HC Deb 21 March 1870 vol 200 cc320-1

said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether he is to understand the statement which he received in reply to his Question on Thursday the 17th instant in the sense of the following words:— That the consideration of this question must necessarily depend on the restoration of law and order in Ireland; and, as soon as the disorders now prevailing in that Country are repressed, he trusts that he will be able to give a very different answer to Mr. Moore, and to announce the liberation of the political prisoners?


Sir, as the Question contains certain words which are placed in inverted commas, perhaps it would be only just to the hon. Member as well as myself to explain that those words contain the signification of the kind of answer which he said he hoped to receive in reply to the Question which he put to me on Thursday last. The hon. Gentleman is a great master of clear and powerful expression, and I was very glad to find that my reply seems to have kept very close to the substance of those words. Since Notice of the present Question was placed on the Paper I have referred to the answer which I made as reported, and it appears to me, as far as my memory serves me, to have been reported with the most precise accuracy. I suppose every man has a preference for his own modes of expression, however inferior; but so far as substance is concerned, I see no difference between the words which the hon. Gentleman uses and those which I spoke the other night, for I find I am supposed to have said that no persons can so much long for the arrival of the period when it might be possible to give a different answer to the hon. Gentleman as those who are responsible for the detention of those prisoners. When I speak of political prisoners, of course I think it right to draw a line between prisoners properly so called and those in whose case there might be an admixture of other offences. That is the only qualification we have to make.