HL Deb 18 March 1853 vol 125 cc396-400

said, before their Lordships proceeded to the Orders of the Day, he wished to ask the noble Earl at the head of Her Majesty's Government whether he had any objection to produce a copy of tile papers which were moved for and granted last night in the other House of Parliament, in reference to the trial, or rather no trial, of the persons concerned in the Six-mile Bridge affray? He did not wish to raise any discussion at the present moment on the subject, but was desirous that the papers should be before their Lordships, in order that either he or some other noble Lord might bring the subject forward after Easter.


said, he had no possible objection to the production of the papers.


said, he wished to make an observation or two on the subject, and would only trouble their Lordships for a few moments. If there was any doubt as to whether he was regular in addressing their Lordships, he would move for the production of some papers. Having taken a great deal of trouble in investigating this matter, he felt most anxious as to the result; and notwithstanding the reproof which he had received from the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Aberdeen) on a former occasion, he could not regret having brought the subject before the House, and he could not help adding that he thought their Lordships would be of opinion, when the papers had been produced and had been read by them, that it was from the beginning to the end one of the most extraordinary cases that had ever been brought under the consideration of that House. When he had brought the subject before them on a former occasion, it was supposed that some expressions he had made use of with regard to the Army being hated by the people of this country, were not well founded; but he would now repeat it, and there was no doubt in his mind of the unpopularity of the Army. He would not now make any allusion to the great services of the Army, or show how much the country owed it; but if he wished any proof of the statement he had made he would find it in the conversation that had taken place "in another place," where more than one hon. Member applied expressions to the army serving in Ireland which fully justified everything he had said. The noble Earl at the head of the Government, in reply to a question as to whether it was the intention of Government to prosecute the priests, said, "Certainly;" and with a very fine flourish of words, gave a very positive answer—that whether the party was peer or peasant, priest or soldier, it was their determination that equal justice should be administered to all. Well, what was the result? Why, the soldiers had been not only prosecuted, but doubly prosecuted. The bills against them had been ignored, and notwithstanding that the private soldiers had been placed in the dock, and were tried afterwards in a most unnecessary way. What was the result as regarded the priests? Why, they got off perfectly free, and no notice was taken of their conduct—so that all those who had incited to the riot and affray had escaped harmless. But the whole of these proceedings would come before their Lordships on a future occasion, when he would express his opinions more fully on the subject. While the question had been under discussion, he had heard doctrines broached of a most extraordinary character, and which doubtless their Lordships would be equally astonished to hear. They were now told, that unless a candidate at an election had at the time he came forward some strong hope of success, all the disturbance which might take place at that election was to be attributed to him, on account of his rashness in standing for a county or a borough where he had no hope of success. And what did their Lordships think the conduct of such a candidate had been compared to by a Member of Her Majesty's Government? It was compared to the case of a man engaging in rebellion against tyranny where he had no hope of its being a successful rebellion. He thought both Parliament and the country would be somewhat surprised that in this land of liberty—liberty of speech and liberty of action, and certainly of liberty to any person, duly qualified to offer himself as a candidate for the representation of his country in Parliament—they were now to be told that no man had a right to stand for a popular place where there was a chance of disturbance, unless he had good ground for hope of success. Again, when this most extraordinary case had been inquired into and animadverted upon by the most able legal authorities in this country, they were told that there was nothing so unfair or unjust as to attack a man in his absence. Why, the whole case arose out of the extraordinary doctrines held by the Attorney General in Ireland, and by a talented Judge in that country. What was the amount of the argument thus urged? Why, that the law officers of the Crown in Ireland, not having seats in Parliament, might adopt any course of conduct they pleased with perfect impunity, and no man must say a word against that line of conduct, because, forsooth, those officers were not present. How could they be present but by having seats in Parliament? He himself might now be accused of attacking an officer of the Government unfairly, in speaking of the Chief Secretary for Ireland in his absence. But if there was anything unfair in it, he had no help for it, nor did he see any remedy, unless, in reward for the doctrines that right hon. Gentleman broached last night, he should be recommended by Her Majesty's Government to be brought up and made a Member of their Lordships' House. He (the Earl of Cardigan) sincerely rejoiced that he had, as a Peer in Parliament, brought the subject of the Six-mile Bridge affray under their Lordships' consideration. The more that case was inquired into, the more it was sifted, their Lordships might depend upon it the more clearly they would see that it was a most unjust and a most cruel case towards those soldiers who were more immediately concerned in it, and towards the Army at large; and it was more particularly unfair in having, at the same time, allowed the priests to escape, who had goaded the people on to disturbance and riot.


would really submit to the noble Earl and the House the great inconvenience of referring to a speech made in the other House of Parliament, and of which the noble Earl could have no perfect knowledge. [The Earl of CARDIGAN: I heard it.] It was certainly quite irregular, and contrary to the practice ordinarily observed, to notice in one House of Parliament speeches made in the other;—and he must add that it was not altogether regular, either, to make allusions as to any previous discussion which had taken place in their Lordships' House. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Derby) had moved for all the papers connected with the transaction, and apparently with some intention of calling their Lordships' attention to it. In that case the noble Earl would have a convenient and proper opportunity of making what observations he pleased upon the subject. That being so, he should only repeat what he had said on a former occasion, namely, that the principle which had governed, and would govern, the conduct of Her Majesty's Government, was to do full justice to all equally. With respect to the particular case to which the noble Earl had referred, it would be time enough to explain the circumstances of that transaction when the subject should be brought regularly before their Lordships, and he hoped he should then be able to give an explanation which would be satisfactory to the House and the country.


would not detain their Lordships more than a moment, and that only to express the gratification with which he had heard the observations just made by the noble Earl at the head of the Government. The noble Earl had said, it was very irregular to notice in one House of Parliament the proceedings which had taken place in the other. He was certain the noble Earl would make the same declaration in the presence of a right hon. Baronet who was also one of Her Majesty's Government, and who on a recent occasion had made use of some expressions in the House of Commons of a very painful nature to him (the Bishop of Exeter). He was sure the noble Earl would, if he had not done so already, tell the right hon. Baronet how extremely improper it was for him to pursue the course he had. Copies of the several Inquisitions removed from the Court of Queen's Bench in Ireland in the month of January last, and transferred to the County of Clare. Of the Order of the Court under which they were so removed: Of the several Depositions taken before the Coroner of Clare, and of the several informations taken before any Magistrate, in relation to any of the Cases of Homicide, Riot, unlawful Assembly, or other Criminal Offence, alleged to have been committed at the Town of Six-mile Bridge in the month of July last, at the Time of the General Election: Of Entries in the Crown Book in any of the said Cases as to the Proceedings at the Assizes recently held at Ennis, founded on such Depositions or Informations: And of every Bill of Indictment preferred at the late Clare Assizes in any of the said Cases, the Names of the Witnesses indorsed thereon, distinguishing such as were so endorsed on sending up the Bills to the Grand Jury and others subsequently added on the Request of the Grand Jury:

Ordered to be laid before the House.

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