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Commons Chamber

Volume 114: debated on Wednesday 5 February 1851

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House Of Commons

Wednesday, February 5, 1851.

MINUTES.] NEW WRIT for Pontefract, v. Samuel Martin. Esq., Baron of the Court of Exchequer.

The New Writ For Dungarvan

begged to say he was in error in moving, yesterday, a writ for this borough. He had moved it on the assumption that the right hon. Richard Lalor Sheil, having accepted the office of Minister Plenipotentiary to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, had vacated his seat for the borough; but it turned out that this was a mistake, for, on referring to precedents, it appeared that the seat was not vacated by the acceptance of that office. Therefore, the only course now left him was to move that the order be superseded; and with that view he begged to move that the Order of yesterday, the 4th instant, in reference to the writ, be then read.

The Clerk having read the Order,

begged to move—

"That Mr. Speaker do issue his warrant to the Clerk of the Crown, in Ireland, to make out a supersedeas to the said writ for the Election of a Burgess to serve in this present Parliament for the Borough of Dungarvan."

wished to know if that was the ordinary mode of proceeding? If not, there would be great danger in establishing it as a precedent. Any hon. Member might become obnoxious to a majority in that House; but that should be no reason why a supersedeas should issue. If once they established such a precedent, he feared it would become injurious to the liberty and privileges of that House. However, if the course now about to be pursued by the right hon. Gentleman accorded with precedent, of course he (Mr. Roebuck) could have nothing to say. But he should like to have assurance to that effect, that no harm might arise hereafter.

said, the hon. Gentleman wished to know whether or not the present course was that usually pursued. Now, he apprehended the usual course was, when an error had been committed, to rectify it as soon as possible. The fact would depend on the commission of the error. On reference to Hatsell, vol. ii., page 23, there was this cntry:—

"On the 7th July, 1715, on a question whether Mr. Carpenter, having been appointed Envoy to the Court of Vienna, is thereby included in the disability of the 6th of Anne, c. 7, it passed in the negative."
There were several instances where Gentlemen who were Members of the House, had discharged the duties of Ambassadors also; there was the case of Mr. Canning, of Sir Robert Adair, and of Lord Burghersh. Therefore, it seemed clear that the mere acceptance of this office did not divest the Ambassador of the character of Member of this House.

explained that he had been mistaken. He thought the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hayter) was going a step too far.

thought the proceedings quite contrary to common sense, that an hon. Member should accept an office of emolument and still retain his seat. Here was the acceptance of an office of emolument under the Crown, which would, moreover, leave the constituency unrepresented—Mr. Canning's was merely a temporary mission. It would be well if the Attorney General explained.

inquired in what state the writ would remain. The law was clear that the writ, after being moved for, should be forwarded by the next post. Now it would be very inconvenient if the sheriff of Waterford received the writ and appointed a day for the election, and was then compelled to suspend that election by supersedeas. He knew the state of feeling that existed in the borough; and, therefore, he knew that such a course would be attended with unpleasant consequences.

said, the House would be aware that by the statute 6th of Anne, the acceptance of any office of profit from the Crown makes the elec- tion void. The question was, whether the acceptance of this office of Envoy to a Foreign Court—such as had been accepted by his right hon. Friend Richard Lalor Sheil—came within the disability of the statute of Queen Anne. Now there were distinct precedents where that House had decided that the acceptance of such office did not come within the disability. A case of inadvertence had occurred in the issue of a writ for the borough of Dungarvan. In fact the borough of Dungarvan was not vacant; and, therefore, no election could at present take place. In case an election did take place, under the circumstances, the gentleman so elected would not be entitled to take his seat in that House, did he present himself at the table. The right hon. Richard Lalor Sheil was at that moment Member for Dungarvan; and the question was now, what course they were to adopt to remedy the error. He saw no course but to authorise the Speaker to issue a writ of supersedeas. Some inconvenience would no doubt arise; but no inconvenience would be so great as that which must follow from a proceeding contrary to law. In any case, it was only a matter of twenty-four hours' inconvenience, which could not be said to be very grievous.

inquired if the right hon. Gentleman the late Master of the Mint would be suffered to retain his seat?

replied, that a new writ would be moved for when the seat became vacant. Of course his right hon. Friend (Mr. Sheil) would see that his present position as Plenipotentiary to the Grand Duke of Tuscany was incompatible with his representation of Dungarvan, and would no doubt accordingly take the proper steps to vacate his seat in that House. The subject then dropped.

The Lord Lieutenancy Of Ireland

would ask the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown whether it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to introduce any Bill during the present Session of Parliament for the purpose of abolishing the office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland?

said, it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to bring in a Bill for that purpose.

begged to give notice that on the day on which the noble Lord moved for the introduction of that Bill, be should feel it his duty to move for a call of the House.

Fishery Of The Blackwater

wished to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether it was the intention of Government to order any and what prosecutions, or proceedings, for carrying into effect the recommendations contained in the late report of Commander I Fraser, R.N., on the illegal obstruction to the fishery and navigation of the Black-water; and whether he would lay the said report, with plans, &c, before the House?

said, that though it was true Commander Fraser had completed his survey and forwarded it to the Admiralty, the report was not yet complete; till the complete report and plans had been furnished, no decision would be come to. When be saw that report, he would communicate the result privately to the hon. Gentleman.

New Forest

wished to ask the noble Lord at the head of the Woods and Forests if it was the intention of the Government to bring in a Bill for the inclosure of the New Forest? If so, what were the intentions of the Government with respect to the destruction of the deer; whether they were prepared to take into consideration all claims of common rights; and whether they intended to retain a certain number of acres, and, if so, to what extent?

said, it was his intention to bring in three Bills respecting three different forests, and he thought it would be more convenient to reserve all details till he laid the Bills on the table of the House.

Adulteration Of Coffee

wished to know from his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it was his intention to introduce any measure to prevent the adulteration of coffee by chicory and other means, so as to afford protection to those who sent coffee into the country?

said, that he would state his views generally on the subject when making his financial statement; but with regard to the prohibition respecting the use of chicory with coffee, it was not his intention to introduce any measure on that subject.

then gave notice of his intention to submit a Motion on the subject.

John Henry Ley Esq Late Clerk Of The House

in moving a resolution acknowledging the services of John Henry Ley, Esq., late Clerk to the House of Commons, said, that he need make but few remarks. Mr. Ley was one of a succession of public officers whose services had been of great value to the House and to the country. Mr. Ley himself had served for 49 years at the table of the House, and every one who was acquainted with the business transacted in it for many years must be aware that he had a mind stored with information relating to every subject by which the order and procedure of the House were regulated: and every person must likewise know that nothing could exceed the readiness and courtesy with which he communicated to every Member of the House the information which he possessed, and of which they desired to be informed. In the Committees of the House his services were of great value in preparing and putting in due order and form those amendments which in the course of debate were proposed to be inserted in Bills of great public importance. Every Member of the House must be aware how useful it was to the regularity of their proceedings and to the correctness of their decisions to have at the table a Clerk so well furnished with the knowledge which it was requisite should be possessed on these subjects, and how often their deliberations had been aided by that knowledge being communicated to the House. He did not think be need say any more except that the House would do itself credit by placing on its records an acknowledgement of those services, arid never, he believed, would that acknowledgment have been better bestowed. The noble Lord concluded by moving the following Resolution—

"That this House entertains a just and high sense of the distinguished and exemplary manner in which John Henry Ley, Esq., late Clerk of this House, uniformly discharged the duties of his situation, during his long attendance at the table of this House, for above 49 years."

I second the Motion of my noble Friend. It is, I hope, not an act of presumption on my part, but a duty, which the older Members of the House ought to be the most forward to discharge, in proportion to their longer experience of the services which the resolution is designed to acknowledge and record. But the youngest Member of the House has seen enough of the services of the late Mr. Ley to justify me in anticipating an unanimous vote on this occasion. In the fulfilment of his important functions, Mr. Ley displayed, for nearly half a century, strict and rigid impartiality, punctuality, accuracy, knowledge of business. There are few of us who have not, individually, had the benefit of his aid. His labours had increased greatly during the course of his public service. That increase might be tested in various ways—by the increase in the number of Bills, or in the number of petitions. In a certain sense, every petition passed before him; in the strictest sense, every Bill passed through his hands. It may not be uninteresting to the House itself to know the facts. Take the case of petitions. When Mr. Ley first sat at the table, the number of petitions, in the five years ending 1805, was 1,026; in the five years ending 1815, the number had more than quadrupled—4,498; in the five years ending 1831, the number was 24,492; in the five years ending 1842, they were 70,072; in the five years ending l847, they were 81,985. Those who have had the privilege of possessing such an officer as the late Mr. Ley ought to value him when living, and to honour him when dead. It was a cheap reward of public service to adopt the resolution of the First Minister of the Crown. But when I talk of cheapness, I mean no vulgar reference to money, but to honours—the cheap defence of nations. It is due, indeed, to ourselves, as much as to the memory of Mr. Ley, to place on the records of our proceedings this testimony to our sense of the value of his services; and the honour is as graceful to those who confer it, as it is to him to whose name it is offered. It is some consolation to those who in private life mourn him; and it is an encouragement to others so to act as to win for their posterity the honours of such a memorial as a Resolution of the greatest deliberative body in the world, commemorating the public services of one of its officers, preeminently bestows. The Resolution having been put,

said that, having had frequent opportunities of observing the admirable manner in which Mr. Ley had performed his duties, he cordially and entirely agreed with this vote. His attention to the duties of the office rendered him acquainted with the forms and manner of their proceedings, and often the Speaker had had the benefit of his great experience in matters connected with the business of the House. He (Mr. Hume) had therefore much pleasure in expressing his approbation that the great services of Mr. Ley were to be formally acknowledged in their Journals. But it was with extreme pain that he felt called upon to complain on the part of the public of the manner in which the Prime Minister had filled up the vacancy. He considered that every word which the noble Lord used, such as large experience, extensive knowledge, long servitude, told as a severe satire against himself, for they found that the person who occupied Mr. Ley's situation was a gentleman who had not a single day's experience to recommend him to the office. He did not wish to say anything against that gentleman as an individual, but a know-I ledge of his office could only be obtained by the continued practice and long experience which the noble Lord had adverted to, and therefore he did complain of the manner in which the noble Lord had exercised his patronage. Offices of this nature should always be filled up with a view to the public benefit, and when a vacancy occurred, due attention should be paid to the merits and capabilities of the party appointed to it. That rule applied with double force to the office in question, for young Members, ignorant of the forms of the House, could only make themselves acquainted with them through the assistance of the Clerk at the Table. It was, therefore, of the utmost importance that they should be able to apply to an officer who could give them information such as Mr. Ley was always ready to afford. For his part he (Mr. Hume) never applied to that gentleman for information without obtaining it, or without being put in the way to find it. But what did Sir Denis Le Marchant know of the rules and practice of this House? What qualifications had he for a situation embracing so many important duties as those which the noble Lord had pointed out? It was a painful duty for him to make these observations, but it was a duty which he owed to the House of Commons and the country, to state unhesitatingly to the noble Lord what he had heard remarked out of doors. The noble Lord might not have heard these re- marks; but other appointments connected with that House had also been remarked upon; but this was especially objectionable, because it affected their everyday duties in that House. Sir Denis Le Marchant possibly might be a very able man. Judging from the number of situations he filled, he certainly ought to be possessed of a pretty general knowledge. But what means had he of acquiring a knowledge of the routine and forms of the House, except that he had been for a short time one of its Members? The noble Lord bad not, in his opinion, exercised due discretion in the exercise of his patronage in the present instance. To-morrow the noble Lords speech would go forth to the public, and he would venture to affirm that whoever read the record of it would agree with him in saying that a sarcasm more severe, or a reflexion more cutting and condemnatory, than that which it conveyed on this appointment of Sir D. Le Marchant could hardly be conceived. Where was his experience? Where was the time which be had devoted to the business of the House—and let hon. Members remember that the business of the House was not to be learned in a day. Even in the simple duty of presenting petitions, Members of ten years' standing often looked very foolish from not knowing and observing the forms of the House; and it was of importance that the Clerk at the Table should be well versed in these matters, so as to place them right when necessary. He did not mean to make any charge against individuals, but he had no hesitation in saying that many fitter men might be selected for the appointment. Judging from the manner in which the present appointment had been made, they might form an opinion how lamentably the business in other departments must be conducted.

did not think the matter which had been introduced by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down was suited to the present occasion. He was, perhaps, above all others, qualified to bear his testimony to Mr. Ley, and to the knowledge and advantages derived from his experience, for having come into office soon after his entrance into Parliament, he had been saved, by the experience and knowledge of Mr. Ley, from falling into those errors which, as a young Member, he must otherwise have unavoidably fallen into. He owed him a deep debt of gratitude for the information which Mr. Ley had afforded him from time to time. He had great pleasure in supporting the resolution.

hoped the House would allow him to say a few words in answer to the attack made upon him by the hon. Member for Montrose. Of course, it was the duty of the Prime Minister to consider the qualifications of the person whom he recommended for any particular office, and be would do wrong if he took the opinion of persons who had no responsibility, and disregarded his own convictions on a matter of this kind. Now, his conviction was, that be could not have made a better selection than that of Sir Denis Le Marchant. To say that he had no experience of the business of the House, was to say that which might be said of every person who filled the more important situation of Speaker of that House, for every Speaker when first chosen must necessarily be a person without experience in the arduous duties of that office. But with regard to this particular office there was a recommendation by a Committee of the House, with respect to the office of counsel to the Speaker—an office connected with the House, to which a salary of 1,200l. or 1,500l. a year was attached. When this office was first created, it was one of great responsibility and labour, and the gentleman who filled it had been induced to leave fair prospects at the bar for the purpose of taking this situation. But the course of business in the House had afterwards changed, and another Committee, over which his right hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Vernon Smith) presided, recommended that the office should be abolished on the next vacancy, and that the salary should cease. It then became a question of considerable embarrassment to Mr. Booth, not that he thought these duties could not be dispensed with, but he felt that he held an office which stood in the way of a reduction in the public expenditure. It, therefore, seemed to him that if he appointed a gentleman fully qualified, from long habits of business, to discharge the duties of Clerk to the House, and removed Mr. Booth to the Secretary-ship of the Board of Trade, he could thereby effect a saving of 1,200l. or 1,500l. a year. It was with a view to economy that he thus acted; and he had always thought that the hon. Member far Montrose would support whatever promoted public economy.

differed from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University in the opinion that this was not the right time to bring the subject introduced by the hon. Member for Montrose before the House. If it was not discussed then, there would be no other opportunity for doing so. If it was true, as the noble Lord stated, that any new Speaker must be always without experience of the forms of the House, it was the more necessary to have a Clerk who had experience of them.

Resolution was agreed to nemine contradicente.

The Houses Of Parliament—The Attendance Of The Commons On The Queen

On a Motion to appoint a Committee to regulate the Kitchen and Refreshment Rooms,

said, he wished to say a few words on another matter. Those who had, yesterday, accompanied the Speaker to the House of Lords, would recollect the disorderly manner in which the Members had been compelled to follow him, and what danger the Speaker himself had in finding his way there. He thought this was highly derogatory to the dignity of the House. Even when they did arrive at the House of Lords, there was not room enough below the bar to contain one-quarter of the Members. He happened to be the twenty-fifth after the Speaker, but both sides of the bar were so filled that he neither saw the Queen nor heard Her voice. It was an eternal disgrace to the House and to the country, that they had expended so much money on a place so ill suited to carry on the business of the country. Could no means be adopted by which decorum could be preserved in future? He recollected that, on one occasion, the coat of a Member of the House, who now filled a high office abroad, had been torn, and that his shoulder had been dislocated. That was in the Old House; but it was as bad, or worse, in the New House. What he wanted was, that a Committee should be appointed to consider of such arrangements as would enable them to go to the House of Lords as became their character and position. If there was only room for a hundred Members, lots might be drawn to ascertain who were to accompany the Speaker, that order might be preserved, and that they might be able to conduct themselves as other men, soberly and decently, and not like a mob. He was himself knocked against the corner there, his head was knocked against the post, and he might have been injured, if a stout Member, to whom he felt much obliged, had not come to his assistance. But, after all, it was no laughing matter, it concerned the character of the House; and he was sure it could not but be a cause of deep regret to the right hon. Speaker that more order and better accommodation for the Commons of England should not be insured at the bar of the House of Lords. He would, therefore, suggest that the Government should make some arrangement with the House of Lords that better accommodation should be afforded to the Members of the House of Commons; while the Commons should at the same time determine the number of Members who should attend on these occasions. He recollected that, in order to prevent any indecorum on the occasion of the House accompanying the Speaker on Her Majesty's coronation, lots were drawn by the Members, and it happened most extraordinarily that his name was drawn first. By that arrangement the Members marched out three and three, and all the House attended, and every thing was conducted in the most becoming manner. This was a matter to which he had on a former occasion called the attention of the House. He had no hesitation in saying that, when hon. Members came crowding against the stone pillars of the New House (the building of which reflected great disgrace on all concerned in it), they would be in great danger of sustaining serious injury; he therefore would entreat the noble Lord to adopt some measure which should protect hon. Members from incurring that risk, and at the same time prevent the recurrence of such a disgraceful scene as that which took place yesterday at the bar of the House of Lords.

The Sessional Orders—Public Business—Money Votes

The usual Sessional Orders were moved and agreed to; on that for fixing the days for Committees of Supply,

said, he had given notice last Session of his intention to move that no Money Vote should be taken after 12 o'clock, and that intention he should now fulfil. At that period experience had told him that the House was generally very indulgent. On questions of Supply nearly three-fourths of the Members quitted the House, leaving those only who were desirous of watching over the public expenditure; but these were barely sufficient in number to compete with the Ministerial phalanx that was always in reserve: and the consequence was that Money Votes were carried without that attention which even common decency demanded. By limiting the Votes to 12 o'clock, this evil would be obviated, and it might, at the same time, be the means of making Ministers bring on their Votes at an earlier period of the day. He did not intend that those Votes which should have been moved before 12 should be suspended, but that no new Vote should be proposed after that hour. He proposed to add to the Order the words, "and that no Vote for Money be taken in Committee of Supply after midnight."

thought that it would not he wise for the House to bind itself down to any positive resolution on the subject. He hardly knew an instance in which the Government had persevered in an attempt to force a Vote after 12 o'clock. He was quite sure that in his time no such thing had occurred. Whenever opposition had been made to a Vote after that hour, the Government had given way. It was, in fact, understood that opposed Votes should not be taken after midnight, and he could not call to mind any deviation from that rule. His hon. Friend well knew that there were many Votes to which no opposition was offered, and it could not signify very much at what time such Votes were taken. There were certain periods of the Session when it was desirable to make more rapid progress than at other periods, and half an hour or an hour occupied for that purpose did not necessarily involve a waste of public money. It was far better that the House should be left to exercise its discretion as the occasion arose than that a rule should be established which might tend to impede the despatch of public business.

said, it was to avoid those discussions which often occurred as to whether the House should proceed or not, that he proposed this Amendment. Many Members were anxious to go home at 12 o'clock, but they were reluctant to do so while the public money was being voted away. If any circumstance arose to require the suspension of the Order, he should be willing to agree to it; but, lot what he proposed be the general rule, and the business of the House would be better managed.

thought the practice of taking Votes for public money after 12 o'clock most objectionable. The last grant to Maynooth was taken at a quarter after 1 o'clock in the morning. He would support the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose, considering it quite indecent to vote away the public money at such late hours.

said, the greatest mischiefs had arisen from bringing forward votes of importance after 12, and even; 2 o'clock in the morning. When his hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Brotherton) used to perform the onerous duty, in which he persevered for some years, there was some check to the evil; but his hon. Friend had of late years relaxed in his efforts, and that was an additional reason for adopting the Motion.

observed, that it was often absolutely necessary, for the sake of the public service, that votes should be taken after midnight; and the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) felt that necessity, for be declared he would be ready to vote for the suspension of his rule whenever the necessity arose. But in that case the House would just be as likely to engage in debate, whether the occasion was one of necessity or not, and with the prospect of such discussions upon if, the value of such a rule would be infinitesimal.

After a few words from Colonel SIBTHORP,

Question put, "That those words be then added:"—Ayes 47; Noes 116: Majority 69.

Late Sittings

then moved, in; pursuance of notice—

"That in the present Session of Parliament no business shall be proceeded with after midnight; and that at Twelve o'clock at night precisely, notwithstanding there may be business under discussion, Mr. Speaker do adjourn the House without putting any Question."
The proposition was so reasonable he could have hardly anticipated its rejection; but that the division which had just taken place was not very encouraging. It embodied no new principle; 150 years ago the Speaker quitted the chair at 12 o'clock at noon, and the House had lately adopted the rule that he should quit the chair at 6 o'clock every Wednesday. The present system of late hours was exceedingly injurious to the health of Members. There never was a Session during which there was such a mortality among them as the last; and he attributed it to their being worn out by sitting so long after midnight. As to the inconvenience of adjourning at 12, he might remark they were in the habit of wasting a great deal of time after that hour in discussing whether they would adjourn or not. If the rule were once established, they could make any little domestic arrangements they pleased, and would have the convenience they now experienced on Wednesdays. It had been remarked that he had relaxed in his efforts to adjourn the House of late years as soon as the clock struck 12; but then it should be remembered he could not interrupt a Member in his speech, and could do nothing if he did not catch the eye of the Speaker. He had a table for the last nine years of the number of the days and hours the House sat, which was well worth notice, and which he would read:—
Days.Hours.Hours after Midnight.
The only argument that could be used against his proposition was, that hon. Members would speak against time whenever they sought to defeat a Motion; but even that was better than debating after midnight. The practice of speaking against time was obtained in some very few instances on the Wednesdays; but the good sense of the House would always prevent its being carried to any great length. He asked them to adopt his proposition for the present Session, merely as a trial, and if it did not answer they could easily drop it next Session; but he believed they would see its advantages if once they agreed in passing the Motion as a Sessional Order.

said, the House having decided against the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose, he could not conceive that they would adopt one which went much further. No doubt it was very undesirable that the habit should prevail of continuing the debate long after midnight; but that was not the general practice, es- pecially in the earlier part of the Session; the adjournment generally took place about Twelve o'clock. Still, if the rule were to adjourn every night at that hour, the business of the House would be placed, to a great extent, in the power of a minority, and the Session be protracted by the habit of speaking against time—an evil against which his hon. Friend had provided no remedy. He would be glad to see a further adoption of the salutary practice of abridging speeches, and inducing Members to shorten their observations as much as possible.

could not concur in the Motion; but thought, nevertheless, that no new matter should be brought on after Twelve o'clock.

expressed his intention of voting for the Motion on grounds peculiar to the Irish Members. He had observed that the Irish Secretary had almost invariably introduced measures affecting Ireland after Twelve o'clock at night, and he felt sure the rule would be of use in stopping such a practice.

said, that some measures depended for success on the chance of being passed after midnight. He had supported the previous Motion, because he thought it exceedingly improper that any of the public money should be voted away after Twelve o'clock at night. But, on the other hand, measures of great public importance might be thrown over if the rule were applied to everything. One of the most important measures of last Session passed through the House at Two o'clock—he alluded, of course, to the Engines for taking Fish Bill.

said, that the strongest reason which induced him to vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Salford was the objectionable practice which prevailed of granting money after Twelve o'clock—a practice which he believed had made a very unfavourable impression on the country, and which would, of course, be at once put an end to by the adoption of the present Motion. Another advantage which would be gained by its adoption would be, that the leaders of parties on both sides would be obliged to address the House at an earlier hour than they were in the habit of doing at present.

regretted that the hon. Member for Salford had not moved that the House should meet at Twelve o'clock in the day, which he thought would be a great improvement. If his reading recollection was correct, the House was in the habit, at one time, of meeting as early as eight o'clock in the morning. Inasmuch as merchants and men of busineas generally found the daytime most convenient for the transaction of their business, he believed that the business of the nation would also be better transacted during the day. He agreed with the hon. Member for Clonmel that the Irish Members had peculiar reasons for complaining of the present late hours. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland, without intending it perhaps, had put him (Mr. Reynolds) to great personal inconvenience. The right hon. Gentleman had charge of a bundle of Bills in which he (Mr. Reynolds) took a deep interest; and, in order to watch their progress, he often remained in the House so late as Three o'clock, and then found them postponed after all.

The House divided:—Aves 32; Noes 108:Majority 76.

The Queen's Speech—Report On The Address

said, that not having had an opportunity of addressing the House on the previous evening, he was anxious to say a few words in order that the support he gave to the Address might not be misunderstood. Although he did not mean to offer any opposition to that Address, yet there were various things in the Speech with which he was by no means satisfied; and there were, besides, many omissions which he regretted. He could not join its expression of satisfaction with respect to foreign affairs. In common with the rest of the nation, he was pleased to find that we remained at peace with all nations; but, at the same same, he could have desired to have heard that, while peace was maintained, the influence of this country throughout Europe was greater, and better established, than, he was sorry to say, judging from the state of public affairs, it appeared to be. The Speech of last year contained a remarkable paragraph relating to the differences which had arisen between some of the great States in the east of Europe in regard to the treatment of the Hungarians who had taken refuge in the Turkish territory, and the House was told that Her Majesty united her efforts with those of France, "in order to assist, by the employment of her good offices, in effecting an amicable settlement of those differences in a manner consistent with the dignity and independence of the Porte." Now, it had long been the profession of British Governments, whether Whig or Tory, that they would support and maintain the integrity of the Turkish empire, and on the occasion alluded to it was felt that the demands of the Northern Courts to have certain refugees delivered up to their vengeance was a violation of the independence of the Turkish empire. He thought it would have been more creditable to our Government, and more agreeable to the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, who had so often declared his anxiety on the subject, if he had been able to come forward and say, "We have not allowed the Turkish Government to be coerced into delivering up these unfortunate men, nor have we permitted the Turks to be forced by Austria to become the jailors of that Government." It would have been most creditable to the noble Lord could he have said, "Kossuth is no longer detained a prisoner against the law of nations, and contrary to the avowed desire of this country." He (Lord Dudley Stuart) felt the more upon this subject, because it was very well known that the sovereign of Turkey had no desire to detain these poor men in captivity, seeing that they had done nothing against him or his dominions. It was notorious that the Turks had no desire to continue these barbarities, but were compelled and coerced into doing so by the representations and influence of Austria. More than that, it was perfectly notorious—or at least it was generally believed by every one who had any acquaintance whatever with the affairs of Turkey—that if the influence of this Government had been properly exerted, earnestly and sincerely exerted, the Turks would have been very glad to return, as they had before, a decided negative to the unjust demands of Austria and Russia. He wished, therefore, that something of the kind had been mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, instead of the subjects which had been thought worthy of a place there. The last year had passed over in complete silence, and instead of Kossuth—that great man for whom such interest was felt in this country, throughout Europe, and in the United States of America—being liberated, he was allowed to rot in an infamous gaol, in which he had been immured through the brutality of the Austrian Government, and allowed to remain, through the apathy of our own. Neither could he, although, of course, he rejoiced at the general peace, look at the state of affairs in other parts of Europe with any satisfaction. He should have been glad if, through the friendly offices of this Government, the House could have been told that the constitutional patriots of Hesse had been saved from oppression, instead of knowing that the despotic Powers had put them down against all justice, and that their most legitimate and constitutional attempt to preserve their liberties without bloodshed, and by solely pacific means had been trampled under foot, while our Government looked on with indifference. They now saw the Austrian rule, at which the noble Lord had expressed so much dissatisfaction, powerful everywhere, the last news being that the Austrian troops were in occupation of the free town of Hamburg. He would not press this subject further; but he was anxious before he sat down to say a few words on the subject usually known as the Papal aggression. Now, although he was as much attached to the Protestant Church as any man in the country, he was anxious, while he reverenced his own religion, to give to every man the most full, free and uninterrupted enjoyment of his peculiar doctrines, and the full command of all internal religious regulations, and he could not conceive any measure of emancipation or toleration to be complete which came short of this. He fully admitted that the Pope's recent measures had been adopted with little courtesy towards the Government of this country. He must say, that for such a sovereign as the Pope, the weakest in Europe, supported only by foreign bayonets, to insult the Sovereign of a great country like this, by dividing her territory into districts, was a gross piece of insolence; and he rejoiced at the manifestations of Protestant feeling which had taken place in England on account of it. He was glad to see the Protestant feeling of the country; but that was a very different thing from interfering with Roman Catholics in the free exercise of their religion. To resort to penal laws would be, as the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield had said, a step backwards; and he fully believed, with that hon. Member, that the time would come when the people of this country would be ashamed of the step now contemplated. Formerly the Pope's power was real, and there might be some grounds of alarm; but now it was a mere shadow, quite unworthy of the alarm it had created. He asked, what power did the Pope give by his late edict? Did he compel people to go to confession, or to put their hands in their pockets for his bishops? No, thank God, he might call spirits from the vasty deep, but they did not come upon his calling. Every one was bound to obey the Pope—just as far as he chose, and no farther. Why, then, this alarm? For his part, he felt none. He believed that truth was great and would prevail, and that there was no fear of the Established Church losing its territory, its titles, or its revenue. All these things were grounded in the laws and constitution of the country, and yet they were startled at the nomination by the Pope of a few titular bishops, as if it was suddenly to make the whole country Roman Catholic. He had no such apprehension; and, in his opinion, the House of Commons had nothing to do with the question. He did not care how many bishops were appointed by the Pope. The Emperor of Russia was head of the Greek Church, and although it was well known that he had no leaning to the Emperor of Russia, yet he would not care if that monarch were to send a parcel of Greek Popes here, and call them archbishops and bishops of different places. Those who condemned the Catholics for marking the country into districts for the purposes of their religion, ought, in consistency, to object to the Freemasons making a similar partition for the objects of their craft. The crusade in which the noble Lord at the head of the Government was about to embark against the names assumed by the Roman Catholic prelates, was puerile in the extreme. Such was the opinion of the noble Lord himself only a short time back. In 1845 the noble Lord stood up in that House and declared that he knew of no objection to Roman Catholic prelates taking the titles of bishops of this country, and that he was unable to conceive any good reason for restraining them from doing so. Again, in 1846, the noble Lord said that to pass a law to prevent persons from taking certain titles was puerile and absurd. It was to be hoped that when the noble Lord brought forward his Bill, he would explain to the House how he had come to change his opinions on this point. Of course, the noble Lord was justified in changing his opinions, if he did so conscientiously; but he was bound to state better reasons for his conversion than had yet been advanced. In the insinuation thrown out by the hon. Member for Sheffield, that the noble Lord had been influenced by a desire to gain popularity, he could not concur; on the contrary, he was ready to give him credit for noble and lofty aims in all that he did. The popularity the noble Lord might obtain from the course he was now pursuing would prove fleeting, compared with what he would obtain from carrying a measure of reform in the representation of the people. As the noble Lord had changed his opinion on the Roman Catholic question, it was possible he might have altered his views also with regard to some other subjects. He saw nothing in the Speech from the Throne in reference to that important question—the reform of Parliament. Last year it was confidently stated by some of the noble Lord's most intimate friends that some measure in that direction would speedily be brought forward; but in the present Speech there was not a word to give those who were looking for an extension of political rights a gleam of hope. Was the omission to be taken as a change of opinion on this question also? Again, nothing was said about the emancipation, of the Jews, a measure which of late years the noble Lord had espoused so warmly. Perhaps the noble Lord would condescend to give some explanation as to the course he intended to pursue on these important questions, in order that the country might know whether the expectations which they had been led to indulge in were to be realised. He was anxious that in giving his assent to the Address he might not be supposed as agreeing to the measures which he saw with sorrow were about to be taken, and which he considered an invasion of the great principle of toleration, while they would, he believed, be inoperative for the purpose for which they were introduced.

expressed regret that no hopes were held out in the Speech of relief to the agricultural interest. He referred in proof of the distress to a circumstance that had recently occurred at Eye, in Suffolk, where the agricultural labourers, to the number of between 300 and 400, marched into the town armed with clubs and sticks, and took possession of the workhouse, turning out the master, and breaking the wards and holding possession until they were forced to surrender by a party of shopkeepers and townsmen who had been summoned to assist, and by whom some of the ringleaders had been captured and placed in gaol for the offence. The cause of this outrage was that the labourers had been long out of work in consequence of the inability of the farmers to provide employment for them. In that district the last year had been a most ruinous one. The blight had destroyed, to a great extent, the produce of the land, reducing it from 5 quarters per acre, which the farmers had anticipated from the appearance of the crops in the spring, to 1½ or 2 quarters per acre. The effect of this had; been to place many men of capital in such a state of difficulty and distress that they were wholly unable to employ the labourers on their farms.

called the attention of the noble Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the question which had been put by his noble Friend (Lord Dudley Stuart) on a matter in which the public out of doors deeply sympathised, and which last year commanded as much interest out of doors as the Papal aggression did now. The question which his noble Friend had put was—why was the paragraph relating to the Hungarian refugees, and the efforts of Her Majesty's Government to ameliorate their condition, omitted from the present Speech, while the cause which had led to its insertion in the Speech of last year still existed? He thought respect for public opinion ought to extract from Government some explanation, whether there was any hope for those unfortunate men who were now, at the instance of Austria and Russia, confined in Turkey. It would be satisfactory also, if the noble Lord would state the number of them.

I can assure my hon. Friend that Her Majesty's Government were not inattentive to the subject alluded to. Communications have been carried on by Her Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople with the Turkish Government, with the view of obtaining the release of these persons; but I am sorry to say that those efforts have not, as yet, been attended with that success which we could desire.

Will the noble Lord state whether all the Hungarians who took refuge in Turkey are still detained there, or whether any have been set at liberty?

I cannot state exactly. The number now at Katayah is not so great as it was; a considerable number, about 700 I believe, who remained at Shumlah for some time, have, I understand, lately been forwarded to Constantinople, but whether to be stationed at any place in that locality, or for the purpose of their being sent elsewhere I cannot say.

Address agreed to.

House adjourned at half-after Seven o'clock.