HL Deb 09 April 1886 vol 304 cc1155-7

, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said: My Lords, I think it was in 1880 that I stood at your Lordships' Table and moved a very similar Bill to that which is now before you. I received that Bill at the hands of a Colleague who was then Chief Secretary for Ireland. To-day it has been my unhappy duty, as it has been that of many of the Colleagues and friends of the late statesman, to follow the coffin which contained his remains through the stately Abbey of Westminster, and to pay the last tribute to one whom we all respected. My Lords, I cannot but say that I feel that in losing Mr. Forster the country has lost a statesman of very high character. He was remarkable from his independence of thought, from his honesty of purpose, from his great love of liberty, and from his endeavours to remove all disabilities from classes in this country and elsewhere. He made his first mark in public life in connection with this distress in Ireland; and in his subsequent career, when he had most difficult—nay, most perilous duties, as it turned out, to discharge, he performed those duties with that courage and unswerving devotion which marked his character in all things. I am sure that your Lordships will join with me in regretting the loss of a statesman so able and so experienced. With reference to the Bill before the House, I may state that its object is to enable outdoor relief to be given in certain districts in Ireland, chiefly in the Western parts of that country. The measure has already passed through the House of Commons. The matter is one that is pressing, and I propose to take the Committee stage on Monday. In conclusion, I beg to move the second reading of this Bill.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Lord President.)


My Lords, I do not propose to say anything with regard to the Bill; but I do ask leave to say a single word with reference to the earlier part of the noble Earl's remarks. Having had myself the privilege of sitting in the House of Commons for a quarter of a century with Mr. Forster—during the whole period, indeed, of his Parliamentary life—and having had frequent occasion to deal with him, generally as an opponent, sometimes as a friend, I can say with great truth and sincerity that I never knew a man who was more thoroughly honourable, more thoroughly trustworthy, or a man of higher courage or great fairness in dealing with the cases that came before him than Mr. Forster. He was one who acquired and commanded the respect and regard of every Member, I believe, of the House of Commons—certainly of those who had the most experience of his career. It was a very touching sight which I had the privilege to witness to-day; and I am sure that of those large multitudes who were gathered in and around the Abbey there was not one who did not feel that in the man whom we were following to the grave we were losing one of the noblest specimens of Englishmen, devoting themselves to political life for no selfish personal object, but from a desire to promote what they believe to be the good of their country and the welfare of the Empire to which they belong. Of no man more emphatically than of Mr. Forster might it be said that he looked to the Empire more than to any section of it; there was no man who paid greater attention to questions affecting the outlying portion of our great Colonial system. I was anxious to say one word in order that it might not be supposed that those who were politically opposed to Mr. Forster were insensible to the excellence of his character or the high standard which he held up to those who came in contact with him.


My Lords, some few years ago I was in close and intimate connection with the illustrious statesman whom we have just lost; and I must, therefore, join in the few words of tribute which have been paid to his memory. When Mr. Forster went to Ireland nobody knows better than I do that he went there with the purest feelings of benevolence and sympathy, and with a wish to remedy the grievances complained of by the inhabitants of that country. I know what pain it cost him to feel that instead of his efforts having been signalized merely by remedial measures and attempts to atone for past injustice, he was compelled, almost from the very first, to ask his Colleagues for measures for the repression of crime. I know well what pain this cost him; but I know, also, the moment that he did see that they were necessary, how vigorously and strenuously he urged those measures, and with what strength he put them in force. It must have been deep pain to him, indeed, to feel that he left the country altogether without conciliating its inhabitants in the way he wished. He must have felt, on the other hand, that he never for one moment lost the respect and admiration of his fellow-countrymen, least of all of those of his adopted county, and of his constituents, who at the time that he was most abused stuck to him staunchly in the closest and most manly manner. It must be a satisfaction to Mr. Forster's relatives and to his friends to feel how very deeply he is regretted by every class in this country. He is mourned by all; and it is felt upon all sides that if he could have recovered his health he would have been of inestimable assistance to us in what are likely to be the very troubled times before us.


asked, with regard to the Bill, whether the Commissioners proposed by it were to be paid, and, if so, how much?


suggested that these matters would be made clear in Committee.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.

House adjourned at a quarter past Six o'clock, to Monday next, a quarter before Eleven o'clock.