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Summary of the Debates from the opening of Parliament in January
till its prorogation in August—The King's Speech—The Addresses –Irish Church Reform—Corporation Inquiry-The Irish Coercion Bill—Inequality of the Stamp Duties–Irish Jury Laws-Sugar Duties—Scottish Royal Burghs-Disabilities of the Jews— Navy and Army Estimates—Local Jurisdictions' Bill—Flogging in the Army-Chancery Amendments—Factories' Bill— Regulation of Beer Shops—The Budget-Distress of the Country-Colonial Slavery—The Malt Duty-Law Reform Bills-House and Window Duties—Observance of the Sabbath——The Corn Laws, Renewal of the Bank Charter-Affairs of Portugal-Roman Catholic Marriages-General Registry of Deeds - Irish Tithes-East India Charter-Agricultural Labourers' Bill—Labour Rate Bill— Dra. matic Authors' Bill-Compensation for Tithe Arrears—Prorogation by his Majesty in Person.
FIRST REFORMED PARLIAMENT. Jan. 29.—This day being appointed for the opening of the first session of the new Parliament, the Members of the House of Commons, according to custom, proceeded to the Election of Speaker. Mr. Manners Sutton was proposed by Lord Morpetk and Sir Francis Burdett; and Mr. Littleton was proposed by Mr. Hume and Mr. O'Connell. After a debate of three hours, a division took place, which terminated in favour of Mr. M. Sutton, by a majority of 241 to 31. The remainder of the week was occupied in the usual preliminaries of swearing in Members, &c.
Feb. 5.—This being the day appointed for the formal opening of the two Houses of Parliament, his Majesty delivered the following most gracious speech ;
“ My Lords and Gentlemen,“The period being now arrived at which the business of Parliament is usually resumed, I have called you together for the discharge of the important duties with which you will be entrusted. Never at any time did subjects of greater interest and magnitude call for your attention. I have still to lament the continuance of the civil war in Portugal, which has for some months existed between the Princes of the House of Braganza. From the commencement of this contest, I have abstained from all interference, except such as was required for the protection of British subjects resident in Portugal ; but you may be assured that I shall not fail to avail myself of any opportunity that may be afforded me to assist in restoring peace to a country with which the interests of my dominions are so intimately connected. I have also to regret that my anxious endeavours to effect a definitive arrangement between Holland and Belgium have hitherto been unsuccessful. I found myself at length compelled, in conjunction with the King of the French, to take measures for the execution of the treaty of the 15th November, 1831. The capture of the citadel of Antwerp has, in part, accomplished that object, but the Dutch Government still refusing to evacuate the rest of the territories assigned to Belgium by that treaty, the embargo which I had directed to be imposed on the Dutch commerce has been continued. Negociations are again commenced, and you may rely on their being conducted on my part, as they have uniformly been, with the single view of insuring to Holland and Belgium a separate existence, on principles of mutual security and independence. The good faith and honour with which the French Government has acted in these transactions, and the assurances which I continue to receive from the chief Powers of Europe of their friendly disposition, give me confidence in the success of my endeavours to preserve the general peace. I have given directions that the various papers which are necessary for your information on the affairs of Holland and Belgium should be laid before you.
“ The approaching termination of the Charters of the Bank of England and of the East India Company, will require a revision of these establishments, and I rely on your wisdom for making such provisions for the important interests connected with them, as may appear from experience, and full consideration, to be best calculated to secure public credit, to improve and extend our commerce, and to promote the general prosperity and power of the British Empire. Your attention will also be directed to the state of the Church, more particularly as regards its temporalities and the maintenance of the Clergy. The complaints which have arisen from the collection of Tithes appear to require a change of system, which, without diminishing the means of maintaining the Established Clergy in respectability and usefulness, may prevent the collision of interests, and the consequent disagreements and dis
satisfactions which have too frequently prevailed between the Ministers of the Church and their parishioners. It may also be necessary for you to consider what remedies may be applied for the correction of acknowledged abuses, and whether the Revenues of the Church may not admit of a more equitable and judicious distribution. In your deliberations on these important subjects, it cannot be necessary for me to impress upon you the duty of carefully attending to the security of the Church established by Law in these realms, and to the true interests of Religion.
“ In relation to Ireland, with a view of removing the causes of complaint which had been so generally felt, and which had been attended with such unfortunate consequences, an Aet was passed during the last Session of Parliament for carrying into effect a general composition for Tithes. To complete that salutary work, I recommend to you, in conjunction with such other amendments of the Law as may be found applicable to that part of my dominions, the adoption of a measure, by which, upon the principle of a just commutation, the possessors of Land may be enabled to free themselves from the burthen of an annual payment. In the further reforms that may be necessary, you will probably find that, although the Established
Church of Ireland is by law permanently united with that of England, the peculiarities of their respective circumstances will require a separate consideration. There are other subjects hardly less important to the general peace and welfare of Ireland, as affecting the administration of justice, and the local taxation of that country, to which your attention will also be required.
“ Gentlemen of the House of Commons, " I have directed the estimates for the service of the year to be laid before you. They will be framed with the most anxious attention to all useful economy. Notwithstanding the large reduction in the estimates of the last year, I am happy to inform you that all the extraordinary services which the exigencies of the times required, have been amply provided for. The state of the revenue as compared with the public expenditure has hitherto fully realized the expectations that were formed at the close of the last session.
My Lords and Gentlemen, “ In this part of the United Kingdom, with very few exceptions, the public peace has been preserved; and it will be your anxious but grateful duty to promote, by all practicable means, habits of industry and good order amongst the labouring classes of the community. On my part, I shall be ready to co-operate to the utmost of my power in obviating all just causes of complaint, and in promoting all well-considered measures of improvement. But it is my painful duty to observe, that the disturbances in Ireland, to which I adverted at the close of the last session, have greatly increased. A spirit of insubordination and violence
has risen to the most fearful height, rendering life and property insecure, defying the authority of the law, and threatening the most fatal consequences, if not promptly and effectually repressed. I feel confident, that to your loyalty and patriotism I shall not resort in vain for assistance in these afflicting circumstances, and that you will be ready to adopt such measures of salutary precaution, and to entrust to me such additional powers, as may be found necessary for controlling and punishing the disturbers of the public peace, and for preserving and strengthening the Legislative Union between the two countries, which, with your support, and under the blessing of Divine Providence, I am determined to maintain by all the means in my power, as indissolubly connected with the peace, security, and welfare of my dominions."
In the House of Lords, the Marquess Conyngham moved the usual Address, which was seconded by Lord Kinnaird, and agreed to.
In the House of Commons, the Address was moved by Lord Ormelie, and seconded by Mr. Marshall.
Mr. O'Connell, in a long and inflammatory speech, proposed, as an amendment, the appointment of a Committee of the whole House, to consider of his Majesty's Speech, which he designated
“brutal and bloody address, and a declaration of war against Ireland.”
Mr. Stanley, in reply, remarked that every syllable Mr. O'Connell had uttered, had in view a repeal of the Union,-a measure which he and his colleagues were prepared to resist to the death. Conceiving that the repeal would be a death-blow to the peace, strength, and security of the United Empire, ministers would be traitors to their country, if, with every means which the power and resources of this great country afforded, they did not say, “ We will have no separation.” The right hon. gentleman then adverted to the horrible increase of crime in some parts of Ireland, and concluded by remarking, “ We must make law respected and government feared, before it is beloved in Ireland; and I conceive that Parliament is bound to invest government with those means of coercion which are absolutely necessary.”
Colonel Davies remarked, that the conclusion of the right hon. gentleman's speech was enough to drive Ireland to fury. Instead of conciliating every opposition, he justified every abuse. He put coercion in the van; he showed the sword, and concealed the olive-branch.
Lord Althorpe said, that it was the anxious desire of government to remove all the grievances of Ireland; but they were bound to take measures for the protection of his Majesty's subjects resident in that country, and the preservation of their lives and property; for it was in vain to expect amelioration, unless they adopted necessary steps to put down outrages. After some discussion the debate was adjourned, and continued for four succes
sive nights. On Friday the 8th, the house came to a division on Mr. O'Connell's amendment, when there appeared — For the amendment, 40; against it, 428: majority for ministers, 388!
Mr. Tennyson then moved an amendment, to the effect that, if it were necessary to give increased power to his Majesty's ministers, it was with a view to a close and searching inquiry into the state of Ireland; when there' appeared — For the amendment, 60; against it, 393: majority, 333.
Feb. 11.-On the motion for bringing up the report on the Address, Mr. Cobbett moved an amendment, to the effect that “ The House was determined to go into a full consideration of the manifold grievances under which the Irish people laboured.” This amendment elicited some discussion, and the House divided on it. The numbers were:-For the amendment, 23; against it, 323: majority, 300.
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Feb. 12.—Lord Althorp brought forward his important measure, of which he had given previous notice, relative to the Church of Ireland. The question of Church Reform, his lordship stated, was one of vast importance, and increased in difficulty the longer the remedy was delayed. Although, in proportion to the population of the two countries, the Irish Church Establishment was by far the greatest, still the grossest exaggerations prevailed on the subject. The net revenue of all the Irish bishops was only 130,0001. The gross amount might be 150,0001.; but the expenses of collection, &c. reduced it to 130,0001. It was true that a large tract of country belonged to the Irish bishops; but then the Irish bishops had not any beneficial interest in it: on the contrary, it appeared that their tenants and lessees had full five-sixths of the value of that land. The estimated amount of the value was 600,0001. ; of this sum the bishops did not themselves receive more than 100,0001. With regard to the deans and chapters of Ireland, there were but few prebends whose income was derived from their chapters alone. In Ireland, livings were attached to the deanery and chapter, and the mode of payment to the prebends was by the revenue derived from their livings. The whole amount of revenue belonging to those bodies was 23,6001., but the necessary expenditure to which this sum was applied was 21,4001., so that the surplus of 2,2001. was all that was left for the deans and chapters. Now, whatever might be the sense of the House as to the right of Parliament to apply this sum to the purposes of the State, he considered every one would agree with him in thinking, that the first claim upon that property was that of the church itself. While it was but too true that there were benefices where there was no duty-no resident minister-no church—and no Protestant congregation; it was notorious also, that in many parts of Ireland, where there were Protestant con
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