Lord John Russell
spoke to the following effect: —Mr. Speaker, On the 21st of March the House of Lords were pleased to resolve to appoint a Select Committee to inquire "into the state of Ireland since the year 1835, with respect to crime and outrage, which render life and property insecure in that part of the empire." Sir, I thought it my duty on the very next day to state the view which I took of that resolution of the House of Lords, and to say that I should ask for an expression of the opinion of this House on the administration of affairs in Ireland. With respect to the importance of the motion, both to Ireland and to the United Kingdom, it is quite unnecessary, that I should say anything. With regard to the anxiety which I feel on the subject of the motion which I am now to make, it is impossible that I can adequately express my feelings. I shall therefore proceed at once to state my views of the resolution of the House of Lords, and of the amendment of which notice has been given by the right hors. Gentleman opposite. There are some points in that amendment which perhaps it is necessary, that I should notice before I go into the main subject of discussion. A part of that amendment says, that the expression of opinion called for now is only an expression of opinion on one part of the policy of the executive government. Sir, the reason why it is proposed to ask for an opinion on one part of the policy of the executive government is, because it is that part of their policy alone upon which a resolution has been entered on the journals of the House of Lords. Let the House of Lords, if they should so think fit, carry a vote of censure with respect to other parts of the policy of her Majesty's Government, and I should then equally think, that it was impossible for us to remain in the conduct of affairs, unless we felt assured of the confidence of this House in respect to the course we have pursued. If the House of Peers please to censure the conduct of the executive at home I shall he ready to meet them on that question. With respect to colonial affairs, there are legislative measures some of which have been already under the attention of this House, and others will be brought forward for consideration. With respect to foreign affairs, I am sure that my noble Friend, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, if they should think fit to chuse that field of discussion, will not feel afraid to encounter them on it. If it be made a matter of charge against us, that in the affairs of Belgium we are about to bring to a close long and difficult negotiations, which threatened at one time the peace of Europe, I think we should be able to vindicate ourselves against such a charge. If it be imputed to us, that British interests have been entirely neglected in the contest between France and Mexico, I think my noble Friend will be able to furnish a sufficient reply. If the affairs belonging to the department of my right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Control, be made the subject of attack, I think we shall be able to meet accusations on that subject likewise, and while we shall be able to show, that we have not been neglectful of British interests in India, or inattentive to any dangers that might have I trust, succeeded in avoiding the dangers of a war between this and any of the principal powers of Europe. We shall wait until these charges are brought forward—before we shall think in necessary to bring those subjects under the consideration of the House. But it is not from any fear, or from any apprehension, that with regard to any of these subjects the conduct of the executive government has tended to expose the interests of this great country to peril, or to have stained the name of the empire with dishonour, that we do not bring them under the notice of the House. Sir, it has pleased those who condemn the conduct of the Government to take other ground. I submit, in the first place, that this resolution of the House of Lords is such, that it is incumbent upon this House to express an opinion one way or the other. I do not say at present, that it may not have been perfectly right in the House of Lords to appoint such a committee—that the state of danger, and insecurity of life and property, caused by misgovernment in that part of the United Kingdom, may not have rendered it necessary for the House of Lords to appoint such a committee; but I do say, and it is scarcely possible for any man to deny, that that motion does convey a vote of censure on the Government; for no man can read even the terms of that resolution, appointing the particular date at which the inquiry is to commence, and ending with the words, "render life and property insecure in that part of the kingdom," without saying that the plain conclusion intended to be drawn is, that it, is the conduct of the administration which has thus exposed life and property to peril in Ireland. But if we were in any doubt of what to think, it is to be recollected, that the House of Lords—which by the way seems to be particularly favourable to breaches of privilege of this kind—has allowed to be circulated throughout the country what purports to be the debate in the House of Lords on this motion; and the debate thus circulated contains nothing but accusations. It is a tenth repetition of accusations and charges of improper exercise of the prerogative of mercy and want of vigour in the administration of the law. It contains charges of almost every species of negligence, if not criminality, of which a Lord-lieutenant of Ireland can be culpable. And, Sir, let it be recollected, that the very name of the Mover himself is calculated to excite suspicion in Ireland of the censure intended to be conveyed. When we know the officer in command, we can have little doubt of the colour of the flag. Let it be remembered likewise, that as soon as the account of this vote came to Ireland, it was spread everywhere by the usual organs of the party to which the noble Lord belongs, and who entertain his views, that the House of Lords had passed a vote of censure on her Majesty's Government. Then, I submit with respect to a subject upon with the people of Ireland are sensitively alive—with respect to a subject upon which great anxiety is naturally felt—would it be possible for us to allow an impression to go forth, that such a vote of censure had been agreed to without endeavouring, by submitting some motion to this House, to ascertain whether the two Houses of Parliament were agreed upon that subject? One noble and learned Friend of mine is reported to have said, that the motion was a primâ facie vote of censure. I entirely concur in that description of the vote; and it was not possible for the Government to pass by without notice a primâ facie vote of censure by the Lords any more than it would be possible, if a motion were submitted to the House for going into a Committee of the whole House on the state of the nation—to disregard the adoption of such a proposition, to which a certain character has always been attached by the House and the country at large. I am aware, that the words of the motion were framed with so much art, that it was possible to say to some persons inclined to vote for it, that it did not convey censure, but merely proposed inquiry into crime. But while that takes away from the candour of the proceeding, it takes off nothing from the bitterness of the accusation. If I am right in what I now state, it is not sufficient for the House to adopt a long and elaborate "previous question" in the form in which the right hon. Gentleman proposes it. I say, moreover, that the previous question is rather weakened than strengthened by the arguments introduced into the preamble by way of supporting it. Reference is made in it to returns ordered by this House. When those returns were moved for, my noble Friend near me (Lord Morpeth) said, he thought them not of an unusual character; but that he would himself move for other returns not confined to the period from the year 1835 to this time; but returns for other years, so that the motion would have no invidious character as applied to that particular period. My noble Friend moved likewise the introduction of certain words of caution, respecting part of the information, provided it were consistent with the public service and the due administration of justice. These returns were ordered with the consent of the Government, and without implying in any manner, or in any degree, censure on the Government by which they were granted. But it is widely different where a committee is named to enter into an inquiry with regard to a particular period only, and with none of the restraints which this House might deem it advisable to circumscribe it with. But if it be right and proper to have an inquiry instituted into the government of Ireland since 1835, why, let me ask, was not the motion made in this House? This House is the proper House of Parliament in which, according to the forms and spirit of the constitution, such an inquiry should be demanded. I ask then if there is any proceeding of a criminatory character to be instituted, why do not its authors move for an inquiry in the House of Commons, and require the House of Commons to give an opinion on the propriety of the conduct inculpated? I ask those who are in favour of this inquiry; those who have told us year after year since 1835, that the Irish Government was unworthy of confidence—as favouring outrage and almost encouraging murder—I ask them why they did not think fit to make in this House a motion of inquiry, instead of confining themselves to a motion for papers? They made no such motion however, and I can only conclude from their not thinking it essential that this House should come to a decision on the question, that not expecting to have a majority in this House in favour of an inquiry, and not being able to carry a vote of censure here, they determined to transfer to the other House of Parliament a proceeding by which a stigma and slur would be cast on the character of the Government. Now, against that proceeding I protest, and if I were one of those who think the inquiry necessary, I should equally protest against it, and equally say—if the Government of Lord Normanby has been most mischievous and most injurious, let not the Members of the House of Commons refuse to pronounce an opinion upon it, let them not abdicate the right of the House of Commons to inquire—let them not abandon the ancient practice of the House of Commons to censure and control governments which require it—let them not consent to pass in silence the misgovernment which is complained of—but let them pronounce whether inquiry be necessary, and whether the Government deserve the censure which the douse of Lords has affixed to its proceedings. So much in reference to the proposal to stifle this motion by a previous question. But if this House pronounce an opinion favourable to the policy of the Government, it is said, that it will interfere with the undoubted rights of the House of Lords. Now, I think it necessary to ask the House to pause a little, and consider, not what is the theory, not what is the bare right, but what is the usual and has been I think the necessary practice of the constitution. With respect to legislation, it is the undoubted right of the House of Lords to reject any bill that may be sent up from this House. But if that right were carried to an extreme; if, for instance, they were to reject the Consolidated Fund Bill, which has been this day before the House, the whole country would be thrown into confusion. Or if at the commencement of a war, the supplies voted by this House were, in consequence of the Lords disapproving of the war, rejected by them, although it would be the undoubted right of the House of Lords to do so, yet it would be impossible, that the country and this House should rest satisfied with such a decision. So far as to the right of legislation. What, then, is the practical conclusion and understanding to which all parties have come, for a long period, with respect to the subject? It is this —that if a bill were sent up from this House, of a very important nature, with regard to which there are considerable numbers of persons both on the one side and the other, and in favour of which there was only a small majority, the House of Lords might properly say, "It appears that the Representatives of the people are very nearly divided on the subject. We do not think, that the country has made up its mind to this change. Let it be considered another year, and let us know whether it be a change called for by general opinion." If a bill, however, were sent from this House repeatedly by large majorities, declaring the sense of the country, then I think it usual for the House of Lords, even though holding an opinion against the bill, and having an abstract right to reject it at once, to exercise a wise discretion, and say, "We will not oppose the general sense of the country, repeatedly expressed, but we will confirm the opinion of the House of Commons, though in the abstract it differs from our own." But, Sir, with respect to the Executive Government, the case is somewhat different. Upon a matter of legislation the two Houses might remain at variance for a considerable time without any great evil happening to the country. At the same time there are exceptions even to that. There have been exceptions of so grave a nature that at one time, when the opposition was extreme, Lord Grey's Government, with all but the unanimous consent of the Cabinet, did advise so large a creation of Peers as would have overwhelmed the independent voice of the House of Lords. Be that as it may, it is clear that with respect to the Executive, such differences of opinion cannot be tolerated. You must conduct the Government on one plan or the other. You cannot have Ireland at once governed by the principles of Lord Haddington and of Lord Mulgrave. You cannot have the affairs of this country conducted according to the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and according to the opinion of Lord Melbourne. It is quite necessary, that one line or the other should be taken. The only question on this occasion is, whether or not the House of Commons is prepared to say, that the House of Lords, having expressed its sense with respect to the executive government, the House of Commons entertains the same opinion; or not entertaining the same opinion, are willing that the executive government should in future be conducted according to the sense of the House of Lords. Now, I beg to remind the House that this has not hitherto been the case, and that, in general, the House of Commons has insisted on the Government being conducted agreeably to its opinions. It is quite true, that for a long period, owing to the corruption of this House, to the influence exercised over it by the Crown, and by individual Members of the House of Lords, there was no positive difference of opinion. But, in former days, there were differences of opinion, and this House did not scruple to declare its opinion on such subjects, in opposition to the opinion of the Lords. At an early period of the last century there was a difference of opinion with regard to some persons concerned in a conspiracy for bringing in the Pretender; and in the opinion of the House of Lords, that conspiracy was rather favoured than otherwise by the Government. The House of Lords thought, that no sufficient means were taken to discover, pursue, and punish the persons engaged in the conspiracy, and they accordingly took the matter into their own hands, and decided on making their own examination. This House immediately protested against it, and this was the language they used in an address to the Crown:—
Not many years afterwards, a resolution passed the House of Lords, declaring:—"Your faithful Commons believe the administration of the government best secured when it is left to your Majesty, with whom the law has entrusted it, and have so firm a dependence upon your Majesty's affection to your people, and your great wisdom, that they can never apprehend the least danger from any conspiracy, as when the examination thereof is under your Majesty's direction. Your faithful Commons do, therefore, most earnestly desire your Majesty to suffer no diminution of that prerogative, which during your Majesty's reign they are confident will always be exerted for the good of your people.
The House of Commons were of a different opinion. At that time the Crown finding that the two Houses were not in harmony, took measures to make them so. [Sir James Graham: by a creation of twelve Peers.] Yes; as the right hon. Baronet says, by a creation of Peers; but it so happened at that time, that the prerogative had been exerted with so much sobriety, that the creation of twelve Peers was sufficient to give the Ministry a majority. That certainly has not been the sobriety of later times. Sir, I have no objection, if it were proper at this time, to enter into that question; but, certainly, I think that one of the greatest evils caused by the Ministry which came into power in 1784 was, that it altogether altered the character of the House of Peers. I stated this opinion so long ago as 1822, on bringing forward the question of Parliamentary Reform, and I have not seen any reason to change it. Sir, I was proceeding to state that for a considerable time, owing, as I think, to a defect in the representative system, the House of Lords and the House of Commons were without any great difference. But after Lord Grey and his colleagues were entrusted by his late Majesty with the administration of affairs, it very soon happened, that with respect to a question of executive government—the policy of the Government with respect to Portugal—a difference of opinion did arise. The House of Lords assented to an Address to his Majesty, in fact, disputing and disapproving of the conduct of this House. What was the result? An hon. Member, an hon. and gallant Friend of mine, immediately asked the opinion of this House—he asked, whether this House agreed with the House of Lords, or whether it did not agree with him in supporting the policy of the Administration. That was a just and proper course; for you cannot have the policy of the executive carried on according to the opinion of the House of Commons, and also according to an adverse opinion of the House of Lords; when they differ, you must follow the opinion of one or the other. In my view the opinion of the House of Commons ought to be expressed on a subject of so great an importance as the practical government of Ireland, and if the opinion of the House of Commons differ from the opinion of the House of Lords, according to the practice of the constitution of this country, according to the power vested in the House of Commons, the opinion of the House of Commons ought to prevail. Sir, I have hitherto stated the reason why I think the House of Commons ought to express an opinion on this subject. I have not stated any thing consistent with their entertaining an opinion similar to that which has been entertained by the House of Lords. I have not stated anything inconsistent with their coming to a resolution, if they so think fit, either instituting an inquiry themselves, or passing a more direct vote of censure on the conduct of the administration in Ireland. All I have urged, and what I think I am entitled to ask, is that this House should pronounce an opinion, one way or the other, upon this subject. If they pronounce it either way, they will still maintain their character and their dignity as a House of Commons. But if they pass the resolution of the right hon. Baronet opposite, if they say that they will wait either till the end of this year, or perhaps till the end of the next year, when the House of Lords shall have been pleased to examine into all the cases of the exercise of the prerogative of mercy, into every crime tried at Kilkenny or Armagh, and to pronounce an opinion of them, and that this House will wait silently and quietly, leaving the Government to be crippled and enfeebled by a vote of the House of Lords, without pronouncing any opinion one way or the other, then the degradation of the House of Commons will be complete from that day. Now, Sir, I come to that which is no doubt the important question, upon which this House if they agree with me so far, ought to decide, and on which I fear I must trouble them at considerable length, and with much detail. We are resolved to bring before them our whole policy in Ireland, in order that the House and the country may know what at least have been our views with regard to the state of Ireland, that they may not be led away by partial statements with respect to the outrages and crimes which have taken place—that they may not conclude from the words of this resolution of the House of Lords that outrages and crime have so prevailed because the administration of the Government have been in the hands of men of liberal inclinations, and of liberal policy—but that they may see to what are owing the crime and outrage that have existed in Ireland—to what it is owing that at the present time crime and outrage have not been wholly repressed, but that there still remain evils the seeds of which were sown in other days, and which require not four years but forty years to be successfully eradicated. I will go back for this purpose to the commencement of the reign of George 3rd. In the commencement of that reign I find accounts of attacks upon houses; of persons going about armed forcing others to give up land; of persons going about disguised at night; of witnesses being threatened; of force being used, and combined force, in order to carry into effect the objects which the conspirators had in view. Now this state of things, lawless and turbulent as it was, was not very much different from the situation in which other countries have been—not very much different from the state in which this country is represented to have been in the early part of the reign of Elizabeth. Neither was it exceedingly different from the state in which Scotland was represented by one of the ablest of her sons to have been at the period of the Revolution of 1688. There was nothing in the circumstances of those periods to which the wisdom of the ministers of Elizabeth, and the wisdom of the ministers of William 3rd was not capable of applying a remedy. Is there anything in the nature of the Irish people which forbids that outrage and crime should be successfully met, and a remedy effectively applied? I think no one can deny that looking at the upper classes of society, no men have shown greater talent, greater pregnancy of wit, or greater aptitude for the pursuits of arts and arms than the people of Ireland. As to the lower classes, whether we view them as soldiers in the service of their country—or workmen in the various departments of labour —no men have been more remarkable for valour or industry, or have evinced more of the qualities by which a country can rise to eminence. There is nothing then in the character of the people themselves which forbids us to hope that the evils of their condition should be successfully met and overcome. But what was the disposition of those who had to legislate for this people? How did power and property treat the evils of 1761? It is useful that I should state this; it is proper that the House should know of it, because hon. Members are aware how much the Marquess of Normanby has been condemned for declaring that "property has its duties as well as its rights;" and that it is "the neglect of those duties in, past times, which has led to much of the misery of the present time." I wish to read upon this point the opinion delivered in 1787 of Mr. Fitzgibbon—afterwards Lord Clare—one who, it must be admitted, was not too much addicted to popular rights, and who afterwards, was a great leader in the Tory Government of Ireland. He proceeded after alluding to the attempts of the people to raise the price of labour, as follows:—"That no peace can be honourable or safe for her Majesty and her allies if Spain, and the Spanish West Indies be suffered to continue in the possession of the house of Bourbon."
That was the character given of the landlords by Mr. Fitzgibbon, as the Attorney-general. I should like to know what he would have said, if he had been told that it was not competent for him to express the simple opinion that "property has its duties as well as its rights." What would he have said if he had been told that it was not competent for him to allude even to the landlords of past times? I have now to quote another description of the state of the country, and the cause why it was not remedied. It is from the work and letters of Arthur Young, who, writing in 1772, says:—"At last they proceeded to regulate the price of land, to raise the price of labour, and to oppose the collection of the hearth-money and other taxes. I am very well acquainted with the province of Munster, and I know that it is impossible for human wretchedness to exceed that of the miserable peasantry in that province. I know that the unhappy tenantry are ground to powder by relentless landlords. I know that far from being able to give the clergy their just dues, they have not food or raiment for themselves; the landlord grasps the whole, and, sorry am I to add, that, not satisfied with the present extortion, some landlords have been so base as to instigate the insurgents to rob the clergy of their tithes, not in order to alleviate the distresses of the tenantry, but that they might add the clergy's share to the cruel rack-rents already paid."
This is the description, in very plain and humble terms, of the then condition of the peasantry. I shall take another description on this matter from a writer of a higher class, of far deeper philosophy, of commanding eloquence. The extract is from Burke, who, in writing to Sir Hercules Langrishe, with respect to Ireland, observes:—"The age has improved so much in humanity, that even the poor Irish have experienced its influence, and are every day treated better and better; but still the remnant of the old manners, the abominable distinction of religion united with the oppressive conduct of the little country gentlemen, or rather vermin of the kingdom, who never were out of it, altogether still bear, say hard, on the poor people, and subject them to situations more mortifying than we ever behold in England. The landlord of an Irish estate inhabited by Roman Catholics is a sort of despot, who yields obedience, in whatever concerns the poor, to no law but that of his will. To discover what the liberty of a people is we must live among them, and not look for it in the statutes of the realm: the language of the written law may be that of liberty, but the situation of the poor may speak no language but that of slavery. There is too much of this contradiction in Ireland; a long series of oppressions, aided by many very ill-judged laws, have brought landlords into a habit of exercising a very lofty superiority, and their vassals into that of an almost unlimited submission. A landlord in Ireland can scarcely invent an order which a servant, labourer, or cotter, dares refuse to execute. Nothing satisfies him but unlimited submission. Disrespect, or anything tending towards sauciness he may punish with his cane or his horsewhip with the most perfect security. A poor man would have his bones broken if he offered to lift his hand in his own defence."
This is an extract which shows, I think, most plainly and most truly, what was the condition of Ireland at that time. Here then was the period for the Legislature to commence its work. It is my belief, that if at that time measures had been passed putting the Roman Catholics upon an equality with the Protestants, making the spirit of justice pervade the laws of the realm—and if at the same time there had been done that which we have lately been endeavouring to do, if there had been passed a law in the spirit of the law of Elizabeth, for the sustenance of the poor, we should not now have to regret the state of Ireland in respect to crime and outrage. That was the time, in my opinion, when great good might have been accomplished, when great influence might with certainty have been exercised for the advantage of Ireland, and future evils prevented. What, however, was done at the time? Laws of coercion and punishment were passed. The first law passed respecting White-boys was in the year 1766. By that law severe penalties were awarded. The next White-boy Act was in the year 1775, and that Act recounts those disorders which the former Act was intended to suppress. It declares, in the preamble, that"You, who have looked deeply into the spirit of the popery laws, must be perfectly sensible that a great part of the present mis- chief which we abhor, in common (if it at all exists) has arisen from them. Their declared object was to reduce the Catholics of Ireland to a miserable populace, without property, without estimation, without education. The professed object was to deprive the few men who, in spite of those laws, might hold or obtain any property amongst them, of all sort of influence or authority over the rest: they divided the nation into two distinct bodies, without common interest, sympathy, or connection. One of these bodies was to possess all the franchises, all the property, all the education; the other was to be composed of drawers of water and cutters of turf for them. Are we to be astonished when by the efforts of so much violence in conquest, and so much policy in regulation, continued without intermission for near one hundred years, we had reduced them to a mob; whenever they came to act at all, many of them would act exactly like a mob, without temper, measure, or foresight?"
There were many capital felonies in that Act; but it is not only in the capital felonies that you see the spirit of that law; it is shown in other respects: if a person were out of doors in a garb which was not his usual garb, if he were out at hours of the night at which it was not usual for him to be in the pursuit of his lawful occupation, he was subjected to fine and imprisonment. Such was the spirit of that law. Such, too, was the spirit in which succeeding laws were passed. The statute book is full of these laws, and of Insurrection Acts, and of the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, and of various other Acts, all tending to punish Whiteboy outrages, and all using the utmost severity against the poor, and all taking care to pursue crimes with penalties, but I can find none providing permanently for the welfare of the people. I can find none admitting the Irish Catholics to be treated as the free subjects of a free country—none speaking in the spirit of mercy or in the language of conciliation. I shall now show the consequence of these proceedings. I do not mean, however, to go through the dreadful evidence of crimes, of murders, of insurrections—matters that cannot be denied, and which prevailed in Ireland in the years 1796, 1798, and 1803. I shall not go into the detail of those outrages; nor shall I go through the catalogue of all the laws of a penal character that have been tried from time to time for the suppression of those crimes. I wish to call your consideration to this point. The date of the principal Whiteboy Act was 1775, and I wish you to consider what occurred from that period up to the time of 1824 and 1825. In those fifty years there happened more remarkable revolutions than in any other portion of the history of the world. In France, an ancient monarchy was overthrown—a bloody and restless republic took its place—a military despotism was created, and the ancient dynasty was again restored. Almost every country in Europe had seen its throne abandoned, or its possessors changed. They had seen their institutions altered; they had seen foreign conquerors in their capitals, and they had all beheld the changes of a violent revolution. The persons living in these times, might be likened to the pilgrim in the ruins of Rome."It has frequently happened of late years in different parts of this kingdom, that several persons calling themselves Whiteboys, and others, as well by night as in the day time, have in a riotous, tumultuous, and disorderly manner assembled together, and have abused and injured the persons, habitations, and properties of many of his Majesty's loyal and faithful subjects, and have taken away and carried away their horses and arms, and have compelled them to surrender up, quit and leave their habitations, farms, and places of abode; and have forced them with threats and promises to join them in such their mischievous and iniquitous proceedings; and have also sent threatening and incendiary letters to several persons, to the great terror of his Majesty's peaceable subjects."
Such were the changes on the Continent of Europe. Here we had no foreign invaders, thanks to the mercy of Providence, nor was there any change of dynasty; but there had been changes in the constitution—there was an immense increase of the debt, there was the debasing of the currency—there had been great victories won by our army, glorious triumphs gained by our navy; very great renown obtained by our arms, and, amidst a constant increase of taxes, a great advance in commercial prosperity. Such were the changes in fifty years. Well, then, during these fifty years, these things were taking place on the Continent of Europe, and in this country, I will show you the account which, at the end of these fifty years, was given by a person competent to speak as to the facts with respect to the state of Ireland. The gentleman I refer to, Mr. Barrington, described Ireland in this way: —"The pilgrim oft At dead of night, 'mid his orison, hears, Aghast, the voice of time, disparting towers, Tumbling all precipitate, down-dashed."
"I find the Whiteboy system has for the last sixty years continued under different names. The outrages have been of the same kind for the last sixty years.
Thus, you see, that these fifty years, that that half century, which had produced such great changes—which had produced such great revolutions in almost every country in Europe, had wrought no change in Ireland; but, according to the evi- dence of Mr. Barrington, had left Ireland to be described in the same words in which, in the preamble of the Whiteboy Act, it was described in 1775. I might read for you many things to corroborate the testimony of Mr. Barrington—I might show you, by the evidence of Mr. Beecher, that country Gentlemen had their houses shut up at night—that they dare not venture to go out except in the day time—that they saw the fires by night upon the hills, and heard horsemen trampling by their residences. According to the evidence of another gentleman Mr. Blacker, no window was allowed to be open, except one or two in the whole house, so that the day-light was nearly excluded. I could show too the country abounding in horrible murders, but I forbear doing so. And now let me ask, to what was owing that state of things, in which life and property were rendered insecure in that part of the empire? Was it owing to the overmuch liberality of the Government? Was it owing to any excess of, commiseration with the poor? Was it owing to an extreme exercise of the prerogative of mercy? Was it owing to too great favour being shown to those professing the Roman Catholic religion? Had not persons of the same opinions as Lord Roden nearly during the whole of that period, held the Government of Ireland, except during the short glimpse of Lord Fitzwilliam's Lord-lieutenancy, and in 1806, when Mr. Grattan's advice was taken with respect to Ireland? During the whole of this period Ireland was under the guidance of these very men, who came now to complain to you of outrages and who tell you this day, in relation to the horrors upon which they dwell, that you are to regard them as the exclusive production of the years of Lord Normanby's Government in Ireland. Thus they unknowingly blind themselves, or wilfully conceal from you the fact, that such crimes are the offspring of former oppressions; that they are the offspring of a social system, which has frequently been denounced, and which produced its dreadful effects when an intolerant orange faction trampled upon the liberties, and was regardless of the interests of a great portion of the inhabitants. I have thought it necessary to state these things, in order that this House may not suppose, that when they are asked to agree to a resolution to support the House of Lords, that these crimes are, as their resolution implies, the production of the present Government, which has rendered life and property insecure in that part of the empire. What took place in the years 1824 and 1825? Committees of both Houses of Parliament were appointed: these committees inquired into the causes of the social outrages and the social misery that prevailed in Ireland. So far, then, as inquiry goes, up to 1825, we have it fully before the House. I now come to another branch of this great question, I have shown you that the social condition of Ireland had been long diseased. What was her political condition? Be it remembered, that Ireland had likewise been subject, at various periods, not merely to the social evils I have referred to, but also to political agitation; and it is a question most materially affecting the Government of Ireland, and most materially affecting the course taken by the Irish government, that the people of Ireland had been treated alternately with extreme harshness, and sudden conciliation. It was stated by Lord Grenville in the House of Lords, that concessions having been made, when persons were aware that it was owing to the pressure of public difficulties the concessions took place, they could hardly be expected to produce the effects of conciliation. This was stated with his usual caution by Lord Grenville, but it was at the same time stated very clearly.They (the illegal associations) have always had objects connected more or less with land. The preamble of the Irish Act,15 and 16 Geo. 3rd, almost describes the present state of the country. Associations have been formed for regulating the prices of land, attacking houses, administering oaths, delivering threatening notices, taking arms, taking horses at night, and returning them again in the morning, taking away girls, murders of proctors and guagers, preventing exportation of provisions, digging up land, destroying fences, houghing cattle, resisting the payment of tithes, and other outrages similar to those which have occurred in Clare last year, and which are now the subject of investigation in the Queen's County"
Such is the very temperate expression of Lord Grenville's opinion upon this point. There is another authority I may quote for the same purpose because I am sure that it will be received by every one with respect. The statement of Mr. Wilberforce in speaking upon the Catholic question is this:—"There is one circumstance," he said, "in the history of the Catholic concessions which deserves to be particularly considered. From the first concession, 1777 down to 1782, and thence to 1793, they have all been made under circumstances of greater or less political difficulty; and though no one will say it was an unwise or unfit policy, when we were entangled with a civil war in America, or when we were menaced with a foreign war with France, to endeavour, by conciliation and union, to strengthen our resources at home; yet it may have been suspected—most unjustly, I readily admit—that these concessions were not the result of legislative wisdom, nor the offspring of justice and liberality, nor the consequences of an enlarged and comprehensive policy, embracing the general welfare of the whole empire—but a benefit extorted from us under the influence of apprehension and danger,"
Mr. Wilberforce prophesied that tile like would occur again, and the sequel proved that he was a true prophet. In 1782, every thing was given up to the volunteers from the apprehensions of an insurrection. In 1793, the Franchise Bill, which had before been contemptuously rejected, was carried amidst apprehensions of a war with France. And what was the issue of the Catholic question Mr. Fox, Grattan, Plunkett, Canning, Lord Brougham—all these eminent men exerted their powerful and brilliant eloquence on behalf of the Catholics, but they exerted it in vain. They made no impression towards effecting an equality of privileges for our Roman Catholic brethren. But justice was granted to them, at length in 1829, under circumstances of political difficulty, such as those mentioned by Lord Grenville, and under the apprehension of those insurrections alluded to by Mr. Wilberforce. With Lord Grenville and Mr. Wilberforce, then Sir, I say, that those concessions which were made to Ireland under circumstances so suspicious, to say the least of them, could not call forth much gratitude —not strong feelings of contentment—not those sentiments which a just series of kind concessions would have been sure to produce. Therefore, it has been, that the people of Ireland, seeing that it was only through a system of intimidation they had been successful, determined to persevere in that system. And when Lord Anglesey undertook the Government of Ireland, such was the state of political agitation—such was the extent of social misery—and such was the diversity of disorder, that in the opinion of the Irish Government a severe system of coercion was necessary to aid the law in the repression of those evils. The Cabinet of that day proposed a coercion law, and I do not mean to deny that a part of the responsibility of its introduction attaches to me. But, in promoting that law, I thought with others that the time was come when we ought to look more deeply into the condition of Ireland, that we ought to consider whether we could not lay the foundation of a better system, which a mere temporary law of that kind could not do, and whether it was not fit to consult the temper and wishes of the people of Ireland, and whether the same freedom which we possess in our own country might not be as efficacious in Ireland. I have now shown you what was the condition of Ireland when Lord Normanby undertook the Government. A social condition for sixty years deranged, one part of the community hostile to the other—the only remedies applied, terror and violence—with some intervals of concession, made evidently from fear and apprehension. But am I wrong in stating that when Lord Normanby undertook its Government, which was in April 1835, those evils which I have described in the state of the country still existed? It would appear from the statements lately made, and more especially in the reported speech of Lord Oxmantown, that the character of the peasantry has been entirely changed—that, owing to the present administration they have been made the worst characters, they, whose dispositions, on the same authority, are alleged to have been formerly of the most innocent description. Now, what is the description given in 1834, by Lord Wellesley, who took his account from Lord Oxmantown. This is a dispatch from the Marquess of Wellesley to Lord Melbourne:—"I can remember," he often said, "the recognition of Irish independence, and how those who had talked of it as almost treason made no attempt to oppose it, while, if any objection was suggested, there was a general hush, and it was whispered they have 40,000 volunteers in arms. My experience of Parliament and of the country convinces me that when some alarm arises in Ireland, a war or an insurrection, every thing will be given up at once, as it then was, without those securities to ourselves, or that benefit for Ireland, which now might be provided."
This was the description given by the Marquess Wellesley on the authority of Lord Oxmantown in 1834. But let me refer to his own words. He says, that a man who violated the law had fifty chances to one that he escaped; that the man who observed the law was in danger and the violator of it comparatively safe. He described the state of the peasantry to be such, that it was impossible to form an adequate idea of it. I have no doubt, that Lord Oxmantown described the state of things as they were in 1834; but what is the feeling or the spirit of justice which would describe a state in which the law is better administered—in which certainly there is not the same impunity for crime—and in which illegal combinations have not the power that they are described to have had in 1834, and yet would lay the entire blame, and charge the entire fault of all existing outrages upon the Government of1835? You have heard what was the state of the country when the Government was undertaken by Lord Normanby, and now you find, that certain charges have been preferred to make him responsible for it. Let me now state that one of the greatest evils existing in Ireland—it is one described by all the evidence taken before the committees of both Houses of Parliament—is the distrust of the people in the law. It is stated by Mr. Barrington—it is stated by Mr. Leslie Foster—it is stated by Mr. Justice Day—it is stated by persons of very high authority, and there is no one in the House who will deny, that there had long existed a distrust of the law. Various instances could be mentioned of it. In one case a person committed a murder, he made himself obnoxious to other parties in the country, and even though he was thus obnoxious, he was not given up to the law; but the parties inimical to him beat him severely—so severely that his life was despaired of. Other instances might be given. I remember once a very signal instance related by my noble Friend the present Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and which he stated as occurring on his estates in Ireland. Lord Ebrington had remarked a young man, the son of a small farmer, living on his estate. Upon returning the next year to Ireland, he did not see the young man, and asked what had become of him, and he was told by his father that when coming home one evening he was way-laid, struck with stones, and died by the injuries inflicted in a few weeks afterwards. But, then, the farmer added that he knew who the persons were who had committed this gross outrage. My noble Friend, Lord Ebrington, naturally asked why he did not bring those parties, to justice. The farmer replied, "No, no: we know the parties, and will do as much for them another time, as they have done to us." It appears to me, that the cause why there has been this distrust in the law, has been, that the law has never been adminstered in a way that the people could have confidence in it, or that they would obtain equal justice. Amongst other things, it was generally believed by the people, and not without foundation, that persons who were about to undergo criminal trials would find that persons called upon the jury, who were known to entertain political opinions hostile to the Crown, or known to be Roman Catholics would be set aside. Pains were taken by Mr. O'Loghlen to relax the exercise of the right of the Crown to challenge. It was a very proper and necessary right, which should be exercised where persons fell under the suspicion of being favourable to the accused; but, then, in exercising it, care ought to be taken that no man should be objected to on account of his politics or religion. It appears to me that nothing could be done more calculated to shake the confidence of the country in the proper administration of justice than persisting in such a practice. That practice was altered, and greater confidence was felt in the administration of justice. It was not to be expected that when such an alteration took place, complaints would not be made. Crown solicitors may have thought that an Attorney-general would not have approved of challenges in cases where he would have approved of them. In making changes it is impossible that some disadvantages will not be experienced; but in return we find one beneficial consequence, that greater trust is placed in juries, and there is no want of the efficient administration of justice. I have an account, first, of committals with respect to homicides in Ireland from 1832 to 1838, both inclusive. They were as follow:"A complete system of legislation, with the most prompt, vigorous, and severe executive power, sworn, equipped, and armed for all purposes of savage punishment, is established in almost every district. On this subject I cannot express my opinion more clearly, nor with more force nor justice, than your Lordship will find employed in a letter addressed by Lord Oxmantown, lieutenant of the King's county, to Mr. Littleton. Lord Oxmantown truly observes that the combination surpasses the law in vigour, promptitude, and efficacy, and that it is more safe to violate the law than to obey it."
In 1829 we made a great change; we disfranchised those 40s. freeholders, and gave the franchise to a higher class. We fixed 10l. as the franchise for the future. I am not speaking now of the political wisdom of that arrangement; but it is obvious that one of the consequences would be, that those landlords who were hitherto so regardless of their tenants, who had been so regardless of that House, and of the constitution, as to make those tenants march in thousands to the poll, like persons having no will of their own, when they found the political benefit taken from them would have no regard to the misery or wants of those unfortunate persons, but would re-distribute their property according to the political benefits that could be derived from it. This, Sir, is an additional difficulty, with which the government since 1829 has had to deal. Since, then, and my noble Friend near me has declared the fact, the rights of property have been exercised with the utmost rigour, not only, as Mr. Drummond has said, in former times, but at the present day. That evil will be to a certain extent remedied when every person who shall be turned out of his House, every person who shall be driven from his cottage, can at least go and ask relief from a board of guardians. But what has hitherto been the case? We have it on the evidence of a person, a land-surveyor, Mr. Cahill said in his evidence before a committee—"The whole affair was managed, and the money paid by the landlord, or the candidate, or was in some other way made the object of a job for promoting the political influence of those who took the trouble of managing it. It also appeared from the authority he had before quoted, that the people were driven to the hustings in large numbers; that they were looked upon as part of the live stock of the estate; and that they were scarcely treated like human beings. Property has its value as well as its rights; and that it is to the neglect of these in times past, that many and most of the present miseries are to be attributed."
We have this going on now. It was lately going on. I am not referring to what was done in former days; I am not referring to the year 1775, but to that of 1839, up to the April of which these harsh ejectments have been continued. At that time persons were driven from their homes by means of a large military force—by means of infantry, cavalry, and police—although no resistance of any kind was offered; and any government that exists in Ireland has to deal with the outrages that may be produced by persons of this kind being left to starve, the landlords merely providing for them for a few weeks, or at most for two or three months, after which period their existence is left wholly uncared for. Tell me not, then, that in 1839, or in any period that has elapsed from 1835 to 1839, or at any period of those four years, we could remedy the evils that were so deeply rooted, or that we could expect that outrages would not be committed, arising from causes that have long prevailed. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir Robert Peel) seems to admit this statement as if it were a matter of course; but he must see that the complaint has been made; that such statements have been heard, and that the appointment of this committee, and the debate which has been sent to Ireland accompanying it, takes for granted that these outrages and crimes have been owing to the conduct of Government, which during the last four years has had the administration of Ireland. I say, then, that of all these evils we cannot expect that a cure should be effected, but in the course of a long period of time. The right hon. Baronet opposite, in 1829, in reading a letter complaining of outrages committed upon the person in Ireland, attributed them to the diseased state of the country. Are such evils to be remedied in four years? Can we"State generally what has become of them; (1,126 poor people ejected). Do they continue wandering about?—I have known on one estate which is near me, and which I had regulated for a gentleman, there has been a great many of the old people turned off that became beggars, and a good many of them died of want.—Do you mean they died from want?—A kind of distress; being turned out of their houses, and many of them became beggars and died; some of them are labouring in different parts of the country, but the old people in general died; I can state to the committee the number that died to my own knowledge."
This is not in the power of any government by means, either of legislation or administration. But we may do this—we may show that we are determined to do justice to all parties. We may show that we are determined to promote such laws as will tend to diminish poverty and misery. We may show that we have confidence in the people, that we will place reliance upon the affections of the people, and we may then expect that in time that confidence, long estranged, will return—that in time that affection, greatly alienated, will be again turned towards our Government. We may expect, that misery and poverty, the accompaniment of too great a proportion of the population, will yield to the remedies that we apply, such as those remedies which the wisdom of the ministers of Elizabeth applied during her reign in this country—such remedies as the ministers of William 3rd applied, during his reign, to the disorders of Scot- land. Yet let me not be understood to say, that the Roman Catholic religion could be united to the State as the Presbyterian religion of Scotland has been. But it appears to me, that in 1829, when a settlement was made of the Roman Catholic disabilities, other measures might have accompanied it which would have made the task of Government more easy to those who have to administer it. Still if permanent benefit is to be obtained, it must be sought by administering fairly to the people the law by which they are ruled, and by pursuing the principles which we have pursued, by adopting the maxims which we have adopted, by giving the people that confidence which never has been given to them, and which never can be given to them by an administration consisting of persons who have ever been hostile to them, tied who even now, in this year of 1839, in granting a municipal franchise to Ireland, such as has been granted to England and Scotland, deny them the miserable boon of having a franchise of 8l. instead of a franchise of 10l.; who insist upon it that if we give a municipal right, we shall restrict the boon, thus recording our distrust in the same statute by which we give them privileges. Under the administration of persons professing those opinions, I do not believe that the complaints of Ireland will be permanently redressed, and I do not believe that the heart of Ireland will be reconciled to this empire. Before I conclude, I will now beg to read some words written by Mr. Burke, towards the end of his career and of his life, at a time when he complained of being neglected by the Government of the day, and when he had also broken off all terms with the opposition, having, in short, separated himself from his political connections, and, as may be inferred, divested himself of political influence. Mr. Burke said in a letter on the affairs of Ireland (1797):Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow; Raze out the written troubles of the brain; And, with some sweet oblivious antidote, Cleanse the foul bosom of that perilous stuff Which weighs upon the heart?
It is that disposition which I invoke, and not any favour to, or confidence in the present Administration. It is that favour which I invoke—a disposition of mind favourable to the Irish people, and which I ask you to assert to-night. Sure I am, that if you agree with the opinion that dictated the appointment of a committee of the House of Lords, infected as it was with the previous statements that were made, you will not infuse into the people of Ireland a belief that the Government which you will probably establish really means well and favourably to the Irish people. Depend upon it, you will never infuse into their minds a notion that you really wish to see them on an equality of privilege with us. They will have a constant and rankling suspicion that justice will not be impartially administered—that favour will not be impartially shown. In saying this and in asking this House for its opinion, I know very well that while I must encounter the hostility of the numerous party opposite with regard to this question, that the present Government likewise is not regarded with favour upon other subjects—subjects totally removed from the present, by another portion of this House. An hon. Gentleman has given notice of a motion which he intends to make, should I be successful in carrying the resolution I mean to propose. I need not at present enter into the discussion of that resolution which is totally different from the subject in hand, and which will, no doubt, be preceded by a statement by him of the reforms which he intends to propose, and the subject matter of them, and which the House will in future decide upon. That they are not minor reforms—that they are not reforms of trifling importance— we must gather from his having given notice of it upon this occasion. When he states his opinions on his amendment—when he states the extent to which he means to go—I shall be ready to state my opinions on the subject, adhering to opinions which I have declared in this House, not as those opinions have been by some carelessly, and by others carefully, misrepresented—but opinions resting upon great principles, and having in view, as I think, the future welfare of this country. Sir, the difference of opinion which the hon. Gentleman entertains, may be a difference of opinion which may lead him to say that, however he may agree with us with regard to this resolution, that however he may agree with us with regard to the support of the government of Ireland, yet the difference upon other subjects is such that it is far better that he shall do all in its power, in union with all those who may agree with him, to make way for another government in this country. I shall, however, rest satisfied with the decision of this House upon the subject. I cannot say that I think the course which the Government has pursued with respect to Ireland, or with respect to the general questions which have affected this country, is a course from which we ought to depart. I am not prepared to say that the acts of reform which have succeeded the reform in the representation in 1832 have been trifling or unimportant. When the time comes I shall show that we have made considerable changes—that we have gone far to reform abuses, and that the spirit in which these reforms have been carried will lead quietly and gradually to other reforms and other safe and salutary changes, whereas an abrupt interruption of them might stop the progress of reform altogether. That is the argument which I may be prepared to hold if that question shall be brought before the House by the hon. Gentleman. At present I have only to consider that although a majority of this House may approve of our Irish policy, yet that the present Government may have run its course, and that another government may succeed it. Sir, I may think the consequences to Ireland will be dangerous—I may think the consequences to the empire very doubtful; but, personally, as regards ourselves, I think we shall have no reason to regret that result. We repent not of the measures that we have proposed—we have no inclination to give way to the measures which we have thought it our duty to resist. It will be a consolation to us, on the dissolution of the Ministry, that with regard to the affairs which I have this night brought under your consideration, that with regard to these affairs of Ireland, we have endeavoured to introduce a friendly relation between this country and that part of the United Kingdom, and that in so doing we have been ready to encounter any opposition—to incur the loss of much strength, and of some popularity, in this part of the United Kingdom—that we have been ready to endeavour to unite by affection, to unite by feelings of good will and love, the people of this country and the people of Ireland—to make the whole United Kingdom stronger against all its enemies—to found the government of Ireland, as the Government of England has long been founded, upon opinion, upon affection, upon good-will; and that if the Ministry should fall, it will fall in an attempt to knit together the hearts of her Majesty's subjects."I have been long, but it is almost a necessary consequence of dictating, and that by snatches, as a relief from pain gives me the means of expressing my sentiments. They can have little weight in coming from me; and I have not power enough of mind or body to bring them out with their natural force. But I do not wish to have it concealed that I am of the same opinion to my last breath, which I entertained when my faculties were at the best, and I have not held back from men in power in this kingdom, to whom I have very good wishes, any part of nay sentiments on this melancholy subject, so long as I had means of access to persons of their consideration. As to a participation in the part of the Catholics in the privileges and capacities which are withheld, without meaning wholly to depreciate their importance, if I had the honour of being an Irish Catholic, I should be content to expect satisfaction upon that subject with patience, until the minds of my adversaries, few but powerful, were come to a better temper; because, if the Catholics did enjoy, without fraud, chicane, or partiality, some fair portion of those advantages, which the law, even as now the law is, leaves open to them, and if the rod were not shaken over them at every turn, their present condition would be tolerable—as compared with their former condition it would be happy. But the most favourable laws can do very little towards the happiness of a people, when the disposition of the ruling power is adverse to them. Men do not live upon blotted paper. The favourable or the hostile mind of the ruling power is of far more importance to mankind for good or evil than the black letter of any statute."
Sir Robert Peel
I do not regret that I have given to the noble Lord by declaring antecedent to the present debate the amendment which I meant to move, the advantage of which he has largely, but not unfairly, availed himself, of commenting on the terms and purport of that amendment. I consider that I made no concession; that I deprived myself of no advantage by not concealing the terms of the amendment until the moment of submitting it to the House. I felt that the propositions contained in it are so consistent with good sense, so founded in justice, that I willingly granted that opportunity for comment which an early declaration must give. I sought to conciliate no support. I sought not to exclude the support of any man, who, differing from me in opinion, might yet think the amendment justified by truth and by reason; and I did not attempt so to frame it as to conciliate those from whom on most questions of policy I widely differ. Sir, I was advised not to introduce the name of the House of Lords, because the name would raise opposition from those Gentlemen of extreme popular opinions, who are necessarily opposed to the House of Lords. I was asked to move for a Committee on the state of the nation, as a plan more captivating to many than any other I could adopt, but I refused either proposal. In this great crisis—for great it is when the House of Commons is called on to make a partial declaration of confidence in Government, and to seek (as I think) an unjustifiable collision with the House of Lords. I endeavoured, in framing my amendment, to consider nothing but the considerations of equity and reason, and I felt, that although a majority might trample on that amendment, it could not extinguish its vitality and living principles. Such were the motives which actuated me in framing the amendment which I mean to submit for the approbation of the House. And now I will appeal to the House whether it be right at this moment, to ask the House of Commons for a partial declaration of confidence in one branch of public Government, in one branch of the Legislature, amid the difficulties that surround us? Are you justified in seeking a collision with another branch of the Legislature? These are the questions you have to determine—and I now say beforehand, that, if in arguing them, through the strength of my conviction, or betrayed by the hastiness of debate, which it is difficult, when the conviction is strong, utterly to restrain; if I introduce any language better fitted for the acerbity of party contention, than the gravity of this great occasion, I make at once a preliminary apology for the introduction of such language. Sir, to me this introduction of an abstract principle on the subject of Ireland—the introduction of it by the noble Lord—the introduction of it in the month of April—may awaken reminiscences of former years, and the results of former motions. I may not be able to administer so far the oblivious antidote of which the noble Lord has spoken, as entirely to forget the abstract resolution of 1835, moved in April of that year by the noble Lord; but this I can undertake to do—I can raze from my mind and memory any feeling of animosity on account of that resolution. And, although I shall refer to that resolution as one of the instances of the impolicy of such proceedings, I shall prove, I hope, that I am not labouring under any of those irritating feelings which the most generous minds may imbibe in the heat of political conflict. Sir, I have two propositions to submit to the House in support of my resolution, and in opposition to that of the noble Lord; and I will attempt in my argument to keep as closely as possible to the principles involved in them. My propositions are these—First, that it is not fitting nor suitable to the character or functions of the House of Commons to make abstract declarations of opinions with respect to the public policy of the Government, unless under particular and special circumstances and cases of emergency. That is my first proposition. My second is, that my objection to abstract declarations of opinion are infinitely aggravated when they are sought as causes of unjust conflict with the other branch of the Legislature. If I establish either of these, I have, as it appears to me, a conclusive argument against the proposed resolution of the noble Lords, and all I ask is an indulgent hearing while I attempt by argument to support them. I say, in the first place, that a declaration of confidence in the Executive Government on the part of the House of Commons, ought neither to be asked for nor given, except in extreme cases. Confidence ought rather to be inferred from the general support the House gives the Executive Government, from the manner in which it deals with the legislative measures proposed by Government, than from any abstract declaration of opinion. There are, I admit, occasions which may justify a Government in calling for such declarations; but they are rare, and extremely rare, when the House of Commons should select one particular branch of the public policy of Government, and, passing by all other branches, mark with approbation that detached and single portion.—By taking such a course you will lead the House of Commons into great embarrassment. It is difficult to conceive any Executive Government which does not adopt some branches of policy not entitled to support. It is difficult to conceive a Government without some error; and a partial approbation or condemnation, leaves the public at a loss to know whether or not the Government possess the general confidence of the House. In fact, a pronounced approbation of a single portion of policy implies a disapprobation of all which is not mentioned; and you may make it impossible to form a Government, if you persist in this course. Instead of gathering from the general support of the House, a conviction that the Government merits and therefore receives the confidence of the legislature, the public will require a declared approbation of every part of its policy, and will require that approbation to be renewed every time any part of its policy is questioned; you will thus paralyze the whole administration. You will make it impossible for the Government to move without continual votes of approbation of every part of its policy. I say, therefore, and every one will admit, that there ought to be some strong foundation for calling on the House of Commons for an approval of one part of your policy. Still it may be possible that partial declarations of confidence may be justified. They may have this advantage, that by limiting them to a single branch of policy, you obtain a clear and explicit definition of the principle, and a clear exposition of the practice of which you mean to approve. But if you commit this double error, that you take a single branch, and have not the courage and the manliness to declare the principles of the policy which you ask the House of Commons to approve of—if you do not tell us clearly the period when that policy has been in operation—if you do not make it explicit beyond all doubt, what are the measures, and who are the men you ask the House of Commons to approve of, then you are involving the House in a false position, and establishing a precedent as fatal as any ever adopted. Is not your resolution open to this objection?—is it not partial and unsatisfactory in its construction? is it not vague and indefinite? You ask me to approve of the principle that has guided the Executive Government of Ireland—but the Executive Government means her Majesty's Government generally. You cannot separate the Executive Government of Ireland from the cabinet which presides over all our affairs. You cannot pay a compliment to Lord Normanby and to the noble Lord opposite (Morpeth) without paying it to all the members of the Executive. Do you recollect the case of Lord Glenelg last year? Do you recollect that when it was proposed last year, to pronounce a censure upon that branch of your Administration over which that noble Lord presided, you declared that it was impossible to separate an individual Mem- ber of the Government from the rest of his colleagues. If you have forgotten, I will remind you of the circumstance. Why, Sir, it is but rarely we can relieve the severe performance of our duty by the exhibition of romantic and chivalrous affection; but I must say, there was something most gratifying, when the attack was made by the hon. Member for Leeds, on the noble Lord's Colonial Administration, there was something delightful in the feeling of public devotion and private affection which made the entire Cabinet rally round Lord Glenelg, and cheerfully offer him their support. That feeling was a just one so far as this, that a man more amiable in private life, more desirous of efficiently performing his public duty, a man who showed greater ability in debate, or conciliated a greater degree of good will even in opponents, never existed than Lord Glenelg. I am quoting this instance to show, that if censure cast upon an individual Member of the Administration is to be construed as a censure upon the Government, a compliment to the executive Government of Ireland is a compliment to the Cabinet generally. I remember how the noble Lord, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, rushed forward on that occasion. Never, since the days of Nisus and Euryalus, was greater or more affectionate zeal exhibited:—
The noble Lord said, "Did the hon. Baronet suppose that the present Cabinet either would or could remain in office, if one of its Members were to be driven from it by a direct vote of censure of that House? Why, if they could be so base and dishonourable, that House would never permit a set of men to retain their places, who had allowed one of their number to become a 'scapegoat to save themselves. Those were the words used by the noble Lord, who was determined not to incur the reproach levelled by the sarcastic moralist at the quondam companions of the"nihil iste, nec ausus, Nec potuit: cœlum hoc et conscia sidera testor: Tantûm infelicem nimium dilexit amicum."
Lord Glenelg was not to be—"poor sequestered stag, That from the hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt," "When most invectively he pierced' through The body of the country, city, court."
Misery was not to part"Left and abandoned of his velvet friends."
Upon that occasion the Government did present an instance of generous devotion which is rarely seen; but it established the principle, that the act of one part of the Government is shared by all. But if that principle be just, so when a compliment is proposed to a particular branch of the Administration, you cannot exclusively appropriate that compliment to one department, but the whole Administration must participate in it. This, then, is a compliment sought to be paid to the executive Government of Ireland. Do you mean, then, to extend that approbation to the course of legislative policy which the Government has pursued with reference to that country? Do you mean to say, that in paying a compliment to the principles which have pervaded the executive Government of Ireland, you cordially approve, in respect to legislation, of the language of this resolution? What, then, becomes of the forty-six Gentlemen who followed the hon. Member for Sheffield last year in denouncing the Government for the course which they had pursued in reference to legislative measures for Ireland. Is, then, this vote of partial approbation not to be construed as extending to the legislative policy of the Government, and is it to be confined solely to the administration of the affairs of Ireland? Is this to be your vote in contradiction to what you assume to be the censure of the House of Lords —an assumption of which I utterly deny the justice? Finding yourselves, as you say, censured by the House of Lords, you come forward and ask the House of Commons, in opposition to the House of Lords, to approve of your conduct; but you are not even explicit enough to tell us for what period you demand approbation. No; what you ask is, that "the House approve of the executive policy which has guided the Executive Government in Ireland of late years." I will not trouble the House with voluminous quotations from writers, to show you the various periods to which the term "late years" has been applied, but merely assert, that it has been applied to every number of years from two to one hundred. But will the House of Commons not require any further specification of the period to which the resolution applies, than is to be found in the expression of "late years?" Now, I ask you this distinct question, and I hope the noble Lord opposite will interrupt me by answering it. Do you mean to include the Administration of Lord Grey, Lord Wellesley, Lord Anglesey, and Lord Plunket, in your vote of approval—or do you mean to deliver up these noblemen to the obloquy which has been cast in certain quarters on their administration of Irish affairs? Do you mean to institute an invidious contrast between the government of Lord Grey and Lord Melbourne—or to have Lord Normanby complimented at the expense of Lord Anglesey? If you include Lards Wellesley and Anglesey, how is it possible for those to join in the vote who were formerly so loud in censuring these noblemen—who declared them unworthy public confidence, and stigmatized their whole course of conduct as marked by hostility to Ireland? If you mean to exclude them, I ask you why you have not had the manliness to say so? Why do you not say, that Lord Melbourne's Government commenced in 1835; our approbation, therefore, is limited to the same period, and applies exclusively to that Government? But, no. You evade that difficulty—you are unwilling to make the invidious contrast between Lord Grey and Lord Melbourne, or between Lords Wellesley and Anglesey on the one side, and Lord Normanby on the other; and in calling on the House of Commons to sanction and approve your policy, you cover your meaning under the convenient generality that it is the policy adopted of late years. But probably you take the more generous course, and you do mean to include Lord Anglesey and Lord Wellesley in your vote of approbation. I infer that, indeed, from the speech of the noble Lord because the noble Lord stated, obscurely, indeed, and rather by insinuation than in direct terms, that Lord Wellesley had not been quite so successful in conciliating public opinion as Lord Normanby, but he had been beset by great and peculiar difficulties. Well, then, do you exclude Lord Wellesley or do you not exclude him from your vote of approbation for his administration of the executive in Ireland? Mind, merely executive, for the legislative function is entirely omitted in this motion. That you include him, would be of course the generous reply. Well, then, you include him, But if you include him you must include me. This makes a great difficulty. For when you ask me for a vote of approval of the conduct and principles by which the Executive Government of Ireland has been guided of late years, you leave me in great doubt, intimately connected as I myself have been with the Executive Government in that country of late years, whether you mean to approve and sanction my conduct or not. I suppose, of course, you mean to exclude me from this agreeable mark of your approbation. That I take for granted. But if you mean to include Lord Wellesley how do you manage to exclude me, for five years, from the year 1822 to the year 1827, I had the honour and satisfaction of acting in conjunction with Lord Wellesley in the Government of Ireland? There was no difference of opinion between us in relation to Irish policy, and the difference which led to our estrangement was in no manner connected with Irish affairs. I acted with Lord Wellesley as Lord Lieutenant, and with Lord Plunket as Attorney-general of Ireland, and if either Lord Wellesley or Lord Plunket disapproved of my principles of government in Irish affairs, I ask you to call on them to shew why they did not separate themselves from me. Again, I repeat, that the disunion which took place between us was not the point of executive administration in Ireland. I acted also with Lord Melbourne, who was Chief Secretary for Ireland when I was Secretary of State. I presume that Lord Melbourne, in the executive administration of affairs in Ireland, has been acting on the same principles of late years as those on which lie formerly acted. Again, therefore, your approbation extends through him to me. No agreement of principles on the administration of the law and on the executive affairs in Ireland, could be more cordial than the union which existed between Lord Melbourne and myself, whilst Lord Melbourne was Secretary for Ireland, and I was Secretary of State. My separation from Lord Melbourne did not arise from any difference in our views with regard to the administration of affairs in Ireland. From what period, then, do you date your approbation of Irish policy? Perhaps you will say, from the commencement of Lord Grey's Government in 1830? Is it so? We were then excluded from power. You brought forward the Reform Bill, and we ceased to exercise any direction over the Irish Government. Is it, then, from 1830 that you date your approbation? Perhaps you will not date it from so long a period. Is it, then, from 1834? Will you date it from the period of Lord Grey's retirement from power, and your separation from my noble Friend, the Member for Lancashire, and my right hon. Friend, the then Member for Cumberland? Is it so? Well, let us take it from 1834, still you must include me. You make no exception. You say, that the principles which of late years have guided the executive Government in Ireland are entitled to public approbation; and taking the most limited and restricted period, namely, from the year 1834, the Government over which I presided comes in for its share. I say, with the noble Lord, we must have something definite and precise. We cannot praise two governors of Ireland, acting on different principles—we cannot praise Lord Haddington and Lord Normanby. No; but you evade the difficulty; for, if you take your stand from the year 1834, when Lord Grey retired from power, yet still Lord Haddington administered the executive in Ireland during the Government over which I presided, and you make no exception, but merely ask the sanction and approbation of the House of Commons for the policy pursued in Ireland of late years. Why, if you do not mean to include our policy, why do you not say so —why not state explicitly what are the principles which you ask us to approve, and what is the period of time during which those principles have guided the administration of the executive in Ireland. Is it fair—is it decent, to call on the House of Commons for an abstract declaration of approbation of certain principles of government, and yet neither define those principles, nor state during what period they have been in operation? Now, what are those principles which we are called on to approve? If you say they are the principles which have governed Lord Normanby and the present Administration in their administration of affairs in Ireland, I should still object to the sanction you ask for on account of the indefiniteness and vagueness of the resolution. And if this be really what you do mean, why have you not the courage and manliness to say so? Why do you not tell us why you exclude the Marquess of Angle- sea—why you exclude Lord Wellesley—why you exclude Lord Grey's Government. At least, it may fairly be supposed, from the language of your resolution that it extends to the period, and to all Governments since 1830. I say, then, if so, the ground on which I dissent from this resolution is on account of the vagueness, and indistinctness, and the indefinite nature of the principles for which it asks our sanction; principles neither expressed in the resolution itself, nor to be inferred from any period named in it as the period of their operation. I come now, Sir, to the second point. I ask the question whether you are justified in entering into collision with the House of Lords?—for mark, it is collision, this proceeding means nothing less—and that it is a collision is the impression which has prevailed generally throughout the country, and is, indeed, a very natural construction of the noble Lord's proceeding. For the noble Lord, the very day after the vote of the House of Lords, came down to the House and gave notice of this motion; and what was the comment made on it in Ireland? It was in these words—"This is a manly course; this is seeking collision with the House of Lords." Now, Sir, the entrance into collision with one of the constituted authorities of the State is no light matter. It will be well for this House to consider maturely what are the instruments or means which they have in their power to carry on such a contest, as well as what consequences are likely to come from it. It is incumbent upon us, before we enter on this conflict, to ask ourselves whether there is any justification for the collision we are about to begin. Now the professed justification seems to be, that the House of Lords appointed "a Select Committee to inquire into the state of Ireland since the year 1835, in respect to crime and outrage, which have rendered life and property insecure in that portion of the empire." This, then, is the foundation for the projected collision. Now, Sir, how does this House stand in relation to the other House with respect to the legislative measures affecting Ireland? Is there so extensive a difference as to render a collision likely with respect to legislative measures? On the Poor-law Bill the two Houses have come to a concurrence; on the Tithe Bill the House of Peers has concurred with the House of Commons; on the Municipal Corporations Bill a differ- ence has hitherto prevailed. But you do not seek for the elements of quarrel surely in the Acts of last Session? You profess your proceeding to be founded solely on the appointment of a Committee of the House of Lords, which you consider (and indeed it is necessary for your argument) and construe into a vote of censure on the Government. As far as legislative proceedings are concerned, you have not a pretence for a quarrel with the House of Lords; for with reference to them during the present Session, not one communication has taken place between this house and the House of Lords. And the single act from which you have a right to infer any thing of the intentions of the House of Lords is this:—You asked the House of Lords, on the first day of the Session, to reply to a paragraph in the Speech with respect to municipal corporations; and in the Address which the House of Peers presented to her Majesty, they said, "We concur with your Majesty, that the reform and amendment of the municipal corporations in Ireland is essential to the interest of that part of the United Kingdom." You may have thought it discreet to introduce such a paragraph into the Queen's Speech, knowing as you did the opposition which was formerly made to your views on that point, and, indeed, I myself should have much difficulty in pronouncing such a reform to be so "essential;" but the House of Lords, be it remembered, at your suggestion, reviewing the conflicts that had taken place, yielded to your views, and adopted them in their Address. So far, then, as we know of the intentions of the House of Lords with respect to legislative measures relative to Ireland still pending, there appears to be nothing on which to found the slightest pretence for the collision sought. The sole cause assumed for the collision is, that the House of Lords have appointed a Committee, to inquire into the state of Ireland since the year 1835 in respect of crime and outrage, which had rendered life and property insecure in that part of the empire; and which appointment the noble Lord, in the course of his argument, assumed to be a virtual censure on her Majesty's Government. I deny that it is a censure, or can be considered as tantamount to a censure. The first question that arises, then, is, whether the appointment by the House of Lords of that Committee be a vote of censure, or not? And I ask you to listen for a brief while to the argument by which I shall endeavour to prove that such an assumption is not a fair one. The noble Lord said not exactly that it was a vote of censure, but that it was prima facie a censure. Now, I can understand what a prima facie case means; but I do not exactly understand what is meant by a prima facie censure. There may be grounds for it, but the noble Lord's expression, as applied to the vote of the House of Lords, I do not exactly understand. But is the appointment of a Committee by the House of Lords a vote of censure on the Government, or not? I deny that it is, or that it is to be considered in that light. It may be a questioning of their policy, or rather an appearing to question their policy; but to justify the noble Lord it is requisite that they should adopt some far less equivocal course. For have we, I ask, never appointed Committees to inquire into the state of Ireland? And did we consider such an appointment as tantamount to a vote of censure—did we consider that, by so doing, we were paralysing the functions of Government? Why in 1824, Lord Althorp proposed a Committee to inquire into the state of Ireland, and the motion, as amended by my right hon. Friend, was agreed to, and a Committee appointed to inquire into the state of that country, and more particularly as to the circumstances which led to the disturbance that prevailed in that part of the empire. The inquiry was a large one. The acts of the Government, its conduct and policy, came into question, though the inquiry was limited to that part of Ireland in which disturbances had prevailed. When Lord Althorp moved for that Committee it was not contended that the functions of Government were incompatible with the appointment of such a Committee. It lasted two years, every subject was inquired into, and though the Catholic question was carefully excluded from the report, every practical subject relating to the functions and operations and policy of Government, and the administration of justice, was inquired into—not merely the administration of justice, but the prerogatives of the Crown and the exercise of the prerogative of mercy itself. How, then, can the House of Commons, with this example before their eyes, an example so complete, where the Committee had powers so extended, and yet where no one ever ventured to assert, that those powers were incompatible with the exercise of the functions of Government—how can we with any consistency consider the appointment of this Committee by the House of Lords as a vote of censure, or make it a ground for coming into collision with that House? There is another instance to which I will refer. In 1827 the noble Lord himself moved the appointment of a Committee—a Select Committee—to inquire into the cause of the increase in the number of criminal convictions in England and Wales, and empowered the Committee to report their observations thereon. That Committee was appointed in 1827 by the noble Lord. Now were not the functions of justice and the administration of criminal justice brought under the inquiry of that Committee? But was that appointment considered by the House of Commons as a vote of censure on the Government? Did the House express any surprise at the Government continuing to hold the reins of office after such a vote? Certainly not. With what justice, then, can we now place on this vote of the House of Lords a construction which we never placed upon our own votes, and rush into collision with them on a mere matter of assumption and interpretation? Well, Sir, in the year 1832 another Committee was appointed. The noble Lord may, perhaps, say, that there was no occasion for the Committee appointed by the House of Lords—that the Committees of 1824 and 1825 had exhausted the subject. This, however, is quite a different argument. The noble Lord may contend, that we have had inquiry enough—that inquiry has been exhausted, and I admit it to be an intelligible ground of objection to inquiry on his part, but no ground for this motion. I protest, Sir, against entering into a contest with another branch of the Legislature, because they do not happen to entertain the same opinion as the noble Lord. If they do not agree with this House that the Committee of 1824 and 1825 was sufficient, we have no right to resent this expression of their opinion by a vote such as that which the noble Lord asks at our hands. But, in 1832, this House, at the instigation of the noble Lord's colleagues, the Number for Dundee and Paymaster of the Forces who was not satisfied with the Committees of 1824–5, who did not think inquiry into fresh crime exhausted, appointed another Committee. Sir Henry Parnell moved a resolution, which I ask you to compare with that of the other House now in question:—"The flux of company."
Now, suppose the House of Lords had abandoned their own words, and taken those of Sir Henry Parnell's motion, would you have abandoned your objection? The words I have just read were the words proposed by a member of her Majesty's Government itself, and yet you now come forward to ask us to resent a motion which does not go so far as that of Sir Henry Parnell's. Sir Henry not only sought to investigate the disturbances, but to inquire into their causes. I will venture to say, that if any Member of the House of Lords had made that motion, the arguments that have been used here to-night would have been doubly enforced, and it would have been said that such a resolution would do nothing less than point at her Majesty's Government as the cause of disturbance and crime. These committees, however, were matters on record; they were acts of the House of Commons itself; and with these acts before them the noble Lord and the Government challenges the right of the House of Lords to inquire into the state of crime in Ireland, and holds that the claim to exercise that right was tantamount to a vote of censure upon the executive Government of Ireland. I cannot forget that there are in the House of Lords Members of her Majesty's Government who have not denied the right of the House of Lords to inquire into the state of crime, and who, if they had considered the phraseology of Lord Rodeo's motion so objectionable, might have taken a different course from that which they had in this discussion pursued. Why did they not say, "We consider the words so equivocal that though you disclaim, if you are sincere, all intention of conveying a censure on the Government —though the Duke of Wellington may deny that this resolution is tantamount to censure—yet we will test your sincerity, and propose the extension of the inquiry to the year 1832." If in the words, "which have rendered life and property insecure," you feared was conveyed an insinuation that they were ren- dered insecure by the acts of the Government, why did you not move an amendment in some such terms as these:—"With respect to such crimes and outrages as have rendered life and property insecure?" If either in the language of the resolution or in the period at which it fixed the inquiry, you, after the disclaimer of the Duke of Wellington, apprehended an implied vote of censure, why not have moved an amendment in the terms of the motion in the House of Lords—a legitimate and proper course, instead of letting it pass without moving an amendment, and then availing yourselves of it as a pretext for collision with the House of Lords? Have you no example of this course before your eyes? When last year a committee was appointed to inquire into the appointment of sheriffs, a subject ten times more objectionable than an inquiry into crime, you assented to the principle of the motion, and, only objecting to the limitation of the term over which the inquiry was to extend, you extended the time, therefore, and precluded the possibility of the appointment of the committee being construed into a vote of censure. Why not have acted in the same way on the present occasion? Why not have come down to the House of Commons with a motion for a corresponding inquiry, and by so doing have prevented all possibility of the inquiry in the Lords bearing a criminatory character? Or if there were any crimination to arise, to extend that crimination to others. I wish now you would extend that inquiry. I wish now—now, when I have heard myself charged with fostering a petty spirit of Orange domination, I wish now you would appoint a committee which should commence, not with the year 1835, but with the year 1834, or with any other year you may please to name, and which shall subject my acts and my correspondence to investigation, and I tell you at once that I will not shrink from such an inquiry. But the question now is, why, instead of asking for a collision with the House of Lords, amidst the difficulties that surround you, do you not take the course with respect to the committee on crimes and outrage, which you took with respect to the appointment of sheriffs and strip the appointment of the committee of all criminatory character, by extending the period of inquiry so as to include the acts of other parties? If the House of Lords did ap- point the committee, supposing that there was something worse that induced it—not censure—but the allegation of a prima facie case of inquiry, can we reasonably turn round and blame the House of Lords for entering into the investigation? Least of all was it to he expected that when such charges were made, the Irish Government should have refused inquiry and expressed great indignation at its being instituted. The course which I now take is in conformity with the course I have always taken. I do not on account of any inquiry that may be made into crime in Ireland, or any amount of crime that may be proved to exist there, in order to make out a prima facie case for inquiry, charge that crime on the Government. I have too much experience in matters relating to Ireland to say to the Irish Government, that because there is much crime therefore you have encouraged crime. I will not visit you on this account with a vote of censure, but I think there is ground for inquiry. This is the view, Sir, in which this resolution of the House of Lords must be regarded—this the spirit in which it was passed. But because I do not censure you, I am not, therefore, to assent to your motion of approbation. I suspend my opinion. The resolution of the other House is not a vote of crimination; but I suspend my judgment till the result of the inquiry be known. I cannot accede to your resolution, and I will not meet it with a vote of censure—because, as I have not the information which may or may riot result from the inquiry, that course might be unjust. But something I must say for the House of Lords. If that House did appoint a committee it was not very extraordinary, after the manner in which they had been taunted by Members of her Majesty's Government. Can any man have been prepared for the strain of indignation which has been lavished on the devoted heads of the Members of the other House of Parliament, taking into account what has been said on the subject by the noble Lord himself, who seems to have first done much to provoke an inquiry, and who now chooses to consider it in the light of a vote of censure? I thought the noble Lord himself was bursting for inquiry, and how the noble Lord, if he remembers his own words, can—I do not wish to use any expression that may be personally offensive or calculated to excite acrimony, and, therefore, changing the expression I was about to use for one somewhat milder—how the noble Lord can have the astonishing boldness, after the language used by him in reference to the House of Lords, now to turn round on them, and invoke a collision, I really cannot comprehend. Some gentlemen met in Dublin in 1837, and came to a certain number of resolutions condemning in the strongest manner the government of Ireland. Upon these resolutions, which were twenty-three in number, the noble Lord commented in the speech made by him on the introduction of the Irish Municipal Corporation Bill, and when inquiry was in the far distance no man ever appeared more anxious for it than the noble Lord—no man ever so boldly challenged the parties to come forward and submit those charges to the test of investigation. The words of the noble Lord were memorable. The noble Lord said, "it was the same miserable monopolizing minority" (this was on the 7th of February, 1837, and he presumed the noble Lord meant that the minority then was not formidable on account of its numbers—was not formidable on account of its boldness)—but the noble Lord thus taunted them for the course they had taken:—"May, 1831.—Sir H. Parnell moved Committee to examine into the state of the disturbed counties in Ireland, into the immediate causes which have produced the same, and into the efficiency of the laws for the suppression of outrages against the public peace."
Why, Sir, when we were forbearing, this was the manner in which the noble Lord taunted us. But did the noble Lord mean to refer to the House of Commons only? No doubt he meant to say, that with the Commons originated impeachment, and therefore inquiry. But the noble Lord would not stop there. Oh, no, he did not give us the opportunity to escape—he cut off our defence, and plainly told us, "It may be said, although it would be a weak and a miserable argument" (the noble Lord is fond of the term miserable—he thought us miserable in a minority, and it seems that our arguments shewed the misery of our situation):—"It is this same 'miserable monopolising minority' which has not dared to bring forward any charge in Parliament against the present administration in Ireland; but which has met and passed certain resolutions containing charges highly criminatory of Lord Mulgrave, charges which, if true, would ensure that noble Lord's instant dismissal. And although Parliament has now been assembled for a week, and although Members of both Houses were present at the meeting in Ireland * * * not one of them has yet ventured to give any notice that he will bring before Parliament those high crimes and misdemeanours. * * *"
This was the language of the noble Lord opposite. Now suppose the House of Lords, in answer to this challenge, had said, "Let the charge be brought forward and we will hear it, and proceed to condemnation without inquiry," could you have been more indignant in your language in such a case than you are now? Yet you taunted them to come forward—you taunted these gentlemen to prefer their charge, but you were not visited with censure: they asked for inquiry, and now you say that inquiry is tantamount to censure, and endeavour to escape inquiry by provoking a collision. When, therefore, I compare the committee appointed by the House of Lords with the committee you yourselves appointed—when I compare the language you held, challenging inquiry, and complaining of condemnation without inquiry, I do not believe that you will stand justified by the cairn and deliberate sense of the people of England in the course you are now taking. Why, is there nothing improved in the state of Ireland? the noble Lord may say. To that I answer, is there nothing in the state of Ireland to justify the House of Lords in instituting an inquiry into crimes"That in this House no one is willing to bring forward the subject, as no one would venture to encounter the strength of the support which his Majesty's Ministers have received from the majority in this House. This, I say, is a miserable argument. * * * But is there not another House of Parliament, where this subject could be brought forward? What is the power of the opponents of his Majesty's Government in that House? * * * * Why do these gentlemen shrink from going before that House, and bringing forward these charges? They have brought forward matters impeaching the conduct and derogatory to the character of the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and yet they dare not bring his conduct before Parliament? It may be that, after all, they feel that whatever their majority may be in the other House of Parliament, it is not a majority for such purposes. It may be that they feel that a majority of the other House of Parliament will not sanction such accusations. But they should at least have the candour and frankness to let this be known."
and outrages endangering life and property? The state of Ireland may be improved—that remained to be shown—but at all events the House of Lords has the admission of the fact on which they ground their inquiry from the highest authority from the authority of the Solicitor-General for Ireland, who said at the opening of the Special Commission at Clonmel:—*See Hansard, vol. xxxvi, Third Series, page 221–222.
This then fully established the fact, that in no place where the laws of England extend is human life less regarded than in the county of Tipperary. The state of Ireland may be improved—the general state of Ireland may be better than it was—but when you, a Government, make the admission—when you by say, by the mouth of your own Solicitor General for Ireland, that "in no place to which the laws of England extend (he might have said in no place of the civilized world) is human life less regarded than in the county of Tipperary,"—can you be surprised—have you any reason to be astonished—that the House of Lords should desire to make inquiry into the causes which have led to this deplorable state of things, and seek to ascertain why human life in that country is so utterly disregarded? Are you surprised that, when the House of Lords sees one of their own Members, living on the borders of that county, murdered at his own door in open day, and when that House finds the causes of that horrid murder yet undiscovered, the murderer yet untraced, the dreadful act still unpunished, are you surprised, I say, that they should try to come at the real facts of the case by instituting an inquiry which must have, among other objects, the investigation into the causes why the detection and punishment of that foul murder have not ensued? But you object to this inquiry, because of the individual who moved it. Is that a reason for doing so? If the inquiry be necessary, should it be silenced simply because the person who moves it is objectionable to you? What has the House of Commons to do with names or persons? Why should we oppose ourselves to a thing good in itself and having truth for its object, because a person who we may not like moves it? A person may be alluded to in a debate, and a name may be used in support of an argument; but the graver and wiser rules of the House forbid our consideration of things in reference to persons, and confine us to the consideration of them on their own merits. To call then on the House of Commons to condemn the inquiry set on foot into the causes of crime in Ireland, simply because Lord Roden has been the mover of it, is as contrary to the practice of Parliament as it is alien to all reason and justice. Now, let us suppose a case in point, a parallel case. I will suppose, for instance, that a Member of the House of Commons professing what are termed liberal opinions, has been murdered in the open day at his own door; I will suppose him to have been at the time of the murder engaged in planning improvements in the condition of his tenants, and generally benefiting, by his residence and expenditure, the whole neighbourhood; I will then suppose the House of Commons, naturally and very properly excited at this appalling outrage—at this dreadful calamity—propose to institute an inquiry into the causes which led to it; and, finally, I will suppose that the House of Lords institute some proceedings analogous to those contemplated in the noble Lord's resolution, questioning our right to make that inquiry, on the grounds that some allegation had been made that a Liberal Member of the House of Commons, professing extreme opinions, had proposed it. Now, let us suppose this case, then let us ask ourselves a single question. What would the House of Commons have said of the House of Lords in such a case? What judgment would it pronounce upon this proceeding? And yet invert the instance, and it is the position in which the resolution of the noble Lord seeks to place us. We do not deal out equal justice to all parties. We know full well that if such a dreadful calamity as this had befallen one of our own Members, and if the House of Lords had the indecency—I say the word—of resenting our proceedings in consequence of it, there would be no limit to our just indignation, and no end to the clamour we should rightfully raise against them. And yet what is the course which it is now proposed we should pursue towards the House of Lords in a case precisely similar? The very opposite of that which we should prescribe to them to pursue towards us under such circumstances. Sir, the House of Commons should pause before it proceeds farther in this matter. What is the next step to be taken I will now ask, should the resolution of the noble Lord be affirmed by the House? When you contemplate entering into collision with the other branch of the Legislature, you should not only be acquainted with all the probable consequences of the act, but you should also be prepared to meet them. Will you call on the House of Lords to rescind their resolution? To effect any purpose it is inevitable that you should do so. If you do not do so, what do you gain by your proposition? If you do, what are likely to be the consequences? The noble Lord has said, that there are precedents for the course he has proposed to the House, and he has quoted only one to sustain him. Differences on legislative proceedings afford no precedents for the present prove that I advised rightly. Observe that case as between the House of Lords and Commons, because they have no application to the point at issue. When a legislative difference arises between these two branches of the Legislature it is settled by conference: you invite the Lords to a conference—you state your reasons—you perhaps hear theirs; you regret the difference, and one or the other abandons the point—setting aside the question altogether. This constitutes no precedent which can apply to the case now before us; not even the noble Lord himself will say it does. "But then," says the noble Lord, "there is a precedent, and I have it to show the House." Now what is this precedent? I ask the House of Commons to refer to it not as a rule to guide their conduct, but as a beacon to warn them off a dangerous course. What is the precedent paraded by the noble Lord, and how does it avail him? It is connected with "the Scottish plot" of 1703. In that year, suspicion having fallen on Simon Lord Lovat that he held correspondence with the French Government and the Court of James the Second at St. Germain's, he was accordingly arrested. If I recollect right, a person of the name of Boucher who was in the service of the Duke of Berwick, was apprehended at some place on the coast of Kent or Sussex, as privy to that correspondence. He was taken into the custody of the Crown; but the House of Lords, being jealous of the loyalty of the Minister of the Crown, desired to have the examination of this individual themselves. The House of Commons resented this assumption of what subsequently turned out to be only a just right. But there is no analogy between that case and the case now in question. The House of Commons objected to the claim of the House of Lords for the transfer of the examination of persons accused of treasonable practices from the Crown to themselves. They said it was arrogating a jurisdiction on the part of that branch of the Legislature to which the Lords had no rightful title; and they protested against it as partial. But even then the House of Lords were right. I said in the outset of these observations that the House of Commons should look at this precedent in the light of a beacon to warn them from their present course, not as a guide to follow. In the space of five minutes I think I shall be able to this is the only precedent which the noble Lord could find, though no doubt he has been neither inactive nor idle in searching for them. But to what sore shifts must the noble Lord be driven when his only precedent—the only precedent on which he can rely—is one which derives its authority from an act of the high Tories of that day? This is the account given of the struggle on that occasion between the House of Lords and the House of Commons by the best Whig authorities. I thought, when the noble Lord quoted the case, I recollected some omission; and, now that I have it all before me, the House will see that I had no especial cause to be surprised at the noble Lord having touched but lightly on some parts of it. Here is the entire statement of that quarrel, as given by Bishop Burnet in his "History of his own Times." "The complaint of the Commons," he states, was—"I am personally a stranger to your county; perusal of the calendar of prisoners, and the informations on which they were committed, demonstrate to me, whatever may be the issue as to the guilt or innocence of the accused, that there can be no doubt of the lamentable fact that in no place where the law of England extends is human life less regarded than in the county of Tipperary. It may be some palliation of the crime, but it is a melancholy one, that in many of the cases where life has been sacrificed in this county it resulted from hasty ebullition of human passion, or in sudden affrays between factions in the county, in which parties have mingled in deadly conflict, for the gratification of a wild spirit of clanship. Unhappily there is another class of homicide that calls for the urgent interference of the law, and which has not the miserable palliation which I have mentioned, belongs to the former class, and which does not result from hasty conflict, or the accidental consequences of a chance blow, inflicted in a moment of excitement. But, gentlemen, we are compelled to say, that, in many instances, they are the result of deep-laid conspiracy, that calls for blood and assassination."
The historian then continues:—"That when persons suspected of treasonable practices were taken into custody by her Majesty's messengers in order to be examined, the Lords, in violation of the known laws of the land, had wrested them out of their hands, and arrogated the examination solely to themselves."
"The Commons were in an ill-humour against the Lords, and so they were glad to find occasions to vent it. They thought the Lords ought not to have entered upon this examination; they complained of it as a new and unheard of thing. In an address to the Queen they said it was an invasion of her prerogative.
"This was a proceeding without a precedent. The parliamentary method was, when one House was offended with any thing done in another, conferences were demanded, in which matters were freely debated.
Just substitute Whigs for Tories, and the picture will be complete as of the present day, But Burnet then goes on thus to describe this proceeding on which the noble Lord so firmly relies:—"Tindal says that it was an amazing thing to see a House of Commons affirm, in so public a manner, and so pointing, that the Lords taking criminals into their own custody, in order to examination, was without warrant or precedent, when there were so many instances fresh in every man's memory. But it was entirely owing to a party pique. The Tories, who were the strongest in the House of Commons, laying hold of all opportunities, both to ingratiate themselves with the Queen, and to oppose the Whigs, who had the majority in the House of Lords."
"The Commons continued to protest, but the Lords' committee went on with their examinations, and concluded with voting that there had been dangerous plots between some in Scotland and the Court of France and St. Germain's.
"This being concluded, they made a long and vigorous address in answer to that which the Commons had made against them.
In a former Address the Lords had ob-served—"They observed how uneasy the Commons had been at the whole progress of the inquiry into this matter, and had taken methods to obstruct it all they could. The Lords took not the examination to themselves so as to exclude others who had the same right, and might have done it as well as they if they had pleased."
The noble Lord quoted the Commons' Address, but he omitted to quote the Address of the Lords in answer. Why he did so is obvious; it would not suit his purpose. I do not know who was the High Tory author of the Commons' Address; but I will tell him, on the authority of the historian from whose work he has extracted this matter, who was the author of the Address voted by the Lords:—"No House of Commons till now has given countenance to the dangerous opinion which does so directly tend to the rendering all Ministers safe from the examination of Parliaments; and we are persuaded no House of Commons hereafter will assent to such a motion, because they are not easily wont to part with a power they have assumed; and it is certain that they have several times taken upon themselves to exercise an authority like that which they have so severely reflected on in this Address."
Now, this is the Scottish case of 1703, on which the noble Lord relies for his precedent; and this was the result of the unjust attempt on the part of the House of Commons to question the undoubted rights and privileges of the House of Lords by seeking a collision with it on such unwarrantable grounds. But perhaps the noble Lord will still say that, whatever may be the terms of the motion which he condemns, there was a lurking intention evident on the part of the leaders of his political opponents, to take a covert and secret advantage of the Government of which he is a Member by its means, and to involve them in its consequences without their knowledge or concurrence. Sir, I entirely disavow such an intention on my own part, as well as on the part of those with whom I act. I disavow it, Sir, on my own part, and firmly believe, that there was not the slightest desire to take advantage on the part of any one with whom I am politically connected. And this I can safely say, as the leader of a party, that I had not the least inclination nor wish to do so. Indeed, nothing surprised me more than to learn the next morning after the motion had been made, that there was so much importance attached to it by her Majesty's Ministers, and that they had made it a vital question, by which to stand or fall. And I will freely admit, though I am perfectly well aware that I cannot lay claim to any great share of astuteness in making the admission, that hearing this fact of the importance of the motion, and the decision of the Government respecting it, I went at once to the Duke of Wellington's, and to the house of my noble Friend near me (Lord Stanley), to consult with them on the subject, and ascertain their opinions as to the best course to take in reference to it, but found them both absent from town on the momentous occasion, the former having that morning gone to Hampshire, and the latter to Lancashire. Need I say, after this statement of the fact, that there is no probability in the supposition, and no truth in the assumption, that we attached any importance, beyond that which it was intrinsically entitled to, to the motion of the Peers? Neither need I argue, that if we had such intention as that which we are charged with entertaining towards the Government, this could have been the case. I hope I have no occasion to say any more either in disavowal or disproof of the allegation that the leaders of the political party opposed to the noble Lord, had the slightest intention, in the motion of Lord Roden, of taking a covert or secret advantage of the Government to which he belongs. There was a desire to have a full inquiry, and as far as I know, there was no desire that it should be preceded by a vote of a criminatory character. The noble Lord has spoken of the committee as improperly constituted, and certainly produced a great effect, a very great effect on the benches behind, him by descanting on the unfairness of the committee appointed by the House of Lords which he so energetically denounced—Lord Roden, the noble Lord said, had constituted it so partially as to place on it thirteen of his own supporters and only five of his opponents. And this, as I said, produced a great sensation among those hon. Gentlemen behind the Noble Lord. But what are the real facts of the case? Where the noble Lord got his numbers I do not know, nor can I tell by what process he obtained them in the proportion of five to thirteen; but this I do know, that when I read the list of names appointed to that committee, which I now hold in my hand, the House will concur with me in opinion, that, however far the noble Lord may see, he has certainly not the faculty of seeing double. Indeed, he would rather seem to have the opposite faculty—that of diminishing, instead of increasing, for his friends are ten in number, not five. I shall, however, read the names, and the House can then judge for itself. They are—Lord Plunkett, Lord Cloncurry, Lord Glenelg, Lord Hatherton, Lord Carew, and the Marquess of Lansdown, Viscount Duncannon, the Marquess of Normanby, Lord Gosford, and the Duke of Leinster. These ten names, all those of staunch Liberals, be it known, may be disproportionate to the number of names on the opposite side of the question. With that proposition I shall not deal now; but let us not leave this House with an impression that the noble Lord's statement is correct, and that there are only five Liberal Members to thirteen of opposite opinions on the committee. Sir, I have now attempted to establish two propositions, and I hope I have succeeded. The first, that partial approbation should not be given to a Government by the affirmation of an abstract proposition of confidence on the part of the House of Commons, except on very rare occasions; and, secondly, that a collision with the House of Lords on the present question is unjustifiable, and therefore unwise and improper. But if I rested there, at that point, I should, perhaps, be charged by the other side of the House with shrinking from my duty in not detailing the grounds on which I found my own resolutions and oppose those of the noble Lord. In my preliminary resolutions those who approve of the policy of the Government towards Ireland may concur. They may also join with me in deprecating a collision with the House of Lords. I shall conceal nothing when the time comes; and if the noble Lord should then call on me, I shall explain everything to him in connection with those resolutions. But I will perform my duty as relates to the resolution of the Noble Lord. To that I shall say no; and I shall now state my grounds for so doing. The noble Lord's resolution asks me to approve of "those principles which have guided the Executive Government of Ireland of late years," and calls on me to express an opinion on the expediency of persevering in them. I shall say nothing of the remainder of the resolution of the "effectual administration of the law," and of "the general improvement of that part of the United Kingdom." Nay, I shall consider it, if you please, as a direct and positive approval of the Government of Lord Normanby. I do not desire to censure Lord Normanby. It cannot be expected that I should praise him; but censure him I will not. I shall, in what I have to say, simply state the grounds on which I say "No" to the resolution of the noble Lord. I am asked to approve of the general policy of the Government as applied to that part of the United Kingdom called Ireland. Now, how I or the House of Commons can be expected to approve of any particular line of policy pursued by a Government—how we can be called on to affirm any laudatory proposition to that effect, without having any special intelligence on the subject, in absence of all information as to the results of that policy, is more than I am able to comprehend. And if the House of Commons shares in my inability of comprehension, and will permit me to do so, I shall assign my reasons for thinking that it would be very unwise of them to accede to the Noble Lord's proposition. In this process we come in the first instance to the effect of this policy on the country to which it has been applied. And here I take leave to say, in the outset of my investigation into it, that nothing can give me greater pain than to be obliged to condemn the conduct of Lord Normanby. I have known Lord Normanby for a long period—from his very early youth I have known and esteemed him; and though I may not be entitled to call him my friend, I rejoiced, in common with all others who shared his acquaintance, in the development and expansion of those shining abilities and great natural parts with which he is unquestionably endowed. I believe, like Lord Glenelg, that the noble Lord has displayed great official aptitude and has conscientiously discharged his duty; and that though he has not conciliated his political enemies in his public career, he has not alienated a single public or private friend. Sir, I wish the noble Lord had not confined himself to the conduct of Lord Normanby while in Ireland; but had entered on the broad principles of general government. If, however, I am asked on what principles that country should be governed, I can have no hesitation in answering the question. In the first place I say that the Government should be perfectly impartial as regards the administration of justice—for to withhold justice on any grounds is to withhold the right; and it should be freely and equally dispensed to all, of every class, sect and condition. [Mr. H. Grattan: You did not act on that principle.] if the hon. Member will have the goodness to permit me to proceed without interruption, he shall have ample opportunity of answering or refuting my position at a future period. Sir, I think, also, that the royal prerogative of mercy should be carefully exercised and cautiously extended. As I said before, I look upon its exercise as a strictly judicial proceeding, and, therefore, I consider that it should be administered as a judicial act alone. All considerations of personal feeling, political interest, or party advantage, should be entirely disregarded in dealing it out; and it should be exercised, as the laws are, with caution and with judgment. I say, then, that as the law has made all men equal in that country—equally qualified all classes, and made them eligible for office under the Government, the Crown should not create any disqualification on the ground of religion or politics, or make a man's religious opinions a bar to his advancement or promotion to place. But I make this exception, in accordance with the view of the noble Lord, that those who participate in the same opinions as you do in religion and in politics should have the preference. And this is what I complain of in the noble Lord and those who support him. He takes this liberty to himself, and very properly, of preferring his friends, and he complains of the right, which he unquestionably has in that respect, being impugned; yet, because I acted on the same principles, precisely the same when I was in office, he charges me with injustice, partiality, and the encouragement of Orangeism. He does not do me the justice he claims for himself. I never taunted the noble Lord with his choice of Roman Catholics to fill situations under the Government, because they were either adverse to me in religious opinions, or because they were his political friends and supporters. What I charged him with was, that by selecting certain persons to fill situations of trust under the Crown, he gave encouragement to societies whose objects were adverse to the law, these persons being members of them. And, therefore, I must be understood to mean, when I say that religious or political opinions do not necessarily disqualify a man for office, that one's own friends should naturally be preferred. I say this also—I say, that I cordially adhere to the resolution of 1836, to which I subscribed, respecting Grange societies in Ireland. I care not whether, in saying so, I provoke opposition from persons who conscientiously believe, that Orange societies differ essentially from all others, or approval from those who hold contrary opinions. I adhere, I say, to the terms and the spirit of the resolution of 1836.—"These addresses," says the historian, "were drawn up by the Lord Somers, and were read over and critically considered by a few Lords, of whom I had the honour to be one. "This, with the other papers that were published by the Lords, made a great impression on the body of the nation, and gave rise to very unfavourable contrasts between the conduct of the Lords and Commons."
I adhere to this resolution, I say, but go even farther; for I think that the Crown ought, in cases to which the law cannot reach, discourage by the strong expression of its opinion all processions and manifestations of party spirit which could have the effect of wounding the feelings of others. But while I hold this doctrine as regards Orange societies, I also hold that the Government should act impartially with regard to other societies. For while I adhere to the resolution of 1836, I also agree with the Address of 1834—that document which, at the instance of the noble Lord and his colleagues, it was my duty to present to the Crown. These are the words of that Address:—"That an humble address be presented to his Majesty, praying that his Majesty be graciously pleased to take such measures as to his Majesty may seem advisable for the effectual discouragement of Orange lodges, and generally of all political societies, including persons of a different religious faith, using secret signs and symbols, and acting by means of associated branches."
Sir, I take both propositions, and I cannot hesitate to express it as my firm and unalterable conviction that the Government which discourages Orange associations is under an equal obligation to discourage other societies and associations which have for their object a "pernicious agitation," which indulge in frequent references to physical force, which produce "excitement and violence," and which, "if successful, must prove fatal to the power and safety of the United Kingdom." Even though they have no secret signs or symbols, still it is the duty of the Government to discourage them; such being their proceeding, such their object, and such their probable result. I speak not of coercion laws—I allude not to punishments; I speak alone of the interposition of the authority of Government by a strong manifestation of opinion on the subject; and I may add, that if it was right of the noble Lord's Administration to dismiss my hon. and gallant Friend behind toe (Colonel Verner) from the commission of the peace, for proposing a certain toast at a convivial party, it would have also been right if the Government which did it had omitted to make some appointments which they have since made, and if they had broken others which are in being. Maintaining, then, these opinions, I shall not conceal that I think all the acts of the Government should be always consistent with the maintenance of the Established Church in Ireland. When the noble Lord declared that, although the Presbyterian Church in Scotland might have some connexion with the State, yet there was something in the peculiar toilets and observances of the Roman Catholic Church which precluded a similar connexion, the noble Lord has arrived at the same conclusion as myself—namely, that the maintenance of the Established Church in Ireland is in accordance with the qualifications annexed to the Act of Union and to the Catholic Relief Bill. The noble Lord does not, I presume, withhold his assent from the proposition, that an equality of civil and religious liberty in Ireland ought to be preserved, consistently with the maintenance of the Established Church in its rights and privileges. I have stated my opinions frankly and freely. They may offend persons of extreme politics in various parties. I care not. If the hope of attaining to political power was based upon the contrary, and if a return to it was only on the condition of opposition to the Established Church of Ireland, fully and freely would I abandon that hope, and altogether discard the desire it might have given rise to. I must now tell the noble Lord the reason of my opposition to Lord Normanby's Government. As I said before, I propose no censure on it; but I try it by no test which I am not satisfied to have applied to myself. I am as ready to submit the acts of my own government to inquiry as I dm to investigate the acts of the Government of which that noble Lord was the executive officer. But I cannot give the, policy of the noble Lord's Administration my approval. That I tell you candidly. I tell you, however, with the same candour, that I am no less disposed to praise than blame where it is due; and that where approbation is merited it will not be withheld by me. I think, for instance, that he is entitled to praise in respect of the disposal of ecclesiastical patronage in Ireland; that is, as far as I can judge from the reports which have reached me up to this time. But I think, that he is entitled to condemnation for other things. This is the ground on which I withhold my consent to your motion. I cannot say, that I believe you have acted with impartiality in Ireland. I cannot conscientiously say, that I consider you have taken all the steps which you ought to have taken, and should have taken to discourage associations adverse to the peace of the country, because promoven of agitation and discord amongst its inhabitants. I am sorry to be obliged to revert to such subjects; but the noble Lord is alone to blame for it. He challenged me to do it, and I may not refuse him. I cannot say, that I think the conduct of Lord Normanby, with respect to the exercise of the royal prerogative, entitled to my confidence. I do not accuse him of exercising it corruptly, with unworthy motives, or for improper purposes; but I do say, that in my opinion, the manner in which he remitted several judicial sentences in Ireland, in 1836, was anything except calculated to promote "the effectual administration of the law," or bring about "the general improvement of that part of the United Kingdom." And, if I think, as I have stated I do, that the extension of the prerogative of mercy, should be a judicial act, and not a matter of public display for public applause, I cannot think, that that noble Lord acted rightly in extending it in the peculiar way he did in various places in that country. The number of cases to which it was extended is not at all of the importance which the noble Lord (J. Russell) would fain make it; it is the nature of these cases, and the manner in which mercy is extended to them, which gives importance to this part of the subject. One case of mercy ill applied, or improperly exercised, might paralyze the whole course of justice more than a thousand not liable to these objections. The noble Lord says, that there were only seventy cases, and that they were spread over a period of 145 months' imprisonment, as if that commutation or confounding of time could in any way affect the question. It reminds me of the argument used by two travellers, who having nine miles to walk, calculated that it was only four miles and a half each. Such in effect was the argument of the noble Lord, as far as that subject was concerned. Sir, I cannot conceive that the public service required such a demonstration as was made by the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland when travelling through it shortly before his vacation of that office. The impression was created in the public mind that the remission of the term of imprisonment in numerous instances was a sort of ornament to a Lord-lieutenant's progress. Such a display would have been misplaced in any country, however light the offences, or however long the imprisonment of the criminals might have been, and was most indefensible in such a country as Ireland. Whatever were the causes of offence, or however just was the mercy extended to the prisoners, if considered under other circumstances, I ask was it proper that the prerogative of mercy should be extended as it was in the county of Sligo? Taking an account of the progress from a paper favourable to the Government, I find it stated, that the Lord-lieutenant was followed into Sligo by a retinue of 40,000 people—that in fact the whole road from Collooney to Sligo, was one living mass. The passage in the newspaper was to this effect:—"We fully participate with your Majesty in the feelings of deep regret and just indignation with which your Majesty has seen the continuance of attempts to excite the people of this country to demand a repeal of the Legislative Union. We thank your Majesty for the renewed assurance of your Majesty's final and unalterable resolution, under the blessing of Divine Providence, to maintain this bond of our national strength and safety inviolate, by all the means in your Majesty's power, and we assure your Majesty, that in the support of this determination your Majesty may rely with confidence on our zealous and effectual cooperation. "We fully concur in the opinion of your Majesty, that the practices which have been used to produce disaffection to the State, and mutual distrust and animosity between the people of the two countries, is chiefly to be attributed to the spirit of insubordination, which, though, for the present, in a great degree, controlled by the power of the law, has been but too perceptible in many instances. "We are convinced, that to none more than the deluded instruments of the agitation thus perniciously exerted, is the continuance of such a spirit productive of the most ruinous consequences; and your Majesty may rely upon our united and vigorous exertions, in conjunction with all the loyal and well-affected in aid of the Government, to put an end to a system of excitement and violence, which, while it continues, is destructive of the peace of society, and if successful, must prove fatal to the power and safety of the United Kingdom."
Is this, I ask, the mode by which the law was likely to be held in respect in Ireland? Is this the mode of administering the law there which is to be taken in proof of the goodness of the Executive Government? I know of nothing among such an excitable people more calculated to injure or weaken a Government than this; and on this ground, therefore, do I arraign the Executive Government of that country, or, at least, dissent from the approbation which the noble Lord seeks as a sanction for its proceedings. But this is not the only ground. I differ from the noble Lord, in relation to this part of my argument, on another ground; although, if I may rely on the assurance of the noble Lord, we agree in the principle involved. Sir, the noble Lord has declared his enmity against Orange associations, and against other associations also, whose existence he declaims against as subversive of order, and on all accounts most desirable to have suppressed. But does this declaration agree with the conduct of Government respecting those who are known to have taken the most prominent part in the propagation and maintenance of such associations? Here or in Ireland can the character of the Government be safely staked by the noble Lord on the grounds of its consistency with respect to those associations? I strongly dissent from such an assumption. Sir, there now sits by the side of the noble Lord an hon. Gentleman whose ability and general conduct I will not touch in the slightest degree. His talents are of sufficient eminence to entitle him to advancement, if their estimation were not weakened by his political tendencies. But I do quarrel with the Government of Ireland for seeking out the decided supporter of an obnoxious association to fill an office of much delicacy and importance. The noble Lord has stated, and I have no doubt truly stated, the confidence he had in the hon. and learned Gentleman to whom I allude (Mr. Pigot). And, referring to the connection of that hon. Gentleman with the General Association, the noble Lord has told us, that the association was dissolved before the hon. Gentleman was made Solicitor-general. But what proof is this that the Government is guided by the principles that its Members profess? It was notorious, that the hon. Gentleman had been a member of that association, and an active and zealous one too. And, yet an appointment was given to the hon. Gentleman, of peculiar trust and delicacy; one indeed which implied and required the consultation of the holder, and his advice and assistance, on the suppression of those very associations which the hon. Gentleman had supported, and which the noble Lord condemns. Sir, the proof of the connection of the hon. Gentleman with the association, and the corroboration if any were wanting, of the extreme want of caution and consistency of the Government in promoting him to such an office under the peculiar circumstances of the case, is contained in a report of the proceedings of the association, at a meeting which was occupied chiefly in discussing what had recently taken place in the Court of Exchequer in Ireland. A list was produced to the meeting of those counsel on the Liberal side of politics who had signed tithe declarations on the plea side of the Court of Exchequer; and with reference to the name that stood first on the list, Mr. Redmond said "it was a fact, that at the commencement of the association, that gifted individual had given all the aid of his sensible and powerful mind in its formation and in advancing it to that proud and permanent station which it held at present. He had proved himself one of its most useful, the most active, and most zealous supporters. That gentleman was Mr. Pigot. Sir, I will now test the sincerity of the assent, as the noble Lord assents to my proposition, that the Protestant Church should be retained as the Established Church of Ireland. I will test by the acts of Government, the professed desire of its members that the Church of Ireland should be sustained with all her rights and privileges, and the test I apply is a declaration, reported in a paper favourable to the Government, as having been made by a noble Lord who is a member of her Majesty's household—a declaration tantamount to a desire for the entire destruction of the Church of Ireland. The noble Lord to whom I allude (the Marquess of Headfort) a Lord-lieutenant of an Irish county, and one of her Majesty's household, has publicly declared his opinion that no permanent improvement can be expected to take place in that country as long as the Irish Church Establishment exists. At a public meeting in Ireland, he moved a resolution to this effect:—"That it is impossible to expect peace in this country while the present Church Establishment is suffered to exist." The terms of the resolution are not given; but this is stated to be the gist and substance of it. The declaration made by the noble Lord was, that he thought it just that the Protestant should pay tithes, but that the Roman Catholic should cease to pay it. Now, seeing the connection of that nobleman with the Government, and that no expression of dissatisfaction followed the declaration of his opinion, I say I cannot confide in the sincerity of the noble Lord's declaration in favour of the Established Church, and I have strong grounds for dissenting from the approbation of the conduct of the Government which this House is called upon to confirm. Sir, I have now assigned the grounds for my not concurring in the resolution proposed by the noble Lord. The noble Lord has said that the course of my proceeding would rather require that I should move the previous question—that it is a reason for doing so. It may be so. As I have already said, I move no vote of censure. It would be inconsistent with my course to move a vote of censure. It is more consistent with my views to ask the House to pause, and to suspend their judgment untill they have obtained further information. But if you say that I ought to affirm an express assent or dissent, then I tell you at once that for the reasons I have assigned, and with the explanations I have given of my opinion as to the principles on which Ireland should be governed, I will not hesitate to say—No! to your resolution. I have now done; and I thank the House for the attentive hearing it has accorded me. I have attempted to show that a partial declaration of opinion on the part of the House with respect to the policy of the Government is not to be justified, and that a collision with the House of Lords cannot be in justice maintained: at the same time I have not shrunk from declaring to you why, upon Irish grounds, I cannot assent to express an approval of your Irish policy. Should you—the House—think it fit to pronounce a judgment without inquiring, you will do so. If you agree with Mr. Burke that the peculiar functions of the House of Commons are to exercise a strict control over all the acts of the executive and judicial magistracy, you will pause before you pronounce an opinion. If, on looking at the increase of crime in Ireland, and above all at those most discreditable documents—the reports of the inspectors of prisons and of the clerks of the peace—you think it fitting to declare that the administration of the law has been effectually provided in Ireland, or that the due execution of it has been advanced; if with these documents, relating to the same offences, and to the same period of time, but showing an extraordinary difference in amount of crime the returns of the inspectors for the year 1837, declaring that 14,804 persons were committed, while the returns of the clerks of the peace for the same period and same offences state that there were 27,300 persons committed, being a difference of 12,000—if with these disagreeing statements, and upon these discrepancies before them, the House of Commons will undertake to pronounce an opinion with respect to the administration of the law, they may unquestionably do so: but I ask how, with any regard to consistency in your proceedings, you can venture to pronounce an opinion upon the subject? The noble Lord may talk of the character and dignity of the House of Commons; but it would be neither consistent with its character nor with its dignity to make any declaration as to the state of crime in Ireland upon such data as these. With respect to a collision with the House of Lords, I ask whether it is for the public interest that any such collision should take place? Looking at the state of this country, and looking at the condition of affairs abroad, was there ever a period in which it was of more importance to maintain harmony between the different branches of the constitution? Do you think, looking at the proceedings in the north of England, you are promoting the cause of tranquillity and the public interest by holding up the House of Commons and the House of Lords as being at variance? Above all, if these considerations do not move you, I implore you earnestly, but respectfully, to consider what is due to your honour and to your own character. I implore you not to enter into a premature resolution without the necessary information to guide you; nor to make abstract declarations of opinion upon partial branches of policy, unless you feel confident that there is some absolute and overruling necessity; above all, I ask you not to enter into a collision with the House of Lords, unless you feel justified that there is good cause for collision, and unless you have well considered the consequences of such a proceeding. That great poet, to whom I have already alluded, and whose writings are full of more lessons of practical wisdom than the writings of any uninspired writer, has given advice with respect to entering into quarrels, and, although given to an individual, may be equally profited by a public and national body."We have often said that in no county of Ireland was there more striking patriotism than in Sligo; and our observations have been confirmed by Lord Mulgrave's reception. Never before was there such a display. Lord Mulgrave was followed into the town by at least 40,000 persons. We never before saw such a concourse. On his arrival at the courthouse the doors were found to be closed, although they were the doors of his own court house, or of the Queen's, whose representative he is. He had to enter into his own courthouse by the back way. The populace, however, soon burst open the gates, and possessed themselves of the court, where, to their credit, they behaved themselves as if the judges had been there. Lord Mulgrave then went to the gaol, when he liberated some persons who were confined for minor offences.
You are about to commit a double violation of that precept. You are about to enter into a quarrel hastily and unwarily; and you have proved that you are about to conduct yourselves in it in a manner that will insure neither terror nor respect. While you are on the threshold of that quarrel, and can still recede I intreat you to pause. I entreat you, as you value the character of the House of Commons, believing in my conscience that you have no superfluous authority, and desirous as I am that you may maintain every privilege that belongs to you, and that your authority over the people may be preserved intact, with these feelings I con- jure you to reserve the manifestation of your displeasure for some occasion, when cheered by the sympathies of the people, and confident in the righteousness of your cause, you may be enabled to assume a port, and to speak in accents better suited than the present resolution is to the offended dignity of the House of Commons. The right hon. Baronet concluded by moving the following amendment:—"Beware Of entrance to quarrels; but being in,Bear it that the opposer may beware of thee."
"That, on the 13th day of March last, a motion was made in this House for the production of various documents connected with the state of Ireland in respect to crime and outrage, including communications made to the Irish government relating to offences connected with ribandism, and all memorials, resolutions, and addresses, forwarded to the Irish government by magistrates, or other official persons, in respect of crimes and outrages committed in Ireland, and the answers thereto. "That the period included within the returns so called for extends from the commencement of the year 1835 to the present time; and that the motion made for the production of them was assented to by this House, no opposition to it having been offered on the part of her Majesty's Government. "That on the 21st day of March last the House of Lords appointed a select committee 'to inquire into the state of Ireland since the year 1835, in respect to crime and outrage, which have rendered life and property insecure in that part of the empire. "That, in consequence of the appointment of such committee by the House of Lords, it has been proposed, that this House should resolve That it is the opinion of this House that it is expedient to persevere in those principles which have guided the executive government of Ireland of late years, and which have tended to the effectual administration of the law and the general improvement of that part of the United Kingdom.' "Resolved, That it appears to this House that the appointment of a committee of inquiry by the House of Lords, under the circumstances, and for the purpose above mentioned, does not justify her Majesty's Ministers in calling upon this House without previous inquiry, or even the production of the information which this House has required, to make a declaration of opinion with respect to one branch of the public policy of the executive government, still less a declaration of opinion which is neither explicit as to the principles which it professes to approve, nor definite as to the period to which it refers; and that it is not fitting that this House should adopt a proceeding which has the appearance of calling in question the undoubted right of the House of Lords to inquire into the state of Ireland in respect to crime and outrage, more especially when the exercise of that right by the House of Lords does not interfere with any previous proceeding or resolution of the House of Commons, nor with the progress of any legislative measure assented to by the House of Commons, or at present under its consideration."
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
rose to reply to some of the observations of the right hon. Baronet, but before he did so he begged to say, in reference to the motion made in another place, that if that motion had been brought forward in the manner suggested by the right hon. Baronet, and accompanied with the limitation he had prescribed, the same justification would not have existed for the present motion as now, taking the circumstances as they stood. The right hon. Baronet had specifically excluded, or if not, had so lightly touched upon one point which he considered as of the essence of' the whole question, and had dwelt so little upon another part of the case which he also thought of essential importance, that when he brought, as he purposed to do, those two matters under the consideration of the House, he thought he should entirely defeat the impression which the right hon. Gentleman's speech was calculated to create. If they traced the logic of the right hon. Gentleman, it would appear most strange. Because the Government had acquiesced in a proposition wholly unobjectionable made in the House of Commons, they were not to oppose a motion in the House of Lords which raised a just cause of offence. The two propositions were quite distinct. The proposition made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Shaw) was a motion for returns which were part of an ordinary series, which had been customarily afforded in part, which were commonly called for, and which he had never known refused. It was true that the returns were confined to a specified time: he believed, however, that they were a continuation of similar returns—that they were, in fact, amplifications of annual returns laid year by year upon the table of the House, exhibiting the state of crime in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman called for papers; he did not criminate the Government in any way; the papers were only amplified continuations of those already before the House, and the Government were bound to furnish them. But what was the principle of the proceeding in the House of Lords? And when the right hon. Baronet called upon that House not to express any opinion without full means of forming it and of justifying it, he must say, that if ever there was in this world a case in which this precaution should have been governed by a deliberative assembly, it ought to have been exhibited in this very case by the House of Lords itself. The right hon. Baronet said, that the House of Commons ought not to decide till after they knew the result of the inquiry now pending; but what had the House of Lords done? Why, they had virtually decided that for the last four years, from the year 1835, there had existed in Ireland a state of things which rendered life and property insecure, and they had so decided without any inquiry—without any examination; they said so at the time that the committee was moved, they affirmed it by the very resolution appointing the committee, that a state of things existed in that country which rendered life and property insecure; especially confining this assertion to the period of the Government of Lord Mulgrave; and they thus fixed a stigma upon Lord Mulgrave's Administration as till cause of that state of danger to life and property. If this were a fair interpretation of the resolution of the House of Lords, he knew not how with such a construction the Government could avoid taking steps to answer such an attack. The right hon. Baronet, indeed, in the weakness of his case, suggested an analogy between the motion which had been carried in the House of Lords, and the motions for committees of inquiry in the year 1829, and in the year 1832. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the Government swayed by some party or personal motive were disposed to quarrel with the House of Lords. The right hon. Baronet said, "We meant no offence by our motion; what has happened now has occurred on former occasions; and we wish your Government, as we should wish any other Government, to submit to it without taking any offence." But, let them take in the first instance the committee of 1824, and see what was the case then. The House would recollect, that in the present instance the committee was moved for to inquire into the state of crime and the security of life and property within a limited period, during the period only of the existence of the present Government, and this on the averment that the state of crime during this time was such as to render life and property insecure, that it was moved for by a Member of the Opposition, and that it was resisted by the Government. But in 1824, the committee to inquire into the state of Ireland was not limited in point of time, it was not carried against the Government; it was moved for by a Member of the Administration, and a noble Lord connected with the Government was the Chairman; and that motion which originated with the Government and had its approbation, the right hon. Baronet suggested as possessing an analogy to the present case. Why, there was as much analogy between the right hon. Gentleman himself and the Mover of the proposition in the other House this year, as there was between the present case and the case of the motion in the year 1824; and no two statesmen and no two motions could be more different. As to the other case the committee that was appointed in 1832—be remembered it well, and so did his noble Friend opposite—the proposition was brought forward with the perfect assent of the Government, the Members of the committee-were selected by the Government, and his noble Friend opposite (Lord Stanley), who was then the Irish secretary, and himself, sat upon it. Was there any analogy between the two propositions for the two committees, which had been appointed with the assent of the administration, in which there had been no attack upon the Government of which the Members of the Government undertook the responsibility, and the present committee of the other House of Parliament which had been moved for by my Lord Roden. He knew that even as to proceedings in that House it would be irregular, and it was still more irregular with regard to the other House, to refer to speeches which had been made, or to draw any inference from the words or the characters of the supporters of any motion; but if they recollected the proceedings which had taken place during the last ten years the character of the measure might be in some measure judged from the character of the individual Member of the House, who introduced it. Yet it was said, that the motion being introduced by an individual so active in Irish party politics as Lord Roden was, could make no difference. Why, it made all the difference. Then it was said, "Why did you not amend the motion, if you objected to it?" and no doubt the right hon. Gentleman, when he asked this question, was perfectly sincere. In this respect his feelings, his interest, and his love of political expediency, all went the same way; and it was similar to his statement that there was no intention of passing on the Government a vote of censure. It had been stated elsewhere why this was in fact a vote of censure; it had been so stated by the highest authority. If the Lords only wished for a calm and dispassionate inquiry into the state of crime—if they had not courted, as the right hon. Gentleman represented, an attack on the Government, what would have been so easy as to have altered the motion so as to have produced this effect, which some might have had in view, but which others certainly had not. But then, it was said, "why did you not move an amendment to the motion?" Why, the right hon. Gentleman knew full well that the wording of the resolution was in the power of the majority in the other House. What, he said then was, "Censure the Government if you think that it is fairly open to censure, but do not, after you have passed a vote of censure, protest that there is nothing of censure meant by the proposition, declaring that you never meant to offend us, and now accusing the Government with seeking a quarrel between this House and the House of Lords." The interests of the country would suffer by the inquiry in the House of Lords; and the interests of the country were, in his opinion, more important than the existence of any government, or than any censure which the administration might receive. What was the effect of the vote of the House of Lords? It was by this vote declared on the authority of the great political party, with which the right hon. Baronet was associated, that there had existed in Ireland for the last four years a state of things which rendered life and property insecure, and it was then moved that an inquiry should be commenced by the very persons who thus stigmatized the Government. When did the noble Lord take the opportunity of making this motion? If it were not meant for a vote of censure, why was this time chosen for the motion? Why was it not made when the Marquess of Normanby was governor of Ireland—when they had a motive for removing the noble Lord or the Government of which he was the organ? There never was such a step taken during that period, nor till the administration of the Marquess of Normanby had ceased, and when the motion could produce no good consequence. Here was Lord Normanby up to February last the governor of Ireland—there was not a fact relating to Lord Normanby's administration which was not known to the House of Lords and to that House; and yet it was not until Lord Normanby had resigned the office—it was not until he was replaced by Lord Ebrington—that any motion containing a practical charge of censure was made either in that House or in the other House of Parliament. It was true that hon. Gentleman opposite had from time to time raised debates upon this subject, and that some gallant Officer opposite had afforded to the House an annual entertainment with respect to the Irish policy of the Government, but they had never brought forward a practical vote condemning the policy of the Marquess of Normanby. Reference was also made by the right hon. Baronet to the motion of censure upon Lord Glenelg, and to the extension of the responsibility for the acts of Lord Glenelg to the whole of the administration, and it was asked why this doctrine was not applicable now, and why the present vote was to be considered as having reference to Lord Normanby alone and not to the whole of her Majesty's Government? He admitted that the analogy was perfect. But the question raised in the House of Lords was the Irish policy alone of her Majesty's Government; that, also, was the issue for the House of Commons to decide. The right hon. Baronet objected also to the resolution, because it referred solely to their executive policy. That restriction was not introduced for the purpose of excluding the full responsibility of the Government, but to contrast their legislative with their executive policy; because, with respect to their executive policy, they had full power—they had acted as they thought right —they were responsible for it, and by that policy they were ready to abide. But, with respect to their legislative policy, they were not responsible, except for the measures which they might propose for adoption; they were not responsible for any opposition which those measures might meet with in their progress through Parliament. They would use their utmost endeavours to propose such measures as they deemed best for Ireland, as well as for the rest of the empire; but if, in consequence of the present state of parties, and of differences of opinion between the two Houses, they could not carry with a firm and bold hand such legislative measures as they wished, they were not to be blamed, they were not responsible for any curtailment which might be made, and therefore they did not call upon the House to approve of any such incomplete measures. The right hon. Gentleman next said, "I object to your resolution because of its uncertainty, I want to know by the term of late years' whose Government you include? Do you include the Government of Lord Wellesley—do you include that of Lord Grey—do you refer to my own administration?" The Government, however, were there to defend themselves, they were called upon to argue their own case, and they were bound to argue it upon the issue presented by the House of Lords. The House of Lords charged the Government, according to the construction which he put upon the vote, with causing such an amount of crime in Ireland as had rendered life and property insecure in that country since 1835. In thus submitting their motion they had profited by that dexterity of fence which the right hon. Gentleman displayed in his amendment, by which he endeavoured to make friends among every possible party in that House. Suppose the Government had said, that they would move an approval since 1835. Then the right hon. Gentleman would have said, "What base ingratitude!" He would have exclaimed, "What base desertion of former associates and former colleagues! Do you undervalue the useful administration of my Lord Grey? Do you form an unfavourable estimate of the great exertions of my Lord Wellesley? Do you cast overboard all except those who are connected with you for the moment?" The Government, however, were, upon the present occasion, called upon only to argue their own case. The House of Lords had not raised the case of Earl Grey, of Lord Wellesley, or of the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire. They need not argue what was not attacked by the resolution of the House of Lords. If that resolution had involved the Government preceding that to which he now belonged, he should have been ready to have stated to the House their merits, although undoubtedly, there were points of difference between them and the present administration. But the right hon. Gentleman told them that the vote of the House of Lords could have meant no censure, and that it could have none of consequences which had been described; and yet the right hon. Baronet said, that by the passing of the present resolution there would be an entire collision between the two Houses. He could not reconcile those two assertions. If the resolution of the House of Lords meant to cast no censure upon the acts of the Government for the last four years, then the resolution of the House of Commons, freeing the Government from all censure, could produce no collision with the House of Lords. The House had been threatened by the right hon. Gentleman with all manner of difficulties, if, in addition to dangers already existing, they created a collision with the House of Lords, by agreeing to a resolution which exempted the Government from all censure, and yet, at the same time, the right hon. Gentleman maintained that the House of Lords had passed no censure at all. Then the right hon. Baronet had laid great stress upon a phrase which had fallen from his noble Friend near him, that there was, as stated elsewhere, a prim âfacie case of censure, though of direct censure there might be none; but in using this phrase the noble Lord was only quoting an opinion of a noble and learned Lord in another place. The right hon. Gentleman asserted, that there was no which to call upon the House to pronounce a decision. He would, however, take the liberty of saying, that there was, within his own knowledge, abundant evidence satisfactorily to justify the vote. He was aware, that after the extent to which papers had been referred to, he had but little chance of attracting for them the attention of the House, and he would, therefore, refer in the slightest manner to the few points to which he wished to allude. In the first place, he would clear a difficulty which arose from a confusion between the returns of the clerks of the Crown and of the Peace, and the returns of the inspectors of prisons. With regard to the returns of the clerks of the Crown and of the Peace, by the former state of the law in Ireland, they were not paid solely by salary but by fees, They had originally collected their fees by the statute of 49 George 3rd, which contained a suhedule of fees for each person indicted for murder, for each person indicted for felony, and for each person indicted for any other offence; and thus clerks of the Crown and of the Peace were in the habit of multiplying indictments in every possible way and shape, by which practice their fees were augmented; and on the face of their returns the number of crimes were augmented in the same proportion. He had seen in his own county, the same man, for one and the same offence, indicted for murder, for conspiracy to commit murder, for assisting in the attack of a house, for a burglary at common law, for Whiteboyism, for conspiracy to carry arms, for appearing armed, and for wearing a disguise, under the Whiteboy Act; in short, that the same man, for one offence, was indicted five or six times over. He remembered a case which he might be justified in stating, and which would illustrate this principle. He had attended at the assizes as a grand juror, and an indictment was preferred against a man for murder, who was placed in the dock charged with that offence, and a witness was called to prove the case for the prosecution. On his examination, however, it was discovered that he was no other than the murdered man himself. There was the man indicted for murder, and arraigned on the indictment, and the first witness called was the man whom he was accused of having murdered. On finding that this indictment could not be sustained in consequence of this somewhat remarkable mistake, one of the jury applied to know whether it was a case in which they could find a bill for manslaughter, in fact it turned out, that a severe assault only, had been committed, any yet this was a case, in which a return might have been made, both of the charge of murder and manslaughter, although the man supposed to be murdered was actually living. He should say, that the returns made by the gaol inspectors, afforded the best means of judging of the real state of crime, and the House, in considering these returns in reference to what was called the injudicious administration of the prerogative of mercy by the Marquess of Normanby, would bear in mind, who and what the gaol inspectors in Ireland were. Generally speaking, the Protestant clergyman of the parish was made the inspector of the gaol, situated within the district, and he remembered an occasion, on which, a defence of the Irish clergy was most ably made by a right reverend Friend of his, the late Bishop of Limerick, when one of the points particularly referred to by him was, the great care and attention of the Protestant clergy, in performing the duties of these situations. As these inspectors had an opportunity of actually seeing the prisoners committed to their charge, the errors which were committed in the more general returns could not arise, and he therefore was justified in saving, that of all returns made to that House, those made by the inspectors of prisons were most to be relied upon. Upon referring to these returns, then, he found that, comparing the offences affecting life in the years 1832 and 1838, there had been a very considerable diminution in the number of commitments which had taken place, as well as a decrease in convictions in an almost equal proportion. In 1832, the number of committals was 772, while in 1838 it was 575; and while in the former year the convictions which took place 298in number, in the latter year their number had fallen to 203. This was the only document to which he had deemed it necessary to refer, to show that the law had been properly administered during the last four years, which was the particular period in which, if they were to credit the resolution come to by the House of Lords, property and life had been rendered insecure. But there was one piece of evidence more to which he would allude, and it was a species of evidence which every English Member would consider entitled to consideration. He meant the state of the military force in Ireland at the present time, as compared with what it was at former periods, for if there were any evidence which a government could produce with effect upon an occasion like the present, it was the state in which, of their own accord, they left their own military defences. In 1807, the force in Ireland exceeded 40,000 men; in 1813 it exceeded 24,000 men; in 1836 it exceeded 17,000 men; and, at the present time, the total amount of effective military for the defence of Ireland was no more than 15,357 men. So that there was a reduction of military force, from upwards of 40,000 men in 1807, to 15,000 men, which was now the number employed. He proved therefore, first, by the return to which he had alluded, an actual diminution of crime and of convictions; and, secondly, that the general state of the country was such, as that it admitted of considerable reduction of the military force. In reference, indeed, to the general state of the country, he could appeal to hon. Gentleman opposite, as to the contrast which it now presented to what it was in former times. So far from saying that its improvement was merely satisfactory, he would take upon himself to say, that in respect to many of its most important districts, an alteration had been produced, which he could only describe as affording the most complete contrast which any country in itself could exhibit. If he might be permitted to speak with regard to what he himself knew, he begged to tender himself as a witness before the House. He admitted that his official functions undoubtedly did not permit him to reside so much Ireland, as from duty, and inclination he could desire; but he had visited that country both now and informer times, and he had resided there, and he might appeal to others for the truth of his assertions, who had been then in power. At one period to which he alluded, he was a magistrate, and was, of course, called upon to perform duties in that character; but he contrasted two periods of his life which he had passed in that country. He remembered the county of Limerick at a period at which he was obliged, either at the head of the police force, or of the military force, to patrol the roads of that county five nights out of every seven, and to attend twice or three times in every week at the meetings of the special sessions, for the trial of offenders. He remembered also a period, when the king's judges could not proceed in the administration of the law without being protected by strong bodies of military, and when it was necessary to send troops to occupy the passes of the country for the protection of the judges and of the barristers, before they could venture to quit the garrison towns to proceed on the circuit. But in the same county during the last tow years—during his residence there—he had seen but one single offender in custody, and that was for being drunk on Sunday; and as for security of life and property, he defied any part of England to show a better example as regarded the maintenance of peace and tranquillity, than that which was presented in the neighbourhood in which he resided. This then, being the result of his own observations, could he, being a Member of Parliament, or an Irishman, acquiesce in a vote of the House of Lords, which declared that life and property had been insecure in Ireland. Could he admit that insecurity had been produced by the course pursued by the existing Government? It would be a dereliction of his duty to Ireland if he had acquiesced in such a proceeding. He would say one word now with respect to the exercise of the prerogative of mercy. The right hon. Baronet had undoubtedly talked upon this subject very lightly, and had done so he was sure, not only from the opinion which the right hon. Baronet entertained now, but from that which he had before expressed, that even although he disapproved of the use of the prerogative of mercy to the extent to which it was described to have been employed, it was a better course to pass over the question than to enter upon a discussion of so serious and important a subject as the exercise of that prerogative. The effect of what the right hon. Baronet had said, however, was, that he objected to the remission of the sentences of convicts, unless a consultation took place with the judge who tried their respective cases, as to the propriety of any favour or mercy being shown to them. That was an argument which had before been relied upon when the subject was under the consideration of Parliament, and he might appeal for an answer to it, to the opinion of one of the highest and most eminent judges of this country, whose authority he thought was even higher than that of the right hon. Baronet. The noble Lord to whom he referred had been Chief Justice of England, and the opinion which he was about to cite had been pronounced by him in the House of Lords in the course of a debate, which took place there upon the subject of the administration of the criminal law. He begged to remind the House, that the Marquess of Normanby was charged with having released prisoners without consulting the judges, and that charge was repeated by the right hon. Baronet, while his object was to show, that the noble Marquess had an authority for the course which he pursued of no inconsiderable importance. In a debate which took place as he had stated, the noble Lord to whom he alluded said, that he had tried prisoners who had been capitally convicted, and he had carefully examined and revised all the circumstances of their cases, without being able to find a single reason which would justify his recommending mercy to be extended to them, and he had reported to the Government, that he did not think himself warranted in saying, that they were entitled to favourable consideration, and yet mercy had been extended to them more than once, and he verily believed on fair and just principles. The statement was made by Lord Loughborough, in reference to cases which had been tried by himself as Chief Justice, and he thought, that his declaration was sufficiently distinct and explicit without requiring him to go any further into the arguments of the noble judge; he would content himself with pointing out to the House, that this was a distinct authority in favour of the course pursued by the noble Marquess lately at the head of the administration of Ireland. The right hon. Baronet had told the House the principle on which he should be disposed to act, and on general principles there was very little in which they should differ, but he thought it would be somewhat more difficult to work out some of the theories advanced by the right hon. Baronet than he seemed to imagine. The right hon. Baronet had said, that he disliked Orange Lodges and associations, but he could not but remark, that his opinion had somewhat altered, or that he had considered in former times the duties of his official station to be different from what he conceived his present duties to be; for otherwise he would not have allowed himself to be linked or bound up with persons who were notoriously connected with associations of the character which he professed to detest. The right hon. Baronet might find it very easy to say "I forswear all Orange associations, and all favour and patronage to persons who have been members of such associations;" but the right hon. Baronet would find it rather difficult to carry the principle which he professed to any very great extent. He would not detain the House by alluding to more than one other subject. The right hon. Baronet had complained of the Government in the course which they took with respect to a speech recently made by the Marquess of Head-fort, the Lord-lieutenant of the county of Cavan, and suggested, that that nobleman ought to have been removed in conse- quence of that speech from the situation which he held in her Majesty's household. He had no hesitation in saying, that the speech as it appeared to him, taking it as it had been published in the public prints, was one of which he should disapprove, and from which he should dissent as entirely as the right hon. Baronet, but was there not another speech made about the same time by another Lord-lieutenant, which was equally objectionable. [Sir R. Peel: There is a distinction to be drawn. The Marquess of Headfort held a public situation.] True; but supposing the Government to have removed him from the Royal household, he would still have held his position at the head of the magistracy of the county. What would have been said if the Government had declared the noble Marquess unworthy of their confidence by removing him from the household, and yet had left him to occupy the position of trust and importance which he held in Ireland as Lord-lieutenant of a county. Would the reason urged against him have been sufficient to justify his removal from his post of Lord-lieutenant? It would not, even if he were to be removed from the head of her Majesty's household. No Government would without utter disgrace to itself assent to such a course. If they had removed him, however, Lord Oxmantown must also have been dismissed from his lieutenancy, and hon. Gentlemen well knew how great was the public demand, and the excitement as to his removal, and if there had been what was termed a "popularity administration," no step could have been taken better calculated to render it still more popular. The ministers were aware, however, that they had duties to fulfil, and they were of opinion that they could not perform them properly, if they did not respect the independency of Lords-lieutenant. They had as a party, when Lord Fitzwilliam had been removed from the Lord-lieutenancy of Yorkshire county, objected to it as an act which was disgraceful to the existing government, and Parliament had decided that persons holding situations of that description should not be subservient to the political wishes of the Government. They would have forgotten all the principles of propriety then on which they acted, if, because they disapproved of the opinions attributed to the Marquess of Headfort, they had removed him from his office, for the principle which was good in the case of the late Lord Fitzwilliam and Lord Oxmantown was equally good in that of the noble Marquess. It ought to be remembered that the discussion on the state of Ireland in the House of Lords must be taken in connection with other proceedings. They had to recollect the steps taken by certain parties consequent upon the murder of Lord Norbury. He had never seen any instance where the proceedings displayed such absence of every thing like judicial temper. How could magistrates select for party excitement a moment when public opinion throughout Ireland pronounced one universal condemnation and abhorrence against those who had been concerned in that most atrocious crime—he had never witnessed a more injudicious course than the selection of that moment as the time to raise an attack directed against the whole Roman Catholic population of Ireland, proceeding, he did believe, from feelings of religious and party animosity. He had never observed a more complete forgetfulness of what was clue to the course of justice, and to the duties of those who were engaged in the investigation of that case—nor a more entire absence of that grave and impartial procedure which should have guided magistrates, he had never witnessed. He would ask, whether the murder of Lord Norbury, atrocious and horrible as it was, was an offence to entitle hon. Gentlemen to raise the my of a general conspiracy, and thus to excite a feeling of aversion against the people of Ireland? Some hon. Gentlemen seemed desirous to raise the argument, that the House of Lords were justified in adopting that course of procedure, on the ground that a member of the aristocracy—that one of their own body—had been barbarously murdered. He could acknowledge no such distinction, in a case of that description, between the humblest individual in the realm and a Member of the other House of Parliament—in so far as reference was made to the mere rank of the persons, the law makes no kind of difference. Were there no similar cases in former times? He would ask them to consider two cases that happened in his own county. He referred to the murder of Hoskins in the county of Limerick, and that of Going. Hoskins was land agent to the late Lord Devon, the manager of that nobleman's Irish estate. The tenantry under the an- terior management of that estate by the present Lord Devon were in a state of general improvement and happiness—every thing was proceeding in the most satisfactory and prosperous manner. But a change took place in the management. The successor of Lord Devon a Mr. Hoskins violated the engagements which his predecessor had entered into—disturbed the engagements which had been made—and refused to perform the contracts which had been ratified. The result was, that one of the most inhuman murders furnished by the records of crime was committed —the more inhuman and brutal, that for revenge against the father, hired miscreants wreaked their vengeance by the assassination of his infant son. Mr. Going again was a magistrate in the county of Limerick—he was the victim of a regular conspiracy—five or six men assembled from distant parts of the country—they lay in wait, shot him, and left him dead upon the spot where he was found with 400l. or 500l. untouched in his portmanteau, proving, that the only payment these men looked to was the gratification of their vengeance. Now, when Going came first into that county there was scarcely such a thing as an Orange lodge heard or known of in the quarter. But soon after his appointment he brought a police force into the county, almost all of whom were sworn Orangemen, and on the first of July after their appearance they paraded through the county decorated with a profusion of Orange favours and lilies. Here again there was a murder of the most atrocious kind. But was that considered any reason for an attack on the Government of that day? Was that Government dealt with on these occasions as hon. Gentlemen opposite now deal with the present Ministers. Did the then Opposition ever hold the right hon. Baronet or Lord Wellesley answerable for the murders in Limerick, Cork, or Kerry? It was reserved for party spirit on the present occasion to convert Ireland into a battle field, by the amendment of the right hon. Baronet and the vote in the House of Lords. Her Majesty's Government had not brought forward the resolution in its present shape from a wish to shelter themselves from any attack that might be considered expedient upon their general policy. Let any hon. Member who condemned their general policy move a vote of want of confidence in Ministers, and they were prepared to meet it whenever it might be brought forward. But on this occasion all that he felt himself called on to ask them was, to support the Government of Lord Normanby in Ireland, to show the country that they were resolved, that whoever was at the head of the Executive Government in that country he would be called upon to follow out and persevere in the same liberal course of policy. The Government had no wish whatever to entrap the House of Commons into any general exposition of an approval on their behalf. The resolution that had been moved by his noble Friend, the Secretary of State for the home Department, was confined strictly to a vote on the conduct of the Executive Government in Ireland, and did not go farther; nor could the Government have any right, if carried, to use it for another or a different purpose. But they would not shrink from meeting a discussion on the broad question of their general policy; nor would they with reference to such a question abandon any one principle which they had laid down for their guidance. When such a discussion was raised—if raised it should be—that would be the proper time to vindicate the course taken by the Government on their general policy. Before sitting down he would take the liberty of requesting the attention of the House to the opinion of a gentleman of great and acknowledged talents, who had described the state of Ireland—not an author connected with the political party, who sat on that (the Ministerial) side of the House, but who held a leading position, and great and well-merited weight with the party of the right hon. Baronet and hon. Gentlemen en the opposite side of the House; and who, in a publication of his early days, revised, considered, and re-published in his after years, described the state of Ireland much better than he could attempt, or presume to do, and who, after enumerating the evils which pressed on that country, concluded his remarks by observing, "Nor are we to forget the madness or the malice of Parliamentary faction, surviving the senate of one country, disturbing the imperial Legislature of another, and brandishing Ireland against the Minister, and not against the common enemy." Her Majesty's Government also complained, that hon. Gentlemen opposite had, in this instance, directed their attacks against the Minister, and had lost sight of the real cause of the evils which still afflicted that part of the United Kingdom. He thought the motion for an inquiry in another place, and the amendment moved on the resolution of his noble Friend, a strong example of the force of Mr. Croker's observation. It was brandishing Ireland as a weapon of warfare in Parliamentary discussion, instead of looking to it as a field for practical legislature. [Cheers.] The hon. Gentlemen opposite cheered as if Ministers had been the aggressors. He could have wished that those cheers had been reserved for the motion which had been made in the House of Lords,—a motion pregnant with evil, ineffective of good, destructive of all sound legislation, and induced solely by party spirit. He wished that the opinion which had just emanated from hon. Members opposite, had been expressed before the division in another place. It had been said, however, that her Majesty's Government had been actuated in this matter by party spirit. Was it party spirit to defend themselves? Was it party spirit to assert their principles of government? Or was it party spirit to protect the liberties and interests of the subjects of her Majesty in one portion of the United Kingdom.