HL Deb 18 April 1848 vol 98 cc446-8

LORD BEAUMONT: Before proceeding to the Orders of the Day, I wish to put a question to the noble Marquess the President of the Council, with reference to a subject which was discussed in this House yesterday. I understood the noble Marquess to state that there was no training going on upon the part of discontented and evil-minded persons in Dublin. I have been informed, however, not only that such training is going on, but that it is not un- known to the Government. I wish, therefore, to ask my noble Friend if my information is true; and, if so, what steps have been taken by Her Majesty's Government with respect to it? I will ask for another explanation from my noble Friend. Yesterday he stated that the Government it Ireland, most wisely, as he thought, have availed themselves of the offer of certain persons who are anxious that peace should not be disturbed in that country. I understood my noble Friend to say arms were sent over from this country to those persons. I wish, therefore, to know whether it is the intention of the Irish Government that arms should forthwith be supplied to those persons, also to what associations, and whether it is intended to enrol armed bodies, and if so, what bodies?

The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE: I think I can satisfy my noble Friend on both the points to which he has referred. To begin with the latter, I should be sorry if it should be understood that the offer of any association to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had led to the immediate arming of that association. The House, however, has an opportunity of knowing exactly what passed upon the subject, because the application of the association in question, as well as the Lord Lieutenant's answer, has appeared in the newspapers. The association, indeed, appear to be perfectly aware they cannot arm themselves without the authority of the Crown; and when I stated that arms were in the act of being sent to Ireland, I did not mean that it was with a view to the arming of that particular association, but to add to the stock of arms, and to enable the Lord Lieutenant, when he thought fit, to avail himself of the services of those persons. With regard to the other point referred to by my noble Friend, I am extremely glad to give any information upon the subject to the House. Although, up to the moment when I addressed your Lordships yesterday, I did not know of any training that had taken place in such a manner as would authorise the Lord Lieutenant to take any steps, under the Act to which the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Ellenborough) alluded yesterday; I nevertheless felt satisfied that the instant any proof was given of such training going forward, indeed I felt a perfect conviction from my knowledge of the Lord Lieutenant, that he would instantly put the Act into force. Twenty-four hours have not passed, my Lords, without both those circumstances having been verified. Information that training was proceeding in the city of Dublin was ascertained yesterday, and before the evening all the persons engaged in that training were arrested, and they are now in custody. Any other society assembling for the same purpose would be equally and immediately apprehended in the same manner. I am further enabled to say, it appears, fortunately, I think, that under the provisions of the Dublin Police Act, any firing at a mark within the precincts of the city is illegal, and may be punished; and being illegal, if it is found to be continued, it will be punished.

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