HC Deb 07 July 1879 vol 247 c1717

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, If, on inquiry, he finds the charges made in the " Belfast Morning News " of 20th March last against the County Down Grand Jury of accepting tenders for printing at a considerably higher rate than another tender, he will instruct the Law Officers of the Crown to institute legal proceedings, civil or criminal, against said Grand Jury?


The Government have no power to institute legal proceedings, either civil or criminal, against Grand Juries. I am glad, however, to find that, in the case alluded to by the hon. Member, there would be no occasion to exercise any such power if it existed. The facts appear to be that two tenders were lodged with the Grand Jury of the County Down for the county printing. One was from a Mr. Reid for £323 odd, and the other from a Mr. Clarke for £350 odd. The tenders were investigated by a committee of the Grand Jury; and, having regard to the advantage of having the printing work done in the Assize town, where there would be greater facilities for correction and superintendence, and other circumstances, the higher tender was unanimously adopted. The printing contract, along with other presentments, was, in the usual manner, fiated by the Judge of Assize, previous to which any person desiring to call the matter in question would have had a full opportunity for so doing. Nobody, however, took any exception to the course adopted by the Grand Jury, which appears to me to have been a very proper one.