HC Deb 23 May 1856 vol 142 cc594-5

said, he wished to put a question to the Chief Secretary for Ireland, upon a subject of some moment to the peace of that country. The right hon. Gentleman was aware that the Act known as the Crime and Outrage Act would cease to be in force on the 1st of July; he was also aware that all the provisions of law to regulate the possession of arms in Ireland were now embodied in that Act, and would expire with it. It would be very dangerous to leave the Executive without any power of controlling the possession of arms in districts where crime might unhappily prevail. For the last few years a Bill had been annually brought in renewing the Crime and Outrage Act from year to year; but it had been invariably brought in at the very close of the Session, when it was impossible to discuss or modify details, and when those who might not wish to continue many of the provisions of that measure were left no choice but either to vote for its renewal as a whole, or to take the responsibility of leaving the Government without any control over the possession of arms. Last year the Act had only been renewed to the 1st of July, with the view that this year there might be early and satisfactory legislation, with full opportunity of discussion. In former years he (Mr. Butt) had felt it his duty to call the earnest attention of the Irish Government to the danger of permitting all regulations in relation to arms to expire. He hoped it was not necessary to do so now. He felt sure the right hon. Gentleman was not disposed to repeat the experiment of 1846, and attempt to govern Ireland without the power, if necessary, of imposing some check upon the acquisition of arms by the ill-disposed. But as the period was so near when the Act would expire, and no steps had been taken by the Government, he begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman if it was intended to introduce any measure with reference to the approaching expiration of that Act?


said, in reply to the question of the hon. and learned Member for Youghal, he begged to say it was not the intention of the Government to bring in any Bill for the continuation of the Crime and Outrage Act of last year; but to propose an amended Act to continue all the important parts of the present law, but to leave out some of its provisions. That Bill was now ready to be introduced.