10 FEBRUARY 1849, Page 1


GOOD sense for once reigned over the opening session, and the Commons began their work by considering the resolutions of their ex-officio leader for the improved conduct of public business. All the resolutions moved by Lord John Russell were carried, except one which he volunteered to postpone for further con- sideration. His plan falls short even of the report presented by Mr. Evelyn Denison's Committee, as that fell short of the evi- dence and of the alterations recommended by so experienced and grave a personage as the Speaker ; but still a beginning has been made. And what is more, the proposal to use greater de- spatch in the furtherance of public business meets with active concurrence from all sections of the House: Mr. Hume concurs, Sir Robert Inglis concurs ; Sir Robert Peel recommends short speeches and non-repetition of arguments already used ; Mr. Cobden avers that he had anticipated that rule; Mr. Disraeli cas- tigates his prolific muse ; Sir James Graham further condenses Ins solid discourse. Mr. Milner Gibson, not satisfied with a simple understanding of conciseness, proposed a resolution to enforce the one-hour restriction on speeches ; and although he failed, the spirit of his regulation appears to be carried out by leading Members. We observe also a wholesome dislike to permit adjournment for the mere sake of prolonging talk. Last session, Lord Stanley introduced a measure authorizing the Peers to continue the progress of any bill from the stage at which it was left in the previous session ; a provision which would in some degree mitigate the bad effects arising from the late period of the session at which bills reach the Upper House ; and he was to have reintroduced it now ; but he waited to see Lord John Russell's scheme of improvement : he will find that there is no- thing in the resolutions to supersede the utility of his bill; and if Ministers contemplate any decided improvement in the distribu- tion of work between the two Houses, the fact may be easily as- certained.

The earliest subject to claim the attention of either House has been Ireland ; which exhibits a state in some respects more hope- less than it has ever appeared. The Lord-Lieutenant reports that Ireland is tranquil, but only by favour of the extraordinary powers intrusted to him ; he has proofs that the spirit of disaffec- tion continues, ready to burst forth again on a removal of restraint, and he asks for a continuance of those extraordinary powers. Some of the Irish Members made light of the " mock insurrec- tion," and boasted of the unprecedented tranquillity—produced 17 coercion ! But they could make out no case against the con- tinuance of Lord Clarendon's powers ; and Mr. John O'Connell's attempt to get rid of the Ministerial proposal by the sidewind of an "Inquiry," was supported by no more than 18 to 2.21. The powers are to be continued—very properly; and a restoration of Ireland to the unqualified use of constitutional law is postponed. Sir Charles Wood asks for another grant—of only 50,0001. No large sum, certainly ; but the statements in support of it indi- cate such an utterly disorganized condition of society—extensive dePepulation, with pauperized labourers, penniless landlords, and lands waste—that aid must be as necessary for months to come, at least, as it is now. The proposal to make the grant received some support ; but Mr. Hume and other Members objected to the waste of English money on a system of grant as inter- minable as it is resultless ; and while some Irish Members clamoured for more, Mr. Stafford plainly avowed that such help is useless and thankless. Sir James Graham supported the grant, because it appeared to be necessary for the immediate rescue of life ; but he declared it must be the last of the series. This raised a howl from some Irish Members, and perplexed some English,—until they heard Sir James's reason. It must be the last of the series, he said, because the state of Ireland peremp- torily demands comprehensive and effectual measures, including Measures to supply present aid in a less questionable mode. This important warning wrung from Lord John Russell the plain con- fession that Ministers have no plan for Ireland—nothing but some proposal to tinker the Poor-law ; and he would not pledge himself to stand by that ! A more humiliating exhibition, than the Pre- mier thus confessing the barrenness of his resources, could not be displayed in the national council. The Protectionists tried to make a kind of demonstration on the report of the Address ; and it proved to be a ludicrous failure. The Marquis of Granby was the leader, but he could muster nothing of a more imposing character than complaints that the agricultural interest had been neglected ; and his followers could not improve upon him. They ventured no division, no amend- ment; they have not power even to chastise Mr. Disraeli for being so convenient an antagonist to the colleagues of Lord Pal- merston; they could take up no bolder or more advanced position than the voluntary defeat of Lord Stanley last week—a subject of gossiping wonderment in political circles : it is understood that two Protectionist Peers fled from the division on the Address, at the instance of Lord Stanley, lest he should be embarrassed by victory. The Protectionists labour under that lowest political de- bility, a destitution of plan ; they are more destitute even than the Ministers.