HC Deb 20 July 1843 vol 70 cc1285-91

House in committee on the Arms (Ireland) bill. On the 24th clause; "justices may enter houses, on information that any person in possessions of arms without a license to keep the same."

Lord John Russell

begged to make a remark on the general powers conferred by this clause upon justices in all parts of Ireland. The Government proposed by this bill to re-enact the existing law, and to require that all arms should be reregistered and marked. It appeared to him, that at the same time that the Government did this, they ought to take the opportunity of amending the existing law, and of very much restricting the powers now given to justices to search for arms. It was one thing o require all arms to be registered, but it was another thing to give to justices the formidable power to search for arms, and above all at night. By the 60th George 3rd, c. 2, which had given power to search for arms, it was provided, that the act should only extend to certain counties therein named; and it was said, that if there were any other places to which it was necessary that the powers of the act should be extended, it should be lawful for his Majesty, from time to time, on the representations of justices, by proclamation directed by the advice of the Privy Council, to provide that its enactments should be applied to those places. With respect to the power given to justices to enter houses at night in search of arms, which on some occasions, excited the greatest irritation, and feelings of odium against the persons who put it in force, it should, he thought, be confined to those counties in which there was reason to believe outrage and disturbance existed. There were certain counties, disturbed by no outrages, in which it would be exceedingly unwise to use the powers conferred by this bill; and therefore he thought that it would be better to suffer a single instance of non-registration of arms to pass unnoticed, supposing general tranquillity to prevail, rather than interfere with the general liberty of the subject for the sake of punishing a single offender. He should say, that the same rule ought to be adopted in this instance, with respect to those counties which were tranquil, and that it would be better, that the Lord-lieutenant should have the power to declare, in council, that any counties or baronies not included in the operation of the bill should be submitted to the operation of its provisions. fie would rather bring forward this proposition in a substantive form at a future period than now, but he now gave notice that he would hereafter move an amendment.

Lord Eliot

thought that the noble Lord could not have been present the other night when the amendment of the hon. Member for Weymouth was discussed, which he understood was drawn up by the right hon. Member for Clonmel, and it was at complete variance with the amendment of the noble Lord. If the noble Lord's suggestion were adopted, persons would conceal their unregistered arms in districts remote from the scene of disturbance.

Lord J. Russell

did not believe there was any variance, as the noble Lord supposed, between his opinions and those of his right hon. Friend the Member for Clonmel. His right hon. Friend, by the amendment which he drew up, wished to bring this bill as nearly as possible to resemble the present law, and acting on that view, his proposition was made, which, however, did not receive the approbation of the House. The question, then, was, whether the House should not be asked to apply the act which existed in 1819 relative to arms in England. This was certainly a very stringent law, and was thought by many to be contrary to the liberty of the subject, but it was only made to extend to seven or eight counties. That act gave the power to the King in council to proclaim particular districts in those counties, but it was not made to apply to Kent, or Devonshire, or other places. He did not conceive persons would go to a distance to conceal their arms, or that a man for that purpose would go from Tipperary to Down and Armagh.

Lord Eliot

observed that most of the murders committed in Ireland were perpetrated by persons who were hired from a distance. It did not, therefore, follow that because a crime was committed in Tipperary that the arms with which it was committed were secreted in that county.

Mr. Ross

moved, that after the word "except," shall be inserted "within a proclaimed district and." He considered that, at least, the provisions should only apply to those. parts of the country which were actually disturbed.

The committee divided on the question that "those words be inserted." Ayes 30; Noes 100; Majority 70.

The committee again divided on the question, that the clause as amended stand part of the bill:—Ayes 81; Noes 26; Majority 55.

List of the AYES.
Ackers, J. Hope, hon. C.
Acland, Sir T. D. Hope, G. W.
A'Court, Capt. Hornby, J.
Acton, Col. Hussey, T.
Allix, J. P. Ingestre, Visct.
Archdall, Capt. M. Jones, Capt.
Arkwright, G. Kemble, H.
Attwood, M. Knatchbull, rt. hn. SirE
Baillie, Col. Knight, F. W.
Baillie, H. J. Lefroy, A.
Baring, hon. W. B. Lincoln, Earl of
Benett, J. Lockhart, W.
Boldero, H. G. Manners, Lord C. S.
Borthwick, B. Newdigate, C. N.
Botfield, B. Northland, Visct.
Boyd, J. O'Brien, A. S.
Broadley, H. Pakington, J. S.
Buck, L. W. Peel, J.
Buckley, E. Plumptre, J. P.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Pollington, Visct.
Chute, W. L. W. Pollock, Sir F.
Clive, hon. R. H. Praed, W. T.
Colvile, C. R. Richards, R.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Sheppard, T.
Courtenay, Lord Smith, rt. hon. T. B.C.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Somerset, Lord G.
Eliot, Lord Stewart, J.
Escott, B. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Tennant, J. E.
Flower, Sir J. Thornhill, G.
Forman, T. S. Trench, Sir F. W.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Trollope, Sir J.
Gladstone, Capt. Trotter, J.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Vesey, hon. T.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Vivian, J. E.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Williams, T. P.
Hamilton, G. A. Wodehouse, E.
Hardinge, rt. hn. SirH. Wood, Col.
Hardy, J. Young, J.
Herbert, hon. S. TELLERS.
Hervey, Lord A. Fremantle, Sir T.
Hodgson, R. Pringle, A.
List of the NOES.
Archbold, R. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Barnard, E. G. O'Conor Don
Blake, M. J. Ross, D. R.
Blewitt, R. J. Smith, B.
Brotherton, J. Stuart, W. V.
Duncan, G. Thornely, T.
Dundas, Adm. Tuite, H. M.
Ewart, W. Turner,
Fitzroy, Lord C. Wall, C. B.
Gore, hon. R. Wallace, R.
Hatton, Capt. V. Wawn, J. T.
Mitchell, T. A. Williams, W.
Wyse, T. Clements, Visct.
Yorke, H. R. O'Brien, W. S.

On clause 25; "two justices, having reasonable grounds of suspicion that arms are unlawfully kept in any county, may report to the Lord Lieutenant, who may, by warrant, order a general search."

Lord Clements

objected to intrusting such a power to two justices, and contended that it should only be intrusted to the justices meeting at sessions. He was afraid that a district might be proclaimed without sufficient cause. He would not only have the power limited to the magistrates in Sessions, but he would require the Lord Lieutenant only to issue such an order after deliberating in council. He moved to leave out the word "two."

Lord Eliot

said, that the clause did not give power to the magistrate to proclaim the district, but only to report to the Lord Lieutenant. At the same time he must inform the noble Lord that the clause was in the other bill, and had never been complained of.

Amendment withdrawn.

Lord Clements

moved to insert the words "in council," with a view of preventing the Lord Lieutenant from proclaiming any district except in council.

The committee divided on the question, that the words be inserted:—Ayes 21; Noes 63; Majority 42.

Clause agreed to.

On clause 26, persons in whose possession a pike head may be found liable to be convicted of a misdemeanour.

Mr. Smith O'Brien

objected to the severe penalty of transportation imposed for the possession of a pike.

Mr. AL J. O'Connell

moved to omit the words "transportation for seven years," and insert the words "for the first offence imprisonment not exceeding twelve calendar months, and for the second and every subsequent offence imprisonment for three years."

Amendment agreed to.

The committee divided on the question, that the clause as amended stand part of the bill. Ayes 82; Noes 24: Majority 58.

List of the AYES.
Ackers, Baillie, Col.
A'Court, Capt. Baring, hon. W. B.
Acton, Col. Boldero, H. G.
Arkwright, G. Borthwick, P.
Botfield, Marton, G.
Boyd, J., Maxwell, hon. J. P.
Buckley, E. Meynell, Capt.
Clive, hon. R. H. Miles, W.
Colvile, C. R Mitchell, T. A.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Newdigate, C. N.
Douglas, J. D. S. Nichol), rt. hon. J.
Douro, Marquess of Norreys, Sir D. J.
Ebrington, Visct. Northland, Visct.
Eliot, Lord Patten, J. W.
Escott, B. Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.
Evans, W. Peel, J.
Ferguson, Sir It. A. Pollington, Visct..
Flower, Sir J. Pollock, Sir F.
Forman, T. S. Rolleston, Col.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Round, J.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. .Rous, hon. Capt.
Gladstone, Capt. Scott, hon. F.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Grogan, E. Smith, rt. hn. T. B.C.
Hamilton, G. A. Somerset, Lord G.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Stanley, Lord
Hardy, J. Stewart, J.
Hervey, Lord A. Stuart, Lord J.
Hodgson, R. Stuart, W. V.
Hope, hon. C. Stuart, H.
Hope, G. W. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Howard, hu. C. W. G. Tennent, J. E.
Hassey, T. Towline, 0.
Jones, Capt. Trench, Sir F. W.
Kemble, H. Trotter, J.
Knatchbull, rt. hn. SirE Vesey, hon. T.
Knight, H. G. Vivian, J. E.
Law, hon. C. E. Wood, Col.
Lefroy, A. Young, J.
Lockhart, W.
Mackenzie, T. TELLERS.
Mackenzie, W. F. Fremantle, Sir T.
Marsham, Viset. Pringle, A.
List of the NOES.
Archbold, R. Power, J.
Blewitt, R. J. Ross, D. R.
Brotherton, J. Smith, B.
Cobden, R. Trelawny, J. S.
Crawford, W. S. Tuite, H. M.
Duncan, G. Wakley, T.
Dundas, Adm. Wall, C. B.
Esmonde, Sir T. Wawn, J. T.
Ewart, W. Williams, W.
Hall, Sir B. Wyse, T.
Hatton, Capt. V.
O'Connell, M. J. TELLERS.
O'Connor, Don O'Brien, W. S.
Plumridge, Capt. Clements, Visct.

Clause agreed to.

On the question that clause 29, "No Arms, gunpowder, &c. to be imported into Ireland without license from the Lord-lieutenant," stand part of the bill. Committee divided—Ayes 89; Noes 21: Majority 68.

[We do not repeat the Lists, though the division took place on retaining the clause, because the names were much the same as on the preceding division.]

On clause 30; "persons may import arms for personal defence, or sporting, on registering the same,"

Lord Clements

opposed the clause, on the ground of the inconvenience it would cause to parties bringing arms into Ireland.

Lord Eliot

replied that the peasantry, when returning from this country, were in the habit of surreptitiously taking arms with them to Ireland, and gentlemen must be content in order to put an end to this practice, to submit to some little inconvenience.

Sir R Ferguson

moved an amendment to leave out some words, and insert others, to the effect that notice of importing arms should be lodged with the clerk of the petty sessions, the chief of the constabulary, or the chief officer at the port where the party landed. It was a mistake to suppose that the peasants coming from England could bring arms. They generally brought nothing but a bundle.

The committee divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question—Ayes 106; Noes 41: Majority 65.

Clause agreed to.

On clause 34; "dealer in gunpowder not to sell gunpowder, except to a licensed dealer, or to a person licensed to keep arms."

Lord Clements

moved to omit the words from "no person," in the second line, to "the district," in the ninth line, being the enacting part of the clause. The noble Lord said he should not trouble the House to divide, for it was no use in persisting, as the Government was bent on maintaining all the worst features of the bill. It was clear the Irish magistrates were to be considered as nothing else but scape-goats to bear the odium of the coercive measures introduced by her Majesty's Government, and to be made the tools under which the inquisitorial police was to coerce the Irish people. There was no use in making amendments in this abominable bill, but he should propose them to give the public an opportunity of seeing the true character of the measures proposed by the ministers.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. W. S. O'Brien

moved to omit the words "require such person to produce a licence."

The committee divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause — Ayes 111 Noes 47: Majority 64.

On the suggestion of Mr. S. O'Brien, the penalties for the violation of the provisions of the clause were reduced from, 101. and 201. to and 10l.

Sir R. Ferguson

moved the omission of the words by which the forfeiture of the dealer's licence was incurred for a second offence.

The committee divided on the question

that these words stand part of the clause.

Ayes 101; Noes 41: Majority 60. Clause as amended agreed to.

House resumed. Committee to sit again.