HL Deb 08 August 1848 vol 100 cc1208-10

, in moving that the Corn Markets (Ireland) Bill be read a Third Time, said, that he wished to take that opportunity of referring to a complaint made by a noble and learned Lord not now present (Lord Brougham), some evenings ago, of a letter written by Mr. Labouchere when Secretary for Ireland, in which it was alleged that he had announced to the people of Ireland their right to carry arms, he had since then had an opportunity of referring to that letter, and he felt justified now in stating that the noble and learned Lord had been misinformed about the purport of the letter in question. At the time the noble and learned Lord spoke, he (Lord Lansdowne) had only a very general recollection of the contents of that letter; but since then he had referred to the letter itself, and found that it was not at all liable to the censure which had been directed against it. He held a copy of the letter in his hand. He would not trouble their Lordships with reading it, unless their Lordships wished him to do so; but he would state that its object was to explain, for the information of the magistracy of Ireland, the law with respect to the carrying of arms; to show that, although the people had a perfect right to carry arms, they were not entitled to carry them for illegal objects; and to instruct the magistrates how to act in the case of those who were found doing so. Undoubtedly, towards the close of the letter there did occur a passage with respect to the right of the people to carry arms; but not in such a way as to intimate to the people of Ireland—that which they perfectly knew at the time—that it was their right to carry them for legal objects: but the aim of the whole paragraph was to convey to the magistrates of Ireland the assurance that Mr. Labouchere and the Government of Ireland were determined not to allow the right of carrying arms to be abused for illegal purposes; and that the magistrates might depend upon deriving every assistance from the Government in preventing such an abuse of it. It was quite true, that some short time after that letter was published, a placard was stuck up in the streets of Dublin, containing a short extract from it, respecting the right of the people to carry arms—not only without giving the rest of the letter, but without giving the remaining words of the paragraph from which the extract was taken. At the top of the placard there was placed a representation of the arms of the Lord Lieutenant, with the view of giving it the appearance of an official notification by order of his Excellency, that every Irishman had a right to carry arms, as if this had been a privilege manifestly new, and notified for the first time to the Irish people! He hoped his right hon. Friend in those circumstances would stand acquitted in the eyes of their Lordships, and in the eyes of the public, of having done so monstrous and foolish an act as to go out of his way for the purpose of telling the people of Ireland that they might carry arms.