HC Deb 03 May 1869 vol 196 cc17-20

said, that, since he had given notice of his Question in reference to the O'Farrell Papers he had received informal ion which would have induced him to alter its form had he received that information in time; and, in order that he might fairly explain the position in which the matter stood, he would move the Adjournment of the House. He did not think that there was anything unfair in the Question as it stood, and he thought it only right and fair that the Prime Minister should; have the opportunity of answering it. It was not beside the subject at all as it now stood. The Question was to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, "Whether directions, or a recommendation for the Suppression of the Evidence taken before, and the Report of the Committee of the Australian Legislative Assembly, appointed to consider the Papers relating to O'Farrell, were sent to the Government of the Colony from the Government of this Country; and, whether the Government will consent to lay the above Report and Evidence upon the Table of this House and to their being printed?" Before giving notice of the Question he examined the Australian papers with reference to the Report of the Committee, and he found the following notice at the head of it:— The Report of the Committee was expunged from the proceedings by Order of the House, made on Thursday, 18th February, 1869. A M. (See Votes and Proceedings, No. 40, entry 7, Session 1868–9. Legislative Assembly Chamber, Sidney, February 18, 1869. AM. These were the Papers with reference to O'Farrell which the Prime Minister had deposited in the library. Since he had inspected those documents he had received fresh information respecting them, and he thought it right to inform the House that, although there was evidence that some communications with reference to the inquiries of that Committee appeared to have passed between Her Majesty's Government and the Colonial Government, the subsequent information he had received assured him that the expunging of the Report was not the direct act of, nor did he know that its being done was in accordance with, any suggestions from Her Majesty's Government. The evidence was, if anything, in contradiction of that supposition. Until the Prime Minister answered the Question the fact of interference on the part of Her Majesty's Government for the suppression of the Report, or against its suppression, must rest to a certain degree upon conjecture. Since he gave notice of the Question he had received what appeared to him to be reliable evidence as to the expunging the Report of this Australian Committee, and that the Order to expunge related only to the Report, and not to the evidence. This was the deliberate act of the Australian House of Assembly. He found that the Chairman of the Committee was Mr. Marleay, who occupied the position of Prime Minister in Australia. The Report of that Committee was carried by his casting vote. This Report was held by the House of Assembly to mis- represent the effect of the evidence, and to be utterly contrary to the information which the Assembly possessed. The Assembly, therefore, adopted a resolution that the Report be expunged, and the order for expunging the Report was carried by a majority of 32 against 22. That was the act of the Australian Parliament. He thought it would not be fair or right to infer that the Report was expunged, or that the evidence was suppressed through any directions or under any Order of Her Majesty's Government. That the Government might have the opportunity of making a statement, he would move the Adjournment of the House.


said, he could not put the Question without reminding the House that the privilege of moving the Adjournment of the House upon asking a Question had been reserved by the common consent of the House for occasions of urgency. Unless that privilege were exercised with forbearance, the result would be fatal to the successful conduct of Public- Business.

Moved, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Newdegate.)


said, he thought he should be acting in accordance with the wishes of the House by simply answering the Question of the hon. Member as it appeared upon the Paper. The answer he had to give to the first part of that Question was this, that no directions or recommendations for the suppression of the evidence taken before the Committee of the Australian Legislative Assembly appointed to consider the O'Farrell Papers were sent to the Government of the colony by the Government of this country. The second part of the hon. Members Question was, whether the Government would consent to lay the above Report and evidence upon the Table of this House, and to their being printed. In reply to that part of the Question, he had to state that that Report and the evidence taken before the Committee had already been placed in the Library of the House, and were at the disposal of any hon. Member who might wish to see them; but that it was not the opinion of Her Majesty's Government that it was desirable to present these Papers to the House or to put the country to the expense of having them printed.


said, before the Motion for Adjournment was withdrawn, he must express his belief, and the belief entertained by the majority of the people of the South of Ireland, that the terrible offence of which that wretched man was guilty was the act of a lunatic—the act of a man who was suffering under delirium tremens—that he had no connection with any other human being, and that the crime was that of a man reduced to a state of lunacy from the effects of drink. He made a certain rambling statement when he was not entirely free from drink; but when he was under the shadow of death he gave the most solemn and awful assurances that he had no connection with any human being; that the act was not the result of a plot. He (Mr. Maguire) thought it was only fair to the character of his own country that it should be fully understood that the people in the South of Ireland firmly believed that O'Farrell was not connected with any other person, that his act was a wanton act of wickedness, the result of a state of mind produced by drink.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.