HL Deb 15 June 1840 vol 54 cc1167-8
The Marquess of Londonderry

said, a petition having been presented praying for the dismissal of her Majesty's Ministers, he felt it to be his duty, as it was the duty of any other Member of that House, to demand of Ministers upon what system or principle the Government of the country was at present conducted? The situation of the Government was unexampled in the history of the country. At no former time had he seen any instance of a Government sustaining so many defeats as the present Government had done in the last few weeks, and yet remaining in office. They had sustained no less than six decided defeats, in so many pitched battles. When he recalled these facts, and when he further recollected that last year the noble Viscount had come down to the House and declared that it was not possible for him to carry on the Government of the country when he had a majority of five, he could not avoid asking, how could the noble Viscount now hope to carry on the Government, when, upon two late occasions, there were majorities of three and eleven against Ministers? Why, under these circumstances, did the noble Viscount now continue at the head of the Government, when such a proceeding was directly contrary to what he had stated on the occasion to which he (the Marquess of Londonderry) had referred? Let the noble Viscount consider for a moment the extraordinary situation in which he stood in that House when the last most important discussion took place a few evenings since. Their Lordships saw the noble Viscount on that occasion deserted by all his colleagues. Yes; not one of them stood by him. Even the first Commissioner of Woods and Forests deserted the noble Viscount "at his utmost need." Not one of his colleagues stood by him. What, then, was the influence of Government? Where did it centre? What was the country to look to? Were they to look to a divided cabinet? Or was their attention to be directed to the noble Viscount? The present, he repeated, was a crisis unexampled in the history of the country; and when a petition was presented by the noble and learned Lord, calling on the House to address her Majesty for the dismissal of Ministers, he thought he had a right to ask on what principle the noble Viscount intended to now conduct the Government.

Viscount Melbourne

said, the noble Earl could not expect him to enter into a statement of the general affairs of the country, and of the general proceedings of the Government, on the present occasion, when, in fact, scarcely any thing bearing the semblance of a definite question had been put by the noble Earl.

The Marquess of Londonderry

said, he certainly did not expect, when he put his question, that the noble Viscount could or would give any explanation of the unfortunate situation in which the Government was at present placed. He, however, had on former occasions congratulated the noble Viscount on his various defeats; and, as long as he had the honour of holding a seat in that Assembly, he should not fail to congratulate the noble Viscount on every new defeat which he might happen to sustain.

Petition laid on the table.

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