« PreviousContinue »
It was connected with charges so extensive, and involved considerations of such high importance, tliat it could not be disposed of so easily as the ordinary change of a Chief Governor of Ireland might be under other circumstances. It would not be proper for him to enter at large into a discussion of the sftbject, conscious as he was that there was no question before the House, nor did he mean to do it in the absence-of so many Noble Lords, who, had they received notice that so important a discussion was likely to take place, would certainly have attended their duty; but he must be allowed to fay that the recal of the Noble Earl had been sent in so extraordinary a moment, in the midst of an arduous and difficult session of Parliament in Ireland, when measures of the most critical nature, which had met with popular applause throughout the kingdom, were in progress, that it must have occurred to the idea of every man, that either the Viceroy recalled, had been guilty of some gross misconduct in his high office, or that the ministers who advised his recal, were themselves to blame. He did not pretend to point the blame to any particular quarter. If it ought to rest upon the Noble Ear), 'and that should so appear upon inquiry, let it attach to him, and let due punishment follow: On the other hand, if it should turn out that it belonged to others, with them it ought to rest. But at any rate an investigation was necessary to be instituted ; the situation of Ireland in consequence of the recal was critical and dangerous, which made it indispensibly requisite, and, what was of perhaps nearly equal importance, the public mind had been a good deal occupied and' considerably agitated on the occasion; every consideration' therefore called for inquiry, and if his Majesty's ministers should still persist in refusing either out of respect to the Noble Earl's honour, or what was due to the feelings of public justice, he thought the Noble Earl ought, from motives of respect to both, to name a day himself, and make the motion proper for that purpose.
Tie Duke os Norfolk owned himself not,a little surprised at the manner in which this business had been treated by his Majesty's ministers. It was not for their Lordships at that moment to decide, whether the blame of the sudden recal of the late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, under circumstances so extraordinary, belonged ro the Noble Earl or to ministers; but it must suggest itself to the mind of every one of their Lordships that blame was due somewhere. He had imagined that the moment the matter was mentioned in that House, his Majesty's ministers would have come fairly forward, and shewn themselves anxious for investigation by joining issue with the
Noble Noble Earl, and leaving it to the impartial judgment of their Lordships to pronounce who had been to blame. If he rightly understood the Noble Secretary of State, he had said, that he had no charge to make against the Noble Earl, and desired no investigation ; but if, unfortunately, the Noble Earl should persist in calling for an inquiry, it would rest with him to propose the day. It appeared therefore that there were two parties, rather delicately situated. Both were deeply interested in the iflue of the investigation, but neither chose to institute it. One was desirous of inquiry, and called upon the other to bring it forward-, the otlier said, "No, we make no charge, nor desire any investigation; if you insist on it, name your day." In his humble opinion, the Duke said, their Lordships were bound to recollect, that tliere was a third party of great importance, who had a right to be informed of the causes and grounds of one of the most extraordinary political events that had occurred in modern times: That third party was the Public, in whose behalf it was the indispensible duty of their Lordships to institute an inquiry. Under that impression, as an independent Peer of Parliament, he would rescue the two principal parties from their dilemma, by taking the matter out of their hands, and would at once save their delicacy by moving that the Lords be summoned for the first open day.
It being hinted that Thursday was the first open day, His Grace named Thursday next, and desired their Lordships to consider what he had said as a notice, that he would on that day move for a Committee of Inquiry, on the subject of the late sudden recal of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland- •
Lord Miilgrave, as soon as the order was made for the third reading of the Bill imposing a tax on Hair-Powder, for Tuesday next, said, that though the Bill was deferred, he hoped the delay would not he urged against the clause he intended to propose in favour of half-pay ossicers, as an argument on the
?;round of additional time that it would necessarily take beore a new Bill should receive the royal assent, supposing that the other House of Parliament (if the clause met with the reception of the House) should throw out the Bill, and bring in a new one.
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
PRICE OF PROVISIONS. . Mr. Erjh'me presented a petition from the Mayor and Inhabitants of Portsmouth, claiming the attention of the House to the present high price of provisions. The petition stated^ that the present high price of provisions was attended with great distress to the lower classes, and had a tendency to exi cite public discontent; and prayed that the House might adopt such measures as to their wisdom should seem meet, in order to remedy the evil, and prevent the tumult which it might otherwise occasion.—The petition was ordered to lie on the table.
MR. CRENVILLE'S ELECTION COMMITTEE BILL.
The Order of the Day was read for the House to go into a Committee upon the Bill to regulate the law with respect to ballots in cafes of controverted elections.
Mr. Fox objected to the clause diminishing the number of Members required to be present, before the House can proceed To ballot. Of the reduction of the nuriber of Members from loo to 60 he decidedly disapproved. He rather wished, if any alteration took place, that the number should be increased from ioo to loo; It had been a complaint, and a very just one, that the trial of elections had hitherto been in too few hands. The proposed reduction, however, would put the trial of elections intd fewer handsj and it might then be fairly apprehended that the greater number of Members who would try controverted elections, would be in the interest of the Executive (Government; There was also another point to which he wished more particularly to call the attention of the Committee, viz. that a number of Election Committees should be appointed on one day; and this might easily be effected if the House would compel the attendance os Members.
Mr. Thcmas Grenville confessed, that the reduction which he had originally proposedj of the number of Members necessary to form a ballot, was too small. After some discussion with several Members, he had been convinced that sixty was too Iowa number, and lie therefore meant to propose that the number should be 75. Seventy-five was a larger proportion to ii'(the number of Members which he meant to propose should compose the Committee), than 100 lo 15, the present amount of the Members composing Committees.
Vol,. III. t Mr. Air. Fox said, that he ditl not object that the proportion os
75 was not great enough to the number of 11 Members pro
Sosed to be chosen, but that it was not great enough to 558 lembers of the House, whose duty it was to attend on such occasions. Out of the whole number it surely was not unreasonable to compel the attendance of 100. He thought that there was a very great objection to the decision of cases of controverted elections falling into the hands of a few Members.
Mr, Francis said, that he should consider it as disgraceful to the House, if, when Members were found to neglect their duty, instead of seeking to provide a remedy for the inconvenience, they should be intent only, under the shape of a regulation, to introduce an apolopy for their own remiiThess.
Mr. SylveJIer Douglas thought, that the numbers ought not to be reduced below 100—as 75 however approached nearer to 100 than 60, he (hould agree to it.
Mr. Powys eonceived, that compulsory remedies should not be resorted to in ordinary cases.
Mr. Hujsey observed, that this was an ordinary cafe.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer wished to preserve the great principles oi Mr. Grenville's Act; an Act of w hich every Member had experienced the good eff ects. At the fame time he wished to consult the convenience of Members, if their convenience did not militate against, the advantages of that Act. He concurred in opinion with Mr. Fox, th^t it would be proper to -ppoint as many Election Committees in one day as possible; and in order to procure so many Committees, he would conlent to the reduction of the original number below ico. Tha mode of producing an attendance ought, in his opinion, to be compulsory, particularly aster a general election.
The Speaker said, that the Bill had two objects in view; the one was, to appoint a proper tribunal to try elections; the other, to prevent that delay which had hitherto so disgraced the House. He was persuaded, that a compulsory mode of producing an attendance, would be found to be neceffary. He preferred the original number of loo to 75.
Air. /v*, alluding to the argument of convenience, said, that is by convenience were meant that Gentlemen should not be detained tive hours, when the business might be dispatched in one, he llrould certainly vote for any measure that tended to produce that effect; but if it meant that 7; Members would be a better number than 300, because attendance upon elections was a part of their duty which Members J id not like to discharge, he certainly should not support such convenience.
Sir William Ptilte/iey and«the Master of the Rolls made a few observations; after which it was understood that the proposed reduction to 75 was to be abandoned, and the original number of 100 to remain in the present Bill.
The Committee then proceeded to discuss the proposition for reducing the number, from which the Election Cqmmittees were to be struck off, from 49 to 27, and for reducing the number of Members composing the Committee from 15 to 11.
A division took place on this point, when the numbers were,
For the original Number - - 53
The Chairman reported progress, and the Committee was appointed to sit again on Thursday.
Lord Milton said, that he wistied for a moment to call the attention of the House to a circumstance which had lately taken place in a neighbouring kingdom—the dismission of Earl Fitzwilliam from the high situation which he held in the government of Ireland. He understood that on a former occasion a Right Hon. Gentleman (Mr. Pitt) had said, whatever might be the causes of Ihe removal of the Noble Lord, no blame whatever attached to his Majesty's ministers in this country—an assertion which seemed to imply, that the blame must necessarily 2ttach elsewhere. It was proper that there should be some inquiry made into the grounds of this insinuation, in order to ascertain to what quarter the blame really be. Jonged. He wished therefore to know, whether ministers were prepared to appoint a dav for the investigation of the subject.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said, that all who had heard him on the former occasion would be sensible that he had then said nothing which called upon him to appoint any day for the investigation -of the subject, or made him feel it any part of his duty to enter at all into the discussion.
Air. 'Jetyll said, that he could not lielp feeling some degree of indignation, that ministers should come forward to assert that no blame attaclied to them, and afterwards decline to appoint a day of inquiry, in order to afford an opportunity of exculpation to those who were the objects of their insinuated censure. The whole of the transaction alluded to by the Noble Lord was before the Public, and perhaps m>njsteni
L 2 acte4