HC Deb 22 February 1825 vol 12 cc624-6
Sir H. Parnell

rose to submit another motion, of which he had given notice, to move for leave to bring in a bill to regulate the office of Justice of Peace in Ireland. He did not intend to enter, on this occasion, into any detail as to the conduct of the magistracy of that country, but he thought that some measure was necessary to follow up and enforce the excellent regulations respecting the magistrates which had been introduced by the marquis Wellesley. One of the great evils which that noble lord had tried to remedy was, that of magistrates acting in their private houses, instead of holding courts of petty-sessions; a practice from which the most injurious Consequences had proceeded. Independently of this, he thought it necessary that the number of magistrates should be restricted, so as to get rid of many at present in the commission who were unfit for that situation. In the propriety of the regulations which had already taken place, he entirely concurred; but he thought they did not go far enough. It was, he knew, objected, that if all who were unfit were removed, there would not be enough to do the business of the country; but, if the objection had any weight, the way in which the evil might be remedied, was not by appointing persons wholly unfit for the duties of the office. He was anxious that the leave for bringing in the bill might be a sort of pledge that something further should be done on this subject; but what the nature of the precise remedy should be, he would leave in the hands of the committee appointed to bring in the bill. He thought the House ought to go further than the Irish government had done, and that some new principle should be laid down in the appointment of Irish magistrates.

Mr. Goulburn

said, he would not oppose the motion, but he begged that his assent on this occasion might not be considered as a pledge to support the measure when introduced. Indeed, there were some clauses in the intended bill to which, if report spoke truth, he could not give his assent; as he did not think they would benefit that country. This was a subject which had been under the consideration of the Irish government. Persons had been sent into the different counties with instructions to make inquiries. Their reports had been submitted to the judges of the land; and the reason why no measure had been introduced upon them was, that it was not considered expedient at the present time. But, he could assure the House, that where any case had occurred which called for the interference of the lord-chancellor of Ireland, he had discharged the difficult and invidious task in a manner highly beneficial to the interests of justice.

Sir J. Newport

begged to suggest in the proposed bill the substitution of lieutenants and deputy-lieutenants, instead of the governors and sub-governors of counties in Ireland. He wished to see the plan assimilated to that of England, where the lord-lieutenants of counties were answerable to the Home office.

Mr. S. Rice

said, that if by this bill it was intended to introduce paid officers among the magistracy, he should deprecate it as having a most injurious tendency.

Mr. Grattan

said, that as far as he understood the present bill calculated to produce a regular attendance at petty sessions, he would give it his support.

Mr. L. Foster

did not much admire the practice of introducing specific measures into the House, upon which a committee up stairs was sitting, and upon which it had not yet reported. With respect to the effect of the proposed bill, if it sanctioned the introduction of a paid officer as an assistant to the magistrates at petty sessions, that officer not being a magistrate, it would have a most injurious effect.

Lord Milton

expressed his surprise that any member should object to the introduction of a particular measure with respect to Ireland, because there was a committee on the general state of that country sitting up stairs. Such a doctrine would place the whole government of Ireland in the power of the committee for the time being.

Leave was given to bring in the bill.