§ LORD BEAUMONT laid upon the table the Report of the Select Committee appointed to inquire into a petition of the Board of Guardians of the Union of Carrick-on-Shannon, with Minutes of Evidence, and an Appendix. The noble Lord said, that though the report was the report of the Committee, it contained a good deal which, in his opinion, was not borne out by the evidence—particularly some very severe observations and remarks upon certain officers of the union. A difference of opinion had existed in the Committee on these portions of the report, nor were they in the draft of the report which he as chairman had originally drawn up and submitted to the Committee. Having, however, been added to the draft of the report by the majority, the whole must now be accepted by the House as the report of the Committee. He wished to add, that from what he had seen in this and other Committees, he believed it would be advisable and useful to adopt the practice of the other House, of enabling Committees to report their Minutes of proceedings; and at the commencement of the next Session he should introduce this subject to their Lordships' consideration.
§ LORD WHARNCLIFFE
supported the Motion, and suggested that in future the Committees of their Lordships' House should be allowed a discretion whether to examine witnesses on oath or otherwise, as they might think proper.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
declined to give any opinion on the merits of this report; but he entirely concurred in the suggestion thrown out by his noble Friend (Lord Beaumont). The practice of the House of Commons would be found extremely advisable, in order to facilitate a perfect comprehension of the subject. 839 The Motions and Amendments made were recorded, and they ought to he published; and as he was aware of no objection to such a practice, he should be prepared, unless good reasons were shown to the contrary, to give his support to any proposition for introducing a more systematic mode of representing the inquiries conducted by Select Committees. He felt greater doubt as to the suggestion of his noble Friend on the cross bench, for he had heard and found that greater importance was attached by the country at large to the inquiries of the House of Lords than to those of the other House, owing to their being conducted upon oath. He must, therefore, reserve his opinion upon that subject.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
thought that great reforms might be introduced into the proceedings before their Committees; but this was the first time in which he had ever heard the report of any Select Committee disavowed by its own chairman. As his noble Friend (Lord Beaumont) had taken upon himself to condemn the Committee, he (Lord Monteagle) should inform the House upon what grounds he believed this course had been taken. The Committee was appointed in opposition to the wishes of the Government. They sat laboriously on that Committee; for some days at the commencement the Members of Her Majesty's Government attended the Committee, but afterwards desisted. At the close of the labours of the Committee, the Committee had again the benefit of their attendance, and was rejoiced but surprised to find that it commanded the presence of three Members of the Cabinet. The report, which Lord Beaumont now disavowed was carried on a division by a majority of two to one, and the three Members of the Cabinet, along with Lord Beaumont, were in the minority. He should not have said one word about the non-attendance of Ministers at one time, and their attendance at another, had it not been necessary to sustain the conclusions of the Committee against the observations of Lord Beaumont.
The EARL of MINTO
, as one of the Members of that Committee alluded to by the noble Lord, begged to state that he had attended during a great portion of the time that Committee was sitting, and that he had taken a part in all the proceedings, and had heard all the evidence relating to those matters on which he dissented from 840 the majority of the Committee. He entirely concurred in the remarks of his noble Friend the Chairman of the Committee, and he hoped their Lordships would attend rather to the evidence than to the report.
§ LORD BEAUMONT
said, that it was no wonder that his noble Friend (Lord Monteagle) should not be quite correct in his description of the occurrences before this Committee, when he was incorrect in his recollection of what he (Lord Beaumont) had said only three minutes ago. He had laid this report on the table as the report of the Committee, and had not disavowed it as the act of that body. His noble Friend was also quite wrong in accusing him of having thrown a slur upon the report, merely because three Members of the Cabinet had voted against it. He had stated distinctly that though he had differed from some portions, he agreed with other portions of the report. His noble Friend was also wrong in stating that there had only been one division on the report. A division took place at a very early period of the inquiry, as to whether one part of the question ought to be gone into. He thought that it ought not; but his objection was overruled. He then thought that it was their duty to get the best evidence possible on the point. He did all that he could to obtain that evidence, and to preserve the strictest impartiality. A report was afterwards submitted to the Committee, which contained his opinion, founded on the evidence taken before it, but which avoided giving any opinion on those charges against the officers of the union, which were certainly brought, but not proved, by several witnesses. He was ashamed to say that contradiction on contradiction took place among the witnesses examined. False swearing must have been practised to a great extent on one side or the other. There were often the most gross contradictions in the evidence of the same witness. He had, therefore, wholly discarded all such evidence, and formed his opinion on that evidence alone which appeared to him to be unimpeachable. The daring spirit of his noble Friend (Lord Monteagle) went far beyond his (Lord Beaumont's), and at last his noble Friend carried so many Amendments, that he thought the tone and general purport of the report so much changed, that he (Lord Beaumont) declined going the lengths his noble Friend had gone, and 841 protected against the additions to the original draft of the report.
§ Report to be printed.