HC Deb 23 May 1862 vol 166 cc2116-36

said, he rose to move for reports on the subject of the Longford Election; and in so doing he wished to call attention to a statement made in his official capacity by a Minister of the Crown, and one charged with very important functions in connection with the Government of Ireland. That statement had reference to the Longford election, and was so remarkable a one that he felt it his duty to bring it under the notice of the House at the earliest possible moment, and to ask on what grounds it had been made. It was quite true that some time had elapsed since the statement to which he referred was made; but after he had resolved on bringing it under the notice of the House, he found that the election was likely to form the subject of a Parliamentary inquiry. Under those circumstances he felt that it would be more in accordance with the usages of Parliament that he should refrain from entering into the question till after the close of that inquiry. However, the petition against his hon. and gallant Colleague having been withdrawn, he now felt at liberty to enter into the matter. If it were simply a question between Colonel White and his hon, and gallant Colleague—if it were simply a question of the misrepresentations and exaggerations which had been so industriously circulated through the public Press—he should be satisfied to point to the withdrawal of the petition as an answer to those misrepresentations and exaggerations; but a Minister of the Crown had made statements so utterly inconsistent with what appeared to be the facts that he felt bound to ask that those statements should either be substantiated or withdrawn. The House had been told by a right hon. Baronet, a Member of the Government, that the public accounts of the outrages and intimidation that took place at the recent election for the county of Longford did not by any means come up to the real facts. They had been told, on the authority of the Government, that the facts went beyond what had been publicly reported, and that the proceedings at Longford amounted to a "mockery of election." Having had the honour to represent that county for the last ten years, he felt it his duty to give the Government an opportunity of substantiating or withdrawing those statements. If they did not do so, he must say that his constituents were most unjustly treated in the affair. It would be in the recollection of the House, that Colonel White, having accepted the office of Junior Lord of the Treasury, went to his constituents for reelection. An opposition was got up, and then an attempt was made to make it appear that the struggle or contest was one between a foreign Power and the British Government. He had no doubt that it would be extremely convenient to a Minister of the Crown to have it in his power to influence an election by representing the struggle to be one of that character. As an Englishman and a Protestant, he heartily sympathized with every attempt to establish liberty and constitutional government; but he contended that the policy of her Majesty's Government in Ireland was sufficient, without anything more, to induce the people of that country to withhold from them their confidence. On their Irish policy alone he wished to test the Government. It was matter of notoriety that the Whig Government had year after year become more unpopular in Ireland. The right hon. Baronet the present Chief Secretary for Ireland had done nothing to heal matters; but, in his opinion, he (Sir Robert Peel) had done much to widen the breach, if not to make it irreparable. He would not follow the right hon. Baronet in his tour through the West, which he made on a low-backed car, accompanied by the chief of the police. In the course of that tour he entered Galway at four o'clock on a winter's evening, and left it at eight the following morning. Nor would he dwell on his visit to Belfast, where he charmed the Orangemen by descanting on the shortcomings of a Roman Catholic archbishop. The truth was, that the acts of the Government were wanting in consideration for the feelings and wishes of the Irish people, and they had thereby alienated the confidence of the whole country. An opposition was therefore got up to the return of Colonel White, and his hon. Friend (Major O'Reilly) agreed to contest the county. At the very commencement of the election, however, it was stated, that if Colonel White were returned, it would be in consequence of intimidation, violence, and outrage, and that under any circumstances a petition would be presented against his return. It was true that some undue influence had been exercised, but it was only on the part of the Government. He held in his hand a return of the number of troops sent into the county of Longford. Speaking as an Englishman who had seen something of elections, he should like to ask English Members how they would feel if on the occasion of a contest the Government were to send down an overwhelming force of military—of cavalry, infantry, and police, under the command of a general officer and stipendiary magistrates—and all to insure the freedom of election. Was there one representative of an English county or borough who would not indignantly call on the Ministry to account for such conduct? Such proceedings would not be tolerated in England, but in Ireland anything was tolerated. The military force consisted of four troops of the 4th Dragoon Guards, two troops of the 11th Hussars, a portion of the 15th Hussars, and some of the 11th and 25th Foot. The force comprised al together 13 captains, 23 subalterns, 42 sergeants, 715 rank and file, and 479 horses. They were placed under the command of Major General Key, who was removed from the camp at the Curragh, a district being created for the occasion. About 1,200 police were also stationed in the county or sent there to secure the freedom of election. It was calculated that, including the police among the military, there was one soldier for every elector. No less than 11 stipendiary magistrates were also brought into the county. He would not say that all these county inspectors, sub-inspectors, and stipendiary magistrates would do anything wrong, but they were looking to the Government for promotion and good-service pensions, and it was but natural, if they had any bias at all, that it should be in favour of the Government, and that they should conclude that unless the Government felt peculiar interest in the election, they would not have sent down a preponderating force to secure the return of their candidate. Such excessive pre cautions, however, to secure the freedom of election were likely to defeat their object, because the small freeholders, seeing so large a force, would be afraid to trust themselves abroad, not knowing what was going to happen. He believed, that if the papers were granted, it would be seen that officers and stipendiary magistrates gave their testimony to the orderly manner in which the election had been conducted. He thought, indeed, he could himself satisfy the House that the election was not at all of the description which a Minister of the Crown would have the House believe. After the election was over, considerable exaggerations were circulated in the public press with regard to the violence that had taken place. The High Sheriff of the county of Longford, Mr. Walter Nugent, a gentleman of ancient family and considerable property, seeing in one of the Dublin papers an exaggerated account of the election proceedings, wrote to that journal to state that, although present at the election in an official capacity, he had not seen the violence which had been represented, nor had it been necessary to employ the military in the election. That letter from the High Sheriff the Daily Express, the newspaper in question, with characteristic fairness, refused to insert. The deputy-sheriff stationed at the town of Granard, one of the three polling-places, made a report to the High Sheriff, in which he stated that the conduct of the people had been orderly, and that the election had been conducted in a peaceable manner. He had yet another authority to quote, which was of so remarkable a character that it could not fail to carry conviction with it. A letter had been spontaneously addressed to his hon. Friend (Major O'Reilly) by a clergyman of the Established Church in this country, who, having property in the county of Longford, went to record his vote in favour of Colonel White. The letter was dated "University Club, Dublin, March 22, 1862," and was as follows:— Sir,—I see there is to be a petition with reference to the Longford election. As a native of that county, and an elector, I could not allow the misstatements that are circulated with reference to intimidation used at the election to pass un noticed; and I wrote to the Irish Times the day after Sir Robert Peel's speech in the House, to the effect that I was in Longford on the first day of the election from 11.30 a.m. to 6 p.m.—that I walked several times through the crowd—that I went to Newtown forbes and met with no incivility, nor did I witness during that day any act of violence or intimidation. This I am willing to testify on oath. It is right that I should add that I went down to vote for Colonel White, but the cause of truth and justice is not to be sacrificed to political parties.—I remain, &c., THOMAS ROBERT BURROWES, Rector of Hutton, Somersetshire. He (Colonel Greville) was himself at Granard, where there was generally excitement, if any existed, and he never saw anything more orderly. The people had, indeed, every reason to be satisfied, be cause they had it all their own way, and they knew that nothing but violence and outrage could endanger the return of their candidate. He did not see one of the Longford men that day with a stick in his hand, nor more than two persons drunk. The people were impressed with the so lemnity of the act that they were doing. [Laughter.] Hon. Members might think them wrong, and that they ought to have voted the other way, but they thought otherwise themselves, and they did not wish to put in jeopardy by any violence the return of the man whom they sup ported. He only hoped that Colonel White would not have cause to say that, bad as Longford was, Kidderminster was far worse. A stigma had been thrown on the conduct of the electors of the county of Longford, and that had been done by a Minister of the Crown. He called upon that Minister now either to substantiate the charge by producing the reports which were made to him, and upon the faith of which he had brought the accusations complained of, or else to get up and admit that, as in the case of the distress in Ireland, he was mistaken. If the right hon. Gentleman would not withdraw his statement, let him produce the papers which would enable the House and the country to judge between the hon. Baronet and himself (Colonel Greville), and between the Whig Government and the electors of Longford.


seconded the Motion.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "there be laid before this House, a Copy of any Reports on the subject of the Longford Election, or circumstances connected therewith, made previous to the 7th day of March 1862, by the High Sheriff, the Lord Lieutenant of the County, the Major-General commanding the Troops, the Officer in command of the Constabulary, and the stipendiary or other Magistrates stationed in the county, —instead thereof,


Sir, I ask the indulgence of the House while I make a few observations with reference to some remarks which fell from mo on a former occasion. The assertion which I then made I am bound to say was entirely founded on fact. When I made that assertion, there was considerable anxiety and alarm in the county of Longford. I believe every gentleman in the county knows it, and it is generally known through Ireland. The hon. and gallant Gentleman says that the feeling in the county of Longford with respect to the election had reference not to the Italian policy of the Government, but to the general unpopularity of the course pursued by Her Majesty's Ministers in Ireland. That statement is not founded on fact so far as the Roman Catholic clergy of the county of Longford are concerned, because, after holding a meeting before the election, they put out a placard, in which they stated that they must return a man who would support the Pope, and not one who supported the policy of Her Majesty's Government, which was in hostility to the Pope. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman referred more particularly to the fact that a large number of troops, stipendiary magistrates, and constabulary were sent to Longford, saying that it was done with a view to intimidate the electors, and that there was almost one soldier to every elector. Now, I have nothing whatever to do with that. The force that was sent was sent upon a representation made by the gentlemen of the county to the Earl of Carlisle. I was in London, and I did not interfere in any way in the election. But as for sending an armed force, it is always done in Ireland. Every Irish Member well knows that where an election is impending the local magistrates or the Lord Lieutenant of the county make a representation to the Government, and a force is sent down. That took place in the county of Longford. The hon. Gentleman read a letter from the High Sheriff, in which he says that peace and harmony prevailed. But I believe there was a considerable amount of violence. I do not wish to say anything disrespectfully of the hon. Member who represents Longford; but the Roman Catholic bishops and clergy having held a meeting, announced that they were ready to receive any suitable candidate who would offer himself to them, and that they were prepared to bear him through free of expense. The hon. Gentleman (Major O'Reilly) was at that time in Brussels, and therefore I entirely exclude him from any responsibility as to what took place. But Colonel White maintains that there was considerable intimidation. I am not directly acquainted with the county of Longford, but I am informed that almost every one of the landed proprietors of that county, except one, supported Colonel White. [Colonel GREVILLE: That is not a fact.] At all events a very large number of the landlords, quite irrespective of politics, seeing the opposition got up against the candidate of the landed proprietary, stood by him; and I am informed that if every one had voted as he intended, Colonel White would have had a majority of 300. I believe that would have been the result if there had been no intimidation whatever. In one particular case, in a town called Arvagh—[Several hon. MEMBERS: Ardagh.] In that town, which is near the boundary of the county, there were twenty-five electors who intended to vote for Colonel White; but the night before the polling they were attacked by a force amounting to five or six hundred men, bended by a priest, named I think, Dr. Dolan, and they were so intimidated that only two were enabled to record their votes. [Colonel GREVILLE: The place is not within the county of Longford.] It is perfectly true that the petition has been abandoned; but I frankly say that there did not appear to me to be a case for prosecuting that petition. I was never asked about withdrawing that case; but I still conscientiously believe there might have been a case for prosecuting the petition. This I say, that what I spoke on a former occasion I spoke from what I believed a knowledge of facts, from the representations which had reached me, and I am quite sure that there are men in this House who know that what I then said was true. I must say that I cannot give the papers for which the hon. Gentleman asks. It is not usual to produce confidential reports. The petition has been abandoned, and I hope good will and good feeling will now prevail. Now, that the petition is at an end, the hon. Gentleman, if he will take my humble advice, will withdraw the Motion. If he does not, the Government cannot conscientiously give the papers.


said, he would venture to say a word on the subject, not because he was in any way interested in Ireland, but because the matter had assumed proportions which ought to interest all who set a value on the dignity of that House, as well as those who took an interest in Ireland. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland, on a former occasion, speaking in his place in Parliament, and in his official capacity, characterized the Longford election as being marked with an amount of intimidation greater than ever had occurred before—as being signalized by outrage, intimidation, riot, maltreatment, and almost murder. Those were some of the choice expressions which had been made use of on that occasion; that was the indictment which the responsible Minister of the Government in Ireland had drawn up against the electors of Longford. Now, not only had that Minister made no attempt, by legal proceedings or before a Committee of that House, to prove his statement, but he now refused to give the documentary evidence upon which, if upon any evidence at all, his statement in that House must have rested. That did not seem a creditable State of things. He would not say any thing about the policy of the Government in habitually insulting the majority of the people of Ireland, but the right hon. Gentleman was now attempting to hide his own proceedings behind a "No Popery" flare-up. He did not think any person versed in the constitutional practice of this country would at all admire that mode of escaping from a delicate situation. But this he would say, when a Minister of the Crown made charges affecting the character of a number of Her Majesty's subjects, and that, with respect to the particular department over which he presided, and for which he was responsible, he was bound to take some steps to substantiate his assertions when they were denied, and not to refuse the documentary evidence upon which those assertions rested. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman, by the course he had taken that night, would only leave the House and the country under the impression that his words were produced by a feeling of indignation at the discovery of the extent to which the Government had alienated the people of Ireland, and that he really had not in his hands the slightest proof for the charges he so freely scattered about.


said, that as a Member for an English county he did not see what the electors of the county of Longford had to complain of. It was perfectly evident that the election had been, in a Parliamentary sense, free; but what was not clear was whether the freedom of election could have been secured without the precautions taken by the Government. It was notorious that a declaration had been made by those who owned a peculiar allegiance to the Sovereign of Rome, that the policy of this country with respect to that Sovereign was to be tested at the Longford election; and he confessed, that, knowing the influence which those persons possessed in Ireland, the Government would have been perfectly inexcusable if they had not taken precautions to secure the freedom of election. They had secured that freedom so well that the return was against the candidate they supported. He was of opinion that what really concerned that House much more intimately than chance expressions falling from a Minister of the Crown, was that the freedom of election should be secured; and if it unfortunately often happened in the sister island that the freedom of election was in danger, that House was bound to support the Government in such measures as would secure the free and un-intimidated return of a Member to that House. That had been done, and under circumstances of no slight difficulty. If there had been any abuse, why had not the petition been proceeded with? When it was proposed to withdraw the petition, why did not some hon. Member rise and demand that it should be proceeded with; or why did not the hon. Member for Long- ford claim an investigation before some tribunal in that House? But for an hon. Member merely to get up for the purpose of attacking a Minister, and of inducing a belief that there had been an invasion of the privileges of the House, when it was perfectly clear there had been none with which the House had the opportunity of dealing, was, he humbly conceived, trifling with the time and dignity of the House.


said, he was sure the House would believe that it was with regret and difficulty that he rose to take part in the present debate on a subject with which he was to some extent personally concerned. If, however, the question had been simply between himself and his late gallant opponent, he would not have said one word. Colonel White contested the county of Longford honourably, and having been defeated, made a declaration, on the spur of the moment, that the proceedings had not been fairly conducted, and that he was determined to petition against the return. Having afterwards made, no doubt, inquiries on the subject, and convinced himself that his hasty statement could not be supported, Colonel White took no further step, and did not petition. But there was something else in the matter, and to that it was desirable that the attention of the House should be called. The subject of the general freedom of election was not, as stated by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), under consideration; but the question really was, whether a Minister of the Crown, speaking officially as the responsible organ of the Irish Government, was justified in representing, in his place in Parliament, a particular election as a mockery of election, and as more disgraced by scenes of violence and intimidation than any other which had for years occurred in Ireland. His hon. Colleague in the representation of Longford, had called on the right hon. Baronet either to substantiate or withdraw that statement; and the right hon. Baronet had refused to substantiate it in the only way in which any attempt at substantiation could be satisfactory. On the 7th of March, the right hon. Baronet said that his statement was made in consequence of reports which he officially received; the right hon. Baronet now refused to produce those reports, and the only evidence now brought forward was the general allegation of his confident belief that there were Members in that House who knew what he had stated was true. With respect to the alleged instances of intimidation, no evidence was adduced, nor did the right hon. Baronet say that any prosecution had been instituted; and it would be a sufficient answer to the charge to say, that of the whole body of electors on the register for the county of Longford there were not 200 living who had not recorded their votes. The influence which always belonged to a good and kind landlord was not without its weight at the election. Colonel White and his proposer deservedly enjoyed that influence; and he found, on looking to the record of the votes, that but fifteen of their tenantry voted for him, while 450 voted for Colonel White. The right hon. Baronet had said that every landed proprietor in the county supported Colonel White. Now, his hon. Colleague in the representation of Longford was a large landed proprietor in that county, and he had had the honour of receiving that hon. and gallant Member's support. His right hon. Friend the Member for Kildare, who was also a great proprietor there, gave him his support. Sir Percy Nugent was also among the other landed proprietors whom, on a hasty recollection, he could particularize as his supporters at the election. Considering that the statement made by the right hon. Baronet had obtained currency for nearly three months, with all the weight which must attach to words proceeding from a Member of the Government, and feeling that not one word of it could be justified, he had a right, on the part of his constituents, to claim that the statement, if it could not be substantiated, should be withdrawn.


said, he trusted that the House would not allow itself to be led away on the question, particularly when it had taken a decided turn in the direction of an attempt to run a muck against the right hon. Baronet. No doubt it was advisable to afford protection to voters, and the last person to complain should be the hon. Member for Longford. There was no doubt that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was the popular candidate, and that the result of the election was in accordance with the wishes of the bulk of the people in the county. But at the same time there was a strong feeling in the county at that time, and it was quite compatible that at places where there were strong bodies of troops the proceedings were orderly, while in the country districts where there was less protection, violence and intimidation were rife. He had seen similar things on other occa- sions himself. In country places where voters where coming up to the poll in tens or twelves, no doubt they were intimidated, if not personally maltreated; for such things were not only possible, but occurred every day in Ireland. Since the right hon. Gentleman, however, had been so freely attacked, he would suggest that the proper course for him was to move for a Committee to inquire into all the proceedings at the election. It was not possible for the right hon. Baronet to rest under the stigma which had been cast upon him with more freedom than discretion by the noble Lord below the gangway.


I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman that the result of the last election for Longford was in accordance with the current of popular opinion there, and, having had the opportunity of hearing the hon. and gallant Gentleman address the House on several occasions, I must say he has always done so with ability, moderation, and good tem per. However much I may regret the opinions of the majority of the electors of Longford, and however much I may regret the defeat of Colonel White, still I do not think that with these opinions they could have made a better choice than they have made. But that is not the question. A charge is made against the Government that they adopted the course—and I wonder that it should be considered an unusual course in Ireland—of sending into a county on the eve of an election, where party feeling was strong, and where disturbances were consequently to be apprehended, an additional force of police and military. That has been the universal practice in Ireland whenever application has been made to the Government, and it is not without precedent in this country. Upon the occasion of a late election I had a representation made to me by the mayor of a borough that serious apprehensions were entertained that disturbances would occur; and upon that, although I did not send troops into the town, I made such arrangements that they could be brought in at half an hour's notice, should the civil power be found inadequate to preserve the peace. I think in the case we are now considering the Government did its duty, and only its duty. My right hon. Friend is supposed to have spoken from official information; but such is not the fact. He spoke from general information of what had occurred, but, as he has said, with a firm conviction of the truth of the allegations he put forward; and he has since said, with that manly tone which distinguishes him, that he cannot disavow convictions which he still entertains, and he believes that there was serious intimidation at the recent election for Longford. The question is very much like what we have heard about Irish distress. Hon. Gentlemen make assertions which appear to be contradictory, while both are true, the fact being that in some parts of a county there may exist considerable distress, while in other parts of the same county this is not the case, and the opinions of hon. Gentlemen are influenced by the particular facts which come under their personal notice. At this election, I believe, there were parts of the county where serious intimidation was practised, but the hon. and gallant Gentleman is entitled to assume that those acts did not affect the result of the election, and that those who presented a petition against the return must have felt, that although they might establish instances of violence and intimidation, yet they could not succeed in depriving the hon. and gallant Gentleman of his seat, and therefore they withdrew that petition. The only question now for us to consider is, whether these papers shall be produced. I believe it is the invariable practice not to produce the confidential reports of military and constabulary officers. I have not read one of them myself, but my right hon. Friend says he would have no objection to produce them if he could do so without departing from the rule which has invariably been laid down, and which I hope the House will not ignore upon this occasion.


observed, that the right hon. Gentleman had said that it was not the ordinary custom to produce confidential reports made by the police; but his (Mr. Monsell's) experience was, that whenever a Minister of the Crown, in making a statement, read or referred to a report, he was bound to produce it. The right hon. Baronet had stated, upon the authority of official documents, that the Longford Election was a mockery, and had been characterized by singular atrocities and enormities, and therefore he was bound to produce them. What was the rule laid down by Mr. May, a high authority in reference to the practice in such cases. Mr. May said, "It has also been admitted that a document cited by a Minister ought to be laid upon the table of the House if it can be done without injury to the public interests." But the right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey) had just admitted that the right hon. Baronet had no objection to the production of the documents but one of form. Therefore the public interests could not suffer from their production. A remarkable case occurred in the year 1857, in which the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) was concerned. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India had cited a private letter from Sir Michael Seymour in reference to the China war; and being asked by the hon. Member for Sheffield to produce it, re fused to do so, though he offered to bring it down to the House and show it to any Member who wished to see it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) upon that occasion said it was quite monstrous for a Minister to rise in his place and make an important statement from a document not upon the table of the House. It was a rule that a document used by a Minister in the House became a State paper, even though it was a private paper. There should be no allusion to a paper not upon the table of the House, and not meant to be placed upon the table, for otherwise the opponent of a Minister would have no chance. The noble Lord at the head of the Government said in effect the same thing. The real state of the case was this, that there was no precedent against producing the documents referred to—the precedents were in favour of producing them; and if they were not produced, his humble opinion was, and he believed it would be the opinion of the House and the country, that these documents did not substantiate what had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman.


Sir, it may no doubt be the true doctrine that when a Minister of the Crown reads a document in this House, and founds upon it an argument or an assertion, that document, if called for, ought to be produced. But, unless my memory deceives me, my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary quoted no documents for this purpose. He relied upon private letters which he had received—[Several hon. MEMBERS: NO; official letters]—and said that they contained statements which showed the existence of violence and intimidation. Now, with one exception, which I will mention, I quite concur with my right hon. Friend in the opinion which he entertained of the proceedings at this election. I speak from no official documents, but from general report and from newspaper statements, and I believe that general report is not always so wrong as hon. Gentlemen below the gangway would have us believe. I say, then, that I quite concur with my right hon. Friend in thinking that, although the result of the election was in conformity, as I admit it to be, with the wish of the majority of the electors, yet, nevertheless, that majority exercised great intimidation and violence towards the other side in those parts of the country where they could do so. That is my firm and sincere opinion. But I differ in one respect from my right hon. Friend. He says he believes that this election was conducted with greater violence and intimidation than were known at any other Irish election. Now, in saying this, he lays himself open to the charge sometimes made against him, that he is new to Ireland, and that he is not so well acquainted with Irish matters as those who have been longer in the country. I differ entirely from the naïve opinion which he has expressed, because it is well known that intimidation and violence are almost the normal condition of the Irish elections. I remember an election at Sligo—though I was not there—at which great violence and intimidation were beginning to be exercised; and what was done? Very wise measures were adopted. It was at a time when the militia were embodied, and there was a detachment in the town. The first step taken was to lock up the police. Then the militia were sent out of the town. The regular troops were then called in, and, freedom of election being thus established, the result corresponded with the spontaneous opinions of those who wished to go to the poll. At Irish elections in former times the return made used to be of "the surviving candidate." But milder manners have altered the mode of election, and no persons could be more amicable and more courteous towards each other than the hon. Gentleman now Member for Longford and Colonel White. But the old habits, though abandoned by candidates, have not yet been abandoned by constituencies, and therefore I cannot agree with my right hon. Friend in the prominent position which he assigns to the late election for the county of Longford. With regard to the documents, I think, for the reasons stated by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, that their production would be attended with injury to the public service, because it is for the public interest that confidential reports made by the police of transactions in the country should not be made public. It is obvious that you would not get from the police full and unreserved details of facts occurring under their eyes if they were liable to have those reports published to the world, and were thus exposed to all the unpleasant consequences which might arise in the neighbourhood in which they were stationed. I think therefore that my right hon. Friend was perfectly right in refusing to produce the confidential reports of the police, and I equally concur with him in thinking that great violence and intimidation were resorted to at this election. I found this opinion on what I saw in the newspapers at the time when this election took place, these statements having never since been contradicted. Why, people were beaten almost to death; they were assaulted in the high road when they were supposed to be going to vote for Colonel White. However, I think these things ought to be looked upon with more indulgence than if they had occurred in England. I only hope that these discussions will lead to an improved system at Irish elections; and if this is not the most flagrant instance, I should really hope that it will be the last.


said, he could not but express his surprise at hearing the noble Lord stand up in his place and malign the people of Ireland. When such a thing was done, it was, he thought, the bounden duty of every Irishman to refute the calumny. He was through the county of Longford on the first day of the election, and in the course of his life he had never seen a county which was more peaceable, and, indeed, that election contrasted most favourably with some which had occurred in England. The right hon. Baronet had said that he had had nothing to do with the Longford election, but he (Mr. Brady) knew that he had canvassed electors in London on that occasion. He did not blame him for doing so, but he did think it strange that, after having done so, he should rise in his place and assert that he had taken no part in the election. The refusal of the papers now asked for would have a most serious effect in Ireland. He joined with the hon. Member who made the Motion in saying that this matter ought not to be allowed to stop here. The character of the right hon. Baronet for veracity was at stake; and unless he produced the documents, and showed that he was justified in his assertions, he would not be in a position to meet society; and if the Government did not produce the letters, if no one else moved for a Committee to inquire into the subject, he should do so.


said, he appealed to the House on the same ground that the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Colonel Greville) had done, as a resident of the county which that hon. Gentleman represented. He (Mr. Lefroy) had represented Longford for a greater number of years than the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and he had had the additional experience of being engaged in many contested elections for the county. He did not now speak as a partisan of the Government; and if the question had been one between his hon. and gallant Friend and the Government, he should not have risen. But his hon. and gallant Friend had made a statement to which he could not give his assent, when he said that Her Majesty's Government had taken a part unbecoming them. Being in possession of the facts, he could not refrain from stating the ground on which he had put the question which had caused so much trouble to the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary, and which called forth the reply which had been referred to in the course of this debate. He thought the Government was perfectly justified in the steps they had taken, and would have been much to blame if they had acted otherwise. He put a question to the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland, in consequence of having received information of violence and intimidation being practised at the election, which made him feel it his duty to do so. His recollection was that the right hon. Baronet gave him in reply a general statement, and he was not aware that the right hon. Gentleman spoke from any official documents. It had been objected that a large number of troops and police had been congregated in the county; but he would say for himself, having been a candidate both in support of and opposition to different Governments, that he could never go to an election in that county without an enormous force of military. He was opposed to Colonel White i[...] politics, and did not care for his suc- cess until lie heard of the unconstitutional array against him. He did not wish to take part about the election till he found that the tenants of his friends and connections were intimidated by an array of Roman Catholic clergy, such as never was known in that county before. In fact, the position of the county was quite unparalleled. He did not say that there was more violence than had taken place on former occasions, but the apprehensions of danger were greater than he over knew. Whatever the course of the Government might be, he was prepared to offer to the House the testimony of magistrates and resident gentry as to the violence, and the names of men who had their heads cut through their hats, and who wore violently assaulted. [Cries of Read!] As he was challenged, he would read the letters, the first of which, from the neighbourhood of Granard, was as follows:— Mr.—has requested me to send you particulars of violence and intimidation which may have come under my personal notice during the late election in county Longford. From the way I was circumstanced my means of observation were very limited, having entered Granard hedged in by a very strong escort, and having departed in the same manner. I was, with more than 150 others, confined as a prisoner in the Sessions Court from eight o'clock a m to 5 p.m., no one daring to go into the streets for a moment. On both occasions, going and returning, we encountered a fierce mob, making violent demonstrations—hooting and yelling and flourishing sticks. In the evening, on leaving the town for home, the mob accompanied us for nearly a mile with execrations, yelling like demons, some declaring that if it were not for the military and police we should never leave the town alive. One of my tenants, after he had voted for Colonel White, was abused in the most violent language by a priest, within a few steps of the polling-booths, and also within healing of the mob, though fortunately not within their reach. A grand juror and magistrate who was present, and who kindly interposed, informed me he never witnessed a more uncalled-for or a more violent attack. I have only to add that on the Sunday and Monday night before the election the houses of three of my tenants who are electors were visited, shots fired, and the windows smashed.


Who fired shots?


could not say, but he would be much obliged to the hon. Member (Mr. Brady) if he would find out. The letter he had just referred to was from the Rev. Essex Edgeworth. Another gentleman, Mr. Dopping Hepenstal, a grand juror and a magistrate, wrote thus— Having lately read so very many conflicting statements regarding the late election in this county, and seeing that you are taking a lively interest in the matter, I feel myself called upon to mention the result of my personal observations during the polling days. I assure you that the very greatest intimidation prevailed in this barony (Granard). I saw voters for Colonel White struck with stones, and several voters who were on their way to the town of Granard, intending to vote then: for Colonel White, and who, unfortunately, were not in time at the appointed place for the military escort, were turned back under showers of stones, and were not able to record their votes. A report is circulated in this neighbourhood that there must be a new election, and the voters are being threatened already to take care how they vote. An unknown party came to the house of a voter, a neighbour of mine, but not my tenant, and called him out of his house, and would have severely beaten him but for the interference of his own family, who rushed out of the house to protect him. They then left him, saying, 'We will give it to you the first time we meet you in Granard.' I can get sworn informations to this effect, I believe. My own tenants are afraid of their lives to go to the markets ever since the election. I have no doubt that the civil and military authorities can furnish much information as to this fearful state of things, but they are not aware of the outrages which took place in the country, away from the polling-places. I am sure you will kindly pardon me for writing you such a long letter, but as a landed proprietor I feel most anxious that some step may be taken to prevent in future such intolerable bludgeon law. It was said there was no intimidation at Granard. He had a letter from a resident at Granard, sent to an elector who was going in to vote; and what did the writer say? He urged the voter on no account to come to Granard, the violence prevalent in the town rendering it unsafe for him to do so. It further stated that many of Colonel White's agents, who were with the writer, had to be escorted to and from the booth, although they had several of the police in the house to protect them. He had a host of other letters of the same kind, and he would read one from another part of the county. It was from a gentleman living on the outskirts of the town of Longford, which was said to have been so peaceful. The writer said, that if he had been a Roman Catholic, and had a vote, he would sooner have faced a regiment of infantry than have at tempted to walk in by himself without a guard; that he saw six men with bludgeons run after a car of voters, whom they would have murdered if they had caught them; but being unable to do that, they pelted them with stones; that he saw Lord Granard's voters pushed by a crowd of priests, and handed over to a body of ruffians to be carried into the booths; that one man, after much hesitation, would not vote at all; that another said the Bishop insisted on his voting for Major O'Reilly; and that Mr. Crauford, a magistrate, was spat upon from head to foot, and pelted. He had another letter, with five pages of cases, all of which had been verified; and he also had a long list from the chief justice's agent of men who were battered and bruised in a fearful manner. He had himself seen one poor man, who, long after the election, was still suffering. It was therefore a mockery, a mere trifling with the House—it was treating Her Majesty's Government unfairly, and doing that which was not right by the country—to make such representations, or rather misrepresentations, as to the peaceable nature of the election as he had heard that evening. He did not know why the petition against the return had been withdrawn, but that withdrawal could not alter the facts connected with the intimidation that had been practised. He had not interfered about the petition; but he believed, that so far from the fact of the withdrawal of the petition being in favour of the assertion "that violence had not been resorted to," it was rather a proof that, in the opinion of the petitioner, the violence and intimidation of which he complained would, if he succeeded in voiding the election, be repeated.


said, he rose to appeal to lion. Gentlemen's sense of justice, and trusted they would not on that occasion imitate the intimidation which had been imputed to the constituency of Longford. The question before the House was a simple one. After an election at Longford, which attracted much attention, the right hon. Baronet, as the mouthpiece of the Government, made a deliberate charge, founded on official documents, against the electors of that county, that they had been guilty of illegal and unconstitutional acts, which, if proved, would place them very low in the social scale. Nay, more; the right hon. Baronet stated that the newspaper accounts of their violence fell short of the actual facts. When that statement was made, a petition against the return had been handed in, and remained to be tried by that House. ["No."] At all events, the right hon. Baronet must have known that such a petition was coming. [Sir R. PEEL: NO, I did not.] Then the right hon. Baronet must have been one of the very few persons who were not aware of it. At all events, the right hon. Baronet's accusation that the election was a mockery, and attended with outrages that had not been witnessed for years, was addressed to the very body who were subsequently to try the case. He appealed to every man who loved fair play whether that was a fair use to make of official documents. The petition having been withdrawn, the electors of Longford had no means of vindicating their character from the aspersions thus publicly cast upon them. He had himself, soon after the election, met a gentleman, formerly a Member for Longford, and an intimate friend of Colonel White's, who told him that he was present at the contest, and that the statements in the newspapers on the subject contained the grossest exaggeration. Even if certain electors had been prevented from voting, yet, as the entire number unpolled was 200, while Major O'Reilly's majority was 600, that circumstance could have had no practical effect on the result of the contest. He would, therefore, conclude by calling on the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary either to withdraw his charge against the constituency of Longford, or to allow its truth to be investigated.


said, the noble Lord who had just sat down ought to be careful how he threw out insinuations in a matter in which he begged to give him the most direct contradiction.


After the observations just made by my noble Friend, and after the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin, I can now honestly state, without any breach of confidence, what were the foundations—["Order, order!"]

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 114; Noes 32: Majority 82.