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Earl Grey and the Marquis of Lansdowne oppose the Bill, which is supported by the Bishops of Bangor and Oxford, and other Peers—The Bill is carried, but withdrawn in the House of Commons by Lord Clive, upon a statement of the intention of Government-Debates on Poor Law topics—Law of Settlement altered—The New Local Courts Bill—Parliament is prorogued by Commission on the 28th of August —The Royal Speech-Rieflections on the Session of 1846.
O the surprise and disappoint. Ireland without some of the pro
ment of many of those who visions contained in that measure, had assisted the present Minis- and he believed that this feeling ters in defeating Sir Robert Peel's was entertained by a great maGovernment on their Irish measure, jority of those Irish gentlemen who the renewal of the Irish Arms Act were really acquainted with the was announced by them as one of condition of Ireland. The Governthe first of the Government mea ment had to consider whether they sures to be pressed forward this should endeavour to alter the presession. Mr. Bernal Osborne sent Arms Act to take from it called the attention of the House those provisions which they thought of Commons to the subject on the objectionable, leaving those which 7th of August, by asking Mr. La- they considered necessary and usebouchere (the new Secretary for ful. With that object the measure Ireland) what were the intentions was carefully considered; but it of the Government, and the reasons was found that the provisions of the which influenced them in this pro- Act were so much complicated and ceeding Mr. Labouchere mixed up,
that it would have been plained the circumstances of the utterly impossible, without a very
He could assure his hon. long period of consideration and friend that the step the Govern- deliberation, to adapt the measure ment had determined to take with to their views. The Government reference to the measure to which had, therefore, to consider what he had alluded had not been re course they should pursue, and solved on without mature consider- they came to the conclusion that ation. He (Mr. Labouchere) had the best course was to ask the not altered any opinion he had ever House to intrust to them the powers held with regard to the Arms Act. granted by the existing Arms Act, He considered that many of its to be exercised on their responsiprovisions were most objectionable, bility, and to be continued only for and the working of the measure a limited period, promising that had not tended to change the un- early in the next session they would favourable opinion he had originally bring forward such a measure as, entertained of it. He would state, after due deliberation, they might however, to his hon. Friend and feel justified in recommending. He the House, what was the position begged to call the attention of the of the Government with regard to House to a circumstance which this measure. They had come to would indicate what were the views the conclusion that it was impos- of the Government on this subject. sible altogether to dispense with The measure proposed by the Goit ; they were satisfied that they vernment was a continuance Bill, would not be justified in leaving but was not a continuance Bill of the
usual kind for one year. The Go- ment would adopt towards Irevernment had introduced an land. press provision into the Bill that it A long and desultory discussion should expire on the 1st of May ensued, and drew forth a host of next year, thereby giving a pledge opponents from all quarters. to the House that they would at as
Mr. Hune had a very simple carly a period as possible bring the plan which he would recommend subject under the consideration of to Mr. Labouchere. It was to drop the Legislature.
the Bill altogether -- not to dirty The intention of the Government his fingers with it. Sir James to renew this measure created great Graham, the late Home Secretary, dissatisfaction among
the Members had twice admitted that the meaof the liberal party, and opportu sure had failed. Mr. Hume wished nity was taken, on subsequent occa to know why the House should sions, to give vent to the strong place an unconstitutional power in feeling which had been excited. the hands of a set of men who Upon Mr. Labouchere moving the declared they disapproved of that second reading of the Bill on the power, merely as a mark of con10th, he was much pressed with fidence? The present step seemed the inconsistency and impolicy of to be quite unnecessary. There the Ministerial plan. He vindi were no petitions-no applications cated their proceedings at first with from Ireland ; no Irish Members some warmth. He was prepared to had asked for it. maintain, in the face of the House Mr. Shaw, though not friendly and of the country, that a Govern to the Bill, was, nevertheless, of ment would desert its duty, and opinion that it was but fair to alwould act a part utterly unworthy of low the Government time to look the dignity of the Crown, if they al- into the subject. lowed the Bill to drop. The spirit
Mr. Escott said, it was to him a in which he asked the House to pass matter of the most curious conjecthe Bill was not one of approval, in ture what wild infatuation could spirit or detail. The Bill would have induced the Government to only be in force till the 1st of May; take such a Bill under its protecand he gave the House not only a tion. Mr. Labouchere had himpledge but security of the inten self admitted that the measure was tion of Government to bring in a a failure; and Mr. Sheil, in oppomeasure on the subject. All that sition, had mercilessly denounced it. the Ministers asked was time. As Was the honourable and learned to any odium which would be pro member going to support that Bill voked by the licensing and branding of arms, all the arms werc al Mr. Muntz felt, that to support ready licensed and branded. The Ministers in the present case would mischief was done already, and no be to degrade and disgrace himharm could be done) y continuing self. They had fallen to a great this measure for only nine months. discount in his estimation by their He should be sincerely sorry if the conduct on this occasion. necessity for proposing such a Bill Mr. Sharman Crawford consiwere to be taken as a specimen of dered the Bill, as it stood, a breach the feeling and a sample of the le of the constitution; and he would gislation that the present Govern- oppose it.
Mr. Redhead Yorke would do to be a failure? He was willing the same.
to support the Government when Mr. Bellew declared that the ef- he could do so honourably ; but fect of the present proposal upon he would not repose
that conthe character of public men would fidence in any Government that be most injurious.
would induce him to support them Mr. Pigott, the Solicitor-Gene- when they proposed measures which ral for Ireland, said a few words in were unconstitutional and destructsupport of Ministers.
In 1843 he ive of liberty. Why were they to thought there should be no le- have enactments of this descripgislation on the subject; but the tion? circumstance of legislation having Mr. Thomas Duncombe thought been introduced modified the ques- that explanation was required from tion.
Lord John Russell. In 1843, the Mr. Horsman thought it was noble Lord spoke after this fashion, positive infatuation in Ministers to in reference to the Arms Bill :force such Bill on the House.
• But, really, if we are told that Sir Robert Ferguson thought it is the intention of the Executive that at any rate some restrictions Government to propose
such plans, ought to be placed on the sale of and such plans alone—if we are gunpowder and the importation of told that this is a sample of the
measures by which Ireland is to Mr. Protheroe should oppose the be governed—I think before long Bill; but it was with the greatest that this House should address the concern that he appeared as an Crown, or take some mode or other opponent of Ministers.
of expressing their opinion as to Mr. Spooner had always sap- the government of Ireland." ported the principle involved in the
That was “ the principle” on Bill. Those Members who sup- which the noble Lord had always ported the late Government in the acted; and he supposed that now, Coercion Bill were bound, as men as a sort of tribute to the memory of honour, to support the present of his predecessors, he was going
to pass another Coercion Bill. Mr. Mr. Bernal Osborne felt deeply Duncombe wanted to know upon mortified that Ministers should have what principle they had turned out been so untrue to their professions the late Government, unless it were in opposition as to have introduced upon the principle of non-coercion. such a measure now that they were Never was a Minister turned out in office. The present Govern so much against the will of the ment had come into power avow- people of this country, or so much edly with the intention of making to the discredit of the party who the same laws for England and for had succeeded him. Ireland ; and, with these profes Some of the Ministers now came sions on their lips, how were they forward, hinting at concessions. justified in advocating such a mea Lord Morpeth said it had been his sure as the present-a measure lot frequently to propose Irish Arms which had not been bequeathed Bills and never to oppose them. to them by their predecessors, The Ministers found the present but which, on the contrary, their Bill in force; and the question was, predecessors decried and admitted whether, having legislation now,
not being prepared to dispense it is a different thing to continue a with legislation altogether, and law in England by which all may intending to have recourse to le- have arms, and to abrogate a law gislation next session, the Go- in Ireland by which restrictions are vernment was called upon to intro- placed on the possession of arms. duce a third piece of legislation on I have no doubt that the throwing the subject. He hoped the House out of this Bill would encourage would not think that Ministers in- many of those malefactors in Iretended to cling to that system of land who go about deliberately oflegislation, or to hold it up as the fering their assistance to murder model of their wishes.
Lord John Russell was more ex After some altercation between plicit. He defended his own con Mr. Duncombe and Lord John Russistency. During the ten or eleven sell, Lord Seymour asked the noble years that he had held office, he Lord whether he would consent to had supported measures which had strike out of the Bill those clauses for their object the preventing of which he had voted against when he improper persons from having fire- sat on the other side of the House. arms, and preventing the introduc- In that case the Government should tion of ammunition and fire-arms have his vote, but not otherwise. into Ireland. With regard to these Lord J. Russell answered, that two main objects of the Bill, he if Lord Seymour referred to two gave every support to them in or three of the more objectionable 1843; but he opposed other parts. clauses, he would consent to such In particular, he had opposed the a proposition. branding clause. He agreed with The House then divided the Recorder of Dublin in thinking that a good deal of the vexation For the second reading 56 caused by the objectionable clauses Against it .
23 which the Bill contains was now over.
33 “ If gentlemen think with re: gard to any of those clauses that The anticipations which most they ought to be expunged from persons had been led to form, from the Bill, it will be in the power of the wavering anguage of the Mithe House to accede to their wishes, nisters respecting this measure, and to make those amendments in were not long in being realized. Committee. I cannot shrink from On the 17th, Lord John Russell the duty of asking this House, announced to the House the abanhowever unpopular the measure donment of the Bill. He said may be, still to continue some re- that, in asking for a temporary striction on the possession of arms renewal of the Bill, the only obin Ireland. The declaration in the ject was to enable the Ministers preamble of all these Bills is, that to consider the whole of its provithey are to prevent improper per- sions, with the view of determining sons having arms. Now, I wish whether the system should be altothe House to observe, whatever gether abandoned or modified. He ridicule
have been thrown on looked upon this as a reasonable the argument of the right honour- proposition, seeing that Parliament able the Recorder of Dublin, that had placed restrictions upon the
possession of arms in Ireland for late Government for the same obthe last fifty years, nay, almost ject. Having shown that in the since the Revolution. In conse- purchase of Indian corn, in donaquence, however, of the opposi- tions in aid of subscriptions, in tion which the proposal had met public works, in general presentwith, they had agreed to withdraw ments, and in various smaller items, the more objectionable provisions the Government had expended for
—the clauses which related to the relief of the people of Ireland branding and domiciliary visits : 852,4811., of which 494,8511. was but, on withdrawing these, other either repaid or to be repaid, he questions occurred in reference to proceeded to examine in detail the the remaining provisions of the amount of the evil which this money measure, which presented much was expended to remedy, and to difficulty. On consultation with the describe to the House the benefit Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who which was derived from that exwas well acquainted with the usual penditure. He expressed his sorcourse of proceedings in that coun row at being obliged to state, that try, and was willing todispense with although there were at present, in coercive power, Lord John Russell the greater part of the counties of was of opinion that it would be far Ireland, harvest work and wages better to dispense with the Bill al- sufficient for the support of the latogether, than to continue it thus bouring population, the prospect of divested of some of its principal the potato crop was this year even provisions. He would much rather more distressing than it was during have had longer time to consider the last. Having corroborated this the whole question ; but, on ma statement by private letters from ture consideration, they had re. Lord Shannon, Lord Enniskillen, solved to drop the Bill. In coming Lord Bernard, Colonel Jones Smith, to this decision, they had been in- and other individuals in various disfluenced by the absence of all im- tricts of Ireland, he proceeded to pediments to the administration of explain to the House the measures justice in Ireland, by the disposi- which he intended to propose for tion displayed by juries to do their its adoption, in order to make produty, and by the diminution which vision for some employment for the had taken place in crime.
labouring people of Ireland. He Mr. Escott and Mr. Hume offered proposed to introduce a Bill to this their congratulations to the Go- effect—that the Lord Lieutenant vernment, upon the determination should have power, on recommendwhich they had just announced. ation made to him, to summon a
On the same evening, Lord John barony sessions or a county sesRussell developed his plan for sions for works for relief of the meeting the existing and impend- poor; when those sessions should ing scarcity in Ireland, occasioned have assembled, they would be emby the failure of the potato crop, powered and required to order such by employing the people under Go- public works as might be necessary vernment upon public works. He for the employment and relief of commenced his statement by ad- the people. The choice of the verting to what had been done in works would be left to them, and the preceding year, and in the they would be put into execution spring of the present year, by the by the officers of the Board of