HC Deb 04 July 1856 vol 143 cc381-3

On the Motion for deferring the Committee on the Joint-stock Companies' Winding-up Acts Amendment Bill,


said, he felt called upon, in consequence of statements which had appeared in the newspapers, to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Unhappily it was too notorious that frauds of the grossest character had been perpetrated in connection with the Tipperary Bank. He believed also he was not wrong in stating that according to what had appeared in the newspapers, a Member of that House had been judicially connected with those frauds. It also appeared, according to the same authority, that an active canvass was being carried on for the representation of the county of Tipperary, in expectation of the resignation of the Member who had been thus judicially referred to. Well, as that resignation could only be brought about by the acceptance of the individual in question of a nominal office under the Crown, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether there was an intention of conferring even that nominal office upon the Member for the county of Tipperary, for the purpose of vacating his seat. Of course, if the right hon. Gentleman decided in the negative, then it would be for the House to decide what course it should adopt for the vindication of its honour.


Sir, no application has been made to me, either by Mr. James Sadleir, or on his behalf, for the office of the "Chiltern Hundreds," and therefore it would be quite premature to answer the question of the hon. and learned Gentleman. I can only say, if such an application should be made to me, I shall of course consider the propriety of doing so before acceding to the request.


said, he would remind the House that upon the occasion of the "South Sea Bubble," Members involved in those transactions were expelled the House of Commons. Perhaps a similar course might be proper under the present most scandalous circumstances. There was, however, another very serious matter arising for consideration out of those proceedings. A learned Judge, from his seat on the Irish bench, had declared that a certain person ought to be prosecuted, and that it was the duty of the Government to consider the propriety of such prosecution. Now, it might hereafter be matter for serious investigation if, as had been stated, and stated also judicially, that the principal in those transactions, after having been allowed to walk about for some days subsequently unmolested, had finally left the country—it might, he would say, be matter for investigation how far the Government were responsible for not having acted upon the admonition thus judicially given to them.


said, he hoped he might be allowed to make a few observations after what had fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside). The case of the Tipperary Bank had originally come before Master Murphy on an order of reference. That learned functionary had had before him for private examination the Member of the House whose name was under discussion, and when the Master came to deliver his judgment he acquitted all the parties before him, including the Gentleman in question, of any intentional fraud. Subsequently the case came before the Master of the Rolls in Ireland, but that learned Judge adopted the very unusual course of broaching his opinions to the public before delivering his judgment. That judgment was delivered some ten days afterwards, and when he (Mr. J. D. FitzGerald) came to read it, he learned that the Judge had come to the conclusion that a fraud had been committed by the Member alluded to—and that he had gone further, and had impeached the conduct of the Government—or rather his (Mr. J. D. FitzGerald's) conduct, for not having instituted a prosecution against the party implicated, as the House would observe, without any knowledge of the circumstances of which the learned Judge was in possession. Now, if the Master of the Rolls had adopted the course which became him, he ought either to have made an order directing the evidence to be laid before the Attorney General for Ireland, or in his capacity of a Privy Councillor he ought to have waited upon his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant, and apprised him that materials were before him to enable him to declare that a Member of Parliament had been guilty of a serious breach of faith. However, immediately upon having seen the judgment of the Master of the Rolls, he went to Dublin, and having examined all the documents in the case, he at once took the most active steps to set the powers of the law in motion against the parties implicated; and all he could say, therefore, was, if the Gentleman referred to had absconded—and he (Mr. J. D. FitzGerald) was rather inclined to the conclusion that he had not—all he could say was, that if he had absconded he did so immediately after the Master of the Rolls had delivered himself of those most irregular observations of which he had already complained. The escape, therefore, of the Gentleman in question from the hands of justice would be attributable to the Master of the Rolls, and not to the dilatoriness of Her Majesty's Government.

The Motion for deferring the Committee was then agreed to.

The House adjourned at half-after One o'clock till Monday next.