HC Deb 16 July 1858 vol 151 cc1607-10

said, he had a notice on the paper to call attention to the convenience it would be to many Members of the House if permission, under whatever restrictions might be considered advisable, were granted to Members of Parliament, coming to or returning from the House of Commons, to ride and drive through the Park by Constitution Hill and the Horse Guards, or by Storey's Gate; but that he did not think he should be justified in detaining the House on this subject at the present late period of the Session. He hoped, however, that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would turn his attention to the subject during the recess, and would extend the accommodation he desired as far as possible consistently with the preservation of the privacy of the parks. At the same time, he wished to ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether he intends to lay on the table of the House the Reports and Letters of Colonel Browne and Mr. O'Ferrall to the Irish Government in December and January last, in reference to the organization of the Dublin Metropolitan Police?


remarked, that the Chief Secretary having stated, in moving the second reading of the Dublin Police Bill, that in the metropolitan force as at present constituted the Roman Catholics greatly outnumbered the Protestants, the hon. and learned Member for Ennis (Mr. J. D. FitzGerald) attempted to account for the fact by asserting that the Protestant members of the force were continually withdrawn from it by private merchants and traders. That statement was made on the authority of Colonel Browne, but as he himself was at the moment in possession of another statement of Colonel Browne somewhat different from that reported by the hon. and learned Member for Ennis, he thought it right to lay it before the House. It was contained in a communication addressed by Colonel Browne to the Irish Government, and was to the effect that the reason why Protestants declined to join the Dublin police force, or to remain in it was, that they did not get fair play. He (Mr. Whiteside) had then admitted that Mr. O'Ferrall had protested against that statement of Colonel Browne, so far as it might be supposed to reflect upon him. And he must say that the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. Serjeant Deasy) and other hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House seemed to have a very singular acquaintance with the correspondence of Mr. O'Ferrall with the Government. No doubt it was the duty of that Gentleman to have written a long statement on this subject to the Government, but he doubted whether it was equally his duty to communicate it to hon. Gentlemen opposite. However, all he (the Attorney General) did, was to repeat what Colonel Browne stated to the Government. He did not say whether Colonel Browne or Mr. O'Ferrall was accurate, but only argued that when they had a police force managed by two gentlemen who entertained such different opinions, the best thing was to superannuate both and place the force under wiser and better heads. It was a mistake to suppose, as the hon. Gentleman seemed to do, that there had been a correspondence between Colonel Browne and Mr. O'Ferrall. There were statements addressed by both these gentlemen to the Government on a variety of matters connected with the police force, but it was not the intention of the Government to submit them to the House. The hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. Serjeant Deasy) had looked over the correspondence with the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and had come to the conclusion that it would not be advisable for the sake of either party that it should be laid on the table.


said, what he understood his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cork to have stated was this. Having met the noble Lord the Chief Secretary by appointment, and gone through the correspondence, the noble Lord called his attention to the fact that it would not be for the public service that the correspondence should be produced, and it was on the strength of that representation that his hon. and learned Friend did not think it necessary to press for its production. What he complained of now was that although the correspondence was not fit to be laid on the table, the right hon. and learned Attorney General had read a passage from it to the House which reflected on the character of an absent and honourable man. He did not think that was a fair course in dealing with a public servant who had served the country twenty-three years, on whose character there was not the slightest stain, and who held a position as high as that of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He wished to know whether the Chief Secretary for Ireland would have any objection to produce so much of the correspondence as Mr. O'Ferrall deemed necessary for the justification of his character?


said, that after what took place on a former evening, the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. Serjeant Deasy) called on him on Saturday morning last. At the conclusion of the conference, which was a protracted one, and after looking over the letters, the hon. and learned Gentleman agreed with him (Lord Naas) that it would not be satisfactory, either for the public service or for the parties concerned, that this correspondence should be laid on the table. At the same time he (Lord Naas) told the hon. Gentleman that if a question were put in the House he would answer it distinctly. Colonel Browne had stated his opinion in the terms read by his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General the other night. At the same time, in a subsequent part of his letter, he stated his belief that his brother commissioner was not to blame, and that he felt convinced that if these matters were brought before Mr. O'Ferrall he would be prepared to deal impartially and fairly with them. Mr. O'Ferrall, in a letter which he addressed to the Government, referring to that passage of Colonel Browne's letter which had been read the other night said, "In reference to the belief of Colonel Browne, I have to state that nothing ever came before me to lead me to coincide with him in that opinion."


said, he could not but express his satisfaction at the statement of the noble Lord, which if made before would, he believed, have put an end to all controversy or unpleasantness on this question. The Irish Members had thought it right, in the interest of an absent man, to bring this matter before the House.