HC Deb 24 July 1857 vol 147 cc415-8

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 (The disposal of Seizures provided for).

MR. HASSARD moved the omission of the clause.


said, he could not understand the object of the Amendment, inasmuch as the system by which the services of the constabulary of Ireland were brought in to aid the revenue police had worked very beneficially.


said, that it was to be feared that the result of the Bill would be to produce a most demoralising effect upon the constabulary force. One of the most deep-rooted feelings in Ireland was a hatred of the exciseman, and to make the same body of men both policemen and revenue officers was calculated to render the police peculiarly obnoxious in the eyes of the people. He believed that the Government would find out they were making a false move if they turned the Irish constabulary into a force of excisemen, and placed them at the cross roads as spies over the people.


observed that he believed that if the clause were adopted, and the police were empowered to destroy the illicit whisky, the Government would find before long that they would drink it. He hoped the Government would not throw the temptation in their way, for he felt convinced from his knowledge of human nature, that the police would be demoralized by the practice.


said, that in order to show that illicit distillation was on the decrease in Ireland, he would state that, while no fewer than 1,100 persons had been convicted for the offence in 1849, the number convicted in 1856 had been only 140.


said, that there was an inconsistency in the clause, for in the first part, it directed that seizures should be disposed of by the Inspector General of Constabulary, and in the after part of the clause it was provided that the seizures of spirits in transitu should be disposed of as the Commissioners of Inland Revenue should direct. He did not understand why the seizures were to be disposed of by two different authorities, and he thought the clause, moreover, imposed on the constabulary duties calculated to demoralize them. Magistrates at petty sessions would be the proper parties to direct the disposal of the seized spirits.


said, the clause only confirmed a practice which had been in force for the last three years. There was no inconsistency in the clause. The seizures to be disposed of by the Inspector General of Constabulary were seizures of spirits made in illicit stills, and those which the Commissioner of Inland Revenue was to dispose of were the seizures of spirits removed from or by any licensed distiller or rectifier.


objected to the clause, as giving too much power to the police, who ought not to have the right to seize illicit spirits without bringing the offender before a magistrate. He thought they were imposing on the police officers a jurisdiction which was never before asked of Parliament. He was satisfied no such law existed in England, and he doubted whether it existed in Scotland.


said the Bill had been brought in with the express approval of Sir Duncan M'Gregor and Mr. Brownrigg. He hoped, therefore, the Committee would agree to the substitution of Clause 2 of this Bill for Clause 17 of the former Bill.


objected to the clause, on the ground that it would introduce a dangerous principle. It would place the police under great temptations.


remarked, he also thought the clause would have an injurious tendency.

Question put, "That the Clause as amended stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 88; Noes 46: Majority 42.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 3 (Penalties and Proceeds of Sales and Seizures to whom to be paid).


said, they had now adopted a different principle for Ireland from that which they adopted for England. They would not give such powers to the police in those countries as they had just given to the Chief Commissioner for England. Ireland had not equal rights with England. He should move the omission of this clause.

Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 80; Noes 37: Majority 43.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 4 (Lord Lieutenant may appoint Officers for the prevention of Illicit Distillation).


said, he wished to point out that the expenses were to be paid out of the Inland Revenue, so that it would involve the whole principle of arresting the revenue in its progress to the Exchequer.


admitted that there was an error in that respect, and consented to amend the clause accordingly. The hon. Gentleman then proposed a proviso that nothing in the Act should interfere with the existing distribution of the police in their respective counties.


who had proposed a clause to the same effect, objected to that proviso as wholly inefficient.


said, this was a Bill which ought to excite the greatest apprehension of all Irish Members, and as the hour was late (one o'clock), he should move that the Chairman report progress.

Motion made and Question put, "That the Chairman do report progress and ask leave to sit again."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 27; Noes 80: Majority 53.

On the question that Clause 4, as amended, stand part of the Bill,


said, he now appealed to the noble Viscount to postpone the Bill for the present Session. If not, he must have recourse to perpetual divisions.


again moved that the Chairman report progress.

Motion agreed to.

House resumed: Committee report progress; to sit again on Monday next.

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