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ground upon which he rested his opposition.
Colonel Wood believed the measure to be the only one which, under all circumstances, could save Ireland. He was however against permitting wool to be exported to Ireland till such time as we had a greater quantity than we could manufacture. He was also hostile to that article which gave an unlimited right of admission to seats in the House of Commons to peers of Ireland, as being one of the most dangerous innovations upon the constitution that could have been devised; it would add more to corruption and influence than any one of those measures of which honourable members had been so jealous. By the union he expected that not only the strength of the two countries would be concentrated, but religious feuds and distinctions done away, and that in the course of a few years, Ireland would attain that degree of prosperity which otherwise ages would not have been able to effect.
Sir R. C. Glynn congratulated the House that the time was arrived when we might entertain the hope that the British islands would be united into one kingdom. The terms of the union appeared to him to be founded on the broad basis of mutual ability.
those very men who had availed themselves of that lenity, which the government had extended to them? In such a conjuncture there could be little doubt but their inveterate hatred to the English would show itself afresh. For their hostility to this union, he had the authority of their own detestable organ, the committee sitting in Dublin, who had declared, that they would be contented with no terms that could be held out to them by a union, and that they would oppose it at the expense of that very emancipation which they so violently contended for. The professed object of the measure was, to oppose this massy buckler of union to any attempt at invasion during the present war; but he did not see how we could effect that object, when it was found incapable of tranquillizing the Protestants. So far from concentrating the property of Ireland, it served only to divide the good friends of the constitution; it rendered the lower classes of the Catholics more disaffected, if possible, than they were before, and relaxed the zeal which the Protestants felt for the existing government. From all these considerations it was evident, that we could not bring into this union the physical force of Ireland; on the contrary, that force would become more dangerous after the local parliament should be transferred. In their own parliament, the Roman Catholics always had partizans who were ready to bring forward measures in their favour, and they might have rested content with the expectation of the result to be produced. In this country, they knew there were persons of great political eminence who did not think it right that Ireland should be governed by the Protestant ascendancy, which was so inferior in point of population, and should any change bring those men into power, it was not impossible that Ireland might yet be governed by a Roman Catholic parliament, Under the present arrangement, the mass of the Roman Catholics had nothing to expect, though every exclusion should be removed by the united parliament. A few Roman Catholic gentlemen sitting in that House, or even the whole 100 Irish representatives, would make no change in the regular establishment; and therefore the Roman Catholics, constituting the physical force of Ireland could have no chance in future of accomplishing their views but by a total separation. This was the strong
Mr. Nicholls said, that the discontents of Ireland did not arise from religious disputes, but from rights refused, and from oppression continued. These it was that made the Catholics to be considered as dangerous subjects. When they became a minority of the whole empire, it would be safe to grant them every possible indulgence. He trusted, that the united parliament would see the necessity of putting an end to all religious distinctions. He saw but little danger in the measure, and nothing but what was greatly overweighed by the probable good.
The question being put, that the said Resolutions be now read a second time, the House divided:
the report into further consideration. Several amendments to the 4th Resolution were proposed by Dr. Laurence, Mr. Grey, and sir W. Dolben, and negatived, the Resolution was agreed to. The remaining Resolutions, after several verbal Amendments, were put and agreed to.
Mr. Pitt said, that having proceeded thus far in the business of the union between the two countries, it next became his duty to move, "That an Address be presented to his majesty, humbly begging leave to acquaint his majesty, that, in conformity to his majesty's gracious message, laying before us the resolutions of the Lords and Commons of Ireland, we have proceeded to resume the consideration of the great and important subject of a legislative union between Great Britain and Ireland: that it is with unspeakable satisfaction we have observed the conformity of the said resolutions to those principles which we humbly submitted to his majesty in the last session of parliament, as calculated to form the basis of such a settlement: that, with the few alterations and additions which we have found it necessary to suggest, we consider these resolutions as fit to form articles of union between Great Britain and Ireland, and if those alterations and additions shall be approved by the two Houses of the parliament of Ireland, we are ready to confirm and ratify these articles, in order that the same may be established for ever by the mutual consent of both parliaments. That we offer to his majesty our humble congratulations upon the near prospect of the accomplishment of a work, which his majesty, as the common father of his people, has justly declared to be so near his heart, concurring with his Houses of parliament in Ireland, on the full conviction that, by incorporating the legislatures, and consolidating the resources of the two kingdoms, we shall increase the power and stability of the British empire, and, at the same time, contribute in the most effectual manner to the improvement of the commerce, the security of the religion, and the preservation of the liberties, of his majesty's subjects in Ireland."
Mr. Tierney objected to voting this address on the same night on which the resolutions were passed. There were gentlemen who would wish to be present whom he did not now see in their places. His own mind was made up to give it a negative, because he knew that it was not
agreeable to the people of Ireland to accept of a union. Some parts, however, gave him peculiar satisfaction. The impediments to a parliamentary reform were removed, on the principle of its being an innovation: innovation was now admitted, by the change which the introduction of a certain number of members produced, and by the getting rid of the rotten boroughs. Whenever this subject came under consideration, it would be so strong as to carry conviction, and in an imperial parliament, could not surely be objected to.
Mr. Pitt said, that whenever that question came under discussion, he should feel himself under no necessity of admitting such a principle, from his approving of the union; because he approved of it from the necessity of such a measure. Though the hon. gentleman might persist in reform; yet it did not follow that he (Mr. Pitt) should have shut his eyes, for the last ten years, to some of the most memorable events that had ever happened in the world. He had learned to correct his former conjectural opinions by the events that had arisen; and no obloquy should hinder him from openly and manfully disavowing such opinions.
Mr. Hobhouse coincided in opinion with Mr. Tierney, who, he was sure, had always endeavoured to purify the representation of the people, from genuine patriotism. The cause of parliamentary reform would be greatly advanced by the union. The hackneyed topic of innovation could no longer be urged; for could there be a greater innovation than the destruction of the close boroughs, and a compensation allowed to the proprietors? Such a precedent was a main point gained by the friends to parliamentary reform.
Mr. Jones said, that this business was a death-warrant to the constitution-nothing more or less than the extinction of freedom-a negotiated sale of our liberties. If a minister could pass income bills now, what could he not do when 100 members were added to the patronage of the crown ?
The motion was agreed to. A committee was appointed to draw up an address. It was afterwards reported, and agreed to; and the Address and Resolutions were, on the following day, communicated to the Lords at a conference.
Debate in the Lords on the King's Message respecting a Union with Ireland.]
April 21. Lord Grenville moved, that the House do now resolve itself into a committee of the whole House upon tha King's Message, and upon the Address and Resolutions respecting a Union with Ireland [see p. 26].
Lord Holland said, that painful as it was to him to detain their lordships, by inducing a debate where it was evident no debate would have taken place unless he had risen to provoke one, still he could not avoid taking upon himself the unwelcome office of addressing their lordships even against their inclination. He assured them, however, he would not have put himself in so unpleasant a situation, if it were not that he rose to speak to the principle of the union. He did not mean to deny that the sister kingdom had long stood in a situation which required some means to be adopted to put it on a more eligible footing. He took the liberty, nevertheless, to contend, that the union was not the remedy adequate to the occasion, and that the good effects that would probably result from it forty or fifty years hence, as the parliament of Ireland were taught to expect, was not a proportionate price to satisfy that country for the immenseadvantages she was called upon tosurrender at the present moment. To render the remedy applicable as a compensation for the purchase of so vast a bargain, present benefits equal in value ought to be immediately made over to Ireland. He was aware that the original pretext for the measure was the attempt made to separate both kingdoms. In that point of view it was a most serious consideration, whether the union would give a real increase of strength in that kingdom to government, or whether it would or would not conciliate the affections of the people of Ireland. They should consider what was most likely to give real strength to the empire in the present perilous moment, or what might endanger it; and in that view of the question he was decidedly of opinion that the union offered no remedy at all, whether he regarded it as operating on the great body of the disaffected in that country, on a majority of those who still wished well to the British constitution, or on the contending factions of Protestant and Catholic. The complaints of these different descriptions of persons were well known. Would the union secure the redress of them? For redress they were all promised; and it ought to be the principle, as well as the policy of ministers, to
let all these persons have that which, by consenting to the union, they were to pay so great a price for. The great ground of complaint was, that English influence preponderated on every occasion to the prejudice of the interests of Ireland. Was the measure in question likely to increase or to remove that cause of complaint? There would be little difficulty in answering the question. Much reliance had been placed on the salutary effects that had resulted to Scotland from her union with Great Britain; but, without attempting to discuss whether the beneficial advantages of an increased commerce, an extended system of agriculture, and an enlarged scale of manufacture, had been derived by Scotland as an immediate consequence of her union, or had arisen gradually from other causes, it was sufficient to remark, that forty years had elapsed before the Scotch reaped any of the essential benefits which she now enjoyed. He must therefore maintain, that speculative ideas of distant advantages were but visionary and delusive prospects at best, and by no means to be set against the possession of invaluable rights, splendid honours, and the glory of independence. Besides, there was one prominent feature in favour of the Scotch union, which did not exist in the present instance. By an act of Parliament of that kingdom, a different prince might sit on its throne from him who filled the throne of England; or, to come nearer to the point, a king might reign in England who might not be the legal king of Scotland. That undoubtedly was a strong argument in favour of the supporters of the Scotch union; but such a pretext existed not in the present instance. With respect to Ireland, therefore, no such hypothetical case could be put; no such danger could be dreaded. However, in the subsequent attempts which were made through the side of Scotland at the throne of England, and to destroy its constitution, the partisans of the house of Stuart made the union an engine, and gave repeated promises, in the event of success, to abrogate the union, in order to conciliate the people of Scotland. It was said with truth, that one effect of the union would be to remove the legislature of Ireland from local prejudices; but what was the real English of such a position? It was no less than saying to the people of Ireland, "It is convenient for us to govern you, instead of permitting you to govern
with what decency could persons of that description refuse a parliamentary reform to the people of England any longer? It had been argued that the members of the Irish parliament were not capable of conducting the affairs of that kingdom; that they were so open to corruption, that they were not fit to be trusted with the management of the rights and properties of their fellow countrymen. Far was it from him, to hold up either description as the true description of the members of the Irish parliament. But looking at the description he had heard given of them as a matter of argument, in either light, what advantage could the British parliament derive from the infusion of a number of mem
yourselves." His lordship next adverted to the solemn assurance which his majesty's ministers had given in both houses, that although in their judgments a union of both countries was most desirable, as the best means of consolidating the strength of the whole empire, yet that it should not be accepted unless it were the pure and spontaneous offer of the parliament of Ireland, uninfluenced by corruption or menace. He would however appeal to the feelings of individual lords as men, whether it was doubted by any, that corruption and intimidation had not been practised to obtain a majority in support of the measure in both Houses of the Irish parliament? Were ever such changes of members in the gross seen but on a disso-bers of such asort? If they were incapable lution of a parliament, as in the course of the last eight months? Had not magistrates, juries, and all congregate bodies in Ireland been tampered with? And, after all, what was the vast majority by which the measure of union was carried on the other side of the water? Forty! After all the arts of corruption, and all the menaces of power that had been resorted to, the minority had only lost two or three of its numbers. Would any man deny, that the minority of the House of Commons in Dublin spoke the sense of the people of Ireland, and that the sense of the great majority of the people of Ireland was decidedly against the measure? It might be called Jacobinical in him to talk of appealing to the people against the sense of parliament. He would not then argue that point, but content himself with observing, that such a charge would come with an ill grace from the supporters of a minister, who owed his accession to power to an appeal to the people against the decided sense of the House of Commons. The prejudices of the Irish Protestants and Catholics had been played upon, and both had been taught to expect a full gratification of all their wishes, provided a union took place. But why was a union necessary for that purpose? Might not the Irish parliament administer all that was desired, without merging into the British senate? That the sending 100 members from Ireland into the House of Commons, and 32 Irish peers into that House, was a direct infringement of the British constitution, and would add considerably to the influence of the Crown, could any man who had resisted all at tempts at parliamentary reform from the dread of innovation, pretend to deny; and
of conducting the affairs of a kingdom; if they were open to corruption, would they not strengthen the hands of the crown against the interests of the people, and become the ready tools of ministers, to assist them in any designs they might hereafter wish to practise against the constitution ?-All these evils which the union would necessarily bring upon Ireland, would, it was said, be more than compensated by the influx of commerce into the country, and the tranquillization of the long opposed factions of Protestant and Catholic, the latter of whose grievances it seemed were to be redressed. He had his doubts whether such commercial benefits would ever arise; but he was certain that a long interval must elapse before Ireland could reap any benefit; whereas the evils she must experience were immediate and pressing. On the whole, he viewed the measure of union as one replete with dangers.
Lord Grenville expressed his surprise at being called on that day to support the general principle of a question which had been repeatedly recognised by both Houses of Parliament. With regard to corruption and menace having been practised, the fair way would have been to have brought proof of either, if such could have been obtained. With respect to the sense of the people of Ireland, he knew not how that sense was to be constitutionally obtained but through the medium of the parliament of Ireland through that medium it had been conveyed to this country; and he solemnly declared he believed the people of Ireland had spoke their real sentiments respecting the pro posed union, through their constitu tional organ. With regard to the dange
that was held out by the noble lord as | guarded by their being members from likely to result to the British constitution, Ireland. With respect to a reform in the he saw no such danger, nor did he be- representation of the people, he had unilieve that the infusion of a certain num-formly opposed it on the grounds of its ber of members from Ireland into our dangerous and destructive tendency, and House of Commons, or of 32 Irish peers its vital hostility to the genuine principles into that House, would tend to strength- of the British constitution. The present en the hands of the crown against the frame of parliament, as experience had rights and privileges of the people, or fully proved, was perfectly adequate to all enable ministers to exercise a greater its purposes. The present frame of the share of undue influence. These 32 House of Commons was the great bulwark peers would hold their seats by the same of the constitution; if once overturned, tenure that their lordships now did, viz. no means would exist to resist the torrent for life. The precedent of the union of anarchy and Jacobinism; if the French with Scotland had been as closely fol- revolution had found us in the moment of lowed as the nature of the two cases reform, what might not have been the would admit. In respect to the benefits consequences? So attached was he to the to result to Ireland from a union, not present frame of parliament, and so fully being likely to take place immediately, convinced of its political perfection, as far the noble lord had viewed the subject in a as in the nature of things could be exvery narrow and unstatesmanlike light pected, that if he ever felt the least objecindeed, when he regarded it on so con- tion to the measure of union, it was on the tracted a scale. In looking at a matter ground of its unavoidably introducing an of such magnitude as the legislative union alteration, however slight, in the frame of of two great countries, an enlightened po- parliament. If it was true, that the relalitician, would consider it in two distinct tive situation of both kingdoms was such points of view; the one, the immediate that they must stand or fall together, necessity that imperiously demanded it; then he was convinced a union was the other, the general benefit that would absolutely necessary, as the only means gradually and ultimately be secured from left to secure the connexion, and render it it to the two countries so united as an en- indissoluble. tire empire. With respect to the Catholic question, from the very first day the business was discussed, to the present moment, no such idea was ever heard of, as that thrown out by the noble lord; but all persons seemed to agree, whatever difference of opinion there might exist respecting the measure in other points of view, that the Catholic claims could be best discussed and settled by an imperial parliament, and that without the least inconvenience or cause of uneasiness to the people of Ireland. In a united parliament no danger was to be apprehended from their numbers, in that they would form but a very small minority. The noble lord had exultingly said, that as the union of the two legislatures was a direct innovation of the constitution of Great Britain, those who had hitherto opposed a parliamentary reform could no longer resist the measure. Nothing could be more easy than the answer to this burst of exultation: the infusion of a certain portion of members from Ireland into the British constitution, was a measure of indispensable necessity, as a main ingredient in the constitution of a legislative union of the two countries; but it was sufficiently
The House divided: Contents; 82. Not-Contents 3. The Not Contents were the earl of Derby, and lords Holland and King. The House then went into the Committee. The three first Resolutions were agreed to.
April 25. The House having again resolved itself into a Committee, the consideration of the 4th, 5th, and 6th Resolution was postponed. The 7th Resolution being read, a long conversation took place on its several clauses, after which, the Resolution was agreed to.
April 28. The House went again into the Committee, when
Lord Grenville rose to move the fourth Resolution. His lordship said, that it necessarily arose from the nature of the case, that in uniting the legislatures of the two kingdoms, a certain portion of Irish members should be infused into the British House of Commons; that 100 had been the number fixed on, and those apportioned, as stated in the Resolution, viz. two for each county of Ireland, two for the city of Dublin, two for the city of Cork, one for the university of Trinity