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“His Majesty confidently relies the successful issue of your delion the wisdom and on the support berations.” of his parliament; and His Ma- The Address, echoing as usual jesty feels assured that you will the royal speech, was moved in the commit to him such powers as may Lords by the marquis of Salisbury, enablc His Majesty to maintain his and seconded by the earl of Wickjust authority.
low; in the Commons it was moved “ His Majesty recommends that, by lord Clive, and seconded by viswhen this essential object shall count Corry. No division took have been accomplished, you should place in either House; all the other take into your deliberate consider- topics adverted to in the speech ation the whole condition of Ire- were swallowed up in the recomland, and that you should review mendation to prepare for the rethe laws which impose civil dis- moval of the Catholic disabilities ; abilities on His Majesty's Roman and the opinions expressed on that Catholic subjects.
question will find a more fitting “You will consider whether the place in recording the debates removal of those disabilities can be during the progress of the bill effected consistently with the full which was soon afterwards brought and permanent security of our in. The duke of Wellington exestablishments in church and state, pressed a wish, that no discussion with the maintenance of the re- should take place, until the whole formed religion established by law, measure, which his majesty's goand of the rights and privileges of vernment had in view, should be the bishops and of the clergy of fully introduced ; but he stated, in this realm, and of the churches reply to a question from the duke committed to their charge.
of Newcastle, that the measure for “ These are institutions which the adjustment of the Roman Camust ever be held sacred in this tholic claims would be brought Protestant kingdom, and which it forward in a substantive shape by is the duty and the determination his majesty's ministers, without of his Majesty to preserve invio- going through a committee. The late.
measure, which it was their inten“ His Majesty most earnestly re- tion to propose for the adoption of commends to you to enter upon the parliament, would extend to the consideration of a subject of such removal generally of all civil disparamount importance, deeply in- abilities under which the Roman teresting to the best feclings of his Catholics laboured, with exceptions people, and involving the tran- solely resting on special grounds; quillity and concord of the United and it would be accompanied by Kingdom, with the temper and the other measures rendered necessary moderation which will best ensure by the removal of these disabilities.
Bill for the Suppression of the Catholic Association, Dissolution of
the Association - Mr. Peel resigns his Seat for the University of Oxford-His attempt to be re-elected-Defeuted in his attempt Ministerial proposition for the unconditional removal of Catholic Disabilities--Mr. Peel's Explanations and Defence of the Measure - Discussions in the House of Commons on the Proposition Majority in favour of the Proposition--Political conversions-Introduction and first reading of the Bill for the Removal of Catholic Disabilities.
(N the Royal Speech the sup- stating any particular circumciation was alluded to, as a measure of creating irritation. Whatever which ought to precede any con- feelings might be entertained on sideration of the civil claims of other points, he was sure the House the Catholics. And assuredly the would approve the recommendation very first thing to be done was, to in his majesty's speech that they vindicate the honour of the laws, should enable him to maintain his which that body had been so long authority, and would acquiesce in a allowed, or rather, by the supine- legislative enactment by which the ness of government, had been en- future meetings of the Catholic couraged, to insult. That it ought Association should be prevented. to be suppressed, had never been a Those who cherished most dearly doubtful question ; why it had not the hope of seeing a conciliatory already been suppressed, was a arrangement of the Catholic claims question never answered. In pur- speedily carried into effect, must suance of the recommendation con- feel, he believed, that the existence tained in the king's speech, Mr. of that Association, during the disPeel, on the 10th of February, cussions which were about to take obtained leave to bring in a bill place, would in itself oppose an for putting an end to the existence almost insuperable barrier to the of the Association. Ho would not accomplishment of the object which enter, he said, into any investiga- they had at heart. The constant tion of the causes in which that discussion of the measures and inAssociation might be supposed to tentions of government in the have originated; he asked only for Association would render it totally that admission which he had impossible for the legislature to already heard amply made on the arrive at any satisfactory adjustopposite side of the House, that it ment of the question. As to the was inconsistent with the exercise provisions of the law, by which the of the regular government to allow suppression might be effected, they the continued existence of the ought to be of such a nature as Catholic Association, and therefore could not be evaded, and as would he would be spared the pain of effectually prevent tricks and
devices being resorted to, in order meetings; but he very much to keep within the letter, while doubted the propriety of such a the spirit of them was infringed. measure, for it must declare that Measures of that House had been every political meeting was illegal ; defeated, and the intention to and if such a law were passed, and defeat them had been signified, every body left to enforce the proeven before they were passed. It visions of it, he confessed that, as was much better that they should Ireland now was, he could not say do nothing, and he would rather that they would not be improperly they did nothing, than that what enforced--that they would not be they did should be evaded. By the enforced for purposes, to say the act of 1825, it had been intended to least of them, very unjustifiable. suppress the Catholic Association, In his opinion, the more they and other assemblies of a similar departed, in legislating on a subcharacter, by an express enactment. ject like this, from the general The provisions of that act, however, principles of law, the more they were so wide, that they would have stood in danger of having their interdicted almost any meeting, enactments evaded. He proposed and it was therefore necessary that to meet this danger by the most some meetings should be excepted effectual means that occurred to from the operations of it. These him, while at the same time he exceptions consisted for the most opposed the strongest barrier to part of meetings for the purposes of individual abuse. It was his ineducation, agriculture, commerce, tention to commit the enforcement religious worship, &c. It was of the law to one person only ; to perfectly notorious how many ad- intrust to him, who was fully coga vantages had been taken of these nizant of the state of affairs in exceptions, how many meetings Ireland, and who was also responfor political purposes were assem- sible for the tranquillity of that bled under the pretence of objects country, the new powers with quite foreign from those the pere which the House were now asked sons assembled had in view,-how to invest the executive governrepeatedly the technical enactments ment. He proposed to give to of that measure had been complied the lord lieutenant, and to him with, while the spirit of it was alone, the power of suppressing violated. It was clear, then, that any association or meeting, which they must enact a law more com- he might think dangerous to the plete and more binding than the public peace, or inconsistent with act to which he had referred. The the due administration of the law; exceptions in the proposed mea- together with power to interdict sure must be much less numerous the assembly of any meeting, of than they were in the last. He which previous notice should have was not insensible to the difficulties been given, and which he should of framing such an act, as, in the think likely to endanger the pubpresent state of Ireland, could not lic peace, or to prove inconsistent be evaded, unless, indeed, they with the due administration of the were to pass a law, which there law. In case it should be neceswould be no difficulty in framing, sary to enforce the provisions of that should effectually and at once the law by which these powers suppress the danger of illegal would be conferred, it was pro
posed that the lord lieutenant would put an end to the Associashould be farther empowered to tion without any statute; to reselect two magistrates for the pur- move the disabilities would be the pose of suppressing the meeting, only effectual act of suppression. and requiring the people immedi- It was not a corporeal being, ately to disperse. It was proposed, capable of being grasped by the moreover, to prohibit any meeting law. It was the people of Ireland. or association, which might be in- Its spirit was caused by the grievterdicted from assembling, or which ances of the nation, and its seat might be suppressed under this was the bosom of seven millions of act, from receiving and placing at its population. It was impossible their control any monies by the to deny that the present flourishing name of rent, or by any other prospects of the Catholic cause
This was the general out- were mainly owing to the labours line of the measure. He thought of the Association : in forwarding that moderate penalties would be that cause, it had done good to sufficient for the infringement of both parts of the empire, however this law; and he considered that foolishly individual members might it would be by no means necessary have indulged in absurd proposals, to propose any measures of a penal and extravagant, and irritating nature. He was decidedly of language; and its suppression by opinion, too, that the measure enactments, which involved even ought to be limited.
the temporary exercise of arbitrary perfectly sure that parliament powers, could be justified only would not only continue these by regarding it as the price to be powers, but that they would in- paid for the final and complete crease them, if a case of necessity triumph of that object for which were made out. The late act had alone it had existed. been limited to two years; he pro- In the course of the discussions, posed to limit the present act to it was strongly pressed upon one year, and the end of the then ministers, why the suppression of next session of parliament.
this Association had not been sooner The bill passed both Houses accomplished ? You justly describe without opposition ; for, although this Association, it was said to its provisions were necessarily them, as a body, whose existence is somewhat arbitrary in their nature, incompatible with the due operathe friends of the Catholics voted tion of the powers of the regular in its favour as part of a system government. You represent Irewhich was immediately to termic land as being in a state of agitation nate in emancipation. They all which can be soothed only by declared, however, that, if it had granting all that the Catholics been introduced as a substantive demand; and no man can doubt measure, they would have resisted that the Catholic Association, which it; and that they now consented exists only for purposes of agitato suppress the Association only tion, is the great fomenter of that on the understanding, that those dangerous and alarming spirit. claims, for the furtherance of which You say that it must be put down; the Association had been created, you ask extraordinary powers to were to be immediately conceded. put it down; by doing so, you In truth, to grant emancipation grant that it may be put down.
If so, why has it been allowed to ing, that it was a matter of exgo on prospering and unimpeded treme difficulty to draw up a bill for years, till, having gained “a of indictment against 7,000,000 giant's stature and a tyrant's of people. He did believe, that strength,” it brings you crouching bafiled and hampered as the legal to its feet in trembling obedience advisers of the crown were, the to its mandates? In short, you ac- wisest plan, which they could purknowledge, that by a due use of sue, was, to confess the real truth, power you might have prevented that it was a matter of extreme that state of things, in which, now difficulty to frame such an indictthat it has been allowed to grow
He had voted for the bill up, you scek an apology for desert- of 1825, but since that time there ing the policy to which you have had been a new parliament, and it been so long pledged. Above all, was by no means certain that the you asked and obtained, in 1825, present parliament would repose an Act for suppressing this very the same confidence in, or intrust Association. Yet it is since that similar powers to a ministry, unless time that it has become so for- some hopes were held out that the midable. If the powers given by coercive measure was to be immethat act were sufficient, why was diately followed by one of concesit not enforced ? If they were sion. 'The Solicitor-general, howinsufficient, why were more effec- cver, forgot that this very House of tive powers not demanded? for who Commons had refused, in 1827, to would have grudged any powers entertain sir Francis Burdett's necessary to put down an usurpa- motion for a committec. tion of the regular government of Mr. Huskisson said, that it the country?
would have been impossible, in the The Solicitor-general for Ire- way of definition and enactment, to land answered, that he had attend- have gone further than the act of ed to the debates of the Associa- 1825 went, without interfering tion with the closest anxiety ; but, improperly with the rights and after all his vigilance, and all lis privileges of the subject generally; anxiety, it was the unanimous and from the period in which that opinion of his colleagues on the act was passed, down to the period other side of the Channel, that it in which he ceased to have a share would have been an useless task in his majesty's councils, the to have undertaken a prosecution government had been most anxious against any individual for his con- to give full efficacy, as far as was duct in the Catholic Association, consistent with the liberty of the and that an abortive attempt at subject, to such provisions of it prosecution would have been worse as were intended to guard against than useless, inasmuch as it would the mischief of the Catholic Associhave irritated, without putting ation. When he first saw the down, the members of that Associ- mode in which that act was evaded ation. He could not, upon the in Ireland, his mind was made up present occasion, enter into a detail to this conclusion-that there was of all the circumstances, which, in no mode of terminating the danger his opinion, rendered it impolitic to arising from that Association withattack the Catholic Association out vesting in the government a he would confine himself to say, considerable portion of arbitrary