HL Deb 25 February 1868 vol 190 cc1095-7

My Lords, I regret to inform your Lordships that the Earl of Derby has felt himself, in consequence of failing health, obliged to tender his resignation to Her Majesty. Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to accept that resignation; and Her Majesty has been further graciously pleased to send for the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and has commissioned him to form a Government, as soon as possible. My Lords, I think it must be a subject of great pain to us all, on whichever side of the House we sit, when we see an eminent Statesman obliged to secede from public life and from the management of public affairs—not from any of those changes and chances in political warfare to which we are all accustomed, and to which we cheerfully resign ourselves—but from failing health and from illness, which takes him, as it were, before his time from among us, and deprives us of his advice and his abilities. But, my Lords, if it be painful to those noble Lords who sit opposite—and I know it must be so—how much more painful must it be for those friends who have served under him in office, and who have sat by him as I have done, through many dreary years of Opposition! My Lords, there is but one consolation for us under these circumstances. We may regret, indeed, that we should be deprived of his presence from the cause I have described; but, at the same time, we must hope that that very rest which he proposes to give himself will restore him to us in renewed strength, and that at all events as an independent Member of Parliament we may have the advantage of his experience and enjoy the charm of his eloquence. My Lords, I had rather say no more now on this subject, and I therefore proceed to state to your Lordships what I think would be the most convenient course to pursue with respect to the business of the House. I would suggest that we pass through Committee to-night the Habeas Corpus Suspension (Ireland) Act Continuance Bill. As it is necessary that the Bill should pass through Parliament and receive the Royal Assent before Sunday next, I would propose, not that, as on similar occasions, we should adjourn the House to some rather distant day, but that the House should sit on Thursday at two o'clock to read this Bill a third time, and that on Friday, when I believe the House of Commons meets again, this House should meet merely for the purpose of hearing the Royal Assent given to the Bill. I shall therefore propose that no business except that be transacted during this week in this House, and that this House, at its rising, do adjourn until Thursday to read the Habeas Corpus Bill a third time.


My Lords, there can be no possible objection to the arrangements proposed; but I may perhaps be permitted to express my sympathy with the noble Earl, and with his Colleagues, in respect to the loss they must sustain in no longer having the Earl of Derby at the head of Her Majesty's Government. Often as we have differed, and long as we have differed from him on many public questions, I could not fail always to entertain for the Earl of Derby those sentiments of regard and esteem which his great qualities were formed to inspire. With regard to others, the confidence which has been bestowed upon him by a great political party in this country is a proof of the confidence which he was well calculated to produce. With regard to the eloquence with which he defended his opinions in Parliament, the records of Parliament themselves will bear immortal testimony; and of course history must deal with his relation to public questions. I trust, with the noble Earl, that we shall see the Earl of Derby again in this House, and that, although the state of his health, which is so deeply to be lamented, may prevent him from ever again assuming an official position, yet we shall hear from him that clear and eloquent language of which no man in Parliament is so great a master, with which he can express the opinions that flow from his own breast, from his intelligence, and from his quick and fertile mind, and which is so well calculated, whenever he does speak, to inspire the respect and esteem of this House.

Motion agreed to: House, at rising, to adjourn till Thursday.

House adjourned at a quarter past Five o'clock, till Thursday next, Two o'clock.