HC Deb 10 February 1882 vol 266 cc378-80

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether or no the Major Bond described in the "Daily News" as one of the specially appointed resident magistrates presiding for the first time at Clonbur Sessions, is the same officer who up to December last was the Chief Superintendent of Police in the borough of Birmingham; and, if so, whether or no his attention has been called to the following Resolution passed by the Birmingham magistrates, and dated November 22nd 1881:— and that the "Watch Committee he informed that in consequence of the Chief of Police having given elaborate detailed evidence of what took place upon an occasion at which he was not even present, and such evidence being wholly erroneous, the magistrates cannot continue to regard him with confidence; whether or no his attention has been called to the following Resolution passed by the Watch Committee:— That this Committee having carefully considered the Report of the magistrates, and the conduct of Major Bond, in giving evidence as to proceedings which took place when he was not present, and also the importance of any evidence given by a Chief of Police being fully reliable, feel that they cannot but concur in the Resolution of the Justices in ceasing to regard Major Bond with confidence; and, whether or no he is aware that Major Bond was allowed to resign his office after a Resolution for his dismissal had been adopted by the Watch Committee, and approved by the Town Council?


In reply to my hon. Friend, I beg to state that Major Bond has been appointed one of the special stipendiary magistrates in Ireland. I have no doubt—in fact, I know—he is the gentleman to whom the hon. Member refers. He had been Chief Superintendent of Police in the borough of Birmingham, and Chief Constable of Cardiff prior to this; and I think I ought to add that his application wag supported by the highest testimonials. [Mr. CALLAN: Of what date?] There is one from the hon. Member for Ipswich himself, dated the 11th of June, 1880, which stated— I have great pleasure in giving testimony that during my mayoralty you appear to me to have discharged your duties as a zealous officer, and in most efficient manner, especially in con- nection with the public meeting, which has since become so notorious. You acted in a most satisfactory manner in regard to efficiency and conduct. That was one of a large number of testimonials. It is quite true it was written before the proceedings alluded to by the hon. Member. At the time of the appointment I had not heard the charge now made against Major Bond; but I think it due to him to state that I find there are two opinions in regard to what happened in Birmingham, and I have received several telegrams from Birmingham speaking in very strong terms in favour of Major Bond. It is not for me to enter into that controversy; but, in justice to Major Bond, I think I should state that one of the testimonials by which I was greatly guided was one from Mr. Dugdale, Recorder of Birmingham, which was written on the 2nd of January last, and which says— I have much pleasure in bearing testimony to your capabilities, as I hear you are applying for the position of one of the new provincial magistrates in Ireland. During the four years that I have been Recorder you have raised the police force to a very high state of efficiency, and, at the same time, I have not heard of any complaints of harsh or unfair treatment towards the criminal classes. This I consider a matter of great importance, and I hope you will succeed in your present application. I think my hon. Friend will see we had good ground for our appointment. I cannot give any opinion with regard to what happened, except that Major Bond appears to think that he has a very strong case; and I think, in justice to him, now that the matter has been alluded to, I should say that I have seen a letter from the Recorder to the Mayor of Birmingham, dated December 17, 1881, in which the Recorder says— I cannot think for one moment that Major Bond had the slightest intention of misleading he Court; and I find from the report of the proceedings of the Watch Committee, when his resignation was before them, the Mayor says—" I entirely acquit Major Bond of intentional misrepresentation."


I beg to give Notice that on Tuesday I will ask the date of the testimonials to which the right hon. Gentleman refers, and also the date of the appointment; whether at the time of the appointment he had asked any information of the Watch Committee and Town Council or bench of magistrates at Birmingham; whether he has seen the terms in which they had referred to the conduct of Major Bond; and, whether he was not aware that Major Bond had not disputed that the circumstantial evidence he gave, and which caused a gross miscarriage of justice, was given by him with reference to an occasion at which he was not present?


said, the testimonial to which his hon. Friend alluded was dated June, 1880, and that of the Recorder of Birmingham January 2, 1882. Both of them were dated before the appointment of Major Bond. Major Bond had disputed the statement with regard to this occurrence, and he (Mr. W. E. Forster) did not think it was his duty to enter into an investigation of any charge like that to which his hon. Friend referred.


I would like to ask the President of the Board of Trade, who has a great local knowledge of Birmingham, whether he was consulted by his Colleagues in the appointment of this gentleman, and whether he considers him a suitable person to discharge functions involving honesty?


The hon. Member, in asking for an opinion, is clearly out of Order.


I would like to ask, in connection with the answer of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, if it is in the future to be considered a special qualification of resident magistrates in Ireland that they should be able to give detailed evidence in Dublin Castle with regard to alleged circulars which they have not seen, and which no other person has seen?

[No reply.]