HC Deb 03 August 1838 vol 44 cc995-8

On the order of the day for going into the Committee of ways and means,

Sir F. Trench

rose, pursuant to his notice, to move for a select Committee to inquire into those cases in which the Irish Government had offered rewards for the apprehension or conviction of offenders against the laws, and in which such rewards or any portion of them have not been paid after such apprehension or conviction, and into the causes why they have been withheld. The hon. and gallant officer observed, that the system of offering rewards for the apprehension or conviction of offenders and not paying them, tended to give to the Irish people a notion that the Government was not in earnest in enforcing the laws. Many instances had occurred where rewards had been offered, and where the parties who had claims to those rewards had received only the half, and in others only a fifth, of the reward offered. One man had got not a fifth of the offered reward, and when he stated, that he had exposed his life to danger in the conviction of the offender, he was told that his life could not have been in danger as he was still alive. The effect of this refusal to pay the reward in full would be to discourage persons from all attempts to detect and bring offenders to justice. In one case a man named Kelly had been murdered in Kildare. A reward of 50l. was offered by the Government for the apprehension of the murderer. He was apprehended and brought to justice, but the party who had caused his apprehension received only 10l. of the 50l. Perhaps the noble Lord (Morpeth) would inform the House why this man had not received the whole. He thought the system adopted by the Irish Government extremely bad and injudicious, and he regretted that an opportunity had not been afforded him of bringing the subject earlier under the consideration of the House. He thought the noble Lord ought to give a distinct pledge that the Irish Government would henceforward act up to its promises. The hon. and gallant Member concluded by moving the amendment as above.

Colonel Perceval

seconded the amendment, but thought it was rather too late in the Session to have any practical good result from the Committee.

Viscount Morpeth

regretted, that there was so great a disproportion between the rewards offered and those paid; but the Government did not depart from the practice adopted by their predecessors. He thought it judicious that before rewards were paid the stipendiary magistrates should be consulted, and that the evidence taken in the courts of justice should be considered. If witnesses who had prevaricated were to receive all the rewards offered, it would establish a precedent that would frustrate, instead of advance, the ends of justice.

Motion withdrawn.

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