Page images
PDF
EPUB

The oath was handed to the Honourable and Learned Member, who, after looking attentively over it, said, “ There is one assertion in this oath which I do not know to be true; there is another assertion in it which I believe not to be true. I cannot, therefore, take this oath.”

The Speaker: You may withdraw.
Mr. O'Connell bowed and withdrew.

The Solicitor General said the Resolution which he was now about to move, was founded on various precedents. When a party, was called upon to take certain oaths, to enable bim to take his seat, and refused to take them, the uniform course had been to move a new writ immediately, and the Motion was always complied with. I say, Sir, said the Solicitor-General, that Mr. O'Connell's refusal to take the Oath of Supremacy has caused a vacancy in the representation of the County of Clare, and I therefore move—“That a new Writ be issued for the election of a Knight of the Shire for that County, in the room of Mr. O'Connell, who has vacated his seat by refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy, he having been elected before the enactment of the recent Bill, passed for the Relief of his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects.”

Mr. W. W. Wynn said, that he was anxious, before Mr. Rice proposed his Amendment, to point out to the House a Clause in the Catholic Relief Bill, which he conceived formed an additional reason why the Motion for a New Writ might safely be delayed. The Clause was as follows : “ That after the commencement of this Act a Session for the purpose of registering Freeholds within this Act, shall be holden in and for each County in Ireland, by, and before the Assistant Barrister of such County, on such days, and at such places, in each of such Counties respectively, as the Lord Lieutenant, or other Chief Governor, or Governors of Ireland shall appoint; and the Clerk of the Peace for each County shall, forty days at the least before the day so appointed for such County, cause to be posted in each market-town therein, notices in the form 27.

4 N

specified in the first Schedule to this Act annexed—that such Session for the purpose of registering Freeholds withiu this Act, will be holden on the days, and at the places so appointed, and that applications for that purpose will be then and there taken into consideration."

Mr. Secretary Peel was aware of the Clause alluded to, and admitted that the question, whether the Speaker should issue a new writ, or direct his warrant to the Clerk of the Crown, who would, of course, take care and act according to law in issuing the writ, and if he delayed issuing it, and thereby was guilty of disobedience to the Speaker—if disobedience he might call it-still he would be borne out by the law. This being the state of the law, and there was no inconsistency in it, or, if there were, it could casily be cured by an order of the House, that the Speaker do not issue his warrant until the Clerk of the Crown could legally carry it into effect forth with.

Mr. W. W. Wynn thought that there were two courses to be pursued. Either the Speaker might issue his writ as soon as the notice appeared in The Gazette in Dublin, or he might issue his warrant to the Clerk of the Crown, as soon as it could be legally acted upon.

Mr. Portman put it to his Hon. and Learned Friend, whether he felt inclined to press his Motion against the opinion of so inany

Hon. Members. He considered this one of the most important steps they could take, and were they to enter upon it without notice? The Honourable Member for Limerick had certainly given a notice, but it was a notice of about half an hour. No Honourable Member could be prepared to discuss so important a question on the instant, and without information. He did think that the further discussion ought to be postponed to Friday next.

The Solicitor-General observed, that if this were a subject entirely new to the Honourable Members, and that no time for consideration had been given upon it, the proposal for delay ought to be complied with. But Hopourable Members tad

the Journals constantly before them, and with such an advantage he did not think any Honourable Member could doubt the conclusion to which he ought to come as to the course of proceeding to be adopted

Sir J. Mackintosh said there was no procedent applicable to this peculiar question ; for in all the cases in which it had become necessary to issue New Writs, the Warrant of the Speaker met with immediate obedience, But here there was no reason at all for immediate issue of the Writ, and therefore it might be delayed until it could be obeyed. Unless some case was pointed out to him which formed a hypothetical precedent, he would say that the course proposed by the SolicitorGeneral would be a departure from, not an adherence to, the usage of Parliament.

Mr. Secretary Peel thought there was good ground for their proceeding to some notice of this measure at present. He would put a case-suppose Parliament were to be prorogued before the issuing of the Writ, then the county of Clare would remain nnrepresented.

Mr. Huskisson said it appeared to him not that the warrant should not issue at all at present, but that it shall not issue in the cisual form. With respect to the delay, the House should recollect that time was given upon what appeared to him a less important question—namely, whether Mr. O'Connell should be heard at the Table or at the Bar. He thought a delay of at least 24 hours necessary.

Mr. Portman moved that the further discussion of the Solicitor-General's Motion should be adjourned to Thursday, the 21st.

On that day the Solicitor-General moved the order of the day for resuming the adjourned debate, and then said that it would be in the recollection of the House, that on the former occasion when this subject was under the consideration of the House, doubts existed in the minds of some Hon. Meinters, to whose judgment great deference was due, whether the resolutions he had proposed ought not to have reference at once to the provisions of the recently enacted Statute. With a view to meet those doubts, he now requested leave of the House to withdraw his motion for the purpose of adding a few words, making the issuing of the new writ subject to the provisions of the Statute. He trusted that the House would find no diffculty in granting him this leave; and he should, therefore, move to withdraw the resolution, and then to present it again to the House with the addition he had mentioned.

Mr. S. Rice said, that in pursuance of the notice he had given, he rose for the purpose of moving an Amendment, both to what was now proposed, and to the proposition that had been formerly made. He must take the liberty earnestly of entreating the kind indulgence of the House in affording him its best attention; for he could assure them, that no individual had ever felt so deeply the necessity of asking for an indulgence of that nature, although no individual ever felt more confident that if it appeared to the British House of Commons that what he did was done in the discharge of a great duty; of a duty imposed on him ; however they might differ from him, or however they might feel inclined to oppose his motion, he was confident they would afford him the indulgence he prayed, and they would afford it him if they felt he was discharging a duty, although in discharging that duty he might trespass somewhat on their time and attention. Before he went into his argument, which he should take the liberty of doing at some length; he wished to state, in the first instance, that the motion he was about to make was wholly unconnected with the individual whose name was mentioned in it; he meant to say, that it neither proceeded from the suggestion of that individual, nor had there been regarding it any communication, direct or indirect on his (Mr. Rice's) own part, or on the part of any

individual he was connected with, and at that moment he did not know what were the feelings and wishes of that individual on the subject. He need only further say that it was a motion unconnected with any species of party feeling. The events which characterised the application to that House the manner in which that application had been treated, namely, as purely a judicial case; the events which had recently oc

curred, shewed that it was not to be considered as a measure of party. On the contrary, he was ready to admit, that whilst he was discharging this duty, he felt that it was strictly a personal duty, and in the same manner that he was strictly responsible for it. There was no individual in that House more ready to express, as an Irishman, the obligations he owed the Government for the measure they had lately carried through Parliament. It was not therefore in hostility to them, but as he had before stated, with reference to Ireland, with reference to the tranquillity of the country, and with reference to the due execution of the law which had been passed; with reference to the respect, the House, the Government, and the Legislature were entitled to claim in Ireland, that he made the motion. It was not necessary for the purposes of the argument that he should go into the Relief Bill. He admitted, for the sake of the argument, that the effect of that Bill must be taken for granted. He would not question the decision of a majority of that House that, under the provisions of the Law, Mr. O'Connell having refused to take the oaths, was ineligible to sit at that moment as a Member there. The question he should raise was founded on that proposition; and he trusted that when Hon. Members came to consider the case, they would find that, although they were right in affirming, as they had done, under a given state of the Law, that Mr. O'Connell was not entitled to a seat, they might be disposed to say that the state of the Law called for redress. That was his measure, and to that measure he hoped for their assent. He should not have brought forward this motion at all, but for the motion of the Hon. and Learned Gentleman. What he should recommend was not, he admitted, good per se, but it was a measure better, on grounds of public expediency, than the motion which was made by the Hon. and Learned Gentleman. Before he applied himself to this question, he would refer to an occurrence which took place in the Committee on the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, to which reference had been made, and to which he felt it his duty to allude. Honourable Gentlemen would recollect that, in the Committee

« PreviousContinue »