HC Deb 06 June 1873 vol 216 cc550-1

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether he is aware that a rule has been for many years in force in Ireland by which clergymen of all denominations have been excluded from the Commission of the Peace in that Country; and, whether he is prepared to apply the same rule to the other portions of the United Kingdom?


in reply, said, he believed, although he had not had time since Notice of the Question had been given to make any inquiry on the subject, such as he should desire to make, that there was a rule in Ireland which had been observed for a length of time—and, he dared say, a very salutary one—by which no clergyman or minister of any denomination had been placed on the list of magistrates. In regard to Scotland, he had had no time to obtain authentic information on that matter. He would observe, however, in passing, that the case of England was not exactly parallel to that of Ireland, because there were in Ireland resident magistrates, and a large portion of the duties executed by unpaid magistrates in England was performed by stipendiary magistrates in Ireland. As to the case of England, he was not prepared to give his hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. M'Carthy Downing), the summary reply for which he asked. The matter required consideration, and any decision which might be arrived at ought to be stated with the reasons for it. The first thing he wished to do was to ascertain the facts, and he had requested the Home Secretary to obtain some Return or information showing not only the actual number of clerical magistrates in this country, but also the course of practice in late years, which undoubtedly had tended to a very great extent—and he thought it a salutary tendency—to restrict materially the number of such magistrates. Perhaps when his hon. Friend saw that information, he might or might not think fit to return to the subject. However that might be, it was a subject which could not be dealt with in the summary way indicated by his Question.