HC Deb 04 July 1872 vol 212 cc633-6

said, he wished to ask the hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue), whose Motion stands for Thursday, Whether he is not of opinion that the case of Mr. Justice Keogh ought not to be discussed in the House before the evidence taken in the Galway Election Petition case has been printed; and, if he will not postpone his Motion until the opinion of the House has been taken on the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt), who has given Notice that he will move that Mr. Justice Keogh ought to be removed from the Bench for his alleged misconduct?


begged to assure the hon. Gentleman that the only object he had in view was that there should be the fullest possible discussion of the Galway Judgment at the earliest possible moment. If the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) was really anxious to have a discussion—he said "really," because some doubt seemed to be thrown upon his intention by the Notice of Motion given by the hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Mr. James)—but if the hon. and learned Member for Limerick was really anxious, then for his part he was quite willing that the discussion should be taken on the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick; but until he (The O'Donoghue) really knew what course the hon. and learned Member intended taking, he was unwilling to withdraw the Notice which stood on the Paper in his name.


Then I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, on the part of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt), who has communicated with me, whether the Government will give a day for the discussion of the Motion?


said, he could only repeat what he had stated on a former occasion—that he did not think he could with propriety ask the House to put aside important public business to discuss a matter which seemed to him to be not yet quite ripe for discussion, inasmuch as the means of forming a judgment on the points in dispute were not as yet in the hands of Members, the evidence not being in print.


asked, whether there would be many more portions of the evidence besides the two already published?


was informed that only one part more remained to be published. He was informed that it was somewhat larger than the previous parts; but the printer hoped that by the end of next week the whole of the evidence would be published.



asked the First Lord of the Treasury, If his attention has been drawn to three Notices on the Order Book of this House, equivalent in their terms and construction to votes of censure upon Mr. Justice Keogh; whether, considering that that learned Judge is shortly about to go on Circuit, he does not think that public confidence in the administration of justice in Ireland will be seriously impaired by reason of such impending votes of censure being allowed to remain on the Notice Paper unchallenged in any way by Her Majesty's Government; and, whether he will place upon the Table on behalf of the Government any amendments to said Notices, or make any declaration with the view of relieving the judicial bench on the North-West Circuit from the stigma which might otherwise be thought to attach to it?


It appears to me that the Question of the noble Viscount proceeds on a misapprehension. I am not prepared to admit that the appearance of a Notice on the Paper has the great importance the noble Viscount attaches to it. He thinks that the public confidence in the administration of justice in Ireland will be seriously impaired by Votes of Censure being allowed to remain on the Notice Paper unchallenged by Her Majesty's Government. Sir, it is not for Her Majesty's Government to challenge the free exercise of the discretion of hon. Members in giving Notices on subjects on which they intend to raise a discussion until the time arrives when it is fit for the Government to announce the course they intend to take with respect to such Notices. I do not think it would be becoming in the Government—who have themselves, through their Law Officers, judicial functions to perform in respect to the very great question involved, of the prosecution of individuals arising out of this case—to indicate the course they may pursue until they have had ample opportunity for considering the entire case; but it is quite a mistake to suppose that the appearance of such Notices indicates more than the personal opinion of the Member giving them, or in any way determines the question of confidence or want of confidence in the administration of justice in Ireland. I quite appreciate the anxiety of the noble Viscount with respect to the state of feeling in Ireland on this matter. That is a subject of great importance, to which I hope we are fully alive—namely, the duty of considering everything that relates to the safety of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland, and especially of one of Her Majesty's subjects bearing the commission of Her Majesty and representing Her Majesty in the high office of justice. For that purpose—for securing due respect to the law and punishing those who infringe it—every attention has been and is being given by my right hon. and learned Friend near me (the Attorney General for Ireland), and by the Government of Ireland. Probably it is within the knowledge of the noble Viscount that already steps have been taken for the apprehension and punishment of various persons connected with this case. I am quite certain, when the subject is fully before the House, they will take such a course as may be best calculated to strengthen the administration of justice in Ireland, and the confidence of the people in that administration; and the Government will, as soon as they have access to the whole of the evidence, which they only can have when it is prepared for laying on the Table of the House, state the course they intend to pursue with reference to it.