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your power to succeed. This is the time; arm the question now and you prevail, and in that success you secure to the country those blessings of liberty and constitution, of which she has heard so much, and naturally longs to taste.
I'am clearly of opinion, that this is precisely the time for putting abuscs of every kind in discussion. It is necessary to tell the people that Parliament are determined to repel every attempt to shake off the monarchy, but they should at the same be told, that we are ready to redress any reasonable grievances that the people may have to complain of; while we strengthen the government against its enemies, we should accompany that principle with a principle of redress. I shall, therefore, propose a motion, to enquire whether any and what abuses have taken place in our constitution, in order that they may be redressed. This will show the inclination of the House to reform, and it will greatly tend to promote public tranquillity, if this inclination shall be known. Societies are every where formed for the purpose of enquiring into the abuses in the constitution; the object is lawful and laudable. Shall it be said that this House is the only political society which will not enquire into those abuses? I do not, however, mean to entrap gentlemen by this motion into a declaration that abuses do exist; my object is merely that the question of enquiry shall be put into discussion ; I would, therefore, have a committee instituted for that purpose. Another reason I have for preferring this mode is, that I think gentlemen now, as little as possible, ought to differ on great principles. They have uniformly differed on the particular bills that have been introduced to heal the evils complained of. Were these specific bills to be introduced again, how could they expect to meet a different treatment? How, indeed, could gentlemen treat them differently? I think it is, therefore, not uncandid by adopting an enquiry of this kind to leave gentlemen at liberty to act as the case and the temper of the times may require.
He concluded by moving, “ that a committee be appointed to enquire whether any and what abuses have taken place in the constitution of this country, and in the administration of the government thereof; and to report such temperate remedies as may appear most likely to redress the same.”
The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir John Parnell), Mr. G. Ponsonby, General Conyngham, Mr. Stewart, and Mr. Sheridan, supported Mr. Grattan's motion. Mr. Corry proposed an amend. ment, viz. that instead of a committee to enquire into the abuses in the constitution and the administration, a committee should be appointed to enquire into the state of the representation of the people in Parliament.
Mr. GRATTAN said: Sir, any member has a right to separate the questions. I agree to separate them; my motion was to the abuses in the representation of the people, to the influence of the Crown in Parliament, and also to the corruptions which have taken place in the administration of its government. All must be reformed; but if the House wish to confine themselves to a part of my motion for the present, the state of the representation, I will rejoice that they pledge themselves so far, and shall not hesitate to adopt the amendment, and thank the member who suggested it.
This amendment was then agreed to; and the question being put, “ Thạt the House will, on this day three weeks, resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, to enquire into the state of the representation of the people in Parliament," it was carried in the affirmative without a division.
BREACH OF PRIVILEGE.
THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL MOVES THAT THE PRINTER OF THE
HIBERNIAN JOURNAL BE CALLED TO THE BAR OF THE HOUSE, AND TAKEN INTO CUSTODY.
January 29. 1793.
ON the 28th, the Attorney-general called the attention of the
House to what he considered a very gross libel on their character and dignity. He then produced the Hibernian Journal of the 18th, in which, he said, were some resolutions, purporting to be the resolutions of an aggregate meeting of the citizens of Dublin, and which were signed by Henry Hutton, one of the high sheriffs of this city. Two of those only he thought worthy the attention of the House. One of them containing an assertion, “ that the House of Commons is not freely chosen by the people;” the other, “ that the House, as at present influenced by places of emolument and pensions, does not speak the sense of the people." After saying a few words by way of animadversion on these resolutions, he moved, That Thomas M.Donnel, the printer of said paper, do attend at the bar of the House to-morrow.
The motion passed, and Mr. M.Donnel was ordered to attend at the bar the ensuing day.
On this day he attended pursuant to order; and the Speaker asked him, what he had to say in his defence ?
The clerk of the House having come to the bar with the paper which contained the resolutions that laid the foundation for which Mr. M.Donnel had been called to the bar, he acknowledged that he was the printer and proprietor of that paper.
Mr. M.Donnel, in justification of himself, said, that these resolutions were sent to him, authenticated under the signature of one of the high sheriffs of this city, and that the sheriff had authorized him to say, that he had signed them as chairman of the meeting, and was ready to avow it, if called upon.
The Attorney-general, after a speech of some length, concluded by moving, That Mr. Thomas M.Donnel has been guilty of a breach of the privilege of this House, and that he be taken into custody by the
sergeant at arms. 'Mr.Curran moved the question of adjournment. He was supported by Mr. Hardy, Mr. Connolly, Mr. Graydon, Mr. Ponsonby, and Mr. Forbes, who declared his astonishment at such proceedings; that if the motion of the Attorney-general was carried, a seat in that House would not be worth having: the resolutions were legal and constitutional. It had been repeatedly complained in the House, that too many placemen and pensioners had seats in it: the present question was, in his opinion, the most imprudent that the House could discuss. Mr. Curran's motion was opposed by Mr. Bushe, Mr. Solicitor-general, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir John Parnell).
Mr. Grattan said: The resolutions of the city are to be taken altogether; they will then appear to contain, first, an inviolable attachment to the person and family of the King; secondly, a decided attachment to monarchy; thirdly, as decided an attachment to the parliamentary constitution, consisting of Lords and Commons; and, lastly, a most ardent wish, in concurrence with this House, that the latter might undergo a reformation; and, as a reason for that wish, and not with a view to insult, they repeat what the minister of the Crown did frequently suggest in this House, that the majority, as at present influenced by places and pensions, are not free and independent. In this they teach, what within these walls has been defended by the minister and the servants of the Crown, that public money had been at different periods disposed of to beat down an aristocracy in Parliament, and that new places were only political expedients; and, as such, were to be justified.
The city, repeating the principles and declarations of His Majesty's ministers, are said to be guilty of a libel on the House of Commons, by those ministers who have themselves been guilty of the crime of corrupting, and the indecency of publishing that corruption; I, therefore, again advise those ministers not to join issuc with the public on the question, whether they have corrupted the House of Commons; they know their conduct, and how vulnerable they are on this subject: I warn them not to suggest to the public the criminal nature of their own conduct, by representing the
mere statement of it by the city a breach of privilege. If it is a breach of privilege, to charge the majority of the House with corruption, what would be the offence of the minister who had become a minister by no other means? However, the right honourable gentleman is determined to maintain the dignity of Parliament, and he does it by committing the printer who is innocent; that is, who has done no more than publish an act of the city, by the order of the sheriff, who the act, and says he is here to justify, and who is not to be the subject of any motion or proceeding. Here you
show at once injustice and pusillanimity, and call this a defence of your dignity: the right honourable gentleman, the mover, just does enough to offend the capital and disgrace the House of Commons.
I have just heard His Majesty's answer, and I have in my hand His Majesty's speech, and I find in both, a strong recommendation to this House, to unite all classes of men in support of our constitution, by taking their condition into consideration; and I saw, to my astonishment, the right honourable gentleman, immediately after the latter had been read, rise to commit, as far as he can, one class of men, a very important class—the capital with the government; and that for an assertion which he knows to be true, and which his friends have propagated. He and those friends have been employed in the summer in making a religious war on the Catholics. The other day the administration committed themselves with the old volunteers; they now commit themselves with the capital. The right honourable gentleman tells us he has a number of private battles beside, with societies, individuals, printers, and so forth; and this is the method the servants of the Crown in Ireland take to procure union among all classes of men, in pursuance to the orders of His Majesty.
That gracious speech inculcates that, concord, which, to the House of Commons, is a mild suggestion, should, by the servants of the Crown, be received as a peremptory command. The right honourable gentleman accompanies his measures of disunion, of distraction, of division, with great bitterness of expression, and says that resolutions breathing nothing but attachment and constitution, with a complaint that the House of Commons is filled with placemen and pensioners, is the act of a seditious few, by which he must mean the citizens of the capital; but I find, on explanation, he, by seditious, only means the movers of the resolutions, and the rest of the city he says were deceived, that is, were dupes : in what ? in declaring the virtues of the King, the excellence of a monarchical government, and the excess of undue in
fluence in the House of Commons. Is this the manner in which His Majesty's ministers in Ireland encourage his subjects in professing their allegiance? No, says a placeman; what signifies allegiance if you reflect on the influence of the minister in the House. He thinks any loyalty which attacks his office is a breach of privilege; no allegiance, however strong and decided, an excuse in attacking places and pensions, which attack they on the other side call a' breach of privilege; so much more anxious are gentlemen to defend the corruption of ministers than the dignity of the Crown; the minister's crimes, than kingly government; and in support of these crimes they are willing to involve the country in confusion. From some of their late proceedings, I should think that, fearing their own extinction in the reform of Parliament, they wished to prevent-it by provoking the nation to tumult, or that they went on without counsel, design, or capacity, or that they were advised by men who are not responsible for the consequence of their advice, and cared not how much they precipitate government. The Irish ministers have great advantages over us; they may run away; they have no root in this country; they have nothing to lose here or forfeit; but we must remain, willing, but perhaps unable, to quell those disturbances, excited by their incapacity and mischief. It is, therefore, I deprecate those measures which they now pursue; measures to show the sensibility of this House, to sink its dignity, and to offend the city; measures which tell the public that the privilege of this House is broken, and that you
dare not assert it. If I had come into the House with any
doubt on the subject, the prevailing argument on the other side of the House had removed it; that prevailing argument was the danger of republican sentiments; the danger of anti-monarchical principles, circulating round Europe to Ireland; and the result of that argument has been, to induce gentlemen to vote a declaration of loyalty a breach of privilege; and the excuse they make is, that the declaration of loyalty contains also a declaration in favour of a reform in Parliament, accompanied with reasons for wishing the same; and, among others, alleging the corruption of His Majesty's ministers in Parliament. This these ministers call a breach of privilege; so that the people in this country are neither to support the King or constitution, if they question the corruption of ministers.
The House divided on Mr. Curran's motion; Ayes 70, Noes 154; Majority 84. Tellers for the Ayes, Mr. Curran and Mr. Forbes; for the Noes, Mr. Arthur Wellesley and Mr. Solicitorgeneral.