§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, this was merely a precautionary Bill, enabling the Lord Lieutenant to take such measures as he might think necessary in districts where the peace of the country was disturbed. The fact was, that the Bill was so much of a nominal one that he did not believe the majority of the Irish country Gentlemen, at the present moment, could tell him whether their counties were proclaimed or not.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ MR. MAGUIRE
thought it a strange proof of the necessity of the Bill to declare that country gentlemen in Ireland did not even know of its existence. The right hon. Gentleman had given no reason why the Irish people should be insulted again and again by such propositions as these. Was there ever a state of more perfect tranquillity than that now existing in Ireland, and was this the moment to pass an exceptional measure like the present? Why, more crime existed in England now—crime, too, of a worse description—systematic poisoning—than in Ireland, yet nobody thought of bringing forward an exceptional measure applicable to this country. If the Home Secretary would state on his responsibility as a 1392 Minister of the Crown that the Bill was necessary he would submit, though at the same time he should feel bound to divide against the second reading. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.
§ Amendment proposed to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question, to add the words "upon this day six months."
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, the pledge of the hon. Member for Dungarvan, that should he (Sir G. Grey), as a Minister of the Crown, assure the House that this was absolutely necessary he would submit, but at the same time would show his submission by voting against the Bill, was anything bxt satisfactory. He must protest against this Bill being considered as an imputation on the loyalty of the people of Ireland—it was not meant to have any political effect whatever, it was simply a continuation of an existing Act, in a milder form. In 1847 it had been his duty, as Home Secretary, to propose to the House the Crime and Outrage Bill, which was then rendered necessary by the state of Ireland. The operation of that Act had been most beneficial in the repression of crime, and no cause of complaint had ever been given by the mode of putting it in force. That Act gave to the Lord Lieutenant the power of proclaiming any districts in which crime should prevail, of restricting in such districts the use of arms, of despatching there an additional police force, the charge of which was thrown on the districts, and, further, of applying to them certain stringent clauses in the White-boy Act. This Bill was intended to continue the first two provisions of that Act, omitting the power of putting in force the clauses of the Whiteboy Act. The hon. Member for Dungarvan said that crime in England was of a deeper dye than in Ireland, and instanced the crime of poisoning in support of his assertion, but the crime to which this Bill was intended to refer was of an entirely different description. Two districts in Ireland were now proclaimed in consequence of two murders—the one of Miss Hinds, and the other of Mrs. Kelly—and in each case the measure had been most serviceable to the ends of justice. It was a most useful power to be vested in the Lord Lieutenant, 1393 it was most necessary for the preservation of peace and the repression of crime in certain districts, and he hoped, therefore, the House would give its assent to the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. P. O'BRIEN
maintained that a few isolated cases of crime afforded no justification for legislating for a whole country in the manner proposed by this Bill. There were many places now under the operation of the Crime and Outrage Act which had long ceased to afford any reason for it, and when once the district was placed under the provisions of the Act there was immense difficulty in getting rid of the ban. He should cordially support the Amendment.
§ MR. GEORGE
said, that although he heartily concurred in the observations that had been made respecting the tranquillity of Ireland, he was nevertheless of opinion that the time had not yet arrived when the powers which this Bill was intended to continue to cease, and had no fear of those powers being unduly or improperly exercised by the Lord Lieutenant. There were districts in Ireland where the state of crime was such as to, unfortunately, still require extraordinary measures of repression.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question"
§ The House divided: Ayes 77; Noes 10: Majority 67.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 2°.