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and the wounds they would leave, on the minds of the people. On all these considerations he could not say “content” to the second bill. As to the first, it certainly was better than that passed in 1812, and therefore it was not a measure on which he should express that abhorrence and detestation with which he viewed the system of coercion about to be established. The Marquis of Buckingham should not ot to this bill, because it was not one for disarming the people, but for preventing them from using their arms against the constitution. He agreed with the noble lord in thinking that one of the great mischiefs that arose from ill designing persons creating alarm in the country, was the necessity of giving a great preponderance of power to the crown. But they must either make sacrifices to obviate this difficulty, or compromise the safety of the state by not checking those whose object it was to overturn it. The noble marquis concluded with some reflections upon the advocates of monary reform in the Ouse, Lord Holland disclaimed hav. ing made any allusion to the subject. The Duke of Susser complained that the noble lord misrepresented that side of the House as friends to the radical reformers. He did not agree with those who approved of all the measures roposed, but he should concur in the bills at present under their lordships' consideration. The Marquis of Lansdowne thought it his duty to concur in
some of the measures before the House, solely on the ground of necessity. He however thought it extremely dangerous to give any man the power of entering the House of another by night, and that, if possible, it would be expedient to avoid giving it. The Earl of Darlington believed that in his official capacity his name had already been introduced to notes and documents laid on their lordships' table. He had gone so far as to say, that if measures of coercion were not resorted to, a rising would take place in that part of the kingdom. Since he had come to attend his duty in that House, he had received intelligence, which he believed to be true, that prepara
tions were made for rising in
arms, and he had no doubt that at that moment, while they were deliberating on those bills, many deliberations of a treasonable nature were carrying on in the northern part of Durham and the southern part of Northumber
land. That being the case, it
was their lordships’ duty to endeavour to find out the persons who were plotting against the constitution; otherwise they would go on to mature their measures of danger. There were certainly parts of these bills which created great hesitation in his mind; nay, perhaps some parts which ought to be rejected, He also professed himself friendly to inquiry; but the general tenor of this and the other bills re
ceived his assent. The Earl of Strathmore thought it his duty to mention some alarming particulars which he had that morning received from the No. C He said he knew there were fourteen or fifteen thousand men on the banks of the Wear and of the Tyne ready for rebellion; and if they were not prevented from procuring arms, he had no doubt they would rise as soon as their plans were ripe for execution. He was glad he had not the same account to give of the south and southwest parts of Durham. There, on the contrary, as well as in the northern part of Yorkshire, the people had gladly come forward in defence of the law. Dec. 4. The House of Lords resolved itself into a committee on the seizure of arms and training bill, when, after a few remarks from some noble lords, and the proposal of two amendments; the #. that two magistrates should be required to authorise a search; the second, that searches should not take place by night, both which were negatived, the House resumed. It afterwards went into a committee on the training bill, which was read clause by clause. Dec. 7... The report on the training bill was received by the House of Lords, after a strong speech against the measure b EarlGrey, who, though admitting . the fact that the radical reformers were both numerous and active in the counties of Northumberland and Durham, maintained however that the alarms which had prevailed were in great measure unfounded, and that no necessity had been shown for the enactment of the present bill. An opposite view of the subject was taken by the Earl of Strathmore. The bill finally passed the House of Peers, as did the
seizure of arms bill, against which however the following protest was
made :“Because the right of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, is secured to British subjects by the ancient laws of these realms, is declared to be so by the Bill of Rights, and is, in the words of Mr.Justice Blackstone, “a public allowance of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppres
“Because no sufficient evidence has been laid before the House to prove “that arms and weapons of various sorts have in various arts of the kingdom been colected, and are kept for purposes dangerous to the public peace.” We doubt the fact, and we distrust the remedy. If arms have really been procured for such illegal purposes, the persons engaged in these criminal designs will have had ample notice, before this bill can pass, to remove them to places of concealment. Whilst this power, therefore, is likely to be in a great degree inefficient with respect to its professed object, it is liable to be most injuriously and vexatiously used in cases where arms may have been provided and kept for the legitimate purposes of self
defence. “Because, in former periods of much greater danger to the crown and constitution of these realms, when conspiracies by the adherents of the House of Stuart were known to be directed against both, when preparations Were were making for rebellion with the assistance of France, when men of the highest rank, station and influence in both kingdoms, were deeply engaged in these designs; nay, during two formidable rebellions in 1715 and 1745, no such power was granted to the crown; yet the new line of succession was defended, and our free constitution successfully maintained against all these dangers. The P. of the Revolution had been too firmly imprinted in the hearts and minds of our ancestors to allow them, on the spur of any emergency, however alarming, to hazard the existence of a right which they had so recently asserted. “Because this law is, in its very nature, peculiarly liable to abuse. Interest, credulity, malevolence, revenge, party violence and indiscreet zeal may, equally with a sense of duty, contribute to call it into action; and the powers iven for its execution, of breaking either by day or night into any house or place where information may have been received that arms are kept for illegal purposes, must unavoidably exFo the persons and property of is Majesty's subjects to injury and violence, which cannot be sufficiently guarded against b the provisions made in the o for that purpose. This is not a rmere apprehension. Experience
proves that such effects may be expected from it. In Ireland, it is well known, nothing more contributed to irritate the people, and to provoke acts of private resentment and revenge, than the abuses which took place, and particularly the insults which were offered to women, in the exercise of a similar power.
Because we further object to the enactment of this law as part of a system which, in a season of unexampled distress and misery, rejecting every proposition for conciliation or concession, rests on force alone for the suppression of the prevailing discontent, and is calculated to give additional weight to an opinion already too generally entertained —that the parliament is more ready to presume against the people and to enact laws for their restraint, than to attend to their just complaints and to af. ford them that protection which they have a right to claim against every species of injustice and oppression.
VAss AL Holland.
WENTwoRTH FITzwill IAM.
Seizure of Arms Bill in the House of Commons.—Training Bill passed in the Commons.—Blasphemous and Seditious Libel Bill in the House of Lords—Protests.—Libel Bill in the House of Commons.—Seditious Meetings Bill in the House of Commons.— The same in the House of Lords—Protest.—Lord John Russell's Motion for Reform in Parliament—House of Commons.—Newspaper Stamp Bill in the House of Commons.—The same in the
House of Lords.
II? USE of Commons, Dec. 14. On a motion to go into a Committee on the Seizure of Arms Bill, Mr. Lambton moved, that the provisions of the Bill should not extend to the county of Durham, affirming that there was no necessity for such a measure in that county, as all the allegations on which it was at first proposed to extend it there, had been disproved. He had been assured that there were no arms among the colliers, as had been said. After a few observations, the motion was negatived without a division. Mr. Birch proposed a similar exemption for Nottingham, where he said that the distress was indeed great, but borne with exemplary patience. This suggestion was supported by Lord Ranzliffe and Mr. Denman, but was also negatived. After some remarks from Mr. Protheroe in favour of the measure, and some strong ones from the Hon. T. W. Anson against it, the House went into a committee on the bill, which was read a first time.
Mr. H. G. Bennet then rose. He said that in the year 1817 a measure had been proposed respecting the seizure of arms which he had opposed, on the principle that the distinctive difference between a freeman and a slave was the right to carry arms, not so much to defend his person as his liberty. One of the provisions of this bill was, that on information on oath, any justice might-grant a warrant for the search. To this he strongly objected, on a conviction that even in the best and most moderate times such a power would be unsafe and improper; and in the present temper of men's minds in the manufacturing districts, he knew not but it might be highly dangerous. He was very certain that at Manchester persons might sign these warrants to whom he, at least, would be the furthest from intrusting them. Then, how were these warrants to be executed 2 They were to have a power to enter houses by day or night to search for arms. As a free-born Englishman,-born so indeed, but how long he might continue |
continue so he really now could not tell,—he had no hesitation in saying, that the people never would submit to this enactment. He did not think that they were yet base enough to allow it to be carried into execution by armed force, violence, or the sword.— He thought nothing could be more horrible, more despotic, than this power to enter houses in the dead of night. Would gentlemen thus subject females in the dead of night and in bed to mecessary insults 2 Necessary, because however gently the warrant might be executed, the mere inspection was horrible. Was there one circumstance at the period of the French revolution which excited more disgust and horror than the domiciliary visits? And what was the difference between these and such as would be authorized under this act P Afterall, he did not believe that magistrates would find any arms. He should move as an amendment, that “two justices” be substituted to “any justice,” and that the words “ or by night” be omitted, and the words “by day only,” be substituted. Lord Castlereagh in reply remarked, that ... gentleman was more disposed to look at this measure with the utmost alarm as an infringement of the rights and liberties of the people, than as a protection to those rights or security to families. That hon. gentleman seemed disposed never to regard this er any other question otherwise than as if he were invariably jealous of the magistracy and the laws of his country. An idea also prevailed that such
measures were withoutaprecedent.
in the history of the country : yet in the year 1812 a measure of much more extraordinary rigour and harshness had been promulgated, in which however he had the assistance of several members
on the opposite side of the House.
He would state his conviction that if the power complained of were not given to a single magistrate, it would be entirely ineffectual : the delay in finding another magistrate might render the search unsuccessful. Nothing either was more likely to fail than search by day, or to succeed, if information were correct, than search by night. The means of communication were so organised and complete among the disaffected, that the magistrates could not move by day without their knowing it; and so, of course, the whole object would be lost. He did not mean to say that this was not a very strong measure; God forbid he should l He did not mean to say that this was not an enormous power. But, then it was a choice of evils—a question whether they would give a strong power to 3. legislature to protect the peaceable people, or leave them a prey to another power, tyrannical and destruc
tive. The noble lord concluded