all was taken of what fell from me on the occasion alluded to, and no such feeling was then excited as attempts have been since made to raise. It is true that the noble Marques some fourteen days afterwards, and subsequent to the scenes which were got up in Ireland, and before the inhabitants of Marylebone had made an allusion to what the noble Marquess has called "never to before gotten expressions." [The Marquess of Lansdowne.—It was only a few days after the discussion that I alluded to them.] It was a great many days after, for it was on the occasion, as your Lordships will recollect, of my presenting a petition from a Roman Catholic priest. The noble Marquess then referred to those words, either in censure or in compliment, expressing his regret that I had used them, and his hope that I would explain them, I replied that I had nothing to explain, and that I would satisfy your Lordships that I had never made the statement attributed to me. The charge against me has been repeated this evening by the noble Viscount opposite. Now, let me direct your Lordships' attention to the statement really made by me, every word of which I will completely justify. It was frequently asked during the debates on the Irish Municipal Bill, and on the occasion to which allusion has been particularly made. "Will you deny to Ireland what you have granted to England?" What was the answer given to that question? It was this—that the Ministers themselves have in their own Bill proceeded on the principle of applying different provisions to Ireland, and have refused, in consequence of the peculiar state of Ireland, to grant the same powers to the Irish Municipal Corporations as they granted to the English Corporations. One of the arguments which I used on the evening 894 alluded to was to this effect—that it was absurd, unless the state of society in the two countries could be shown to be the same, to say that the institutions which are good in the one country must necessarily be good in the other; and I illustrated my meaning by a kind of school-boy reference to the bed of Procreates. Again, the Ministers proposed to abolish the present Corporations in Ireland: for what reason? Because they are party institutions, and therefore productive of evil. I observed, that there were two parties in Ireland much embittered against each other; and that the establishment of new Corporations according to the Ministerial plan would be a substitution of party Corporations of a new sort, in lieu of those which might be abolished. That was my argument, and that led legitimately and properly to a description of the two parties in Ireland. And what was the description I gave of them? I do not flinch from it; I repeat it. On the one side, I said, there is one fourth of the population of English descent and habits, Protestants in religion, and adhering warmly to the connexion with this country. Is that an accurate description of one of these parties? Who were on the other side? Persons of a different, and, with regard to the English party to whom I referred, of an alien descent. The sense in which these words were used is quite obvious. They differ to a great extent in manners, language, habits, and religion, and they look on us as invaders. I admit that I said they were anxious for a separation, and desirous to drive us from the country. Is this, or is it not, a correct description of the two parties in Ireland? When I gave that description I at least acted fairly. I so thought, and so considered; and who, my Lords, were my instructors? Those persons who now denounce and accuse me. They were my instructors. Who is it that whenever it suits his purpose worked on the feelings and prejudices, arising out of a difference of descent, that called the Protestants of Ireland foreigners, Saxons, Sassenaghs? Who is it that has over and over again, whenever it suited his particular object, declared that he never would cease to excite one portion of the population against the other.As long as Popish spade and scytheShall dig and cut the Sassenagh's tithe?Who is it that has applied, with the same view of exciting a feeling of hostility and antipathy, the term "Sassenagh" to a noble 895 Lord, formerly Secretary for Ireland, and received from that noble individual such an infliction as recalled to one's recollection the; lines in an ancient fable—Clamanti cutis est summons derepta per artus, Necquicquam nisi vulnus erat?Who is it, again, that has denominated this Imperial Parliament, both by word of mouth and in writings, a foreign Parliament; has called this House an assembly] of foreigners, and applied the same term to the Protestants of Ireland? Who is it, that in reference to this very Parliament, has made use of the term "alien?" He who is now my accuser. This is my defence, if defence be necessary. Who is it, but another of my accusers, that, speaking of Ireland, described the Irish and the English to be divided against each other, with enmity even stronger than that felt by the Welch mountaineers for their Saxon invaders? Who told us that this enmity was not the consequence of a difference of religion, but was hereditary—that it existed when the two parties were of the same religion? One of my accusers. So much, then, as to the description of the two parties into which Ireland is divided. And now as to the use of the term "invaders." Who is it that called the English "invaders of Ireland;" that dated the misery and degradation of that country from the first day when the English banner was planted on its soil? Who is it that called the "union" an atrocious and most abominable measure; that pledged himself over and over again to repeal that union, though every man knows, and no one better than the individual I refer to, that the Repeal of the Union is, in fact, the entire and total separation of the two countries? Who is it that told Ireland that it should not be a petty and paltry province, but a free and independent nation; and that the Saxons should be taught that lesson? My accuser. His cry for repeal is now dropped, his exertions are suspended; but on what terms and conditions? Mark!—"Justice to Ireland." And what description has that individual, within a very small space of time, given of the meaning he attaches to the words "justice to Ireland?" It is this, my Lords,—the complete and entire government of that country by the Roman Catholics, the extinction of tithe in any shape or form, the introduction of the voluntary system, and the entire demolition of the Protestant Establishment in Ireland. These are his terms, the terms on which alone he is content to lay aside his exertions 896 at present for the Repeal of the Union and the separation of Ireland. Allow me, my Lords, before I leave this subject, to repeat a stanza out of an Irish ballad, which has been quoted in the other House, by the noble Lord to whom I have alluded in reference to this subject. The ballad was sung in the streets of Kilkenny, at the time when a man was being tried for murder, arising out of resistance to tithes.—The day of ransom, thank Heaven! is dated,These cursed demons must quit the land:It's now these foreign and proud invadersShall feel the weight of each Irish hand.Have I not, my Lords, made out what I undertook to establish? If I expressed myself too strongly on the subject, are not my accusers the very persons who supplied me with the language they now affect to condemn? I now quit this subject, I hope for ever. With regard to the matter upon which your Lordships will have to decide this night, I must repeat what I have already said, that the noble Viscount has not explained to your Lordships the reasons set forth by the Commons in the paper on the Table. He has, however, touched on one point, to which it is most material that I should advert, because I must say, with all due deference to the noble Viscount and the House of Commons, for which I entertain the sincerest respect, that they seem, in my opinion, to have misunderstood their own Bill, and the nature of their own amendments. The object of the Bill was, as every person who read it must have seen, to establish some system of government in Ireland which should insure peace and tranquillity. That was stated to be the object of this Bill in its preamble. How was that to be effected? By the abolition of the existing Corporations (not, perhaps, in terms but in substance, as every person reading the Bill must be convinced), the substitution of other Corporations in place of them, and the separation from these new Corporations of everything connected with the administration of justice, the entire control over which was given to the Crown. These were the three points to which the Bill was directed. It is said that we, by our amendments, have formed an entirely new Bill. Now what have we done? We have assented to the first part of the measure—the abolition of the Corporations; and to the third—the placing at the disposal of the Crown, everything connected with the administration of justice; but we have rejected the second part of the Bill— 897 the erection of new Corporations; and have substituted something in its stead. How the Bill, as amended by your Lord ships, can be called an original Bill, I leave noble Lords opposite to explain. Do we make it an original Bill, when out of the three measures which it embraced we adopt two, and modify or amend the other part of the Bill? But it has been said by the noble Viscount that a vast number of new provisions have been introduced into the Bill by your Lord ships, and this point is dwelt on in the reasons of the Commons. But it followed as a matter of course, the moment we decided that new corporations should not be created, that all the details of the Bill applicable to the construction of those corporations should be expunged, and the clauses directly or indirectly bearing on that matter amounted to no less than sixty. Again, there was property belonging to the corporations, the management of which remained to be provided for, and fifty or sixty clauses were necessary for that purpose. It is not, however, the number of new clauses that can make a bill an original one, but the object to which those clauses are directed. The noble Viscount said something about the title of the Bill being changed, and that point is also adverted to in the reasons of the Commons. Your Lordships might be led to infer from the expressions contained in those reasons, that the House of Commons thought that we were not justified in altering the title; yet there is not a single page of the index to your Lordships" journals which does not contain a great number of instances of alterations effected in the titles of Bills by this House. I will refer to one instance. A Bill came up from the other House of Parliament for disfranchising the Borough of Gram pound, and for transferring the right to return two Members to the town of Leeds. That Bill, then, embraced two objects: and what was it that your Lordships did? You adopted the first part, and rejected the second; and gave to the county of York the right of returning two additional Members. Of course a corresponding alteration was made in the title of the Bill; and when it went down to the House of Commons, its reception was objected to, on the ground on which these reasons were founded. However a noble Lord got up and said, that the Bill, as sent to the Lords, was directed to two objects—the disfranchisement of Gram pound, and the transferring of the right of representation to Leeds; 898 the other House had assented to one part of the Bill, and had substituted something in place of the second; and he was of opinion that the Bill, as amended, should pass. Who was that individual? The noble Lord who is now the leader of the Ministerial party in the other House of Parliament. The alteration of the title of the Bill now before your Lordships was also adverted to in a former debate, and a noble Baron opposite (Lord Holland) had cited the Danby case. It appears to me that the noble Baron misunderstood the whole bearing of that case. The House of Commons sent up to the Lords a Bill of attainder, which was converted into a Bill of banishment. The Commons objected to this alteration, and gave their reasons for their objection. I should not be surprised that the noble Baron misunderstood the case, if he stopped at the end of the first reason, which stated, that the Bill appeared by its title to be a new Bill,—that it had been converted from a Bill of attainder in to a Bill of banishment. The noble Lord's argument was valid, stopping there, but the Commons proceeded to say that they objected because banishment was not a legal punishment for high treason; that the alteration implied that the Commons had not properly investigated the case; and that if parties absconding from justice should be allowed to get better off than those who remained for trial, nobody would remain for that purpose. It therefore appeared, that it was not the mere alteration of the title which induced the Commons to reject the Bill, but the alteration of its enactments in a manner contrary to law, and calculated to lead to an unfair inference with regard to the House of Commons. As to the Bill now before your Lordships, I do not know what its object is in one particular. There are twenty towns in Ireland to which the 9th of George 4th is proposed to be forcibly applied. Are these towns to cease to be corporate towns? Are their charters to be taken away? I understand that it is intended to deprive them of their present corporate character, but on looking to the Bill I cannot find any clause abolishing their corporations. There are clauses depriving the corporations in these towns of their property and of all trusts under local Acts of Parliament, but I wish the noble Viscount to point out the clause by which these corporations are abolished. There are some observations inserted in the reasons with respect to the clause relating to charitable trusts which appear to me to 899 have no proper application to that clause. We made no material alteration in that clause, and I am at a loss to conceive why one clause was struck out, and the original one introduced. But these are details on which I do not wish to trouble the House, because they may be the subject of after consideration. I now come to the two main points for your Lordships' consideration—the application of the statute of, 9th George 4th to twenty towns in Ireland, and the giving new corporate charters to twelve large towns in that country. I object most strongly to the forced application of 9th George 4th to any of the towns of Ireland. When our amendments went down to the other House, those twenty towns and other towns in Ireland were left to take the benefit of that Act if they thought proper; but the noble Viscount,) and the other House of Parliament, desire, to force the provisions of that Act on twenty Irish towns. I cannot bring myself to think that those twenty towns, on whom this forced application is attempted to be made, understand the nature of the provisions of the Act of Parliament; and when we are told that we ought not to introduce an original Bill in the shape of an amendment, what Bill, let me ask, could be more entirely original than this—introduced, too, in the shape of an amendment upon an amendment; and without giving the parties most deeply interested time for considering its effects? The Ministers tell us to act towards Ireland as we do to England; and this very enactment is a violation of the principle which they announce. We have in England a similar Act to the 9thof George 4th; it is called Mr. Portman's Act. Is this ever forced on the people of England? On the contrary, every security was given to the inhabitants of towns, in order that they might not be taken by surprise, and ample time was given to them for considering the effect of applying the Bill to any town. It is only when two-thirds of the population desire the application of this Act, that it can be enforced. But I object to the enactment of the Bill before your Lordships becauses it forces the 9th of George 4th on the Irish towns actually against the inclination of the inhabitants. The noble viscount himself has stated, that only six or seven towns in Ireland have availed themselves of the benefit of that Act. It appears from that statement, that the inhabitants of towns in Ireland, are not disposed to call that Act into operation; and yet, after they have manifested their unwillingness to have the Act applied 900 to their localities, the noble Viscount, by a clause in the Bill before the House, proposes to force its adoption on them. It is a clause of taxation, forcing on the people very severe, and, in some instances, oppressive taxation; and on that ground I object to it strongly. Again, the 9th of George 4th, is in its nature a local Act. It corresponds nearly, in all its provisions, with a local Act of Parliament; and how can I assent to apply a local Act directed to such objects to twenty towns at once? Your Lordships have experienced its failure in one of the towns to which it has been applied. The town of Kingstown chose to adopt it; but in a very short time the inhabitants found it to be a most pernicious Act, as far as related to that town, and they applied for an Act of Parliament to stay the operation of the 9th of George 4th in Kingstown, the preamble of which states that, that statute had been productive of most mischievous consequences. And yet it is now proposed peremptorily to force that statute on twenty towns at once, with the professed intention of doing justice to Ireland. But it has been said, though I did not hear it with my own ears, yet I know, on very good authority, that it has been stated, that the compulsory application of this statute, the 9th of George 4th, would not be oppressive to the twenty towns specified in this Bill, because the charges which it would occasion would be paid out of the property belonging to the towns, which property is described as being considerable. Now, what is the fact? Six of these towns have no property at all, and nine of them have not more than 250l. a-year each; which property is charged with heavy debts, and includes the tolls which are to be abolished. Thus it appears, that fifteen out of the twenty towns have not funds at all proportionate or adequate to meet the charges which would by this Bill be imposed on them. I do say that the measure, as agreed to by your Lordships, leaving it to the towns in Ireland to adopt or not, as they might think fit, the provisions of the 9th of George 4th, is beyond all comparison preferable to this measure of compulsion. I have now only to say a few words on the other part of the Bill, giving new Corporations to twelve towns in Ireland. This subject has been so often considered, that it would be unpardonable in me again to discuss it. I am satisfied that if your Lordships should adopt this part of the measure, it would be productive of the greatest 901 possible evils. The original preamble of the Bill states the object aimed at to be good and quiet government. Do you believe that by adopting the provisions of this Bill, the towns affected by it would be well and quietly governed? Would the introduction of annual elections, carried on as elections are in Ireland, tend to order and good government, or to tumult, strife, distraction, and party and religious animosity? What would be the constitution of these Corporations? I repeat the argument which in the beginning of the discussions on this subject I urged, and with which I will conclude them—that it would be absurd, after getting rid of the present Corporations, because they are nuisances, are party institutions, to establish in their place party institutions of a nature infinitely more objectionable and mischievous. This is my great ground of objection to the present measure. To what purpose would the new Corporations be applied? Do not the people who govern Ireland say, that every measure must be carried by agitation; and when a difficulty is felt in effecting any object, do they not exclaim "Agitate! agitate! agitate?" If, then, that party should get possession of the government of these large towns, would they not be converted into the most destructive engines of agitation, and most pernicious, as far as the Protestant interest is concerned? But is not this the object of the Bill? Does not the measure speak for itself? Let your Lordships look to its provisions. Why did the noble Viscount create new Corporations by his Bill? Solely for the purpose, as he has said, of creating them. At present the Corporations have nothing to do, except to administer justice. The new Corporations would be deprived of all power in that respect. The business of watching, paving, and lighting, forms no part of the duties of the existing Corporations; that is all performed by trustees under local Acts of Parliament, and is well and effectively performed. What, then, remains for the new Corporations to do?—absolutely nothing, as the noble Viscount has stated himself; but in order to give them something to do, it is proposed to abolish the local trusts, and to make the corporators the trustees. Is it not evident, when those behind the noble Viscount, who push and goad him forward, making him come down to your Lordships' House, and utter such extravagant speeches as the one he has delivered this night—is 902 it not evident that their design is to have these Corporations as places of deposit for the purpose of agitation, whenever agitation may be necessary to gain any particular object? If I were one of those disposed to say that tithes should be extinguished, that they should not be paid in any shape, that the voluntary system should be established, that the Protestant religion should be annihilated, and that, as the last step, the "union" should be repealed, as the consequence and climax of those measures, I would assent to the Bill as it has come up from the other House; I would do more—I would say, let the whole thing be accomplished at once; let us not go step by step. If you pass this measure, will you then stop? It will he impossible. Does not every concession you make add power to one party, and render it more difficult to resist the next demand? It is because I foresee, that at no distant period, this measure would lead to the consequences I have stated, because those consequences are in my mind deplorable, destructive to the interest, independence, and integrity of the empire, that I oppose the noble Viscount in what he now proposes to your Lordships. I will not take this first step. It is not a step of peace and conciliation which will soothe discontent, and lull agitation to sleep. On the contrary, it will provoke agitation, by convincing the people of its success, and encourage it by rewarding discontent. It will not disarm the Catholics, it will erect them a strong fortress, and supply them with the means of battering the Protestant religion. I have considered these circumstances with calmness, with caution, and to the best of my ability. I entertain, as I said when I set out, the greatest possible respect for the other House of Parliament—anything connected with or belonging to myself, I would at once surrender to them; but, my Lords, I am here one at least of the guardians of the interests of the empire, and I feel that it is a duty I owe to my country, whatsoever may be the consequences, and satisfied that the consequences of the measure now propounded will be such as I have pointed out, to oppose the motion of the noble Viscount opposite.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
said, that when he ventured to present himself to their Lordships' attention, after the eloquent speech just addressed to the House by the noble and learned Lord opposite, he must, commence by observing, that, elo- 903 quent as that speech most certainly was, still he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) had never heard a speech addressed to this or any other assembly, which contained less of argument, or more of mere assertion. The noble and learned Lord had accused his noble Friend, the first Minister of the Crown, with having;, in the course of his speech, dealt with assertions. Why the noble and learned Lord had himself dealt in a whole series of assertions against the people of Ireland, while he was unable to adduce one fact in their support. He did not wish to fasten upon the noble and learned Lord the expressions as to aliens, or any other word used by him on a former occasion, and justified by him to-night; but he would say, that the speech just delivered advised their Lordships to take a step that was fraught with danger to themselves, and to the country. The arguments of the noble and learned Lord, coming from the party of which the noble and learned Lord was the champion and the organ in that House, contained nothing new; they had been used for the last fifty years, by those who maintained Protestant ascendancy, and who opposed the measure of Catholic emancipation on the same ground as that now urged—namely, that the people of Ireland were not fit to be intrusted with free institutions. A most eloquent and distinguished Irishman, now no more, had described the Tory party of that day thus:—"That party had for a time been removed, when the exertions of the country (Ireland) recovered her liberty, and in an evil hour returned again, when her exertions proceeded to excess; it returned after a long famine, and with all the poison of its old principles. Character of their own to stand upon, these veterans of power had none: but they had the excesses of some of the populace on which to build, and they formed an administration, not on their reputation, but upon the disrepute of the populace." Precisely the same was now the course pursued—charges of disloyalty, of violence, and of outrage were now advanced against the Roman Catholic population of Ireland, as affording ample reasons why they ought not to receive political power. But if he wanted a complete answer to the speech made by his noble and learned Friend to-night, he would read the whole speech delivered in 1829 by his noble and learned Friend, when he advocated the measure of Catholic emancipation, brought forward by the Go- 904 vernment of which he formed a part. The assertions then made by his noble and learned Friend would entirely overturn and completely contradict the assertions put forth by him to-night. But his noble and learned Friend had said, that he would not go into the details of the measure; neither would he, because the real main question and principle to be this night decided was, whether the people of Ireland were to be treated as the rest of the population of Great Britain—were they to be treated as British subjects, or as aliens? That question, and that principle, he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) warned their Lordships not to decide precipitantly against the people of Ireland. Against the views put forth on this question by his noble and learned Friend opposite, he had his own authority on a former occasion, and had the authority of almost every great statesman that had done honour to this nation—of Mr. Pitt, of Lord Castlereagh, and, in short, of all who had taken part in the passing of the Act of Union, or in promoting Catholic emancipation. But were the opinions of those great authorities necessary to be cited, when his noble and learned Friend had in his speech on Catholic emancipation himself stated, that the admission of Roman Catholics to power was but the sequence, the corollary, to that same Act of Union? Nay, more, the Emancipation Act itself—a measure which emanated from the Government with which his noble and learned Friend opposite was highly connected, specifically (and as it were with a view to the question now under discussion) and directly refers to Municipal Corporations in Ireland. The 14th section of that statute said, "that it should be lawful for any Roman Catholic to be a member of any lay body corporate, and to hold any place of trust therein, upon taking and subscribing the oath in the Act set forth." With this clause in that statute he begged to ask his noble and learned Friend, whether at the time of passing the measure of emancipation, it was intended to cheat the people of Ireland? Was it, then, intended to delude them, by declaring that they should be members of the Corporation, resolving afterwards to tell them that they were not fit to be admitted into Corporations? If that were intended, then he must say, that the measure of emancipation was a cheat —the Act of Union was a cheat upon the people of Ireland. The noble and learned Lord talked of the Roman Catholics as a 905 party. Grant that they were, but even then, was it on account of their numbers that they were to be deprived of the rights benefits, and advantages, of free institutions. But he denied that this measure now before their Lordships went to give power to a party—it was not upon party, but upon the people of Ireland that it conferred power. The noble and learned Lord had also spoken of the agitation which prevailed, and the mode in which elections had been carried on in Ireland, and had urged those points as grounds for the deprivation of the people, or that country of the rights even now enjoyed by them, What had been in some instances the mode in which elections had been carried in this country? The noble and learned Lord was fond of citing the Report of the Intimidation Committee, but he would quote another authority. Some years ago two petitions were presented under the Grenville Act, complaining that at each of the then last elections for Westminster outrages had been committed by purposely armed bands, and that even murders had been perpetrated. Upon these petitions not the least redress was obtained—no censure, no punishment inflicted upon the offenders, nor was any measure adopted to prevent the repetition of similar scenes. Still less did anybody propose to disfranchise the people of England, because of these and several similar outrages elsewhere. That being so, he contended, that it was now proposed to attack the people of Ireland because they were thought to be weak, and to rob them of rights which no person would dare to attempt to take from the people of England. Again, the noble Lord relied upon the existence of agitation in Ireland as a ground upon which to justify his proposition. Was agitation, however, confined to Ireland? Had there been no agitation at Ipswich, at Glasgow, at Edinburgh, and elsewhere? Was it not, then, unfair to apply a doctrine to Ireland which no one would venture to apply to England? It had also been stated that the people of Ireland did not desire the maintenance of Corporations. He must deny the assertion, though it was well known that they had long felt the grievances in them, and it could not be disputed that the abuses of corporate trusts had been a constant source of complaint. Still, however, they desired not their destruction. On the contrary, they (to use the language of the great statesman, whose words he had already 906 quoted, Mr. Grattan) "knew that corporate cities and towns were the mansion and habitation of constitutional liberty." The noble and learned Lord had alluded to the prosperity of the towns of Manchester and Birmingham, though they were not possessed of Corporations, and on their prosperity he founded an argument that there was no necessity for the maintenance of Corporations in Ireland. Now he would venture to say that no professional quibbler ever took a more frivolous ground of argument. Look what the free institutions of this country had done for the people of England, and the effect they had produced on the genius and character, and habits of the people, and, despite the instances of Manchester and Birmingham, cited by the noble and learned Lord, nobody could be bold enough to assert that by similar institutions and the same laws being applied to Ireland that country would not be benefited. This view had been taken 230 or 240 years ago by Sir John Davis, who had written upon the subject. That learned individual even then said, that "if the laws of England had been applied to and established in Ireland in the time of Henry, of John, or of Richard—if the country had then been divided into counties—if judges had gone half-yearly circuits for the trial and punishment of malefactors—if the fairs and markets had then been assimilated to those of England, and if corporate bodies had been then originated, Ireland would have been really subjected, and a perfect union between the two countries effected." The writer added, that "Ireland never could be conquered unless she was made subject to one king, to one allegiance, and to one law." On the present occasion, the same language had been resorted to that had been used in the discussions upon the Roman Catholic Relief Bill by the opponents of that measure. It was then said, and the same argument was repeated now, that by the admission of Roman Catholics to civil power none but Roman Catholics would be returned. But what was the fact? Why, that not one-half of the Irish representatives were Roman Catholics. Upon this point there was one case to which he must advert. There was a corporate town in Ireland situate in a Catholic district — he alluded to Wexford which had returned to Parliament a Protestant gentleman in preference to a Roman Catholic, although there were many Catholic gentlemen of property and talent amongst its inhabitants, and some of them 907 members of its corporation. Again, in the choice of corporate officers, the selection had been made there without reference to religious or political distinctions, and of the corporate body there had been elected, after the passing of the Emancipation Act, by a constituency four-fifths of whom were of the Roman Catholic persuasion, four Protestant gentlemen, two of whom were of Conservative principles. Again, also, in the election of burgesses the choice of the same constituency had fallen upon three Protestant and three Roman Catholic gentlemen. There was ample proof that in every instance where there was a free election the Irish people attended as fairly as possible to the merits of the candidates without reference to their religion. He had no wish to intimidate their Lordships, but he did not hesitate to say that on the decision of to-night much of their weight and influence in the country depended. A noble Friend of his, who spoke early in the evening, suggested that it would be better to let the whole matter stand over for another year. But was that the manner in which they could be gravely wished to proceed with this matter? By the amendments which their Lordships had adopted and sent down to the other House, he found that the existing corporate officers would be continued, many of them for life, and yet they were chosen by those very corporators whom the noble Lords opposite declared had so grossly abused their trust. This would be a most dangerous course for their Lordships to adopt. He did not think that the noble Lords opposite rightly estimated the manner in which their conduct was watched by persons out of doors. They did not seem to consider that it was not only their vote, but the argument and the ground on which the vote was given, that was considered elsewhere. The noble Lord opposite said that three-fourths of the people of Ireland were Roman Catholics. He did not think that the just proportion — he thought that five-sixths of the people of Ireland were Roman Catholics. But supposing them to be only three-fourths, the noble Lords opposite said to them, "You shall not have these rights and this freedom, because you do not exercise the privileges you already possess in a way to give us satisfaction;" and he should like to know why not? Because they did not support the party of the noble Lords opposite; because they would not submit to the dominion and control of that party; because they turned that party out of 908 power. From the time of Mr. Pitt to the present day, the majorities in the House of Commons in favour of the Catholics upon all subjects relating to the grievances of Ireland had been constantly increasing. This was a proof that the people of Ireland knew rightly how to estimate the value of free institutions. He (the Marquess of Clanricarde) did not wish their Lordships to give undue weight to any opinions that might be expressed out of doors; but at the same time he felt that it would be idle for them to rest there, if they did not in some degree attend to the feelings of their fellow-subjects. It was absurd to say that the people of Ireland did not feel strongly and warmly upon this subject. "If you say to them that they are not fit to receive free institutions, you place yourselves directly and at once in a vital struggle with the people of that country. The question is, shall our power and influence prevail, or shall the rights and privileges of the Irish people prevail? I would have your Lordships remember that the people of Ireland are on this occasion backed by the people of England. It is my firm belief, that if the House of Commons had adopted the amendments as sent down by this House, founded upon the reasonings on which these amendments were adopted, the union between the two countries must have been repealed—there would, in fact, no longer be a virtual union between them. If Parliament had said to the 7,000,000 of Roman Catholics of Ireland, 'You are not fit to possess the free institutions enjoyed by the people in England,' I think, indeed, that the Roman Catholic population would be unfit to be amalgamated and mixed up with the people of this country, if they submitted tamely to such language, and did not call for a repeal of the Union. If your Lordships follow the course which the noble and learned Lord wishes you to take, you will place yourselves at once in a struggle with the Irish people, who will have enlisted on their side the sympathies of every freeman in this and every other country. It is not the language of threat or intimidation when I say that that is not the position in which any branch of a legislature ought to stand in relation to any portion of the people for whom it is to legislate. I am as sincerely attached as any of your Lordships to the privileges and to the honour of this House, but it is not too much for me to say that I love the liberties of my native country more; and it is my consolation and very comfort to- 909 night, when I give my vote for the extension of equal rights to my countrymen, to know that I am giving the best vote in my power for upholding the power and influence of your Lordships' House."
§ Viscount Falkland
wished to disclaim any portion of that responsibility which he thought their Lordships would incur by rejecting or materially altering the Bill now sent up to their Lordships for a second time. He was likewise desirous of saying, that the arguments used in opposition to the Bill excited his astonishment. The whole objection raised to the measures of his Majesty's Government amounted to this —that great excitement already prevailed in Ireland—that irresponsible persons used undue influence in that country—and that by the concession of this measure that influence would be exercised in a manner detrimental to the general interests of the empire—and on these grounds it was said, that however plausible might be the demand for equal legislation for the two countries, the circumstances in which Ireland stood did not warrant it. With respect to the state of excitement which prevailed, he admitted and deeply deplored it. He also regretted that the great moral influence which, in a well regulated country, ought to be exercised by the Government alone, should be possessed by an irresponsible individual. But he at the same time felt that in order to remove that undue influence—to weaken the formidable power equal to the Government itself, it was the imperative duty of the advisers of the Crown to endeavour to allay that excitement which served to increase undue influence, and, by remodeling the laws, to leave no reasonable cause for excitement or discontent. Within his recollection Ireland had never been tranquil or quiet, and he was convinced the evil arose, not from opposition to the law, but from the law itself. He believed that if this Bill had been allowed to pass in its original form, the attempt to allay excitement would have been successful, and he still thought, that even as sent back from the other House, it would, if passed, have a most beneficial tendency. With these feelings, and also anticipating very different results from those urged by noble Lords opposite, he was most devoutly anxious for the success of the Bill. If it were passed, he was confident that the discontent which existed in Ireland would subside, and the prosperity of the country be materially promoted, not that he would undertake to say that 910 the measure would prove a panacea for all the evils of Ireland, but it would tend to their alleviation, and it could not be denied consistently with the welfare of Ireland. Indeed it could not be denied with any degree of consistency or sound policy. Their Lordships had already given to the people of Ireland Catholic emancipation, and they had also granted them an equal share of Parliamentary reform. The people of Ireland were now in possession of those rights, and the power resulting from them. It was too late for their Lordships to think of retreating from the consequences of the measures they had granted. As to the assertion that when Ireland was in a more tranquil state, a measure similar to the present could be applied to the country, he was not, on his part, disposed to question or doubt the fulfillment of any pledge their Lordships might give; but he apprehended that the people of Ireland might not have the same confidence, and instead of the establishment of tranquillity, they would have a strong feeling of dissatisfaction, with all its distracting consequences. In conclusion, he expressed a hope that their Lordships would not place themselves between the people of Ireland and a measure to which they undoubtedly looked with a strong national interest.
§ The Earl of Ripon
need hardly say that the speech of the noble Lord who had just sat down, after addressing their Lordships for the first time, was one which would make their Lordships always anxious to hear what he wished to say whenever he thought fit to deliver his sentiments upon any subject, and if he was not convinced by the arguments which had fallen from the noble Lord in the course of his speech, it was not from the lack of ability or the want of can dour with which he had urged those arguments. He had to address himself to certain topics which had been suggested to him by the observations of his noble Friend who had spoken last but one, and who had expressed his fears that by adopting that line of conduct which he seemed to think their Lordships would pursue, they would lose the respect of the friends of freedom, who took a different view of the subject to that which the majority of their Lordships' House were likely to entertain. He certainly should be sincerely sorry if any act in which he participated should expose him to the danger of forfeiting the esteem of the friends of freedom, and he flattered himself that on the ground of the regard he had 911 shown to the public interest, and especially in the case of Ireland, with respect to the course he had pursued on the Emancipation Bill, he was not likely to take a course which ought to forfeit for him the respect of the friends of freedom. But it was his lot to differ from his noble Friend upon this occasion, taking as he did a different view of the practical effects and consequences which would follow close upon the heels of this measure. His noble Friend had told their Lordships, and in pretty plain terms too, that a refusal to pass this measure would be justly looked upon as an insult to Ireland, and they were told that they would offend public feeling and compromise their own existence. But for his own part he did not entertain the same apprehensions with which his noble Friend seemed to be overpowered, because he believed that the people of England, and the people of this empire collectively, before they condemned their Lordships, before they consigned them to the extinction with which they were threatened, and under the ban of which he was then addressing them, would not forget what the House of Lords had done for the country, and that they had always shown themselves to be the real friends of freedom. It was, as his noble Friend had stated, perfectly true, that in discussing a question of this kind, their Lordships had differed from the House of Commons. But what then? The House of Commons had over and over again differed from itself; and therefore, it surely could not be said that, for that reason, forgetting everything that that House had done to promote the welfare of the empire at large, and the innumerable Bills which it had passed for the advantage of the subject, the House of Lords, instead of receiving credit, ought to get nothing but reproach. There was another reason why he did not feel the apprehension which oppressed his noble Friend. It was indeed rather an old story, but there was nothing said last year on the subject of the English Municipal Bill, when it seemed most advisable to their Lordships to introduce some amendments into the Bill which was sent up to them from the House of Commons. His noble Friend, it was true, had not been sparing of his warnings and admonitions, and another noble Friend, the cause of whose absence he in common with their Lordships deeply regretted, used much more forcible, and, he might say, indignant, language in conveying the same warnings and the 912 same admonitions. But their Lordships did amend that Bill, although they had been accused, in proposing the amendments which they had thought it their duty to introduce, of an intention to subject it to an emasculating mutilation. Now, was there any honest man who would say that any of the amendments which were introduced into the Bill in its passage through their Lordships' House did emasculate or mutilate that Bill, or deprive the public of those advantages which were expected to result from its adoption? He had been a good deal surprised, he must confess, in listening to the speeches of his noble Friends who spoke from the other side of the] House, when he observed, how entirely they had set aside all that had been done to those portions of the Bill to which that House had assented. The object of his noble Friend's argument was to show that their Lord ships had destroyed the Bill, and, waving all that had been said and written on the subject in other places, that whereas they had acknowledged that the Corporations of Ireland did not represent the popular voice, in refusing to create new Corporations, they were careless of the feeling of the people, and indisposed to apply a remedy to grievances of which they admitted the existence. But he apprehended that the real question upon which their Lordships had to decide was—what was the nature, and what the peculiar composition and circumstances under which Corporations in Ireland existed, and not whether the constitution and character of English Corporations were suitable to the circumstances of this country. It was perfectly notorious that Corporations were established in Ireland for the purpose, in the first place, of firmly fixing the domination of England; and, in the next place, of establishing in that country the Protestant religion. It was perfectly obvious, that in the course of time institutions founded with a view to the furtherance of these objects might, in a country like Ireland, be found unsuitable to the purposes which they were designed to promote, and that grievances would arise which it would be the duty of Parliament to remove. These grievances they admitted and were prepared to remove, and while they were ready to act on the broad principles of justice, and to remove from Ireland any just cause of offence, their views were not thought inexpedient, but when they were 913 called on to discuss the second part of the question—what should be done after the extinction of the Corporations now in existence?—it became a question, as he might call it, of common-place expediency, not, as it was pretended, whether justice should be done to Ireland, but whether Corporations should or should not be established there. He was aware what arguments had been used on the other side in favour of the establishment of Corporations in Ireland. He was quite aware that it might be urged, that Corporations were good things in themselves —that they had been good things in England, where they had been lately remodeled, and that, as Ireland was part of the same empire, she was entitled to have the same privileges as the former country. But he was not ready to agree with those who maintained that; England had Corporations, and therefore it would be an insult to Ireland if she also had not Corporations. If they looked at the functions which a Corporation had to perform, they would see that good internal regulation and quiet government were among the first objects which municipal government ought to secure. Among these objects we might naturally turn to the ordinary objects of a municipal form of government—namely, the lighting, paving, and cleansing of a town, and other objects of that kind. But what was the condition of Ireland with respect to Corporations? The fact was, they were regulated according to Local Acts of Parliament. He would ask, if their Lordships had repealed those Acts of Parliament and transferred the duty to the new Corporations? Far from it, for the words they had put into the clause, said, that whereas it might be expedient to alter the regulations of Municipal Corporations in Ireland, it should be competent (the Act did not say imperative) to the Commissioners under the 9th of George 4th to transfer the powers with which they were invested to the new Corporations, and if it should so happen, as might very well happen, that the Commissioners were not willing to give up the trust which was placed in their hands, he should be glad to know what these Corporations which noble Lords opposite wished to establish would have to do? What had they to do, as far as the Bill went, with the maintenance of internal tranquillity? They actually refused these Corporations the power of voting for a Watch Committee, 914 at the very moment when they introduced an universal Constabulary Bill. It was impossible that these systems could work together. After all, what was the most important concern? The administration of justice was not to be intrusted to these Corporations. The Bill, which was considered of so much importance that their Lordships were not to be allowed to interfere with it, deprived Corporations altogether of one most essential particular of self-government—namely, the administration of justice. The Corporations in Ireland were not to be permitted to choose Sheriffs or the Clerks of the Crown, and he would put it to their Lordships, whether it was prudent or expedient to create a Corporation which was acknowledged to be unfitted for the administration of justice. There was another point to which he wished to advert—namely, the administration of property. Anybody who heard all that had been said on the subject of Irish Municipal Corporations, might suppose that everyone of the towns to which it was intended to apply the provisions of this Bill were like the Corporation of Liverpool or the Corporation of London. Now, he would take the liberty of alluding to two or three cases in order to assure their Lordships, that a Corporation was quite unnecessary for the welfare of a town. He would refer to the case of Belfast, which was a very wealthy and thriving town. Now, what would be its situation under the new Bill? Everything connected with the administration of justice was conducted through the instrumentality of Local Acts, and the Corporation really had no property to deal with. If, then, the Corporation had nothing to do—if it had nothing to do with the cleansing of the town, nothing to do with the paving or lighting, and no property to administer, he could not understand how this fallacious notion about an insult to Ireland could have originated. Suppose this new Corporation obtained, how were its officers to be paid? Paid they must be, if the Corporations were established; it would be necessary to pay the Mayor, to pay the Recorder, the town-clerk, the town anything; in fact, to find a salary for any office they might choose to create, and next to defray the expenses which were likely to be incurred, and which must be incurred, in carrying this Act into effect, and then to apply the surplus revenue for the benefit of the town. But there would be no surplus revenue, it was clear, because there would 915 be no revenue, and so Belfast must be taxed in order to support a Corporation. And yet their Lordships were told, that if they did not give Ireland Corporations, they would insult her. He was aware, that in one part of the world it was considered an insult to ask a gentleman to pay a debt; but he had yet to learn, that to excuse a number of persons from paying a tax was to be looked upon as an insult. Now, with respect to the city of Londonderry, the whole of the property of the Corporation was mortgaged to the creditors of the Corporation. He did not think that this new scheme would be agreeable to the inhabitants of Londonderry, and he rather thought that they had petitioned against the Corporation with which noble Lords opposite wished to endow them. He would next refer to the case of a Corporation which had some property to administer. That Corporation was the Corporation of the city of Cork, and as it appeared that it had very large property, he had made a memorandum of it which was worth noticing. The Corporation of Cork had property to the amount of 6,237l. a year; but in looking at the property of a Corporation, it was very material to consider from what source their revenues were derived. Now of this 6,237l., no less than 4,976l.were derived from tolls, from which the freemen of Cork were exempt, and this would leave about 1,260l. applicable to corporate purposes. But it so happened that the Corporation of Cork was blessed with a debt, not very large indeed, but somehow or' other the debts of a Corporation were apt to increase instead of diminish. This debt amounted to7,247l., bearing an annual interest of 362l. There remained then for corporate purposes about 900l., and after all the necessary expenses had been defrayed, there would remain the mighty annual sum of 103l. to pay the Mayor, the Recorder, and the town-clerk. The Commissioners had stated, that this branch of the corporate revenues was falling off, and was extremely uncertain and precarious, and yet this was just the time when they were going to create a new charge on a decreasing revenue. The Commissioners classified these as gate age tolls, as market tolls, and as out tolls, which were not collected without extortion, violence, and oppression, and paid by ignorant and poor persons; and yet their Lordships were called the enemies of Ireland because they did not think it right to establish or support Corporations which 916 drew their revenues from such sources as these. In the town of Galway the whole revenue of the Corporation was derived from tolls, and if the Bill were to pass, he did not know how the Corporation would manage, because its property was in Chancery, and at any rate he very much questioned whether it were likely to get possession of its income at any very early period. He was therefore, taking all that he had shown to be the case into consideration, entitled to ask, whether they thought that tolls were a safe and available property, and whether they might not, in fact, be said to be dead and gone, condemned as they were by the Bill of the Government, condemned by the Commissioners, and condemned by the Bill which had passed their Lordships' House; and they might depend upon it, that whether this Bill passed or not, it would not be possible to collect tolls. They must per force abandon the collection of tolls, because they could not get anybody to pay them. There was yet another case to which he would call their Lordships' attention, that of the Corporation of the city of Dublin. Now, any person who was unacquainted with the peculiar circumstances of the case would be naturally inclined to compare the Corporation of the city of Dublin with the Corporation of London. As yet the English Municipal Corporation Commissioners had not favoured their Lordships with a Report of the state of the Corporation of London; but he must say, that he had not heard that there was anything so monstrous in the constitution of the Corporation of London as to require any very sweeping or extensive changes. Alter it as they pleased, they would still leave it all those functions which naturally belonged to a Corporation. They would leave it the control over the lighting, the paving, and the cleansing of the city, the navigation of the river, and the exclusive management of the police and the administration of justice, together with an immense property. But what would be the condition of the Corporation of Dublin? It was to have nothing to do with the paving, nothing to do with the lighting, nothing to do with the improvement of the city; nor would it have any thing to do with the management of the police; for by the Dublin Police Bill, which was passed the other day, the Corporation of Dublin was deprived of any share which it formerly had in controlling and organizing the police of the 917 city. Now, if a Corporation were to be formed which was not at liberty to exercise these functions, it would be nothing but a mere caput mortuum, a shadow of a Corporation; its bones would be marrow less, it would have no speculation in its eyes. Why, gracious Heaven! what was the reason for establishing these Corporations? He knew very well what his noble friends would say—he knew they would say, that the principles of the Constitution required that in all these matters the elective principle should be carried into effect in municipal offices, in order to show the attachment they had to public liberty. He really thought that there was something like a fallacy in that argument. Did not the notion of an elective body depend essentially upon some duties to be performed? Those were the principles on which every thing of that nature was conducted in England; and he would ask, whether it was wise or prudent that Corporations in Ireland should be cribbed, cabined, and confined, and tied down with nothing to do? When Ireland was under Poyning's law, all the forms that were observed in the British House of Commons were maintained, but the Parliament had no power to pass a single Act without the consent of the English Privy Council. Their right to deliberate was rendered therefore almost valueless, and it was therefore no wonder that they asserted the principle for which he was contending, that when there was an elective body they ought to have something to do—a maxim which applied not only to the other House of Parliament, but to every municipal and parochial office. Upon these grounds, without entering into other arguments which might have a tendency to increase the irritation which existed and to aggravate the ill feeling which unhappily prevailed on this subject—without touching upon the topic of the danger that might arise from granting Corporations to Ireland, he felt justified in saying, that whilst he was prepared to act in conformity with the great principle of equal government, which required the destruction of existing Corporations, he considered it highly inexpedient and unjust to establish Corporations which would have no duties to perform.
The Earl of Winchilsea
declared, that he fully entered into the feelings expressed by the noble Lord who had spoken previously, and was equally impressed with 918 the propriety of taking every care in putting an end to a system which, however sound and useful heretofore, was yet exclusive— to avoid establishing another which might be equally objectionable in the latter point of view. A transference of such exclusive power was equally as bad in practice as its previous existence. It had been abused, and the wisest plan was to abolish it. He would ask their Lordships, whether it were politic to extend that agitation which had already inflicted such injuries in Ireland, and had afforded to one individual such facilities of exercising his talents, for the disturbance of the social relations of the two countries? That individual had said, that as the Bill for the reform of the Corporations of England was intended to extend the effects of agitation begun by the Catholic Relief Bill, and was introduced as the precursor of similar changes in Ireland, if they now refused to follow it up by the Bill before them, they ought to follow it up by an abolition of the measure of 1829. He heartily hoped that the effect of their Lordships' deliberations that evening would be to correct, as far as lay in their power, the baneful legislative influence that had been thus admitted to interfere in the direction of the national councils, and he hoped they would not forget the argumentative necessity which that individual had impressed on them. He thought that if they looked around calmly and steadily, not only out of the House but within it, they would find a sufficiency of indications to convince them that, in refusing to sanction the continuance of arrangements in Ireland for the purpose of maturing the views of revolutionary agitation, they were discharging a great duty to the satisfaction of all whose influence was real and decisive through the country, and whose approbation was creditable and desirable. He would only ask them to look to the public expression of opinion in their favour, and to proceed in their course of prudent legislation, undaunted by the clamours of individuals. He should not trouble their Lordships with any further observations, and should merely state his intention of voting for the amendment proposed by the noble and learned Lord.
§ Earl Grey
I can assure your Lord ships that it is with great reluctance I rise to address you. In doing so, let me first disclaim being actuated by any personal 919 or party motives. In political contention; it has been too much my lot to be engaged throughout life; but I trust I have done with it for ever. The only feeling which actuates me on the present occasion is, that standing aloof as I do from all party passion and bias, I am desirous for a short time to trespass on your Lordships' attention, in the hope that I may suggest something that may allay the heats and animosities which on this and on other; occasions have been but too prevalent. I repeat, my Lords, that it is in the true and sincere spirit of peace and conciliation that I now rise to address you. I ask your Lordships if you think that the course you are pursuing is likely to lead to that end at which I am persuaded you all of you aim—the pacification of Ireland, and the general establishment of peace and tranquillity in the empire? Into the details of the Bill which was originally sent to us by the House of Commons, and which was returned by us to that House, I will not say amended, but totally changed, or into the alterations which have since been made in that changed Bill by the other House, it is not my intention now to enter. These are matters which may with more propriety be considered at a future period, if the measure shall proceed. I agree with the noble and learned Lord that there are at present two points for our consideration, although I shall describe those points in terms somewhat different from those used by the noble and learned Lord. The first point is to consider the object and tendency of the measure before us. The next and the more immediate and urgent point is, to consider the measure with reference to the feeling which unhappily has been excited on the subject in the other House of Parliament. As to the object and tendency of the measure which ought to be adopted, I feel that I cannot be contradicted when I state, that the existence of abuses in the Corporations of Ireland being acknowledged by all parties, it is proper that we should consider which are the best means of applying a remedy to those abuses. All agree in that. The difference between us is this—whether we shall proceed by altering the constitution of those Corporations; or whether, that being deemed hopeless, we should entirely abolish them? And here I must dissent from the noble and learned Lord's description of the difference between the two measures—of the mea- 920 sures proposed by this side of the House, and of the measure carried by the other side of the House. I dissent from the statement of the noble and learned Lord, that the Bill sent by this House to the ' House of Commons was merely an alterations of the Bill which had been sent by the House of Commons to us. The noble and learned Lord asserted that the Bill, as sent up by the other House of Parliament, involved three principles;—the first, the abolition of the existing Corporations of Ireland—the second, the substitution of other Corporations—the last, the administration of justice. To two of those principles the noble and learned Lord asserted that your Lordships agreed, and that you rejected only the second Now I put it to your Lordships whether, in rejecting that second principle, you did not reject the whole essential principle of the measure. The state of the fact is this:— Abuses are universally acknowledged to exist in the Corporations of Ireland, which you find it necessary to correct, and in order to correct them your Lordships propose to take from the people of Ireland all corporate institutions whatever, instead of reforming those institutions, so as to leave the people in the enjoyment of the same local rights and privileges as are enjoyed by their fellow-subjects in England and Scotland. Is not this an essential difference from the principle of the Bill as sent up to your Lordships by the other House of Parliament? It may be exceedingly proper to abolish, not entirely but in part, certain of those Corporations; but to destroy all corporate rights and institutions throughout the country would surely be contrary to every principle of policy and of justice. The principle of the measure sent to us by the House of Commons was, that the people of Ireland were entitled to have the same privileges conferred upon them as had been conferred on the people of England and Scotland by the Municipal Corporation Bill. It is most extraordinary that when a proposition is made to correct abuses in ancient institutions, that proposition should be met by noble Lords on the other side of the House with a proposition to extirpate them. Consistently with the political doctrines which had been usually maintained by those noble Lords, they are the very last persons from whom I should have expected such a suggestion. I am far, however, from wishing to cast any injurious imputation upon anybody. 921 It is undoubtedly true that principles cannot change; but it is also true, as has been said this evening by a noble Lord, that the application of principles may vary according to circumstances, and that under some circumstances it may be considered fit and expedient to pursue a certain line of conduct, which, under other circumstances, would be neither fit nor expedient. That is the ground on which I am desirous of understanding the noble Lords opposite as resting their hostility to the original measure. Into the details of that measure, which have already been so ably explained by my noble Friend, it is not my intention to enter. I have neither the power nor the inclination to do that. But this is the first time that I have heard it asserted that Corporations in Ireland must in any shape be an evil. This is the first time I have heard it asserted that because they have few functions to discharge, they must therefore be dangerous. Hitherto your Lordships have been accustomed to consider corporate dignity as valuable; and I could not have imagined that you would have been induced to deprive the people of Ireland of them by one sweeping act of legislation. It is somewhat extraordinary, also, that the proposition of the noble Lord is neither more nor less than this, "reject this Bill in order that those Corporations which have nothing to do, and which I therefore maintain are a nuisance, and an evil may be continued for at least another year." See, my Lords, the situation in which Ireland at present stands. That there were rights and privileges due to the people of Ireland—rights and privileges established by Catholic emancipation, I have not heard any one deny. That those rights and privileges would be conferred by a great majority of your Lordships, but for the existence of particular circumstances is equally evident. The question is, however, whether, or not, notwithstanding those circumstances, it is sound policy to deny to the people of Ireland, that equality of rights which all acknowledge to be their due? The people of Ireland feel it to be their due— they claim it as their due—they assert it, and justly, to be the natural consequence of the state of freedom in which they were placed by Catholic emancipation. Your Lordships acknowledge this equality of rights to be the due of the people of Ireland—but you withheld it on the ground of particular circumstances. It was admitted by a noble Friend of mine, who 922 addressed your Lordships for the first time this evening, and in a manner which must induce every one to wish that he may do so frequently, that the people of Ireland, if they were in another condition, might justly claim the same rights and privileges as the people of the other parts of the empire, and that the time might arrive when those lights and privileges might probably be conferred upon them. My Lords, I freely admit, and I deeply lament the fact, that the people of Ireland are at the present moment, divided and distracted. No body feels and laments that fact more than I do. But I ask your Lordships, whether the course which you are pursuing is likely to remedy a state of things, the existence of which we all deplore? I am sure I deeply deplore it. Now, my Lords, I will go further. I will admit, that under the present circumstances of Ireland, the apprehensions urged by the noble Lords opposite, as their reasons for not agreeing to the measure proposed by the other House of Parliament, are not wholly undeserving of attention. I do not pretend to deny, that after long excitement, long agitation, long contention, if these rights are suddenly given to the people of Ireland, they might in the first instance be exercised indiscreetly. But, my Lords, while I allow there may be some ground for this apprehension, I contend that it has been greatly exaggerated by the noble Lords opposite. And what we have to consider is, what must be done for the purpose of rescuing the people of Ireland from the state of discontent in which they now are—what must be done for the purpose of re-establishing law and order in Ireland, and of making the people of that country fit for the enjoyment of the rights which are their due? Now, my Lords, I again ask you, is that an object which is likely to be obtained by the course which you are pursuing? You find the people of Ireland discontented and agitated; you are called upon by them to reform their Corporations; but you will not do so, for fear of consequences; and by your refusal, you continue the discontent and agitation which you wish to see terminated. You admit, that, but for that temporary obstacle, you would adopt the course recommended to you by the other House. Nay, if it were not for those circumstances, it would be a mockery and insult to withhold from the people of Ireland, that which Catholic emancipation taught them to expect. But, my Lords, what will be the 923 result of allowing the continuance of the existing agitation and discontent? We have been told also that the aversion to the measure proposed by the House of Commons, is nearly general throughout this country. I deny it. I believe that the reverse is the case. I know that there are many persons, not only among those who in general concur in political opinion with his Majesty's present Government, but among those who differ from them, who feel very sensibly the deprivation of right to which the people of Ireland are at present subjected. I have had the names mentioned to me of persons of influence connected with what is called the "Conservative interest," who have put themselves forward in requisitions for public meetings, to petition Parliament to pass this Bill. The people of Ireland are a generous, a brave, and a highly excitable people. My Lords, I will not speak of individuals. It has been too much the practice, of late, to do so in this House. But this I will say, that if there are any persons whose objects are hostile to the peace and tranquillity of Ireland, I do not know how your Lordships could better consult the views of such persons, than by giving them the means of appealing to the sensibility of the people of Ireland, and of persuading them, that they are not treated with equal justice. And here, my Lords, I beg leave to guard myself against being supposed to join in the common-place declamation on this subject—that until the present moment justice was never done to Ireland. In answer to that declaration, I refer those who will exercise their reason, to the course, which, for the last ten years Parliament has pursued— I will not say of concession, for I dislike the word, but of originating discussions, and passing laws, the object of which has been, to give to the people of Ireland the rights, of which they had hitherto been deprived, and which they claimed on the ground of justice. To me, therefore, it appears to be most unjust to say that now, for the first time, justice is done to Ireland. I am quite sure, that my noble Friends in his Majesty's Government disclaim any participation in such a j sentiment. I am quite sure, they will not deny, that while I had the honour to be at the head of that Government, a constant anxiety existed to adopt such measures, as might do that very justice to Ireland which it is now said was never contemplated till 924 this moment. I say, my Lords, that if it be the agitated state of Ireland which deters you from doing, what you would otherwise do, if you wish that agitation to cease, if you wish the people of Ireland to become fit for the full enjoyment of their rights, pass this Bill. To refuse to do so, will be to lead to fresh agitation, to fresh excitement, to render the people of Ireland ten times more unfit for the enjoyment of their rights, and to render the evil which is now comparatively slight and temporary incurable and interminable: until at last, you will find, that that which you are now called upon to do as an act of justice, you must do as an act of necessity, when it will entirely fail in producing that salutary effect, which at the present moment may reasonably be expected from it. I am well aware, my Lords, that in all I have said upon this subject, I have been anticipated by others, and that much more might easily be added; but I will not trespass on your Lordships' time, especially as I am anxious to proceed to that other and most important consideration—namely, what course it is advisable for your Lordships to pursue with respect to this Bill. The noble and learned Lord and the noble Earl opposite have expressed their hopes, that your Lordships will firmly adhere to your former determination on the subject. Another noble Lord has said, that this House should yield nothing to threats or intimidation. In that sentiment I completely concur. If I thought any attempt were making by threats to induce your Lordships to consent to any improper concession, I should be the first man to oppose it. I am anxious to maintain the honour of this House; I am anxious to maintain the just influence of this House; but I know that that honour and that influence can be maintained only by the general respect of the people, and by their conviction that we are exercising our high privileges for their benefit, not for our own. But any attack on your Lordships' House, any denial of your Lordships' legal authority, I should be one of the first to meet. On that point I adhere to the sentiment which I formerly expressed, and which has been frequently quoted, sometimes for the purpose of censure and sometimes for that of approbation — I feel bound to support the order to which I belong against any unjust attack which may be made upon it. I feel bound to resist any attempt, by undue means, to make us do that of which we disap- 925 prove. If, for instance, under the name of a reform of this House, a proposition were to be made which would be in its consequences not reform but destruction to this House and to the Monarchy, and if all experience be not false to the freedom of the people, I should be found in the ranks of its most determined opponents. But is there any such danger in the present case? I am sure that if your Lordships will reflect a moment you will acknowledge that there is not. The Bill which was sent up to you from the House of Commons your Lordships entirely changed. You altered its preamble, you altered its principle; and notwithstanding the gloss of the noble and learned Lord, you altered nine-tenths of its enactments. My Lords, such a proceeding as this I can never understand but as a total rejection of the measure, and a substitution of another measure entirely different in principle and character. This is not exactly the way to conciliate. Nor did you alone send the Bill back to the House of Commons entirely changed. You changed it by the introduction of a principle which, after several discussions and divisions, the House of Commons had rejected. Now, my Lords, when you say, that the feeling so this House ought to be respected, you should at the same time respect the feelings of the other House. How did the House of Commons act? They received this altered Bill in a manner and a spirit—I do not speak of the violent conduct of individuals, which I condemn—but the House at large received this altered Bill in a manner and a spirit which I must characterize as that of moderation. They did not immediately reject your alterations. They proceeded calmly to consider them, for the purpose of ascertaining how far, consistently with their own views of right and justice, they could modify the Bill so as to meet your wishes. My Lords, the alterations then made by the House of Commons have not been fairly, have not been generously represented by the noble and learned Lord. It must be evident to every impartial man, that those alterations indicate the desire of the other House of Parliament to go as far as they could to meet your Lordships' objections; and you, my Lords, are called upon to meet them in the same spirit. For what did the House of Commons do? Out of the fifty Corporations comprehended in the original Bill they retained only twelve, and those of the most populous, wealthy, and commercially important places in Ireland. To twenty others 926 they applied the compulsory enactments of 9th George 4th. To this the noble and learned Lord objected, on the ground that they were free before. But that was not the case. The objection was to the placing of the whole of the property of the Corporations in the hands of Commissioners of the Crown, instead of allowing that property to be administered by Commissioners of their own choosing. This, however, the noble and learned Lord said was a hardship, for that they had an option in the original Bill, That I deny. They had no option. For although they might apply for Commissioners to manage their property, under the Act of the 9th Geo. 4th, still that property was not to be taken from the management of the Commissioners of the Crown, if the Crown withheld its approbation. It was a great amendment, therefore, in the Bill to correct the violence and injustice of taking from all the corporate towns the management of their property, and placing it in the hands of Crown Commissioners. The question for your determination is, whether you will consent, with reference to twelve of the most important places in Ireland, to act upon the principle on which you have acted universally with reference to England and Scotland, or whether you will make an invidious distinction, by which the people of Ireland will find themselves excluded from a participation in the benefits to which they were justly entitled. My Lords, I am not at all surprised at the strong feeling which the course you have taken has excited. I do most seriously hope that you will reconsider your determination, and that you will look carefully at the measure in a sincere spirit of conciliation, and with a desire to see if it be not possible to come to some agreement with the other House upon the subject. The details of the measure may admit of alteration; but what I especially entreat you to examine is, the practicability of leaving the enjoyment of corporate rights open to the people of Ireland, instead of increasing discontent by refusing them. Whatever concessions your Lordships may think fit to make, I hope the House of Commons will be prepared to receive in the same spirit of moderation which they have already manifested, in order that this unhappy question may at length be brought to a happy termination. Recollect, my Lords, that if you have thought it offensive to you that a proposition should be made to you which you had already rejected, the House of Commons 927 must have felt it offensive to them to have a proposition made to them which they had already rejected. When a difference arises between two co-ordinate branches of the Legislature, how is it possible that such a difference can ever be reconciled, if each sternly and solemnly declares its determination not to yield anything to the other? Under such circumstances what course can be adopted but a middle course, each party giving something and receiving something? The House of Commons have set your Lordships an example. They have given up much. They have endeavoured to remove your Lordships' objections. They now call upon your Lord ships to consider the Bill in its modified form. I hope you will consider it, and that you will try whether it may not be made acceptable to both Houses. You fear agitation in Ireland, as the consequence of granting these rights to the Catholics. You fear the creation of what have been called, how wisely I will not say, "normal schools of agitation." I repeat, that I consider your apprehensions to be exaggerated. What is the real state of the case? What means or what opportunity will there be of mischief? The attention of the individuals on whom rights will be conferred by the measure will be chiefly, if not entirely, confined to local matters, In my opinion the effect will be rather to direct active minds from evil to beneficial pursuits. That I believe will be its effect, and at least I am convinced, that there is no reasonable ground for expecting such an increase to agitation in Ireland, as should induce your Lordships to reject the measure. But if you do reject it, does the noble and learned Lord, or does the noble Earl, or does any other of your Lordships imagine that the interval between the present and the next Session of Parliament will not be filled with disaffected meetings, with inflammatory speeches, and with all the other apparatus of agitation, to a degree tenfold greater than we have hitherto witnessed? My Lords, I have already said, that I wish this question to be taken up in a spirit of peace and conciliation; in that spirit I am myself desirous of taking it up. I have not been unwilling to consider how far the Bill might be advantageously modified. There is one suggestion which I will venture to offer to your Lordships, for which suggestion I alone am responsible, not having communicated to my noble Friend my intention of making it, and not having any reason, except the con- 928 viction of its expediency, to believe that it will be acceptable to either side of your Lordships' House. In the Bill, as it last left your Lordships' House, and as it now stands, there is a clause regulating the voting for auditors and assessors. Now, in another Bill, ordered to be brought into the House of Commons by Lord John Russell, the Attorney General, and Mr. Vernon Smith, a Bill for regulating charitable trusts, there is a clause providing that every person entitled to vote shall vote for only half the number of trustees. I wish your Lordships would consider if it might not be practicable to add clauses to this Bill of a similar character, but bearing on the election of town councillors, which would in a great degree remove the objections to the measure which some of your Lordships entertain. Suppose, for instance, that every voter was restricted to voting for only half the number of town councillors. The consequence would be, that there could be no exclusive party established, but that a minority in any Corporation, of whatever persuasion they might be, could retain their due share of influence. My Lords, I believe it is an overstatement to say, that even if the Bill were carried in its present shape its effects would be exclusive, because it would be only a transfer of authority from one party to another. Many of the Corporations in Ireland are divided into wards, and in many of those wards the Protestants would nave the preponderance, I am told, that even in Waterford, where the Catholics are most numerous, the elections would not be of that exclusive character apprehended. But even if that were the case, the proposition which I have ventured to throw out would remedy the evil. It is obvious, that if a voter were restricted to vote for only half the town-councillors, unless the majority of one opinion could be swelled to two to one, no principle of exclusion could be established. What I propose, however, is, that the voter should be restricted to vote for five-eights of the town-councillors. My Lords, I throw out this proposition in the crude and ill-digested form it suggests itself to me; and, if it meets with your concurrence, I shall suggest that the further consideration of the subject shall be adjourned to a convenient but early day, when clauses can be introduced into the Bill to carry it into effect. I shall, however, certainly (until I know how far it may be thought proper to come to an agreement of this sort, in 929 the way of concession) pause before I take upon myself any motion of this sort. And here I should certainly refrain from longer troubling your Lordships, but that there is one other point to which I would beg your particular attention. It was stated by a noble Lord opposite, in presenting a petition in the earlier part of the evening— from whom, by the way, I gather that he has not voted on the previous questions in connexion with this measure—that noble Lord ventured an opinion, that it was not a satisfactory proceeding, and that it was a measure to which he was adverse, to take from the people of Ireland all Corporations, and then he expressed a hope that in another Session some measure which should have the effect of conciliating all parties might be passed. Now, my Lords, let me beg of you to consider, whether, if you see before you the possibility; and, still more, if you see the necessity of being obliged, at some future period, to pass some such measure as this, it is wise or expedient to defer doing so even for another Session? Wait for another Session, my Lords, and what shall we gain in the interval. Have we, my Lords, no experience as to what may be the result of putting off our decision where we see an eventual necessity for concession? How was it with respect to the Catholic question? Was not that measure resisted by your Lordships for years, and were you not in the end compelled— most unwillingly compelled — in consequence of a pressure, that you could not oppose, to grant a much larger measure of relief than was at first called for? But, my Lords, there is a still more recent case, from which we ought, if we are wise, to gather experience—need I say I allude to the Irish Church question? Consider what has been the consequence of your rejection of the measure proposed to you on this subject in the year 1834. Acting upon the advice of those who now call upon you to resist the proposals of the House of Commons, you refused to adopt the Tithe Bill proposed to you in that year; in the next year you found that those very persons who so advised you, were compelled, most reluctantly but irresistibly compelled, to propose to Parliament a measure far more extensive, in regard to the adoption of the principle contended for, than that of the previous session. But that was not all. No, my Lords; by a large majority of the other House, even to that extended measure a condition was annexed—I may say a new 930 principle was introduced, from which your Lordships felt bound to withhold your assent, and to which you still object. To that principle, upon the policy or expediency of which I shall at present offer no comment, my feelings and opinions respecting it are well known—to that principle the other House of Parliament continues to pertinaciously adhere, and while you continue to object to it, it is evident no settlement of the question can take place. And now, my Lords, what is the state of Ireland in consequence of this disagreement? Look to the situation in which it has been placed by the decision of your Lordships. The state of Ireland, my Lords, is this: the law is either openly and successfully resisted, or it is enforced in a manner which puts to rout all that good feeling and love of order in which the best Government consists, and in which, as was well observed by Mr. Burke, "the cheapest defence of nations" is centered. My Lords, let us take warning by these results, let us apply ourselves to concession while concession not opposed to principle is open to us—let us apply ourselves to the effecting of an agreement, while the means of forming it with honour and credit is offered to our acceptance. It is with this view, my Lords, I have suggested a measure to your consideration. I think as it is that you might adopt the Bill as it now stands, but with the alterations I suggest I am of opinion that you can have no reasonable ground of objection to it. But "wait," it is said, "till another session." Are you sure, my Lords, that in another session the proposals now made to you will give satisfaction to the people of Ireland? Are you sure that you will not then be required to go much farther, and that the concessions you can now make with honour and credit to your legislative characters, will not be forced from you without regard to either the one attribute or the other? I propose a compromise in every way consistent with your honour, and it is in your power now to avail yourselves of it; but if you wait for another session, with all the agitation, with all the clamour that will take place in the interval, I will not answer that any measure of the moderate kind I now suggest will be accepted by the people of Ireland. As one nervously anxious for the maintenance of peace, good order, and prosperity in these realms, as one zealous for the honour, dignity, and station of the assembly to which I belong, I do most earnestly call upon you, my Lords, to consider whether 931 that peace, good order, and prosperity, and whether that honour, dignity, and station may not be fearfully endangered by your rejecting instead of receiving the Bill as sent back to you from the Commons. Yes, my Lords, these are my concluding words to you. Consider whether some means may not be found by which an agreement might be brought about without the sacrifice of principle, or the concession of privileges. If so, for the sake of all you hold dear—for the sake of honour—for the sake of justice—for the sake of that country in whose tranquillity and prosperity you have from your station a deep and absorbing interest, at once come forward, and by meeting the other House of Parliament in a spirit of honourable concession, at once put an end to a dispute which cannot be continued without danger to that constitution under which these realms have so long prospered; and, my Lords, to come nearer home, without danger to the station in which that constitution has placed you.
thanked the noble Earl for the tone and temper which he had recommended so strongly by his authority and example, and responded entirely to the cheers which greeted the concluding sentiment of his address. He must first express, what was not only his own feeling, but the feeling of every noble Lord who had voted against the opinions of the noble Earl upon the first discussion of this question, namely, that nothing was further from their feelings than that of disrespect to the House of Commons in the manner with which they had dealt with the measure. He did not wish to revive feelings which must have been excited by the expressions which, unfortunately, had fallen from the noble Viscount who spoke at the commencement of this debate; he would much rather bear in mind the expressions which had fallen from the noble Earl who had just addressed their Lordships' House, because he agreed with that noble Earl, that in order to come to a correct decision upon this question, they must conduct the discussion in the way in which he had described, with temper, calmness, and serious reflection. The points of difference between the House of Commons and their Lordships were easily enumerated. He should endeavour to meet and reconcile them where possible; and he should concede everything which he could for the sake of conciliation. The House of Commons and their Lordships' House were of perfect agreement in some respects in regard of the measure under 932 consideration. The House of Commons for instance, voted the abolition of all Corporations in Ireland. The House of Lords did the same. The House of Commons had thought fit to separate the judicial functions in cities and towns in Ireland from the administrative functions of each locality; so did the House of Lords. Thus far there was a complete agreement between both Houses on two most important points. But the House of Lords and the House of Commons could not agree on one principle —on one principle alone they essentially differed. The natural and usual course for the House of Lords to have taken in regard to a difference of the kind was to reject any measure in which it was on the second reading. But they did not choose to take that very obvious course in regard to the present measure. They did not do what the noble Earl opposite, or those noble Lords who supported the Bill, might perhaps have termed a discourtesy or want of due deference to the House of Commons. On the contrary, they paid every respect to its opinion of the great importance of the Bill, and took as conciliatory a course as could be followed. They suffered the Bill to be read a second time—they allowed it to go into Committee'—and then they proceeded to make those amendments in its enactment which they deemed necessary to insuring its efficacy for the object for which it was intended. They thought that course would be much more respectful to the House of Commons, and they adopted it accordingly. In all this nothing could be farther from their thoughts than any appearance or intention of disrespect to the House of Commons. He would be very glad to have it in his power to accede to the suggestions of the noble Earl opposite, but their practicability should first be considered. He should ask their Lordships to look at the nature of the propositions before they adopted them, and also to the character of the amendments submitted to their consideration by the other branch of the Legislature. The House of Commons and the House of Lords agreed in one thing—that Corporations in Ireland should be abolished. There was no difference of opinion between them as regarded the principle. Did the amendments on the measure under discussion adhere to that agreement? On the contrary, it reserved Corporations in twelve cities and towns. The Bill sent down from their Lordships was more in unison with the principle than that returned by the Com- 933 mons; and therefore no charge of departure from it for the sake of disagreement could fairly be brought against them. The House of Commons and the House of Lords agreed on the principle, that the administration of justice should be separated from the local administration; and that it should be entirely under the control of the Crown. There was no difference there either; and he was disposed to acquiesce, therefore, in the objection of the House of Commons to the amendments of their Lord ships in that respect. The noble Lord opposite had said, that the difference between the House of Lords and the House of Commons, was not whether there should be a local government in the cities and towns of Ireland, but whether it should be of the form pointed out by the latter; and the noble Earl, in stating it, had stated rightly and clearly that there was no objection on the part of their Lordships to a local government in the cities and towns of that country. The difference, then, was as he had stated, and the only question was on the form. The House of Lords placed the surplus of corporate property under the control and at the disposal of the Commissioners appointed by the 9th George 4th; hut the noble Earl and the House of Commons said, that the whole of the property, and not the surplus alone, should be so appropriated. In that arrangement he (Lord Ellenborough) was disposed to acquiesce; and therefore that objection was got rid of at once. There was another objection by the House of Commons with respect to the amendments and the clause concerning composition. Their Lordships had thought it right to introduce these amendments, and he believed that they bettered the Bill; but as the House of Commons thought differently, and as it was opposed to them strongly, he was of opinion that there would be no hesitation on the part of their Lordships to forego them, and to re-introduce the clause in the form and in the very words in which it originally came before them. So far for that cause of disagreement. Another clause, that respecting the retention of certain officers in the employment or under the control of the present Corporations, weigh masters, &c, was the next which the House of Commons objected to, as amended by their Lordships. Their Lordships, in amending that clause, had considered that some of these officers, though acting under the Corporations, were appointed and empowered under certain Statutes; and doubt- 934 ing, therefore, whether they could strictly be termed corporate offices, or these officers corporate officers, they had given them the benefit of the doubt, as it was hut justice to do, and retained them in their situations. It was thought right by their Lordships to do so, and he perfectly agreed with them in the principle; but as it was not a point of paramount importance he did not choose to differ from the House of Commons on it. On that, also, he was disposed to yield his own opinion for the sake of peace, and make that sacrifice for the purpose of conciliation. The noble Earl opposite would now, he trusted, perceive that, consistently with adherence to primary principles, there was every wish on the part of the House of Lords to meet the views of the other House of Parliament on the subject, and he hoped that those who charged it with the contrary would do it the justice to retract their wrong opinions. The noble Earl had concluded his speech by a proposition, which he stated that he had communicated to no one previous to his propounding it to that House. The noble Earl was, of course, quite correct in what he had stated with regard to it; but still he felt bound to say, that the matter of it was not new to him. He had heard it before; he had heard it some time since, and he had always considered it as the principle on which the two Houses of Parliament were most likely to come to a compromise. The opinions of the noble Earl agreeing with his on the subject strengthened him the more in that belief, and he had now little doubt of it. But he still thought that the propositions of the noble Earl should be accompanied by other provisions, to make them acceptable to their Lordships; he was of opinion that, unless they were modified by suggestions to be found in other Acts of Parliament, they could not consistently be adopted by that House. If these modifications were made in them—if these provisions were sought out and added to the propositions of the noble Earl—it would be found that a cheap form of local government, open to no objection—a form of government which would leave no room for the bitterness of religious or political party strife—which would afford no facility for agitation, might be obtained and substituted in the place of the abolished Corporations; and that Ireland, under its influence, would enjoy peace and tranquillity. But, notwithstanding what the noble Earl had alleged, he did not conceive it would be possible to come to any satisfactory arrangement of the 935 question in connexion with the Bill immediately before the House. The House of Commons had sent the measure to the House of Lords, incorporating in their amendment of it the 9th Geo. 4th. That Act contained a voluntary principle, and of course was only applicable to the cases for which it was framed and intended. Yet what did the amendments propose to do? To make that voluntary principle compulsory; in other words, the House of Commons required the House of Lords to force a voluntary principle on the acceptance of a people; and to compel twenty cities and towns in Ireland to accept it whether they willed or not. If the Legislature contemplated a compulsory measure, he need not observe that they would not frame it as a voluntary one; the measure proposed to be forced was framed on the voluntary principle—therefore it was entirely and completely inapplicable to the purpose for which it was intended. Besides which another strong objection might be taken to it. It forced an anomalous form of local government on those towns and cities which did not desire to accept it. Perhaps that might weigh with the House, in addition to the other objections to it which he had stated. To frame a general Statute, applicable to the case of Ireland, founded on the suggestions of the noble Ear], would require time and due consideration. The House was not in a position to draw up one which would meet the view he took of the case, in consequence of the course of proceeding taken by the House of Commons. To adopt the measure on the table would not, in his opinion, be doing what all desired to do —equal justice to Ireland. No one believed that the same measure which would be efficacious as applied to England, would have the same effect as applied to Ireland. From the variety of circumstances in which the latter differed from the former, there was no parity between them. No sane legislator would say, for one moment, that the same object—good local government, for instance —could be attained in both by applying the same means to one as to the other. If their Lordships wished to have contentment in Ireland, if they wished to have peace among its people, they would frame a system of local government for that country, which would have the effect of excluding religious or political partisanship, and putting an extinguisher upon agitation. If they framed any measure to that end which would not effect those salutary 936 purposes, they would be injuring rather than serving Ireland—they would be he stowing a curse rather than a blessing on it;—the been would be bitterness and evil. He did not see how the House could proceed with the Bill, to effect the object embraced by the suggestions of the noble Earl; but he thought that that object might be still effected in the following manner:—If a motion were to be made by the noble Viscount opposite for an adjournment of the further consideration of the question for several weeks, to give him and his colleagues time and opportunity to frame a measure which would be duly considered, and worthy of the adoption of the House, he thought it would give satisfaction to all parties. It was quite clear that the details could not be considered at present. That there was every disposition on the part of the House of Lords to concede to the other branch of the Legislature, where the sacrifice of a great principle was not required, he hoped he had no occasion further to insist on. The object of both was the same; the good government of the people of Ireland was the end proposed by each, but the means advocated were different. He was most anxious that the people of Ireland should have all that their most ardent advocates desired—good local government and equal justice; but he would give them these things, not in the way proposed by the House of Commons—not in the way suggested by the noble Earl— but in the way which he thought best adopted to secure them. Unless those modifications which he had suggested were identified with the noble Earl's proposition he could not consent to its adoption; neither could he consent to accept the measure as returned to their Lordships by the House of Commons. If his Majesty's Ministers were really willing to avoid any cause of difference between the two Houses of Parliament—if they were sincere in their wish to give good government to the people of Ireland—if they truly desired to promote the peace and happiness of that country, they might effect those objects by the means he proposed—moving an adjournment of the question, and then bringing in a Bill framed in a different manner, and capable of meeting the exigency of the case; framed perhaps partly upon the proposition of the noble; Earl—partly, perhaps, upon the Acts of Parliament to which he had alluded; one which would meet the views of both branches of the Legislature, and give satisfaction to the people of Ireland.
The noble Lord who has this moment sat down commenced his speech with a very just and feeling encomium on the temper, can dour, and good feeling evinced in the observations of the noble Earl who preceded him in the debate —an encomium, my Lords, in the propriety of which I believe there is none present who will not concur. The noble Lord then very kindly proceeded to display a little can dour of his own, and he told us of a variety of instances in which he had shown a great disposition to meet the concessions of the Commons. "In all little, minor things," quietly observed the noble Lord, "we concede with a most lavish hand; but with respect to principle, there we cannot yield at all." Yes, my Lords, I repeat it—with respect to principle they will yield nothing at all. Now allow me to state what has been the nature of this transaction in the consideration of which we are at present engaged. The House of Commons sent to you a Bill founded on certain principles. The one principle was, that it was expedient to do away with the corrupt Corporations that at present prevail in Ireland; and the other that it was desirable to grant to the people of Ireland living in towns, local Corporations, responsible to and founded on popular election. The latter of those principles the proceedings of the noble and learned Lord opposite upon the Bill being so sent up to us, called upon the House of Commons to give up. The House of Commons does not give up that principle, and when they tell us that they cannot give it up, the answer of the noble and learned Lord and his Friends is—" We will grant you a concession upon all the details of the measure upon which we are at variance; but upon this principle, of giving the people of Ireland the advantage of local Corporations—this principle which you say is indispensable, and which you tell us you will not surrender—upon this principle we will not give in." The noble and learned Lord says precisely to the House of Commons what Mark Antony said to Ventidius.I will allow you license of free speech,But for your life no word I like not.This is the principle on which the noble Baron who last spoke would meet the House of Commons. I must, however, do him justice. I must admit that he does not seem to adhere so entirely to 938 this principle as some others by whom he is surrounded; for if you consider his speech well, he evidently agrees much more with the noble Earl who sits behind him, and who admits that we may consider this measure next year, than he does with others of his party. Why then, my Lords, what are we to gather from this? Why, that all this sturdiness on the subject of principles resolves itself into this: "I will not give it up this year, but I hold out to you the chance of my doing so in the next." This is the sort of hope the noble Baron holds out—this is the wise and plausible course he proposes, with the view of conciliating the branch of the Legislature with which we are at issue. The only result of such a plan will be general—in every sense general dissatisfaction. It will please no one. It will not satisfy those who have the principle of the annihilation of the existing Corporations deeply at heart, and who think that Ireland does not deserve to be treated like England, and to have its people intrusted with the management of their local affairs. And still less will it please those who think that such a principle is founded in justice, and that it is rendered necessary by the present state of Ireland, that the laws of the two countries, in this and in every other respect, should be as closely as possible assimilated. Neither of these two parties will the noble Lord's proposition satisfy. In fact, my Lords, his plan seems to me to unite all the meanness and pusillanimity of a compromise, with all the rashness, folly, and obstinacy of pride. I think the suggestion of the noble Baron is the very worst that could have been proposed. I know well that we labour under considerable disadvantages in attempting to dissuade men who have taken up a false position, from persevering in their error; and that, therefore, I shall have much to contend with in persuading your Lordships to reconsider your former decision upon this question. But actuated by the belief that the present is the last opportunity you will have of repairing the injury you have done to your legislative character, and that the step now taken must decide the position your Assembly shall hereafter occupy in the estimation of the people, if not in the constitution of the Legislature, I have resolved to encounter these difficulties, and to make that attempt. My Lords, I have somewhere read, that there is no instance in which greater proof of the favour of the gods is 939 afforded to a general, than where an unexpected opportunity is afforded him to retrieve a false step. My Lords, I think that opportunity is now afforded to us. I must say, I think the House of Commons, in reference to this Bill, has acted with a temper that does its Members immortal honour, and with a good sense and judgment which it should become the object of every Assembly in this or any other country to imitate and rival. The course which that House adopted has been this —not allowing itself to be carried away by the consciousness of its power, or the dictates of anger; it has sent up to us such amendments as it conceived were best calculated to meet all the objections that you made to the Bill, consistently with the principles upon which it was originally framed. These facts have been so ably and distinctly stated to you by the noble Earl who last spoke from this side of the House (Earl Grey), and they are at the same time, so obvious, that I will not trouble your Lordships with any further observations upon them. I cannot, however, help observing, that we have not as yet, this evening, reverted to the real question at issue. As yet, the whole discussion has turned upon a point of honour—upon a trifling- consideration of dignity. God forbid, my Lords, that I, or any man in this House, should recommend you to adopt any thing from intimidation or clamour; but I see no intimidation in what has been proposed; and if there be clamour, it is but the clamour of a friendly voice importuning you to reconsider the steps you have taken. But what is the real question awaiting our decision? It resolves itself simply into this:—"Are the principles which induced your Lordships to introduce amendments into the Bill originally sent up to you, compromised by your assenting to the measure as it stands?" And here, before I proceed farther, let me assure you that I do not wish to depart from the temper and moderation so commended, and, I must add, adopted, by the noble Baron who preceded me. I must say, I perfectly and entirely agree with the noble and learned Lord (Lyndhurst) that it is highly unparliamentarily, improper, and irregular, to allude to what another does or says in his absence, and when he can have no opportunity of defending himself if wrongly accused, or setting himself right if misrepresented. I confess, that often in the present and in former 940 Sessions, I have felt great regret, that, forgetful of the soubriquet which some of your Lordships have been facetiously pleased to attach to my name—that of a "Lord of order,"—I did not interrupt a great many noble Lords in the observations they indulged in; and I confess, that had I, in this respect, discharged my duty, the noble and learned Lord, who this evening so eloquently preached forbearance, would have come under my ban. My Lords, it was with something like surprise, that I, in the course of the speech of the noble and learned Lord to whom I allude,—a speech abounding, I must say, in wit, and eloquence, and quotation; but, unfortunately, equally replete with invective and abuse—I say, my Lords, it was with surprise and, indeed, with regret, that I heard in that speech, observations rendered cruel, unworthy, and offensive, by the circumstance that they were levelled against a man who, in all probability, was not present, but who, if present, could not rise to defend himself. My Lords, in what has consisted one-half of the arguments which the noble and learned Lord used; nay, what has been the nature of almost every argument used by the other side of the House during the last two years? I shall answer my own question. It has been one continued outpouring of invective and abuse against an unfortunate individual, who was not present to defend his conduct. The individual to whom I allude, has been in words, but in words alone, accused of sedition, disrespect to the law, nay, high-treason itself; and in his accusation, every term of contempt, of scurrility, and of abuse, has been raked up with an eagerness worthy of a far more worthy cause. My Lords, the person to whom I allude may deal to a great degree in scurrilous language for aught I know; but I am sure that others use language of as strong a character in abuse of him, as he can in abuse of any man or thing existing, either in reality or in imagination. It was the boast of Falstaff, that he was not only witty himself, but the cause of wit in others. Following his example, loudly may Mr. O'Connell—for I need not say it is to him I allude—boast, that if he is indecent, improper, and intemperate in the language he occasionally employs, he has the satisfaction of making grave and respectable persons, ex-Judges and ex-Lord-Chancellors, and other Lords, learned and grave person- 941 ages, equally, if not more so than himself. But I shall here leave this topic; before I sit down I shall have an opportunity of remarking upon it, and others of the like kind, in a different way, and address myself to the point from which I diverged. I was proceeding to observe upon the object which the noble and learned Lord and his Friends would appear to have in view. It is twofold. The first point they seem to insist upon is, that the people of Ireland are not in a condition to have these Corporations. This was the position of the noble and learned Lord, and to it I must in the first instance address myself. My Lords, I do not wish to allude to any remark made use of by any noble Lord in a former debate, and above all, I should prefer not to allude to what on a former occasion fell from the noble and learned Lord. I must, however, say, that the feelings, and the arguments which those feelings too plainly prompted, as to its being childish to legislate with respect to Ireland, as you would for England, because that three-fourths of its people were of a different religion (I forbear to use the stronger expressions), was one in every sense unworthy of that noble and learned Lord's ability and station. This observation was confined, it should be observed, to the question of Corporations. He did not appear to think it would be bad policy to assimilate the laws between the two countries in other respects; but to give the people of Ireland Corporations like those accorded to their brethren of England, that idea was childish. Such a proposition deserved but to be scouted. Now, my Lords, I must say this seems to me to be rather an odd way of legislating on this subject. But even putting this consideration (no very absurd one, by the way) out of the question, how weak, how trifling are the arguments of the noble and learned Lord and his colleagues in opposition. The noble Lord tells you, that it would be highly inexpedient to grant Corporations to Ireland on the plan proposed by the House of Commons, because, forsooth, three-fourths of the people of that country were aliens in blood, religion, and language, or, in other words, because he expected, that into the hands of those three-fourths the proposed Corporations would fall. Indeed, now that I recollect myself, the noble and learned Lord had distinctly stated, that he was not disposed to give Corporations to Ireland 942 on the same principle that they were given to England, because, if so, their management would fall into the hands of the majority—namely, the Catholic majority, and so give them a triumph over the Protestant party. Now, my Lords, in the name of reason and common sense, let us examine this argument. It is maintained —we Whigs (as we are called, and I see no reason why I should not adopt the term) maintain that the government of towns and cities ought to belong to the inhabitants or people residing in those towns or cities. We are now, all of us, agreed that the abuses and corruptions of the existing Corporations (forgetting, by-the-by, that those abuses and corruptions arose entirely from the circumstance of a paltry oligarchy being the usurpers of just rights) should be swept away, and the question between us only is, as to whom the power of local management shall be entrusted. We, on this side of the House, contend that the majority of the residents in the towns have a title to this privilege. For what do you on the other side of the House hold out? By admitting, that the existing Corporations should be abolished, you, as a consequence, acknowledge that those who now hold the reins of power are unworthy of their trust. It is admitted, that they are an exclusive body, and, consequently, undeserving of being retained in power. The natural presumption then would be, that those who admitted the exclusiveness of the existing bodies, would seek to remedy the defect by opening them to the great body of the inhabitants at large. But no! They tell us with one breath, that we must not call into existence the corporate system proposed by this Bill—because, forsooth, the three-fourths of the population in whom it was proposed to vest the new bodies, were of an exclusive sect, while with the next they inform us that for the same reason the remaining fourth were unworthy of the trust. You are not to have in power one-fourth of the population, because they are exclusive. You are not to have in power the remaining three-fourths of the population, because they would be exclusive. Who, then, my Lords, are to be the governors, if the majority are not to be? We are told, gravely told, that neither the large portion nor the small portion are worthy of the trust. Who, then, are so? Why the result must be a despotism—nay, the very 943 worst species of depotism. But I wish, without farther delay, to come to the main object of the noble and learned Lord and his colleagues. My Lords, the real object of those noble Lords seems to be founded on two propositions, both of which appear to me absurd and fallacious. The one is, that Corporations responsible to and elected by the people of Ireland are calculated to prove but hot-beds of sedition, tumult, and agitation. The other is, that the privation of the advantages arising in England from such bodies, is sure to secure tranquillity and prosperity in Ireland. Now, my Lords, both of those principles are contradicted by reason and truth, and are, in fact, most extravagant paradoxes. On a former occasion I endeavoured to prove, from history, that those propositions were capable of direct contradiction, and since then I have much reflected on the subject in the hope of discovering an historical illustration of my position nearer home than those I on that occasion mentioned, and I discovered one well adapted to my purpose. It refers to a city of no less importance than the city of London, and to no less a personage than the celebrated John Wilkes. Now, my Lords, let us look what was the conduct of that person when unconnected with the corporation of London, and when he was a Member of it, and let us see if we may not judge there from of the effect of these "normal schools of agitation." I shall not go through the very long history of the hon. Member's life, though it is very important as regards the history of the times, and let me add, very instructive. It will suffice for me to commence my narrative from the period when, after being outlawed and exiled, he returned to this country on the eve of a general election. It pleased him, outlawed as he was, to set up for the city of London. What was the consequence? He was beaten by a large majority, as might be expected. Upon the poll being declared, the Government thought it their duty to take fresh proceedings against him, and in consequence he was arrested. Here his triumph commenced. Immediately on his arrest, he began to be regarded as the victim of persecution; and the mob, ever ready to assist the apparently unfortunate, having rescued him from the sheriff, a scene of riot, confusion, and violation of the law, such as, by the way, no town in Ireland 944 presents now or heretofore an example of, commenced in the good city of London The mob paraded him in triumph though Mary-la-bonne, Westminster, Lambeth, Southwark, and Middlesex; their Lordships perhaps recollected, "Numeric fertur loge solutes," in fact, they paraded in all parts of the metropolis but the city of London, where the normal schools of agitation prevailed. Shortly after this event he stood for the county of Middlesex, where there was no Corporation to resist him, and although he bore with him the character of a slanderer, a blasphemer, and the insulter of Royalty even in the palace, and had thrown the whole country in a state of confusion and uproar from which it did not recover for ten years, he was for that county returned to Parliament—and for that county—through the good humour and good sense of Lord North—sat in the House of Commons. But he sat not only there. He also succeeded in obtaining a seat in the Corporation of London, having been chosen not only an alderman, but the Lord Mayor of the great metropolis.Fruit Ilium et ingens gloria TeucrorumWell, my Lords, in the year 1780, a period of carnage and horror, such as, I believe, finds no parallel in history, followed by a scene of conflagration and ruin which for ever must disgrace this country, took place. This event, though it has been so alleged, was not urged on by any Catholic priest, or by any Catholic agitators. No, my Lords, it was the cry of "No popery" that was nearly laying in ashes at that period this great metropolis. And to whom did the Government in their emergency have recourse to check this scene of bloodshed. To the agitator, the blasphemer, the slanderer of Royalty and the leveler of good order and good institutions —John Wilkes. The then Lord Mayor of London had a constitutional timidity which prevented him from taking any decided step, and the Horse Guards had scruples about marching troops into the city without a warrant from a magistrate. The civic functionary could not be found, nor was he willing to sign the warrant. An attack on the Bank of England was known to be in contemplation, and the city and all it contained seemed devoted to destruction. Where in this emergency did the gentlemen go?—where but to the incendiary, the outlaw, the blasphemer. Wilkes at once came forward, and on being told that the troops could not march 945 without a warrant, said "Well, they shall have one. I, as an alderman, am a magistrate of the city of Londonl and I will not only sign you a general warrant, but myself march at the head of the troops acting under it." Thus, my Lords, did the man who for ten long years they had been abusing day after day in the House of Commons—whom they had described as an agitator, a breaker of the peace—the man whom they had called every bad name and loaded with every opprobrious epithet, save the city of London from the fury of a mob, and the torch of the incendiary. And how was it, my Lords, this change was brought about in him? By his becoming connected with the Corporation. He became not only a pupil in the school of normal agitation, but an actual usher; and the consequence was he felt responsible for the honour of his order, and he determined to maintain it. My Lords, these are my morals to be derived from this history. There are some, perhaps, present who sat in Parliament at the period to which I allude, and I should not be much surprised if I now spoke in the presence of some who turn up the whites of their eyes, and affect the utmost horror at the idea of drinking a glass of wine or bowing or shaking hands with an agitator, who did not think it any disgrace to have the good city of London saved by a blasphemer and an abuser of royalty. My Lords, I have not been speaking of Mr. O'Connell, but of John Wilkes, though I admit mutato nomine,the same story might be told of him; and yet, my Lords, such is said to be the reason for denying to Ireland the advantages of good government. With respect to the proposition for postponing the question of Reform in those Corporations, I confess I should not be inclined to leave them for another year under the government of those persons whom I will not advert to more particularly, lest I might be betrayed into that species of language which I have already alluded to as having been used by Mr. O'Connell on the one hand, and against him on the other. I confess I am not inclined to hand those institutions over to this band of corporators for another year; for, during that time, I believe they are just the sort of people who would be likely to revel in a good deal of iniquity. I do not believe that the danger which has been represented as likely to accrue to your Lordships' House from agreeing to the measure, as sent up 946 from the House of Commons, is at all to be apprehended. My Lords, I will not attempt to use any very strong expressions on this subject. I will say that my affection and regard for this House—my respect for it as a useful branch of the Constitution—have grown with my growth, and strengthened with my years. It would be more than marvel if I did not deeply feel the great indulgence which I have received from your Lordships ever since I have taken a part in your debates; and, indeed, I feel more particularly sensible of it, since I presumed to take part in those debates with a shattered frame, and still more shattered constitution. But I pray of your Lordships to remember that it is not for yourselves you hold the power and distinction with which you are invested; and that it does not suit your dignity to meet the measures which come before you with a proud and repulsive rejection, and with harsh and violent language. You should remember that the chief reproach which you make towards those whom you charge with using such language elsewhere is, that they attempt, by calumny and vulgar abuse, to punish those who have not exposed themselves to the punishment of the law. If you yourselves indulge the full extent of your feelings, because you are exasperated with such persons, do you not stand convicted of the very offence with which you so indignantly charge them? If this House should act upon such a principle, if it couple with adverse votes, violent declamation and invective of this sort—if we tell three-fourths of the people of Ireland "you are three-fourths of a nation, but we are in no degree bound to administer to such a class of people as you the same laws and the same justice which we give to the others," would not those three fourths of the nation have full reason to complain of a wrong done to them? It is pitiful to talk about the Bill as it originally came from the Commons, or as it now stands,—legislating in one way for one part of the country, and in another way for another. All the noble and learned Lord's eloquence has failed to make out his case upon such an argument. He lays down a rule from which no circumstances will cause him to swerve. My Lords, there is a story I have read about some Chinese manufacturer rather in point:—An English gentleman wanting a dessert service, made after a peculiar pattern, sent over to 947 China a specimen plate, ordering that it should be exactly copied for the whole service. It unfortunately happened, that in the pattern plate so sent over, the Chinese manufacturer discovered a crack: the consequence was, that the entire service sent over to the party ordering it had a crack in each article carefully copied after the specimen crack. So the noble and learned Lord seems to say, that if this Bill were not marked in every part with the Crack à la Chinoise, it shall be called "not according to pattern," and not be accepted at all. My Lords, if we continue to act upon such a principle as this, I do feel that we shall go well nigh to forfeit the respect for our character, which it should be our constant aim to perpetuate. My Lords, much has been said in reference to alleged menaces directed against this House: — as, on the one hand, anything approaching to menace should be regarded with some degree of suspicion, so, on the other, judicious and respectful admonitions should not be treated with scorn. There have been men high in rank, in power, and in talent,—as Burke, Fox, Lord Chatham, the Duke of Richmond,—who have held it to be their duty to direct strong admonitions to this House; and, my Lords, had these admonitions been attended to, what stores of gold, what streams of blood would have been saved to this country! My Lords, my belief is, that this House is at present safe in the affections of the people; but still it must not attempt to legislate in a spirit of hostility to the people, nor too far presume upon the affection which I have said I believe the people at large entertain towards us. That affection is still strong in the people's hearts; but I cannot refrain from stating my conviction, that the course which noble Lords opposite have so often pursued, and still more, the arguments and the language which they make use of in defending that course, are not calculated to give additional strength to that affection. My Lords, I conjure you, if there be time—I conjure you to change the resolution which you have unhappily adopted in reference to the present subject; and I implore of you to grant to the people of Ireland that justice to which they are so eminently entitled, and to which, in my conscience, I believe this country believes them to be entitled.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
begged to say, that the noble Baron had forgotten, that he (Lord 948 Lyndhurst) was upon his defence when he had spoken, and that he had been invited to that defence. Perhaps, the noble Baron would allow him also to remind him, that the first time the name of that individual to whom he had alluded in the course of his observations, had been mentioned in terms of reproof, |Was in the speech dictated by the noble Baron himself.
said, in explanation, that he merely had complained of notice having been taken of proceedings in the House of Commons, and of the expression of "normal schools of peaceful agitation." With regard to the speech dictated by his noble Friend's Administration, he could say, there was not the shadow of foundation of truth for staling, that the individual to whom the noble Lord referred, had been directly or indirectly alluded to in that speech.
§ The Duke of Wellington
observed, that the noble Baron having been absent from the House during the greater portion of the evening, and more particularly during the early portion of it, he had heard none of those addresses which had been presented to that House, entreating their Lordships not to attend to the threats which had been levelled against them. The noble Baronmust elsewhere, however, have heard of those threats, and yet he said that their Lordships had for their object, the crushing of an individual. Now, he had heard no speech to-night, on the part of any noble Lord, which had for its object any thing, except the defence of the character of that House, and the character of a Peer, from the attacks of that individual. As for his own part, he had already expressed his sentiments, with regard to those threats, which had met with the approbation of noble Lords opposite, and likewise of the noble Lord who sat upon the cross bench. He had entreated their Lordships not to attend to those threats or menaces on the one hand, and on the other, he had entreated them not to be swayed by the apprehension that it might be said that they had attended to those threats; but that they should follow the course they thought most proper, according to the best of their judgment, for the interests of the country. One would suppose, from what the noble Lord had said, that the people of Ireland, that was to say, the majority, or three fourths of the people of Ireland, had always been in the enjoyment of local government and Corporations. Now, that 949 which he and his friends were prepared to admit was, that the existing Corporations in Ireland, had been conducted on a very exclusive principle, and in a manner which afforded a very reasonable ground for dissatisfaction in the country. They were prepared in consequence of this, to put an end to these Corporations. They had heard a great deal about the rights of the people of Ireland, in connexion with Corporations, but he knew of no right they had in Corporations, excepting, in those granted by the King's charter, or by Act of Parliament. He was disposed to put an end to these Corporations, on account of the principle upon which they were established, having been exercised contrary to the spirit of different Acts of Parliament, from the year 1793, down to the present time. But the noble Viscount (Melbourne) and the Bill sent up from the House of Commons went further. They went so far as to say, that you shall not only put an end to these Corporations, on account of their exclusiveness, owing to which three-fourths of the population never derived any advantage from them, but you shall form other Corporations in their stead, the governing power of which shall be elected by that part of the population, which had previously never derived any advantage from Corporations, and shall be placed exclusively in the hands and under the control of the three fourths. Noble Lords opposite had drawn a comparison between this measure and Catholic Emancipation, which was nothing more nor less than a measure for enabling a class of persons, who had long had a right of voting for Members of Parliament, to sit in Parliament, and to hold all corporate offices, which, by the bye, they also had under the operation of the Act of 1793. But what did this measure propose? Why, not only that they should have the right of sitting in Parliament and electing Members to serve therein, but that they should also have the right exclusively of governing all those towns from the government of which they had been excluded, almost to a man, from the remotest period, down to the present. The noble Baron (Holland) said, that it had not at all been shown that the persons who would be elected to govern those towns, would all be persons of that description or class, and he had endeavoured to prove it by a variety of anecdotes, through which he (the Duke of Wellington) would not 950 follow him. The noble Baron said, too, if it even were shown, that still it did not signify in the least, because on the government of towns, being once made over to that class of persons, they would soon become the greatest people in the universe. He wished to call to their recollection who those persons were, by referring to former transactions, and to those they saw going on every day; and then to ask their Lordships, was it possible they could transfer those towns over, to the government of those persons, with justice to the other classes of the community, who were those who, at present, wielded the power. The House would see, that the lower classes of persons who would elect the town-council, were almost entirely Roman Catholics, and that the persons to be most affected by taxation, the power of which would be placed in the Corporations, would be Protestants. If noble Lords would look to the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons, they would see it was absolutely impossible that the great body of those who were to govern those towns could be of any other persuasion than that, of Roman Catholic. He would say, then that the Bill before the House, would give to the poorer classes of the community, the power of taxing their more wealthy fellow-citizens, a system to which he could never consent. It would be a most monstrous power to confer. The lowest class of persons were to elect these town-councils, and the town-councils were to have the power of levying taxes, not equally upon all the people, and in the form of county-rates, or as the town-council had in England, but according to the principles of the 9th of George 4th. by which men would have to pay singly, doubly, trebly, and quadruple, in proportion to the amount of the property of which they happened to be possessed. Now, he would say, that that was a most unjust system of taxation. It was very well when carried on under the operation of the 9th George 4th, voluntarily applied, but when the provisions of that Act regarding taxation came to be forced upon the people by these town-councils, elected as he had described, then would he protest against it as one of the most unjust principles that had ever been adopted by any Legislature. He begged their Lordships to observe, that this principle of taxation was by the Bill, as it now stood, to be forced, for instance, upon the citizens 951 of Dublin, Belfast, or Cork, and other towns now governed by Local Acts of Parliament, in addition to the taxes already imposed by those different Acts; and if any towns should happen to have adopted the 9th of George 4th, and voluntarily submitted to be taxed according to its provisions, by the persons and for the objects therein recited, they would besides have to be taxed over again by these town councils. It was, therefore, upon this ground—the Corporations being formed for no other purpose whatsoever, but for the purpose of taxation, every thing else to be provided for having been positively taken away from them by the Bill and handed over to the Lord-Lieutenant—it was upon this ground that he for one would support the measure as formerly sanctioned by their Lordships, and reject the amendments sent up by the House of Commons. But there were other parts of this subject to which he thought it necessary to advert, although they had been already fully discussed by his noble Friend on the floor (Lord Ellenborough), and by his noble and learned Friend behind him (Lord Lyndhurst). The noble Viscount (Melbourne) who commenced the debate, as well as the noble Earl (Grey) who spoke from the cross-bench, expressed their great satisfaction at the moderation which had been shown by the House of Commons with reference to this subject. He was not disposed to state any thing at all calculated to create or increase any irritation between the two Houses of Parliament; but he must be allowed to say, that he did think, when the House if Commons charged their Lordships' House with a departure from precedent, they ought to have stated some point or other on which they had departed from precedent; because he considered a departure from precedent by that or the other House of Parliament a most serious charge; it was neither more nor less than an usurpation on the part of either House when it did depart from precedent in relation to its proceedings with another. But he maintained, their Lordships' proceeding in this instance was in no degree to be considered as a departure from precedent. In the first place, it was no departure from precedent to instruct the Committee to make an alteration in the Bill; in the next place, it was no departure from precedent to strike out one of the principles of the Bill; and it was no departure from precedent to make the most extensive alterations 952 in the Bill; nor was it any departure from precedent to alter the title of the Bill. On all these points the House had proceeded according to the usual practice in such cases, nor was there in any one respect the slightest departure from established precedent. The noble Baron who had just sat down, indeed, endeavoured on a former occasion to prove that the instruction to the Committee was a departure from precedent, and he quoted a passage from the Journals of the House, which, however, the noble Baron did not apply quite correctly. The passage, as stated in the Journals, did not go the length of declaring that the whole proceeding in question should not be drawn into a precedent; but merely that one particular part of it, which did not at all bear on this question, should not be so interpreted. [Lord Holland: The case refers to the whole proceeding.] He begged the noble Baron's pardon. He was perfectly master of the case. The very next day after the quotation had been made, he had the honour of meeting the noble Baron, when he referred to the Journals and found that the precedent did not bear out the noble Baron's assertion. That was what was stated in the proceeding; but he repeated nothing had occurred in the whole history of this matter which could on the part of that House be deemed a departure from established precedent; and when such a charge was made against the House of Lords, some notion should in justice to them be given in what that departure from precedent really consisted. It was perfectly true, as stated by his noble Friend, that it might not be desirable to make very extensive alterations in a particular Bill; but if Bills were sent up from the other House of such a character or in such a shape as rendered it necessary for them to make great and extensive changes, their Lordships should boldly and fearlessly introduce those alterations, and trust to the good sense of the other House and of the public to justify them for having honestly discharged their duty. But in this case the House having made those extensive alterations in the Bill, found it to be their duty to alter its title; and that certainly was not in any way inconsistent with precedent. His noble and learned Friend (Lyndhurst) had referred to the Garamond case, which had occurred within a very few years, and where the title of the Bill, as well as one of its principles, had 953 been changed. Under all these circumstances, he could not see that any departure from precedent had taken place. But there was another point well worthy their Lordships' attention—he alluded to the clause which had been inserted in the Bill, as amended by the House of Commons with respect to the 9th of George 4th. The 9th of George 4th was merely a permissive Act—it was forced upon no one. The towns might accept it, or let it alone, as they pleased. But what did this Bill do? It imposed the provisions of that Act on twenty towns in Ireland, whether they approved of them or not, whether governed at present by Local Acts or not; in every one of those cases the Act was imposed on them, and they were to be governed by it in future. What his noble and learned Friend had stated upon the subject of Local Acts was well worthy their Lordships' consideration. There was no instance in which a proposition was made for governing a town by the provisions of a Local Act of Parliament in which all the parties had not previous notice of the inclination to apply for that Act, and in which they were not heard if they thought proper before Committees of both Houses of Parliament, and in which they had not every opportunity they could wish of deciding for themselves whether or not they would accept the provisions by which they were in future to be governed. But was this the case with respect to those twenty towns? None of them had accepted this Act, yet with all its enormous taxation, it was to be imposed on them without their consent. The 9th George 4th being optional, it was by virtue of an alteration in a clause proposed by the House of Commons to be made permanently compulsory; the House of Commons taking the matter once into consideration, and their Lordships only allowed to take it into consideration once —without, therefore, he must be allowed to say, the due and adequate consideration of Parliament, it was to be at once imposed on those twenty towns in Ireland. That was a most material consideration with respect to the Amended Bill. The noble Earl (Earl Grey) who spoke from the cross-bench, and whom he (the Duke of Wellington) always heard with the utmost satisfaction, and particularly on the present occasion, had proposed to their Lordships a plan for carrying this measure into execution, of which he had heard 954 something before, but which he could not but consider altogether impracticable. It appeared to him, in the first place, that in the existing state of this proceeding it was absolutely impossible for the House to adopt such a scheme. He entertained objections to such a scheme under any circum stances; hut he was quite certain it was wholly impossible at present for the House to adopt that proposition. What they had before them now was a proposal made by the House of Commons to alter certain amendments made by their Lordships in the original Bill; and care should be taken not to depart from the usual rule of proceeding on such an occasion. He believed he was not mistaken in saying, that those rules of proceeding would totally prevent the adoption of the noble Earl's plan. But if those rules permitted its adoption, he confessed he had other objections to it; to some of which the noble Earl (Earl Grey) had himself adverted, and which were perfectly conclusive against it in his (the Duke of Wellington's) mind. That measure must at all events be connected with the forced imposition of the 9th of George4th, and all its accompanying taxation on the several Corporations, and to that he could not feel other than the strongest objection. The noble Viscount thought proper on a former occasion, upon discussing this measure, to state that the amendments proposed to this Bill had not, he was convinced, been suggested by a right hon. Friend of his who first mentioned them in another place; that they were stronger measures than either his right hon. Friend or he himself would have thought of proposing, and that they must have been suggested by others who were younger, and possibly not quite so cautious. He must be permitted, however, to say, that he believed his right hon. Friend in the other House was the person who originally proposed them, while he would tell the noble Viscount that the present was only a modification, and a very bad one, of what, on a former occasion, had been rejected by their Lordships. Their Lordships' Bill certainly went the length of destroying the Corporations, because they had been the cause of dissatisfaction in Ireland; but they did not propose to put the inhabitants of the towns in Ireland under the government of the adverse sect, who were supposed to have been oppressed by the former Corporations. They desired that those towns should, in 955 the first instance, be governed—the noble Lord (Lord Holland) said despotically; but he said not despotically, but governed by the King, as Westminster, as Southwark, as Finsbury, as Manchester, as Birmingham were, and if the towns in Ireland were governed as well as any of those places he had mentioned, there could not, he conceived, be much ground of complaint. At all events they saved them from the grievance which the noble Lord would inflict on them, that of being taxed by a town-council, elected by the lowest orders of the people, upon a principle admissible, perhaps, where the provisions of the Bill were voluntarily adopted, but altogether unjust, if forced by Parliament upon any one without their consent. Their Lord ships having on a former occasion fully considered this measure, and the House of Commons having done no more than proposed to them a modification of what had previously been rejected, he recommended their Lordships to persevere in insisting on their amendments.
The Marquess of Westmeath
was of opinion that their Lordships had the interest of the people of Ireland at heart, or otherwise he would not sit among them. It was mere gibberish to talk of justice to Ireland in the way it had been spoken of by certain agitators, and he was glad that their Lordships distinguished between them and the people of Ireland. He quite agreed with the noble Duke who had just sat down, and nothing should induce him to consent to a Bill which gave such vast power of taxation.
§ The Duke of Richmond
felt the deepest regret that their Lordships had not, on a former occasion, acceded to the proposal which he had made upon this subject. The House of Commons had given way much more in their amendments than their Lordships were called upon to do. What was the principle they were called on to concede to the House of Commons? So far as he understood it, it was a true and just one—the principle of giving to the people of Ireland the power of managing their own local concerns. Was there any one in that House who would say that after having conferred on the people of that country the power of voting for Members of Parliament, they should be deprived of the power of appointing a Mayor, a Town-clerk, and perhaps in individual, to take care that just weights were used in the town? The principle of the Bill 956 was to give to them the same advantage which had been conferred on England and Scotland; and although the noble and learned Lord declared that he meant not by his opposition to the Bill to insult Ireland, he might agree with him as to the intention, although the effect which would be produced in Ireland was altogether a different question. He asked whether those persons who wished to agitate in that country would not make use of this effect to rouse up the people of Ireland? The House of Lords unanimously declared, that those who had the management of Corporations in Ireland had been guilty of the grossest abuses through which they had been reduced to a state bordering on insolvency—that was universally admitted—it could not be denied; but they would neither agree to the proposal of the House of Commons, nor adopt the course recommended by his noble Friend on his left (Earl Grey), which he could not think inconsistent with the orders of that House. They would agree to neither; and by rejecting both plans, they insisted on giving Ireland the benefit of those rotten pauperized Corporations for another year. Was that reform? Would any man in the country call that reform? Noble Lords on the other side said very readily, show us abuses, and we will be the first to correct or get rid of them. How different was the course which they were now pursuing? Upon this he took his stand; there had been abuses and great consequent inconvenience; but noble Lords would not repair, they would not reinstate the old institutions of the country, they would destroy and sweep them from the face of the earth, whether established by royal charters or acts of Parliament. They would get rid of them because they would not admit the principle that the people of Ireland had a right to manage their own municipal affairs. He entirely concurred in what the noble Duke (the Duke of Wellington) had stated, that their Lordships ought not to be influenced by threats or intimidation; in his opinion there was not a greater coward on the face of the earth than the person who feared to do his duty lest his motives might be misinterpreted. The Commons had gone farther than their Lordships were now called on to concede; and he asked them seriously to consider whether they did think collisions between the two Houses of Parliament were very safe and altoge- 957 there expedient measures? He, for one, would, like his noble Friend, stand by the maintenance of the privileges of the Peers, because he believed they would only be exercised in the long run for the benefit of the country at large; but was it discreet, was it expedient, to give agitators the power of directing all the passions of the people against them? Was it wise to accustom the minds of the people of England to the contemplation of such unseemly collisions, or to the doctrine that the Peers must be destroyed? Such consequences should be avoided. They could by adopting the amendments proposed by the Commons, or by taking the course pointed out by his noble Friend near him (Earl Grey), evince to the country at large and the representatives of the people, a desire to imitate them in the discretion and moderation they had shown. He knew well he could not be expected to have any weight in that House, but he did beg and implore their Lordships to pause before they threw out the whole of the Commons' amendments, or consented to postpone the matter till the next Sessions of Parliament. A great and important principle was involved, and he did not see why, like the unwilling payment of an acknowledged debt, it must wait another year. The noble and learned Lord (Lord Lyndhurst) had said that some individuals had been sent over to Ireland in order to agitate that country, but had failed; now that was one of the arguments for assenting to the Commons' amendments, for there were many men in Ireland who told the people they never could get justice without agitation. And if agitation in the present case had not succeeded, he called upon their Lordships to give them this been in order to show that they were determined to do justice without inviting the people to adopt violent if not illegal means in order to obtain it. On the whole he entreated their Lordships to take at least some time to consider before they absolutely rejected the two proposals which had been made to them. He was delighted to hear the tone of moderation which they had assumed, and he hoped the result would show to the country that they were ready to confer that been and that justice which Ireland required at their hands.
§ Lord Wharncliffe
was surprised, that while the noble Duke who had just sat down seemed so strongly to deprecate any 958 thing like yielding to threats and intimidation, he should have thought it necessary to administer so many warnings to their Lord ships, and urge them so strongly to take care of themselves, as if their very existence were endangered by the course they were about to take with respect to this Bill. He believed their Lordships were there to give a full, and a fair, and deliberate consideration to the amendments which had been made in the Commons; they were prepared to do their duty, and having done so, to throw themselves upon the country and abide by its impartial decision. The House of Commons had been praised exceedingly by noble Lords on the other side for the moderation they had shown upon the present occasion. He entertained every possible respect for that House; he had sat in it for many years, and he should be the last person to throw any species of imputation upon it. The Members of that House were the representatives of the people, and their decision was entitled to the greatest respect; but he must be allowed to say, that he could not in the present instance join in the praises which had been lavished on their moderation, or look on the Bill as a proper compromise. What sort of compromise did the Commons propose? Let their Lordships for a moment look at the principle, right or wrong, on which they differed from the Commons. The Commons sent up a Bill first of all abolishing all the Corporations of Ireland, on the ground that being exclusive and corrupt they were wholly unfit for the present state of society; their Lordships agreed in that principle to abolish all Corporations in the manner proposed by the Bill. But their Lordships maintained that if they proceeded on the plan suggested by the Bill to create exclusive Corporations of another character, to be composed of Roman Catholics, the necessary consequence would be, that they would be made the instruments of farther agitation, for more destructive purposes, on the part of those who had so long agitated Ireland. They were told they must not think of waiting another year, lest agitation should in the mean time spread and produce other and more serious circumstances than any which now existed; but, in his view, any agitation that could take place in one year, was of no consequence when compared with the evils which must result from the adoption of such a piece of legislation as the original Bill. The House of Lords said, "We will abolish Corporations. The boroughs shall 959 have their municipal affairs managed under Act of Parliament, and their property shall put into the hands of those trustees whom the Commons propose." But the Commons did not approve of this, and required that the towns should place themselves in the hands of certain persons to be taxed to a considerable amount. It appeared to him extraordinary that one of the amendments of the Commons went to repeal, or alter entirely, an existing enactment; for the 9th of George 4th said, that if a certain proportion of the in habitants consented to be taxed in a particular way, they might adopt that Act, this amendment said they must be so taxed, whether they wished it or not. The objection entertained by the noble Lords near him did not apply particularly to such towns as Belturbet and New Ross; but if it was true that the power to be conferred by the Bill would be made use of in the way they apprehended, the danger was in the larger towns. With all respect for the Commons he must say, that, while they affected an appearance of can dour, they resorted to what, in fact was a subterfuge. He now came to a new feature in the debate. H had heard with great satisfaction the speech of the noble Earl (Grey) his noble Friend, if he would allow him to call him so, on the cross bench. He witnessed the return of his noble Friend to the House with great pleasure. The sound of his noble Friend's voice delighted all within those walls. His noble Friend had suggested an alternative which he thought might get rid of the difficulty. He himself was one of those who thought that almost all political matters must at last be decided by compromise. If the Commons and the Lords were at variance on a principle, there was no means of getting rid of the difficulty but by a compromise. But that compromise must be honourable to both parties; The proposition of his noble Friend was, that, by a new mode of voting, one of the great objections of the noble Lords at that side might be obviated. He confessed that he did not altogether agree with the noble Duke behind him. He thought that at a future time this might be a fair subject of consideration; but he did not believe that at the present moment, in the existing state of the matter, and the situation in which the two Houses were placed, the adoption of that proposition would be sufficient to reconcile their difference. But if there was any motion of the sort he should have been glad to learn from 960 noble Lords on the opposite side, that something like an adoption of it was proposed. He should like to hear the noble Baron say, that the Friends of the Government in the House of Commons were ready to adopt it. For his own part, he did not see so much harm in waiting for a few months. He would rather encounter all the danger to be apprehended from agitation, in order that at the end of that time they might arrive at a conclusion that would be satisfactory. He could only say, so far as he was conserved—and he was sure he might say, as far as those with whom he acted were concerned—it was their anxious wish to avoid, as far as possible, a collision with the Commons. But he would conclude as he had begun, by saying that if the House of Lords had a particular opinion upon any one measure, they, as a second branch of the Legislature, were there for the purpose of giving their opinion on that measure and no other, and they were bound to act upon the opinion which they so conscientiously entertained.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said: I beg to be allowed to trespass on your Lordships' attention for a few moments—and it will be for a few moments only—especially as your Lordships seem to have made up your minds as to the course you will pursue, and I feel it is most improbable that I shall be able to produce any conviction which the eloquent and powerful appeal of my noble Friend on the cross benches—an appeal characterized by the soundest wisdom, combined with the greatest temper—has failed to produce, to induce your Lordships to pause in the career which your Lordships seem to be bent on pursuing. I should be happy if I could acquiesce in the admonition given by the noble Lord whom I see opposite, who recommended that this debate should be conducted in a tone entirely free from any thing like heat or violence; but there have been some statements made by the noble and learned Lord who spoke second in the debate of this evening, which I cannot altogether pass over, and which I cannot refer to without some feeling. I must here declare, that I do not by any means agree with the noble and learned Lord in his constitutional doctrine, that a change of Government necessarily calls for, or justifies, a dissolution of the House of Commons. I beg to say, that I by no means admit that doctrine, and I may add, that when a change in the Government brought us into power we did not act on that principle. We were able to send the Members of 961 our Government before the people, and, with the exception of the loss of the noble Lord, the Member for Devonshire, succeeded in procuring their return; and I believe it was the consciousness entertained by the Government which preceded ours of the impossibility of effecting that object that was the cause of their dissolving Parliament in the beginning of the year, which I always considered to be a measure totally without justification. The noble and learned Lord has also stated, that I said, on a former occasion, that this House ought to yield to the other House of Parliament, because that body is the representative of the people. My Lords, I never said, or never meant to say, any such thing. If I ever uttered such a thing—and I cannot believe that I ever did—it was far, very far from my intention. I never meant any such thing, and I never said any thing to impair or diminish the efficacy of your Lordships' action, or to impair or diminish the independent power which you exercise for the benefit of the Constitution. The noble and learned Lord has also told you, that the remarks which he made on a former occasion passed without any observation or comment from me when he first used them. That is perfectly true. The reasons of my silence at that time I need not enter into now. But recollecting afterwards that they had not been remarked at the time, I determined to advert to them on a future occasion, not with the intention of exciting any warm or angry feeling, but with the intention of replying to them in argument. The noble and learned Lord told me on a former occasion, that he never would explain the words on which I had commented. He said, that he had not used them in the sense in which they were supposed to have been used, and that he was fully justified in using them in the sense in which he had employed them. Now, giving all the attention which I could command to the observations which the noble and learned Lord has addressed to us this evening, I must say that I heard nothing but a decided repetition of his former expressions from the noble and learned Lord, and that I heard no justification of them, save that they were only the repetition of similar language used by Mr. O'Connell—or, in other words, that the expressions were such as Mr. O'Connell had frequently set the example of. Considering the character and station of the noble and learned Lord, I heard with deep concern those expressions 962 fall from him on a former occasion—I have heard the repetition of them this night with increased concern, and with that remark I shall quit this part of the subject. The noble and learned Lord has also been pleased to say, that I have made on the present occasion an extravagant speech. That is mere matter of taste; and for my own part I entertain just the same opinion of the noble and learned Lord's speech which he appears to entertain of mine. When the noble and learned Lord says, that if he were desirous of destroying all property in tithe, of destroying the Irish Church, of repealing the Union, and of separating the two kingdoms, he would vote for this Bill, I must in return say, that I consider such an assertion highly extravagant, and bearing marks of that exaggeration which the noble and learned Lord has so frequently employed in discussing the merits of this Bill. The noble and learned Lord has also been pleased to add, that I was urged on and compelled by others to make a very violent speech in my own justification. Now, I state distinctly, once for all, that my opinions, whatever they may be, are my own. I go as far as I think proper, and I know myself very little, if any one man, or body of men, can force me to go one step further than I wish. If the noble and learned Lord has received his information on this subject from any one else, I take the liberty of informing him explicitly and unequivocally that his information is incorrect. If the noble and learned Lord has collected his information from his own judgment, I beg leave to tell him that on this occasion, at least, his judgment has deceived him; and, after this distinct and solemn disclaimer on my part, I trust that the noble and learned Lord will see the propriety of not repeating again that insinuation. I certainly had great hopes that the forcible appeal which was made by my noble Friend on the cross-benches would have had some effect, and would have induced your Lordships to have further considered the step you are about to take. In the speech which was delivered by my noble Friend I entirely concur. I entirely concur in that part of it which vindicated his own government as it ought to be vindicated, from any intention of not doing entire justice to Ireland, and not feeling on every subject connected with that country as warm and as earnest an interest as it is possible for men to feel. With respect to the proposition which my noble Friend suggested, and which he had not commu- 963 nicated to the Government, I certainly must say, in can dour, that I see some difficulties in the way of its adoption; but if noble Lords on the other side of the House had shown themselves willing to consider it, we, also, should have been willing to have given it our calm consideration. I cannot, however, consent, according to the suggestion of the noble Lord, to stop short in the measure now before us—to postpone the further consideration of this measure, which I believe to be founded on right and justice, and which has for its object the benefit of the country. I cannot consent to do this for the purpose of introducing an entirely new measure. The noble Duke urged several objections against the measure, which in my opinion are not tenable, as for instance his objections to the power of taxing given to the new boroughs, and to the imposition of corporation officers upon those boroughs which had accepted the Act of the 9th of George 4th. These contingencies are amply provided for. Some of the objections which have been urged are greatly exaggerated, if not without foundation. The reason why the tolls cannot be collected, is, that there exists a general impression as to their misapplication; but if their management be intrusted to a body in whom the people have confidence, there is reason to believe that there would be no longer the objections to the tolls which now exist. As to the objection that these new Corporations would have no duties to perform, it has been sufficiently answered by the statement of my noble Friend, that in Dublin and other large towns the powers of some of the Local Boards may be beneficially transferred to the new Corporations. There are points connected with this subject as was suggested by the noble Baron the other night, which it would be necessary to reconsider. Permit me to conclude by saying, that I hope your Lordships will reconsider what you are doing. The way for you to act is to trust the people of Ireland—the way for you to act is to trust the great body of the people. It is the only way to govern the people under a popular form of government. If you think there are other evils which may arise, if there be such a state of circumstances, then you will find other remedies for those evils. But depend upon it you cannot go back to a system of exclusion.
§ Their Lordships divided—Content 123; Not Content 220;—Majority 97.967
|List of the CONTENT.—Present.|
|Lord Chancellor||Say and Sele|
|Norfolk||Howland (Marquess of|
|Charlemont||Kilmarnock (Earl of|
|Stradbroke||Kenlis (Marquess of|
|Litchfield||Chaworth (E. of Meath|
|Torrington||Hunsdon (Vise. Falk-|
|LORDS.||Boyle (Earl of Cork)|
|Howard of Effingham||Solway (Marquis of|
|Sundridge (Duke of||Queensbury)|
|Duncannon.||Clements (Earl of|
|Marlborough||Arundel of Wardour|
|Derby||Carleton(Earl of Shan-|
|Suffolk and Berkshire||Dorcherter|
|Oxford and Mortimer||Lyttleton|
|Ranfurly (Vise. North-||Howden|
|Hamilton (Earl of Bel.||BISHOP.|
|List of the NOT CONTENT.— Present.|
|Newcastle||Vane (Marquess of|
|Winchilsea and Nott.||De Roos|
|Chesterfield||Willoughby de Broke|
|Sandwich||St. John, of Bletso|
|Doncaster (Duke of||Saltoun|
|Brooke and Warwick||Braybrooke|
|Hardwicke||Douglas, of Douglas|
|Wilton||Loftus (.M. Ely)|
|St. Germains||Ormonde (Marquess)|
|Melros (Earl Had-||York|
|Stuart de Rothsay||Winchester|
|Fitzgerald||Down and Connor|
|Abinger||Cork, Ross, & Cloyne|
|Pembroke and Mont-||Walsingham|
|Lindsey||Stewart of Garlies|
|Cardigan||(Earl of Galloway)|
|Leven and Melville||Rivers|
|Macclesfield||Ker (Marquess of Lo-|
|Guilford||Oriel (Vise. Ferrard)|
|Malmesbury||Wigan (Earl of Bal-|
|Belmore||Ardrossan (Earl of|
|Somers||Clanbrassil (Earl of|
|De la Warre||Berwick|
|Stamford and War||BISHOPS.|
|Munster||Bath and Wells|
moved for the appointment of a Committee, to draw up the reasons for their Lordships differing from the Commons' amendments. He thought it of importance that the communications they had to make to the Commons should be made as speedily as possible.
§ Motion agreed to.