generally called the attention of their lordships to the subject of which the measure of suspending the Habeas Corpus act in Ireland formed so prominent a part. He adverted to the circumstance of the bill being rapidly passed through that house, and contended, that sufficient information, or grounds, had pot been laid before the house, for the enactment of such a measure; a branch of the information, which, on glancing at the general subject, he conceived necessary, respected the transactions which had not long since taken place at the prison of Kilmainham. His lordship then in substance moved, that there be laid before the house a copy of the depotions of certaiin prisoners confined in the gaol of Kilmanham, taken before three judges of his majesty's court of king's bench in Ireland, who sat in the 720 said prison for that purpose, on the 16th and 17th days of July last.
§ Lord Hawkesbury
expressed his wish, that the noble baron would postpone the motion, for a short time, as at present he was not prepared to say whether or not he ought to object to it. It was one of that particular nature, as obviously required some previous consideration or inquiry. He, therefore, wished his lordship would not press it.
replied, he thought the subject matter of the motions was of a nature so clearly unobjectionable, as that he was surprised any opposition could be offered to it. He recollected what transpired on his recently agreeing to postpone another motion. For the present he seemed inclined to press it.
§ Lord Hawkesbury,
in explanation, begged the noble baron to recollect that the motion alluded to as postponed was so deferred as his own act. On the present occasion, feeling that he was not prepared to give a decided opinion as to the merits of the motion, he would move the house to adjourn.
The Lord Chancellor
said a few words in support of what had fallen from his noble friend. The question of adjournment was then put.
§ Lord Grenville
rose, and defended the observations of his noble friend. He considered the information required by the motion as unobjectionable, and necessary to be laid before the house; with a reference to the extraordinary powers vested in government by the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland, there could exist no doubt, that what had appeared, on an inquiry so constituted as that specified in the motion, was fit to be laid before that house. He thought it hard, when that part of the united kingdom was deprived of the benefit of the Habeas Corpus Act, that all relevant information, as hitherto called for, should be withheld. Were these denials persisted in, it would look as if they were inclined to abandon all constitutional controul on the exercise of such extraordinary powers as were now vested in ministers. They refused even to consider the state of the jails in that part of the united kingdom—a consideration they ware the more bound to do, as connected with an act recently passed by themselves.
The Lord Chancellor
observed, no man could possibly lament the necessity of suspending the Habeas Corpus act more than 721 he did, nor could be more willing than himself to have every degree of proper information afforded. He, therefore, wished it to be understood, that, in supporting the motion for an adjournment that night, he by no means wished to oppose the production of any information whatever that ought to be given; but, that he only sought for an opportunity of informing himself whether the information required in the present instance was such as ought to he given.—His lordship then referred to the wording of the motion, particularly those words, "who sat for that purpose," from which, he could not collect for what purpose it was the sitting in question was held. The production required might involve the disclosure of circumstances, which, for a time at least, it may be highly necessary to keep secret, as information respecting traitorous conspiracies, &c.: the delay till to-morrow could at any rate make no difference, it would only give his majesty's ministers an opportunity of ascertaining, whether the depositions in question were or not of a nature fit to be laid before parliament: they wished only for an opportunity of knowing what line of conduct was proper to be pursued on the occasion.
§ The Earl of Derby
expressed his opinion, that the positions advanced by the noble and learned lord, and his noble friend opposite to him, were as extraordinary positions as he had ever heard advanced in that house. It was the duty of ministers, particularly of the secretary of state for the home department, to be so informed with respect to subjects like that in question, as to be able to declare, at the moment, whether the motion was objectionable or not. It was extraordinary to see a secretary of state not informed upon such an occasion.
§ Lord Hawkesbury,
in reply to the animadversions of the noble earl, insisted that the house was placed in a very extraordinary situation, by the conduct of the noble baron, in the present instance. Though not called for by their lordships orders, yet, in common courtesy to the house, a motion, which obviously called for consideration or enquiry, should not be passed, unless previous notice of it had been given. Such a motion as the present, he contended, required time to consider whether, under all the circumstances of the case, it should be agreed to or not. Time should be afforded for consulting with those whom it 722 may be the duty of ministers on such subjects to recur to for information and advice. In proposing to adjourn, he meant not, in his present view of the subject, to oppose the motion it was, in fact, urging a request that it might be put off, so as to afford even a short interval for consideration. Such a course, he thought, should be adopted, with all questionable propositions, which were brought forward and urged without previous notice. He meant not to offer the least opinion as to the motion of the noble lord; but he thought that, independent of the merits of a question, the pressing of a motion without notice, as in the present case, was sufficient ground for urging an adjournment. The question was then put; lord Hawkesbury's motion agreed to; and an adjournment accordingly took place.