HC Deb 13 June 1882 vol 270 cc986-8

I beg to ask the Prime Minister a Question, of which I have not given him private Notice; but the Question is of sufficient importance to justify me in putting it without Notice. It is this. There is a rumour very current that there is another letter which was submitted to the Cabinet with reference to the Kilmainham Treaty—a letter written by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) to the 'hon. Gentleman the Member for Longford County (Mr. Justin M'Carthy)— and that that letter was submitted to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, and by him submitted to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. That is the report which is current. If that is correct, I feel quite sure the right hon. Gentleman will at once say so; and if it is incorrect, this will give him an opportunity of denying it. But if it is correct, I shall ask him whether that letter cannot be produced and laid upon the Table?


Before the right hon. Gentleman answers the Question, I should like to ask him whether he is not aware that there are at least 100 other rumours current about the Kilmainham Treaty; and whether he will take the trouble to answer each and every one of them?


The course which has been taken by Her Majesty's Government on this subject has been uniform from the first. But, in the first place, I would say that I do not think it is quite courteous on the part of the hon. and gallant Baronet to put a Question about the "Kilmainham Treaty," he knowing perfectly well that I have many times denied that any Treaty, compact, understanding, or whatever he may like to call it, exists, or ever has existed, between Her Majesty's Government and the hon. Member for the City of Cork. The hon. and gallant Baronet is quite welcome to retain his own private opinion on the matter; but it is not courteous, becoming, or Parliamentary on his part to put Questions to me in regard to the "Kilmainham Treaty." With regard to the subject itself, the ground taken by Her Majesty's Government has always been this—that the Act of Parliament committed exclusively to Her Majesty's Government the business of imprisoning and of releasing under the Protection of Person and Property Act, and that it was no part of our duty or business at all to produce to the House of Commons the evidence upon which we proceeded either in imprisoning or in releasing. Now, it is out of no want of courtesy to the hon. and gallant Baronet that I am obliged to adhere to that ground, because I feel that that was the sense and spirit of the Act of Parliament, which I am not at liberty to disregard. Any attempt on our part to have produced the evidence upon which we proceeded would have been, in my opinion—and in the opinion, I think, of my Colleagues—an attempt to carry over to Parliament a responsibility which was entirely and exclusively our own. For that reason, I am not disposed to enter at all upon the discussion of the subject which the hon. and gallant Baronet has opened; and if he desires the production of a document, which, I think, it is no part of our duty to produce, it is not for me in the least to say to whom he should address his application.


The right hon. Gentleman, I am sure, will feel that it was from no want of courtesy that I addressed the Question to him. I heard the rumour. I thought it an important Question, and I put it direct. The right hon. Gentleman has not denied that there was such a correspondence; but he referred me to somebody else, and I should like to know to whom I should apply to have the letter produced?


inquired how many persons were now in custody, how many were classified by the Government as associated with crime, and what was the cause of the delay in the release of those not so classified?

[No answer was given to these Questions.]


said, the question of the "Kilmainham Treaty" had become so important that he begged to give Notice that he would ask the hon. Member for Clare (Mr. O'Shea) if on the occasion of his visit to Kilmainham he was not accompanied by another Gentleman?