Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

The Chancellor of the Exchequer observed, in reply to Mr. Disraeli, that this measure had not been introduced on the ground of economy, but that of the good government of Ireland. In estimating the expense of the alteration at 100,000l. a year, however, Mr. Disraeli's imagination had soared higher than usual. The expense of the Home Secretary's department was 26,000l. a year, and that of the Colonial Secretary 37,000l. a year. The expenditure for the salary of the Lord Lieutenant, his household, and the Irish Secretaryship, was, besides incidental expenses, 48,500l.; so that the saving would be from 11,000l. to 22,000l. a year.

Mr. Lawless moved that the debate be adjourned; and after a few remarks from Mr. J. O'Connell in support of the Bill, and from Colonel Sibthorp and Colonel Dunne against it, the House divided, when the motion for the adjournment was negatived by 213 against 19.

Mr. M. O'Connell then moved that the House adjourn, which drew from Lord John Russell some pointed observations. After a desultory debate upon this motion, it was withdrawn, and the House divided upon the original motion, which was carried by 170 against

17, and leave was accordingly given to introduce the Bill.

66

The debate on the second reading commenced on the 18th June, when the opponents mustered in considerable strength, being reinforced from various quarters of the House. Mr. Grattan strenuously resisted the Bill as "a warning to the country, that if they took away the Lord Lieutenant, they would soon have a military government in Ireland." Mr. G. A. Hamilton objected to it, as injurious to the mercantile interests of Dublin;" Mr. Maurice O'Connell, as "striking a blow that must ultimately lead to the severance of the two countries;" Colonel Dunne "as the consummation of the injuries and insults which had been heaped by England upon Ireland ever since the Union;" and by Mr. Grogan, as "tending to aggravate the evils arising from absenteeism." Mr. Roebuck maintained that, in depriving Ireland of the mockroyalty which this Bill would abolish, they were taking a course likely to consolidate the Union rather than to weaken it. Lord John Russell reiterated the principal arguments used by him in introducing the Bill-such as the party character and unpopularity of the Vice-Regal Court, and its tendency to withdraw Irish gentlemen from their estates to spend their money in Dublin. Upon the motion of Mr. Anstey, the debate was then adjourned, and upon its resumption some speeches of considerable weight and interest were delivered, especially one by Sir, Robert Peel, which produced much impression. After Mr. Anstey had stated his reasons at some length for opposing the mea

[blocks in formation]

whether such an appointment was expedient, there being but one Secretary of State for England, Scotland, and Wales. He preferred a single Secretary of State for the United Kingdom to a separate Secretary for Ireland, which would afford less chance of unity of system than with a Lord Lieutenant acting under the direct authority of the single Secretary of State. Suppose there were simultaneous popular commotions in England and Ireland, which required that the military should aid the civil power, would it not be better that there should be one man to take a combined view of the exigencies of the whole empire, than that two men should be separately pressing the Commander-in-Chief to afford them military aid? He feared, too, that there was some risk of collision of authority between the two co-equal Secretaries; and in respect to legislation and criminal justice there could be no uniformity except under a single Secretary of State. There was no effort which he (Sir Robert) would not make to relieve the Home Secretary of part of his present functions, and he thought that, in the distribution of the functions. of the new Lord Chancellor, it might be possible to transfer to him some of the present duties of the Home Secretary. He advised Sir G. Grey to take upon himself the Irish Secretaryship, in order that one mind might direct the domestic affairs of both countries. In conclusion, he confessed he did not see the change proposed by this Bill with complete freedom from anxiety, and he asked, as a compensation for the risk he was willing to incur, that as much unity and uniformity as possible should be imported into the machinery of Administration.

good government of Ireland; to that result all partial and local considerations should be subordinate. He wished he could see, as others did, its unequivocal advantages. On the whole, however, he was content that the experiment should be made, but with hesitation and doubt. He was aware of the difficulties which men of high character and great acquirements encountered in administering the government of Ireland; but all these difficulties were not to be attributed to the state of society in that country. When there was a local Parliament in Ireland, the relations betwixt the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary were natural and constitutional; but when the local legislature was abolished they were materially altered, and the Chief Secretary acquired great power. Whatever good effects might follow the removal of the Viceregal Court from Dublin, he could not satisfy himself that, with respect to the local machinery and the administration of justice, the removal of the Lord Lieutenant, a nobleman of high acquirements, animated with a sincere desire to govern Ireland independently of parties, might not have an injurious effect. From the difficulty inherent in the maintenance of the relations between the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary, and from the objection he had to conferring upon the latter the dignity of a Cabinet Minister, he was inclined favourably to receive this proposal. He admitted the increased facilities of communication, and that if the experiment was to be made, there could be no better time to make it. With regard, however, to the power given by the Bill to appoint a fourth Secretary of State, he trusted the Government would well consider

Mr. E. B. Roche and Mr. Napier strongly opposed the Bill, as did also Mr. Moore. Lord Naas said, that while he should vote for the abolition of the office of Viceroy, he did not approve of the machinery which Government proposed to substitute for it. Mr. Sadleir gave his support to the Bill.

Sir G. Grey said, there were two questions, entirely distinct, and which should be kept sofirst, whether the office of Lord Lieutenant should be abolished; secondly, in what manner its duties should be performed if Parliament consented to its abolition. He agreed that the ruling consideration should be how the good government of Ireland could be best promoted, and this object he thought would be most likely to be attained by bringing Ireland as much as possible within the range of Imperial administration. He repeated, in reply to Mr. Napier, the arguments urged by Lord J. Russell in favour of a Secretary of State for Ireland, present in the Cabinet, and able to watch there and in Parliament, over the interests of that country. He concurred with Sir R. Peel that there should be unity of action in all parts of the empire, one mind pervading every department of the Government. But the real question was, whether, looking at the number and importance of the measures relating to Ireland daily brought before Parliament, and considering the pressure of business in every branch of the Government, such an immense additional mass of labour could be undertaken by the Home Secretary. At the same time, he thought it would be extremely desirable, and might be practicable after a

time, that an arrangement should be made by which the duties of these offices might be amalgamated, and discharged by one man. Sir R. Peel, however, had, in his opinion, overrated the difficulties which might arise from the division of the secretaryships, though he (Sir George) admitted the importance of concentrating as much as possible, and of imparting unity of action to the sytem of administration.

Mr. McCullagh considered this to be really a question of transferring the whole government of Ireland from Ireland to England, and he asked the House whether the present exigency or the immediate future of Ireland was propitious to this great and perilous measure? He denied that Ireland could be justly governed if its legislative and executive administration were concentrated in England; and he laboured to prove, from even recent legislation, that a distinction was maintained between the law of Ireland and that of England.

Mr. Sheil rose to establish two propositions-first, that the Lord Lieutenantcy of Ireland was useless; secondly, that it ought not to be merged in the Home Office. Before the date of Roman Catholic Emancipation, the Lord Lieutenant was a point of social and political centralization, drawing about him a small but powerful class; that Act stripped him of his power, and he became virtually the subordinate of his Secretary. It was inexpedient to merge the office in that of the Home Secretary, because in its present transition state Ireland required the undivided and undistracted attention of one man. He would not say that the time might not come when the amalgamation of the offices should take place.

When English institutions were attached to Ireland, instead of Ireland to English institutions; when Parliament got leave of the English people to do what every man acquainted with Ireland knew would promote her peace and security; then, and not till then, the Government of that country should be merged in the Home Office. In the interval, let not an addition be made to the burden of toil and solicitude incidental to the domestic administration of these islands.

saw a wiser substitute proposed he could not support the measure; and believing the Bill to be repug nant to the interests of the people of Ireland, he should oppose it.

Sir R. Inglis asked, if this office was such a nuisance, why had it not been abolished before? Having heard nothing in 1850 which should induce him to alter the vote he should have given in 1844, he was not prepared to support the proposition of the Government.

Mr. Disraeli observed that Mr. Sheil's arguments were in favour of retaining the office which he proposed to abolish. He said that Dublin Castle was now purified, that Ireland was in a most peculiar situation, and he was about to vote for destroying the local Government so purified. Having perused this Bill and heard the arguments in its favour, he (Mr. Disraeli) had a strong conviction that this was an unwise measure, not well considered or matured. The appointment of a fourth Secretary of State was as much a principle of the Bill as the abolition of the Lord Lieutenant; but admitting the latter to be its principle, no man was justified in voting for the abolition of an office which had existed for centuries, unless he was prepared to vote for the substitute. When Mr. Pitt proposed the Union, he said his object was to place under one public will the direction of the whole force of the empire. This scheme of the Government was no more calculated to realize the plan of Mr. Pitt than the present form of administration. If the Secretary was to reside in Ireland, he would be its governor; and if not, he must depend upon subordinates, and could not be free from local influence. Until he

Mr. Reynolds opposed the Bill, and implored the House to reject it, and to spare this infliction upon a country already so severely afflicted.

[blocks in formation]

Stanley was one involving a general consideration of the Ministerial policy in Ireland, and was consequently regarded as a political movement of no small importance. The motion was in form for copies of certain correspondence between the chief magistrate of Armagh and the executive Government in June and July, 1846, and also for a variety of papers relating to the collision which took place in Castlewellan in July last. In opening the question his Lordship observed that he should feel it his duty to bring matters of importance under their Lordships' notice, as affecting the due administration of justice, the independence of the magistracy, and the public conduct of persons in high office. While reviewing the conduct of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, which in this transaction he considered erroneous, he was ready to admit that the noble Earl had been actuated by a desire to perform his duty for the welfare of the country. He should also have to impugn the conduct of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, in having permitted his office to be employed for a collateral object, and in having abandoned the magistracy, which he was bound to protect. After expressing his disapprobation of party processions in Ireland either on one side or another-a feeling which he knew Lord Roden shared-and stating his belief that the Orangemen were in the main loyal and religious people, Lord Stanley proceeded to describe in detail the circumstances of the unfortunate collision which occurred the preceding year at Dolly's Brae. He contended that neither the justices nor the stipendiary magistrates had reason to believe that the procession was illegal, or

thought to be illegal by the Government. He afterwards referred to the correspondence between the chief magistrate of Armagh and the Irish Government, with the view of showing that it was calculated to lead the magistrates to the conclusion that Orange processions were not illegal. He complained of the garbled nature of the report given by Mr. Berwick of the evidence taken before the Commission of Inquiry, and put it to the Government, whether in 1848 they did not rejoice in the demonstration of the force and numbers of the Orangemen, who were then intrusted with arms by the command of Sir E. Blakeney. With respect to Mr. William Beers, there might be a prima facie case for his removal from the commission of the peace; but Mr. F. Beers was most anxious to prevent a collision: he gave information to the inspector of the police; he was requested by the latter to be on the spot; and for being on the spot he was summarily dismissed from the commission. Mr. Berwick's commission was more liable to the suspicion of illegality than the procession, and some of the facts testified to by the witnesses were not, as Lord Stanley contended, fairly represented by Mr. Berwick. Referring to the presence of Lord Roden at the Castlewellan petty sessions, when informations were preferred arising out of the collision, he maintained that though it might have been discreet for Lord Roden to have been absent, yet his attendance in the ordinary discharge of his duty formed no vindication for his removal from the commission of the peace; and it likewise appeared from the evidence in support of the informations, that the magistrates exercised

« PreviousContinue »