HL Deb 03 April 1840 vol 53 cc479-80
The Marquess of Westmeath

presented several petitions from various parishes in the city of Dublin against the Irish Municipal Corporations Bill, and in presenting them he would take the liberty of saying a few words on the subject. In his opinion, there never was a time in which Ministers were more called upon to look with caution on the probable effects of this measure than at the present moment. He was sure that this bill never had its origin in calm, dispassionate, discriminating, statesmanlike views of a necessity for some change on the question, but it had its origin in the expectations which factitious agitators had formed from the nature of the government which ruled, or pretended to rule, this country. Legislation for Ireland was carried on in an improper, and, he would say, a clumsy manner. Her Majesty's Administration proposing measures for that country acted on entirely wrong principles. They were desirous of treating Ireland in exactly the same manner as England, without any considerations of the education, habits, condition, or religious disposition of the people by the respective countries. The case of the two countries was not in any manner analogous. The same reforms which were desirable for England were not suited to Ireland, and the changes which were requisite for the relief of that poor and unhappy country would be entirely unnecessary in the comparatively happy condition of her wealthy sister. This was the spirit from which all the reforms of late years—the union between the two countries, the Catholic Emancipation Act, and similar important changes had arisen, and it was now being acted upon in the case of the municipal corporations. In the wealthy corporations of England many abuses had, in the course of years, naturally crept in, and these abuses required reform. But this was not the case with the corporations of Ireland, and to introduce the same changes into these very different institutions was, he would plainly tell the Government, a very clumsy attempt at legislation. If this bill were passed as it was presented to their Lordships, the connexion between the two countries would be fatally diminished, if not entirely destroyed.

Petitions laid upon the table.

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