HC Deb 15 July 1875 vol 225 cc1526-33

(3.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £58,653, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1876, of Criminal Prosecutions and other Law Charges in Ireland.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 216; Noes 18: Majority 198.


moved to report Progress. He said that he did not vote in the last division—that on the Naval Vote—and was outside the glass door when it was over. He made the greatest efforts to regain his place in the House, but could not struggle through the stream, and unless he had knocked down at last a couple of Cabinet Ministers, he could not get in the House a moment sooner than he did. An Amendment on the Vote just taken stood in his name on the Paper and had been there for the past two months, on which he was most anxious to speak; but when he got inside he found that the division was called, and he and his friends were deprived of the opportunity of discussing the question. Whether the fault was in the Forms of the House or in the Estimates being so late and the Chairman obliged to hurry through the Votes in a manner which prevented discussion on vital points, he did not know; but he believed his name was not called.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Captain Nolan.)


remarked, that before the Question was put he might be allowed to say, in reply to what had fallen from the hon. and gallant Gentleman, that he regretted very much that he should have been exposed to any inconvenience in consequence of his being outside the door of the House at the time the Vote was coming on. The course which he (the Chairman) had taken was the usual one. He called the Vote placed in his hand by the Secretary to the Treasury in the order in which it was given to him, and that certainly, as far as he was aware, without any undue haste. In fact, before he put the Vote he looked to the part of the House where the hon. and gallant Gentleman generally sat, and if he had been there he (the Chairman) would have called him at once; but not seeing him there he did not call him. He might state for the information of the hon. and gallant Gentleman that an hon. Member who gave Notice of an Amendment was not entitled to be called; it was only as a matter of courtesy that he had precedence; but if several hon. Members rose to speak to the Vote the hon. Member having an Amendment on the Paper was almost always called by the Chairman.


said, he hoped the hon. and gallant Gentleman would not persist in this Motion. He was sorry the hon. and gallant Gentleman had not had an opportunity of making the Motion which he desired, and he always regretted when circumstances of that kind occurred. But what had happened to the hon. and gallant Gentleman might happen to himself or to anyone. He hoped, therefore, the hon. and gallant Member would not quarrel with the Committee upon a circumstance which, upon careful consideration, the hon. and gallant Gentleman would feel had resulted from circumstances over which he had no control. There was really nothing irregular in the way which the Vote was put. He was quite sure the Chairman had shown no partiality, and he would appeal to the Committee whether the Chairman had not always shown the utmost impartiality. In fact, the only irregularity which had been committed was committed by the hon. and gallant Member himself. After the Question was put it was not in the power of any Member to rise to speak; but he must address the House sitting, and with his hat on. He hoped the hon. and gallant Member would not persist in his Motion, as the occurrence was a misfortune. It was wise to be on good terms with each other with regard to the Business of the House, and it was a mistake to pick a quarrel with the Committee.


said, he hoped the hon. and gallant Gentleman would yield to the request of the right hon. Gentleman. He was sitting in his usual place just below that of the hon. and gallant Member at the time the Question was put, and the Chairman put it from the Chair in the same calm and deliberate manner in which he always did when a new Vote was proposed. He saw the Chairman, as he thought, look at him as if he expected him to rise; but as he knew nothing whatever about the Vote, he did not do so, and the Chairman put the Question. The Chairman always conducted the proceedings of the Committee with the greatest possible fairness, and no Member of the House had, he thought, the slightest right to complain of any partiality being shown. He therefore hoped the hon. and gallant Member would see the wisdom and desirability of withdrawing his Motion.


said, he felt quite confident that nothing which had happened had been owing to any failure on the part of the Chairman in the strict performance of his duty. The fault lay very much in the necessity for pressing Votes of importance in Supply when hon. Members had been fasting up to half-past 8 o'clock and had gone to dinner. Several Irish Members being in that position, and, while anxious to address the House, yet unwilling to do so at a quarter past 8, went to dinner, and were unable to elbow their way back again until it was too late. In the circumstances he could not blame his hon. and gallant Friend if he had lost his temper—for he certainly was a little excited—but he trusted that his hon. and gallant Friend would not allow his very just exasperation at the misfortune which had occurred to interfere with the progress of the Committee. The Chairman did his duty always with candour and impartiality, and the misfortune was due to the forcing of a division on the Prince of Wales's Vote, right or wrong, before dinner. He hoped his hon. and gallant Friend, having explained his position, would withdraw the Motion he had made, or else it would place him in the false position of either deserting his hon. Friend or easting a reflection upon the Chairman.


pointed out that the hon. and gallant Gentleman was not deprived of the power of discussing the subject in question, as he would still have an opportunity of doing so on the Report.


said, that no person complained of the Chairman in the matter, and that he should be slow to believe any complaint of the kind. What had happened to-night happened whenever there was a crowded division, whether the Speaker or the hon. Gentleman was in the Chair. He would suggest, to prevent the recurrence of such accidents, that an interval should be allowed after a division before a Question was put.


, referring to the remark of the Secretary of State for War, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman would have an opportunity of discussing the matter on the Report, suggested that the Report should be brought forward at an hour which would make it possible for the hon. and gallant Gentleman to do so.

Motion, by leave, wthdrawn.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £745,037, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1876, for the Constabulary Force in Ireland.


said, that on a former occasion he asked the Prime Minister whether he was desirous of information respecting a class of persons called Jesuits, and if he could state whether it was owing to the presence of those persons living in Ireland contrary to the laws that this enormous demand was made on the National Exchequer.


called the attention of the hon. Member to the fact that he was out of Order in referring to a former discussion. The Question now before the Committee was that the sum of £1,073,000 be granted to Her Majesty for the Irish Constabulary.


said, he felt he had a right to complain that the Notice he had given to call attention to this subject did not appear on the Paper, and that the Prime Minister was not present to answer him. The Jesuits were an organized band of conspirators, recognized as such by every nation in Europe, stamped and ticketed by Act of Parliament, and this Vote, large as it appeared, was insufficient to enable the Constabulary to preserve the peace of Ireland. He must object to this Vote unless some reasonable explanation were given why so large a body of police was inefficient to detect crime and keep the peace in large sections of that country.


said, he had to complain of the way in which pensions were awarded to those men who retired from the force through old age or incapacity for further service. The pay of the constables was increased under an Act passed in 1866, and again under an- other passed in 1874; but if a constable who bad entered the force between the years 1847 and 1866, in 1874 had to retire from it, he was awarded a pension calculated on the pay which he received between 1847 and 1866; whereas a constable who entered the force since the pay had increased, and was obliged to retire, received a pension of a much larger amount, though he had not served in the force so many years. Now, anything more unfair or unjust than that could not be conceived. Those who now retired from the force required and ought to be placed on the same footing in regard to pensions. Besides, the constables who entered the force prior to 1866 had 2½ per cent deducted from their pay to form a superannuation fund, to which the constables who had entered the force since 1866 were not required to contribute. He should be glad to know what answer could be given to this piece of injustice, and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would not rely upon any legal technicalities, as if there were any, the Government ought at once to remove them by passing a short Bill.


said, that this was one of those cases where the Government, in attempting to remove one injustice, had introduced another, as it could not be right that one constable who entered the force since 1866 and now retired should receive almost double the pension of another who entered in 1847, merely because the two men entered the force at different periods. The matter only required to be considered by the Chief Secretary to be put right, and he had perfect reliance on the justice of the right hon. Gentleman that he would attend to the matter.


said, he was a frequent visitor to Ireland, and it was generally remarked there that justice was not done by the new regulation to this deserving body of men. He hoped the Government would be induced to look into the matter.


also bore testimony to the strong feeling that existed among all classes in Ireland on this subject.


said, no doubt great dissatisfaction prevailed upon the subject, and if entertained by the Government would have to be dealt with upon a broader principle. It would be impos- sible to exclude other branches of the Civil Service from participating in any change that might be made.


said, there was a taxpayers' view of this subject, and he trusted that the Government would be very sparing in granting any further and unnecessary increase in these pensions. There were now 3,945 constables receiving pensions for doing nothing, and these pensions to the Constabulary of Ireland amounted altogether to £172,000 a-year. The amount had been yearly growing, and, in his opinion, ought to be reduced by a steady reduction of the force itself.


cordially agreed with what had been said as to the merits of this deserving class of men, and felt it was not unnatural that an opinion should prevail that some hardship had been done to them. This was, however, only one part of a very large question, and if anything were done to meet the views of these men, every other department of the Civil Service might be found to have a similar ground of complaint. He did not think it could be alleged that the pensions granted under the old Acts had not been as large as the law at that time authorized and required; for it should be remembered that the scale of pensions in the Act was a maximum scale, and if a constable's conduct had not been satisfactory he would not receive the full amount of pension. The recent Act had largely increased the scale of pensions, and, no doubt, the men who retired after that Act was passed received an advantage that was denied to those who went before them. When, however, the Government were asked to increase the pensions of those who had retired under a different scale, it was their duty to consider the interests of the taxpayers. It was not their intention to make any such proposal, however much they might regret the state of things which had been complained of.


said, the right hon. Gentleman had not answered his question.


was bound to say that he had been unable to trace the connection between the Jesuits and the Irish Constabulary on which the hon. Gentleman had addressed several speeches to the House. He regretted that it was necessary that so large a sum should be voted for the Irish Constabulary; but, believing that it was necessary, the Government were bound to propose the Vote.


said, that Irish Members did not wish to see this Vote increased, or a larger number of police employed; but they would rather see the Force gradually reduced, and the money devoted to education, or transferred to the Army Estimates. The police of Ireland was a military force for the defence of the country. The men, however, had a grievance. They considered they had been badly treated, and that the Government were ready to do a sharp thing whenever they could.


urged that the Government should keep a tight hand upon these pensions, which were increasing at the rate of £5,000 a-year.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the clock.

Committee also report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.