HC Deb 20 March 1882 vol 267 cc1280-2

asked Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, Whether Mr. Geoffrey Browning has been appointed Solicitor to the Land Commission; whether another gentleman had practically been selected for the office, who was rejected, upon the Commissioners learning from him, upon inquiring what his political views were, that although he was not an active politician, he had acted professionally, seven years ago, as conducting agent for Mr. Parnell, upon his first return for Meath; and, if the Commissioners were aware of the fact, or made any inquiry to ascertain whether Mr. G. Browning has himself acted as conducting agent for the senior Member for Dublin at the last two elections?


Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman answers the Question, I should like to ask him if he is aware that Mr. Justice O'Hagan, the judicial member of the Land Commission, is the author of several inflammatory political ballads, for the singing of which people have been sent to gaol in Ireland?


No, Sir. I am not aware of that which the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) imputes to my knowledge. With reference to the Question of the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy), I have to state that the Land Act of last Session (Section 45) authorizes the Land Commission, with the consent of the Lord Lieutenant, to appoint and remove their Solicitor, and I am informed that in the exercise of this power Mr. Geoffrey Browning has been appointed Solicitor to the Commission. In making this appointment I am satisfied that the Land Commission examined into and considered the qualifications of every candidate who applied for the office, and of everyone whom they thought likely to be suited for it, and satisfied themselves of Mr. Browning's competency before they appointed him. I am also satisfied that they acted in reference to this appointment to the best of their judgment, and on their statutory responsibility; but I am not informed what facts they were aware of or what inquiries they made.


said, he would ask, on an early day, if there was any truth in a statement which recently appeared in The Dublin Morning Mail alleging that an eminent solicitor, who was nominated for the office in question, was declared disqualified by the Chief Secretary for Ireland on the ground that he had acted as conducting agent for Mr. Parnell at the Meath Election in 1875, although the three Commissioners protested against the absurdity of disqualifying a man who had never identified himself with the Land League, and who had never seen Mr. Parnell until he went to conduct his election in 1875, five years before the passing of the Land Act.


Sir, I think I may answer that Question. I have not read the article referred to by the hon. Member; but if it alleges that I refused the sanction that the Government have to give to the appointment of any person whatever, it is totally untrue.