HC Deb 18 July 1881 vol 263 cc1129-31

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ire- land, Whether his attention has been directed to the charge of Mr. Justice Lawson in opening the Kerry Assizes on the 13th instant, wherein he states that there have been 155 agrarian offences in the county since the Spring Assizes; whether he is correctly reported to have said as follows:— The character of these offences is still more alarming, when they came to look into every case, because they consisted of outrages of a most dreadful kind—crimes upon persons, property, cattle, houses. And, in fact, he could only say that the picture they presented was really and truly an appalling one, and demonstrated that the reign of law in this county is practically suspended and superseded by some other different authority; And, whether, in view of the oft-repeated assertions to the same effect by Her Majesty's Judges and others best qualified to form an opinion, the Government intend to take such action, in the interests of the Country, as shall no longer permit the Land League to terrorize peaceable and well-disposed subjects of the Queen?


rose to Order. The Question of the hon. Member for the County Leitrim conveyed very serious imputations; and he (Mr. O'Donnell) wished to ask Mr. Speaker whether it was not in its terms contrary to the Standing Orders of the House? These statements were in reference to the Land League, to which Judge Lawson did not refer in any way in the speech from which the hon. Member for Leitrim quoted. He wished to ask whether these statements made by the hon. Member against the Land League did not require to be proved before they were asserted as facts in a Question in this House?


said, he rose to a point of Order also. He would venture to recall to the memory of Mr. Speaker the fact that a similar attempt was made by the hon. Member for the County Leitrim on a former occasion to drag in debatable matter respecting the Land League, and his Question was ruled out of Order.


My attention has been called to this Question by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). I examined it, and it has been, to a considerable extent, revised at my direction by the Clerk at the Table. At the same time, I think that, having quoted the extract from the Charge of the Judge, the passage to which objec- tion is taken is naturally the consequence of that Charge.


rose to a point of Order. [Cries of "Order!"]


The point of Order has already been settled.


But I wish to raise another point of Order, and to ask whether, in the quotation from the Judge's Charge, any allusion whatever, by name or implication, is made to the Land League?

[The Speaker did not reply.]


Sir, I have seen the Report to which the hon. Gentleman the Member for County Leitrim (Mr. Tottenham) refers. I am no better able to state than the hon. Member is whether it is correct. The Judges, as I have often stated in this House, furnish no official Report of their Charges; but, having seen it in several newspapers, I have no doubt in my own mind that it is a correct report. The quotation in the hon. Gentleman's Question says that Judge Lawson states that there have been 155 agrarian offences in Kerry since the Spring Assizes. I do not find that he said agrarian offences. I believe what he said was very serious offences. As regards the last quotation. I can only say that this statement of Judge Lawson and some other similar statements have occupied, and do occupy, the serious and anxious attention of Her Majesty's Government; and we are using our best endeavours, with the powers which the law has placed in our hands, to protect person and property and prevent intimidation.


asked whether the Chief Secretary for Ireland would cause to be procured, and lay on the Table of the House copies of Judges' Charges at the recent Summer Assizes in Ireland?

[No answer was given to this Question.]