§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, so hostile did this Bill appear to be to the liberties of Ireland, that he should oppose the second reading. For a considerable time past, crime had been decreasing, and there had been only two cases of murder recorded for a period extending over some months. Unless some explanation were offered by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Young), he should oppose the further progress of the measure.
§ SIR JOHN YOUNG
said, he was happy to bear witness to, and to corroborate the statements made by the hon. Member for 793 Dungarvon with regard to the great decrease of crime in Ireland. At all the assizes then going on, the grand juries had hardly any crime before them. The calendars were unusually light; but though that were so, still it would be necessary for the House to give the powers asked for, in order to disperse those small knots of persons who were banded together, and tyrannised over society, to whom the crime which was committed was generally attributable. Against the system of Ribandism, and that alone, was the Bill directed. The present Lord Lieutenant was disposed to deal with the powers only for the preservation of order and the prevention of outrage. So long as the Rib-and system existed, it would not be safe to dispense with those powers. Though the south and west were now perfectly tranquil, he was sorry to say that there was still some disturbed feeling in the north. There were twenty-one counties or parts of counties at present under proclamation, and in some of them there were great apprehensions and tendencies to outrage. He trusted that the time would come when the Government would be enabled to dispense with this power. At all events, while it existed he could promise that it should be used with the utmost moderation. Nothing could be more fatal to the rights of individuals or to general liberty than the existence of secret organisation. On the whole he congratulated the country upon its peace, prosperity, and general condition, embracing every point, with the single exception of the secret societies. The Bill did not interfere with the liberties of the people. He could bear witness to the good which the clergy of all denominations had done. They had done their best to prevent crime, and their efforts had been very successful. It was against those secret societies, and against them alone, that the Government sought to keep those powers still in force.
§ MR. F. SCULLY
said, he concurred with the right hon. Gentleman on the great tranquillity existing in all parts of Ireland. There were no disturbances and no conspiracies to be feared. There was, therefore, in his opinion, no necessity for this Bill. The Committee, which sat to inquire into the state of society in the north of Ireland, did not report that any measure like the present Bill was required. Every measure proposed by the Committee had been neglected both by the late and present Governments, and instead thereof, the 794 Arms Act and the present Bill were brought forward, which certainly went far beyond the propositions of the Committee. The provisions of the Bill were very stringent, and might be used by an antagonistic Government. No argument had been used to show the necessity of the Bill, which he believed to be a violation of the constitution of the country. Hon. Members did not know the nature of its provisions. The Lord Lieutenant might send any number of policemen he pleased into a county, and charge the inhabitants with the expense, in addition to the county cess. There was no crime in the country, and, consequently, no necessity for this unconstitutional measure. If the north of Ireland were disturbed, let them pass a measure for Donegal, and he should not object to it; but he protested against its application to the south, and particularly to the county of Tipperary, which had long been a model county in Ireland. It was his intention to divide the House if the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Maguire) did not propose it.
§ MR. SULLIVAN
said, he could bear testimony to the tranquil state of the county of Kilkenny, and must defend it against the libel conveyed in the Lord Lieutenant's Proclamation.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, that if no other Member did so, he would move that the Bill be read a second time that day three months.
§ MR. BOWYER
said, he would move that the Bill be read a second time that day three month's. He objected, to the passing of a general measure on account of the disturbed state of a few baronies; and he believed that the Riband system was now confined to a very few persons. He attributed the diminution in the numbers to the efforts of the clergy to suppress it, one of the most earnest of whom was Archbishop Cullen; and he knew that the course which the clergy generally had taken had had a most salutary effect. So far as the county of Down was concerned, he believed that Ribandism was almost entirely extinct. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Young) had stated that twenty-one counties were now proclaimed; but many of these Proclamations were, he believed, of old standing, and did not at all apply to the present state of things.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."
§ MR. LUCAS
seconded the Amendment. 795 Scarcely any of these Proclamations related to a more recent date than the year 1348; and of those which were of later date than 1850 there was not one out of the province of Ulster. He was told that some most extraordinary language had recently been made use of at a trial at Monaghan by the present Attorney General for Ireland, and he wished to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Young) to it, in order to ascertain whether that language was in accordance with the sentiments of the Government. Speaking of the state of criminality in that part of Ireland, the Attorney General was stated to have urged the landlords of that district, by every argument in his power, not to meet that criminality by a reduction of rents—declaring that every man who, in a district in which crime prevailed, reduced his rent, was an enemy to society. The right hon. Gentleman had probably seen these statements, and he gave him this the earliest opportunity of contradicting them.
§ Question put, "That the word now stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 141; Noes 23: Majority 118.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 2o.
§ The House adjourned at half after Three o'clock.