§ Lord Wharncliffe
said, that he now rose to present to their Lordships a report from the committee which their Lordships had appointed at the commencement of the Session, for the purpose of inquiring into the state of crime in Ireland. The last time that he had had the honour of addressing their Lordships on this subject, he had stated that it was the intention of the committee to submit to their Lordships, together with the evidence which had been taken, a summary of that evidence, for the assistance of their Lordships; and the committee had begun to draw up that summary, but they soon found that, not to omit parts that were thought material, their summary would be nearly as long as the evidence itself. It had been, therefore, thought better only to lay upon the table of the House the evidence itself. The brief report of the committee, he would now move be read. Report read to the following effect:The Committee have examined a considerable number of witnesses, and they think it desirable that the evidence given by those witnesses should be laid before the house unaccompanied by any comment or opinion on the part of the Committee. The lengthened examination of witnesses and the late period of the Session have precluded the possibility of investigating some branches of the subject of very great importance for the purpose of elucidating the real state of Ireland in respect of crime. The Committee, in making this report upon that portion of the evidence now before them, beg most respectfully to recommend the whole to the serious attention of the House. It may be for the consideration of the House whether or not the Committee shall resume its labours in the next Session of Parliament. The Committee beg also to lay before the House an appendix and index to the said evidence.
deemed it to be his duty, having attended that committee and taken an active part in its proceedings, to bring before their Lordships on a future day, a proposition founded on one part of their report. The evidence was alone before the House, though great progress had been 511 made in a report to have been submitted to the House; but it was due to his noble Friend (Lord Wharncliffe), whose labours in that committee—whose industry and attention, as well as his acuteness, were above all praise, and whose impartiality in the chair of that committee stood unimpeached from any quarter—notwithstanding the peculiarly difficult and delicate circumstances in which he undertook that duty—his noble Friend's conduct had been appreciated by every one; and it was due to him to say that upon him had devolved in a great measure the preparation of the greater part of that report which at one time the committee had resolved to make, not for the purpose of reporting an opinion, but for the purpose of laying before the House such an abstract of the evidence as would better enable the House to apply its mind to the various subjects which were referred to; and when he stated to the House that there were about seventeen or eighteen thousand questions, and about fourteen hundred printed folio pages, their Lordships would see at once the reason why the committee were desirous of affording the House that assistance; but when his noble Friend had produced his abstract, which was prepared with great succinctness and ability, and when his noble Friend near him had produced his, also compiled with great succinctness and ability, and when he (Lord Brougham) and other noble Lords had produced theirs, also prepared with great succinctness, in was found in the first place, that notwithstanding all their attempts at compression, the abstract would be very voluminous; and next, that the length of time which they would require for a full and fair discussion, even of an abstract of the evidence, would render it impossible for them to present their report to the House before the last day or two of the Session. It was, therefore, determined simply to lay all the evidence before the House. He had now to add, that though his proposition would be confined to that branch only of the evidence which related to the administration of justice, the most important of all subjects, it must not be supposed that there were not other matters contained in that evidence well worthy of the serious attention of the House. It was his intention by Monday or Tuesday next to put into the hands of Members a printed reference of all those pages in the report to which he meant to direct their Lordships' attention, because the evidence on that one branch of the subject was scattered and diffused over 512 the whole mass of evidence; and having done that he proposed to bring forward his proposition on Tuesday week, the 30th of this month, unless in the meantime his noble and learned Friend opposite, who had attended the committee with great diligence and usefulness to the committee—should take the subject out of his hands.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
very likely might take a part in the discussion upon that occasion, but felt no disposition to take the matter out of the hands of his noble and learned Friend.
§ Lord Hatherton
having taken an active part in the proceedings of that committee was bound to say a few words in corroboration of the praise which had been bestowed upon the noble Lord opposite for the extreme attention and diligence as well as for the great ability and entire impartiality which he had displayed as the chairman of the committee, but he felt that he must go further—he must say that the noble Earl who had moved the appointment of that committee, though there was no Member of that House who dissented more from the appointment of a committee to investigate the proceedings of one department of the Government than he did—still he was bound in justice to say, that the noble Earl who had moved the appointment of that committee had displayed a courtesy a kindness—a spirit of justice and fairness, which entitled him to the highest praise. He was not afraid of saying too much on that subject, because he had heard the same opinion frequently expressed by all the members of the committee; and he believed that the witnesses had gene away with the impression that those who had examined them the most fairly was the noble Lord who was in the chair and the noble Earl w o had moved the appointment of the committee. With regard to the notice of a motion which had been given by his noble and learned Friend, he hoped he would reconsider the matter before he pressed the subject on the attention of the House in the present Session. It had been ascertained that these 1,400 pages could not be printed and placed in the hands of Members till Monday week, the 29th, he believed. How was it possible, then, that their Lordships could be prepared for the disscussion on the day named? A week or ten days, at least, must elapse after the report had been in the hands of Members before they could have made themselves sufficiently acquainted with its contents. Still more ought that time to be allowed as it was the question which of all others, 513 perhaps, had been most extensively investigated, and one which required the greatest care and caution in deliberating upon it. No advantage could, but great mischief might, result from pushing the subject forward hastly, and without due consideration.
The Marquess of Normanby
could not too early state his great anxiety that it should not be supposed that there was any intention on his part to interfere with the full discussion of this matter; on the contrary, he was anxious as early as possible to give the best explanation that he could of any acts of his which might be called in question—but at the same time he begged to remind their Lordships that the whole of this evidence was entirely new to him, and that it was impossible for him to give his undivided attention to the subject even between the time when the report might be printed and the day when the discussion came on; and in discussing that subject he should not wish to direct his sole attention to those pages which would be more particularly pointed out by the noble and learned Lord, because he should naturally desire in many cases to refresh his memory as to the circumstances by something which might possibly appear in other parts of the evidence.
Of course, if the evidence could not be in the hands of Members till Monday week, he could not for a moment think of bringing on his motion on the day which he had named; but he had seen that evidence, with the exception of fifteen or sixteen pages at the outside in print, for the last fortnight or three weeks. What difficulty, then, could there be in striking off the requisite number of copies in the course of the next two or three days? He trusted there would be time to bring on his motion, because, when the Committee reported 1,400 folio pages they threw the House at once into a labyrinth and maze whilst those who had been on the Committee knew where to look for the things I that were wanted. He had considered this matter with a view to what was fair to the noble Marquess, and be asked, was it not manifestly for his benefit that the discussion should be brought on at once; for if it went over the long vacation charges might perhaps during that time be got out of this evidence, and used against him, without the possibility of his affording explanation if there was a misunderstanding, or defending himself if any charges were made? However, he begged to say, that he had no 514 criminal charges to bring against the noble Marquess, and he would tell the noble Marquess and the House in perfect candour, that in all probability his resolution would be prospective, and not recriminatory of any individual whatever. He bad looked minutely into the evidence, and he would venture to say that not more than sixty or seventy pages at the very outside, and more likely only forty or fifty, need be read by any Member of that House previously to the discussion of his motion. He thought, however, that he had perhaps named rather too early a day, and he therefore begged to postpone it from Tuesday week to Monday fortnight.
The Earl of Roden
said, that what had fallen from the noble Lord opposite called for some observations from him. It was peculiarly gratifying to him to hear the remarks of that noble Lord on the course which he had felt it his duty to pursue in the Committee. When, at the beginning of the present session, he had felt it his duty to bring the state of Ireland under their Lordships' consideration, and to move for a Committee on the state of crime in that country, he had then said that he had no political objects in view—that he was actuated by no party feeling, and that his only desire was to bring before their Lordships the real state of that part of the kingdom in which he resided—and he was now truly happy to hear the noble Baron bear testimony to the fairness with which he had continued to pursue that object. He could not help saying, that the conduct of the noble Baron himself in that committee, and of those who were united in feeling with him, was such as to give him the greatest satisfaction, and to make him lament that he had not been better acquainted with those noble Lords at an earlier period of his life. Their Lordships would be greatly indebted to the noble and learned Lord if he proceeded with his motion, not with the view of criminating the noble Marquess, but of drawing the attention of the House and the country to the subject; for without some such aid it would be impossible for them to wade through that mass of evidence, and to come at the real state of things. As to what the noble Marquess had said, that this evidence was new to him, he could only say that it had been carried without the slightest opposition in the Committee, that the noble Marquess should be furnished with the evidence as it was given from day to day; but whether it had been so furnished or not he 515 could not say. He now waded until the motion of the noble and learned Lord should afford him an opportunity of entering more fully on the subject.
§ Lord Wharncliffe
hoped, that the printing of the report would be accelerated. He understood that his noble and learned Friend meant to draw attention to one branch only of the inquiry, but he begged to say, that there were many other matters of great importance which must be brought under the notice of the House.
The Earl of Radnor
said, that it was impossible that noble Lords could be prepared to discuss this matter in so short a time. They had heard a great deal of the impartiality in the Committee, and he hoped that a little of it would he exhibited in the House. How was it possible that noble Lords could wade through those 1,400 folio pages, and come to a decision on a subject of that importance all at once? It was all very well for his noble and learned Friend, entertaining his view of the subject, and it seemed very probable, that he had formed a strong opinion on one side to point out particular passages which might bear out his views, but that was by no means satisfactory. Their Lordships were not bound to pin their faith upon the impressions which the noble and learned Lord had received, and they might to look into the whole of the evidence themselves before they came to a decision.
had given a notice; he had a right to keep that notice, and no man had a right to alter his decision; and they had had that unparalleled debate upon his giving a notice—a debate which in another House, where there was still some little regard to order, would not have been allowed for a moment. However, his noble Friend having addressed him, he was now about to pronounce judgment upon his application. Most courts, when they were addressed by suitors, for in that situation had the noble Lord placed himself with regard to him, paid particular attention to two things—the first was, that the topics urged should be inoffensive to the court; and the second, that the arguments should be sound. Now, the topics were most offensive to the court in this case, they were calculated to make the court indignant, and at once refuse the application; and were calculated to prevent the court even from taking the arguments into its consideration. When his noble Friend said in so many words, that they had heard a great deal of the impartiality in the Committee, and he hoped 516 they should see some of it in the House, the noble Earl had followed it up with a commentary which left it beyond all doubt, that it was meant to apply personally to him; for his noble Friend had said, that it was quite clear, that he had a very strong opinion on one side, and it was equally clear that the noble Earl meant to say, that in discharging his duty he was likely to be so biassed as to look only to the evidence on one side; and that charge he had made with regard to a matter involving the character of the Irish Government—nay, perhaps the character of an individual Lord-lieutenant. Whose fault was it that the noble Earl knew nothing of the evidence? Whose fault was it, that the noble Earl did not know whether he had behaved with impartiality in that committee? Was not the noble Earl named on the committee? Certainly he was; but then he got up and said, "far be it from me to attend that committee," or something of the sort. What right, then, had his noble Friend to complain that he knew nothing about it? The noble Earl had heard the most ample testimony borne by the noble Lord (Hatherton), and by the noble Lords who took the same view of the subject. If the noble Earl said that he did not know this, why did he not attend the committee on the subject? If the noble Earl said that he had been partial, he might refer him to the noble Lords who attended the committee, and he would learn from them, whether his conduct had been marked by any bias or partiality. He would venture to say, that the most severe cross-examination administered to a witness in the committee, had been administered by him to a witness called to impeach the conduct of the noble Marquess (Normanby), and who appeared to conceal the truth. He subjected other witnesses to an equally rigorous cross-examination, and he would appeal to the noble Lords to say, if truth could have been elicited, if the cross-examination had not been rigorous. His assertion was, that his noble Friend's argument in favour of a further postponement, was utterly and absolutely without foundation. To prove that he had been influenced by no partiality, he would refer to Lieut. Drummond. That Gentleman, in his evidence, gave every explanation that it was possible to require, and he was allowed to do this, after having read, and after having had time given him to examine the evidence of all the other witnesses. That was a degre of impartiality 517 which deserved the eulogium of the noble Lord behind him. Lieut. Drummond left town, grateful to the committee, and with the most ample and sincere—he hoped, because he knew the honesty of the man—sincere expression of gratitude for the manner in which he had examined him; for whenever he got into a difficulty, it was owing to his interposition that Lieut. Drummond did not depart from London with certain things unexplained, leaving the Government short of their defence in some most important subjects. He should therefore pass over, as utterly groundless, all insinuations of partiality; but if the noble Earl should entertain any notion of that kind, he could only refer hint to Lieut. Drummond. If the noble Earl wished to goad him to be his accuser, he would fail in that, as much as in inducing him to postpone his notice. He therefore pronounced judgment against the noble Earl, and his notice stood for Monday fortnight.
The Earl of Radnor
had only submitted whether it was possible for their Lordships to wade through this mass of evidence, which the noble and learned Lord himself said was a labyrinth, in the time mentioned? He had declined attending the committee in consequence of being obliged to leave town.
§ Earl Fitzwilliam
hoped these altercacations between the noble and learned Lord and the noble Earl would not destroy the effect of the previous tone of the conversation, which would have a beneficial effect in Ireland. The noble and learned Lord supposed that every Member of the House was as capable as himself of taking a correct view of the evidence, and he came to the conclusion, that the late period of the session at which they had arrived, afforded ample time to go into that evidence. In that he thought the noble and learned Lord was mistaken. What he wished to know was, whether the noble and learned Lord intended to submit a motion on the one part of the evidence which he had mentioned, arid to throw overboard the remainder of the evidence, so that they would never hear anything about it, or whether he intended to make a motion on one part of the evidence, and to reserve the remainder for discussion in the ensuing Session of Parliament?
meant, as he had said, to call the attention of the House to that portion of the evidence, which related to the administration of justice in Ireland; and, as to the operation adverted to by the 518 noble Earl, of throwing overboard the remainder, it must be obvious that he could not throw it overboard. He never meant, however, in this Session, or in any other Session, to make any motion on any other part of the evidence.
The Marquess of Normanby
did not think, that he was misunderstood by the noble and learned Lord, or by their Lordships, nor understood to be desirous of either declining or wishing that this discussion should be deferred. He only wished, that it should be full and fair. If he had not read any portion of the evidence he would not say, that it arose from any desire to postpone the discussion, but from the press of business in the office over which he had the control. He could assure the House, that he was not desirous to have one day more than might be necessary for the convenience of any one of their Lordships who might not have attended the committee.
said, if the noble Lord intended to go into other topics, he must say, that he did not think the House would be competent to go into a subject of so comprehensive a nature. If the noble Lord would make a substantive proposition to the House it would be more convenient if the discussion were limited to the matter mentioned by the noble and learned Lord—the practice of the administration of justice in Ireland.
§ Lord Wharncliffe
said, that he wished the House would not conceive, that the one topic mentioned by the noble and learned Lord was the only one which he thought deserving of being brought before the House. He hoped the House would understand him that, though his noble and learned Friend brought the subject before the House, he should take some other opportunity of bringing the other parts of the subject before their Lordships.
Lord Stuart of Decies
said, that the noble and learned Lord had disclaimed any intention of taking a recriminating course. That was not the intention of the noble Lords opposite. He bad had conversations with the members of the party to which those noble Lords were attached, and they admitted, that the administration of justice was the weak point. That was the furnace for heating red-hot halls to fire against her Majesty's Government. He thought they should look at the conduct of the Government as a whole, and he thought, that the 519 noble Lord, the chairman of the committee, would best show his impartiality on the present occasion by pledging himself to bring the whole question forward on the same night as that for which the noble and learned Lord had given his notice.
§ Report to be printed.