HL Deb 16 February 1866 vol 181 cc585-6

My Lords, I have to ask your Lordships to sit to-morrow in consequence of the condition of affairs in Ireland. The Lord-Lieutenant, on the advice of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, the Chief Secretary, and other persons, has expressed the opinion that it is abso- lutely necessary, considering the present state of the country, to ask for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Her Majesty's Government have therefore resolved to make the proposal to suspend the Act, and the Secretary of State for the Home Department will do so to-morrow in the other House of Parliament. When a similar Motion was last made, the Bill was introduced at twelve o'clock on a Saturday, and passed through all its stages in the course of that day. Your Lordships will doubtless agree that, if the necessity for such a course exists, no time should be lost; and I must, therefore, ask your Lordships to put yourselves to the inconvenience of meeting to-morrow at four o'clock, when the matter shall be laid before you.


The proposal made by the noble Earl indicates a very serious state of affairs. Of course, it will be for Her Majesty's Government to justify to this and the other House of Parliament the course proposed; and if the other House should be so satisfied of the gravity of the occasion—and no doubt they will have sufficient evidence laid before them— as shall induce them to consent to take so strong a step as suspending all the Standing Orders for the purpose of passing the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, I am quite sure your Lordships will be unanimously of opinion that in such a state of affairs it would be neither expedient, desirable, nor consistent with your duty to interpose a moment's delay. Therefore, my Lords, as far as I am concerned, if the House of Commons should think fit to suspend all their Standing Orders for the purpose of passing a Bill, which I presume it is the intention of the Government to lay before them during the morning sitting of to-morrow, I should offer no opposition to it when it is laid before your Lordships in company with a statement from Her Majesty's Government, and backed up by the authority of the House of Commons. And when I say I should be prepared to assent to the passing of the Bill under the circumstances, I trust we shall have at the earliest possible opportunity such a statement from Her Majesty's Government as will justify us in having passed so strong a measure as that proposed.