§ MR. MELDON
asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether, in pursuance of the promise made by him last Session, the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown has been taken with respect to the claims of the Pensioners of the Royal Irish Constabulary for a readjustment of their pensions; and, whether there is any objection to lay a Copy of the Case submitted to the Law Officers, with their opinion thereon, upon the Table of the House?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, in accordance with the promise I gave last Session I took the opinion of the Law Officers of the Crown on these questions. It is contrary to the usual practice to lay the opinion of the Law Officers on the Table, as such a course would destroy their value as independent, confidential advice. But, as the matter is one which affects a very respectable body of men, I have no objection to state the substance of the opinion given with respect to the claims of the pensioners of the Royal Irish constabulary for a re-adjustment of their Pensions. There were three questions put. One was, whether the language of the Act of 1866 was such as to have afforded a legal justification to the Government, if they had thought fit, to add to the retiring members of the Force before 1866 a pension, according to the scale of superannuation laid down in 1867. We are satisfied it would have been legal, if the Government had been pleased, to have granted pensions at that rate; but we also were satisfied that the Act did not render it obligatory. And inasmuch as one of the clauses of the Act contained the Preamble, which stated it was not the intention of the framers of the Act, the Government think they were right in not granting them. There was then the Act of 1874, which we considered gave no now claims to the men who had retired from the Service.