rose to move the second reading of this bill. He pointed out the state of the police with regard to the appointment of constables, and showed its defects. He also alluded to the difficulties of arresting persons in Ireland, which could seldom be effected with the concurrence, or without the opposition, of the population. From these causes, to be efficient in his office, a constable ought to devote his whole time to its duties. The grand juries who now appointed them could not grant such salaries as would enable them to do so; and, in consequence, the office of constable had fallen into a state which it was most desirable to avoid. If they wished to make the people of Ireland respect the law, they must endeavour to ensure its administration with effect. The means of accomplishing this, he was about to propose to the House. He was aware that he might be met with the objection that it was against the principles of the constitution to vest such a power in the hands of the government as the appointment of these constables. But he thought the first constitutional duty of every man was to enforce the observance of the laws. The appointment of the constable of a barony was no new power in the hands of government. Several previous acts had authorized this, and the object now in view fully authorized them in extending the power to the common constables. He should propose by the bill, that the duties of a constable should be limited to the maintenance of peace, under the directions of the magistrates. He thought the present measure would remove one of the difficulties which prevented their acting with that efficiency which rendered a magistracy respectable. The House was aware that there were extraordinary measures of police now in operation, which had been attended with the most happy results; and he did not mean to imply any thing unfavourable to those measures when he proposed others, which, he considered, would operate as a preventive, instead of a remedy, for outrage. Various petitions were to be found upon their Journals, pointing out the defects of the police in Ireland. One of these, from the county of Galway, also alluded to the means by which they were to be removed. He thought no man would object to the proposition, that an effective police in Ireland was desirable. He proposed this measure to the House as the opening of a 853 for the purpose of carrying on the election. At his last election, many hundred electors would not take one farthing for their expenses, and nearly one half of the subscription money was returned. This bill, in his opinion, placed the electors of Yorkshire on a similarity with the electors of Grampound, since it deprived them of a considerable portion of their elective franchise.
said, that many of those who last session agreed in the disfranchisement of the borough of Grampound, and the transfer of the right to the great county of York, were induced not to offer certain amendments which would have endangered the fate of the bill, on the distinct understanding, that the manner in which the additional members were to be elected should form the subject of a bill to be afterwards introduced. The measure then contemplated was now before the House, and he denied that it was, in any degree, a breach of the franchises of the electors of Yorkshire. The hon. gentleman asked, why was not Devonshire or Lancashire divided? They were not divided for this simple reason—because the House had fixed on the county of York, in consequence of the great number of its electors, to exercise that right which had been forfeited by the electors of Grampound. It then became the duty of the House to consider in what way the new members were to be elected, and whether they had not better be chosen by a division of the county, than by the counts, at large. Many years ago, the state of the county of York was brought under the consideration of the House, for the purpose of lessening the expenses attendant on the election of members. It then appeared, that at the last election for that county, 23,000 persons actually voted, and many individuals who came to York to give their votes, were unable to fulfil their intention, although they waited to the latest moment. The subdivision of property in manufacturing districts was known to have increased the number of electors; and therefore, if the House did not now alter the system of election with respect to Yorkshire, they would be imperatively called on to do so hereafter. A noble lord, one of the members for Yorkshire (lord Milton), felt the necessity of an alteration so strongly, that he had some time ago introduced a bill to divide the county of York into three or four districts, for 854 the convenience of polling for members of parliament. The hon. member had served, that the contest for Northampton had required as large a sum as that which was expended on the election for Yorkshire. It was very possible. But how was that large sum spent? It was laid out in direct violation of the law. The magnitude of the sum so expended would have supplied a very good reason for making the law relative to bribery and, treating more strict than it was. But the immense expense attendant on the election for Yorkshire was occasioned by the conveyance of voters to the poll. And, he would ask, ought not parliament to interfere with a system under which 100,000l. might be legally expended? It was a well known fact that in a contested election for Yorkshire 100,000l. had been laid out on each side without one illegal or irregular expense. Besides, the number of voters thus brought together was too great to be introduced into one town; and it was almost impossible to decide on the validity of the votes that might be objected to. The hon. gentleman said, that there would be, under this bill, a similarity between the treatment adopted towards the borough of Grampound and that extended to the county of York. The similarity, as he called it, was this—that two members were taken from Grampound, and given to the county of York. At the last contested election, 13,830 voters had polled for the West Riding only, and he thought that a person elected by nearly 14,000,individuals, however fond he was of popular favour, ought to be satisfied. At the same election 9 000 voters polled for the North Riding. If the whole county voted for the four members, the consequence will be, that if an opposition were set on foot against any one of them, the other three, against whom there was no objection, would be equally saddled with expense. This was the case with the city of London. In 1813, he first introduced a proposition of this description. It was particularly approved of by the noble member for Bedfordshire (the marquis of Tavistock), who was so eager to express his opinion of it, that he got him (Mr. W.) to draw up two clauses, which he declared he would move on the third reading of the bill, in order to record his sentiments. The present measure he brought forward in the last session, in order that it might lie over, and be submitted to the 855 country gentlemen would be disgusted. A nobleman, perhaps, residing upon his property, doing his utmost to improve the condition of the country, but accustomed to nominate his own officers, if suddenly deprived of the constables on whom he could place reliance, and surrounded by an armed force composed of strange faces, would be more than likely to become an absentee. He could name persons who would be very likely to take that course. The House ought to look also at the cost of this proposed plan. There were so many high constables, at salaries of 130l. a year, with house, furniture, &c. provided; so many petty constables at 35l. a year, with clothing, arms, and accoutrements. Then there were inspectors at high salaries. The county which he represented was, as to extent, of the third class only; yet the expense of the measure, as applied to that county, would amount to at least from 3 to 4,000l. a year. The cost under the present system did not exceed 800l. a year. He had no objection to allow the lord lieutenant to appoint a police in case of disturbance to aid the common constables, and in case of extremities to be made as formidable and as efficient as ministers could propose; but he was still for keeping up the constitutional body of the constables, although it certainly required to be reformed and made more efficient, by giving the appointments to the magistrates, and allowing them to increase their numbers and the means of remunerating them; and he should conclude with moving, "that the bill be referred to a committee above stairs."
said, that upon the necessity of improving the police of Ireland, no difference of opinion could exist. Whether the measure now proposed was the fittest to be adopted, it was for the House to determine; but it was the unanimous opinion, that a change in the police must be the first step towards the promotion of tranquillity, in that country. The hon. baronet had most correctly spoken of Ireland as having been governed for many years by little else than measures of emergency; and the object was now, instead of having a relaxation of law one moment, and a paroxysm of violence the next, to have a steady, vigorous, and efficient police—a police which should not only act to punish crime, but, to prevent it; and which, by habituating the people to obey the law, would in the end have the 856 effect of attaching them to it. But the hon. baronet treated the measure as unconstitutional. It was not a measure which proposed any new law, or created any new crime, or introduced any new officer, or set up any new authority. How, then, was it unconstitutional? The constables were now appointed by the grand juries; and, under the new system, they would be nominated directly by the Crown. Surely there was nothing unconstitutional in that. As the Crown was the fountain of all executive power, what difference could it make whether the Crown appointed the magistrate and the magistrate the constable, or whether the Crown appointed the constable directly? And if it was possible that the projected system might become a job, this was quite certain—that the existing system was notoriously and avowedly a job. He meant to cast no reflection upon the grand juries of Ireland; but where the power of appointment was divided among 24 persons, each of whom was exempt from responsibility, and shifted all blame upon his next neighbour, the appointment could not fail to resolve itself into a job. It was a job from the nature of the system, and not from any fault in the parties who worked it. But in the new system there was far less probability of such a consummation. The lord-lieutenant might be open to occasional imposition; but, if abuse did arise, the monthly return of the inspector gave, under the new system, the opportunity of correcting it; while, under the old one, a gentleman upon a grand jury appointed some servant or dependant, who was better provided for as a barony constable than as a b hanger-on upon the appointer's bounty; and, whatever was the man's conduct, he continued to act as constable for a period of six months, until the grand jury sat again. The hon. baronet spoke of his knowing resident magistrates who would be disposed to take offence if they were displaced by the bill; but did he suppose that the provisions of the bill were imperative, and that the lord-lieutenant, because he had the power of appointing, was bound to appoint in all places? The exercise of the power was entirely optional; and he (Mr. P.) should view it as an abuse of the power, if it were used in all places, without reference to existing circumstances. Look to the present state of the county of Longford. Gentlemen must remember when Longford was remarkable for the 857 non-execution of the law, the supineness of the magistracy, and the prevalence of crime. But, since a noble lord (Forbes) had exerted himself in that county, it had become the best regulated and most orderly in Ireland. Now, the House could not suppose that the noble lord alluded to would be superseded in his office by a police magistrate, nor that changes, generally, would be made, where resident gentlemen were efficient. With respect to expense, the measure would be really a measure of economy. The number of baronies in Ireland was 250. Take the scale of one chief constable to every barony, and the probable cost under the new system would be this:—Chief constables, 32,500l.; petty constables, 175,000l.; inspectors, four, at 500l. a year, 2,000l. police magistrates, ten, at 800l., 8,000l.; total 217,500l. Now, what was the real expense under the existing system? It was, for the last year—baronial constables, 28,907l.; extraordinary police, 102,113l.; preventive revenue police, 23,104l.; military assistance to the revenue, 24,550l.; snaking a total of 178,664l.—The new system would be dearer by about 40,000l. a-year; but if against that were set the various advantages which would accrue—the saving in expense of several prosecutions—the saving of time now given up to the watching for and to the prevention of crime, the account would be nearly balanced. If the House took into its consideration the saving of public morals, and the probable restoration of peace, obedience, and sober habits to the country, the advantage in favour of the new system would be prodigious.
Mr. S. Rice
said, that he laid little stress upon the question of expense, because he thought that, if the bill would answer the object proposed, it ought, at any cost, to be carried into effect. But he resisted the bill upon the broad ground of its principle. There was no doubt of the advantage of equally enforcing the law, and of making the people look up to it as a protection rather than as an evil; but the bill now proposed, so far from bringing public opinion to the side of the law, was, of all measures, the most calculated to awaken public indignation. The execution of the law at present was defective; but let the system be fairly tried before it was condemned. Let it be ascertained whether the fault was in the principle of the existing system or in the abuse of it. The right hon. gentleman had adverted 858 to the county of Longford. How happened it, if the existing system was so bad, that Longford had thriven under its administration? If the strict administration of our constitutional law had led to such a satisfactory result in Longford, why run needlessly to a system not only new, but highly objectionable? Before they abandoned the constitutional law as inefficient, it was their duty to enforce it. If the constable's staff was not strong enough, let them use the bayonet; and if the bayonet would not do, let them call in the artillery. Let none of the intermediate steps be overlooked, none of the measures of caution and conciliation; but let not the legislature throw disgrace upon the whole magistracy of Ireland by declaring it inefficient, without purging the ore from the dross, and giving due super port and assistance to what remained. Nor was it upon principle only that the bill was objectionable. He opposed it on account of the expense. The right hon. and learned gentleman did not deal fairly with the House in setting against the cost of the new scheme many items which he had taken up. What pledge had the House that under the operation of this measure the existing auxiliary police would be dispensed with, or the service for the prevention of illicit distillation? But the right hon. and learned gentleman denied that the measure was unconstitutional. It was, he said, not unconstitutional, because all power emanated from the Crown, and because it was no matter; therefore, whether the constables were appointed by the magistrates of the Crown, or directly by the Crown itself. Why, if there was any shadow of force in this argument, there would he nothing unconstitutional in adding ad infinitum to the power of the Crown as to appointment to office. Where was the principle to stop? If it was once admitted, what bounds were to be set to it? He might well ask, as had been asked already, how many new places were to be created by this bill? It would be found that ten constables would not be sufficient for each barony, the number required would probably be fifteen. So that there would be from 4,500 to 5,000 new officers to be appointed by the Crown. He objected particularly to the mixing up of revenue duties in the employment of those to be appointed constables. In the present state of the revenue laws in Ireland, such was the temptation to illicit traffic, 859 that if once an officer became an excise-man, he would soon be wholly valueless in his principal capacity; and it was a mistake to suppose that the disturbances in Ireland were in any degree produced by a want of number in the magistrates. In the disturbed districts, the magistrates were more numerous than in the quiet parts. In the more peaceable counties the average was one magistrate to an extent of 25 square miles, and to a population of 5,000 souls. In the disturbed parts, the average ran one magistrate to 7½ square miles, and to a population of 3,043. The deficiency of executive power in the police seemed therefore to attach rather to the redundancy, than to the paucity of magistrates. Let the system he fairly tried as it constitutionally existed. Let the magistracy of the country be purified, and then let that plan be followed which had succeeded in Longford, Kerry, and Mayo. He was convinced that the bill could not be carried into operation without giving rise to the most flagrant abuses.
§ Sir J. Newport
said, that if he could be convinced there was in the present bill any thing which could be called an amelioration of the system of police in Ireland, it should have his most cordial support; but, from the view which he took of it, he did not think it would be a benefit to his country; on the contrary, he thought it would be a source of increased evil. He therefore trusted that the house would attentively consider whether some more effective measure could not be adopted to remedy the defects of the old system. The present system of police in Ireland was most defective; but when he saw, that in the case of the county of Longford, and in other places where the attempt was made, that system had been rendered efficacious by a vigilant exertion on the part of the local authorities, he would ask whether the present was a time to abandon all that had been done, and to introduce a system diverging in quite the contrary direction? There was not a doubt in his mind that the enactments of the bill would create very general discontent among the respectable magistracy of Ireland; and he was authorized to state by many most respectable magistrates, that if it passed into a law, they would throw up their commissions, as they should consider themselves disgraced by its enactments. He would have no objection to going into the com- 860 mittee, if he thought that by any modification of its details the measure could be effective; but he was sure it would be neither the one nor the other. It would tend to drive many of the most respectable of the magistracy out of the commission, to render those who might remain, inert and useless; and to increase the number of absentees. He had as great an attachment to his country as any man, but he felt himself bound to say, that if this bill passed, he should no longer consider Ireland as his country.
Mr. Secretary Peel
admitted, that k was a defect in the police of Ireland, that there was not that link of connexion between its magistracy and the government which existed in England, by means of the lords lieutenant of counties. This was an evil to which he should wish to see a remedy applied. With respect to the magistracy of Ireland generally, he had always found it defective; and reform it as parliament might, it would still continue defective, owing to the great number of absentee proprietors. However active and honest their agents might be, they could never adequately supply the places of the great landed proprietors. At the same time he should not wish to see the deficiency remedied by a general extension of stipendiary magistrates; for he thought that the appointment of stipendiary magistrates in every county would degenerate into abuse. Still, however, he held it necessary that government should have the power of appointing such magistrates in certain cases; for it would be destructive of all law to allow 20 or 30 miles extent of country to be without a magistrate, or, what was the same thing, with magistrates who did not act. He would suggest, that the stipendiary magistrate should be appointed only where there was no resident magistrate, or where he did not do his duty; and that then it should be on the recommendation of the other magistrates of the county. Under any other circumstances, he thought that the extension of salaried magistrates would be an evil.—As to the general state of the police in Ireland, it was admitted on all hands, that the system was so bad that something should be done. Let the House look to the present state of Ireland in that respect. She had now, not to guard against any external danger, but to protect the administration of the law, to support a regular army of 21,000 men, besides 4,000 861 yeomanry corps on permanent duty; and notwithstanding this force, they had this extraordinary fact, that in one year there had been 26 murders committed, and only one of the perpetrators had been brought to justice. As to the expense, it should not be left out of sight, that, by the establishment of an effective police, the military expense would be likely to be very considerably reduced. It was agreed on all hands that something should be done. Now, the question was, in whose hands should the appointment of the stipendiary magistrates and constables be placed? It was suggested on one side, that they should be assimilated to the same class in this country. He for one should not object to that, provided it could be effectually done; but he apprehended that it would be very difficult in the commencement. In England the constables were not paid; but it could not be expected that at present, parties would be induced to undertake, without salary, an arduous and unpleasant office, such as that of constable must be; and the less so, as hitherto the constables appointed by the grand jury were paid and armed as those who were appointed by government. There were thus two experiments tried. Constables were appointed by government, and others were appointed by grand juries. But there was a vast difference in their effective force in favour of those whom government had appointed. He contended, that as the power of appointment by the government had not been abused, it was a fair inference, that it was not likely to be abused in future. He implored the House not to reject the measure in its present stage, but to allow it to go into the committee. It was a plan for ameliorating the condition of Ireland, with respect to its police, which all parties agreed required a remedy. Let it go to a committee, and there they might discuss it; for it was not a party question. It was one which arose from a desire to improve the condition of the country; for before they could with safety reduce the troops, before they could give up the operation of such extraordinary measures as the Peace-preservation bill, or the Insurrection bill, they must have an improved police, and habituate the people of Ireland to that which was the greatest of all national blessings—an equal, unvarying, and impartial administration of justice.
§ Mr. Abercromby
admitted, that there 862 were two principle defects in the present state of Ireland—that of a defective magistracy, and that which arose from the system of the higher and middling classes being induced to depend none on government than upon their own exertions. Admitting these defects, it was with reluctance he felt himself bound to oppose a measure which endeavoured to provide a remedy. In his opinion, the most effectual remedy would be, to reform the magistracy; and he considered it monstrous to adopt such a bill as the present until every other means of curing the evil were exhausted. During the rebellion, and since that period, many most objectionable individuals had got into the commission of the peace. Now he would suggest that the magistracy should be purged of all such persons; and though it might be inconvenient, still a minister of firmness could effect to the appointment of constables, he thought it ought to be by the magistracy; for if appointed by the Crown, they would soon control the magistrates themselves. The consequence would be, that few respectable persons would continue in the commission, and in a short time the magistrates would be amongst the lowest and most jobbing persons; which, he need not add, would only increase the evil. He had been told by a most respectable Irish magistrate, that he would not continue in the commission if this bill passed; for he would not submit to be controlled by a paid magistrate, or superintended by a set of constables. He had been much pleased when he heard of lord Wellesley's appointment to the government of Ireland; and his expectations were raised, when, in the commencement of the session, he was told to wait for the measures which were to be introduced with respect to Ireland. The present bill he looked upon as the promised measure, and he could not but consider it as lord Wellesley's. He had formerly heard of complaints against lord Wellesley's conduct in India; that he had acted there in imitation of Buonaparte, whose plan was, that every thing should emanate from himself—that he and the people should only be recognized in the state, without admitting intermediate authority. The present bill went upon the same system, and he should therefore give it his decided opposition.
The Marquis of Londonderry
said, that as there seemed to be but one feeling as 863 to the necessity of some remedy for the present state of the police of Ireland, it would be better to go into the committee on the bill, in which the details might be more properly discussed than in the present stage. The object was, to devise some remedy for an admitted evil: and he disclaimed, on the part of his right hon. friend (Mr. Goulburn), any desire to increase the patronage of government by it.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that as he had a decided objection, to the whole bill in principle, he could not consent to go into a committee upon it; for no modification could reconcile him to it. The measure was in itself most arbitrary, and would lead to worse evils than those which it affected to remedy.
said, he felt extremely sorry that he was bound to withhold his consent from the present measure. He was the more compelled to give this bill his decided opposition, because it had been under the consideration of the late government of Ireland, and had been rejected after having undergone considerable discussion. He allowed that it was the paramount duty of every government to see justice administered, and property secured; but there was another duty, scarcely less paramount—namely, to take care, that in administering justice and securing property, it did not sacrifice any great principle of constitutional freedom. Indeed, that was the whole distinction between a free and an arbitrary government. The object of both of them was to secure property; but the difference between them was, that in one case it was effected with a due regard to, and in the other at the expense of, every principle, civil, moral, and religious. The questions which every member ought to put to himself before he formed his opinion upon the present bill, were these—first, was there any evil at present in existence? secondly, if there was, was the remedy which it was proposed to apply of a stronger nature than the disease required? and thirdly, had every other remedy been tried, and tried in vain, before the present was proposed for adoption? Before be proceeded to discuss these topics, he should say a few words upon the nature and object of the bill itself. It went to place the whole of Ireland under an armed police, to subject it to a species of gendarmerie, and to render the whole magistracy of the 864 country liable to the control of the lord lieutenant. Having said thus much regarding the general tendency of the bill, he would next proceed to observe, that with regard to the first of the three questions which he had proposed to the House, every gentleman seemed agreed. All concurred in stating the existence of great evil in Ireland, and the necessity of applying some remedy. Much had been said regarding the magistracy of Ireland, upon which it was unnecessary for him to make many remarks at present, as he had declared his opinion on the subject upon a former occasion. He had then spoken of them with the deference which was their due, and which he, for one, should always feel towards them. He could specify some persons among them, who, in periods of great public dismay and danger, had performed their duty in the most honourable, the most conscientious, and the most effective manner: but there were others of them who had been raised to the bench, for which they were not qualified, on account of the influence they possessed over local politics, the assistance they were enabled to lend to certain great personages, and the morbid sensibility which they had contrived to display on various occasions of public calamity. There were also amongst them men of ruined fortunes, who sought to repair the distressed state of their finances at the expense of the unfortunate persons who were placed under their control. A magistracy so constituted was not likely to agree well wish itself; and hence it often happened, that one magistrate would bail a person for no other reason than because he had been committed by another magistrate with whom he was not upon terms of amity. Still, though this was the case, he did not mean to deny that there was a great body of virtuous magistracy in the country; for he would never consent to depreciate the whole of it, because some worthless persons had been admitted amongst them. This was the evil under which Ireland was at present labouring. Now he would ask, was this an evil in practice or in principle? Perhaps some gentleman, in consequence of that question, might ask him whether he objected to the system of the magistrates in Ireland acting gratuitously? To such a question he would reply in the negative, and would then bid his questioner to shape his remedy more closely to the evil 865 which prevailed. The constables of the different baronies were often as ill-qualified for their situations as the magistrates were for theirs. The right hon. gentleman here described the manner in which these constables were appointed, and commented on the impropriety of appointing men to such offices who were parties to the local factions and animosities of the towns in which they resided. As a proof of the evil arising from such misgovernment, he stated, that in a barony where there were two magistrates not on the best terms of amity with each other, the two constables were at the head of the two parties into which it was divided. The two constables mutually applied to the magistrates with whom they were connected, for warrants to arrest one another; having obtained such warrants, each proceeded with a considerable force to execute them; and the two parties having met, a violent conflict ensued between them, Was this an objection, he would ask, to the principle or the practice of the present system? He should certainly prefer to see the system in Ireland approximate to that in England; but as that was not the question at present before the House, he would confine himself to the present bill, and would say, that the whole evil which it was intended to cure was to be found in the manner and the motives in which the magistracy and constables were appointed. If from a principle that was good and a practice that was not faulty, such consequences as they at present deplored had resulted to Ireland, he would say, that the system ought to be subverted; but, when the practice was allowed on all hands not to be good, why were they to be called on thus suddenly to abandon the principle? Before they changed, the principle of their system, they were bound to show that every mode of correcting its practice had been tried, and. upon trial had been found inefficient. Now, with respect to the magistracy, he would ask at once, whether any attempt had been made to exclude unworthy persons from the commission? The reply must he in the negative; for though he knew that the appointment to the magistracy had been corrected in various respects, nothing effective had been done to change the system. In all the disturbances which had taken place, complaints had been made of their supineness, but no measures had been taken to 866 remove it. So also with regard to the constables and the police. Had any law been made to correct the gross and palpable abuses of which these latter individuals had been confessedly guilty? No such thing: laws had been made to increase their salaries, and to regulate their emoluments; but no effort of law had been made to regulate the qualifications necessary to their appointment, either with regard to their age, their strength, their being perfectly illiterate, their being tithe-proctors, or their filling any other odious and obnoxious situations.—As to the revision of the magistracy, he knew that about two years ago the names of the whole body had been submitted to the lord chancellor, and that he had given up a considerable portion of his time to the investigation of the list. That revision was not, however, yet completed; and why, he would ask, was this bill introduced before it was so? It was unnecessary for him to remind them, that this bill was in itself a most important measure, and that it affected England equally as much as it did Ireland; for if they admitted an unconstitutional principle to be acted upon in Ireland, what security would they have against its being next year put in force in England.—With regard to the degree of strength which belonged to this measure, which was the second question he had propounded to the House, he would state at once that he thought it too strong. He conceived that a plan of less coercion might be devised—a plan which would compel grand juries to be strict in their examination of the constables they employed, to inspect them occasionally, and to render them at all times liable to the control of the magistracy. He was even of opinion, that gratuitous parochial constables might be introduced with great advantages into part of Ireland. A proof of the beneficial effect of such a plan was now visible in the county of Longford. A noble friend of his (lord Forbes) who had unjustly conceived his character to be compromised on account of the Peace-preservation act being enforced in his neighbourhood, had made the experiment of it in that county; and the experiment had succeeded in spite of the state maxim, that Ireland was never to be governed in tranquillity except by brute force. For five years that county had thus been administered; and he was happy to state, that there was not a 867 person in it, however powerful his faction, that could not be immediately seized, nor a fair, however riotous, from which a constable could not now immediately bring forth his prisoner.—The right hon. gentleman, after pointing out the benefits of such a plan as he had described, proceeded to argue that the bill had been prematurely introduced into parliament. Even if other remedies had been tried and found ineffectual in removing the evil, he should still doubt whether this bill would be more successful. He objected to it because it placed all Ireland under the control of one man, and because he saw that those parts of that country which had been intrusted to the care of upright and virtuous magistrates had enjoyed perfect tranquillity. He saw no reason why, because distressing events had occurred in some counties, all the thirty-two should be placed out of the protection of the law. He objected to it also, because it was at war with every principle of English policy, and because it tended to disunite, instead of to assimilate, the legislation of England and Ireland. He further objected to it, because he objected in general to the system, that the constitutional principles of government that were applicable to England were not also applicable to the sister kingdom. There were three great causes which appeared to him to have been most operative in producing the past and present distressed state of Ireland. The first was that system of coercive laws to which the government had had recourse upon very extraordinary emergency. He wished the House would consider how the government had proceeded from one extraordinary measure of legislation to another with respect to Ireland. Here the right hon. gentleman entered into an historical review of the legislative enactments for the preservation of the peace in Ireland, from the Whiteboy acts down to the present times, and then asked, what had, been the result of the system pursued?—Security? No; it had excited feelings of hatred, and revenge. It had revived a conviction in the minds of the lower classes of Irishmen, that the law wasp upon principle, hostile to them, and that their governors in England felt themselves at liberty to resort to unconstitutional measures for the administration of Ireland, to which they dared not resort for the administration of England. The 868 present bill, too, was another of their extraordinary measures of legislation intended for the benefit of Ireland, and one of its merits its advocates stated to be, that it was a preventive bill. It was, on that very ground he objected to it; for if it was a preventive bill, it must founded on a system of espionage; and the violation of public confidence, and the destruction of domestic tranquillity in must form the very soul and essence of To add the evils of such a system to those which had already desolated that unfortunate country was an act of which he at least never would be guilty.—The second cause tending to the injury of Ireland was, the habitual interference a the government in all matters of internal police. The combined operation of this cause with that which he had just mentioned, the blending of extraordinary legislation on matters of general government with extraordinary interference in matters of private police, had created a supineness among the gentry and inhabitants of the country that could never be sufficiently deplored. That supineness had led the way to humiliation; humiliation had led the way to want of self-respect; want of self-respect had led the way to carelessness in the discharge of public duty; and that carelessness to the abuse of all public trusts. It would be an idle waste of words to endeavour to show how certain such abuses were to produce mischief upon mischief, amongst those who were liable to suffer by them. The best means of removing them would be by using every exertion to excite feelings of self-respect and dignity in the minds of the magistracy of the country. Sorry was he to say, that this bill appeared to him likely to produce the very contrary effect. Some hon. gentlemen had stated, that if passed into a law, it would disgrace for ever the country gentlemen of Ireland. He was glad to hear that assertion made; because, whether that was the object of the bill or not, sure he was that such was its tendency. The right hon. gentleman proved this assertion by entering into a review of the details of the bill, and stated, that the assigning the care of a whole barony to a high constable was as disrespectful to the magistrates in it, as assigning the command of an army to a serjeant-major would be to the officers attached to it. Besides, all the magistrates were to be made subject to the order of the stipendiary magistrates. Could that be gratify- 869 ing to the feelings of an Irish gentleman? Certainly not.—The right hon. gentleman then proceeded to object to the bill, on the ground of the increased expenditure which it would create, and of the strength which it would give to the cause of corruption. Great reductions had been made in the different establishments of the state; but to what end had they been made, if a greater engine of corruption than had ever yet been used by an English government was immediately afterwards to be called into existence, and placed, not under the control of the Crown but of the lord lieutenant? According to the bill, there would be 5,000 well armed men continually under his orders; besides these 5,000, there would be 300 persons more, of vigorous minds and capacities, to control and command them; then there would be 10 or 12 well paid persons at least, to inspect them occasionally; not forgetting 25 stipendiary magistrates, who must be still better paid than their subordinate officers—all bound to act just as the lord lieutenant should direct them. Great as was the confidence he was inclined to place in the noble marquis now at the head of the Irish government, he could not consent to place such a power in his hands without any control or superintendance whatever. The present bill gave him the power of moving this force from one part of the country to another; and if he said that he did it for the good of the country, he could not be molested for so moving it. He did not think that the noble marquis would abuse the power so intrusted to him; but was it right to confide to any one man a power that was certain to lead to so much corruption? He thought not; and therefore he called upon the House to lend him their assistance in rejecting the present measure. In opposing it as he had done, he had discharged a most painful duty; but duty led him to oppose it, and he trusted that he should never shrink from performing what duty imposed upon him, especially when it was so closely connected with the welfare of the empire.
§ Mr. R. Martin
said, that nothing short of this bill could restore peace and tranquillity to Ireland.
§ Sir N. Colthurst
said, he could not join in the reprobation which had been directed against this bill. Much had been said of the imperfect and inadequate condition of the magistracy. Admitting that 870 to be true, and that a reform of it were necessary, still even such a reform, useful as in other respects it might be, would be inadequate to meet the existing evil. The magistrates had not at present the means of executing the law. But it was said, why not reform the police? He doubted the success of the experiment, even if it were practicable to make it upon the present system. The attempt, however, would occasion a delay fatal to the tranquillity of the country. As the existing danger was great, the remedy ought to be immediate; and to be effective it ought to be strong. With respect to what had been said about the constitutional character of the measure, hon. members looked only at one side of the question. Did the gentlemen of the country who lived on their estates at the peril of their lives, enjoy the blessings of the constitution? His right hon. friend (Mr. Grant) declared himself in favour of a milder measure. If he held that opinion during the 5 or 6 years he was secretary for Ireland, why had he tint himself tried the milder measure to tranquillize the country? Not having done so, was it not fair to infer that he did not think it would have been effectual?
§ Mr. Grattan
was unfriendly to the bill, and hostile to the introduction of this description of stipendiary magistrates into Ireland.
Mr. V. Fitzgerald
lamented that his right hon. friend's (Mr. Grant's) conclusion should have been at variance with the principle arguments of his able speech; for the whole weight of his arguments went to support the necessity of a complete alteration in the existing system. Believing the present bill, in principle, to be the best calculated for the purpose, and that its details could be modified in the committee, it should have his support.
§ Mr. Brougham
said, that if the lateness of the hour and length of the debated would not deter him from trespassing on the House, the able and unanswered speech of his right hon. friend (Mr. Grant) would have that effect. But he thought that, being unconnected with Ireland and having necessarily only superficial information to guide his judgment on such a subject, it would be well for him, and for other English gentlemen who thought with him, to show the sister kingdom that they were awake to her 871 condition. It was said that many of the objections to this bill might be removed in the committee. If any thing were obscure in the details, or capable of modification in the structure of the bill, then he should have consented to go into the committee. But his objection went entirely to the principle of the bill. He could not think of tolerating, for the first time in any part of this empire, as a regular and perpetual system, the introduction of a stipendiary police, to be appointed at the pleasure of, and their official existence rendered entirely dependent upon, the Crown. These stipendiaries were also to have a local superintendent to regulate them, uncontrolled by parliament, and amenable alone to the executive government, constituting as it were an intermediate legislative force, most unconstitutionally constructed. Besides, these stipendiary magistrates were to be connected with other magistrates, and were, in fact, to control them; for the constables were to be taught, whenever a difference of opinion arose between the one set of magistrates and the other, to obey the stipendiary magistrates. What gentleman disposed to do his duty could tolerate such an invidious confidence? He objected, therefore, to the whole principle and structure of the bill, and it would be in vain to hope for its adequate improvement in the committee. It was said, why not reform the magistracy? His right hon. friend who was taunted with not having tried mild measures, if he thought they would have answered the purpose, had tried to reform the magistrates; he had endeavoured to revive the system of the magistracy, and was far advanced in that necessary work when he resigned his situation. Why not have continued that revision, in preference to rendering a bad system perpetual by such a bill as this? So convinced was he of the utter inadequacy of this bill, that he would move as an amendment, "that it be read a second time that day six months."
said, that an appeal had been made to him by an hon. bart. (an appeal involving a charge) to which he felt it necessary to give a reply; and he trusted the House would indulge him with their permission to do so. He had been asked, why, if he thought it practicable and right, he had not, while he held office in Ireland, introduced an improvement of the internals system of police in Ireland? Now, on this branch of public duty, 872 two objects had engaged his attention, during the period of his official residence in Ireland,—a period not of five or six years, as the hon. baronet had made it, but a three years—the state of the state of the magistracy, and the state of the constables.—Respecting the magistracy, he had on a former occasion, stated to the House, that more than two years ago, the lord chancellor of Ireland, in consequence of repeated conferences with the government, entered on a revision of the magistracy, with the view of taking advantage of the opportunity afforded by the demise of the late king, to quash the existing commission, and issue a new one. Since that time, the chancellor had employed himself in procuring from nil quarters, names of proper persons for the magistracy.—Mr. Grant said, he had no right to complain of the delay which had taken place in the completion of then list for the new commission; for it was certainly a matter of great difficulty and delicacy, and required much time and caution. In December last, the list, as the chancellor informed him, was finished, with the exception of two or three counties. It must by this time be quite complete. He thought it better, that the whole of the magistrates under the new commission should come, by a simultaneous proceeding, into action together, than that they should enter seriatim, and at different periods; and this for a reason he had already explained to the House.—With respect to the constabulary, he had very early taken into consideration various plans on the subject. And, after much deliberation and discussion, he prepared a bill last session, which several of his hon. friends near him had seen and approved, and which he could not help flattering himself, might have been of use. Into the reasons which prevented, him from bringing in the bill, he would not here enter, because they involve persons who were not present; and he was sure the House would feel, that ought on this ground of delicacy to keep silence on the subject. But he would state,—and for the correctness of the statement, he might appeal to some hon. friends near him, and also to the noble lord, the late secretary for the home department, with whom he was in daily and intimate communication on the subject—he would state, that the bill was completely ready for introduction last session; that he was most anxious to in- 873 troduce and pass it; that it was not his fault, that it was not brought in; and that he had at last yielded to the necessity of deferring it, only because he thought it inevitable, and on the conviction, that during the recess, the obstacles and difficulties in the way would he surmounted, and he should then be enabled to carry the measure into effect in the subsequent session.
Mr. D. Browne
said, that in the county of Mayo, the constables recently appointed by the grand jury had been found perfectly efficient. That mode of appointment, he was persuaded, was much superior to the proposed plan of appointment by the government.
opposed the measure, as being, subversive of every, thing like a free government in Ireland.
§ The question being put, "That the bill be now read a second time," the House divided: Ayes 113, Noes 59.
|List of, the Minority|
|Abercromby, hon. J.||Lawley, F.|
|Barrett, S. B. M.||Martin, J.|
|Bright, H.||Milbank, M.|
|Brougham, H.||Monck, J. B.|
|Browne, Dom.||Marryat, J.|
|Buxton, T. F.||Newport, sir J.|
|Calcraft, J.||O'Callaghan, J.|
|Campbell, W.||Palmer, C. F.|
|Carter, J.||Power, R.|
|Colborne, N. R.||Powlett, hon. W.|
|Concannon, L.||Prittie, Hon. F.|
|Crompton, S.||Rice, T. S.|
|Creevey, T.||Ricardo, D.|
|Denison, W. J.||Ridley, sir M. W.|
|Duncannon, viscount||Rumbold, C. E.|
|Evans, W.||Robertson, A.|
|Fergusson, sir R.||Scarlett, J.|
|Forbes, C.||Smith, W.|
|Grattan, J.||Smith, R.|
|Glenorchy, lord||Sebright, sir J.|
|Grant, C.||Tremayne, J. H.|
|Gaskell, B.||White, L.|
|Hamilton, lord A.||Warre, J. A.|
|Hume, J.||Webb, E.|
|Hurst, R.||Western, C. C.|
|Hutchinson, hon. C. H.||Wood, alderman|
|Jervoise, G. P.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Kennedy, T. F.||Whitmore, W. W.|
|Lemon, sir W.||Althorn, viscount.|
|Lennard, T. B.||Ebrington, viscount.|