§ Sir R. Peel
brought up a Message from his Majesty, which was read by the Speaker, and for which see the Debate in the House of Lords [page 986].
§ Sir R. Peel
then said: I am confident that I shall be acting in concurrence with the unanimous feeling of the House, if I proceed immediately to move an Address, expressive of the deep regret of his Majesty's faithful Commons at the intelligence just communicated, respecting the indisposition under which his Majesty is labouring, and conveying to the foot of the Throne the earnest prayer of the House of Commons that his Majesty may be speedily restored to health. The Address I shall propose will, in addition, merely pledge the House to take into consideration, with the least practicable delay, the means which may enable his Majesty to provide for the attachment of the royal signature to the public instruments that require it. Perhaps it may be convenient to state that the bill for effecting the object in view will originate in the House of Lords, and it will therefore not be necessary to move immediately that the Message be taken into consideration. I beg to move "That an Address be 1002 presented to his Majesty, to return the thanks of this House for his most gracious Message—to assure his Majesty that his faithful Commons have heard with the deepest regret that his Majesty is labouring under severe indisposition, and that they earnestly pray, under the favour of Divine Providence, that his Majesty may be speedily restored to health—to assure his Majesty that this House will, with the least practicable delay, proceed to the consideration of such measures as may enable his Majesty to provide for the temporary discharge of that important function of the Crown referred to in his Majesty's most gracious Message."
said, I beg to second the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman; and in doing so I consider that I adopt a proceeding by no means inconsistent with my deep impression of the great importance of the Motion. The course we have to pursue is, I believe, unprecedented. We shall derive no light upon it from the practice of former times, in either House of Parliament. I deem it consistent with the last part of the Address, which expresses the determination of the House, speedily to provide for supplying the defect in the discharge of the Royal functions, in the way best adapted to the exigencies of the public service, to state that we ought to take those steps most cautiously and deliberately, and in a manner best calculated to prevent any rashness on our part from being drawn into precedent. I wish to abstain, for obvious reasons, from making a single remark not necessarily called for; but all must be aware of the danger, in cases of this sort, that may arise from rashness of proceeding, and the necessity of never adopting a course which hereafter may be employed in a manner which, while adopting it, we are far from contemplating. When driven to a necessity like that which now unfortunately exists, we must guard, most scrupulously against the possibility of a door being opened which our successors may have cause to wish had for ever remained closed.
§ The Address was carried nem. con.