HC Deb 30 July 1851 vol 118 cc1762-5

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.

Clause 1.


said, that as this Bill had hitherto progressed sub silentio, it was necessary now to test the Committee as to whether it should be further proceeded with. In the year 1827 an Act was passed depriving magistrates in all cases from acting alone; and if it were necessary to pass such an Act then, it was still more essential now. There had been various departures from the principle of that Bill until, by the 10th Clause of the present measure, it was proposed that one magistrate should adjudicate summarily in all cases. In 1834, there were 15,000 persons in Dundalk, 1,447 of whom were members of the Church of England, and 13,740 Roman Catholics and Dissenters. At present there was only one resident magistrate in the place, and neither the Roman Catholics nor the Dissenters had any person belonging to their creed in the commission of the peace. Would such a condition of things be permitted in England? He apprehended not: and what he complained of the Government was for exercising a system of exclusion in these matters, which exclusion consisted of one of class and one of creed. He deprecated the principle of conferring such extensive powers as this Bill proposed upon individual magistrates. The main objection, however, he took to the Bill was this—that it ran counter to the great principle propounded by Lord Plunkett, then Attorney General for Ireland, and Sir Robert Peel, in 1827, namely, that there should be more than one magistrate to hear cases and to adjudicate. He wished the House to adopt, as nearly as possible, the principle of the Act of 1827, on the ground that it was best adapted to the condition of Ireland. It was said, as a reason for passing this Bill, that in some districts of the country there were not sufficient resident gentry to be placed on the commission of the peace, and that the people were consequently inconvenienced by the want of facilities for obtaining justice. That might be so, perhaps, in the southern and western districts of Ireland; but that difficulty might have been met by the appointment of a stipendiary magistrate, with a circuit allotted to him which he might be able to traverse in a limited time. The appeal which was given by the Bill to the Quarter Sessions would be of practically little worth, seeing that the distance at which a large proportion of the people necessarily lived from the places of holding the Sessions would preclude them from availing themselves of it.


said, he should support the Bill, because he considered it as being absolutely necessary in the present state of Ireland. Every magistrate, of course, wished for a colleague, if possible; but to his own knowledge the difficulty was sometimes so great as to amount to a practical denial of justice to the people. In that part of Ireland in which he resided he was frequently unable to procure a second magistrate to act with him, and he had often been requested in such a case to act as an arbitrator between persons who came before him, to avoid additional delay and expense. He submitted, if the Legislature gave the power to a magistrate to adjudicate summarily, they would confer no benefit on the magistrate himself, but they would grant a great boon to the people of Ireland. With respect to the suggestion of his hon. Friend (Mr. M'Cullagh) that stipendiary magistrates should be appointed in those parts of the country where it was difficult to find resident gentry to place on the commission of the peace, he (Colonel Dunne) was of opinion that the stipendiary magistrates were not so generally liked as the local magistrates, and that the people of Ireland would be unwilling to bear the expense attendant upon the appointment of such functionaries.

Clause agreed to; as were also Clauses 2 to 4 inclusive.

Clause 5.


regretted that the principle of paying the petty sessions clerks by salaries instead of by fees was not adopted.


had not lost sight of that principle, which he considered extremely important.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "Justices."

Question put, "That the word 'Justices' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 53; Noes 13: Majority 40.

Clauses 6 to 9 were then agreed to.

Clause 10.


moved the omission of Section 2, enabling one magistrate to adjudicate summarily in all cases.

Amendment proposed in page 9 to leave out "Section 2."


considered that to insist upon two magistrates, would be to destroy the whole efficacy of the Bill. Various Acts had already granted summary jurisdiction to a single magistrate in many cases. The extensive power of appeal provided met every objection.


would support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dundalk. He (Mr. Roche) had been three years endeavouring to obtain the appointment of a friend in Queenstown to the commission of the peace, but could not succeed, in consequence of its being understood that he was connected with trade or business, though in reality he was not. As regarded stipendiary magistrates, he should say that they enjoyed the confidence of the people in the south of Ireland, and no act of the late Sir Robert Peel's was more popular than that which appointed them.


thought the objections which had been raised had been met by the argument of the right hon. Gentle- man the Secretary for Ireland. There were several magistrates resident about the locality of Dundalk, who could attend if they wished; and therefore it was only dragged in to make a grievance.


said, it appeared by the almanack that there were four magistrates, independent of a stipendiary magistrate, resident in the town of Dundalk.


explained that the magistrates were described in the almanack as residing in the post town nearest to their residences, which would explain the mistake under which the noble Lord laboured.

Question put, "That 'Section 2' stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 49; Noes 13: Majority 36.

Clause agreed to.

House resumed; Committee report progress.

The House adjourned at two minutes before Six o'clock.