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Meeting of Parliament- Discussions in the House of Commons on the
choice of a Speaker-Re-election of Mr. Manners Sutton-King's Speech at the opening of the Session - Debate of four days in the House of Commons, on the Address—Amendments moved by Mr. O'Connell, and Mr. Tennyson, both lost Address proposed by Mr.Cobbett rejected - New Regulations for the business of the House proposed and adopted -Case of Mr. Pease-admitted to take his seat on giving his solemn Affirmation as a Quaker, instead of taking the Oaths.
AS the meeting of the first House of Commons. Scarcely A reformed parliament ap- more numerous were the Conproached, public attention was servatives who held that the directed with some anxiety to- democratic part of the constituwards its probable temper and tion had been rendered by far too deliberations. The result of the powerful, and were prepared to general election, so far as the resist the application of this new sentiments of the persons elected power as an instrument for overcould be ascertained, had shown turning other institutions of the that the party which was inclined country, and unsettling the whole to go extravagant lengths in frame of government. The great overturning existing institutions, majority of the house consisted of and which was termed the party members inclined to follow and of the Radicals or Destructives, support the ministry; and as would form a minority in the there seldom could be an occasion VOL. LXXV.
on which the two divisions of the directly a mere organ for bringing opposition, differing more from external impulses to act upon the each other than either of them government—that the House of did from the ministry, could be Lords must never more be allowed expected to unite, every thing to exercise an independent voice seemed to promise that the go- in the legislature—and that every vernment would be omnipotent in demand of the larger constituenparliament. Their measures might cies now created, or of still larger fall far short of what was expect- assemblies which were not coned and desired by the lovers of stituencies, would be readily confarther innovations, and might go ceded. It was substantial advanfar beyond what the conservatives tages like these, which alone gave deemed safe or expedient; but the Reform Bill any value in the the ministers were sure of being eyes of the great mass of the joined by the one of those parties people ; and, in the elections, many to overcome the resistance or members had pledged themselves check the fervour of the other. to measures which no sober governTo one danger, indeed, ministers ment could ever think of proposing. were exposed- a danger, however, The expectations thus raised, could which they themselves had created, not be realized ; and popular dis-their performances must either appointment could not fail to injure fall greatly short of what they the popularity of ministers. But had promised, and produce disap- this was a misfortune which they pointment, or they must throw had brought upon themselves-a themselves, to support their popu- consequence to which every man larity, into a career of dangerous must submit, who pampers popular and unconstitutional change on delusions, or flatters popular exwhich they did not wish volun- aggerations, in order that he may tarily to enter. The public agita- effect an immediate and special purtion which they had created and pose. In the House of Lords, which fostered in the great mass of the ministers themselves had taught people, for the purpose of carrying the people to treat with contempt the Reform Bill, had produced ex- and violent menacing defiance, the travagant expectations, that the majority was still hostile to them, meeting of a reformed parliament and they were well aware that no would necessarily be followed by measure of dangerous innovation the redress of everything deemed could be carried through it without a grievance, and the cure of every- risking its destruction and a po. thing called an evil- that all pular convulsion. All, or nearly taxes complained of would forth- all, the sixteen representative peers with disappear—that the corne returned by the nobility of Scotland laws would fall to make way for were conservative; and government cheap bread, that the wages of preceded the opening of the Seslabour would be increased, while sion by the creation or promotion the price of all things necessary to of seven ministerial peers. The the support, or comfortable en- marquises of Stafford and Clevejoyment, of life would be reduced land became dukes of Sutherland --that further political changes, and Cleveland. The marquis of too, would be adopted, rendering Conyngham and viscount Falkthe House of Commons still more land were made British peers. The marquis of Tavistock, eldest politics, and to make out that no son of the duke of Bedford, and money would be saved, as they lord Stanley, eldest son of the held he would be entitled both earl of Derby, were made barons ; to his salary and his pension. and Mr. Western, the defeated As the intention of ministers ministerial candidate for one of had not been kept concealed, Mr. the divisions of the county of Hume took the lead against them, Essex, at the general election, was by moving that Mr. Littleton, consoled for his disappointment one of the members for Staffordby receiving a peerage under the shire, should take the chair. Ada title of Baron Western.
mitting the preeminent qualificaThe parliament was opened by tions of Mr. Sutton for the office, commission on the 29th of January, he objected to him that, as he had and the Commons immediately been an opponent of the Reform proceeded to the election of a Bill, the house, if he were elected, Speaker. When Mr. Manners would have a Speaker entertaining Sutton, the former Speaker, re- sentiments at variance with its signed the chair on the last proro- own. It was of the highest imgation of the preceding parlia- portance, he argued, that the ment, an act had been passed for Speaker should concur in the same granting him a pension of 4,0001. general political sentiments with a year; but ministers had not the majority of the members. thought fit to grant him a peerage, The people had enjoyed a greater a mark of honour usually bestowed share in electing the present paron those who had filled the chair liament than any of its predeof the house for so long a period, cessors; they thus were more during such important discussions, immediately connected than forand with such distinguished ap- merly with the appointment of the plause from all parties. At the Speaker; and it was therefore general election, he had been re- more necessary than heretofore turned as one of the members for that the Speaker should have opinthe university of Cambridge; and ions in common with the majority ministers having obtained his con- of those who were to elect bim. sent to put him in nomination, It was fair to assume, that a maresolved to support his election to jority of the house was decidedly the chair in the new parliament, favourable to reform. Ought They thought that the new con- they not, then, to have one prestitution of the house rendered the siding over them whose general aid of an experienced guide pe- political opinions were in unison culiarly necessary; and they could with their own? Was it possible gain for themselves the praise of for any reformer not to believe economy, as the country would that circumstances might occur, thus have to pay only the salary in which, without being conscious of a Speaker actually filling the of it himself, a bias might exist in office, instead of being likewise the mind of an individual preburdened with the pension of a siding over that house which retired Speaker. On the other might be prejudicial to the success hand, the more violent reformers of measures of reform-a bias had resolved to oppose the election arising from his own conscientious of Mr. Sutton on the score of his objections to reform ? He was far from imputing any thing like manner in which he had disunfairness to the former Speaker ; charged his duties in the house, but he put it as a general propo- session after session, to ascertain sition, that a man holding con- whether he was qualified or not. scientiously political opinions quite No candidate, on the four or five opposed to those of the body over last nominations of a new Speaker, whom he presided could not ex- could have boasted of previous expect to enjoy the confidence of perience equal to that with which that body. No man could dispute Mr. Littleton would enter on the the necessity of choosing a person office. His station in life, too, who should have the full con- and his fortune, were important fidence of the house and of the things to be looked at, as they country. But was it possible that gave a guarantee against pensions. the people could feel confidence in As to the economical view of the an individual opposed, however con- case, Mr. Hume considered any scientiously, to the reform which such paltry and trifling considerathey so ardently desired, or in the tion beneath the dignity of the house properly discharging its du- house, when the furthering or ties, if it made such a choice? He, retarding of the public interests for his own part, could not have was at stake. Besides, although confidence in it; and if the house he had not seen the act regulating elected an anti-reformer to fill the the retiring allowance of the late chair, the people of England Speaker, he had been informed would look upon it as the result that, according to its wording, if of their fear of the anti-reformers the house should re-elect Mr. in the other house, or as a com- Sutton, that gentleman would promise between the two parties. still be entitled to his pension of Dissatisfaction could not fail to be 4,0001. The pension was to cease excited, when ministers thus gave only on his getting an appointup the only honourable appoint- ment from the crown ; but this ment that was in the gift of the was an appointment from the people; all other appointments people. being in the hands of the crown. Mr. O'Connell, who seconded It was impossible to reconcile any Mr. Hume's motion, at once deman's mind to the sincerity of nounced the intention of governthose who held out to the people ment as “ another instance of the that they would carry into effect paltry truckling of the present all the consequences of the Reform administration." The question Bill, when they placed in the was nothing else than this-were chair a person whose opinions they to elect a tory Speaker, or a were directly opposed to the bill Speaker favourable to reform? and to all its consequences. On There was a considerable degree the contrary, it would be taken of fitness in both the gentlemen for granted that little was to be proposed, and the question was, expected from representatives who whether a reformed house of comcould make such a selection. In mons was to have a reformer or a Mr. Littleton the house would tory for its Speaker ;--of wbat find talent, experience, and great advantage was the Reform Bill if aptitude for business. It was it did not put down toryism in only necessary to appeal to the England ? The bill was intended
to destroy toryism, and to protect Sutton should take the chair. the public property, of which no They insisted on the admitted fact body of individuals had received that, in so far as the possession of more than the family of Mr. all the qualities required for the Sutton, which at one time had office was concerned, the house commanded he knew not how would be a gainer, if Mr. Sutton many rotten boroughs. The were again called to preside over late Speaker himself had given its deliberations. Looking to the good service for his salary, which change which had taken place in was certainly a large one, but the constitution of Parliament, the then he had been tasked harder source of so much hope to some, than a factory child. Still, how- of displeasure to others, and to all ever, there was no family in the a matter of extensive speculation ; kingdom, different members of it was most advisable, for expediting which had received so much of the business of the house, for sethe public money for no service curing regularity and maintaining whatever. Would it not then be order, that they should borrow all the triumph of toryism to place the assistance in their power from in the chair a gentleman who sup- a gentleman of such long practical ported such principles? Ministers experience and tried ability. The had sent their letters abroad, and only objection stated was, that he the situation had been offered did not hold the same political before it was asked. The people opinions with the majority of the had been struggling, almost to re- house. This circumstance was bellion, to get rid of the tory fac- rather in his favour, since no man tion ; and yet the House of Com- could even insinuate that that mops was about to place a tory in gentleman's political sentiments its chair, as the first step towards had ever been allowed to bias his the extinction of tory principles: conduct in presiding candidly and He protested, therefore, against impartially over the deliberations this relapse into toryism, carried of the house. It was only necessary by a conservative majority; and to recollect the great struggles he would venture to prophecy, regarding the reform bill, during that this would not be the last the whole course of which the time the house would see such a Speaker had never made any differcombination to resist principle. ence between one member and Neither was the proposal even another. It was no disparagement economical. He believed that Mr. to Mr. Littleton not to be preSutton had already received two ferred to such a competitor. Neiquarters of his pension; and the ther he, nor any other member, be pension, having once been re- their merits what they might, cognized, would go on till he re- could be a just competitor with ceived an office from the King. Mr. Sutton, because, allowing the Mr. Sutton might make a volun- intellectual and moral qualities of tary sacrifice of it; but, as the each party to be equal, the long law stood, he might retain it, as practical experience of the latter well as draw the salary.
put all competition entirely out of On the other side, Lord Morpeth the question. At a time of diffimoved, and Sir Francis Burdett culty in the eyes of all, the chair seconded the motion, that Mr. ought to be filled, not by one of