§ Mr. Redington:
I wish to put a question to the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department respecting the recent dismissal of some magistrates in Ireland.
985 Since the last meeting of- the House, the letter of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland to Lord Ffrench, stating the grounds on which that nobleman had been removed from the commission of the peace, had been published. That letter refers to a certain declaration made by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government with respect to her Majesty's views on the subject of repeal, and the circumstance of Lord Ffrench having attended a meeting to petition for the repeal of the union after the right hon. Baronet had made that declaration, is stated to be the cause of Lord Ffrench's dismissal. The Lord Chancellor of Ireland, in the same letter, declares that he conceives it to be his duty to dismiss all magistrates who may attend repeal meetings; his Lordship says:—Your Lordship's determination to preside over such a meeting, immediately after the declarations in Parliament, proves to the Lord Chancellor that the time has arrived for evincing the determination of this Government to delegate no power to those who seek by such measures as are now pursued to dissolve the legislative union. To allow such persons to remain any longer in the commission of the peace would be to afford the power of the Crown to the carrying of a measure which her Majesty has, like her predecessor, expressed her determination to prevent. This view of the case, which the step taken by your Lord ship has forced upon the attention of the Lord Chancellor, will compel him at once to supersede any other magistrates, who, since the declaration in Parliament, have attended like repeal meetings.I wish to ask the right hon. Baronet whether any, and what communication has been made— officially, I mean, of course— to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland of the declaration of her Majesty's determination to prevent the repeal of the union; and, in the second place, I beg to ask whether that declaration has been communicated to the magistracy of Ireland by the Lord Chancellor of that country?
§ Sir James Graham
When her Majesty's present Ministers came into office, they, immediately after their appointment, felt it to be their duty, when the Great Seal of Ireland was entrusted to Sir Edward Sugden, to direct him, in the name and on the behalf of her Majesty, acting under the advice of her constitutional advisers, to use all the powers he possessed, within the limits of the constitution, to discourage every effort which might be made to subvert the Legislative Union, between the two countries. At a later 986 period, in consequence of events which have recently occurred in Ireland, the First Minister of the Crown in this House—in the name of her Majesty, and on behalf of her Majesty — made a declaration, for which her Majesty's Advisers are responsible, that it was her Majesty's determination to adopt, in full, the declaration made by her Royal Predecessor upon this subject, and that all the power and authority entrusted to her by the laws and the constitution of the country would be exerted to discourage to the utmost every attempt to subvert the Legislative Union. I have no hesitation in telling the hon. Member that in consequence of the instructions given to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, when he first went to that country, but, more especially, in consequence of the declaration made by my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, in her Majesty's name, the communication was made to Lord Ffrench, to which the hon. Member has adverted.
§ Mr. Redington
The right hon. Baronet has not answered my question. I wish to know in what manner the declaration of her Majesty, which, I think, ought to be treated with the utmost respect, was made officially known to the highest legal functionary in Ireland, inasmuch as that functionary has made the circumstance of a magistrate attending a meeting to petitition for a Repeal of the Union, after such declaration was made, the ground for dismissing him from the magistracy.
§ Sir J. Graham:
I think I have sufficiently answered the hon. Member. I have told him that the Lord Chancellor of Ireland has acted under the general instructions which he received from her Majesty's Government to discourage all attempts to subvert the Legislative Union, more especially after the declaration recently made by the First Minister of the Crown, in his place in Parliament. I am not prepared to say, that any after official communication has been made to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland.
§ Mr. Redington:
Am I then to understand this, that the Lord Chancellor of Ireland felt himself justified in referring to her Majesty's declaration, merely because he may have read reports of what passed in this House?
§ Sir J. Graham:
I have told the hon. Member that the Lord Chancellor, and, I may add, the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, have received instructions from her Majesty's Government, to discourage every effort 987 to subvert the Legislative Union. It is certainly true, that from time to time, under various circumstances, confidential and official communications have taken place between her Majesty's Ministers and the Irish Government; but it appears to me that I have already stated sufficient to justify the course which has been pursued. If, however, the hon. Member entertains a different opinion he can take the sense of the House on the question. [Hear.]
§ Mr. Redington:
After what the right hon. Baronet has said, I hope I may be allowed to say one word. The right hon. Baronet is not justified in raising a cheer by attempting to fix upon me the advocacy of the Repeal of the Union, and taking credit to himself for opposing it. I wish to ask another question; has the Lord Chancellor Of Ireland sent any official notification on this subject to other magistrates?
§ Sir J. Graham
I cannot, with certainty, answer the hon. Member's question. The Lord Chancellor of Ireland's letter to Lord Ffrench is correctly given in the Usual channels of information, and I believe that the Lord Chancellor has communicated copies of the letter to various magistrates.
§ Mr. Wyse:
It appears that Lord Ffrench has been dismissed from the magistracy for attending a public meeting, at which the question of a Repeal of the Union was to be agitated, on the ground that a breach of the peace might be apprehended from such meetings. Now, I wish to know, whether it is to be understood that the magistrates of Ireland are liable to be dismissed for attending dinners where there can be no apprehension of a breach of the peace, but where the question of Repeal may be discussed?
§ Sir J. Graham
I must decline answering hypothetical questions. Without referring to hypothetical cases, however, I may remind the hon. Member that there are instances of gentlemen being dismissed from the magistracy on account of toasts drunk at dinners.