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fd to shelter himself under the king's name, in order to shrink from his responsibility as a minister. He should, however, persist in refusing the information called for by the noble lord.
The question was then put, aud the address was voted ncmine disten/iente.
Notwithstanding this conversation, it was generally understood that the message in question bore a relation to the affairs of Ireland; Jnd, on the iSthof June,lordGrenville rose to present another message from his majesty, to acquaint the house, thattheotficers.non-commissioned, officers, privates, &c. of different regiments of militia of this kingdom, had made to his majesty a voluntary tender of their services, to , be employed in aid of the regular and militia forces in Ireland, for the suppression, of the rebellion now unhappily existing in that country.
Lord Sydney rose, and moved their lordships, that the house be cleared of strangers, which was ac tordinglv done.
A bill to meet the object of the message was produced by lord Gremille, and read a first time.
On Tuesday, June If), strangers wtreagjin ordered to withdraw. 1 he kino's message, relative to the miIiua of Great Britain serving in Ireland, was then read, which gave rise to a Ion^ and spirited debate.
The earl of Caernarvon moved an amendment, upon which the bouse divided.
Non-contents ... 45
Majority . 32 Tr.ehouse being resumed, the address was carried, and a bill, empowering h.« majesty to accept the '"ftrj of such regiments as should fct willing to serve in Ireland was
brought in and read a first and second time, and passed through the committee.
The subject was introduced to the house of commons on the l^th of June, when a message was sent down from his majesty, of the same purport as that received by the lords.
Mr. secretary Dundas said, as he was not aware of any objection that could reasonably be urged against the measure that was recommended by the message, he would move" that an humble address be presented to his majesty, humbly thanking him for his most gracious communication to the house."
The address, which was, as usual an echo of the message, being read, Mr. Nicholls said, he felt it his duty to oppose the address on a variety of grounds; for, if the address were adopted, the principle of the militia bill, as originally established, would be completely abandoned. The militia would be no longer a safeguard against the unconstitutional use which bad ministers might make of a standing army, in order to encroach on the. rights and liberties of the people. The unconstitutional use, he observed, of a standing army was dreaded, and anxiously looked to by the jealousy of our ancestors; and it was the duty of the house not to assent to the measure proposed, as it would have a tendency totally to unhinge the old system, by making the militia a part of the standing army, with which it ought be most religiously unconnected. We had been lately told, that it was necessary that this country should become an armed nation, in order to frustrate the attempts of the enemy to invade us. Was it then consistent with the safety of this kingdom, after a considerable part of the regular forces had been already sent
out but of it, to deprive "it also of the protection of the militia, and to confine its protection to the new volunteer corps? Besides, the measure would be cruel and unjust to those who, wholly unsuspicious of any such intention, had entered bona fide into the militia service. There was another observation, to which he was anxious to draw the attention of the house; and this was, that the house had not as yet proceeded to any act, or given any pledge, with respect to' the causes and origin of the rebellion in Ireland. What measures had been pursued in that respect were adopted by virtue of his majesty's prerogative : if the army now in Ireland was not able to arrest the progress of the rebellion, they must be opposed by a great body of men; and there were, consequently, great 2rounds"for thinking that government had acted wrong in the system they hat! pursued against the kingdom. But upon this subject we were now left in the dark, nor would an inquiry into the discontents of that country be assented to by the ministers. After making some pointed remarks on the conduct of government in the removal of l.^rd Fitzwilliam from Ireland, he concluded by saying, that the house ought to be fully acquainted with the merits of the question before they proceeded to give their support to the executive government, and fully to ascertain the causes of the discontents that had driven that unfortunate country into the present unnatural contest. Viewing the measure in these different lights, he said, he would give it his decided negative.
Mr. M. A.Taylor said, he could not but wish that ministers would condescend to state a few reasons why the constitution should be thus shook to the foundation. The mi
litia was raised for the defence of this country; such was the nature of their engagement when they enlisted, that they should not be compelled to serve out of it. But it might be said, that in the present instance they were merely allowed to follow their own inclination. But if one regiment offers, their example would make it compulsory on every other to do the same, otherwise their courage and patriotism might be brought into question. For his part, he thought there was more courage in refusing to go than in going. In his capacity of an officer in the militia, he felt himself called upon to defend this country, and this country alone would he defend. The army had, he observed, already experienced a breach of faith in government by a number of men being draughted into different regiments in which they would not have enlisted; and the consequence of this breach of faith was, that government was at a loss how to recruit the army: however, they attempted to recruit it from the supplementary militia, but their attempts were generally unsuccessful. Here, he remarked, was another breach" of faith. For though the present measures pur'ported toreston a voluntaryoffiy.yet it was compulsory in truth and in fact. The right honourable secretary of state adduced no reason or argument in favour of the measure, only hinted that some military gentlemen had volunteered their service. The honourable gentleman next made some observations on the militia act, on which, he said, he should keep a steiifast eye, as the land-mark of the constitution, which says," the militia shall not go out of the country." Thereforc'he felt it his difti/ to oppose the mcatuit. Mr. Laurence Fuik also opposed the measure.
Mr. Pierrepoint said a few words against the measure, and contended that it was a most gross and flagrant violation of the constitution. And whoever of his majesty's ministers advised it, thay had acted, in his opinion, with great boldness.
Vlr. D. Hyder said, it was with the greatest astonishment he heard mention made of the boldness of ministers in advising the message now tinder consideration. What then would not be said of their boldness, if, after'having received inch offers of voluntary service from a great body of men, ministers should have advised his majesty to repress such a spirit, and to reosl such offers, at a time when a rebellion of the most heinous nature had reared its head? Jt was the interest of both countries that it should be immediately crushed. Could we quietly sit down and see oar fellow-subjects daily massacred in the most barbarous and shocking manner? He remarked, that as great a part of the regular troops • could be spared had already been sent over. Did gentlemen apprehend no danger for this country ? should it be left without a due proportion pf regular troops? Me m at a loss, he said, to see the force of the constitutional objection that was urged against the message: was it more unconstitutional to employ the militia in Ireland, when they volunteered their service, than to employ them in England? Afiej making some other remarks, be concluded by expressing his hearty aporobation of the measure. Lord VViiliam Russell said, the honourable gentleman (Mr. Ryder) bad expressed some surprise that
verted the principles of the militia laws? Themilitia was intended to defend the liberties of the country, and for this only were they established. But what was the nature of the service they
were now to be inured to? Th
were to be sent for the purpose of forcing upon Ireland a system of government which nine tenths of its inhabitants disapproved and abhorred. Nor would it be a matter of choice with them as pretended, but compulsory. He had often disapproved of the pernicious system that had been long pursued in Ireland; which, in fact, had driven the unfortunate people of that country to such extremities; nor would he be now so blind to the example he bad before him as to vote a single man for the maintenance of such a system.
Mr. Banks said, though he could not approve of the measure proposed, he could not but reprobate the language held by the noble lord who had just sat down. For his part, he thought that no rebellion ever was more unprovoked than that now raging in Ireland. However, he was afraid, if the principle of sending the militia to Ireland, for the defence of, England, were once admitted, there was no species of warfare in which they might not be employed. 'They might be sent to Ostend or Quiberon, on the ground that such measures were in their nature defensive. He concluded, with moving an amendment, to leave out all but the two first paragraphs; to express the high sense the house entertained of the zeal and patriotism of those who had offered to should be accused of come forward with their services; boldness in advising a measare like to assure his majesty that the the present; but was it not bold- question suggested in the message M» to propose any thing that sub- was one of the utmost consequence,
on which the house was not, in the present circumstances, prepared to t;ive an opinion.
The secretary at war said, that the honourable gentleman who had just sat down had given more the appearance of argument to what he maintained to any of the gentlemen on the other side. One honourable gentleman had obscurely developed those principles on which the sending an additional force to Ireland was opposed; and the noble lord, who had spoke last but one, had proved an ample commentator on what that honourable member had only partly disclosed. The noble lord had said, that he would not vote one. man to assist the government of Ireland in subjugating the people of that country. Was not this the expression of a wish that the rebellion might not be suppressed? (a cry of, hear! hear! from the opposite benches'). Mr. Windham said, it was not by any means his wish to misrepresent the noble lord; and, if he had done so, the opportunity would presently occur of his being set right. It had been suggested that the house ought to pause before it agreed to the address; but were honourable gentlemen to pause, while an actual rebellion existed in one corner of the empire, while the king's troops and rebels were fighting, and not assist the former to bring the latter to a sense of duty ? His honourable friend (Mr. Banks) had admitted that the militia might be reduced, and wished that a corps might be formed from it, consisting of such as were really disposed to volunteer their services aguinst the rebels; however, if this were "once done, the alleged constitutional check would cease; that if the militia was oiighially a check,
any reduction of it would diminish that ch<"ck. The objection that the militia had been originally raised merely for the protection of the country, and never to be sent out of it, did not appear to him stronger than miaht be ur^ed in the case of the fensible corps, who had been raised on similar terms. It had been said, that no necessity existed for sending the militia to Ireland: but Mr. Windham said, the house were in possession of documents sufficient to show that Ireland was in imminent danger; and the disaster of F'.ngland would be great if Ireland was lost. With regard to the supposition that many people would probably not again enter into the militia, if this measure was adopted, he could only say that he thought it probable; but even supposing it possible, he should not set that against the advation of Ireland.
Lord William Russell said a few words in explanation.
Mr. Sheridan asserted, the motion which had just been submitted to the house was the most extraordinary in its nature that ever was heard. The right honourable gentleman, however, twho moved the address, seemed to have considered the measure proposed ;iS one to which no objection could possibly be framed; and he introduced it as one which demanded neither apology nor explanation. It was impossible to forget how lately the right honourable gentleman came down to the house, and stated the country to be in imminent, danger, which required the exertion ot every hand and heart for its defence. It was somewhat extraordinary then, that, after that statement, he should • cull upon the house to give their consent to strip the country of the militia forces, on which it relied for its defence. From the lords' bill it appeared,. that the militia force, which it was thus intended to send to Ireland, was 12,000; but if such additional force was wanted, why not send all the regular troops which were to be found before the constitutional principle was violated? Why not send 2,000 of the guards in town; and instead of 12,000 send only 10,000? It had been asked by a right honourable gentleman, what would have been thought of ministers if they had concealed the offer made by the militia. If ministers could have done what they now propose, without consulting tiit house, be would venture to say that they would have heard nothing of the offer. Although they might hold in contempt the advice of the house, they were not quite bold enough to act in violation of the ■w, which he hoped would still be found too powerful for them.
Air. Sheridan next made some remarks on the expression of his honourable friend, who had said he would not vote a single man for the purpose of subjugating the oppressed people of Ireland; great stress had heen laid upon this as beeng unconstitutional, but surely it was neither unconstitutional nor unpailiamentary for a member of this house to say that he could not give his aid to any system of measures, or any acts of the executive government, till be had examined and approved of the grounds on which they wore justified? The right honourable Eendernan expressed a doubt whether at all the gentlemen in opposition were willing to give their support to extinguish the rebellion in Ireland. "1 am aware (said Mr. •jnerijjn) that the right honourable gentleman is desirous to lead Bs :ato slippery ground. I would ask
him, whether he means to say, that i in every case this house is bound to take part with a king of Ireland, and an Irish house of commons, against the people of Ireland? Will he maintain that proposition generally? This house is not bound to sanction the injustice, and to strengthen the oppression which the legislature of the sister kingdom, however independent, might be pleased to inflict." Mr. Sheridan then went into the grounds of the dispute between the government and the people of Ireland, and remarked, that under the government of lord Fitzwilliam the people exhibited the most fervent and sincere loyalty; but, after being deprived of the government in which they would confide, and thrown in the hands of a ruler they detested, it was not to be wondered at that they should feel emotions of indignation and discontent. "Every man (said he) in this house, too welt recollects the subscription set on foot in London to support the industrious manufacturers in Ireland wholly without employment; of this description there were from 30 to 40,000 men in Ireland: such was the situation of so many individuals; and when charity was wearied out, unable longer to supply their wants, it was not the poison of French principles, but the want of bread that seduced them." But to return to the measure, it had beep said by some honourable gentlemen that the service of the militia was voluntary, Mr. Sheridan, on the contrary, contended that it was not. The case of the fencibles was mentioned as in point, but nothing could be more different. The fencibles were raised on certain conditions between the individuals authorised by ministers: the militia was raised not by contract between individuals,