HL Deb 25 January 1855 vol 136 cc937-40

My Lords, a communication has been made, within this hour, in the other House of Parliament, that the noble Lord the leader of the Government in that House—Lord John Russell—has tendered to Her Majesty the resignation of the office which he holds as President of the Council, and that Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to accept that resignation. Under these circumstances, upon the Motion of the noble Lord the Home Secretary, the House of Commons has consented to adjourn until to-morrow. My noble Friend at the head of Her Majesty's Government has, in consequence of the resignation of Lord John Russell, gone down to Windsor, and I believe it will be in accordance with precedent, and will also be for the convenience of the House, if your Lordships will follow the example of the House of Commons in this instance—although it is not so essentially necessary—and will consent also to adjourn until to-morrow. Should my noble Friend whom I see opposite (the Earl of Winchilsea) and my noble Friend on this side the House (Earl Grey) have no objection to postpone until to-morrow the Motion of which they have given notice, I will venture to move, under the circumstances, that this House do now adjourn.


was understood to express some indisposition to withdraw his Motion.


I should be very sorry to put my noble Friend (the Earl of Winchilsea) to the slightest personal inconvenience, but I would venture to suggest to him, after what has fallen from the noble Duke opposite, and in the necessary absence of the noble Earl at the head of Her Majesty's Government, that it would meet with the general concurrence of the House if, whatever personal inconvenience he may sustain, he would have the goodness to postpone his Motion, and would take another opportunity of drawing attention to the very important subject to which it refers.


said, he would not object to postpone his Motion until to-morrow, if he would then have an opportunity of saving a few words on the subject.


said, that he had already postponed his Motion.


My Lords, before the House adjourns I may perhaps be allowed to say a word or two upon a matter which must be regarded with great interest by the House and by the country. We have been informed by my noble Friend the noble Duke opposite, that a noble Lord who held a high office in the Government, and who was practically, though not technically or constitutionally, what is called the leader of the House of Commons, has resigned the position which he occupied. We have been informed of this fact by another Member of Her Majesty's Government; but of the causes which have led to the resignation of the noble Lord we have no information whatever. Now, my Lords, I do apprehend that changes of this kind ought not to be made in the constitution of the Government without the Houses of Parliament being informed of the causes which have led to them.


Will my noble Friend permit me to interrupt him? I know it is irregular to do so, but I wish to represent to him that the noble Lord to whom I have referred has not made any statement in his place in the House of Commons; but I have every reason to believe that he will make such statement to-morrow. Under these circumstances, I think the noble Earl will feel that any attempt to anticipate the explanation of the causes of the noble Lord's resignation would not be fair, and I appeal to him whether he will not think it right to abstain from entering into the subject on the present occasion.


If those who can give information on the subject think that it is not desirable to afford such information, of course I cannot elicit it from them. Yet I cannot but think that an event of this kind ought not to be communicated either to the other House of Parliament—in which the person alluded to sits—or to your Lordships, without some information being afforded as to the ground upon which office has been resigned. It does appear to me a subject upon which information ought to be given to the two Houses at the very same time when the fact of resignation is communicated. The mere fact of the resignation is of little importance, in comparison with the grounds upon which such a course has been taken, because, give me leave to say, it is no light matter in these days either for the Government en masse to resign, or for one of the most important Members of that Government to say that he severs himself from all connection with the Administration.


observed that it belonged, of course, to the noble Lord who had resigned to state the grounds of his resignation. He had reason to believe that it was the intention of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) to state those grounds to-morrow, and it could not be maintained that it was incumbent upon Her Majesty's Government to make that explanation for the noble Lord which he alone was competent to make for himself.

House adjourned till To-morrow.