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Extract from Peel's final ministerial speech in the House of Commons, June 1846

After the repeal of the Corn Laws, Peel's government was defeated in a vote on a Coercion Act for Ireland. Peel resigned because of this. The extract below is part of his resignation speech.

Sir, I now close the observations which it has been my duty to address to the House, thanking them sincerely for the favour with which they have listened to me in performing this last act of my official career. Within a few hours, probably, that power which I have held for a period of five years will be surrendered into the hands of another - without repining - without complaint on my part - with a more lively recollection of the support and confidence I have received during several years, than of the opposition which during a recent period I have encountered.

In relinquishing power, I shall leave a name, severely censured I fear by many who, on public grounds, deeply regret the severance of party ties - deeply regret that severance, not from interested or personal motives, but from the firm conviction that fidelity to party engagements - the existence and maintenance of a great party - constitutes a powerful instrument of government: I shall surrender power severely censured also, by others who, from no interested motive, adhere to the principle of protection, considering the maintenance of it to be essential to the welfare and interests of the country: I shall leave a name execrated by every monopolist who, from less honourable motives, clamours for protection because it conduces to his own individual benefit; but it may be that I shall leave a name sometimes remembered with expressions of good will in the abodes of those whose lot it is to labour, and to earn their daily bread by the sweat of their brow, when they shall recruit their exhausted strength with abundant and untaxed food, the sweeter because it is no longer leavened by a sense of injustice.

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Last modified 4 March, 2016

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