HC Deb 21 June 1865 vol 180 cc597-9

Order for Second Reading read.


rose to move the second reading of this Bill. He said it was very simple in its character, and its provisions would, he thought, recommend themselves so much by their justice that it would be unnecessary for him to trespass upon the time of the House at any length. The hon. Member read several of the clauses of the Bill, and drew attention more particularly to the 7th and 12th clauses. The latter was to place the appointment of sheriffs in boroughs in the hands of the corporations, and the reason for the change was that under the present system sectarian and personal influences were unduly exercised. In the city of Waterford only two citizen Roman Catholics had held the office since the time of James I. It was true that some country gentlemen, Roman Catholics, had held the office, but it was generally held by Protestants, though unobjectionable persons; but the population numbered eight Roman Catholics to one. The Bill he did not expect would pass this year, hut he hoped the Secretary of State for Ireland would, during the recess, do something to remedy the present defects of the former Municipal Corporation Acts, which the present Bill was intended to supply.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


said, he had been in communication with the Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General for Ireland, with regard to the provisions of the Bill now under consideration, and he was bound to say that in its present shape it would not be in the power of the Government to give the hon. Member that assistance in passing the measure he required. He did not think the hon. Member had any intention of pressing the Bill at present, but merely wished to ventilate the question. With regard to Clause 7, a Bill had been proposed, and which had passed that House, by the right hon. Member for the county of Limerick (Mr. Monsell) secured, to a great extent, the object of that clause; and with reference to Clause 12, which proposed to take the appointment of high sheriff of corporate boroughs and counties from the Lord Lieutenant and transfer it to the corporate bodies, he was surprised that the hon. Member should wish to have such a change made, considering how much the corporations, both in England and Ireland, were influenced by the very feelings which the hon. Member had referred to; and which rendered it peculiarly desirable that these appointments should be made by some authority without the corporations. He had taken some pains to ascertain whether there was really any grievance in Water- ford as to the appointment of sheriffs, and he held in his hand a Return of the going Judges of assize in the district in which Waterford was situated. Each of these Judges of assize was Roman Catholic, and it was well known that upon the recommendation of the Judges the Lord Lieutenant made the appointment to the office of sheriff. In 1861 a Protestant was returned to the Judge, and stood first on the list, and he was appointed. In 1862 a Roman Catholic was placed first on the list, but he declined; and a Protestant, who stood second, was appointed. The same thing occurred in 1860 and in 1863. He would ask was there any sectarian spirit evident in this? In 1864 and 1865 the shrievalty was offered to Roman Catholics and declined. He would therefore put it to the House whether there was any real hardship under such circumstances, or whether there was any real grievance to complain of. If Clauses 7 and 12 were removed from the Bill, it would be more likely to obtain the favourable consideration of the Government. The hon. Member might rest satisfied that if he could lay before the Government any case involving a real grievance, they would be happy to do all in their power to provide for it a remedy, and he trusted that, satisfied with that assurance, he would assent to the withdrawal of a Bill so crudely framed that it was not desirable it should pass into a law.


said, he had come down to the House with the intention of opposing the Bill, and was glad there was a prospect that he would be spared the trouble of entering into any lengthened argument with that object. The provisions of the Bill would affect, not only Waterford, but other cities in Ireland, and, among them, Dublin, whose interests would be prejudiced by the proposed transference of the power of appointing so responsible an officer as a sheriff from the Government to the corporation. Hitherto, as a matter of fact, the most eminent citizens of Dublin had been chosen to fill that office without any distinction of creed or party.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Bill withdrawn.