HC Deb 27 April 1864 vol 174 cc1752-5

Order for Committee read.

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)


said, he had to bring under the notice of the Committee what appeared to him to be a breach of privilege. It would be in the recollection of hon. Members that during the discussion on the second reading of this Bill he stated that in Ireland the Sub-Inspector of police was sometimes a poacher. That statement had given great offence to the Irish police, and a violent and abusive article directed against him had appeared in a Dublin newspaper. The editor of that newspaper had also admitted into its columns a letter signed "Sub-Inspector," in which it was stated he (Captain Archdall) had sheltered himself under his privileges as a Member of Parliament, and stated what was a gross calumny and an unfounded slander, and what he would not have dared to utter out of that House. The Irish Members generally were included in the charge made by "Sub-Inspector;" for the letter stated that there was not one of them who would get up and defend the constabulary against the calumny. Now, when he made his former statement he did so on circumstances which were within his own personal knowledge, and also with the conviction that he could be corroborated by other hon. Members. A Sub-Inspector, quartered in a village on his own property, had made raids on his shooting ground. He was annoyed at this conduct, and remonstrated with the gentleman; but he neither summoned him before the magistrates nor reported him to the Inspector General, fearing that his dismissal from the force would be the result if he adopted the latter course. He, however, found that he had been mistaken in that supposition; for by the code of instructions issued to the police by Sir Henry Brownrigg, the Inspector General, he perceived that the Sub-Inspectors were allowed to shoot, fish, and hunt. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory) some time ago invited a party of friends to shoot over his property; but an Inspector of police was beforehand with him, and when the hon. Member and his friends arrived there was nothing for them to shoot at. In the county of Donegal, Inspector Hill and Sub-Inspector Scully were warned off from fishing without permission in a river belonging to the Earl of Leitrim. Last year, at the Mohill Petty Sessions, a Sub-Inspector was fined in four instances in the mitigated penalty of £5 for using guns and dogs without a licence. The resident magistrate, Mr. Triston, who was on the bench, seemed to have acted as counsel for the Sub-Inspector, and threw every difficulty in the way of a conviction. It was not until after reference had been made for the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown, the Revenue Department was able to carry out the punishment. He did not wish in the slightest degree to detract from the accomplishments of the Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors of the Irish constabulary. In light literature, the dead languages, and metaphysics they were not inferior to any hon. Gentleman in that House; and to see them in full dress reminded one of the 10th Hussars in the early days of George IV.; but he did not approve the manner in which they were organized; and he looked upon the appointment of Sir Henry Brownrigg as an unfortunate one.


said, he could not have expected that his hon. and gallant Friend would have made this attack upon the Irish constabulary without giving him notice of the particular cases to which he intended to refer. Had he done so he (Sir Robert Peel) would have been prepared to meet him; but though the topic which he has introduced has nothing to do with the subject which we are in Committee to consider, I cannot allow his reference to the Inspector General to pass without observing that the Irish constabulary is in a high state of efficiency, and that Sir Henry Brownrigg, who was appointed by Lord Eglinton, has received the thanks of successive Governments in Ireland. I believe the hon. and gallant Gentleman has referred to the estate of my hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory) in connection with some little partridge shooting. I would ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman whether that was a very grave offence in that wild part of the country? Why, have we not all been accustomed, when the fancy took us, to sport, perhaps, a little unlawfully? I have no hesitation in saying that when I was a boy at school I frequently poached. We all recollect hearing of the famous statesman who, when at Eton, poached on the manor of George III. And, Sir, are we not at this instant celebrating the tercentenary festival of Shakespeare, who was himself a poacher? I protest against those general charges being made on the Irish constabulary because a constable or sub-constable who has nothing else to do kills a snipe or a partridge. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman would bring forward this matter as a substantive Motion, he had no doubt he should be able to encounter him on the merits.


said, he hoped the House would not sanction any extension of the Game Laws in Ireland, and that was the object of this Bill. He was quite sure an attempt to do such a thing in England at the fag end of a Wednesday sitting would cause a revolution. ["Hear!"] It was all very well for hon. Members to laugh, but less things had caused a revolution. He was opposed to the Bill, and so convinced was he that it was radically wrong, that he moved that the Chairman leave the chair.


said, that the Bill did not deserve the sweeping reprobation of the hon. Member for Clonmel. It proposed to do nothing more in Ireland than what had been done for the last forty years in this country. The simple object of the Bill was to enable the landlord in whom the property in the game on his estate was vested to prosecute in case of trespass, instead of throwing that duty on the occupying tenant.


contended that the hon. and learned Gentleman was misleading the Committee by stating that that was the sole object of the Bill. The fact was that it was nothing more nor less than a proposal to introduce into Ireland the English Game Law.


said, the Game Law in Ireland was more oppressive than the Game Law in England. At present fines for poaching were inflicted to the extent of £10; this Bill would make the maximum penalty £2 only. The measure, so far as the purpose to which it was directed was concerned, would make the law less oppressive and more effective.


said, he could see no reason why the law in Ireland should be changed in the manner proposed by this Bill. Reading daily in the papers the mischief that arose in England from the Game Laws, he was by no means anxious to see those laws introduced into Ireland.


said, game could not be preserved by legislation, but only by a good feeling between landlord and tenant. He supported the Bill.


said, it was impossible to conceive a Bill framed in a more oppressive spirit than the measure now under consideration. Whilst in England the magistrates had the power of mitigating the penalty, in Ireland the magistrates would be obliged to impose a penalty of £1, and if the penalty should not be paid the offender must be committed for two months.


said, he was prepared to make the penalty the same as that in the English Bill.


objected to the Bill, which not only introduced a new class of offences, but imposed a high and excessive standard of penalties. It was his intention to oppose the Bill at every stage.

And it being now Six of the clock,

House resumed.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.