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penal servitude should be lengthened, so as to make it equal to the punishments of transportation, for which it had been substituted; and that the sentence might be carried out either by the infliction of penal servitude at home, or of transportation to Western Australia, where the colonists were still willing to accept convicts, on account of the difficulty of obtaining a sufficient number of labourers. Sir G. Grey, after explaining the circumstances under which the ticket-of-leave and the licensing systems, now both confounded under the general name of ticket-ofleave, had been adopted, and the extent to which they had been carried, pointed out that the real difficulty was not what they are to do when working out their sentence, but what they are to do after it has expired. The changes he proposed to introduce were these:
1. To lengthen the term of sentence of penal servitude to an equal duration with that of the periods of transportation for which they are substituted.
2. To give the judges a discretionary power to pass sentences of intermediate severity between those of ordinary imprisonment and the minimum of transportation.
3. To allow prisoners sentenced to penal servitude to be removed to certain colonies.
4. To continue the practice of mitigating sentences as a reward for good conduct in prison; but to restrict the range of their remission within much narrower limits than are now observed, while rendering the discharges, generally speaking, unconditional."
On Monday the 19th of February, the House of Commons was engaged in discharging the unusual duty of expelling a delinquent member-Mr. James Sadleir, member for Tipperary, whom plain-spoken Mr. Roebuck did not hesitate to stigmatise, and justly too, as a 'thief' and a 'swindler.' This honourable' gentleman, and his 'honourable' brother Mr. John Sadleir, member for Sligo, had been deeply concerned in a series of fraudulent banking transactions, by which they had brought grief and ruin upon thousands. Mr. John Sadleir committed suicide, and his brother James fled from justice. A motion for his expulsion had been made last session, but had failed through the opposition of government, which regarded it as premature. Now, however, the motion, made with the full approval of the
cabinet, by the attorney-general for Ireland, in a thin house, was seconded by Mr. G. Butt, and agreed to without opposition.
The budget was brought forward only ten days after the opening of the session. The chancellor of the exchequer, in making his financial statement, said that he had estimated the revenue of the current year at 71,740,000l.; it actually amounted to 71,885,000l. The expenditure, including a loan of 1,000,000l. to Sardinia, and the vote of credit of 2,000,000l., he estimated at 82,113,000l.; showing a deficiency of 10,373,000l., or, deducting the margin of 2,000,000l., of 8,373,000l. In order to cover this deficiency, certain loans had been effected, which, with the issue of 1,000,000l. of exchequer bills, amounted to 7,499,000l. borrowed money for the year. The power of borrowing granted to the government had been limited to 4,000,000l., but had been exercised by them only to the extent of 1,000,000l., and would not be used any farther. The total receipts, from loans, revenue, and exchequer bills, amounted to 79,384,000l.; the actual expenditure would amount to 78,000,000l., leaving a balance of 1,384,000l. The chancellor of the exchequer pointed out that the war which had just ended entailed a great and extraordinary outlay, and calculated that the expenditure for the ensuing year would amount to 68,474,000l. of which he gave the details. He proposed to reduce the income-tax from 16d., which it had been during the war, to 7d., which was the amount at which it had been put by Sir R. Peel when he first proposed it, and at which it was now intended that it should continue for three years. The announcement was received with loud cheers, which was succeeded by no less loud laughter, when it was observed that a large number of members on both sides arose from their seats and walked out of the House. soon as the noise which was caused by their departure had subsided, the finance minister continued his statement to a comparatively thin House. He pointed out that the result of this change would be, that the exchequer would receive 21,000,000l., being 5,000,000l. less than it had received during the war. He then explained and justified some changes he intended to make in the tax on small incomes, as well as on tea and sugar. He concluded by stating that the total amount of taxes that would be reduced this year
was 11,971,000l., and that if the liabilities of the next three years should be discharged, and the accruing liabilities met, the entire debt of 40,000,000l. owing to the war would be extinguished in twenty years.
The statement, on the whole, gave great satisfaction. It was true, as we have seen, that Sir C. Lewis did not succeed in chaining the attention of his audience, as his more brilliant predecessors-Messrs. Disraeli and Gladstone-had done when they delivered their financial statements. But he had far surpassed Lord Althorp, Mr. Spring Rice, Sir Charles Wood, Sir Francis Baring, and even Mr. Goulburn, in the delivery of his statement; while it was felt that the plan itself was one of considerable merit, that it had been clearly stated and ably justified. It was evidently a budget conceived in the spirit of those great financial reforms which Sir R. Peel had so successfully commenced, and Mr. Gladstone had so ably carried on, affording a hope that, when the extraordinary expenditure caused by the war had been paid off, fresh financial and fiscal progress would be effected.
The budget, however, was not allowed to pass without opposition. The chief struggle took place on an amendment moved by Mr. Disraeli. The debate to which it gave rise was remarkable on account of the great confusion of parties which it exhibited. On the one hand Mr. Gladstone and Sir James Graham spoke and voted in favour of Mr. Disraeli's motion; while Messrs. Milner Gibson, Cobden, and Sidney Herbert supported the ministry, which triumphed by the decisive majority of eighty votes.
The government was less successful in its attempt to oppose a motion made by Mr. Cobden on the subject of hostilities with China, into which this country had been drawn. A motion condemning the conduct of government in reference to this affair had been submitted by Lord Derby to the House of Lords, where it had been rejected by a majority of thirty-six. On the same evening Mr. Cobden moved That this House has heard with concern of the conflicts which have occurred between the British and Chinese authorities in the Canton river; and, without expressing an opinion as to the extent to which the government of China may have afforded this country cause of complaint respecting the non-fulfilment of the
DEBATE ON THE CHINESE WAR.
treaty of 1842, this House considers that the papers which have been laid upon the table fail to establish satisfactory grounds for the violent measures resorted to at Canton in the late affair of the "Arrow;" and that a select committee be appointed to inquire into the state of our commercial relations with China.'
The debate was carried on with extraordinary ability. The conduct of the government was assailed by Mr. Cobden, Mr. Gladstone, Sir J. Graham, Lord J. Russell, and Mr. Disraeli, and was defended with great spirit by Lord Palmerston. But a strong feeling prevailed that the government had one rule for the weak and another for the strong, and that the conduct of Sir J. Bowring, our plenipotentiary, for which the government was responsible, had been characterized by overbearing insolence towards the Chinese authorities. The discussion turned principally on the somewhat technical question whether the lorcha 'Arrow,' which had been boarded by the Chinese, was legally an English vessel.
As the debate on Mr. Cobden's motion proceeded, the interest it awakened increased, because it became more and more evident that it involved the fate of the government; and though it was generally expected, even by the mover of the resolution and his supporters, that it would be rejected, yet there were some hopes entertained that it would succeed. While the matter was still in suspense, meetings were held on the one hand by the opposition, and on the other by the friends of the government, at each of which it was resolved that all their strength should be put forth to secure a result favourable to their party. The Conservatives were in great spirits; for they could reckon in this instance on the support not only of Mr. Cobden and his friends and the small Peelite party, but also on that of Lord J. Russell and those who usually acted with him. But besides this, there can be no doubt that the government had lost many of its supporters through the indifference they had manifested on the question of reform. Two motions had been brought forward relating to this question, one by Mr. Locke King, and one by Sir. J. Walmsley, both of which had been opposed by the government, and, mainly through their opposition, r jected by large majorities; and no pledge had been given, no expec
tation held out, that the government would take up this question at any future time. Thus, at the moment of its greatest peril the government was regarded with a feeling of apathy and indifference by many of those who still ranked among its supporters both in the House and the country. The division was therefore likely to be a close one; and though it was generally expected that the government would triumph, it was anticipated with that feeling of earnestness and trepidation which is only excited when some great interest is at stake, or when the fate of a government is in the balance.
When the House divided the numbers were:
It was half-past two o'clock when the House adjourned. On the very day on which this important division took place, intelligence reached this country that the war between England and Persia, which had been frequently referred to in the debates, had been terminated by a peace, the terms of which were satisfactory to both of the belligerents.
On the evening of Thursday, March 5, the day following that on which the above-mentioned intelligence arrived, Lord Granville in the House of Lords, and Lord Palmerston in the House of Commons, announced the decision at which the government had arrived in consequence of the adverse vote that had been given. They stated that the government had determined not to resign, but to dissolve; and they justified the resolution to which they had come by referring to the impossibility of forming any government whatever that could carry on the business of the House with the present parliament. They also observed that the parliament had already reached a greater age than most of its predecessors. They explained that if the state of public business had admitted an immediate dissolution, parliament would have been dissolved at once. The estimates were not voted, the taxes were not arranged, the mutiny bill was not passed, and would expire before parliament could reassemble. It was proposed that when these and other