§ Mr. George Robinson
wished to know from the noble Lord, whether he meant to bring forward the Wine-duties Bill this evening?
§ Lord Althorp
said, it was his intention to move the second reading of the Bill this evening, if it were in his power; but the questions regarding Ireland were of so much importance and pressing urgency, that they must first be settled.
§ Mr. Lefroy
wished to ask a question of an hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Robert Gordon) with reference to the report of the Committee on the Dublin election petition. The report, and the evidence on which it was founded, were ordered to be printed; and it was understood that some proceeding founded on that evidence would be instituted. He now wished to know, whether the hon. Gentleman had received any instructions on the subject, and whether he meant to submit to the House any resolutions with reference to it?
Mr. Robert Gordan
said, that he had received no instructions from the Committee on the subject. He meant, however, to submit Resolutions to the House, embracing all the principal points contained in the report of the Committee. If it would suit the convenience of the House, he would introduce those Resolutions on Tuesday week.
§ Mr. James E. Gordon
inquired whether his Majesty's Ministers had taken, or intended to take, any notice of speeches which had been made by certain Magistrates at a recent meeting in Wexford? He was desirous to learn whether any proceedings with regard to those speeches had been adopted?
said, his Majesty's Government had not thought it necessary to take any notice of the circumstance to which the hon. Member had referred.
§ Mr. O'Connell rose to move, as an amendment, that the Bill should be committed 23 on that day six months. He disapproved of the principle of the Bill, his objections to which no alterations whatever could remove, and he was borne out in that opinion by many for whom he had the highest respect. He always thought that, in legislating for Ireland, the greatest fault was, that those who legislated were obliged to form their judgments from report, instead of the more unerring testimony of their own observation. He could not expect, that his evidence and his views of the state of that country could overwhelm the testimony which would be opposed to him; but he would, in justice to himself, as well as to the great mass of the Irish people, state to the House his reasons for considering this Bill a bad Bill; and, in mentioning the grounds of his objection, he should rather argue against the implied than the expressed authority which the Bill went to establish. The great disadvantage of legislating for Ireland in this country was, that hon. Members took statements for granted, of the truth and reality of which they could have no means of satisfying themselves. It was said, that the system of appointing Lord-lieutenants in England acted well, and that the power of recommending to the magistracy produced salutary effects in this country. On that subject, he professed himself to be as ignorant as other Gentlemen were of the peculiar state of Ireland. But even in this country, circumstances had occurred, which showed that the Lord-lieutenants of counties must adopt certain party feelings, and of course they would give, as far as possible, the same colour to the magistracy whom they recommended. That venerable nobleman, Earl Fitzwilliam, was removed from the office of Lord-lieutenant, on account of his political principles. Now, if partisan-ship were thus manifested in this country, it would be found to prevail far more extensively in Ireland; and he objected strongly to placing an irresponsible power of this description in the hands of persons who might be under a strong political or religious bias. It was almost idle for him to say, that the magistracy of Ireland was not what it ought to be. Nearly one-half of that magistracy was composed of ministers of the Established Church. The curates were Magistrates as well as the rectors. He did not mean to speak of, nor even to allude to, particular Magistrates, but this he would confidently affirm, that 24 the Magistrates, in general, were not popular; and he would not assert that they deserved to be so. With respect to the appointment of Magistrates in Ireland, that power had, for a long series of years, been most partially exercised. During the period in which a late Lord Chancellor held the seals, and when Mr. Saurin was Attorney General, it was extremely difficult for a liberal-minded man to get himself placed on the Commission as a Justice of the Peace; and it was almost hopeless for a Roman Catholic to seek for such an appointment. In fact, in the Chancellor ship of the late Earl of Clare, a regular denunciation was made against those who were supposed to have a political bias. There were upwards of 1,400 Protestant gentlemen, of high respectability, in the Roman Catholic Association, and every man of them was regularly excluded from the Commission, notwithstanding every effort was made to procure the appointment of men so unquestionably qualified. The gentleman who recently filled the office of Lord Chancellor (Sir Anthony Hart), a most learned, patient, and honourable man, and, consequently, anxious to discharge his duty in the best manner, in what situation, he would ask, was that individual placed? He was determined to appoint no man to the magistracy whom he considered to be a political partizan. Now, it so happened, that the learned person to whom he alluded was surrounded by political partizans, and knowing little or nothing of Ireland himself, he took his opinion from their representations. What was the consequence? Why, acting on their views, without being aware of their object, he refused to place in the Commission of the Peace, men who were the best calculated to fill the office, and appointed the very individuals who ought not to have been selected. With respect to the conduct which had been pursued under the present Administration, he believed, that no man had any right to complain either of the appointments or of the refusals which had occurred. Reverting, however, to this Bill, it ought to be observed, that they had, at present, a known public officer responsible for the appointment of Magistrates. That officer was the Lord Chancellor. Perhaps, it would be said, that the Lord Chancellor's was a nominal responsibility; but if Reform were realized—and that it would be realized he firmly believed—there would 25 be an absolute instead of a nominal responsibility. This Bill was brought in for the purpose of benefitting Ireland. To any man acquainted with the state of that country, it would at once appear evident that it would have no such effect. Whom would the Government appoint as Lord-lieutenants? Let them take any county in Ireland, and he would defy them to find out a man, except, perhaps, one or two, whom it would be desirable to place in the situation of Lord-lieutenant. Take, for instance, the county of Waterford (and he selected that county, because the Marquis of Waterford was not a public character, being only between nineteen and twenty years of age, and therefore he could give no offence in the allusion which he was about to make), take the county of Waterford—and what had occurred there? An hon. Baronet opposite had twice applied to be placed in the Commission of the Peace for Waterford, but his application was rejected. No man, whether the head or the heart were regarded, was more fit for the office, yet he applied twice, and twice he applied in vain. As the system at present stood, every appointment and every refusal was the Lord Chancellor's own act; but, by this Bill, they placed a screen between the Lord Chancellor and his existing responsibility. In fact, they removed all responsibility. The law had placed the responsibility on the Lord Chancellor, but, by this Bill, they took the responsibility of these appointments from the Lord Chancellor, and on whom did they place it? On nobody. The Duke of Leinster and one or two others might be an exception to the position which he had laid down; but taking the counties of Ireland generally, he believed that, in none of them, would be found a proper person in whose hands the inhabitants would be disposed to place so high a trust. In his view of the probable consequences, of this measure, he could not avoid designating the Bill as "the 'thirty tyrants' Bill"—a Bill which would place a despot at the head of every county in Ireland. The consequence would be, constant bickerings and constant complaints, and the people would seek for redress in the highest, quarter, and "flee from petty tyrants to the Throne." This Bill would unquestionably give many petty tyrants to Ireland; and, instead of passing such a measure now, he intreated the House to pause, and to let the matter rest 26 until the next Session. The magistracy, as he had already observed, was badly constituted in Ireland. When three or four Magistrates, acting together, met in petty session, whatever their conduct might be, it was almost impossible to procure any redress, or appeal, with success, from their decision. They were above all law but their own. There was recently laid before that House a return of the number of applications made during the last ten years for criminal informations against Magistrates, in the English Court of King's Bench. From that return, there appeared to have been thirty applications of this nature against Magistrates, ten of them being against clerical Magistrates. In twelve cases, the application was dismissed with costs; in eight, the application was dismissed without costs; and in ten, the Magistrates were obliged to pay the costs—showing that, in one-third of the cases, the Magistrates were, to a certain degree, blameable. Even in England, the magistracy exerted an immense deal of arbitrary power. That power was not exerted against the noble and wealthy; it was wielded solely against the people. In Ireland, the case was infinitely worse. There, speaking generally, the Magistrate rejoiced in a conviction—exulted in a conviction. In such a country, the present Bill, joined to the Malicious Trespass Act, would produce the most deplorable effects. A Jury-bill had been introduced—a bill, he would say, exceedingly well considered in most of its provisions. One provision of that bill, however, was, that the list of Jurors, of special Jurors, should be struck by the Magistrates. Would they, then, under these circumstances, give such an additional power as this Bill provided, in the appointment of Magistrates? Would they take away the responsibility which at present rested with the Lord Chancellor? He was convinced that this Bill would work badly. He no more doubted, than he doubted of his existence, that the measure would create discontent and heart-burnings throughout Ireland. He believed that Ministers meant well, but they were, in this instance, acting under a delusion. In opposing this measure, he was not actuated by any political feeling; he did so, because he was certain that the Bill would render more prevalent that system of partizanship which could not be too much reprobated. He was a friend to single responsibility. If they shared responsibility amongst a 27 number, they must infallibly destroy it. They would do so by passing this Bill, and therefore he opposed it. He had no private views—no secret motives—nothing to actuate him, but the good of his country. Under that feeling, he had thought it his duty to make these observations. He considered the Bill a bad Bill; it would be more injurious than beneficial; it would sow additional dissension and strife in Ireland, and therefore he begged leave to move, that it be committed that day six months.
said, that if he, or his Majesty's Ministers in general, had thought that the measure then before the House was likely to produce the disastrous consequences which the learned Gentleman apprehended from it, they never would have introduced it. The learned Gentleman was of opinion, that the Bill would increase partizanship, and would also do away with responsibility. If this struck him as being a correct position, he would be the last man to support the measure. But it was because the Bill was calculated to do the very reverse—because it was calculated to secure responsibility, and to afford a proper control over the magistracy,—because it would give to the government of Ireland a connecting link between it and the magistracy, and the public of Ireland—it was because the Bill would thus operate, that he gave it his hearty approval. It was, in his opinion, a Bill not likely to produce mischievous effects, but to prove eminently beneficial. It was, in fact, desired by former Governments, who were of opinion that its results would be most beneficial. He agreed with the learned Gentleman, that if the system in England, and which was about to be adopted in Ireland, was calculated to create despotic authority, it ought to be condemned. If this were the case, then he would admit that the learned Gentleman's objections were well-founded. But such was not the fact. Despotic authority did not exist here, neither was there any intention of introducing despotic authority into Ireland. It was very true, that in appointing to the situation of Lord-lieutenant, the Government would at all times rather select those who were favourable to their opinions than those who were opposed to them; but, during his remembrance, no unjustifiable influence had ever been manifested in the removal of a Lord-lieutenant. The learned 28 Gentleman had alluded to the circumstance of a highly respected nobleman, who had been removed from that situation; but that was a case which could not be fairly referred to as general precedent and example. A very near relative of his own (Mr. Stanley's) had, for between fifty and sixty years, held the situation of Lord-lieutenant. Though his principles were opposed to those supported by some preceding Government, still he was considered merely as a Ministerial officer, and Government never interfered with him. The learned Gentleman had not adverted to the expressed authority, as described in the Bill, but had directed his observations to the implied authority; and he (Mr. Stanley) admitted, that the implied authority was a fair subject for discussion. The learned Gentleman had said, that the Magistrates of Ireland were not what they ought to be—that they exulted in convictions, and triumphed over the feelings of the people. There were, he feared, many cases in which the Magistrates had not acted well. What, then, was the object of this Bill? It was to place in each county such a local authority as would be perfectly cognizant of the conduct of every Magistrate; and who could, on his own responsibility, report to Government the course pursued by the Magistrate within his jurisdiction, as well as his reasons for recommending the appointment of new Justices of the Peace. Those noblemen or gentlemen who were placed in the situation of Lord-lieutenants, would do hereafter, under responsibility, that which they could now do, by secret influence, without responsibility. There was at present no direct mode of communication between Government and the Magistrates, for the governors of counties, as the hon. and learned Gentleman must know, had only a nominal responsibility, and that defect would be remedied by the present measure. In alluding to the governors of counties, he was reminded of an observation of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and he must say, that he agreed entirely with the hon. and learned Gentleman in his observation, that responsibility was lost when it was divided amongst many. It was so divided in the case of governors of counties. Carlow had five governors, Cork five, Fermanagh four, Meath four, and eight other counties had three each. The learned Gentleman had said, that when the Reform Bill had passed, Magistrates would be better nominated. 29 Now he could not see what effect the Reform Bill was likely to produce on that point. The hon. and learned Gentleman and he were at issue as to the probable effects of the Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman objected to the Bill on the ground that it would diminish responsibility, and he (Mr. Stanley) advocated the Bill on the ground that it would increase responsibility. The hon. and learned Gentleman also said, that in many counties it would be difficult to find a fit person to be Lord-lieutenant. He admitted, that that difficulty would exist in some counties, but he denied, that it would exist to the extent anticipated by the hon. and learned Gentleman. In his opinion, counties so situated would form the exception, not the rule. Generally, there would be no difficulty in finding a person whose high standing and weight in the county would point him out as a fit person to be intrusted with the responsibility of this office. This Bill would, he was convinced, tend greatly to promote the residence of the nobility and gentry in Ireland. Every Lord-lieutenant of a county, when he left Ireland, would be obliged to appoint a vice-lieutenant, who, during the absence of the Lord-lieutenant, would exercise the whole of that patronage which the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell) thought the Lord-lieutenants would be so anxious to possess, and so liable to abuse. This, he contended, was a direct encouragement to the Lord-lieutenants to reside in Ireland. On the whole, he had no such fear that any evil would follow from the appointments under this Bill, as he had from the continuance of the present state of Ireland, where there was no control—no link between the several counties and the Government—and no person responsible for the peace of those counties, or having any control over the Magistrates or the military. It was not necessary to enter into the question further at present. He had only to add, that his Majesty's Government considered the measure as one of the greatest importance, and he sincerely hoped, that the predictions of the hon. and learned member for Kerry, with regard to its effects, might not be verified.
could not conceive any thing more objectionable than the manner in which Magistrates were now appointed throughout Ireland. It was generally done on the recommendation of county 30 Members, who often confined their recommendations to those who were useful to them at elections, so that Magistrates were often nothing more than electioneering agents. This Bill had been introduced partly to remedy that evil, on the responsibility of a Government which had expressed an anxious desire to do all it could for the amelioration of the condition of Ireland. Having no doubt of the sincerity of Ministers, and seeing nothing palpably objectionable in the Bill, he thought it his duty to give it his support. If the Bill was found not to work well, it would be in the power of the House to alter or repeal it. He could not understand the objection of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. O'Connell). The hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to wish, that what he called responsibility should rest upon an individual who might be sent from England, not knowing any two persons in Ireland, and who might be placed in a focus of political partisans without being aware of it—a case which, according to the hon. and learned Gentleman, had actually and very recently happened.
§ Mr. Ruthven
did not think the Bill would effect any important change. It would merely transfer to Lord-lieutenants the powers now exercised by governors of counties, and he could not conceive that one class of officers would be more vicious and corrupt than the other. Nothing could be worse than the system for a long time adopted in Ireland in appointing Magistrates. Persons were appointed without any view to their fitness or capacity, but merely in consideration of the quarter from whence the recommendation came. The magistracy was sought for as a sort of passport to a situation, and many held the commission without credit to themselves or advantage to the country. He considered the appointment of stipendiary Magistrates in the disturbed districts a beneficial measure, and he hoped it would be adopted in every district in which a doubt was entertained as to the impartiality of the local magistracy, even though that district might not be in a state of open insurrection. He hoped the Government would take the state of the Yeomanry force into its most serious consideration, and bring in some measure to remedy the evils which it created. If the yeomen were not allowed to take home their arms, the mischiefs which had occurred could not have taken place. It was a great mistake 31 for Gentlemen to suppose, that the Yeomanry force in Ireland was amenable to military law. The hon. Member was proceeding to show, that the only punishment which could be inflicted on a yeoman for breach of military duty was dismissal from his corps, when
§ Mr. Dominick Browne rose to order. He considered that it was most irregular to lead the House into a debate on the Irish Yeomanry, when another important question was under consideration.
§ Mr. Ruthven
only hoped, that upon the return of peace and tranquillity, the Yeomanry force would be dispensed with; but that, whilst it was continued, some new regulations would be made for its government, and to prevent the mischiefs which had arisen from it. He also hoped, that the best persons that could be found would be selected as Lord-lieutenants, and that they would be fully impressed with the responsibility of the situation, and give no cause for suspicion that their appointments to the magistracy were directed by partial or corrupt feelings, or by any other motive than the benefit of the country.
Mr. Dominick Browne
said, that he should certainly support this Bill, although he was far from considering it as an unmixed good. The Bill appointed Lord-lieutenants instead of governors of counties; and it must be obvious, he thought, to every English as well as to every Irish Member, that the individuals so appointed would acquire great power. He thought it very likely that the Lord-lieutenants of some counties would acquire sufficient influence to nominate one of the Members for the county. The power of Lord-lieutenants of counties in Ireland would be much greater than it was in England, especially from the circumstance of the office of Magistrate being more coveted by the middling classes in Ireland than in England. These would be evils undoubtedly; but he thought that they would be counterbalanced by the advantages of the Bill. The Bill would assimilate the government of counties in England and Ireland, and he was always glad to vote for measures which made such assimilations. He supported the Bill, however, on a higher ground—on the ground that he considered it as a prelude to the abolition of the office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. As long as the Legislature of Ireland was here, the executive ought to be here also. If the present system of a 32 privy council and an executive government resident in Ireland were continued, while the legislative body was in England, Ireland could never be any thing but a province.
regretted, that so foul a system of appointing Magistrates, as he had known to have prevailed in the county of Carlow for many years, should have been tolerated by the Government so long. He hoped that this Bill would put an end to the system, and therefore he supported it. In Carlow they had not the honour of having any noble Lord among them, although they were sufficiently lorded over by six Governors, one of whom had been appointed only the other day, though for what purpose he was at a loss to imagine. This Bill must do good, because any change in the present system of appointing Magistrates in Ireland must be a change for the better. It was impossible that a worse system could be devised. From what he knew of the present Chancellor, he was sure that there could be very few appointments made by him which would not be satisfactory; but he must say, that a vast number of the appointments previously made in Carlow county were disgraceful alike to the county, to those who recommended, and to those who made the appointments. He believed, that the ferment which at present prevailed, was kept up by a party of that very Magistracy whose duty it was to allay irritation and to preserve the peace.
§ Mr. James Grattan
wished to have the local administration of both countries assimilated and in that respect he believed, that this Bill would confer advantages on Ireland. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Stanley) would explain to them more fully what was to be the nature and extent of the powers of these Lord-lieutenants. If it were intended to give to them, the control of the police, they would be armed with a power greater than any individual in this country possessed. In the event of the office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland being abolished, this power would become much more formidable.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
said, that the appointment of Lord-lieutenants of counties in Ireland had been the frequent subject of parliamentary inquiry, and of the recommendations of parliamentary Committees. The measure was one, too, which all the witnesses, of every condition, every sect, 33 and every party, that had been examined before the various Committees on the state of Ireland, had united in recommending. The Bill would establish a salutary system of responsibility in the different counties throughout Ireland, with respect to the recommendation of persons to fill the office of Magistrates. The great evil of the existing state of things there was, that such recommendations now proceeded from irresponsible persons, and he had himself known an instance of an individual recommending the appointment of a person to the Magistracy, and subsequently disavowing having given any such recommendation. He agreed with his hon. friend opposite, in thinking that one good effect of the measure would consist in the power which those Lord-lieutenants would exercise with respect to the management of the Yeomanry, and he thought that it would be highly desirable, and most advantageous, that a salutary system of control, thus vested in the hands of respectable and responsible persons, should be exercised both, over the Yeomanry and the Constabulary forces. This measure was founded on a similar principle to that of two other measures, the Juries (Ireland) bill, and the Administration of Justice (Ireland) bill, which also stood for discussion this night—to wit, the assimilation of the laws in Ireland to those of England, and it constituted the first step towards rendering the government in both countries identically the same.
§ Mr. Leader
objected to the extensive power and patronage which this Bill was calculated to place in the hands of a single individual in each county in Ireland. It would give the power over the Representation of thirty-two counties, he believed, to thirty-two influential individuals, with their train of followers and dependents. He looked upon the Bill with great alarm, and his fears were not removed by the declaration that the Bill was to assimilate Ireland to England. Embodied, as the nobility and gentry were, in feeling and thought, against the people, he could not hail with satisfaction a measure that gave them additional power to misgovern the country they had misgoverned so long. He preferred the appointment of the Magistrates being in the hands of the Lord Chancellor to placing it in the hands of the Lord-lieutenants. They would become possessed of the distribution of nearly a million of money, annually levied by Grand Juries 34 in Ireland: they would obtain the control of the Police, and not only the appointment of Magistrates, but the selection of High Sheriffs would fall into their hands. They would have the power, therefore, of obliging or punishing, a vast number of persons, and would, in reality, have the government of the country in their hands. He defied his Majesty's Ministers to find thirty-two unexceptionable persons in the thirty-two counties in Ireland to discharge the duties of those proposed Lord-lieutenants; and seeing the immense power which this Bill placed in their hands, he could not suppose it possible, either that the Bill would work well, or be well received in Ireland. In the presence of his Majesty's Ministers, and in the midst of the Representatives of the United Kingdom, he declared it to be his unchangeable and conscientious opinion, that, to tranquillize Ireland, the condition of the great body of the people must be ameliorated; property must relieve poverty; and every bill introduced, and every measure proposed, would be unavailing, until employment was spread over the surface of the island, and the means of the country were made, as they might and ought to be, auxiliary to the regeneration of the country. It was in their power to achieve this great blessing, without encroaching on the treasury of the country, or the benevolence of the people. Ireland wanted an honest legislation, making the soil of the country the security for any sum raised for local improvements, and properly directing all the funds now raised for the employment and education of the people. He regretted to see this uncalled-for Act of Parliament preceding others of far greater, more pressing, and urgent importance. These precautionary measures, he knew, were alleged to have their origin in the alarming agitation and excitement at present existing in Ireland. He wished the King's Ministers not to delude or deceive themselves. That agitation was grounded on the distress of the people. The great popularity of the hon. member for Kerry was founded on that distress, and the hope he had held out to his countrymen of his being able to relieve it. Let them be assured, that the popularity of his hon. and learned friend daily increased with the distress of the country, and the impatience of the people to extricate themselves from it. There was only one way to reduce the hon. member for Kerry to 35 the level of other men who deserved the confidence of the people, and that was, by rescuing them from the excesses of a partizan military force, and opening every possible avenue for productive labour and remunerative employment. He feared this Bill would have a tendency to defeat the benefit expected from the Reform Bill, and give Lord-lieutenants of counties the nomination to seats in Parliament. He, therefore, must join his hon. and learned friend in opposing it.
§ Mr. Crampton
said, that there was not a single power conferred by this Bill on Lord-lieutenants of counties in Ireland, which was not already exercised by the governors of counties, with the exception of the appointments of Colonels of Militia, which was at present in the hands of the Crown, and which this Bill gave to the Lord-lieutenants. He thought that one of its great advantages would be, that responsible persons would be placed in each of the counties of Ireland, for the purpose of recommending individuals to the magistracy. The leading evil of the present state of things was, that the power was exercised without the responsibility which should be attached to it. It was quite a mistake to suppose that, under this Bill, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland could only appoint noblemen to the Lord-lieutenancies of the several counties there. The Lord Lieutenant would have it in his power to appoint any individual whom he thought proper to the situation; but it was most probable, of course, that men of rank and station in the different counties would be selected by him to fill those situations. He was of opinion that this measure would be very useful to Ireland, and he trusted, therefore, that it would be passed.
Sir Edward Hayes
said, that the hon. member for Kilkenny had greatly magnified the powers which would be placed in the hands of those Lord-lieutenants. Several hon. Members, in the course of the debate, had made use of such expressions as would induce the people not to look to the laws for protection, but as a restraint, and to those who administered them, more as enemies than friends.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that it had long appeared to him, that this would be a desirable measure to introduce into Ireland. From the experience which they had had of Lord-lieutenants of counties in England, he thought they might safely say, that the introduction of the same system into Ireland 36 would not be followed by any of those evil effects which were anticipated from it by the hon. member for Kilkenny. He, for one, could not perceive how it was more likely that the Lord-lieutenants of counties in Ireland should possess the appointment of the Sheriffs, than the Lord-lieutenants in England, where, notwithstanding the long time that the system had existed, no such power was engrossed by them. He thought, that this measure was one of very great importance in the way of effecting an assimilation of the laws of Ireland to those of England. One great advantage of the introduction of such a system as this into Ireland was, that they would have persons of rank, station, character, and respectability, in the several counties there, whom they could make responsible for the recommendation of Magistrates in their respective counties, and who would take care that none but proper persons would be selected to fill that office. The Lord-lieutenants, in exercising the powers which would be intrusted to them, would, from their prominent and responsible station, be completely under the control of public opinion. One of the greatest evils existing in Ireland, but which, he was glad to say, was latterly fast diminishing, was, that no such salutary effects were produced by public opinion. That evil would be remedied by this Bill, which appointed responsible persons, who would be liable to that check. It would operate also upon individuals, who, from their local knowledge and situation, would be fairly responsible for those whom they should recommend to the magistracy, because they would be cognizant of their merits and character. Seeing that the system had worked well in England, and that they had had, from time to time, frequent complaints with regard to the magistracy in Ireland, he thought that a measure like this, which assimilated the laws of the two countries on the subject, would be attended by the best consequences.
§ Sir Matthew White Ridley
said, he was glad to see a measure like this introduced, as the commencement of an assimilation of the laws of both countries, which he conceived to be a most desirable object. He did not object to the patronage which the Bill would bestow, and if the Lord-lieutenants of Ireland were not possessed of greater patronage than the Lord-lieutenant of an English county, the Bill could not be productive of any responsibility for 37 either good or evil. He congratulated the Members of England and Ireland upon the introduction of such a measure.
observed, that the Lord-lieutenants in England possessed great power in appointments to all county establishments. In his opinion, the appointment of Magistrates would be a power exercised with a much greater sense of responsibility in the hands of a Lord Chancellor than in those of the Lord-lieutenants of counties. In respect of rank and qualifications, the advantage would be altogether on the side of the Lord Chancellor, for Lord-lieutenants were generally men of high rank, and associated quite as little with the person whose claims to the magistracy might come under consideration, as even the Lord Chancellor. They must, of necessity, see with others' eyes, and hear with others' ears; and in what worse situation could the Lord Chancellor himself be placed? If they looked to the English magistracy, they would see, that it included a large proportion of the Clergy; and bearing that fact in mind, they must feel that the lieutenancy of the counties had not been placed in good hands. Not that he meant to cast any imputation upon the moral character of the clergy; but there was no one who paid the slightest attention to the subject, could fail to be fully aware, that the education, profession, and habits of the clergy, unfitted them for the duties of the magistracy. In his opinion, the Bill would prove anything but beneficial—anything but conciliatory. When one-third or one-half of the magistracy were of the clerical profession, what could they hope for?
was sure that every one acquainted with Ireland would be perfectly ready to admit, that the Magistrates appointed under the influence of the Castle in Dublin were such as the people could not confide in. He trusted that such a change would be introduced as would leave the Commission of the Peace in the hands only of those in whom the people did repose confidence. Under the old system, appointments were made on the recommendations of persons not at all responsible; and the information which Government possessed respecting the state of Ireland came from the worst sources. He would, in particular, instance the Doneraile conspiracy as a case fully sustaining the position for which he contended. He should support the Bill, for it would probably be attended 38 with beneficial results. The Magistrates might be better, and they could not be worse than at present.
§ Mr. Hunt
had listened with attention to what was to be the first measure of Ministers in favour of Ireland. He regretted that the first step was, in this particular, to assimilate the law of Ireland to that of England, although he was well aware, that in disapproving of the magistracy of the latter country, he should not ingratiate himself with the Assembly in which he spoke, for nine-tenths of the Assembly to which he addressed himself were in the Commission of the Peace. That part of the people which he represented were very far from satisfied at the manner in which Magistrates were appointed. At present the Lord Chancellor, the Lord-lieutenants, and the Magistrates, were appointed by the Crown; but when the people really had had Representatives that made the laws, they likewise had the appointments of Sheriffs and Magistrates; and now that Ministers, or the newspapers for them, had made the people believe, that they were to choose their own Representatives, they were beginning to reflect whether they ought not to be restored to their former rights with reference to the administration of justice. As to the notion of an appeal to the Court of King's Bench against a Magistrate, it was a gross farce. Without casting any reflection upon the clergymen who were appointed Magistrates, he must say, that he thought, and the people also thought, that they were not the best qualified for such offices, as they were, in consequence, perpetually led into disputes with their parishioners, or parties residing in their neighbourhood. He must be allowed to express his regret that such a Bill as the present should have been introduced by Ministers, as one calculated in their opinion, to benefit Ireland, but which he really considered fraught with evils.
Mr. O' Connell,
in explanation, affirmed, that he had not said a word in defence of the present system. He was sure that few of the hon. Members of that House had yet read the Bill; and, therefore, they expected from it more than it would produce. Those who knew Ireland best would feel the difficulties which must inevitably attend upon the selection of fit persons to fill the office of Lord-lieutenant. Let his Majesty's Ministers, between that 39 and the third reading, look out for fit and proper persons—and they might then, perhaps, discover that the matter was not quite so easy as they anticipated. It had been said, that the present Bill would tend to discourage absenteeism, but he thought the tendency might be exactly the reverse; for when the gentry and the high nobility of Ireland found themselves in their respective counties over-ruled by one individual, it would most likely have the effect of disgusting them, and driving them abroad. Understanding that there were hon. Members who had not read the Bill, he would not press his amendment to a division, but certainly, in a future stage, either on the bringing up of the report, or the third reading, he would take the sense of the House upon it.
§ Amendment negatived, and the House resolved itself into a Committee.
observed, that by one of the clauses of the Bill, the Lieutenant of the county was to have the power of appointing the Custos Rotulorum, and Clerk of the Peace. He thought this too extensive a power to be placed in the hands of an individual; in his opinion, the appointment of the Clerks of the Peace should remain with the Crown, and he hoped Government would attend to the suggestion.
§ Mr. Robert Gordon
said, undoubtedly the appointment of the Clerks of the Peace was a question of some importance. He held in his hand the copy of a paper which had been laid on the Table, and by which it appeared, that the present Clerk of the Peace for the county of Limerick received that appointment when he was fifteen years of age only.
said, the paper to which the hon. Member alluded, was laid on the Table in consequence of a motion of his, to bear him out in a statement he proposed to make in the appointment of the Irish magistracy.
observed, the case was well worthy of attention. He had not been aware of the appointment alluded to by the hon. member for Cricklade; it took place before his accession to office. The existing defect in the state of the law respecting the appointment of Clerks of the Peace, it was one object of the Bill to correct. It had been decided under the present state of the law, that a minor might be appointed to the office.
complained of the appointment 40 of the inferior officers of militia being, according to the Bill, in the Lord-lieutenants of counties. Hitherto the Lord Lieutenant had appointed the Colonel, and the Colonel the Officers; he saw no advantage from the change.
said, it was true they had that power, and in that respect also the Bill resembled the law in England. It was a point of trifling importance, and had not been contained in the original Bill, but was introduced into it as an amendment in the House of Lords.
considered the alteration important; it might promote jobbing, which was not an exotic in Ireland.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
thought, as the Committee had consented to the Lord-lieutenants of counties having the power of recommending Magistrates, surely no objection could be raised to their appointing officers of militia; under the existing system, certainly, several appointments had taken place which could not be defended.
said, the Magistrates were not paid, and they could only be appointed with the concurrence of the Lord Chancellor. The Lord-lieutenant, in their case, had only the power of recommendation, while a Lieutenant of militia received 45l. a-year half-pay; and as the appointment was wholly in the Lord-lieutenant the patronage would be valuable.
§ Mr. Crampton
said, the appointment of militia officers would be, in point of fact just the same hereafter as it had been under the previous system, because the Lord-lieutenant appointed the Governor of the county, who was himself always the Colonel of the militia, and appointed the Officers. He thought the provisions of the Bill calculated to give the utmost satisfaction; and he saw no objection whatever to the appointment of the Officers of militia in the manner prescribed.
§ Lord Ebrington
said that, strictly speaking, the Lord-lieutenants in England had legally the appointment of the militia Officers; but, in practice, he attended to the recommendation of the Colonel of the regiment to which the Officer was attached.
wished to be informed who would have the appointment of Vice-lieutenants of counties, in the absence of the Lord-lieutenants of counties?
said, by one of the clauses, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had the power of such appointment.
§ Mr. James Grattan
observed, that there were already too many clergymen in the commission of the peace in Ireland, and he therefore wished a clause to be introduced to prevent such appointments in future.
§ Mr. Lefroy
objected to the proposition of the hon. Member; there were many places in Ireland in which, unless clergymen were appointed, no Magistrates whatever could be had.
Mr. Dominick Browne
had certainly known places circumstanced as the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken described, and therefore clergymen were necessarily appointed; but where it was possible to obtain other eligible Magistrates, clergy men ought not to be appointed, and he was happy to state, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland was of the same opinion.
had no doubt there were places in which no other substantial persons to fill the office of Justice of the Peace could be found than clergymen, and it generally so happened in districts where they had full leisure to attend to their duty as Magistrates. The appointment of Rectors so circumstanced might be tolerated, but when they came to appoint Curates it was too bad. He knew two or three instances of Curates, who were said to be employed at salaries under 80l. per annum, who were Magistrates. He could not, however, approve of a clause prohibiting all clergymen from being appointed; that would be too general. He should only recommend, that the utmost care should be taken in making the appointments.
thought the qualification should be rather too low than too high, because, from the statement they had just heard, it must be evident, that in many parts of the country, if they required a high qualification, they could have no Magistrates.
§ Mr. Leader
said, the qualification ought to be at least 150l. per year. There was no county or barony in Ireland but what contained resident gentlemen of twice that income.
Mr. Dominick Browne
thought the qualification of a Deputy Lieutenant should be the same as Magistrates for Road Sessions, which was 500l. a year freehold property, or 3001. a year of fee-simple.
§ On the question that the Chairman report the Bill without amendment,42
said, that before the question was agreed to, he should observe upon one part of it, which the hon. member for Cork had dwelt upon as being an advantage—namely, the having the Lord-lieutenants of counties made the organ of all communications between the county and the Government. At present, Magistrates addressed the Secretary of State, as well as the Magistrates at Bow-street, if any circumstance called for immediate communication, and the effect of the present Bill would be simply to relieve the Government and the Chancellor from the responsibility under which they now lay. It was well known, now that a Lord or a Squire of high connection laughed at inquiries into his conduct, and if a Lord-lieutenant of a county had friends complained of, the difficulty of redress would be much increased. Suppose, in the case of the Doneraile conspiracy, the proposed system had prevailed, either Lord Doneraile, or Lord Shannon, would have been the Lord-lieutenant of the county, and the connections of both were involved in the proceedings; the consequence would have been, the interposition of the Lord-lieutenant, which would, at the same time, exonerate these parties, and screen the Government from any responsibility. He would, on the first convenient occasion, bring before the House the case of Leary, who had been transported for his alleged share in the Doneraile conspiracy, with a view to show the partizan evils of the Magistrate system in Ireland, and that a Lord-lieutenant in each county could not be an efficient remedy. The peculiarity of Leary's case was, that, contrary to three remonstrances to the Irish Government of Judge Pennefather, who tried him, founded on the fact that three Juries acquitted parties on the very same evidence which was brought against Leary, and that the character of the witnesses was more than questionable, while that of Leary, a wealthy farmer, aged seventy-five, was above suspicion, the sentence of transportation was enforced by the late Irish Government. He introduced this irregularly, but he did so for the purpose of drawing the hon. member for Cork's attention to the subject, to show how little beneficial the appointment of Lord-lieutenants would be.
said, although he agreed with his hon. and learned friend in many of his remarks, yet he trusted, that the good sense and good feeling of Lord-lieutenants 43 and their deputies, would render for many communications to the Government unnecessary.
said, as he had been so personally alluded to by the hon. member for Kerry, he must say a few words. The main reason why he wished to have Lord-lieutenants was, in order to avoid the busy officiousness of that class of persons calling themselves active Magistrates, and the chief cause for his thinking so was that Doneraile conspiracy. To his knowledge, the active agents in that conspiracy were still paid by the Government. He had seen them walking in and out of the Bride-well, as well dressed and as high in their bearing as any Gentleman in that House. He could prove that, and he mentioned it that some inquiry should be instituted by the members of the Government as to the source from whence these individuals derived the emoluments they received. He pledged himself to this fact, that the parties who had been servants of the Magistrates near Doneraile, and who had been supported from the period when they gave their information, were still maintained by the Government, and paid out of the pockets of the people. He knew Leary, a man the best and most punctual farmer in his neighbourhood, who had the best character from his landlord, but who, like many other honest people, being dissipated in his habits, and extremely hospitable in his disposition, had fallen the victim of those who entered into a conspiracy to swear against him; and these parties, though their evidence had signally failed in other cases, were yet supported out of the purses of the people. If the hon. member for Kerry would move for an inquiry into this, he would give him his cordial support.
accepted at once the support of the hon. Gentleman; and he put it also to the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, whether it was not his duty also to aid in the inquiry. Leary had been the first man tried; the Jury believed the witnesses, and he was found guilty of a foul conspiracy. The second Jury disagreed; another Jury was discharged, from the illness of a Juror; on the trial one of the men was acquitted on the same testimony by which Leary was condemned; and a third trial took place at the next Assizes, when all the prisoners were also acquitted. Thus, three out of four Juries discredited the witnesses for the Crown. The Judge, 44 as he had stated, remonstrated three times with the Government upon Leary's transportation. Sir Henry Hardinge had just then accepted the office of Secretary in Ireland; and upon his (Mr. O'Connell's) arrival at Cork, he wrote to the gallant Secretary, who most promptly answered him, stating that the affair had been decided upon before he arrived in Ireland; but at all events, the application was too late, as the convict-ship sailed with Leary on board, the day the letter was written. He would move for the communication addressed by Baron Pennefather to the Irish government upon the subject.
considered that the Irish government ought to give some answer to the heavy charge, of these discredited witnesses being still maintained out of the public revenue. He should require to know how, or from whence, this money was supplied.
said, that he could give no explanation on the subject, as the matter had occurred before he had taken office. He would, however, look into it, and communicate with the hon. member for Kerry.
would pledge himself to the fact, that these persons were still maintained at the public expense.
must again press upon the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, if he wished to keep the sources of justice free, the necessity of inquiring into the alleged fact, that suborned witnesses were maintained at the public expense.
§ The House resumed; Bill reported without amendment.