HC Deb 04 April 1856 vol 141 cc543-7

said, he would now beg to move, in accordance to notice, for certain Returns relative to the In cumbered Estates Court. He did not move for these Returns with any indirect or collateral object, but with the view of placing before the House and the public an authentic record of the dealings of the Incumbered Estates Commissioners with the late Mr. Sadleir. The subject to which the Returns referred had excited great interest long before the occurrence of the fatal catastrophe which had so much engaged public attention. A strong impression had prevailed in the public mind in Ireland, and particularly among members of the legal profession, that the Incumbered Estates Commissioners dealt with Mr. Sadleir in a manner different from that in which they dealt with other persons. It was generally believed that the Commissioners dealt with Mr. Sadleir as an influential Member of that House, and as a good customer to the Court, and there was a general impression that they gave him, with regard to the purchase of estates, undue advantages, which were not conceded to other persons. He believed that the Commissioners had relaxed one important rule in favour of Mr. Sadleir, namely, that which prohibited any person who was interested in property sold by the Court from bidding for any portion of the property in which he had an interest. It was also believed that other advantages had been conceded to Mr. Sadleir, which were not afforded to persons in a different position. He (Mr. Deasy) did not mean to say that that impression was well founded. He only stated that it existed very widely and generally in Ireland. He moved for these Returns for the purpose of testing the truth and validity of that impression, and he thought it but just to the Commissioners themselves that the Returns should be granted. It was only right to afford the Commissioners an opportunity of relieving themselves from the imputation that they had not afforded to inheritors and creditors due protection against the system of land jobbing which prevailed to a great extent in the In-cumbered Estates Court. If the imputation were well founded, the Returns would verify, by authentic statements, the truth of the impression which prevailed, and would doubtless prevent the recurrence of such evils in future.


I rise, Sir, to second the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman. For some time past the notion has prevailed in Ireland that the gentleman referred to had been particularly favoured by the Incumbered Estates Court Commissioners. Such at least has been the general belief. It is not necessary, however, nor do I wish to enter into details on the present occasion. But I say it is due to this House, it is due to the Irish people, it is due to the course of justice, that the Returns called for should be placed before the House. In general, the public has but little cause to question the purity of the tribunals, and if in the present instance the Judges shall be found to have only acted up to their duty, that should be placed before the public in the clearest manner. I cordially second the Motion.


said, he was not sorry that the hon. and learned Gentleman had made this Motion, because he seemed to assume that the Government were not disposed to give the information sought. Now, that was not the case. As a general rule, when an hon. Member gave notice of his intention to move for an unopposed Return, the department concerned was asked whether the Return might be granted, and it was next considered whether it would answer the purpose for which it was demanded. He had stated to the hon. and learned Member for Cork that he was not yet in a position to say whether or not the Return for which he had moved would serve his purpose, or whether, in the absence of the law officers for Ireland, he would be justified in at once acceding to his request. There was one very obvious reason why he should not take upon himself the responsibility of granting the Return at the present moment,—the return applied to purchases and sales by the late Mr. John Sadleir in the Incumbered Estates Court. Now a judicial inquiry is going on respecting those sales and purchases, and therefore he should have liked to have a little time for consulting those capable of advising him as to whether the Government should grant the Return at the very moment when it formed the subject matter of judicial investigation. He had stated to the hon. and learned Member that he was not unwilling to grant the Return; but as in the course of next week his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland would be in his place, it would be only fair that the hon. and learned Member for Cork should withdraw his Motion for the present, in order that the chief Law Officer of the Crown in Ireland might be consulted.


said, that he had shown his notice to the right hon. and learned Gentlemen (Mr. FitzGerald), who had made no objection to it.


said, he could not see what object the hon. and learned Member could have in pressing for the immediate production of the Return; but it was a question for the consideration of the House, and with that observation he was content to leave the matter in their hands.


said, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland was not in his place when the Government granted a Return a few weeks ago with regard to the Judges of Ireland; and he could not see why the present Motion should be delayed until that right hon. and learned Gentleman resumed his seat on the Treasury Bench. It was an error to say that the subject to which the Return applied was now undergoing a judicial inquiry. There was inquiry in progress into the affairs and resources of the Tipperary Bank; but the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. Deasy), referred to a totally different matter, and one, moreover, upon which any Member of that House was entitled to ask for information. The hon. and learned Member had stated a sufficiently strong reason why the Return should be produced; and really it was difficult to reconcile the reluctance of the Government to agree to the present Motion with the alacrity they recently displayed in granting a Return on a matter with which it was irregular for the House of Commons to interfere.


I regret, Sir, exceedingly that the right hon. Gentleman should even give the semblance of opposition to this Motion. [Mr. HORSMAN: I do not do so.] Having but within the week arrived from Ireland, I am able to state that in conversation the allegation attaches to but one Judge of the Court alone. It is due to the Commissioners to state that it is affirmed that because he had the ear of one of the Judges, the late Mr. Sadleir went into that Court and entered upon his extensive transactions there. At this moment there is a Committee engaged up-stairs in the inquriry how far it would be wise to amalgamate the Incumbered Estates Court with the Court of Chancery. It is essential, therefore, that anything tending to throw light upon the practice of the Incumbered Estates Court should not be withheld. I trust, then, that the right non. Gentleman will not persist in his opposition to the Motion.


Seeing, Sir, what is the general feeling of the House, I will offer no opposition to the granting of the Returns.

Returns orderedOf the several purchases made in the Incumbered Estates Court by the late John Sadleir, or any one in trust for him: specifying the name or title of the estate or matter in which each such purchase was made, the names of the Solicitors having the carriage of the sale and the amount of the purchase money. Of the number of Declarations of Trust made by or to said John Sadleir, appearing in any book or document in the Incumbered Estates Court; specifying the names or titles of the estate or matter in which such declarations of trust were made, and the names of the Solicitors having the carriage of the sales in such matters. Of the several Orders made by the Commissioners, or any of them, extending the time for lodgment of purchase money by said John Sadleir; specifying the date of the order, the amount of the purchase money, the name or title of the estate, and the period for which the time of lodgment was extended. And, of the number of conveyances executed by the Commissioners to the said John Sadleir, or any one in trust for him.

The House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clock till Monday next.