§ On the Question that the Dropped Orders be read,
§ MR. W. SMITH O'BRIEN
wished to call the attention of the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) to the fact that, on the division upon the Coercion Bill, the total number of Irish Members who supported that measure was only ten, whilst no lesss that thirty-four voted against it. Out of the whole number of Irish Members present at the discussion on Monday night, it was evident that more than three-fourths thought it was not necessary to proceed with the Bill; and, considering the urgency of other measures before the House, it would be a great injustice to the people of Ireland to force the Bill upon them at present.
§ SIR R. PEEL
was very unwilling to give rise to an irregular discussion; but he must say there was a most material difference between the hon. Member's impression and his own as to the particular Motion upon which the House divided on Monday night. He thought the House had not gone into a discussion upon the merits of the Bill; and he was sure the remarks 373 of the hon. Gentleman did not refer to the question of adjournment, which had been only preliminary. He (Sir R. Peel) thought the hon. Baronet (Sir W. Somerville) who made the Motion on Monday night, said he meant only to call for a decision upon the question whether or no the Irish Bill ought to have precedence over the Corn Bill. The noble Lord who supported the Motion distinctly said he reserved his opinion altogether upon the policy of the measure. All the noble Lord meant to imply by the vote was, that the Corn Bill ought to be proceeded with at once in preference to the Irish Bill. That being so, the observations which the hon. Member had made had no bearing at all, inasmuch as the House had not come to any decision upon the question.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
, in moving that the Order of the Day for the adjourned debate on the first reading of the Irish Bill be postponed till to-morrow, said he would avail himself of the opportunity to explain an inaccuracy in his statement on Monday evening. The inaccuracy related to the case of Mr. Wilson, a magistrate of the county of Clare, who, without provocation, had been compelled to leave home, and the improvement of his estate, in consequence of the threatening notices he had received. The House would remember that he (Sir J. Graham) stated, that previously to Mr. Wilson leaving his home, he attended a chapel, and that an address was made to the congregation from the altar by the parish priest. He had stated that this circumstance occurred before the first threatening notice was sent. That was not so—the address from the altar took place after the first threatening notice, towards the end of last September; and three other threatening notices following, Mr. Wilson left his home towards the beginning of the present year. He had stated also, that Mr. Wilson was aware of a committee having sat in judgment upon him, and that he knew the parties who composed that body. That statement was erroneous. Mr. Wilson had not said he knew them. If he had known them, it would have been his duty as a magistrate to have caused them to be arrested. With this single exception, the information which he (Sir J. Graham) had laid before the House was strictly correct. But there being an inaccuracy in this particular he had felt it his duty to inform the House of it.
§ MR. H. GRATTAN
declared his inten- 374 tion of resisting the Bill. It was headed "A Bill for the better Protection of Life in Ireland;" but it would not protect life in Ireland, and therefore he objected to it. It was founded on falsehood, and he would not be a party to the false statements of any man, or any body of men. He acquitted Her Majesty's Government, however, of any malice; but he convicted them of ignorance of the true remedies for Ireland. The peace of Ireland could only be preserved by the gentry of Ireland; and if the right hon. Baronet would but make the gentry do their duty, nothing would be heard about disturbance.
MR. D. BROWNE
intreated the right hon. Baronet to allay irritation in Ireland by remedial, not coercive, measures. Conciliation would do more to tranquillize the country than the exercise of unconstitutional power, although it might only be temporary.
§ SIR R. PEEL
said, he might be erroneous in his impressions with regard to the danger of scarcity in Ireland; but he assured the House that he entertained serious apprehensions of danger from that cause. He had given the greatest proofs any man could give of the sincerity of his convictions, and of his willingness to make any sacrifice that a public man could make in order that the people of Ireland might not be exposed to greater evils than were inseparable from a state of scarcity. Having given those proofs, he thought he might ask hon. Members from Ireland to permit the Bill to be read the first time, reserving to themselves the opportunity to oppose its further progress—that the House might be permitted to go on at the earliest period with the discussion of those measures which were intended for the relief of the poor from scarcity.
did not wish to be ungrateful to the right hon. Baronet for the efforts he had made to meet the famine in Ireland. On the contrary he acknowledged most gladly, and if he might be permitted to say so, most gratefully, the efforts of the Government of the right hon. Baronet, and the plans they had laid down to relieve the wants of the people of that part of the country. If, therefore, it were a mere question of form and ceremony, he should acquiesce at once; but this was an attempt to deprive the people of Ireland of the benefits of the Constitution. They had the burden of the Union upon them, and surely they ought to have the benefits of it. They ought to have the same laws as Eng- 375 land, where there was not an inevitable necessity to change them; and in this case he denied the inevitable necessity. The Members from Ireland had therefore a duty to perform towards their country, which made them reluctantly obliged to oppose this Bill at every stage, and not to allow one single reading of it to take place without the strongest opposition. He could observe to the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), that there would be no use postponing the Bill till to-morrow, for there was more business on the Paper than could be got through. He might as well postpone it at once till Friday. Would the right hon. Gentleman have any objection to lay upon the Table, in the meantime, as far as it could be done consistently with his public duty, the documentary evidence of the different facts alleged to have taken place in his luminous and extraordinarily temperate speech in opening the case on Monday night?
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
said, as all the documents he read on Monday night were official, and as every statement had been made upon written authority, with the single exception of the case of Mr. Wilson, he had no objection to lay upon the Table officially all the Reports he had used on that occasion.
§ Adjourned debate postponed.