HC Deb 06 March 1849 vol 103 cc253-5

, in referring to this matter, observed that the name of Mr. Berwick had been mentioned in connexion with a Bill which he had introduced last Wednesday. Now, that gentleman felt and thought that the statement which he (Sir H. W. Barron) had made, was, so far as it concerned him, not literally correct. He wished, therefore, to give to the House, in Mr. Berwick's own words, his own version of the whole transaction. Here was his own statement; and certainly in some respects, and at first sight, it was not very flattering to him (Sir H. W. Barron). Still, however, he felt that, as a man of honour and a gentleman, he was bound to give Mr. Berwick's own version of the affair. That was the fair and honourable thing to do. The hon. Baronet then read extracts from the letter, to the following effect:— Having seen my name mentioned in connexion with a Bill brought forward by Sir H. W. Barron in the House of Commons, and which it was said that I had suggested and drawn up—I beg to say that such statements were entirely erroneous. I was never consulted by Sir H. W. Barron, nor had I any communication with him on the subject, nor did I suggest and draw up such a Bill—much less hand it to him. He (Sir H. W. Barron) had to state in reply to this—that every word of it was literally true; and he thought that hon. Members would see that what Mr. Berwick stated was perfectly consistent with his statement in the House. The medium of communication between him and Mr. Berwick was a professional gentleman of twenty-five years' standing as a solicitor—a gentleman well known both in Dublin and the south of Ireland. Therefore he had no personal communication with Mr. Berwick—nothing could be more true than that he had not. He now came to the next point. Mr. Berwick went on to say:— A friend of Sir H. W. Barron, with whom I am well acquainted, sent me a most voluminous Bill on the subject—a Bill which appeared to me to be in a very unfinished state. He told me that he wished me as a friend to look over the Bill, as Sir H. W. Barron was to bring the subject forward in the House. I read it through, and, having seen the same gentleman by accident some time afterwards, I told him I thought the measure very objectionable, and in some respects ridiculous. [Loud laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen laughed a little too soon. It was not his (Sir H. W. Barron's) Bill. He had never road a word of it. Mr. Berwick continued— I thought that some of the matters referred to might be made the subject of a new legislative enactment, which would, in all likelihood, be impeded by the introduction of such a Bill as his. On being pressed by him to look over the document again, which he assured me was copied verbatim from the Dublin Police Act, I did road it over, merely to oblige him, but not professionally, nor in the slightest degree undertaking any responsibility, or giving any encouragement thereto. The Bill had, however, lain in Mr. Berwick's hands for seven or eight weeks, and it was evident that he had directed his attention to it. Let the House remark the following passage in the letter:— I drew my pen through at least one half of the penal clauses, and made some trifling alterations in some others, but I did not feel myself called upon, nor, indeed, had I the time or inclination, to model or arrange anew the part which remained, the Bill being plainly in an unfinished state, and evidently requiring further consideration. I did, however, draw one clause, which I thought, and still think, most valuable and most merciful to the poor, giving to magistrates summary jurisdiction in certain cases of larceny; and I either drew or corrected a clause relative to cases of rescue, of which I also approved, and for both of which alone I feel myself responsible. But I never dreamt of being held responsible for the general clauses of a Bill of which, on the whole, I disapproved—which I never believed would be introduced into Parliament, if introduced at all, without being remodelled and submitted to the opinion of counsel; and, certainly, if Sir H. W. Barron had done me the honour of consulting me, I should have given him my opinion of his Bill as freely as I gave it to his friend. He had had no opportunity of consulting with Mr. Berwick upon the Bill, but he bad certainly understood that Mr. Berwick had authorised the Bill, and that gentleman's statement went to boar out his opinion that the Bill bad been revised and corrected by him. [Cries of "Question!"]


here interposed, and said, that the hon. Baronet had stated quite enough to explain any personal matter connected with the affair. The hon. Baronet must not comment upon the subject.


said that he only wished to justify himself in connexion with the Bill.


trusted that the House would understand that Mr. Berwick disclaimed having had that share in the preparation of the Bill which had been imputed to him.


said, that in justice to those who had drawn up the Dublin Police Act, he thought it right to state that upon comparison a great discrepancy would be found between the provisions of this Hill and those of the Dublin Police Act. He was also happy to say he had received a communication from the Lord Lieutenant, in which he requested that his testimony might be borne as to Mr. Berwick's great professional talents.


was also happy to bear testimony to Mr. Berwick's abilities.


had sat upon several juries with Mr. Berwick, and was also in a position to bear testimony to the legal abilities displayed by Mr. Berwick.


was sure that his hon. Friend the Member for the city of Waterford had had no personal object to gain in the introduction of this Bill. The hon. Member had stated to him that he intended by his Bill the more speedy detection and punishment of offences, and he (Sir W. Somerville) had stated that he thought that to be a very desirable object. He was glad also to be able to speak to the abilities of Mr. Berwick.

Subject dropped.