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unprincipled foreign confederation. And though I do not for a moment pretend to conceal my deep regret at still continuing the suspension of the Act, I think the Parliament and the country and all sides must find great consolation in this result, that in an enlightened age of temperate opinions the suspension of the Habeas Corpus has not been found inconsistent with a just, impartial, and even lenient administration of the law. I trust and believe that the agitations which prevail in Ireland are disappearing, and will soon altogether disappear; and that then the House will proceed to introducing and carrying measures for the amelioration of the condition of the country. I do not doubt that they will proceed with circumspection ; and if they proceed with an anxious desire to conciliate the enlightened and temperate opinions of all parties, they will be successful in greatly enhancing the prosperity of the country and the happiness of its people. I will not dwell in detail upon these matters, because the few observations I may make may be misrepresented, and that should be avoided on occasions like the present, and the interest which the House feels upon the subject should not be frittered away. We have now an important debate immediately on hand on the whole condition of Ireland. My noble friend the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant will take occasion in debate to state our general policy with regard to Ireland, and if it is not approved we shall be prepared to vindicate it. It has been stated in my absence, with great justice, that there has been an unfortunate delay in the progress of business. No doubt the occurrence of an autumnal Session, and the unfortunate changes in the Government, have rendered such delay inevitable; but so long as I continue to conduct the business of this House the House may rest assured that there shall be no lack of energy or want of labour on the part of the Government.

Mr. Bouverie made some comments on the address of the Prime Minister, and upon the present position of parties in the House. Mr. Disraeli had spoken of following “the policy of Lord Derby.” He should like to be informed what that policy was - whether it was that which he announced two years ago, or that which he followed last year. Mr. Disraeli had fairly earned his position, but at the same time it must be remarked that the Government was too weak in Parliamentary power, and that it had not a majority to carry on the business of the country in the

manner in which it ought to be carried on. It was weak in Lord Derby's time ; it was made still weaker by his retirement, for he was the keystone of the arch. He did not blame the right hon. gentleman, but members on his own side of the House. The Liberal party did not deserve to be called a party. They had leaders who could not lead, and followers that would not follow.

After some further observations, the House proceeded with the business of the day.

A change in the procedure of the House of Lords which was agreed to early in the present Session is deserving of notice as

a not unimportant step affecting the privileges of that body, which was adopted by its own act, and in concession to the ideas and feelings of the time. A Select Committee of the peers had been appointed to consider the propriety of certain changes designed to carry on the business of the House in a more efficient manner. The most important of these alterations related to the practice of voting by proxy in divisions, which was peculiar to the Upper House of Parliament, and the Report of the Committee on this point was in favour of the discontinuance of the practice.

The Earl of Malmesbury, in moving their Lordships to take the Report of the Committee into consideration, entered at some length into the origin and object of the privilege." The right,” he said,

enjoyed by peers of being represented in that House by proxies when unable to attend personally, was a very ancient and historical one, and it belonged to the estate of the peerage in the same way as the privilege of sending their proxies to the other House belonged to the estate of the Commons. The members of the other House were in reality the proxies of the estate of the Commons. In the primeval days when our Constitution originated the estates of the realm were three, or, as some said, two. First, there was the Church, which was represented by the archbishops and bishops, and next the lay peers. Those two estates, not being very large, could easily meet under the same roof. But of course that was not the case with the Commons, who were too multitudinous to assemble in one place, and they accordingly sent to Parliament their representatives, or, in other words, their proxies. No doubt, then, the committee had stated correctly that it was a privilege of the peers to send their proxies to that House in the same way as the Commons sent the proxies of their estate to the House of Commons. The committee, however, considered whether any change should be made in regard to that practice. There were certain precedents for interference with it, in so far as orders of the House regulating the exercise of the privilege were concerned. When proxies were used in the reign of Charles II., the Duke of Buckingham, who was not very scrupulous, brought more than twenty proxies in his pocket, and an order was made that no peer should bring more than two proxies. The Report of the Select Committee, therefore, said that a peer could hold no more than two proxies, which, moreover, could not be used in committee; and, again, proxies must also be entered by a certain hour of the day. All that showed that the House, by orders of its own, regulated the use of proxies. The inconvenience attending proxies was discussed in the Select Committee; and it was thought that their lordships' House would be more popular, and would enjoy more confidence with the country in respect to its decisions, if that privilege were waived, inasmuch as those who were not present at the debates were not supposed to have a full knowledge of the points on which they would have to vote. On the other hand, there were many members of their lordships' House who,


though prevented from being present by illness or through employment under the Crown, were yet perfectly cognizant of what was going on there, and capable of giving an opinion on subjects brought before Parliament. Such-a case it would be easy to find at the present moment in the late Prime Minister (Lord Derby), whom nobody could say was not as capable of giving his opinion on a political question as if he were then sitting in that House.

The same remark might apply to some of our Ambassadors at foreign Courts. The committee, however, though divided in opinion, decided that, on the whole, it would be preferable to put an end to the use of proxies, and that an order of the House should be adopted to that effect. They further recommended that, to prevent that order from being lightly suspended, twice the usual length of notice should be given of any motion for its suspension.' The noble earl concluded by moving that the recommendation contained in the Report of the Select Committee be agreed to.

The Earl of Carnarvon said that his noble friend had argued in favour of proxies, but had concluded by asking their lordships to vote their abandonment. There would not, he thought, be much difference of opinion among their lordships on this subject. His noble friend said the committee had come to a decision to abandon proxies, because the use of them was not popular out of doors. But his impression was that the feeling of the committee had not so much reference to the question of their being popular or not, as that proxies were a source of weakness rather than strength, and that they were a form of proceeding that could never be used in any circumstances of real difficulty or emergency. It would be as impossible for their lordships to pass any important measure simply and solely by the votes of the absentees as for the lay lords to interfere with the judicial proceedings of that House. That was not a time to lean on fictitious support, and the committee had therefore wisely determined to abolish the use of proxies. The whole character and use of proxies had undergone a great change within the last century. Formerly proxies could not be used except under royal licence, which was granted to peers engaged in the discharge of high and important State duties. Now they did not depend on the royal consent, but were exercised as the privilege of individual peers, who used them as they thought best for their own convenience. The tediousness of communication between the different parts of the kingdom was another ground on which proxies might have been justified in other days. It appeared to him, however, that all the reasons that formerly existed in favour of the use of proxies had disappeared. He should have preferred to see proxies more definitely abandoned, but as, if the present motion was carried, their lordships could never revert to the use of them, he for one should be quite content to accept the motion.

Lord Redesdale said that with respect to proxics, he thought the prejudice against them unreasonable, and that the system was a more sensible one than that which would necessarily be substituted, viz. pairing. At a later period of the year an announcement was often made that two members of the other House had paired for the remainder of the Session, but in many instances those gentlemen might have voted on the same side. It was surely better for an absent peer to entrust a proxy to a person in whom he reposed confidence, so that his vote might not be lost on any important occasion. Since, however, the majority of the committee, and probably of their lordships, were opposed to the use of proxies, he should not oppose the resolution.

Earl Stanhope gave credit to the noble lord (Redesdale) for consistency, he having both in the committee and on this occasion objected to the discontinuance of proxies. He could not, however, agree with him that pairing was equally open to exception, for there was this important difference, that the addition of a certain number of pairs to both the majority and the minority made no difference in the result, whereas the use of proxies might lead to a decision the reverse of what would otherwise have been given. Indeed, this happened on the last occasion when proxies were used -namely, on the motion of the noble earl (Malmesbury) on the affairs of Denmark and Germany. The majority of the peers present were satisfied with the defence of the Government of the day, but proxies being called for-most unwisely, in his judgment - the majority of the peers absent decided the division against the Government.

Lord Lyveden thought that the abandonment of proxies was a necessary concession to public opinion. After some further discussion the following Standing Order was agreed to :

Ordered, that the practice of calling for proxies on a division shall be discontinued, and that two days' notice be given of any motion for the suspension of this order.

The discontinuance of proxies was thus placed on the foundation of a Standing Order, which it is at the discretion of the House at any time by its own resolution to suspend. It may be anticipated, however, that the occasion for such a suspension will very rarely, if ever, occur in practice.

Among the earliest measures brought in by the Government was one designed to effect an important practical reform in the administration of criminal justice. The execution of capital sentences in public had for some time past been strongly condemned by public opinion on account of the scandalous and revolting scenes with which these spectacles were attended, the lawlessness and brutality of the crowds which they brought together, and the tendency of the exhibition rather to degrade and harden the minds of the spectators than to produce any ameliorating or deterrent effect. The Report of a Committee of the House of Commons, which investigated this subject, confirmed the prevailing impression of the public mind, and induced the Government to bring in a measure for putting an end to the practice of executing in public. Mr. Gathorne Hardy, Secretary of State for the Home Department, introduced the Bill for this purpose, and explained the regulations and securities which would be adopted for giving assurance to the public that the sentence had been really carried into effect, a fact of which some thought it would be difficult to afford evidence that would satisfy the incredulous. A few members took exception to the measure, some on the ground of the loss of the deterring force of public example which the existing mode of execution afforded, others from a desire to abolish capital punishment altogether. One of the most earnest opponents of the latter class was Mr. Gilpin, who, on the proposal to commit the Bill, moved, as an amendment

“ That it is expedient that, instead of carrying out the punishment of death in prisons, capital punishment should be abolished.”

He said the question between him and those who were in favour of capital punishment was by what means they should prevent the crime of murder. Whilst other crimes for which capital punishment was formerly administered had decreased, the crime of murder, for which it was still retained, had increased. The first objection he had to this punishment was its essential injustice. He did not hesitate to say that there were many persons walking about red-handed amongst us who had been unquestionably guilty of murder, and who, if the punishment had been short of that of taking life, would have been found guilty and now be in prison. This arose from the unwillingness of jurors to convict. Evidence which would be considered sufficient if the punishment were merely imprisonment was properly regarded as insufficient when it involved the taking of life. Thus the guilty often escaped. On the other hand, it not unfrequently happened that innocent persons were executed, or were in danger of being executed, and of this he gave several instances.

Mr. Gregory opposed the motion. The punishment of death was the great deterrent. Of the eminent men who formed the commission of 1866 only four were in favour of the abolition of capital punishment. The Irish judges were unanimous for the retention of the punishment, as were also the English judges, with the exception of Mr. Justice Shee, and the opinion of all those who were best acquainted with the criminal class was that but for fear of the punishment of death the lives of police officers would not be safe from them.

Mr. J. S. Mill said it would be a great satisfaction to him if he were able to support this motion, for he always felt reluctance in voting against any measure which was proposed by what were called the philanthropists. He thought, however, that they were mistaken in the present case. When it was shown by clear evidence that a person was guilty of murder with atrocity, it appeared to him that to deprive that criminal of the life which he had forfeited was the most merciful and the most proper course to adopt. It was alleged that capital punishment did not prevent

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