HC Deb 01 July 1856 vol 143 cc114-7

Order for Committee read.

MR. MACARTNEY rose and said, that whilst he admitted that there was a necessity for an alteration of the law affecting the management of gaols in Ireland, the present measure went further than was desirable, and he trusted the Government would give some assurance before going into Committee that they would not carry out the centralisation principle to the extent to which the Bill proposed to go. The power of framing regulations for the government of gaols was at present vested in the Judges of the Court of Queen's Bench; but by this Bill it was proposed to transfer that power to the Lord Lieutenant, which was virtually to place it in the hands of an irresponsible person—namely, the Chief Inspector of Prisons. Seeing how well and efficiently the gaols in Ireland were now managed in the north, and especially in the province of Ulster, he hoped the Government would not deprive the several boards of management of the jurisdiction they now exercised and possessed.


said, that the object of the Bill was merely to introduce into Ireland that system which already existed in England and in Scotland, by transferring the superintending power over the gaols from the Court of Queen's Bench to the executive. The Bill merely followed the precedent of England and Scotland.


said, that the fact of transference made all the difference. The Bill was one of a series of most objectionable measures referring to Ireland that were being forced through the House.


said, that at present the jurisdiction of the Queen's Bench over the prisons was ineffectual, and therefore, in transferring that jurisdiction to the Executive, the Bill might be so far considered an improvement. He thought the House ought to go into Committee on the Bill in order to amend many details which were objectionable.

House in Committee, Mr. FITZROY in the chair.

Clauses and 2 agreed to.

On Clause 3, which transferred the power of superintendence from the Court of Queen's Bench to the Lord Lieutenant being read,


said, it had been represented that the Judges of the Queen's Bench had expressed their approval of the transfer of the authority now vested in them; but he had recently seen a letter from one of their Lordships to the effect that he had taken the opinion of his brother Judges, who not only denied that they had been consulted on the subject, but expressed their disapproval of the power being taken out of their hands. If the clause were passed in its present shape it would give all power, in fact, to Mr. Corry Connellan, the Chief Inspector of Prisons. He would, therefore, move, as an Amendment, that the words "and Privy Council," be inserted after "Lord Lieutenant."


objected to the proposition as contrary to the principle of Executive Government, which should be the same in Ireland as it was in England. He was quite satisfied with the inspectors in Ireland, and he thought they might safely trust to the Lord Lieutenant.


denied that he had any personal distrust either of the Lord Lieutenant or of the inspectors.


did not see practically much difference between the Lord Lieutenant in Council and the Lord Lieutenant himself. The Executive must be responsible for the proceedings of the Inspectors General, who could get what was necessary from the Queen's Bench.


thought the Amendment would be satisfactory to the Irish people.


highly approved of the transfer from the Court of Queen's Bench. He could only remember one case in which the Queen's Bench ever did anything. As to the difference between the Lord Lieutenant himself and a Council, it practically amounted to nothing at all. But although he approved of the principle of the Bill, he never saw a Bill drawn up so unintelligibly.

Amendment negatived; Clause agreed to.

Clause 4 (Board of Superintendence, with approval of Grand Jury and Lord Lieutenant, to make By-Laws, &c.)


objected to the mode in which the clause dealt with preceding measures. One of its provisions was to give the Lord Lieutenant control over the by-laws of the gaols. He did not think that this would work. All by-laws ought to be under the control of the boards themselves.


said, that the Bill was not drawn by the present Government, and they thought it the best plan to adopt the Bill, and pass another in the next Session to amend it.


said, the practical effect of the clause would be to place the whole power of managing the prisons in the inspectors, and take it from the boards of superintendence.


The 26 Geo. IV., c. 38, regulated the government of prisons in England and Wales, and the Secretary of State had by it the power of making rules and regulations. This was to ensure uniformity in those rules. If the Irish Government discharged its duty, the whole power would not, as had been said, rest with the Inspectors of Prisons. He saw no reason why the same power should not rest with the Lord Lieutenant in Ireland as with the Secretary of State in England.


said, if there were the same kind of officer in the Irish Office as there was in the Secretary of State's Office in England, he would be perfectly content; but unfortunately there was no such officer to whom the Irish country gentlemen could refer.


objected to the arbitrary forms of the clause.


said, if the object of the Bill was to assimilate the Irish to the English law, why were not the words of the English statute quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department put into this Bill?


said, the provisions in the Statute he had quoted were analogous to those in the present Bill, though not the ipsissima verba.

Question put, "That the words 'and it shall be lawful for the Lord Lieutenant' stand part of the clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 66; Noes 9: Majority 57.


said, that their only object was to preserve the right of the boards of superintendence. He proposed, therefore, that if the Lord Lieutenant required any alteration in the bylaws, he should submit a proposal to that effect to the board. He should move an Amendment to that effect on bringing up the Report.


thought this contrary to the principle followed in England.

COLONEL FRENCH moved to omit the word "repeal," so as to give no more power to the Lord Lieutenant than that given to the Secretary of State in England.


objected to the Amendment, which was negatived without a division.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 5 to 9 were then agreed to.

Clause 10 agreed to, after a short discussion.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported, as amended.

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