HL Deb 26 July 1839 vol 49 cc834-8
Lord Hatherton

begged to ask the noble Lord if he was aware that portions of the evidence taken before the Committee which sat upon the state of Ireland had been published in a newspaper called the Dublin Evening Mail, together with comments and arguments appearing to convey the sense and opinions of the committee on those portions of the evidence? He did not know who had communicated those portions of the evidence to the newspaper, but he thought it as well that it should be known that the opinions appended to them ought not to be taken as the opinions of the committee.

Lord Wharncliffe

thought the publication of the evidence and comments in the manner which the noble Lord had stated very improper; but he could not enter into the inquiry as to the source whence the portions of evidence had been obtained.

Lord Brougham

laid on the table of the House a paper containing references to the pages of the report to which he intended to direct the attention of their Lordships, and the heads of the subjects of which those portions treated.

The Earl of Wicklow

thought the course proposed by the noble Lord was objectionable, because it would lead to the report being discussed piece-meal, which was unjust to all parties. The noble and learned Lord seemed to think, that twelve days would be enough for the consideration of this voluminous report. It might be in the power of the noble and learned Lord to make himself master of the subject, or at least such parts of it as he thought important, in this brief space, but it was not the lot of every man to be able to devote either so much time or application to one subject. Besides, at this period of the Session, the Table of the House was from day to day become more and more crowded with business from the other House, and the mere reading of the bills was sufficient to occupy all the time which most of their Lordships could command. He sincerely hoped therefore, that the noble and learned lord would not persevere in bringing forward his motion at the time he had stated. He thought he had a right, and that every noble Lord had a right, to discuss every part of that report, if they might happen to think it necessary to do so. There were many portions of it more material, as far as the peace and tranquillity of Ireland were concerned, than those chosen by the noble and learned Lord. There was another reason why this matter should not be precipitately dealt with: the House of Commons had expressed a wish to have the report furnished to them, and it was not easy to say whether the Commons might not think the character of the Government so much implicated by the evidence as to deem legal proceedings, or even an impeachment, necessary. He hoped, therefore, that their Lordships would not proceed hastily in this business. The report ought to have an attentive perusal, and there were four volumes of it, of which he had as yet received only two.

Earl Fitzwilliam

was always exceedingly sorry when he could not subscribe to an opinion or approve of a course propounded by his noble and learned Friend; but the course now proposed by his noble and learned Friend was open to the most serious objections. He objected to his noble and learned Friend laying upon the table of the House, the paper which he had just proposed for the acceptance of their Lordships. He understood that paper to contain a list of the pages of the report to which his noble and learned Friend thought it necessary that the attention of their Lordships ought to be directed. But he wished to know what was to prevent every other Member of the Committee, or of the House, from laying a similar paper before their Lordships. If a gentleman published a book, or if his noble and learned Friend published a book, and he sometimes did publish books, mach to the edification of his fellow countrymen, and not only of his fellow-countrymen, but of the world at large, and if, being desirous that he should read that book, his noble. Friend chose to mark out certain passages or pages for his particular consideration, he would have a right to do so; but the noble and learned Lord could not be said to stand in the relation of an author to this evidence, and therefore he could not act in that manner. He put it to the House whether it were right that an individual should prescribe to their Lordships what course they should take in reference to it.

Lord Brougham

would put an end to the objection by saving their Lordships the trouble of considering his paper. He would withdraw it and put it in his pocket. He did not wish to confine their Lordships to the pages which he had referred to in the paper; he had only pointed them out as deserving their attention, and as being those on which he meant to rely as the ground of his motion. It was nothing but fair to the Government that he should do so; and now he would give the paper to the noble Marquess. (The noble and learned Lord handed the paper to the Marquess of Normanby.) He hoped that was not unpardonable; he hoped that course would be subscribed to. There were 1,400 pages in the report, and he must say, that he did not like the idea of giving the noble Marquess and his colleagues, and friends and advocates, the trouble of wading through the whole mass of evidence to find out the parts to which he should refer. He thought it but fair to give them notice of the passages on which he should comment, but he did not by doing that intend to confine noble Lords to those passages only. Now, there was an end of that. With respect to the objections of his noble Friend opposite, that the report ought not to be considered by piecemeal; his noble Friend would have the whole subject under consideration at once; and so he might, if he pleased. But the course which he (Lord Brougham) had proposed was most fair to the House, because it would relieve noble Lords from much needless trouble; and above all, it was fair to the Government, because it would point out to them the particular parts upon which they were to prepare themselves to give answers.

The Marquess of Londonderry

was of opinion that there ought to be a discussion on the report during the present Session, for otherwise the people of Ireland would be greatly disappointed. He also trusted that every member of the committee would take the opportunity afforded by the noble and learned Lord of bringing under the consideration of the House such parts of the evidence as they might deem worthy of attention, so as to extend the debate to the whole subject.

The Marquess of Normanby

was not surprised that the noble Marquess should wish for a decision on this subject, without hearing even his defence. Fortunately, however, he was not altogether in the hands of the noble Marquess, and he should be prepared at any time to explain such parts of his conduct as might be called in question. He had to thank the noble and learned Lord for the paper which he had put into his hands, and should certainly avail himself of it

Lord Ellenborough

thought the matter to which the motion of the noble and learned Lord had reference was of such very high importance, that the discussion ought to be confined exclusively to that matter. The motion of the noble and learned Lord did not directly affect the noble Marquess. It was not, he apprehended, the intention of the noble and learned Lord to make any remarks upon the gaol deliveries, as they had been called, of the noble Marquess.

The Duke of Wellington

for one had not been able to read one word of the evidence. From the remarks which he had heard he felt called upon to say a few words, as he hoped to save some portion of their Lordships' time. It appeared to him that the noble and learned Lord had a perfect right to make any motion on this subject on any day he might see fit. The notice of the noble and learned Lord as to his intentions was merely a matter of courtesy, and really it appeared to him that they were but wasting their time in discussing the subject of the noble and learned Lord's motion before it was brought regularly under their consideration. If the noble and learned Lord brought forward his motion before their Lordships had had time to peruse the evidence, and before they had been able to make themselves masters of the whole subject, it was clear that the noble and learned Lord would not do justice to himself or to his own motion, or even to the House; but these were matters for his own consideration.

Lord Brougham

quite agreed with the noble Duke. The noble Duke had, with his usual clearness, put the matter in the right point of view, and after what had fallen from the noble Duke, he should not hesitate to say that he should reconsider the course which he proposed to follow. His own impression, however, was, that he should proceed with his motion on the day he had mentioned.

The matter then dropped.

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