HC Deb 06 May 1851 vol 116 cc588-90

begged to put a question to the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies, with respect to the treatment of the three Irish exiles by the Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen's Land. On the arrival of the exiles in Van Diemen's Land, tickets of leave were granted to three of them—Messrs. O'Donohue, M'Manus, and O'Doherty; Mr. Smith O'Brien declining to accept one upon the terms on which it was offered—that he should give his parole of honour that he would not use his liberty to escape from the island. The other three gentlemen gave this parole, and received unconditional tickets of leave. These tickets were granted under an Act passed when Lord Stanley was the Colonial Secretary, by which the holders of these tickets were placed upon the same footing as conditional-pardon men were formerly; they had the right to hold property, and to sue and be sued as freemen. It was the opinion of lawyers consulted by these gentlemen that they had the full liberty of locomotion all over the island; and though the Governor assigned them particular districts for their residence, some of them had occasionally gone beyond the limits of their police districts, returning again within them. On Mr. Smith O'Brien's taking a ticket of leave, and coming in from Maria Island to Hobart Town, the other gentlemen named, Messrs. O'Donohue, M'Manus, and O'Doherty, went to see him and congratulate him on his restoration to liberty; and having done so, and spent two hours with him, they returned within their police districts. Mr. O'Donohue was then taken ill, and was con fined to his bed; but the two other gentlemen were brought before the police magistrates of their respective districts on a charge of having exceeded the limits of their districts. They appeared before the magistrate by counsel, and the point was argued as one of extreme doubt and difficulty. Mr. Mason, who had been fifteen years a police magistrate of the district of New Norfolk, declared that it was his opinion that these gentlemen had the privilege for which they contended, and that they had committed no offence. In consequence, however, of the law officers of the Crown in the colony having given an adverse opinion, he suggested that the case should be compromised on these terms—that the case should be dismissed, Mr. O'Doherty giving his honour not to leave the district again until he had asked permission. Mr. O'Doherty having given this promise the complaint was dismissed, and a return was accordingly made by the police magistrate that the case had been dismissed. A similar compromise was made at Longstown with Mr. M'Manus. The third gentleman, Mr. O'Donohue, was confined to his bed during these proceedings, and, therefore, was not prosecuted; but as soon as the report of the proceedings before the police magistrates came to the Lieutenant Governor, Sir William Denison, he addressed a reprimand to each of the magistrates, and the tickets of leave granted to the three gentlemen named were withdrawn by a public notice in the Government Gazette of the 31st of December last. They were immediately (with the exception of Mr. O'Donohue, whose illness prevented this step) arrested and removed to the Penitentiary, their clothing was then taken from them, they were clad in the gaol dress, and sentenced to three months' probation in the ultra penal settlement of Port Arthur, amongst thrice-convicted convicts. He wished to ask the hon. Under Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the facts, which he had on the authority of the parties themselves and their friends in the island, were as he had stated them or not? and whether the conduct of the Lieutenant Governor was likely to receive the approbation of the Colonial Office; and whether any correspondence that might have passed between the Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemeu's Land and the Colonial Office could be laid before the House?


said, that, with respect to the statement of facts, as the hon. and learned Member alleged them to be, he had no alteration to make at all, inasmuch as he could neither affirm nor contradict them; and he certainly thought there was some inconvenience in having ex-parte statements of fact made in introducing a simple question, which was all that he had to answer. It was perfectly true that tickets of leave were granted to the three persons mentioned by the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Anstey); and it was also true that the Governor had thought it incumbent upon him, in the exercise of his authority, to withdraw the indulgence afforded by granting tickets of leave. He would, with the permission of the House, read a passage from the despatch of the Lieutenant Governor:— I have now to inform your Lordship that I have been obliged to withdraw this indulgence from the three persons named in the margin, Messrs. O'Donohue, O'Doherty, and M'Manus, in consequence of their misconduct in acting in direct violation of the regulations applicable to tickets of leave, and, in consequence of such violation, to send them to Port Arthur. The Lieutenant Governor goes on to state that— as distinct evidence was brought before me of the fact that the three persons before-mentioned had deliberately left their districts without leave; and in the case of M'Manus, after I had thrice refused permission, I directed the tickets of leave to be withdrawn. He (Mr. Hawes) could not conceive that there was anything in the conduct of the Lieutenant Governor which deserved censure; for if he was to exorcise impartially the power conferred on him by Act of Parliament, he must make no distinctions whatever; and if persons have violated the known condition on which they accepted the ticket of leave, it is on their own heads that the consequences must fall. The Lieutenant Governor was empowered to withdraw the tickets of leave if he thought fit; he had exercised that discretion, and he (Mr. Hawes) did not see that he was deserving of censure. He should have no objection to lay on the table the despatch from which he had read extracts.


then said, that on the first day on which the House went into Committee of Supply, he would move a vote of censure upon the Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemen's Land.

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