HC Deb 07 March 1862 vol 165 cc1156-8

said, he wished to ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland, If the Government have received full information as to the results of the riots which are alleged to have taken place at the late Election for Longford; and, if that information was calculated to alleviate the anxiety produced in the minds of many persons whose friends and tenants were reported to have been dangerously wounded by the mob, in consequence of threats held out against them if they exercised their privilege of voting for the candidate whom they wished to support; and, if such was the case, if the Government proposed to take any measures to prevent a repetition of such proceedings on any future occasion?


The subject, Sir, which the hon. Member has brought under the notice of the House is one which, I must say, has excited very general interest, and given rise to strong feelings in the minds of a great many Gentlemen on both sides of the House. For myself, I am not at all surprised, considering the scenes which undoubtedly have taken place within the last few days in Longford, that the hon. Gentleman should give expression to feelings of indignation on the subject; more especially as tenants of the hon. Gentleman, as well as tenants of other gentlemen, and the Protestant Pastor of a parish in the county of Longford, have been maltreated, and half-murdered, I believe, by a violent and lawless mob. I am bound to say that the information which has appeared in the newspapers by no means comes up to the state of the case; because I believe that the scenes of outrage, intimidation, and violence which have occurred at Longford were such as have not been witnessed in Ireland for a great many years. I do not know what course may be pursued on the subject, but from the reports received by the Government I am led to believe that this election—or mockery of election, as I suppose I may call it—will be subjected to a Parliamentary inquiry. Of course I am not able to say what proceedings will be adopted in the matter, but I believe that freedom of election has not been at all exercised by the people.


I rise to order. I submit, Sir, with great respect, that as the proceedings at this election are to form the subject of a Parliamentary inquiry—as Colonel White's agent has given notice to the agent of the hon. Member for Long-ford, and that fact has come to the knowledge of the Government—the right hon. Baronet is out of order in discussing a question that is to form the subject of such inquiry.


It appears to me that the matter is not one of order, but of discretion.


The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lefroy) asked me whether the Government intended to take any measures in consequence of the scenes that have occurred at this election? They did take precautionary measures. There was a large military force, a force of constabulary, and three special stipendiary magistrates in the county; but probably they were not sufficient for the purpose intended. However, I believe the Government have given orders that all persons who can be proved to have been engaged in these violent proceedings shall be followed up and prosecuted as the law may direct.