28 MARCH 1829, Page 1


THE great measure of the session moves steadily to its completion in the House of Commons, supported by majorities of two or three to one. The Relief Bill reached all but the last stage, yesterday evening,

and it will be passed on Monday : the motion "that the bill with its amendments be engrossed," was supported, on the division, by

233 votes to 106. On Monday, Mr. BANKES had divided the Com-

mittee upon an amendment to the effect of excluding Catholics from Parliament—for the amendment 84, against it 207. Sir ROBERT Nous proposed that the words " ecclesiastical as well as

civil" should be added to the clause of the oath which bound Catholics to respect the present settlement of property—negatived by 276 to 114. Mr. ESTCOURT proposed that the words "the present Church establishment as established by law" should be inserted in the clause in which Catholics abjured all intention of interfering with the existing establishments—negatived by 262 to 99. On Tuesday, Mr. ROBERT DUNDAS, Sir ROBERT INGLIS, and Mr. TRA.NT attempted to exclude the clause which affected Scot- land, on the ground that it violated the Union Treaty, by admitting Papists to office—the amendment negatived by 158 to 45. The Marquis of CHANDOS moved that Catholics should be excluded from the office of First Lord of the Treasury,—(or Prime Minister,

as his Lordship understood cr by 218. The Irish Freehold Bill passed the Committee on Thursday. Mr. Moore moved various amendments—lst, To extend the opera- tion of the bill to all boroughs, cities, and corporate towns in ire- land: 2d, To except the Protestant forty-shilling freeholders from its operations : 3d, That the qualification should be raised from la. to 20/. The first and second amendments were withdrawn, and the last was negatived by 112 to 16. The debate last night was enlivened by a sally of Sir CHARLES WETHERELL, no longer the King's' Attorney-General. Colonel SIBTHORPE had proposed an amendment, to the effect that Ca- tholics should be excluded from the management of schools, alms- houses, or charitable institutions on Protestant foundations. After other members had shown the inconvenience of this, Sir CHARLES WETHERELL contended for the Protestantism of our schools, in a speech of some eccentricity, set off with great freedom of action, assisted by a copy of the bill which he wielded truncheon-wise. In one of its revolutions, it came in contact with the head of Mr. Bankes, who sat beside the member for Plymton. The acci- dent convulsed the House with laughter; and Sir Charles begged pardon of Mr. Bankes, assuring his honourable friend that he aimed no blow at him, but only at "this bill." The Marquis of BLA.NDFORD, it will be seen, proposes a serious coalition with the Parliamentary Reformers.

"The fact is, Sir, that this measure has been resolved upon by power. Those who so despotically wield the powers of the state have resolved to force this particular measure upon the -country, and, as the philosopher said to Adrian, Must we not yield to the man who commands twenty legions ?' Let what will, therefore, be our objections to this measure, or our purposes as to any other, they must give way to Cmsar and his regi- mented strength. But, if I am still -pressed for a proper measure, I would say, that, as the English constitution is the growth of popular feel- ing and conviction, an appeal should be made to the people for their sen- timents upon this threatened violation of it. Let the question go before the tribunal of public opinion—let the measure be sent to the hustings of every town and county of England—let the genuine voice of the people be heard—let their real sentiments be made known upon a fresh return of representatives, and this House would soon discover that the measure is odious to the nation ; and this great truth, strongly attested, would have a surprising effect in making the Cabinet exccwitate something better. But, Sir, we live in days a political experiment, and we daily 'witness established principles and acknowledged facts giving way to some gratis dictum about public expediency ; and a restless spirit of innova- tion, a spirit of gambling in codes and constitutions, seems to obtain, and is one of the strongly-marked signs of portentous events hurrying fast on to the fulness of their completion. For myself, Sir, I consider the whole of these measures to be an outrage upon common sense—an insult upon the understandins-a of the people. I consider this doctrine of an al- leged expediency to be a vile compromise of principle, and a base sur-

render of Protestant rights and Protestant interests to their unchanged and unchangeable foe ; and it is reserved for future pages of history to record these damningproofs of what weak or worthless statesmen may

be made to do by daring agitators and a Popish priesthood. 0. • *Is

I think the inevitable tendency of past events must lead to convince every

sober thinking man, every man who feels the now more than ever urgent necessity of watching over the institutions of the Protestant Church, that the hour is come in which it is not only expedient, but highly necessary, that we should, without delay, honestly and effectually enter upon the consideration of the question of Parliamentary Reform. I say this not in haste or petulance—I say it not in pique or anger—I say it not so much with reference to the fact, as from apprehensions I cannot but feel for the future. It is the expression of an opinion frequently entertained, but up to the present time not sufficiently matured for public avowal. It is a pledge of a disposition of mind which, in all sincerity, I tender to honour- able members advocates for that measure as a peace-offering for the un- compromising resistance which I oppose to this."

Innumerable petitions have been presented in both Houses, chiefly against concession. Last night, however, Lord HOLLAND presented nearly fifty in favour of concession. The discussions have this week been conducted with much greater temper. Lord ELDON begins to express alarm for the effects of the popular agi- tation ; at the same time, protesting that he had no hand in it. The Bishop of WINCHESTER has avowed his determination to support the Relief Bill ; for these reasons—that the question is one of pure politics, and though he dislikes the religion of the Roman Catholics, their politics are not liable to the same objec- tion; and that when the disabilities are removed, the Protestant religion will for the first time have fair play in Ireland.

This is just the doctrine of Dr. Chalmers at the great Edinburgh meeting; whose petition was presented in the Tprds last night by the Earl of HADDINGTON, and in the Comnions on Thursday by Sir JAMES MACKINTOSH. It was signed, Sir James • said, in six days, by about eight thousand persons.

"In opposition to the new democratists of the lower benches, I shall venture to assert that this petition emanates from the higher class of so- ciety in Edinburgh. It is signed by seven peers, sons of peers, or Privy Councillors ; by 25 Knights of the Bath and baronets ; by 155 landed gen- tlemen of considerable property ; by 150 practising advocates of the Scot- tish bar, leaving scarcely twelve names of any distinction in this class not appended to the petition, and completing that union, I am proud and happy to say, of the bar of Scotland with that of England, so worthily represented by my honourable and learned friend who is at the head of it, (Sir J. Scarlett)—a union, let me add, not merely between the English and Scotch bars, but with the Protestant and Catholic bar of Ireland, as evidenced by the petition presented by my honourable and learned friend —if he will allow me to call him so (Mr. Doherty). Thus we have the gene- ral consent of the legal profession in all parts of the British Islands, to show. that those odious and voluntary professors of constitutional law, who deal with crowns at their pleasure, may be mistaken in their opinions. I may add,that the petition is signed by fifty divines,comprehending dignitaries of the Church of England, and Ministers well known to be most usefully em- ployed in discharging their sacred duties in Edinburgh. It comprehends also the Presbyterian clergy,still more anti-papal than the Scotch divines of the - Seceding Church, all Protestants, and comprehended in that class which we call orthodox Dissenters. The petition is subscribed also by the Prin- cipal of the Metropolitan University, and by sixteen Professors of that renowned institution, making the great majority of that body ; by twenty- one bankers and officers of banking companies, in a city where it is well known that the banking business is the principal trade ; by six general officers and forty Colonels, and other officers in his Majesty's Army ; by thirty-two officers of the Royal Navy, including some flag officers; by 198 physicians and surgeons ; by about 600 gentlemen connected with various branches of the law, besides advocates ; and by nearly 250 respectable merchants and traders."

Mr. PEEL has resumed his useful labours of improving the ma- chinery of the administration of justice. His present cares are directed to the consadation and improvement of the laws relative to the qualification and jurisdiction of Justices of the Peace. The principal objects of a bill which lie brought in on Wednesday evening are-1st, To gather into one the scattered enactments of twenty- three statutes, making such amendments as the lapse of time and change of circumstances have rendered necessary : 2d, to raise the pecuniary qualification of a Justice of the Peace from 100/. to 300!.; but this is not to affect those who are now in the commission, and who may not be qualified to the larger amount : 3d, To abolish the distinction between Justices of the Quorum and other Justices: 4th, The bill gives power to a Magistrate to compel the attendance of witnesses ; and makes it imperative on Magistrates who issue a summons to hear the com- plaint: 5th, It provides for the holding of petty sessions through- out the country; and contains a form of conviction in all cases for which the law has not already provided : 6th, It requires of Magistrates to make returns of the lines and penalties imposed; and thus a correct statement will be obtained of the amount of this public property. Mr. Peel anticipates much benefit from the operation of this bill ; and with great candour he ascribes the merit of the mea- sure to Mr. Hobhouse, who some time since retired from public life. Some few objections were stated. Mr. HUME thought it absurd to make a man's income a test of his fitness to administer the laws. It was suggested by Mr. DAVENPORT, that young Magistrates.. should be compelled to attend the sessions in order td letiin their duty. Some objected to clergymen being placed on the bench as Magistrates ; but the practice was generally defended: Mr. PEEL said, no general rule could be laid down on the subject, but he was afraid the clergy could not he altogether dispensed with. The extravagant price of coals in London, has been brought before the House of Lords by the Marquis of LONDONDERRY. It appears that coals are put on board vessels in the Tyne and the Weir at from 16s. to 18s. per chaldron ; his Lordship allowed 1 O& more as the expense of bringing them to London, which raised the price to 26s. or 28s.; but it would seem that from 22s. to 24s. was levied upon them at the port of London, as they cost the public about 50s. each chaldron. The City of London were at pre- sent attempting to smuggle a bill through the House of Commons to make permanent the duties of 6d. and 4d. per chaldron, which they levied to defray the expense of the new approaches to London Bridge ; but which tax his Lordship was of opinion ought not to be allowed. Coals were this year is. cheaper at the pit than they were last year ; but they were no cheaper to the consumer. The Duke of WELLINGTON said that the price to the consumer was even higher than Lord Londonderry had stated, although the Government duty had been reduced from 9s. to 6s. He thought there must he some abuse in the coal trade to account for this ; and he readily assented to a Committee of inquiry,—through which he expected a reduction of price to the public, without injury to the revenue or the taxes levied by the City. Sir JAMES MACKINTOSH had intended to bring our relations with Portugal under review ; but he has delayed his motion till after the holidays. The silk weavers of Manchester and Salford have petitioned for the re-enactment of the prohibitory laws as a means of improving their condition. Ministers, however, are at present peremptorily opposed to any alteration. The fishermen of Cornwall want the imposition of the heavy old bounty on the ex- portation of pilchards. Some people at Bradford have petitioned for inquiry into the consequences of confining children in the worsted manufactories. For the benefit of those who compound for their assessed taxes, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has an- nounced that the composition act is to be renewed for one year more. Petitions are occasionally presented for their repeal alto- gether. The bill to suspend the Militia ballot has passed the C onnnons.