HL Deb 30 April 1840 vol 53 cc1140-2
The Marquess of Westmeath

said, he supposed it was within the knowledge of the noble Viscount opposite that a most extensive system of agitation was at present encouraged in the metropolis of Ireland, for the purpose of severing Great Britain from Ireland, and was also aware that the motive assigned for that agitation was, because the other branch of the Legislature had thought fit, in the exercise of its discretion, to entertain a bill brought before that House by a noble Lord, the Member, he believed, for North Lancashire, which had given offence to certain parties. The noble Viscount would not deny that he had the very cordial support of the learned Gentleman, who, on this occasion, as well as on most others, professed that he, and he alone, understood what the interest of Ireland was, and what might be considered as justice to that country. The necessity for such a bill as that to which he had alluded, and which was strongly condemned by the learned Gentleman, would be made manifest by a reference to the three volumes relative to fictitious votes in Ireland, which had been laid on their Lordships' table, and which exhibited an accumulation of crime that never was exceeded in recklessness and atrocity by the contents of any book in the English language, except, perhaps, the "Newgate Calendar." The object of the present agitation was to give to Ireland the same system of registration that prevailed in this country; and, if the agitators did not succeed in that, then the union was to be repealed. The learned Gentleman to whom he alluded, had not now for the first time professed that his object was to repeal the union. The hon. and learned Gentleman had many times put forward the same declaration; and yet he believed, that when the noble Viscount was questioned on the subject in that House, he admitted that he had offered a high judicial office to that same learned Gentleman, who had avowed his anxiety to repeal the union. Indeed, on more than one occasion, that learned Gentleman had himself declared that the office had been offered to him. Any Member of Parliament, it now appeared, who did not choose to follow in the wake of the learned Gentleman was to be denounced. Those who would not consent to act in blind subjection to her Majesty's Government (which could not stand for one moment without the support which it received from the learned Gentleman) were to be exposed and condemned. Therefore it was, that, under these circumstances, he wished to ask the noble Viscount, whether he would avow that he meant to continue that species of confederation which existed between him and the learned Gentleman, and whether, in conformity with the oath which he had taken at the table, as other noble Lords had done, the noble Viscount had stated to his Sovereign what the effect of the proposed repeal of the union would be, and what in Ireland would be the consequence of the continuance of those disgraceful scenes of agitation? He would further ask, whether the law-officers of the Crown had been ordered to attend those meetings, and to prosecute language of the dangerous description which was said to be used at them? Full notice had been given of the existence of the Repeal Society, and their proceedings were perfectly well known. He should, therefore, ask whether the law-officers of the Crown had been instructed to notice those proceedings; whether the noble Viscount intended to continue that system of confederation which had so long subsisted between him and the learned Gentleman, his object being the repeal of the union; and whether he had informed her Majesty what the effect of the repeal of the union would be, and also the consequences which must result to Ireland from the agitation of the question?

Viscount Melbourne

was undoubtedly aware of the agitation to which the noble Marquess had alluded. It was nothing new, and he did not think it was so intense as the noble Marquess supposed it to be. It was the old agitation revived; and, as he had said on other occasions, it was a system of which he did not approve, and which he could not, in any respect, sanction or view otherwise than as improper. As to the confederation of which the noble Marquess had spoken, he certainly did not know of any confederation whatsoever; and, as there was no understanding of the kind, he would say nothing more on the subject. As to any advice which he might have given to her Majesty, that was a point on which he could hardly be expected to make a public statement. He hoped, however, that whatever advice he had given, or whatever instruction he had sanctioned, was such as the circumstances required.

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