NEWS OF THE WEEK.
IRELAND has again been the leading topic in Parliament ; and Mr. &arm O'BRIEN contrived to give some breadth and completeness to his treatment of the subject. In moving for inquiry into the causes of the present discontent, with a view to remedies, his speech was an elaborate exposition of the injuries, the wants, and the claims of Ireland. He somewhat weakened the force of his argument, by mixing up the general case—the misrule of Ireland by English Governments "for seven centuries," as Mr. O'CONNELL phrases it—with a particular case against the present Administration. The general case was made out very well ; but the particular case was a failure. He admitted that the acts of the Government had not caused the existing condition of the country ; and of proximate causes of discontent, many which he enumerated belonged to the late Administration. His speech contracted the look of an attack on the present Ministers confessedly undeserved; for although they were censured for a variety of small negations and indiscretions, the real evil was referred to history. ,There was a like inappositeness about the Government reply. Seizing the weak part of Mr. O'BRisn's attack, Lord ELIOT repeated at each point, 4‘ Thou canst not say that I did it" : which was true enough ; but what then? Ministers are exonerated from having caused the state of Ireland, but not from neglecting remedies. Lord Eraor said that some of the causes are social rather than political : again, what then ? social evils are more difficult and delicate to treat, but it is the duty of a government to deal with all evils affecting the condition of a people. National regimen is not, any more than individual regimen, limited to the control and directing of particular classes of acts. It does not become the head to say to the limbs, The disease which affects you has moral causes rather than disorder of financial or domestic affairs and therefore brain will not interfere, but leave limbs to run whither they will, on that score. It is true that the condition of Ireland is attributable to causes in active operation generations and centuries ago ; but so long as it remains unremedied, any Government which happens to be in is justly liable to be called upon for a beginning in the endeavour to amend it. 'The anomalous state of Ireland is the opprobrium of every Administration that bequeaths it to its successors unaltered in essentials —to Sir ROBERT PEEL'S among the number, if on relinquishing office he leave his own Cabinet to be added to the list.
Although the Church of Scotland Benefices Bill has passed the Committee in the House of Lords, the debate was one of the most damaging exposures that the Government has endured—all for the sake of its Scotch member, Lord ABERDEEN. The general policy of the measure for instituting a modified imitation of the Veto Act is still a disputed point, and nothing has been said by Ministers to settle it. They assert, that if they do not pass the bill more people will secede from the Established Church ; which is all their reason for proposing a measure of the kind. The grounds which they advance for its particular provisions were triumphantly demolished on Monday. Lord ABERDEEN cited the opinion of Scotch Judges, quoting extracts from private letters ; and the astute Law Lords remark that they have not seen the context. Among other authorities, Lord ABERDEEN quoted the favourable opinion given byLord CORE.. HOUSE, best known as Mr. CRANSTOUN it now turns out it was drawn from the retired Judge at a time when his faculties were enfeebled by sickness, and in recovered health he recals and reverses that Opinion. Lord ABERDEEN professed to defer to the decision of the House of Lords in the Auchterarder decision, but making light of the " reasons " given by the Lords who delivered that judgment— reasons which -militate against his bill : the offended Law Lords evoke the Lord Chancellor, who avows his unqualified adoption of the " reasons" which his colleague desires to set aside. But, to reconcile the difficulty, Lord IIENDIICIEST ingeniously creates another : the bill, he says, declares it to be the law of Scotland that the power of objecting to candidates is unlimited, but other parts of the bill provide that the objections Shall prevail only with strict limitations. This is highly amusing : the people of Scotland, says Lord LYNDHURST, may object to the heart's content—this bill says that is the law ; but then it is not the law that all those objections shall be confirmed. Lord BROUGHAM exposed this absurdity. By a new arrangement, only the beginning of the bill is made declaratory; so that the absurdity is yet greater, for the bill declares such to be law, while it expressly withholds provisions for enforcing the law thus declared ! By the help of Lord LYNDRURiT'S explanation, we understand that his colleague is solemnly enacting a reduetio ad absurdum. Lord COITENHAM asked where the law was to be found that the bill declares ? In the Act of 1690, said some one. Why, that was repealed by the Act of 1711, still in force ; so that this " declaratory " law repeals another existing law. Lord DENMAN asked where was the use of " declaring " the law : if the law is as the bill declares, why not leave it to the Judges to declare it ?—he supposed the reason was, because the law is not as the bill declares. Lord ABERDEEN, however, says that the Scotch Judges, whose authority he cites, must know best what is Scotch law. But Lord BaouGHim answers, the House of Lords is the Court of Appeal over the Scotch Judges, and must be assumed to know best of all. The House affirmed, by a political majority, a declaration of law adverse to the decision of the House itself in its judicial capacity—adverse to the undiaguisable opinion of the chief Law Lord ; and it goes down to the Commons recommended by those testimonials, and by the anxious desire of the Foreign Secretary, now legislating on affairs foreign only in the sense of not belonging to his own department. A measure more utterly destitute of authoritative recommendation never was introduced for the sport of amateur lawmakers.
The Canada Wheat Bill has passed the critical discussion in the House of Lords, unscathed. Lord STANHOPE opposed it ;
II4GEAM and RICHMOND affording him a feeble support. Lord RADNOR lent himself to the unworthy caprice which makes the League party oppose a good measure because it is not precisely in their way of going to the same end. Lord MONTRIGLR made out great future results from the relaxation in the Corn-law by the admission of grain-food from America and Canada. And so the bill is safe ; the debate of the Lords having chiefly served to show that even in that House the mere agriculturists have sunk to a comparatively powerless clique.
The Stade-duties have sustained their annual attack from Mr. Horr. It was to be expected that Ministers would deal tenderly with the wrongheaded councils of Hanover, whose Sovereign boasts himself a member of their party in England—an ornamental unit in their majority : and in point of fact they have not cleared themselves from the suspicion.