§ Lord Fortescue
said, as he was not present when the debate took place on the second reading of this bill; he wished to take this opportunity of stating, that he concurred generally in the views which had been expressed on the subject by the noble Marquess (Marquess of Lansdowne), who sat below him. Although this was not a measure calculated to remedy any of the evils under which Ireland was suffering, though, perhaps, the present state of that country did not render such a measure requisite, there having been a general diminution of crime, and especially of those offences against which this bill was particularly directed; yet he felt, that the Members of her Majesty's late Government, who had asked for the continuance of the existing Arms Bill, would not be warranted, under all the circumstances, in refusing similar powers to the present Government. This bill had been altered very considerably since its first proposal by the amendments forced upon the Government in the other House; many of the most objectionable provisions had been abandoned, thanks to the Members of the other House of Parliament, and especially to the Irish Members; and he did not therefore feel called upon to oppose the general principles of the measure. He thought that no very strong or forcible objection could be urged against the proposal to verify the registration by the marking of arms; and though he had great doubt whether the object for which 898 this proposal was made would be fully accomplished by the bill, he must give credit to the noble Lords opposite for not having proposed one law for the rich and another for the poor, but for requiring that the arms of the rich should be subjected to the same ordeal, to the same process of marking, as those of the poorer classes. He must also give credit to the Government for having withdrawn that clause which existed in the Arms Act DOW in force, requiring that blacksmiths should take out a license for the exercise of their profession, a clause most objectionable in principle, and which had not been found intolerably oppressive in practice, only because he believed it was never enforced. This bill would, however, effect some alterations in the existing law which he much regretted. The present act required two magistrates to be present at a search for arms; but under this bill the presence of one magistrate only, attended by a constabulary officer, was necessary. He also regretted the alteration which had been made with respect to a general search for arms. It was provided, under this bill, that the Lord-Lieutenant might direct a general search for arms, either by a magistrate, or by an officer of the constabulary force, instead of by two magistrates. It appeared to him, that these alterations were wholly uncalled for, and afforded an opportunity for the exercise of arbitrary and mischievous powers. With these reservations—and subject to any amendments which he or other noble Lords might propose in committee—he was not disposed to offer opposition to the bill. It must, however, be admitted on all hands, that a bill of this kind could not afford any remedy for the evils under which Ireland was suffering; and he trusted, that if noble Lords on that side the House had, in this instance, shown a degree of confidence in the Government—a confidence to be produced, he admitted, by their abstinence from all measures of force and coercion,—that confidence would be justified by the Members of her Majesty's Government directing their serious attention to the preparation of measures of a far different kind, with a view to remove those grievances by which Ireland was oppressed. He concurred in the hope which had been expressed by several noble Lords, that before the next Session of Parliament some measure would be devised for ameliorating the condition of the Roman Catholic clergy. That which he thought most consistent 899 with justice and reason would be the appropriation—due regard being had to all; vested interests—of a portion of the revenues of the Protestant Church to the endowment of the Catholic clergy; but if such a proposition did not meet the views of her Majesty's Government, he trusted they would endeavour to devise some other means of providing for them, without imposing any additional tax on the people of Ireland. He hoped they would also turn their attention to the present state of the College of Maynooth, and to the paltry and miserable amount of the grant which was appropriated to the maintenance of that only seminary for the education of the Catholic priesthood in Ireland. He trusted also, that the promise which had been held out in another place with respect to the introduction of a bill for the settlement of the elective franchise in Ireland would be fulfilled; and that any measure which was brought forward with this object would be proposed in a very different spirit, and with very different views, from those with which a measure on the same subject was formerly introduced by a Member of her Majesty's present Government. He hoped that the object of any measure which might be proposed on this subject would be to extend, and not to diminish the elective franchise. He hoped also, that the expectations which had been excited by the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of her Majesty's Government in another place (Sir Robert Peel), with respect to an inquiry into the relations of landlord and tenant, would be realised, and that this important subject would receive due consideration. He hoped that some measure might be proposed which, without invading the just rights of property, might relieve the country from the recurrence of those extensive clearances of estate, which had in some instances taken place, and which had produced an immense amount of misery and suffering, and a fearful incentive to crime. He hoped too, that the Government would direct their attention to the municipal corporations in Ireland; and that they would not maintain the existing anomaly of requiring a higher rate of qualification for municipal electors in Ireland than was required in England. If the Government would consider the subjects to which he had referred in a fair and liberal spirit, and with a sincere desire to remove all just causes of grievance, he believed they would do more to put down all agitation, and to repress 900 the disposition to outrage, than could be effected by fifty measures similar to that now before their Lordships; and he could assure them, that any measures they might bring forward on these subjects would receive the attentive consideration, and if they were approved, the cordial and zealous support, of himself and of his noble Friends near him. He could not sit down without thanking her Majesty's Ministers for having refused to comply with the recommendation of his noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham), to endeavour to force through Parliament at this late period of the Session a bill for altering the venue in trials for sedition in Ireland. He did not doubt the purity of the motives which had induced the noble and learned Lord to make that recommendation; but he believed, that if the Government had suffered the noble and learned Lord to usurp their powers by pressing on such a bill, and if they bad adopted it, they would have furnished the agitators in Ireland with an additional cause for exciting the people, and they would have occasioned great distrust and alarm among many persons in England as well as in Ireland, who were most strongly opposed to the Repeal agitation, and most anxious to maintain the union of the two countries.
said, his noble Friend not having been present when he withdrew his bill, was not aware of the reasons which induced him to do so. He had introduced that bill to afford a more ready means of bringing to trial persons who were guilty of the very heinous offence of attempting to seduce the military from their allegiance and duty. His noble Friend, who had been Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, was no doubt aware that there was a law in Ireland which allowed the change of venue for seditious offences; but neither his noble and learned Friend on the woolsack nor himself was aware, at the time when he brought in his bill, of the existence of this Irish act of Parliament of the date of 1797. When he found out the existence of this law, the chief ground which induced him to bring in his bill was taken from him. He, therefore, did not feel called upon to press it. He trusted that the present law would be put in force on any attempt being made to seduce the military; and if the law were not found sufficient, he trusted that the Government would not hesitate to come to Parliament next Session and ask for additional powers. When he last addressed their Lordships 901 on the subject of Irish affairs, he omitted to perform an act of justice to a noble Friend of his—a near relation of the noble Duke opposite, for whom he entertained the highest esteem—he referred to the late Lord Wellesley. The great grievance always urged by the party which had long been actively engaged in agitating Ireland, with respect to the administrations of the Marquess of Anglesey and the Marquess Wellesley, was, that those noble Lords did not give full effect to the law emancipating the Catholics, and admitting the 6,000,000 of Catholic subjects of the Crown in that country to a full participation in all constitutional rights. A most invidious, and odious, and false contrast was drawn between his noble Friend now no more (Lord Wellesley) and his successors, and it was asserted that his successors for the first time ever admitted the Catholics, who were by law enabled to hold office, to the actual enjoyment of office. The Catholics said, looking to that part of the patronage of the Crown which might fall to their own share, or to that of their connexions, regarding that as the main object of political strife—"What the better are we for Catholic emancipation, when it only makes us capable of holding office, while those in whom the Government is vested will not give us office?" and in every form of foul misrepresentation the conduct of the Marquess of Anglesey and the Marquess Wellesley was held up, sometimes to ridicule, sometimes to hatred, occasionally to contempt, among the masses of the people in that country, on the ground that they had never thought of opening the doors of office to their Catholic fellow-subjects. It had been said that, no sooner was the Government of 1835 formed, than a new leaf was turned over, and the first steps were taken to establish a real practical equality between the two sects—the Church and the Dissenters. He held in his hand a despatch of Lord Wellesley to the then Prime Minister, dated August, 1835, from which it would be seen that never, probably, in the history of misrepresentation, had so grossly foul a charge been urged against any statesman as that to which he had alluded as having been made against Lord Wellesley,—that of not duly regarding the interests of the Catholics. Perhaps less blame ought to be attached to the persons by whom this charge had been made, because they might not be aware of the fact he was about to state; but he would say that the stoutest 902 friend the Catholics had was Lord Wellesley. Indeed, all the efforts of Lord Plunket and Lord Grey in their Lordships' House, including their sacrifice of place for a quarter of a century, were surpassed by Lord Wellesley; for it had been forgotten—as everything that preceded Catholic emancipation was forgotten—that that noble Lord was the first who carried a vote in that House in favour of Catholic emancipation. But to give to their Lordships absolute proof that it was not only probable that be should have attempted all he could in favour of the Catholics, but that he actually had done so, he would now read an extract from the despatch of that noble Lord. The Marquess Wellesley said—I think it would be advisable to open three seats on the judicial bench, and to make one of these judges from the Roman Catholic bar. This would give the greatest satisfaction to the whole Roman Catholic body. Your Lordship, I am convinced, will concur with me in the opinion, that the Roman Catholics of Ireland have never yet been admitted to the full benefit of the laws passed for their relief. Entitled by law to admission into almost any office in the state, they have been and are still practically excluded from almost every branch of the executive administration of the law. The few admitted into the situation of assistant barristers or into the police, only serve to mark the right of admission without any approach to an equal distribution of official benefits. It is impossible to suppose that the whole nation will give their full support to the Government, when they see a large portion of its people excluded from so large a share of the high offices of the state, when their right to fill those offices is admitted. I therefore conceive that one of the first steps towards the pacification of Ireland should be the correction of this difficulty; and for that purpose I submit to you that it is expedient to admit a certain proportion of Roman Catholics into the Privy Council, to the bench, to the high stations of the law, and to the legal or civil offices of the state, and, if necessary, also a certain number into the police. This system should be commenced at the same tune with the new legal appointments, winch will form a main part of it. I should also appoint some Roman Catholics of distinction to the Privy Council; and this commencement will prove most satisfactory to the whole Roman Catholic body of Ireland.Lord Wellesley then added a list of those whom he recommended to be appointed, and requested as soon as possible an affirmative answer, as he said,—That I may immediately make the necessary official announcement to the home Secretary.903 That was dated August, 1834. He was therefore bound to believe, and to state, that nothing could be more groundless than the accusation against Lord Wellesley, that he had been slow or reluctant to give full effect to the measure for Roman Catholic relief; and nothing could be more unfounded than the praise given to his successors in the office of Lord-lieutenant, that they were the first persons in that position who were really and practically friendly to the Roman Catholics.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
would only add one observation to that of his noble and learned Friend, He would take on himself to say, that the name of that truly great man, to whom his noble and learned Friend had alluded, was loved, and reverenced, and respected by the great body of the Roman Catholics—by all the Members of that body who were respectable alike for their station or conduct; and he was sure that there was amongst all classes of the Irish people a deep feeling of gratitude towards him, which no time could entirely destroy or efface.
said, that no one could more sincerely respect the illustrious statesman referred to than himself; and he could personally bear witness to the anxiety which he had expressed and exhibited to employ Roman Catholics. He could bear testimony to his most eager desire that no distinction should be made between Protestants and Catholics, and that both parties should receive equal justice.
The Earl of Glengall
begged to make one observation upon a subject connected with the bill now before the House, and to which frequent allusion had been made in recent discussions—he meant the provision for the Roman Catholic clergy. He believed, from all the inquiries which he had made, that the Roman Catholic clergy themselves repudiated the notion; for they were of opinion, that if the secular clergy were paid, they would lose their authority over the people, and it would be transferred to the friars. If noble Lords on the other side were so enamoured of this project, why did they not bring it forward when they were in power?
§ Lord Monteagle
said, he had been always friendly to the plan of a provision for the Catholic clergy by the State, not because he wanted to see them dependent, but to make them independent. As to 904 their repugnance to such a provision, if the public money was voted, the question would soon settle itself. He did not think, however, that the object could be accomplished without an alteration of the law prohibiting intercourse with Rome. He thought that law ought to be altered; it was a badge of our old penal code, and a relic of a policy which had been denounced by all sides. In reply to the question of the noble Lord, why a measure for providing for the Catholic clergy had not been proposed by the late Government, they had had no opportunity of proposing such a measure, which would have encountered great opposition in Parliament and out of doors. The noble Earl's own friends would have opposed it, whereas, if it were now proposed on the other, it would be supported on his side. With regard to this bill, he did not think that it was likely to do much good, but he should be reluctant to withhold from the Government any powers which they thought necessary for the maintenance of peace.
would venture to assert, that if the law was looked into, there would be found no enactment in existence to prevent diplomatic intercourse between this country and the court of Rome. It was an entire mistake to suppose that such an intercourse would render the persons promoting it subject to the penalties of premunire. The act of settlement was the only thing which stood in the way, but that referred to communion, which did not affect the question at all.
§ Their Lordships went into committee.
§ Clauses to the 23rd agreed to.
§ The Earl Fortescue
objected to the 23rd clause, which allowed search for arms by one magistrate. Seeing the annoyance and vexation, not to say indecency, of these searchers by night, he thought that the presence of two magistrates should be required. The noble Earl moved an amendment to that effect.
The Earl of Glengall
said, that the searches were often made on such emergency that two magistrates could not be obtained.
§ The Duke of Wellington
observed, that it might become necessary to search an extensive district at the same period of time, and there might not be a sufficient number of justices found to allow of two being present at each search.
The Lord Chancellor
observed, that in 905 the Arms Bill introduced in 1838 by Lords Morpeth and J. Russell, the corresponding clause did not require the presence of any magistrate. It was only necessary that two persons should be named in the warrant by one justice; but no magistrate was required to be present; nor had the slightest objection been made to that provision by any Irish Member.
contended that the 23rd and 24th clauses were inconsistent with each other. Under the former clause a search in the night-time could only take place in presence of a justice, buy by the proviso to the 24th clause, which conferred more extended and arbitrary powers, search might be made by an inspector or sub-inspector of the constabulary force. He did not object to the main enactment, for in a disturbed state of the country such powers might be necessary. He only objected to the mode in which those clauses might be carried out. He therefore hoped his noble and learned Friend would, on the third reading propose words which would reconcile the 23rd and 24th clauses, and render them less liable to abuse. He would suggest words to this effect—that in the might-time warrants should not be executed except in the presence of the justice or justices named therein.
The Earl of Glengall
thought that the 23rd clause contemplated a search in districts that were tranquil; the larger powers given by the following clause were necessary in parts which might be disturbed.
The Lord Chancellor
said, that the magistrate was to give the authority or order for the particular district, and it might be done upon that order without the presence of the magistrate.
§ Lord Cottenham
observed, that this was precisely the objection. It must have been intended by the words "under the order of any justice," that search should be made, and that the magistrate under whose orders the parties were acting should be present; and then in the subsequent part of the clause the proviso allowed the police also to search. Would they give less protection to a party where there was no information, than where there was direct suspicion and information on oath against the individual?
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, that the clause gave the power to the Lord-lieutenant, on the representation of any two magistrates of arms being concealed, to 906 issue a general warrant for a search; and it might be impossible for a magistrate to attend at every search in all parts of the country.
The Lord Chancellor
said, that the power was not to be confined to a single House, but was to extend to a district—a county or part of a county. There was nothing to require the magistrate to be present at the spot, he might be in the neighbourhood giving the orders, The reason why an inspector was to be sufficient was, that there might be many searches at the same time, and there might not be a proper number of justices to be actually present everywhere.
§ The Earl Fortescue
said, that no warrant, under the existing law, could be executed without the presence of a magistrate; and, when this class of offences was diminishing, he objected to giving a larger power than was now possessed.
§ After some further conversation, the amendment was negatived; and the clause with the other clauses were agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Report received, bill to be read a third time.