§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
, in rising to call attention to the conduct of the Irish Magistracy; and to move—That, in the opinion of this House, the present condition of the Irish Magistracy, constituted, as shown by a Return now in the possession of the House, almost exclusively from one religious denomination and one class, is offensive and injurious to the vast majority of the Irish people, and is calculated to destroy all confidence in the ordinary administration of justice in Ireland,said, if Irish Members were only con- 1659 cerned with the one chapter of the history of the Irish Magistracy which, described its composition, and if they were convinced that English and Scotch Members would read the Return recently laid before the House on that subject, and strive to understand it, hardly any argument would be needed to convey its full import and lesson. But his hon. Friends and himself could not suppose that this long and complicated Return would receive the attention to which it was entitled. Furthermore, there were other questions concerning the administration of justice beside the composition of the Magistracy which were not touched upon in that Return, and which could only be set forth on a Motion such as he had proposed. There were two classes of magistrates—the Resident Magistrates, who were appointed under an Act of Parliament, and held office during the pleasure of the Viceroy, and there were the Unpaid Magistrates, who were appointed by the Lord Chancellor, on the recommendation of the Lord Lieutenant of a county. Nomination by a Lord Lieutenant was taken as sufficient recommendation, so that the Lords Lieutenant virtually held in their own hands the appointment of the ordinary Magistracy. Now, it would hardly be believed that out of 32 Lords Lieutenant in Ireland only two were members of the Catholic Church. Ireland contained about 4,000,000 Catholic inhabitants, and about 1,000,000 of a Protestant population. These 4,000,000 Catholics had 869 Catholic magistrates and justices. The 1,000,000 Irish Protestants had 3,359 persons in the Commission of the Peace. These figures exhibited a very curious inversion of proportions, and showed that the great majority of Catholics had a miserably small minority of their faith on the Bench. Such a state of things hardly called for mere inquiry; it called rather for instant condemnation. No ingenuity or skill could reconcile a House of Commons, disposed to act with fairness and justice, to the disparity disclosed by these figures. In the Province of Ulster the population was very nearly balanced. There were about 830,000 Catholics, and about 900,000 Protestants of all denominations. Yet there were only 88 Catholic magistrates and 1,027 Protestant magistrates in Ulster. Leinster had a popu- 1660 lation of 1,100,000 Catholics, and 184,000 Protestants; and in Leinster there were 296 Catholic magistrates, and 1,047 Protestant magistrates. Munster had a Catholic population of about 1,250,000, and a Protestant population of about 81,000. The minority of 81,000 had 884 Commissions of the Peace amongst them, while the 1,250,000 had only 301 Catholic magistrates. The Catholic population of Connaught was 783,000, and it had 181 Catholic magistrates. The Protestant population of 38,000 had 401 Protestant Justices of the Peace. In the boroughs the disproportion of Catholic magistrates to Protestants was not so obviously one-sided, although it was still sufficiently striking and shameful. The Catholic population of Irish boroughs was about 612,000; the Protestant population was 299,000. The Catholic magistrates numbered 145; the Protestants 226. In the whole county of Fermanagh there was only one Catholic magistrate, and he was a Resident Magistrate, so that Fermanagh had no unpaid Catholic Justice of the Peace; but it had 74 Protestant Justices. Carlow had but five Catholic Justices, and it, he need hardly say, was a Catholic county. Wicklow had five Catholic magistrates, and 99 Protestant Justices of the Peace. The county of Donegal, although mainly Catholic, had only nine Catholic magistrates out of 138 Justices of the Peace. It must be evident from these figures that, as regarded religious denomination, there was a monstrous and farcical perversion of all the principles of justice and fair play in Ireland, he should be sorry, however, to have it thought that their whole case was a question between Catholic and Protestant. That was a matter of immense magnitude; but it would by no means content him and his hon. Friends if by some sudden manipulation of the social arrangements the Viceroy were to place upon the Magisterial Bench a number of well-selected Catholic gentlemen, who had been ostentatious in their professions of devotion to the Castle. They should feel their people just as unprotected under that sort of change as if things were left as they now stood, with the administration of justice practically in the hands of a Protestant Magistracy. What they complained of was, that magistrates were not alone taken nearly all from one religious denomination, but that they 1661 were chosen from one class of the community, and from what he might call the anti-National school. He wished the Return showed the names of the magistrates dismissed from the Commission of the Peace during the last 10 or 12 years. That would be instructive evidence; for the moment a Catholic magistrate had shown himself decidedly in sympathy with the National cause, some excuse was immediately found for his removal from the Bench of Justice. This had occurred more than once with honest, independent, sympathetic members of the Protestant Church. But he had no wish to see their places filled by the effervescing loyalty of certain Catholics, whose great ambition was to be invited to Castle balls and dinners. The complaint he made, beside that which concerned religion, was that nine-tenths of the magistrates were chosen from one class, and that the landlord class, which could not be supposed to be in affinity with any of the wants and wishes of the people of Ireland. It was possible that the Return did not do full justice to the case of the Chief Secretary, and that there might be more representatives of the farmer class on the Bench than this Return disclosed. Many in the class from which Irish Justices were chosen were nothing if not genteel; and it was not impossible that the position of the farmer might be decently wrapped up in the phrase "small landowner" or "gentleman farmer," which occurred now and then through the Return. Two or three times they had the title "gentleman land agent," and in one case they had a "gentleman soap and candle manufacturer." But, even making allowance for all the gentlemen farmers and gentlemen soap and candle manufacturers, it was clear that only a small minority of the Magistracy belonged to the farmer class. He would take examples from the county he represented. In County Long ford they had 66 magistrates, of whom 62 were ordinary Justices; 52 of these were Protestants, and 14 were Catholics. If there was one county conspicuously Catholic in population, it was Long ford. Of these 14 Catholics only five lived in the county, or took the slightest interest in what was called the administration of justice. Ono of the absentees was a Member of Parliament; and he, perhaps, was engaged in occu- 1662 pations of a more delicate and exalted order than the administration of justice in the County Long ford. Perhaps he considered it more dignified to play the part of a modern John Inglesant at, Rome than to take any interest in the welfare of Long ford tenant farmers. Another of the absentees was a Laud Commissioner. A third was a gentleman who signed one of the addresses to Lord Rossmore; three lived in Dublin, and one was permanently settled in Australia, apparently having no intention of returning to adorn the Long ford Magisterial Bench. Thirty-six were described as "landlords;" 5 as land agents; 11 as military officers, and of these, seven were also either landholders or the heirs to great estates. Only the two Coroners for the county were farmers, and, as mosthon. Members knew, Coroners were chosen by popular election: but even of these two farmers one was also a land agent. There was a pleasant and rapid process of manufacturing magistrates out of the clerks of a great land agency office in Dublin, who in their tender years were sent to the county as agents or sub-agents, and were immediately inducted into the Commission of the Peace. To give an illustration. In one division of County Long ford the Petty Sessions Bench had six magistrates. The first was a great landlord—a Member of this House; then came that landlord's agent, then the agent's son, then the agent's son-in-law, and then the agent's two nephews; and by that agreeable family party was justice administered in one portion of the county he represented. Any hon. Member might consider the sort of trial which would be given to a man brought before that Bench charged with having trespassed upon the great landlord's grounds in pursuit of a rabbit, or to cut a branch from a tree. It was possible that the Chief Secretary, or some other Member of the Government, might endeavour to argue that there was no way of getting proper men to place on the Bench unless from the landlord class or the Protestant denomination. Of course, as long as they stood upon the absurd and antiquated principle of property qualification there was little to be said in reply to that argument. But the property qualification had been excluded from almost every other institution in the country, and could not stand long as regarded county 1663 magistrates. There was no reason in the actual facts of the case why there should not he obtained in every county a Bench of Magistrates well qualified to discharge their duties, while fairly representing the tenant farmers and Roman Catholics in Ireland. It must be remembered that nearly all the different Local Governing Bodies in Ireland at present had on their lists numbers of middleclass Catholics, who were able and intelligent, who understood local business, arid who were well qualified to perform all the duties required by such a position. These men would be just as well qualified to sit on the Bench of Justice, and administer it fairly between man and man, as any of the landlord or land agent or military classes, no matter how high their intelligence or earnestness of purpose. That was the case to which he would direct the attention of the House. There were many questions connected with the discharge of their duty by a particular class of magistrates to which he had not referred at all. There were cases such as that brought to light in the Question of the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Mayne) to-day, which introduced the House to a Justice of the Peace who might have stepped out of the pages of Smollett for grotesque misconduct and buffoonery. As to the Resident Magistrates, also, he presumed they would hear something in the course of the debate. If they did not, it was not because their action had not excited a strong and deep feeling in the country recently. He merely confined himself to the fact that the magistrates were, in nine cases out of ten, taken from one denomination and one class, that denomination being the denomination of the minority, and that class being notoriously, and he might almost say of necessity, out of sympathy with the vast mass of the population. If that was not a case which bore out the terms of his Resolution, he should like to know by What argument it could be proved. As long as this monstrous anomaly and this gross injustice stared the Irish Catholic tenant farmer and peasant in the face, as long as they saw that the Irish Magistracy was simply a garrison employed to keep down National feeling, and was in no sense a Bench of Justice, so long would they distrust and hate the law. He appealed, then, to the House to say whether the time had not come when, in 1664 the interests of justice and good feeling, and of England as well as Ireland, this glaring and outrageous scandal should be brought to an end? He begged to move the Resolution standing in his name.
, in seconding the Resolution, said, after the masterly way in which his hon. Friend had exposed the scandal of the Irish Magistracy it would be merely travelling over the same ground to say anything upon the subject until they had heard the reply of the Chief Secretary. He almost anticipated that there would be no reply—at least, no reply to the damning case made against the composition of the Magisterial Bench in Ireland—and that the line of defence taken would be that anticipated by his hon. Friend—namely, that it was really not the fault of the Government, and that they had done their best to remedy it. Of course, it might be very convenient for the Government, when they had absolutely no defence to the case made against the Irish Magistracy, to say that they desired to reform it, and that they had tried to do so; but the people of Ireland had no belief whatever in such professions. On the contrary, he asserted that every step the Government had taken in the direction, apparently of Liberalizing the Irish Magistracy by the infusion of Catholics, was taken, not for the be bonâ fide purpose of improving or reforming it, but for the purpose of corrupting the Catholics appointed. They had almost invariably, in the Catholic appointments they had made, selected men who were most open to the temptations of the Government—men who were even most obnoxious to the people. The consequence was that bad as were the Orange section of the Magistracy in Ireland, the Catholic section, with comparatively few exceptions, was worse. They were neither fish nor flesh—they were people who felt that they could only rise above their own order and gain a miserable social distinction by recanting their political opinions and cringing or intriguing with the Government. He and his hon. Friends complained that not only were independent Catholics fitted for office passed over, but that the most obnoxious of the Irish Catholics were chosen for these positions. Last Session he brought under the notice of the House the fact that in one of the most Catholic districts 1665 in Ireland—the district of Roscrea—there was not a single Catholic magistrate, and that the people were absolutely at the mercy of an Orange Bench. He mentioned that one of them had entertained the local Orange Lodge at his residence on the 12th of July; and that, in fact, the whole of the magistrates of the district ostentatiously patronized the Orange Society and everything offensive to the people. The Chief Secretary seemed to recognize the hardship of that, and he gave a promise at the time that he would see whether something could not be done to remedy it. But what was the remedy? The Lord Chancellor, or the Lieutenant of the county, or whatever official was responsible, passed over a number of Catholic gentlemen of independence and high character in the town of Roscrea, and went into the Templemore Petty Sessions district, 12 miles away, where he selected one of the most obnoxious Catholics in the whole of Tipperary, a land agent of the very worst type, and a man who throughout the whole land agitation had been a conspicuous enemy of the people. This man, who scarcely ever visited Roscrea, was raised to the Bench in the Petty Sessions district; and the Chief Secretary presumably thought that by this appointment everything was done that was necessary to inspire popular confidence in the administration of justice. Of course, the result was that another outrage had been perpetrated on popular feeling in the district. He was glad his hon. Friend had made it quite clear that it was not merely upon religious grounds they objected to the composition of the Magistracy. The objection on that ground was conclusive so far as it referred to the facts brought to light in the Blue Book obtained by his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton). They, however, regarded the religious test as no test in any case where a person enjoyed the confidence of the people. Indeed, owing to the class of Catholics whom the Government encouraged in Ireland, he believed the people would even prefer a Magistracy that was entirely and frankly Protestant, rather than a Magistracy partly composed of Catholics who were promoted for being parasites and toadies of the Government. He believed that there never would be a satisfactory Magistracy in Ireland until the 1666 people elected their own magistrates, as they did their own Coroners, or at least until magistrates were nominated by representative County Boards. His hon. Friend the Member for Sligo had suggested beyond all question the next best way of getting at really representative men; but he was sorry to say that he believed that suggestion would not be taken up by the Government officials in Ireland in the spirit that would give it any success whatever. The only objection that could be raised to men nominated in the way he had suggested was that they were of pretty decided political opinions; that they were Nationalists, and, in fact, strong political partisans. He must say candidly that he thought it would be no advantage to the people of Ireland if persons of a colourless character were selected. [Laughter.] He heard hon. Members laugh. All he could say was, and there was no use in disguising it, that every man who was worth his salt in Ireland was a strong political partizan. What was the composition of the Irish Magistracy? Of 4,358 who composed the whole County Magistracy in Ireland, 2,876 were landlords, and 400 more were land agents. He asked hon. Gentlemen who laughed a while ago, were these gentlemen partizans? Were they not bitter and interested partizans of the very worst type? He did not suppose that hon. gentlemen above the Gangway would reproach them for holding to their opinions. He maintained that a Nationalist who held his political opinions honestly was just as trustworthy and as fit to discharge the duties of the Bench as the rack-renter or a rentwarner. The plea that it was difficult to find men for the position was the merest excuse. There was no difficulty in finding honest, intelligent, and suitable men in Ireland, who were Catholics also. There were plenty of them to be had, only for the misfortune that they were stamped with National opinions. There were, for instance, the whole of the priests of Ireland, as was suggested in The Freeman of yesterday. Many of them were not strong politicians, and they at present, to a very great extent, discharged the functions of magistrates in settling disputes between the people. The effect of the appointment of a few Catholic magistrates in some districts was exceedingly 1667 strange. Take the district of Castle-town Roche, near his own constituency, whore Mr. Hickey was appointed. Well, but for Mr. Hickey the public would never have heard of as gross a scandal as ever occurred. They would never have heard that a supposed agrarian outrage, which cost the people of a poor parish £300, was a pure fabrication, bolstered up by flagrant perjury. What was the result? Of course, Mr. Hickey's opinion went for nothing in the eyes of the Castle, and the opinion of a military autocrat, who patronized this perjury, was believed. There was in the same district another magistrate named Roche, who was the principal party to a circular threatening a number of tenants that they would be flung out for arrears of rent unless they would do as the landlord wished. He exposed the matter in the House, and what was the Chief Secretary's answer? He said it was quite true that these poor people were at the merey of the landlord; that they were intimidated; but that the Prevention of Crime Act was not passed for magistrates or rent warners. Again, there were the Resident Magistrates. Instead of being men of high character, well trained, well versed in the law, and perfectly indifferent between parties, the Resident Magistrates of Ireland were almost exclusively composed of promoted police officers, detectives, and broken-down Indian officials. Were these men perfectly indifferent between parties in Ireland? Captain M'Ternan's example at Enniskillen was a warning to them that they would be instantly "Boycotted" in society if they thought for a moment to set up their opinions against those of the landlords. It was perfectly idle to think of getting rid of the difficulty or patching up the system by dismissing a few Orange magistrates, or giving a few Castle Catholics the power of adding J.P. to their names. He believed the difficulty lay much deeper—that the whole system was wrong and rotten; and that until they reformed it root and branch, and gave the people some voice, at all events, in saying who should be their magistrates, they would never get them to look upon the Magistracy as anything better than the soldiers and police, part and parcel of the English garrison, and that they would for ever hate them as the symbols of injustice and despotism.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, the present condition of the Irish Magistracy, constituted, as shown by a Return now in the possession of the House, almost exclusively from one religious denomination and one class, is offensive and injurious to the vast majority of the Irish people, and is calculated to destroy all confidence in the ordinary administration of justice in Ireland,"—(.Mr. Justin M'Carthy,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. CHARLES RUSSELL
asked the permission of the House to state, without indulging in exaggeration, the reasons why he should support the Motion of the hon. Member for Longford. It would be difficult to overstate the practical importance of this question in the eyes of the Irish people, especially the Irish people of the humbler class. It was to them of much greater importance in reality than many questions of wider political significance; because the magistrates in whose hands was placed the administration of justice in Ireland were, in the eyes of the class to which he referred, the whole embodiment and representation of the law. In every question which affected the conduct and action of that class these magistrates were the judges, and practically the irresponsible judges, for from their decisions in the great majority of cases there was virtually no appeal. He remembered hearing this question discussed and debated as a crying grievance considerably more than 30 years ago. Some 30 years since he lived in Ulster, the Province in which he was born, and in the town of Belfast he practised in the other branch of the Profession to which he now had the honour to belong. He recollected that the feeling of the humbler class of Catholics in that Province then was one of utter and complete distrust, speaking generally, in the honesty and fair-mindedness of the magistrates. He did not mean to say that that feeling was well-founded with regard to many men on the Bench in Ulster. On. THE contrary, he believed that a great many of them desired to be fair, and were fair; but in consequence of the action of no inconsiderable number of their body, and in consequence of the fact that the great 1669 majority of thorn belonged to the religion of a class widely different, and indeed antagonistic, to their own, they felt the utmost distrust in the fair-mindedness and impartiality of the Bench in that Province, especially in eases into which religious and Party considerations entered. The consequences of that feeling of distrust were widespread, and very often led the humbler class of Catholics to take the law into their own hands, believing that on the Bench it would not be administered with evenhanded justice. The state of things to which the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) had called attention existed substantially today as it had existed 30 or 40 years ago; and although soma changes had been made, he felt bound to say that nothing real, nothing effective, nothing thorough had been done. One naturally asked the question, how this came to be so? Well, what he found was this—that the appointments of magistrates in Ireland, whether for boroughs or for counties, had been made upon a wrong principle. The principle, so far as he could make out, was this—that they were made upon the supposition that it was a necessary condition and qualification for an appointment to the Magisterial Bench in the counties that the candidates should be great county magnates. It was thought that they should be great men, with great interests, landlords themselves, or at least agents or sub-agents. In point of fact, it was thought necessary that they should possess the qualifications which were thought necessary for Membership of that House some years ago, but which principle had long since been abandoned. It still, however, was practically enforced in the case of the Magistracy. One of the principles which he would not advocate was that Catholics should be specially appointed merely on account of their religion. He believed that they should try and find out if they could get men of honesty and independence, without taking into account whether they were men of high social position. They should endeavour to obtain men of fair intelligence; and, above all, they should obtain men of fair and honest judgment. A man of fair intelligence should not be considered disqualified for a magisterial position only because he was in strong sympathy with what was called the popular in- 1670 terest. He would say that the first qualities to be looked for in the selection of a magistrate were independence and honesty of character and intelligence. The next thing to be looked for in the magisterial appointment was a man who would have the confidence of the people. That ought to be one of the primary principles of appointment. There was another practical difficulty which existed in this matter which had not yet been adverted to, and to which he would like to draw the attention of the House. The appointment of magistrates in Ireland practically depended upon Lord Lieutenants of the counties. Now, he wished to state, because he thought it right to do so, that he knew cases in which efforts had been made in Ireland by Lord Chancellors to induce Lord Lieutenants of counties to make suitable appointments. He alluded particularly to Lord O'Hagan, Mr. Law, and the present Lord Chancellor; and although he did not desire to examine too closely into the matter, still he thought it would not be fair to overlook the fact that in each of these cases they had acted without the recommendation of the Lord Lieutenant, and had also, in some cases, he believed, against the suggestions of the Lord Lieutenants, made appointments to the Magistracy. What he did wish to emphasize was the fact that the Lord Lieutenants were permitted to have the nomination of the magistrates; and this rendered the action of the Lord Chancellor of the day, even if he were desirous of giving a full share of justice to the popular desire, extremely difficult. He would say, once and for all, that this power of nomination and practically the power of veto should not be in the hands of the Lord Lieutenants of the counties. It might be asked, then, who should have the appointment? Well, he thought it should at present be left with the Representative of the Executive Government, the Lord Chancellor. He thought it would be very desirable that these appointments should be made by some person who was not irresponsible to Parliament. If these appointments were made by an Executive Judicial Officer of the Government, they could make him directly responsible for his appointments in that House. He hoped, however, that the time was not far distant when through the medium of County Representative Boards the lawful representatives of 1671 the people would have some voice in the nominations of those whose fitness for the place and whoso independence and honesty were known to the persons among whom they lived. Lastly, he would say that no political opinion, however strong, no sympathy with the popular movement, however advanced, should be regarded by the Lord Lieutenant or the Lord Chancellor as a bar to magisterial advancement, but rather as a reason for magisterial advancement. There were amongst themselves men who held these advanced opinions. He believed that no man should be objected to for being advanced in his opinions, provided that he forwarded them only by Constitutional means and within the law.
§ SIR HERVEY BRUCE
said, that in the absence of his hon. Friend the Member for the County of Dublin (Mr. King-Harman), he happened to be the only Lieutenant of an Irish county who had the honour of a seat in the House, and, therefore, he should like to trouble the House with a few observations. He had listened with careful attention to the hon. Member for County Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy), who proposed the Motion; and, having read some of his works, more particularly The History of Our Times, famed for its beautiful language and moderation, he (Sir Hervey Bruce) had expected to hear a speech of conspicuous moderation, much as he differed from him in the terms of the Resolution. The hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien) took a different view, and evidently thought that the magistrates should be appointed by those who were in direct antagonism to the Government of this country, and who wished to separate the Government of Ireland from Imperial principles. He thought the hon. Member might as well tell them that prisoners to be tried at Assizes should have the power of selecting the juries to try them. So far as regarded the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. Charles Russell), he thought his charges had been rather sweeping against the Lieutenants of counties, who had been taunted with not listening to the popular voice when names were submitted. For himself, he (Sir Hervey Bruce) had invariably carefully listened whenever names had been submitted to him on respectable and responsible authority. He had, however, carefully refused to listen to any repre- 1672 sentation of popularity got up by Memorialists; and he had the authority of the late Lord Chancellor of Ireland for stating that he (Sir Hervey Bruce) was deemed perfectly right in not paying attention to such Memorials so far as regarded any clamorous demand. In a former debate it was noticed that applications were made to Lieutenants to nominate certain persons as magistrates on the ground of Party services. He regretted that that should be so; but thought that it must be accepted as one of the incidents of political life. The allegations which had been made against the Lieutenants rested upon the very slenderest foundation. It had been his desire, so far as possible, to appoint Roman Catholic magistrates where desirable. The late Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Johnson), who had met the rewards of his deserts, and now sat upon the Judicial Bench, had stated in a speech of his that where persons who had been recommended for appointment to the Magistracy had been passed over by the Lieutenants of counties application should be made directly to the Lord Chancellor. He did not know whether the hon. Member for Wicklow had taken that course. [Mr. M'COAN: I did.] He would call attention to remarks made by Mr. Law in July, 1881, when speaking to a Vote of Censure moved by the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell). Mr. Law appealed with some confidence to hon. Gentlemen opposite whether, upon the whole, the magistrates deserved the very sweeping charge that was made against them of having abused the powers they were called upon to exercise? The hon. and learned Member for Dundalk, in the same debate, concurred that a sufficient case had not been made out to justify the House in passing such a Resolution. A further Motion was made on the same day by the hon. and learned Member for Wicklow (Mr. M'Coan), expressing dissatisfaction with the constitution of the Irish Bench of Magistrates, in which he stated nine tenths of the population were Catholics, and 19–20ths of the magistrates were Protestants. He disputed the accuracy of the numbers, though he admitted there was a disproportion. Mr. Johnson further quoted a letter from Lord O'Hagan, then Lord Chancellor, in which he stated as to how many Catholics qualified for the Com- 1673 mission of the Peace had applied to the Lieutenants of counties, and been rejected.
They had been, in our time, very few indeed. I have always regretted the disproportion between the number of Episcopalian Protestants, Catholics, and Presbyterians in the Magistracy.And he went on to say "that the disparity of wealth and position made the difficulty." Mr. Johnson, late Solicitor General, quoted further from Lord O'Hagan, in which his Lordship stated that he had not received a single complaint with which he could deal, and then stated his own experience as to the conduct of the Conservative and Protestant Lieutenant of Cork, of his willingness to recommend qualified Catholic gentlemen. The figures of the hon. Member who had brought this question forward were hardly correct, in that he had over-estimated the Catholic and under-estimated the Protestant population in Ireland. The County Fermanagh had been alluded to, and he thought his noble Friend (Viscount Crichton) would be able to answer for his noble Father, than whom there was no man more loved or respected in Ireland for the way in which he had spent his time, his money, and his intellect for the benefit of his native land, [Laughter from the Irish Benches.] Hon. Members might laugh; but he could tell them that when their names were forgotten that of Lord Erne would be remembered and beloved in his native land. He should like to mention one or two instances in defence of the action of the Protestant Lieutenants of Ireland. The county of Meath, for example, had a Protestant Lieutenant, and there were 42 Roman Catholic magistrates and 97 Protestants of all denominations; and in County Limerick there were 123 Protestant magistrates of all denominations, and 42 Roman Catholics. He (Sir Hervey Bruce) thought it would be admitted on all hands that, at any rate, County Limerick had as many Roman Catholics in it as County Meath, and yet Limerick was represented by a lioman Catholic Lieutenant (Lord Emly); and if he had been able to find the people of his own religion in a position, no matter what their station, intelligence, or disinterestedness, to fill the office of Justice of the Peace, he would have appointed them. He might 1674 state one other case—that of County Mayo—which had a Protestant Lieutenant; there were 88 Protestant and 26 Roman. Catholic magistrates. In County Kerry, with a Roman Catholic Lieutenant, there were 83 Protestant and 32 Roman Catholic magistrates. He thought, therefore, all the Protestant Lieutenants had shown themselves equally willing with those belonging to the Roman Catholic Church to appoint Roman Catholics to the Commission of the Peace. Whilst he (Sir Hervey Bruce) did not wish to convey the impression that he was of opinion that property alone was to be considered the only test of the efficiency of a magistrate, at the same time the independence and education which usually accompanied the possession of property was undoubtedly one of those recommendations which made the position of the magistrate tenable, with honour to himself and advantage to those between whom he was called upon to adjudicate and administer justice. He was perfectly convinced, from an intimate knowledge as a magistrate for many years of his own county and the people of the different districts, that they infinitely preferred, what they called in their own native language, "one of the ould stock"—one who was educated, who was not mixed up in any degree with their quarrels—to decide any differences between them, than a man, however much they might like him, who acted as a spokesman at meetings where there would be demagogic principles, or matters of that sort enunciated. He (Sir Hervey Bruce) was convinced that this was not a religious question; he thought that nothing could possibly be more unsatisfactory than to place the appointment of the magistrates of Ireland upon such a footing. It was a social, not a religious question. He granted that the disparity between Roman Catholic magistrates and the Protestants gave the matter a certain colour; but, after all, it was only a colour, and not really the foundation of a matter calling for the serious attention of the House. This desire to become a magistrate in Ireland was simply extraordinary. Directly a man bought two or three houses, or became the owner of property, the next thing he sought to be made was a Justice of the Peace. He instinctively thought that it was a qualification for the Magis- 1675 tracy, and that the Lieutenant of his county was bound to recommend him to be made a member of the Bench. Then, as regarded the appointment of priests to the Magistracy, it was a direct instruction from the Lord Chancellor of Ireland that no officiating clergyman of any persuasion was to be recommended to him for appointment unless the case positively demanded it.
§ SIR HERVEY BRUCE
said, he did know the case referred to; but he did not care if there were 20 Mr. Friths. Unless it was absolutely necessary for clergymen to be appointed, none were appointed; and perhaps hon. Gentlemen were not aware that the paper which was sent round for signature to those who were recommended by the Lieutenant of a county for appointment did not contain a single word about religion. He could honestly toll the House that he was not aware of the religion of many of those whom he recommended to the Lord Chancellor; and, indeed, he had frequently recommended gentlemen of the Roman Catholic persausion for the Commission of the Peace. It was a sentimental grievance, and certainly not one of the extent it had been represented to be. He (Sir Hervey Bruce) was perfectly satisfied that it was not the grievance that it was represented to be; and to show the want of existence of any bitter feeling in the county to which he belonged, which he know was essentially a Protestant county, he might state that they had had last year a Roman Catholic High Sheriff, for the first time, he believed, since the time of Queen Elizabeth. The Grand Jury responded to his summons almost more fully than ever before, so as to do honour to the High Sheriff, and to show that there was no dissatisfaction at his being appointed. The education of the county was principally confined to the Protestant portion of the population.
§ SIR HERVEY BRUCE
said, that he did not mind interpolations from 1676 hon. Members, because they sometimes assisted him; but such was the fact, the Roman Catholics, although in a majority as regarding population, were in the minority as regarding education.
The Catholics hardly look for all the prizes which the Protestant members of the Bar get, and that is the reason of the comparatively small number of Catholic barristers.
§ SIR HERYEY BRUCE
Well, perhaps, that also applied to the Judge-ships. The hon. Member's observations made him go a little further; because, undoubtedly, the Judgeships of Ireland were filled up more in proportion to the barristers by the Roman Catholics than by the Protestants, he could assure the House most positively that the people of the country had no such distrust of the Protestant magistrates as was represented by the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. Charles Russell). He believed that if the people of the country were not stirred up by those who had an object other than religion in view in bringing forward this question, they would accept the position of affairs as it was now. If hon. Members would suggest how the present state of affairs was to be remedied, consistently with the holding together of this great Empire, without dissolving the Union which had been established now for so long between England and Ireland, he, for one, would be most willing to join in the proposition. He could assure hon. Members that it was no light or enviable task, though it was an honourable one, to discharge the duty of recommending certain gentlemen to the Lord Chancellor as fitted for the office of the Magistracy. In the few words he had spoken he hoped that the cause he had at heart, although inadequately presented to the House, had not suffered at his hands.
§ VISCOUNT LYMINGTON
said, he entirely challenged the statement of the hon. Member who had just sat down, that the people of Ireland were satisfied with the present system under which the Irish Magistracy were appointed. The hon. Member had referred to a number of authorities; but he (Viscount Lymington) thought that the authority to be consulted in deciding as to the truth of the statement was the authority of the people of Ireland. It was a fact, which hardly any Member of the House could deny, that this was a Motion which 1677 would be supported, not only by the section of Irish Members sitting in one portion of the House, but by the vast majority of the Irish Members sitting on both sides of the House, and by a large number of Members who, if not themselves Irish Members, were interested in Ireland. His hon. Friend told them that this was not a religious, but a social question. Well, it was because it was a social question it seemed to him that the House ought to attach great weight to the way in which this matter was looked at by the Irish people. The duties of the Irish magistrates, though in themselves of very great importance, were rendered far more difficult, and required the exercise of the utmost discretion and tact, owing to the various political and social differences that existed in Ireland. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dundalk (Mr. Charles Russell) made a very fair suggestion, he thought, when he said that, after all, the Government were not responsible for the present system. The Government could not be responsible so long as the selection of the Irish magistrates was in other hands than their own. He was sorry that the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) had spoken so disparagingly of the Resident Magistrates. He believed that Mr. Clifford Lloyd, for instance, had been an agent, and he thought, on the whole, a merciful agent, of the powers that were intrusted to him by Members on that side of the House and by the Conservative Party. He thought they would have to look for some remedy for the present state of affairs more immediate than the introduction of such a measure as the County Government of Ireland. He thought they ought to expect the Chief Secretary that night to tell them—first, whether he was satisfied with the present position of affairs; and, secondly, if he was not satisfied, that he would tell them the means by which the appointment of magistrates in Ireland should not rest entirely with the Lieutenants of counties, who—and he spoke with all respect of the hon. Member for Londonderry—were qualified neither by experience nor ability to perform the duties of their position. He hoped the Chief Secretary would suggest some means by which the appointment of magistrates in Ireland should be placed under the control of popular 1678 opinion and of the Members of that House. It was for this reason that he supported most heartily the Motion of the hon. Member for Longford.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, it was admitted on all sides that the condition of Ireland at the present time was not satisfactory, and, moreover, that it had been unsatisfactory for a very long period. Now they were dealing with, one of the causes of that state of things. He asserted that the administration, or rather the maladministration, of justice in Ireland in all its branches was one of the causes—and a very potent cause it was—of what was called the unsatisfactory condition of Ireland. They had heard a great deal in that House of the loyalty or disloyalty of the Irish people. The word "loyal" was used, not in the sense of mere allegiance to the Sovereign of this Realm—it was used as implying a want of allegiance to the system and rule that prevailed in that country. Well, they were that night dealing with, one of the reasons why there was no loyalty in Ireland amongst the masses of the people to the system of rule that prevailed in Ireland. The reason was because the Irish people had no confidence in the administration of justice in any of its Departments. The Magistracy of Ireland was drawn exclusively from the ascendancy class in that country. It was drawn almost exclusively from those whom the people regarded as the enemies of the Irish people. It was drawn almost exclusively, at all events in a preponderating degree, from the people of one form, of religious belief, and there used to be a pretence that, nevertheless, those gentlemen administered justice. It was so pretended to the people of England; but the Irish people never believed any such representation, because they knew very much better. Circumstances, however, had recently occurred, which had absolutely torn the veil from the face of those gentlemen, and revealed them in their true light to the people of Ireland and England and the whole world. Why, the magistrates of Ireland had risen in insurrection against a small act of common justice and good policy and sound feeling performed lately by Her Majesty's Government. Such was the Magistracy to whose tender mercies were, left the people of Ireland. The Catholics of Ireland were "Boycotted" off the 1679 Bench; they were "Boycotted" even off the petty juries; the Catholics of Ireland were not thought good enough to serve upon them; yet they were thought good enough to pay taxes—they were thought good enough to go out to the Soudan and get shot. Through his hands had come contributions from Catholic Irishmen in the Army and the Navy to help to carry on the National movement in Ireland; and he warned the Government to take care how they gave those people just cause of offence, and how they trampled on the feelings of their co-religionists in Ireland. Was it not confessed that the Magistracy of Ireland consisted almost altogether of landlords and landlords agents; and was there any class in Ireland, or in any country, more distrusted or detested by the people among whom they lived than were the landlords and agents of Ireland? And if they had a spite against the Irish people in other days, they had ton times more of it now. The only qualification for a magistrate in Ireland was to be the owner of a certain number of acres of land, no matter how heavily mortgaged they might be. If the Government wanted a Magistracy which would command the confidence of the Irish people, let them look out for honest men—he would not say poor men, but men of independence and honour.
§ MR. M'COAN
, who, on rising, was received with ironical cheers from the Irish Members, said, he would not be deterred by those jeers from giving his experience in the county of Wicklow, so far as it bore upon the question now before the House. He had on a former occasion called the attention of the House to this subject; and his knowledge of what had occurred during the last three years had in no way lessened his sense of the gravity of the coin-plaint. The county of Wicklow was one of the worst cases in point, for out of a total of 104 magistrates on the Bench only five were Roman Catholics, 94 were Protestants of the Church of Ireland. There was not a single Presbyterian, Methodist, or member of the Society of Friends amongst them; and the remaining five, as regarded their religious denominations, were returned as "unknown." It was to remedy a similar condition of things that he, three years ago, introduced a similar Motion 1680 to that now before the House. He did not stop there, however, but endeavoured afterwards to make such a selection of Catholic gentlemen in the county as, by their social standing, intelligence, and character, might warrant him in recommending them to the Lord Chancellor of the day for the Commission of the Peace. He did so, with the help of many Roman Catholic clergymen and Protestant and Catholic laymen, them selves of position and character; and he was bound to say that in a county where four-fifths of the population were Catholic he was able only to select some 10 names from amongst the Catholic gentlemen and better-class tradesmen, who seemed to be generally regarded as eligible for nomination. Of these, three had declined to be put in nomination; the other seven consented, and their names he submitted to the Lord Chancellor, who, however, reminded him that the usual course was that such recommendations should reach him through the Lieutenant of the county, Lord Meath. Accordingly, he sent the names to Lord Meath; but not one of the seven was accepted by that Nobleman for nomination. Discouraged by that experience, he had allowed the matter to sleep for nearly two years; and within recent months he had again made another attempt to break through the monopoly of the magisterial position held by Protestants in the county. This time he submitted to Lord Meath three names of gentlemen of social position and high character, personally known to be such by the Lieutenant himself. With regard to the first of these, Lord Meath, while admitting the high qualifications of the gentleman, said that, having regard to the Public Service, he did not feel called upon to send forward his name to the Lord Chancellor. When, a few weeks later, he submitted the other two names, Lord Meath, with less than the usual courtesy, replied almost in these terms—"My 50 years' experience in the county requires no prompting from you; be good enough to mind your own business." He had no word to say against Lord Meath personally—he was a good landlord and a man of high personal character; but such an answer induced him to forward the two names to the; Lord Chancellor direct, with a copy of, Lord Meath's curt reply; and he entertained the hope that Sir Edward Sulli- 1681 van's sense of justice and personal appreciation of the gentlemen recommended would have a different result. That was an ounce of fact and experience which, in a discussion of this kind, was worth many pounds of rhetoric. Since Lord Meath's appointment to the Lieutenancy, in 1869, he had only appointed one Catholic to the Bench. But his (Mr. M'Coan's) objection was—and he spoke as a Protestant—not only that members of one creed exclusively were chosen for the Bench, but also that the choice was confined to men of one particular class. In the county of Wicklow they were all cither landlords or land agents, or otherwise immediately connected with the landlord caste. In vain he looked over the list for a single magistrate who was engaged in trade, as shopkeeper, or was a professional man, excepting a few Protestant barristers, mostly resident in Dublin, and having only the slightest connection with the county. Only five Catholics out of a total of 104 magistrates! That was a fact which fully justified the angry invectives that had fallen from hon. Members opposite. The feeling expressed by those hon. Gentlemen was shared throughout Wicklow, not only by so-called Nationalists and members of the League, but by Protestant farmers, by shopkeepers, and also by thousands of others belonging to both the upper and lower classes. Indeed, all below the landlord caste complained of the existing scandalous anomaly in regard to magisterial appointments. There was a large field for selection among the upper trading and professional classes, which included men of education, position, and character, and with as high a sense of personal honour and integrity as the best men at present on the Magisterial Bench. The anomaly was a just ground of complaint, against not only the present but all preceding Governments. The mere appointment of more Catholics would not be a sufficient remedy. The field of selection should be widened and lowered; and if this were done, he had no doubt that suitable occupants for the Magisterial Bench, to whom no political or social exception could be taken, would be found without difficulty. Some of the writers in the Nationalist Press wrote strongly against the idea of members of their Party accepting Commissions of the Peace, and consenting to administer 1682 British law at all. Such an attitude, no doubt, rendered it difficult for the Government or the House to know how to meet such a Motion as the present one; but, for himself, he should urge the Government to disregard such utterances, and to make early and generous efforts to remedy this, a real Irish grievance.
§ MR. PLUNKET
said, he did not think the Motion before the House, or the manner in which it was being debated, was of a very practical character. The Motion was framed in very strong language, and supported by considerations the most opposite. It was introduced by the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) in a speech which was distinguished, as most of the hon. Member's speeches in the House were, by great moderation, clearness, and eloquence, but wholly out of accord with the speeches which followed from Members of his own Party. Now, the hon. Member for Longford really rested his case on this—that assuming the Magistracy of Ireland were to be continued substantially on the same principle as now existing, it was a great pity that a larger number of Roman Catholics were not upon it, and that it was a great mistake to appoint them from one social rank in the country. So far he (Mr. Plunket) agreed. He should be very glad if they had a greater number of persons well qualified to fill the post of Justice of the Peace who belonged to the religion of the majority of the people of Ireland, and he should be glad to see the area of selection extended; but that was not at all the spirit in which the hon. Member for Longford was followed by his Colleagues. They took quite a different view. The hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien) spoke out plainly and frankly, as he always did; and he (Mr. Plunket) was afraid the hon. Member was a truer Representative of the majority of those who returned to this House the Gentlemen below the Gangway than was the hon. Member for Longford. The hon. Member for Mallow said—"There is no use in talking about a greater number of Roman Catholic magistrates, because I, for one, would prefer an Orange Tory magistrate to the kind of Roman Catholic magistrates one is likely to get." There was no use going on arguing if that was the spirit to be exhibited by Members of 1683 Roman Catholic magistrates did not share the views of the majority of the, people, so long as they were not men of strong political opinions, sympathizing with what was called the National Cause, so long, said the hon. Member for Mallow, would the people of Ireland regard them with the same detestation as they already regarded the policemen and soldiers—namely, as the garrison of England. It was impossible to continue a debate on such grounds. To intrust the administration of the law to men chosen especially because they held opinions absolutely inconsistent with the observance of the law was perfect absurdity. But what he (Mr. Plunket) had just reason to complain of was that men like the noble Viscount the Member for Barnstaple (Viscount Lymington), in a fine, philosophic spirit, came down with some shadowy theory of magisterial appointments, and actually added his weight to the opinion put forward by hon. Members from Ireland below the Gangway. The noble Viscount showed by his speech that he knew nothing at all about the country. He did not adduce a single fact, or give one particle of evidence; he had no remedy to suggest, and yet he gave his support to a Resolution that declared that—The present condition of the Irish Magistracy is calculated to destroy nil confidence in the ordinary administration of justice in Ireland.It was a matter to be deplored to the last degree that hon. Members of the Party opposite should commit themselves to these kinds of theory, and should then seem afterwards to be surprised that they were called upon to vote Coercive Bills and other measures for putting down and counteracting the opinions which they had previously done their best to encourage. The hon. Member for Coleraine (Sir Hervey Bruce) had made a complete and satisfactory defence on behalf of the magistrates of Ireland, and therefore he (Mr. Plunket) would only ask what alternatives had been put forward by speakers in this discussion? One remedy was that the magistrates of Ireland should be elected; but even in America, where Republicanism was robust and strong, and where there were safeguards for the social order and well-being of the people which did not exist in Ireland, the machinery 1684 of judicial power was in a most deplorable condition—condemned not only by other countries, but by the Americans themselves—and yet the very root of evil in that country was admitted to be that which arose from the election of the Judges. He did hope that whatever misfortunes might be in store for Ireland she would, at all events, be spared the infliction of any elected magistrates. Another remedy which was proposed was that the Magistracy should be responsible to that House. He found it difficult to understand that suggestion. Were they to elect the Magistracy of Ireland as their Committees were elected? If not, and if the suggestion was that the action of the magistrates should be subject to revision in the House, then he was still more surprised, for of all the officials of the Three Kingdoms there were none upon whom the fierce light of Parliamentary criticism beat more strongly than upon the Justices of Ireland. Complaint after complaint was made in the form of Questions; but in 19 cases out of 20 they were unfounded, and for that reason, perhaps, it was a very good thing the Questions were asked. He did not believe that responsible politicians, of whatever nation or Party, would support this Resolution. He was as desirous as anybody to see more Roman Catholics appointed; but he must join in the protest of his hon. Friend (Sir Hervey Bruce) against the wholesale charges, unsupported by facts or evidence, which had been brought against a body of public servants in Ireland, who were, almost without exception, of the highest character, and animated by the best of motives.
§ MR. T. A. DICKSON
said, he should vote for the Motion; but protested against the wholesale charges, unsupported by detailed facts or evidence of any kind, made at the expense of a body of public servants in Ireland, who, he believed, were almost without exception of the highest character, and acted with the greatest possible conscientiousness. The Motion had been supported in language which he held to be not one whit stronger than the facts of the case warranted. The charge brought against the noble Viscount the Member for Barnstaple (Viscount Lymington), that he knew nothing about the subject, could not be brought against 1685 that House; because so long as the him. He was an Irish Member, and did know something about it. The grievance in connection with the Magistracy pointed out by the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) was not a grievance connected with Catholics in various parts of Ireland; but it was a grievance which, to his knowledge, affected both Presbyterians and Catholics in Ulster. The Presbyterians composed nearly half of the population of that Province, while the Catholic population was equal to the Presbyterian and members of the Church of Ireland combined. During the 10 years in which he had been a Member of that House he had done his best to get the grievance remedied; and his efforts had been successful to this extent—that whereas three years since there were only one or two Presbyterians among the Magistracy of Tyrone, the number had slowly crept up, and there were now 24 Presbyterians and 6 Catholics. But he need not say, taking into consideration that the population was composed largely of Presbyterians and Catholics, that number was far below what they were entitled to if there were any kind of fair representation of the religions on the Bench. Although Presbyterians numbered half of the population of the Province of Ulster, there were only 137 magistrates of that religion out of 1,065, while 840 belonged to the Church of Ireland, and Catholics, who formed more than half of the population, had only 88. Catholics and Presbyterians, who made three-fourths of the population, had only 225 magistrates on the Commission. The only reason he could give why the Presbyterians of Ulster were not bettor represented on the Bench was that they nearly all belonged to the middle classes—they were nearly all merchants and farmers. There were few landed proprietors or agents amongst the Presbyterians, and the same remark, he believed, applied to the Catholics. In Tyrone half the Protestant population were Presbyterian, and yet out of the 159 magistrates only 24 were Presbyterians. The Catholics formed more than half the population, and their entire representation on the Bench amounted to six, and these had all been put on within the last three years. Fermanagh had been alluded to by the hon. Member for Coleraine (Sir Hervey Bruce). In 1686 Fermanagh the majority of the people were Catholic, and yet they had only one representative on the entire Magistracy. The Methodists formed the backbone of the Protestant population; but out of 74 magistrates in the county only two belonged to that body. Only last week one of the leading Methodist clergy in Fermanagh wrote to him upon the want of Methodist magistrates; and he advised his correspondent to write to the Lord Lieutenant of the county, feeling sure that a representation from a leading member of a numerous Body in Fermanagh would be attended to. What was the result? The name was submitted of a small landed proprietor, but it was peremptorily refused. The Government sheltered themselves behind the Lord Lieutenants of the counties. It was said the nominations lay with the Lord Lieutenants; but he wanted to ask the Chief Secretary who appointed the Lord Lieutenants? There had been Liberal Viceroys in Dublin for more than 34 years out of the last 50, and if there was any anxiety to have Liberal Lord Lieutenants in the counties those Viceroys had ample opportunity of appointing such; but yet all over Ulster there was only one Liberal Lord Lieutenant, and he would not have been appointed if it were not that he happened to be a Lord. [An hon. MEMBER: Who is he?] He referred to Lord Waveney. When the late Lord Lieutenant of Armagh—who was a Liberal—died, he (Mr. Dickson), along with other Liberal Members from Ulster, specially attended at the Castle to urge Lord Cowper to appoint a Liberal. They recommended a gentleman who was a large landed proprietor, and who had declined the honour of a Baronetcy. But then he was not a Lord, and, of course, he was not appointed, and Lord Gosford, a young Nobleman resident in Armagh, was appointed. On his arrival he had to ask his way to his own residence. What could Lord Gosford know about those qualified to act as magistrates in Armagh? Why, no more than Lord Cowper did. And who were his advisers? The land gentry, who, of course, gave biassed representation to him. The result was that since Lord Gosford was appointed by a Liberal Lord Lieutenant no one Presbyterian or Catholic had been appointed to the Magistracy in the county.
§ MR. BERESFORD
I rise to Order. The very last gentleman who was appointed to the Commission of the Peace, within the last month, was a Presbyterian. [Cries of "Name!"] Mr. Moorhead, who——
§ MR. SEXTON
Upon the point of Order, I beg to ask you, Sir, whether the hon. Member interprets the Rule of Order correctly in supposing that a statement merely held by him to be inaccurate is thereby a breach of Order?
§ MR. T. A. DICKSON
, continuing, said, the difficulties in regard to the Irish Magistracy with which the Government were face to face were largely the creation of former Whig Viceroys, who refused to appoint anyone as Lord Lieutenant unless he belonged to the aristocracy. The magistrates had been defended by hon. Members opposite; but all he could say—and he know as much about it as any Member of that House—was, that since the late violent outbreak of Party spirit the confidence of the Catholics of Ulster had been weakened, if not destroyed, in the administration of justice. Could it be wondered at? Was it matter of surprise, after the events in connection with the magistracy which had been referred to that night? What confidence could a Catholic, of Ulster have in the administration of justice when brought before the Master of an Orange Lodge? What confidence could that Catholic have in the administration of justice in a case arising out of a Party riot? The question would be asked, what was the remedy? He thought it was very plain, and it was that magistrates should not continue to be drawn solely from one class—that class being landowners or their agents; but that they should be honest, upright, intelligent men—business men, respectable farmers, if they liked—and men who had the confidence of the people in the locality in which they lived. These men should not be thought unworthy of the Commission of the Peace. He was glad that they had now in Office a Lord Chancellor who was strong enough to act on his own judgment, so that everything would not be yielded to the privileged classes. The hon. Baronet the Member for Coleraine (Sir Hervey Bruce) had stated that he 1688 always carefully listened to every representation that was made to him, and to every Memorial.
§ SIR HERVEY BRUCE
said, that he did not listen to Memorials, and in not doing so he acted under the advice of the Lord Chancellor.
§ MR. T. A. DICKSON
The hon. Baronet did not act upon Memorials then? He (Mr. Dickson) wished to point out to the hon. Baronet that Memorials were the only form in which the people could properly express their opinions upon this subject. What was the use of one man in the county of Londonderry going to the hon. Baronet and asking him to appoint a magistrate? The hon. Baronet said he listened to all representations made to him, and what was the result? Only 25 Presbyterians were magistrates for the county and nine Catholics. He did not know the exact proportion which the Catholics formed, but he knew that three-fourths of the people of the county were Presbyterians, and yet he could only find out 25 who were qualified for the Commission of the Peace, though he said he had gone out of his way to appoint them, and though there were 118 belonging to the Church of Ireland. The hon. Baronet also stated that in the paper sent to those nominated there was nothing about religion. That was so; but there was plenty about land—about how many acres of land they owned, and who was their agent, or whose agent were they. It was only fair he should say a word in connection with the Lord Lieutenant of his own county—that was Lord Charlemont—and he had to say, in justice to him, that during the last fortnight he had communications with him as to increasing the number of magistrates in Tyrone; and his Lordship wrote that he was perfectly ready to appoint a Catholic magistrate in every Petty Sessions district in Tyrone if suitable names were placed before him. Lord Charlemont cordially acceded to his wishes in appointing four Presbyterians and four Catholics last week.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
said, the Return as to the Magistracy showed how very strangely the system of appointment worked in the North as compared with the South. It had happened that in the North of Ireland, among those appointed to the Magistracy, there were numbers of men belonging to the farming class; 1689 while in the South there was scarcely a single farmer on. The list. In order to justify their presence in the North the word "wealthy" was placed before their names in the Return. Everyone who was acquainted with the circumstances of the farming classes in Ireland knew perfecty well that in the South of the country—in Limerick, Tipperary, and Cork—there were many farmers who were much better off, and better educated, than the farmers appointed to the Magistracy in the North. The reason was that political Parties in the North, held the appointment out as a bribe at the elections. When Members were returned they tried to conciliate certain sections of their supporters by putting their names forward for the Magistracy. In almost every parish of Tyrone men were pointed out to him who knew they were to be raised to the Bench. They knew they would be elevated to that position owing to their services in political struggles, or perhaps for coming in at the call of duty to break the heads of their fellow-countrymen. The Liberal Party had a special interest in setting this question at rest, because, whenever they attempted reform in Ireland, they met with the most hostile opposition from those very landlords whom they had elevated to the Magistracy. In Kerry there were 118 magistrates, all of whom, except one, held landed property in the county. In Kerry very much agrarian agitation had been carried on; and as regarded agrarian outrages, the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant had placed it at the head of the list of all other counties in Ireland. Did the right hon. Gentleman suppose that the dominant class did not strive to suppress the uprising of the people for their rights, and that the number of outrages in the county was not due to the system which the Government had themselves created? It had been his own fortune, more than once, to have incurred the enmity of that class, and he found himself brought to trial in Kerry, as President of the local branch of the Land League, before a Bench of magistrates, seven in number, and the seven were landlords. He presumed they were men whose conduct had been canvassed at the various meetings of the League; and the seven magistrates sat in judgment upon him, not only for his own words, but for the words of others, 1690 because he tried to save the people from the oppression to which they had been subjected. Not only was Kerry at the head of the counties of Ireland as regarded the number of outrages, but also as regarded the number of evictions; and it was remarkable, where such absolute power was in the hands of the landlords, that the rents were higher than elsewhere, and, oven as reduced by the Commissioners, they were still 50 per cent above the Government valuation. There could be no confidence in the administration of justice when it was dispensed by one class. It was a remarkable fact that in Ireland in many counties the magisterial power rested in two or three families, who had intermarried, and the sons of which were put into the Commission of the Peace the moment they came of age. They had a glaring instance of the manner in which these families managed the county business. In Kerry, Sir Maurice O'Connell, whom no person could describe as a Nationalist, and who was on the Grand Jury for 15 years, was excluded from it this year because the Hussey family, who had the selection of the Grand Jury, wanted to put in their own men in order to carry a job. There were 96 per cent of the population in Kerry Catholics, and yet there were 96 Protestant magistrates, and only 32 Catholic magistrates. How could the Chief Secretary expect that, under those circumstances, there could be any respect for the administration of the law in Kerry? The right hon, and learned Gentleman (Mr. Plunket) said that they did not challenge the impartiality of the administration of the law in Ireland by the present magistrates. That was exactly what they were doing. He referred the right hon. and learned Gentleman to the evidence lately given in Londonderry by Captain M'Ternan, and to the fact that a meeting of the Fermanagh magistrates, convened by the Lord Lieutenant of the county, was about to be held to denounce Captain M'Ternan because he had the firmness of character and strength of mind to give such evidence, he referred the right hon. and learned Gentleman also to even a more recent case than the one at Enniskillen—the case against Colonel Digby, who, when the Arrears Act was passed, thought a good opportunity was afforded to him for stealing a little 1691 money from the Treasury. Colonel Digby got his tenants to make false declarations that they owed him arrears, when they really did not owe him anything. But when he found that attention was directed to the case of Mr. John Byrne, the late Collector General of Dublin, who attempted the same game, he was wise enough to decline to receive the money. Colonel Digby was brought to trial in Westmeath, and how was the tribunal which tried him composed? Two brother-landlords, one of whom did not attend the Court for three years, came on that day in order to serve a friend, though he perjured himself. There was also the President Magistrate. Of course, Colonel Digby was acquitted, though the Resident Magistrate said he ought to be sent for trial. Now, he did not think the Crown would be doing its duty if it allowed that case to rest, or if they allowed to continue in the Commission of the Peace a man who endeavoured to perpetrate a fraud, and who only refused to benefit by it when he found another man was punished for a similar offence. These were only specimens of the many cases of the kind that occurred in Ireland. "But," said the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Plunket), "What remedy do you propose?" Whenever Irish Members complained of a grievance they were always met with the reply, "What remedy do you propose?" But no sooner did they propose a remedy than they were met with opposition, not only from one, but from the two sides of the House. Their reply now was that it was not their duty to propose a remedy. It was the duty of the Government, which assumed the responsibility of governing Ireland, to propose a remedy for this state of things.
§ MR. EWART
heartily concurred in the sentiments that bad been expressed by his right hon. and learned friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) in regard to the present position of the Magistracy in Ireland; and, after the speech of the hon. Member for the County of Tyrone (Mr. T. A. Dickson), he thought it would be admitted that the question under discussion was not a strictly Party question as between Liberals and Conservatives. The hon. Member for Tyrone did not seem to know much about who constituted his own Party when he described Lord Gos- 1692 ford, who was a Whig, as a Conservative. The present state of things was very much owing to the system that had prevailed in Ireland for a very long time. The origin of the system dated from the time when Ireland was divided into three classes—landlords, farmers, and labourers—and when, in point of fact, there were very few of what might be called the middle classes. At that time there was a great want of education among the Roman Catholics, and few of thorn were eligible for the Commission of the Peace. He (Mr. Ewart) was glad to say that there was an improvement going on, and that a much larger proportion of the middle classes, both of the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian Party, were being added to the Magistracy. He agreed with the hon. Member for the County of Tyrone in regard to the classes from which the Magistracy might be drawn. He would, however, add a further condition—that they should be taken from the loyal classes; but that, he was afraid, would not give satisfaction to the hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien), who would not appoint magistrates so much for the class as for the political Party to which they belonged. The hon. Member for Mallow would rather have them appointed for their disloyalty than for their loyalty; and no Lord Chancellor could think of appointing men who did not belong to the loyal classes. The hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. Charles Russell) proposed that the magistrates should be an elected body; but, with the experience of America, this would not be found to be on the side of a pure administration of justice. A strong statement had been made in the course of the debate about Lord Meath; but he (Mr. Ewart) would require strong proof before he could believe it. The hon. and learned Member for Dundalk had referred to the dissatisfaction that had been expressed with regard to the administration of justice in Belfast, and he (Mr. Ewart) must say that it was the first time that he had ever heard any charge of the kind. [Mr. KENNY: How about Mr. Haslett?] He believed that everywhere an amendment was taking place; more should be done by those who recommended gentlemen for the Commission of the Peace to the Lord Chancellor to bring about a representation of all classes upon the Magis- 1693 tracy; and he thought that the Lord Chancellor should exercise a more strict scrutiny over the appointments which he made, so that each religion should have fair play. In reference to the appointment of magistrates in Belfast, he might say that, during the time of the late Government, he and his Colleague (Mr. Corry) had been in communication with the authorities on that very subject, and they took care that there should be a fail proportion of Roman Catholics and Presbyterians; he and his Colleague did what they could in that direction in the way of nominating suitable Roman Catholics. Two or three of those nominated by them were appointed magistrates; but one nominated had declined to serve. He would like to see fair play in this matter, and he gave this instance to show what was the feeling of Irish Members on that side of the House.
§ MR. FINDLATER
said, they all should be extremely obliged to the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) for having obtained this Return. It disclosed a state of things which ought clearly to be altered. In the county which he represented—Monaghan—great dissatisfaction prevailed with regard to the Magistracy. According to the last Census, the population of that county was 102,748, and of these the Roman Catholics numbered 75,748. There were 66 magistrates, of whom 44 were landlords, and 12 agents, leaving only 10 for all the other classes. Only two farmers were magistrates, and one of these was returned as a "gentleman farmer." There were but seven Roman Catholic magistrates; 58 belonged to the Church of Ireland, and one was a Presbyterian. In the name of fair play, was that proper representation of the county? He and his late Colleague used efforts on several occasions to obtain the appointment of magistrates, but failed altogether. Lord Dartrey was Lord Lieutenant of the county, and his letters of reply were anything but pleasant. There were many educated persons amongst the tradesmen who would make excellent magistrates, and would act on the Bench in a manner creditable to themselves and satisfactory to the country. He cordially supported the Resolution of the hon. Member for Longford.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
remarked, that the enormous weight of Irish opinion had 1694 been very clearly expressed in favour of the Amendment, and he would not be afraid of the result if it depended upon the votes of the Irish Representatives who had been present; but he did not doubt that when the Division came, hon. Gentlemen who had not shown any interest in the question would come in and outvote the Irish Members. So far as he was aware, no speaker had yet drawn attention to the fact that magistrates in Ireland did something more than administer justice. Being a magistrate gave a man a position in a county which was of pecuniary advantage to his friends and class. It gave him the right to sit at the Poor Law Board, to attend Road Sessions, to vote at the election of county officers, and to assist in the administration of the county votes, which were practically disbursed by the magistrates, although they were mainly contributed by the tenants. He believed these powers of the magistrates were felt far more in Galway than in anything relating to the administration of justice. He complained of the inadequate number of Roman Catholic magistrates who had been appointed. In Galway they were not so well off in respect to Catholic magistrates as he would wish; but still, he thought, when compared with other counties in Ireland, they were in a good—a splendid position. It had been complained that Catholics had been excluded from the Bench as Catholics, but he did not attach any great importance to that; but he believed that Lord Lieutenants of counties were in the habit of selecting men with a very considerable amount of landed property, and in some cases even they selected men who did not ask to be appointed. He thought it would be well if some controlling power could be exercised over the Lord Lieutentants, so as to insure the appointment of the necessary number of Protestants and Catholics. On looking at the Returns in his county, he thought it was very extraordinary not only that Catholics had been kept off the Bench, but also that farmers had been kept off the Bench. He knew in his county men who farmed very large tracts of land, and yet out of the 200 magistrates not more than four of them were farmers, and of these four he must confess two were proprietors. He could practically say that farmers were kept off the Bench, and also that commercial 1695 men were kept off the Bench. He could not agree with the hon. Member (Sir Hervey Bruce), usually a good authority on Irish Conservative subjects, who stated that the people of Ireland liked to have one class of men to represent them in that House and another class of men to represent them on the Bench. He thought that the proposal which had been made by the hon. Member for Limerick was a reasonable one—that was, that each Poor Law Union in Ireland should have power to nominate at least one representative. That was a suggestion which he thought the Government might fairly take into consideration. Another remedy would be to really make the Lord Lieutenants of Ireland sensible people, and not have persons who would precipitate matters. He would also suggest that in such towns as Gort, Tuam, Ballinasloe, &c., commercial men should be selected, and that out of the 200 magistrates about 40 should be commercial men. Some 100 years ago, when Catholics were not educated, they were excluded from the Bench; but he believed that the Catholics would never have put up with it had they been educated. He would not ask the Government to appoint Catholics, whether they were educated or not. English Members to whom he had spoken on this subject informed him that the appointment of magistrates to a great extent depended upon the recommendation of the Members; but such a practice did not anywhere exist in Ireland. In conclusion, he expressed a hope that the Government would take the matter into consideration; and, whatever might be the result of the vote upon the Motion that night, he hoped that something would be done to remedy the present state of affairs.
§ MR. MACFARLANE
wished to say a few words upon this subject, and he wished to confine himself entirely to the general question. They were aware that there was a good deal of opposition to the present system of the Magistracy. The whole of the people were dissatisfied with the administration of the law. He believed that the laws were unjust, and that the fountains of justice were poisoned. Now, this must have a fatal effect upon administration of the law in any country; and when it was believed that the whole system of law was rotten, as was undoubtedly the belief in Ire- 1696 land, it was absolutely essential that some effort should be made to remedy it. The hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had shown the House what was the cause of all this. In this country (England) if a man was brought before a magistrate he did not inquire what was his religion, whether Catholic or Protestant; but in Ireland the case was different, as there the people instructed the magistrates. The question was a serious one, and he hoped it would be taken into serious consideration by the Government. If they wished the people to be law-abiding they should try and impress them with confidence in those who administered the law. He believed the Chief Secretary was willing to do what he could. [Mr. BIGGAR: Oh, oh!] Hon. Members might jeer; but he might say for himself that he believed the Chief Secretary was willing to do what he could. [Mr. BIGGAR: Oh, oh !] He believed the Government should try and satisfy the minds of the people.
§ MR. LEA
supported the Motion, as he believed that it was essential that some steps should be taken to devise a remedy for the present state of things in Ireland as regarded the Magistracy. There was no doubt that a remedy was urgently required. He could only hope that it would not come too late. The hon. Member for Coleraine (Sir Hervey Bruce), who was a Lord Lieutenant, said he had listened to all representations made to him with regard to the Magistracy, and dealt with them separately. His (Mr. Lea's) experience was very different, for he had received no reply to letters or memorials forwarded by him to the Lord Lieutenant of the county of Donegal, and any gentlemen whose names had been urged by him had only been appointed to the Magistracy by reason of the influence of the Lord Chancellor. Now, the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. Charles Russell) hit the right nail on the head when he said that the Lords Lieutenant were an absolute bar to the confidence of the people of Ireland in the magistrates. The Magistracy in Ireland at present was used as an agency for political purposes, and was conferred by way of political patronage. Such a state of things could never be satisfactory to the country, nor could it induce a satisfactory regard for the law. This matter was partly a religious question and 1697 partly a social one; but no one who had not something to do with the land, either as an agent or a landowner, had but little to do with the Commission of the Peace. In the county of Donegal, where there was certainly a great preponderance of Roman Catholics, there were only nine Roman Catholic magistrates. He had found that applications to the Lord Lieutenant of Londonderry were much more favourably received than similar applications made to the Lord Lieutenant of Donegal. He himself had been able, in spite of writing a large number of letters, to obtain but very little attention. He believed that in the last three years three Catholics and two Presbyterians had been appointed magistrates in the county of Donegal; and here he might remark that Catholics and Presbyterians experienced almost equal difficulty in getting their names on the Commission of the Peace. He hoped the Chief Secretary would, in the course of his speech, say that there should be some measure of relief in this matter; as he maintained that unless something was done in respect of the Irish Magistracy serious injury would be done to the cause of law and order.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, that as the hon. Member who spoke last represented the county of Donegal, he might have stated that 19–20ths of the Catholic population were either agricultural labourers or occupied holdings of less than £10 annual value; and one of the great difficulties every Lieutenant of a county had to encounter in the North of Ireland was in selecting out of the Roman Catholic population a number of magistrates in any way proportionate to the Roman Catholic population. His father was the Lord Lieutenant of the county of Donegal; and he understood the hon. Member to say that no reply had been given to the letters he wrote recommending the appointment of certain gentlemen as magistrates. Since then, however, it appeared that five gentlemen had been appointed, three of them being Catholics and two Presbyterians. This showed that the hon. Gentleman's representations had not remained without effect.
§ MR. LEA
explained that, in addition to the Memorial sent to the Lord Lieutenant of the county, he wrote a considerable number of letters. Five magistrates were subsequently appointed; but 1698 whether this was in consequence of the influence of the Lord Lieutenant of the county or not, he could not say.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, he thought it was somewhat unfair for the hon. Member to intimate that the appointments were not made by the Lord Lieutenant of the county. His brother, who long represented the county in Parliament, endeavoured to find out such Catholic gentlemen as were fit and eligible to undertake magisterial duties, and he believed that nine were appointed in consequence. Nowhere in Ulster was there a larger number of Catholics as compared with Protestants amongst the population than in the county of Donegal; and nowhere was it more difficult—in fact, it was almost impossible—to find Roman Catholics who were both willing and able to discharge the duties of magistrates. ["Oh, oh!" from the Irish Members.] Hon. Members said "Oh!" but what did they know about the county of Donegal? The moment you got out of the Protestant districts of Donegal it was almost impossible in the Roman Catholic districts to find gentlemen who were willing and capable to undertake the duties of magistrates.
§ MR. SEXTON
May I ask the noble Lord if he considers Catholics elected as Poor Law Guardians, and competent to discharge the duties of Guardians, are ineligible to act as magistrates?
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, that was a controversial question. He did not think it necessarily followed that if a man was elected a Guardian therefore he ought to be a magistrate. The hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien) had denounced Roman Catholic gentlemen as toadies and flunkeys, because they had accepted the position of magistrates, and were tolerably well disposed towards the Government of the day.
Will the noble Lord allow mo to explain? I found fault, not with Roman Catholics who accepted the office, but with the Government, who sought out the most objectionable class of Roman Catholics.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
Quite so. Therefore, what the House was asked to accede was, not that the disproportion of Protestants and Roman Catholics should be remedied, but that only Roman Catholics who held the same political views as hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway should thereafter 1699 he appointed. [Mr. HEALY: Why not?] He would tell the hon. Member. The Roman Catholics who answered that description hated the existing law; and if those gentlemen were appointed they would clog the whole administration of justice in Ireland, and justice would not be obtained. The hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. T. A. Dickson) said he knew Ulster well; and, that there was not a single Lieutenant of a county who was not a Tory, except Lord Waveney. Well, there was once a considerable number of Lieutenants who had been Liberals; but whom the policy of the Government had made Conservatives. Then the hon. Member had instanced Lord Gosford, who, he said, did not know his own house. Now, the fact was that Lord Gosford was a man of over 40 years, who, for the last 20 years had lived more or less in his own house, in Armagh. The fact was that there had been a great change of opinion in the North of Ireland of late years, and now every man was either a Tory or a Nationalist. His own view was—and he always expressed it in public—that when a gentleman was eligible to perform the duties of a magistrate he ought to be appointed, no matter what his religion, might be. In an agricultural country magistrates were necessarily either owners or occupiers of land; and it was natural that owners should be chosen rather than occupiers, because they had more leisure to attend to their duties. Then the noble Viscount the Member for Barnstaple (Viscount Lymington) had given the House the benefit of his philosophic mind; but, like most philosophers, the noble Viscount always liked to apply his remedies to other people. Living always in England, the noble Viscount could know little of the condition of Ireland. The hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. Charles Russell) had advocated something like popular election of magistrates. He should have thought that the example of the United States would have deterred anyone from wishing to introduce a similar system into this country. If there was one defect in the Constitution of the United States, it was in the system of electing Judges. ["No, no!"] Look at the Cincinnati riots—59 persons had been shot and 200 wounded. And why? Because the administration of justice was corrupt.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
I rise to Order. I wish to know are we discussing the administration of justice in the United States?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The noble Lord is perfectly in Order. I do not desire to interfere unnecessarily; but I desire to point out to the House the inconvenience of conducting the debate amidst the constant interruptions which are going on. It is impossible for hon. Gentlemen to continue their speeches if this kind of thing goes on.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, in Now York, where the elective principle was followed to a greater extent than anywhere else, the administration of justice became a perfect farce; and the result was that many citizens of New York took the law into their own hands. Considering the antagonism that there was between the different races and opinions in Ireland, he could not conceive any proposal better calculated to throw the country back, and make the administration of justice a perfect farce, than to adopt the alternative suggestion which had been made to-night; and, therefore, he trusted the Government would resolutely oppose the Motion.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, no one who had listened to what had passed in the House during the last four and a-half hours could doubt that they had a useful, and in some respects, momentous debate. No one who had heard the speech of the hon. Member for Belfast (Sir. Ewart) and the speech of the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Findlater) could doubt that a system which was not altogether satisfactory in the past had seen its worst day, and that a better state of things was being, and would be, inaugurated. The hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan) wished that the House had been full of English Members, in order that they might hear how very real was this Irish grievance. The hon. and gallant Member was anxious to get at the law of the case. He could inform him that the law in Ireland was precisely the same as the law in England. But in Ireland that law had been worked much morn invidiously and oppressively than in England. Not only was the law the same, the custom was the same also. The recommendation of the Lord Lieutenant was simply a question of custom. It was the Lord Chancellor who appointed, 1701 and who always had appointed; but the custom was much stricter in England than in Ireland. On the last occasion when an application was made to the Secretary of the Lord Chancellor of England to ascertain how often the Lord Chancellor exercised this right in the counties of appointing Justices of the Peace outside the recommendation of the Lord Lieutenant, he answered that such an incident was seldom or never known, and he did not know that the last few years had made much difference in this respect. Let there he no mistake in the matter. The power of recommendation exercised by the Lord Lieutenant was a matter of custom, and not of right. It was a power which had been conceded and which could be taken away, and the manner in which these recommendations had been exercised formed the subject of the debate of that evening; and no one who had listened to the debate could doubt that if there was not a real grievance, there was, at any rate, what was regarded as a real grievance by the majority—he might say the great majority—of the Irish Members in at least two out of three parts of the House. In the Blue Book which had lately been published, and which was very interesting reading, it was shown that the number of Protestant and Catholic magistrates was as nearly as possible in inverse proportion to the numbers of Protestants and Catholics in the country. But the grievance was not confined to Roman Catholics. It extended also to Presbyterians; for, although they formed two-fifths of the total Protestant population, they were only represented by 1–16th of the total number of Protestant magistrates. Out of 25 Petty Sessional districts in the county of Antrim—and what would Antrim be without Presbyterians?—there were 17 without Presbyterian magistrates; in Londonderry there were 10 without; and in Down, out of 26, there were 12 without. It had been said rightly that this was not only, and perhaps not principally, a question of creed, but that it was likewise a question of class. On this point sufficient weight had not been given to certain reservations and considerations. The hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy), in a speech which was so often praised as temperate, and hon. Members who followed him, spoke with a certain disapprobation of gentlemen 1702 magistrates. Undoubtedly money was not everything in this world; but money, to a great extent, represented leisure and education; and that sort of leisure which relieved a man from private work and enabled him to give time to the larger problems of society was a very decided clement in choosing men for important positions, and, above all, for that of Judge. In Judges they must either have the sense of professional honour and reputation, or what might in a broad sense be called status. He would be the last person to draw the line too tightly. In the Northumbrian borough he represented he found that the most active magistrates belonged, to a great extent, to the class of shopkeepers. Better, more trustworthy, and more suitable men for a judicial position he never knew; and he had no doubt that what he found that class in the North of England he would find in the North of Ireland, and the South of Ireland likewise. He believed that this line of social status had been drawn much too tightly in the past, and especially in the remote parts of Ireland, in the way of excluding men who ought to have been admitted, and much too rigidly in admitting men who ought to have been excluded. All the same, he would say most emphatically that hon. Members must not lose sight of the fact that there were very few men indeed who were fit to be magistrates who could give the time to prepare themselves for magisterial duties and spare time to discharge them, who were free from the sort of temptation by which men of their position must be surrounded, unless they belonged to the educated, and, in some sense, to the leisured class. This educated and leisured class had been spreading wider and wider in past years, and it had embraced a much larger part of the community than some Lieutenants of counties in Ireland—and perhaps England, too—had been willing to admit. A Lord Lieutenant, with whom he agreed, had written him a letter in which he said—A combination of loyal sentiment with property and educational qualification and a reasonable social status is what I look for, and in any increase of numbers I would prefer to see Roman Catholics appointed;the writer being the Lord Lieutenant of a county in which there might be said to be no Presbyterians; and he gave 1703 instances of extreme difficulty in appointing eligible men because their educational qualifications were clearly insufficient. As regarded the Return, there was a matter which cut two ways. He found in one county 27 magistrates who held the Commission, in one other county six who held it in two other counties, and one who held it in three counties. He should say that if this question were approached in an exhaustive manner he should be very glad to have magistrates only appointed in the county in which they resided. A nobleman who happened to hold property in the county of Galway, for which he was also a magistrate, had caused an address to be sent from that county objecting to the manner in which Lord Rossmore had been dealt with; and he threatened that, if a meeting was held in the county, he would act as Lord Rossmore had acted. Now he scorned the threat, for it came from a nobleman who had never been near Galway for years and years, who never went to Galway, but Galway had to come to him; and if he waited until that nobleman was there to meet him he would wait a very long time. [An IRISH MEMBER: Why did not you cashier him?] He would answer that at another time. The present system was one of old standing, and many of the abuses were due to the fact that it was so. Up to quite recently magistrates had been appointed by Lords Lieutenant; and Lords Lieutenant, being chosen as they were, could not be trusted to make appointments without being corrected by another authority, and for the most part, until quite recently, they had not been so corrected. In the boroughs magistrates were appointed by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; and in the boroughs, omitting Ulster, there were 120 members of the Church of Ireland to 119 Roman Catholics. But this included boroughs where Justices of the Peace did not act as magistrates; and, omitting Dublin, in the boroughs outside Ulster there were 61 members of the Church of Ireland to 90 Roman Catholics. The disparity of Church of Ireland to Catholic and Presbyterian magistrates in the counties came from the fact that the appointments had been the unadulterated appointments of Lords Lieutenant. Now he came to the suggestion of reform made by the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. Charles Russell), His sug- 1704 gestion with regard to the popular election of magistrates could not be entertained. Whatever they borrowed from America, they would never borrow that. Judges must be in a position of prominence and independence, and removable only for misconduct, and should look only to Parliament or the higher authorities for the approval of their conduct. The second suggestion was that the action of the Lord Chancellor should be made immediate. Happily, in this case, it was not necessary to wait for legislation, for the matter rested entirely with the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, with such recommendations as the Executive Government could give him. Months ago the Lord Chancellor made up his mind to exercise his legal and statutable responsibility in this matter, and to determine for himself whether the gentlemen whose names had been submitted by the Lords Lieutenant of counties, or had been passed over, were the right persons for appointment or they were not. In a series of letters the Lord Chancellor had informed him that no trouble on his part should be spared to redress, so far as he could, any inequality, or to remove any injustice. The action must necessarily be a very slow one. He thought that of all the methods for carrying on public business, none were ever so slow as communications connected with the appointment of magistrates. But, still, something very genuine had been done. Since the present Lord Chancellor had been in Office he had appointed, either without the recommendation of the Lords Lieutenant, or by conferring with them, and urging them very strongly to recommend particular individuals, no less than 61 magistrates. He could not help hoping that the Lord Chancellor was only at the beginning of his appointments, because, as he had said, the preliminary steps in these matters were very slow. [Mr. GIBSON: What are the figures?] 33 were members of the Church of England—[Cries of "Oh, oh!" from the Irish Benches, and "Very slow!"]—19 were Catholics, and six were Presbyterians. [Derisive cheers.] Hon. Members who cheered derisively might remember that they had over and over again stated that this was a matter of class, and not of creed. Whether it was a matter of class or creed, those gentlemen who had been appointed would 1705 not have been chosen if the Lord Chancellor had not taken the matter in hand. A noble Lord (Viscount Crichton), speaking in that House in an early debate, stated that, after all, Lord Ross-more would lose very little by ceasing to be a magistrate, because the office had been so much degraded. He supposed the noble Lord meant that it had been degraded by the appointment of people who would not be acceptable to the class of magistrates who sent up an address in favour of Lord Rossmore. Since that time the magistrates had been "degraded" to the extent, at any rate, of those 61 gentlemen; and he hoped the degradation, if such it was called, would be continued, because that degradation only consisted of taking good men, irrespective of politics and class, simply for the reason that they would make good magistrates, and, as the Lord Chancellor thought, magistrates who ought to be trusted by the people. The hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien), in criticizing a magistrate named Roche, said it had been stated by the Government that the Prevention of Crime Act-was not meant for rent-receivers or rent-warners, or for these who intimidated people at Poor Law elections. His recollection was that he stated that it was not going to be used against intimidation or supposed intimidation of people at Poor Law elections, when he answered a Conservative Member who asked him to put the Act in force against Roman Catholic priests. He found that that sentence had been quoted as having been delivered in answer to a Question with reference to putting the Act in force against a landlord, and his sentiments had thus been greatly misrepresented, he had no doubt by mistake. The hon. Baronet the Member for Coleraine (Sir Hervey Bruce), who made the best defence for the Lord Lieutenants that could be made, praised Lord Erne. Well, Lord Erne now had an opportunity of showing whether he deserved those praises. A proposal had been made to call a meeting of magistrates with regard to a libel case which was still sub judice. On that case he could find a great deal to say if it were not sub judice; and he hoped Lord Erne would not give his countenance to that most injudicious proceeding that had taken place at Enniskillen—that monstrous proceeding, in which a magistrate 1706 who had been condemned by the unanimous vote of a jury of his own class—["Oh!"]—he meant morally condemned—though he knew that the case was still to be tried—actually received an address from the solicitors practising in his Court, and allowed himself to give vent to his own opinions, even after he knew that in the House of Commons not a word had been allowed to be said about this matter. Lord Erne had been asked to call a meeting of magistrates to consider that case. He did not care whether the magistrates decided for or against; but Lord Erne had no right whatever, if he wished to be a just defender of the Magistracy, to allow that meeting to be called. [IRISH MEMBERS: He has called it.] He had stated what the intentions of the Government were in this matter, and how far they proposed to carry them out. [An IRISH MEMBER: What are they?] They were to use vigorously and impartially the power of the Lord Chancellor. It was quite another matter, however, when they were asked to agree to the Resolution before the House, which was calculated to destroy all confidence in "the ordinary administration of justice in Ireland." The number of days on which Petty Sessions were held were 14,400. On those days the enormous block of cases consisted either of small civil cases, of which there were 113,000, or of ordinary cases of smaller criminal jurisdiction, of which there were 217,000. The principal heads of the civil jurisdiction of the magistrates were:—The recovery of small debts below 40s., actions for damages or for the hire of horses and agricultural implements not above £10, and the settlement of disputes as to sales at markets and fairs, &c., involving claims not exceeding £5. That jurisdiction did not touch anyone who had a tenancy from year to year; and the enormous majority of civil cases were of a sort in regard to which the Government were quite unwilling to accept the dictum that—The present constitution of the Irish Magistracy was calculated to destroy all confidence in the ordinary administration of justice in Ireland.As to the ordinary criminal jurisdiction, out of this large number of cases there were 87,000 cases of drunkenness, 30,000 of common assault, 13,000 of offences against Local Acts and borough 1707 bye-laws, 5,000 of malicious damage and trespass, and 17,000 of offences against the Highway Acts. He must say, with regard to this great class of cases, he had heard no complaint of such volume and number as would justify the Government in acceding to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman. If this enormous mass of work was to be done by others than the Unpaid Magistracy the burden on the public would be very great; and he really doubted whether they would be able to find such an enormous Judicial Staff of the character which they wished to secure as would make head against such a vast amount of work. Besides, the Government were not the least prepared for so entirely revolutionizing the Judicial system of Ireland, and so separating and isolating it from the Judicial system of the rest of the country, as to withdraw from the Unpaid Magistracy their ordinary work; and he thought no one could expect, as a practical result, that any exertions which the Lord Chancellor, or successive Lord Chancellors, could make would model the Irish Bench into a state that would be exactly reduced to his ideas of what the Bench should be, with such a rapidity as to enable them to look forward to the time when these questions would be dealt with by a different class of magistrates than the present. Therefore, the Government were satisfied with regard to the ordinary administration of the law by the Bench as at present constituted; but they were not satisfied that the administration of justice with regard to Party questions could be intrusted to the Bench as at present constituted. There were, he thought, grave reasons for doubting whether the magistrates could in such cases be everywhere trusted. In a county like Fermanagh, for instance, there was not a single Roman Catholic magistrate on the Bench, except a Resident Magistrate; and the terms in which he had been spoken of by some of his brother magistrates were in themselves enough, he would not say to show that justice would not be done in Party cases, but to make it quite certain that a great body of the people would not believe that justice would be done. Under these circumstances, if only as a temporary expedient, the Government had thought it right to divide the functions of the Magisterial Bench; and by placing several 1708 counties under the 8th section of the Prevention of Crime Act—["Oh!" from the Irish Party.]—well, hon. Gentlemen would find it hard to suggest any expedient for getting a fair trial of Party cases for the next few years—by placing several counties under the 8th section of the Prevention of Crime Act make it quite certain that such a scene as had occurred between the magistrates on the Enniskillen Bench would not occur again, and would make it quite certain also that justice would be done by a body of men who would hold the balance evenly between the two parties. He did not think his noble Friend (Viscount Lymington) had been quite fair in his remarks so far as the Resident Magistrates were concerned. His own experience had convinced him that they possessed very many of the best qualities of Civil servants. He believed that they were very impartial and very public-spirited men, and that they had stood, as some undoubtedly had stood, between the people and those whom they thought wished to bear hard upon the people. The Government, therefore, could not accept the Resolution, which went so far as to say that the present constitution of the Irish Magisterial Bench was calculated to destroy all confidence in the administration of justice. They were not prepared in any way to revolutionize the system, of appointment. They were going to work carefully, steadily, and, he believed, boldly to use the Constitutional means they had at present through the power of appointment by the Lord Chancellor; and he had no doubt that the debate of that evening, and the very great number of speeches from Members of more than one shade of politics in that House, would give the world assurance that that policy had not been adopted a day too soon.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, that the advantage which the right hon. Gentleman had made up his mind to give to the Irish Members in reply to the appeal they had made was a very sad and instructive commentary on the principles which governed the English administration of Ireland. When the Prevention of Crime Act was being passed into law they were assured that it would be applied only to a limited number of districts; and now, when they had brought forward a grievance of great magnitude, and estab- 1709 lished an irrefutable case, they were told by a Liberal Minister, who put on the airs of one giving a favourable answer to their appeal, that the number of districts to which the 8th section of the Prevention of Crime Act was to be applied would be increased. He was obliged to say that the right hon. Gentleman had delivered a most unsatisfactory speech. He had not been able to deny that the Irish Magistracy was almost exclusively in the hands of one denomination and one class. He had not been able to make any case against the contention that it was offensive and injurious to the vast majority of the Irish people; but by a kind of pettifogging special pleading he had objected to the final clause of the Resolution, and upon that vague and unsubstantial objection he refused to accept any part of the Motion; whereas the logical conclusion from the right hon. Gentleman's speech was that the Government should have accepted every part of the Resolution, except the clause to which he objected. The interest in that debate did not arise from any novelty in the facts; because, although the Return which he moved for in the Winter Session of 1882, and succeeded in obtaining a few days since, had placed the facts in a formal and conclusive manner before the attention of the House, yet the real state of the Magistracy of Ireland with regard to class and creed had been no secret to any intelligent man who took an interest in the affairs of Ireland for many a year. The interest of the debate arose from the fact that Irish Members were submitting their claims to a Government which boasted that it steered an even keel in Ireland; but he was bound to say, judging from the performance of the steersman that evening, that the right hon. Gentleman, in spite of all the cautions he had received in the course of the debate, was likely to run his ship upon the rocks. The right hon. Gentleman told them that the principles which would guide the Government lay in the besom of the Lord Chancellor; but perhaps he made a nearer approach to frankness when he stated that the Government would proceed at a slow pace; for when the right hon. Gentleman passed from rhetoric to figures, and described the reformative action of the Lord Chancellor in appointing 61 magistrates, when pressed by the right hon. 1710 and learned gentleman (Mr. Gibson) as to the creed of the Gentlemen appointed it was found that the action of the Lord Chancellor, instead of decreasing, had gone to increase the monstrous disproportion which already existed. So true was it that the Government were proceeding slowly that the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, like a crab, was travelling backwards. The terms of the Resolution were true beyond denial—the Irish Magistracy was almost exclusively in the hands of one religious denomination and one class. Even in a country where different creeds lived in a spirit of amity, and where the different classes had a common interest, the selection of magistrates from one class or creed would promote discontent and disorder, because the classes and creeds excluded would feel that they had been ignored and slighted. If that were true of such a country, how much more true of Ireland, where they had selected for the Magistracy almost exclusively men who professed a creed bound up until yesterday with traditions of aggression and greed, men who belonged to a social class which he might say, without exaggeration, had lived by preying upon the people. The Chief Secretary put the case in a nutshell when he said that the appointments to the Magisterial Bench had inverted the ratio of the creeds in Ireland. There were 5,000,000 of people in Ireland, of whom 4,000,000 were Roman Catholics and 1,000,000 Protestants. If that proportion had been preserved there would now be between 3,000 and 4,000 Catholic magistrates in Ireland as against 1,000 Protestant. The actual state of the case, however, was exactly the reverse. Then, out of the 4,000 existing magistrates, nearly 3,000 belonged to the class of landlords and land agents. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of wealth and leisure as necessary qualifications for the Magistracy. That came strangely from a Minister speaking in the Supreme Court of the Realm, for admission to which no property qualification whatever was required. There were hon. Gentlemen whom he could see who were engaged in important business all day, and yet were, they all knew, able to discharge their legislative functions in that House, and to furnish some of the most important ornaments of their debates in the evenings; and was it to be con- 1711 tended by the right hon. Gentleman that if men who were engaged all day were able to discharge the multifarious duties required in that House every night in connection with the Government of that Realm, that they would require men of leisure and wealth to go once a fortnight to the Petty Sessions? If there was necessity for wealth and leisure, he would ask how it come to pass that 400 land agents were members of the Magisterial Bench? Were they men of social position? No; they were open to corruption of the most patent kind, for they were in every case which was to be decided between landlord and tenant precluded from giving an unbiassed decision. He believed that they were just as much dependent on the landlord class as any clerk in the City of London was who received a salary from his employer. When he found 400 gentlemen of this class allowed to hold positions on the Bench, he was constrained to ask the Chief Secretary what position or leisure they had. If they had used the terms Protestant and Catholic in that debate it was not because they recognized any substantial fitness in the Catholic, or because they denounced any special unfitness in the Protestant for the position of magistrate. It was simply because it so happened that the dominant class in Ireland were Protestant, and that the masses of the people were Catholic, and that this was the most compendious way of putting a great social and political question. It was said that it was hard to find Catholics sufficiently educated in Ireland; and he (Mr. Sexton) must say that the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) spoke in terms which were most insulting to the people of Donegal. He spoke of his brother's efforts to find suitable candidates in that county; and he drew a pathetic picture of his father going out, so to speak, with a lamp in his hand in order to scour the country to find an honest man. Well, what did he (Mr. Sexton) find to follow after all those labours? That in a county where the Catholics were to the Protestants as throe to one there were 128 Protestant magistrates to nine Catholies. He (Mr. Sexton) denied that Catholies were not fitted by education to act as magistrates. He agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. Charles Russell) that the qualifica- 1712 tions were intelligence, education, and probity; but he was not aware that God had conferred those qualities upon persons who were either above or below any given limit of valuation. He asked if the noble Lord was not able to find amongst the elected Poor Law Guardians who sat at the same Board with him any who were fitted for a seat upon the Bench? The House had been addressed that evening by a Lord Lieutenant—the hon. Baronet the Member for Coleraine (Sir Hervey Bruce). He did not know that the hon. Baronet was gifted by nature, or had acquired by art, any special powers of discrimination; but after he had held the office of Lord Lieutenant for nine years in a county where the Catholics formed about half the population the Magistracy stood in this position—the non-Catholic magistrates were 109 and the Catholics nine. And the noticeable fact was that the hon. Baronet had told the House that he never paid any attention to Memorials from the people in connection with the nomination of magistrates. Surely the best way to secure the confidence of the people in the administration of the law was to take their advice with regard to the appointment of magistrates. There was a saying in Ireland to this effect—"You may judge of the sack by the sample;" and if they were to judge of the Lords Lieutenant of Ireland by the conduct of the hon. Member for Coleraine it might be the duty of the Government to consider whether the functions of the Lords Lieutenant ought not to be entirely swept away. He had never discovered in the selections of the hon. Baronet or in his speeches in that House anything which marked him out as possessing unusual acuteness or intellectual supremacy over other men. By what right, then, did he constitute himself a buffer between the people of his country and the Lord Chancellor of Ireland? In looking over a Report there was a paragraph which afforded them some instruction on the subject. It set forth that persons returned as Peers, gentlemen, &c., had been classed under the following as of "no specified occupation." Vagrants and such like were also included in this order. He must say that he should always entertain a respect for the compiler of that Report. If the Government were to make every landlord in Ireland a magis- 1713 trate they would hardly render the state of things worse than it was at present. There were 4,294 landed proprietors in Ireland, and out of that number 3,000 were upon the Magisterial Bench; and unless they fell back upon the vagrants of the same class, he did not really see what was to be done unless to pass from the persons who had no specified occupation to the persons who had some. The Catholics of Ireland were not open to the reproach of ignorance which had been brought against them. It was true that only 0.3 of their children were receiving a higher education as against 1.23 of the Protestants. The Protestants, no doubt, were richer and more cultured as a class; but the number of Catholics was eight times that of the Protestants; and, therefore, twice as many more Catholic children were receiving higher education as Protestants. In the schools and Colleges there were 12,000 Catholics and 8,000 Protestants; in the high schools 10,000 Catholics and 6,000 Protestants; and in the highest schools of all 2,305 Catholics and 1,052 Protestants. Arguing from the children to the parents, it must be clear that there were plenty of well-educated Catholics in Ireland. The principal criticism made by the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) and other advocates of the Irish magistrates was that they had made no specific charges against, them. What need was there of specific charges when Lord Rossmore's case was so fresh in their minds, and when no less than 1,000 magistrates from 15 counties threw back into his face the letter of the Lord Chancellor condemning Lord Rossmore's conduct, and declared that, in similar circumstances, they would act as he did? A Magistracy so politically degraded, or so shamefully devoted to the prejudices and passions and supposed interests of one class, needed to have no specific charges brought against them in order to justify their abolition. But he could instance the case of Colonel Smith, of County Meath, who prosecuted a man for unlawfully carrying a gun and shooting a hare. When it was discovered that he was in the employ of a relative and neighbour magistrate he was let off with a nominal fine; while two young farmers convicted of the same offence were sentenced to two months' imprisonment. In Omagh a drunken Orangeman drew a re- 1714 volver on the sentry at the gate of the barracks. He also was brought up before a Bench consisting of five magistrates, three of whom were Orangemen, and he was released on paying a nominal fine. In Fermanagh, where the father of the noble Viscount (Viscount Crichton) had been Lord Lieutenant for 44 years—the memory of whose public spirit, it was said, would long be remembered—there were 74 magistrates, of whom 73 were Protestants, and the remaining one, who was a Resident Magistrate, Captain M'Ternan, was a Catholic, and on that account the rest of the magistrates were doing their utmost to worry and harass him. The father of the noble Viscount had violated not only decency, but even the law itself, by calling upon those very magistrates who, a few mouths before, had conspired with him to endanger the public peace, to discredit Captain M'Ternan, to drive him out of the country, and to corrupt a jury. If Lord Erne persisted in holding that meeting to corrupt a jury and to intimidate witnesses, would the Government prevent it—would they suppress the meeting? If they did not suppress it, he hoped that they would send two official note-takers to the meeting and claim admission for them. Would the Government, he asked, prosecute those magistrates who were endeavouring to intimidate their paid official? It was clear to him that they would never advance upon that magisterial question in the direction of reform until they got rid of Lords Lieutenant. Let the Lord Chancellor apply his own intelligence to the applications made to him. He regretted that the Chief Secretary had not answered three questions put to him. He had answered two; but in the case of the third, as to what other means he would suggest of appointing magistrates that would place their appointments more open to public opinion, he had given no answer. He would himself suggest, as a remedy for the existing state of things, in the first place the abolition of the property qualification. Practically, this qualification had been already abolished, because there were a number of land agents now on the Bench who had not enough land in Ireland to sod a lark. Then they must extend to the counties the same principles as they applied to the boroughs, and must cease to confine the office of magistrate to 1715 landlords or land agents. In Ulster there were respectable tenant farmers and millowners, and persons of such classes; in every village, in the most insignificant hamlets, they would find shopkeepers and professional men of ability, education, and independence. Let those gentlemen be appointed to the Commission of the Peace; and let the power be abolished of those mouldy relics of the past, the Lords Lieutenant. It was all very well to say—For forms of government let fools contest;but good laws, however well designed, might have their effect minimized by bad administration. The object to be aimed at was to appoint the men, whether Protestants or Catholics, who were in accordance with the feelings of the people. That was the practical test of their fitness; and until that was done he would tell them solemnly, as one who know that country thoroughly, that the ordinary administration of their law in Ireland would be regarded, not only with distrust, but with dislike—nay, with hatred and contempt.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, the debate which had taken place that night must unquestionably be regarded as of importance; and he himself was not sorry that the charges which had been brought forward had been brought forward distinctly at the beginning of the discussion, when the matter could be fairly looked into, and the House and the country could thoroughly realize and understand what, in the face of day, was the case that was made against the Irish magistrates, and on what foundation the charges which had been made against them were supposed to rest. He asserted fearlessly, after a discussion which had now gone on for a considerable number of hours, that most unquestionably the Irish Magistracy had come out of the ordeal triumphantly and successfully. There were more than 4,000 magistrates in Ireland; and in troublous and disturbed times in the history of that country, when every action of almost every magistrate was canvassed, criticized, or condemned, it was something to find that when their conduct was brought to the test of an examination in the face of day there was nothing to be urged against them except what had been urged during the last few hours. He ventured to say that if the Magistracy of any other coun- 1716 try, under similar conditions, were to be subjected to the same criticism as that which had been directed against the Irish magistrates that night, they would not have come out of the ordeal better—he doubted whether they would have come out of it as well. What was the constitution of a Magistracy—what must be the constitution of any Magistracy, worthy of the name? What must be the qualifications of any Bench of Magistrates that was to be regarded with respect by any person whose opinion was challenged in reference to it? Must not the Bench of Magistrates be composed of men whose independence of character, whose sufficiency of education, whose reasonable sufficiency of status, and whose sufficiency of property formed a guarantee of independence such as would stand a scrutiny and command respect? Those tests being familiar tests, they had a right to expect to find them in all magistrates, whether Irish, English, or Scotch; and the most that could be said against the Irish magistrates was that they did possess every one of those qualifications. ["No, no!" from the Home Rule Member.] The charge against them was not that they were deficient in the possession of those essential qualifications, but that they were not commended to popular acceptance by the absence of some of them. He asked every impartial English and Scotch Member of the House who had listened to the discussion to bear in mind the ordeal to which the Irish magistrates had been subjected, and from which the English and Scotch Magistracy had been exempted. If an Irish magistrate committed the smallest error of judgment, the smallest slip of language in conversation in public or in private—if a single incident of his public, private, or magisterial life could be got at, even although it occurred in private conversation only, it was at once published in the Press and dragged before the House of Commons in Question after Question, he should like to know what body of men in the important public position of the Irish Magistracy, and numbering over 4,000, could, under such circumstances, come I better out of the ordeal than the class of persons to whom he was referring? What was the foundation of this charge? He would appeal to the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy), who intro- 1717 duced the Motion in a speech as moderate as was expected from a Gentleman of his position and attainments. Was it not obvious to everyone in the House who listened to the speech that the hon. Member himself felt there were great difficulties in his way, in asking the House of Commons, acting in a judicial capacity, to arrive at the conclusion that they were coerced to affirm such a Resolution as that which he had placed upon the Paper? What was the true foundation, not of the hon. Member's charge, but of his suggestion of a charge? That there might be differences in the constitution of the Irish Magistracy, both as to religion and as to class. Now he asserted, notwithstanding the speech they had just heard from the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), that no one on that or the other side of the House had spoken with disrespect, or without sympathy, of the Roman Catholic population of Ireland from the beginning to the end of the discussion—certainly no one on those Benches, and he had heard no one on the other side, say one word that was out of sympathy with that great section of the people of Ireland. Everyone knew that one of the circumstances and incidents of the country was that the great bulk of the population, numerically, was Roman Catholic; and it would naturally be found that the great bulk of the population had not got that amount of education, and property, and of status which all must recognize as being required in a magistrate, and as necessary qualifications before they could be placed in the area from which the Lord Chancellor or anybody else would be justified in selecting the Magistracy. Of course, he did not deny, and no one would attempt to assert, that there were not many Roman Catholics in Ireland—indeed, a large and powerful section of Roman Catholics in Ireland, who were endowed with great natural intelligence—the gift of so many people in Ireland, but who were also possessed of high education and character, and all the qualities which entitled thorn to a seat upon the Magisterial Bench, and which would do honour to any Profession or any Bench. But in saying that he felt bound to add what he believed to be the fact in reference to the state of the Bench in different counties in Ireland, that he had had occasion during the last few years to consider the matter himself, in 1718 conversation and in association with numerous friends in Ireland; and he believed that Lords Lieutenant of counties in that country were sincerely and loyally anxious, whenever they thought they fairly could, to appoint Roman Catholic gentlemen to the Commission of the Peace in the counties in which they resided. He was himself satisfied of this—that in many cases they had strained points in their anxiety to appoint gentlemen to the Commission of the Peace, whose main and principal qualification was that they were Roman Catholics. He believed that this was the simple and plain fact, as anyone who was acquainted with the country and the difficulties of the position would bear testimony to. Hon. Members who had taken part in the discussion had found themselves in a strange dilemma. They had pointed out that the number of Roman Catholics on the Bench at present was roughly estimated at about 1,000, and that the remaining number of magistrates were Protestants. One would think that that was a charge levelled against the disproportion which the Roman Catholic magistrates bore to the Protestant ones. But the argument which had been pressed was not that at all; it was a kind of mixed and confused argument. They said it was wrong, in the present constitution of the Bench, that there were not more Roman Catholics upon it; but they went on to say that the Roman Catholics who at present had found their way to the Bench were certainly as bad, if not worse, than the Protestant magistrates. He did not see how it was possible to satisfy hon. Members who made such a complaint. He was glad that the Presbyterians had not been lost sight of in that discussion. They were a class who were entitled to be spoken of with the very highest respect, and there was no one who had had any opportunity whatever of meeting them who would not recognize that they were endowed with qualifications and gifts which entitled them to every possible consideration. He ventured to hope that there would be no Lord Lieutenant of a county or Lord Chancellor ever found in Ireland who would not be anxious to consider every claim that could be urged for the appointment of intelligent and independent Presbyterians, endowed with the requisite qualifications, for the Magistracy. He 1719 desired to point out that there were only two counties mentioned by the Chief Secretary when he made allusion to the Presbyterians. Those counties were Antrim and Down. The Lord Lieutenant of Antrim (Lord Waveney) was a friend and supporter of the Government of the right hon. Gentleman. [Mr. T. A. DICKSON: Within the last six months.] If that fact was worth making anything of it did not apply to the other county with which he was bettor acquainted. County Down was the other county mentioned, and who had had the management of the Magistracy of that county for several years? It was an hon. Gentleman who was well-known in the House, whose familiar figure was now only occasionally seen outside the House, clad in a seasonable garb. Unfortunately, he was not in the House that evening. ["Name!"] He alluded to the hon. Member for the County of Londonderry (Sir Thomas M'Clure). He believed that Gentleman was a Presbyterian of the Presbyterians. He had wielded the power of appointing magistrates in the county of Down, in the absence of Lord Dufferin, for many years; and if there was any deficiency in the appointment of Presbyterians in the county the blame was not to be laid on the innocent persons who sat on his side of the House, but on the respectable Presbyterian gentleman who held office in that county, who had uninterruptedly made the appointments for the last six or seven years. What was the other class of objection, in addition to the religious one, which was made as to the present method of appointing magistrates? The objection was called a social one, and consisted of a complaint that the present magistrates were taken substantially from one class only. He would ask the House if that was not an objection which might be taken to the magistrates of almost every country? Take England, Scotland, or any civilized country in the world they liked, and they would find that the magistrates were taken from a class of the community substantially the same as that from which the Irish magistrates were taken. It must always be so. In the very nature of things he did not see how it was possible to have, speaking broadly and generally, any substantial change in that respect. They must have a 1720 Magistracy recruited from those who possessed the requisite position, independence, education, and status referred to by the Chief Secretary. The hon. Member who moved the Motion, and other hon. Members who supported him, had been under some difficulty in making positive and absolute suggestions as to how they thought the present state of things should be remedied. They seemed to think, wisely, as he thought, that it was not for them to suggest remedies; but that it was their function to state what they considered a grievance, and to point it out. He thought there was some logical force in that position; but, at all events, whether logical or not, it was a prudent course to take. Some hon. Members, however, took a different course, and did not hesitate to suggest a class from which the Magistracy might be entirely and exclusively recruited. The hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien), and the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), boldly put it that they considered the class from which the magistrates should not be partially recruited, but from which they should be entirely taken, were from those who were in entire sympathy with the popular traditions of Ireland, and in sympathy with the people of Ireland—that, in fact, they should not be "colourless politicians," as the phrase was delicately put by the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. "Justin M'Carthy). How would this method of choice work? Let them apply it for a moment, and the House would see that they were involved in a state of embarrassment, to use the mildest possible word. If in any locality they were to take men who were strong partizans—not colourless in their politics—but men who held strong views in reference to the affairs in which they entered, in what position would they be landed? Why, in the South of Ireland they would have strong Land League magistrates, and in the North they would have strong Orange magistrates. [An hon. MEMBER: You have them already.] If they were to have strong members of a particular class—strong partizan magistrates—they could not always have them of the complexion they might like; but they must have Party men. If that were so, they would have a state of facts which would rapidly bring about disturbance. But what was the other point mentioned? 1721 It had been suggested, although the suggestion was at once abandoned, because it was obvious that no one would listen to it, that they should select men for the Magistracy of Ireland from those who were of sound Nationalist views, and who were in full sympathy with the National League. The only other alternative was to try to get impartial Resident Magistrates. Why, they were the very class who had been most roundly abused during the whole of the discussion; and where were they to look for a Magistracy if they were not to have it appointed reasonably, and fairly, and possessing the requisite qualifications, entitling it to respect? How were the magistrates appointed at present? He thought some confusion prevailed in the House in reference to that subject even at the present moment. Certainly, the noble Lord who recently addressed the House seemed to be in a state of profound simplicity as to the appointment of magistrates. He had suggested boldly that the Government had nothing to do with the matter, and having made that statement he went quietly away. But there were three kinds of magistrates in Ireland, and as to each class the Government had a substantial power; in some respects they had an absolute and exclusive power in appointing all paid Resident Magistrates. In that case they exercised their own discretion in regard to what they considered the interests of the country. He would take that class first. The paid magistrates were appointed by the Executive Government on their own responsibility. They sought out trained men with the qualities and training which they thought most expedient. He asked the House to remember the number of Questions which were addressed to the Chief Secretary day after day; and they would find that not a single day passed without some Question being levelled against the magistrates who had been selected by the Executive Government, and paid for their training and qualifications the same as any other class of officials in Ireland. The second class of magistrates were the borough magistrates. The Lords Lieutenant of counties had nothing to say to them; but they were all appointed on the absolute ipse dixit of the Executive Government who had the absolute and exclusive power in reference to them. The only other class 1722 remaining were the county magistrates. How were they appointed? The county magistrates were appointed by the Lord Chancellor of the day. True, it was upon the recommendation of the Lord Lieutenant of the county; but the Lord Chancellor was the person who made the appointment, and the Lord Chancellor was the highest legal official of the Government in Ireland. The Lord Chancellor usually acted on the recommendation of the Lord Lieutenant of the county; but he reserved to himself, and sometimes exercised, the right of his own jurisdiction, and of asking the Lord Lieutenant why some particular individual was passed over, or why a preference had been shown? And if he did not feel satisfied with an excuse offered to him for passing over certain persons, he could, and had done more than once, as an act of administration, appoint for himself any person to the position of magistrate in any county in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Trevelyan) in the course of his speech had drawn a contrast. He did not complain of the right hon. Gentleman, who had a right to speak as well as he could for his own Government. That was only reasonable; but the right hon. Gentleman drew a distinction in favour of the Government between the constitution of the County Magistracy and the constitution of the borough Magistracy which would not stand the test of examination. If a man lived in a borough it was perfectly obvious that his range of connections was far wider than if he lived in a rural district. He would probably live in the midst of a great mercantile community of the highest intelligence, education, status, and property; and, therefore, the Government in dealing with a centralized population knew, obviously, that it contained within itself large classes of persons qualified to be magistrates. They had a larger and higher area of selection, and did not, as in the case of selecting a county magistrate, experience any difficulty in searching out men fit to perform the duties of the Magistracy. He fully admitted the difficulties that in the administration of Irish affairs must often press upon the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, and others engaged in the government of the country; but he was bound to say that, having regard to everything that had occurred in this 1723 case, it would have been wiser and more gracious if the right hon. Gentleman had spoken with more reserve in reference to the Enniskillen case. He (Mr. Gibson) did not intend to discuss that case, and he would not say a word in regard to it except this—that Lord Erne was a man whose public character had been before England and Ireland for many a long day, and there was not a more respected man in the whole community than Lord Erne. [Mr. HEALY: Who says so?] That was the view of everyone in the country who was acquainted with Lord Erne, and he was perfectly convinced of this—that Lord Erne would continue to act in the future as he had done in the past, so far as the Lord Lieutenancy of the county of Fermanagh was concerned, with full regard for the duties and responsibilities of his high position. He (Mr. Gibson) was so strongly assured of that, that he regretted the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary should have used one word in reference to the magistrates who were on the Bench on the occasion referred to, which was open to criticism. He would not go further into the matter; but he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be told by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland, who was counsel in the case, what the real facts were. He (Mr. Gibson) was bound to say that, considering the political character of the case, it would have been as well if the Law Officers of the Crown had not allowed themselves to be mixed up with it at all. The words which had been used to describe the case were open to criticism. The defence of justification—that the alleged libel was true—was not affirmed by the jury; and the only ground on which the verdict was given in favour of the owner of the newspaper was that of maintaining the rights of journalism, and it had nothing whatever to do with affirming, in the slightest degree, the truth of the allegations contained in the libel. It would, therefore, have been well if the right hon. Gentleman had ascertained the facts of the case before he used the words he had used. If he had done so, he would no doubt have modified, materially, the statement he had made. He (Mr. Gibson) would pass away from this topic of Enniskillen and the county of Fermanagh with a remark 1724 in reference to the statements which had been made as to the small number of Roman Catholic magistrates who had been made there. [Mr. HEALY: None at all.] It was true that a mooting had been held recently in Enniskillen, convened by Circular, the object of which was to suggest to Lord Erne the names of Roman Catholics who might be appropriately appointed to the Magisterial Bench. But who was it that was suggested to the notice of Lord Erne? The names of three gentlemen—men, he believed, of respectability—two of whom had publican's establishments, while the other was a pawnbroker, he did not say that these were not honourable pursuits, and that the gentlemen who followed them were not entitled to the highest respect; but it showed the difficulty there must be in making suggestions to the Lord Lieutenant of a county as to who he should appoint, when the individuals selected for his approval, however respected they might be, after searching the whole county through, were such as he had mentioned. What was the alternative, in regard to the constitution of the Magistracy? The appointment of paid magistrates. But was there anyone who was prepared to affirm that suggestion? Would any Member of the Treasury like to hear that suggestion boldly put forward—namely, to swamp the whole of the unpaid class of Irish magistrates, and substitute for them a network of paid magistrates, involving an immense financial operation? He was bound to say that, tested by present experience, and seeing that the existing paid Resident Magistrates were not able to attract to themselves more popularity than the unpaid magistrates, any Government would hesitate long before they proceeded to make a change. No one except the hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien), and the hon. Member had certainly made the suggestion somewhat strongly, urged that there should be elected magistrates. It was not a proposition that any Member could be seriously or gravely entertained by the House of Commons. The hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. Charles Russell), speaking with that great skill and dexterity of language of which he was a master, had suggested some vague reference to County Boards, with the notion that they might exercise 1725 some influence over the office. He was bound to admit that the suggestion was made very tentatively. The hon. and learned Member did not say what kind of County Board, or what kind of office; and, therefore, he (Mr. Gibson) ventured to think the suggestion might be passed over. The noble Viscount the Member for Barnstaple (Viscount Lymington) also made some rather hazy suggestions, winding up with the proposal that the appointment of magistrates should be subjected to the impartial criticism of the House of Commons. It was a very good sentence in the speech of the noble Viscount; but it could hardly be treated as a practical contribution to the solution of a very difficult question. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, who spoke with much emphasis on the matter, and naturally attracted a great deal of attention, said the Lord Chancellor would consider for himself. The present Lord Chancellor was one of the most emphatic men who ever held the Office, and he had no doubt inspired the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary with a good deal of his own emphasis. The right hon. Gentleman said the present Lord Chancellor would consider how to exercise his functions in reference to the constitution of the Magistracy. Every Lord Chancellor who ever held the Office was bound, in the discharge of his duty, to do that. No doubt the present Lord Chancellor, whose ability everyone would readily recognize, and whose high character they all acknowledged, followed the traditions of his Office, and, fully acquainted with the requirements of his position, applied his mind vigorously to the discharge of his important functions. Then a more extraordinary solution came, later on, from the right hon. Gentleman, when he said the Government solution was the separation of the magisterial functions into two parts—namely, the ordinary functions, and those which were regarded as Party functions. It was rather a difficult division, and he should like to know where and when the division was determined upon? It was now the 4th of April, and he should be glad to know when Her Majesty's Government decided upon this division? It was no new question. It had been considered from time to time. It was discussed in 1881, and they were all acquainted with the circumstances. 1726 He was bound to say that it struck him, from the collocation of the words, as if it had been done in consequence of the case of Londonderry, in which the Solicitor General was counsel for one of the parties, and also of the Enniskillen case. He hoped it was not so. If the objection were taken on any such ground it would be open to grave and substantial criticism. He himself, before he could approve of such a method of division, should like to know the exact way in which it was proposed to make it. It did, however, strike him that the placing of eight counties under the Prevention of Crime Act was a crude and clumsy way of working out the division of magisterial functions, and it was open to the charge of being made in consequence of the trial at Londonderry, and what had recently taken place at Enniskillen. At any rate, it was open to the charge of not being particularly gracious. His state of knowledge did not permit him to criticize the matter in detail; he would forbear. At present the Magistracy of Ireland was amenable to very important checks. It was amenable to the check of public opinion, which had been very freely directed to it; and it was amenable also to Parliamentary criticism, which was unsparing in the way in which it pried into every one of his actions. It must be remembered that no injustice and no unfairness in the administration of their duties had been, or could be, substantiated against the Irish Magistracy. [Mr. BIGGAR: Oh!] Yes; they had made great and sweeping charges; but he fearlessly assorted that no case had been made out against the Irish Bench of injustice or unfairness in the administration of justice. He was speaking now of the great class of unpaid magistrates, who had enormous difficulties to contend against, and received very little gratitude or thanks for the way in which they discharged their duties. They got no pay—indeed they were the great unpaid—but they were amenable both to actions at law by persons aggrieved by their mistakes, and also to the jurisdiction of the Lord Chancellor, who could suspend or remove them from the Commission of the Peace for error or incapacity. It was, therefore, obvious to everyone that the Irish Magistracy discharged their duty under every responsibility that should make them careful, and should 1727 win for them fair sympathy and respect from every impartial man. One word more, and he should have done. This question of the Irish Magistracy was not a very new one. He should be very sorry to make charges against any class of men who had, in disturbed times, to discharge difficult and unpopular duties. He had no wish to refer to the tributes given to the Irish Magistracy by those who agreed with him in politics, or who belonged to the Church to which he belonged. Instead of doing so he would remind hon. Members that in 1881 Lord O'Hagan, a very eminent, gifted, and sympathetic man, a member also of the Human Catholic Church, gave an opinion as to how the Irish Members had acted, and as to how Lords Lieutenant of counties had been guided in reference to the selection of Irish magistrates. Lord O'Hagan, on that occasion, paid a high tribute to the merits of the Irish Magistracy. But it did not rest there. It rested also on the opinion of the late Lord Chancellor Law—a most able and gifted man, only too early removed, but a man also of strong Party views, and as strong a supporter of the present Government as ever sat upon the Treasury Bench. In 1881 Mr. Law had an opportunity of expressing his opinion of the Irish Magistracy, and he refused unquestionably to give the weight of his name and the power of his authority to an attack similar to the present upon the magistrates of Ireland. He would appeal also to the Lord Chancellor now in Office, clothed as he was with all the immense powers which had been mentioned of appointing paid magistrates and magistrates in boroughs, and of controlling, directing, and checking the appointment of every magistrate in Ireland. And what did he find? That although the Lord Chancellor had exercised his power, and would exercise it, as other Lord Chancellor's had done before him in the appointments he had made to the Bench, in the 61 cases mentioned by the Chief Secretary he had himself, by the logic of facts and the potency of circumstances, been compelled to make appointments very little dissimilar, in the ratio of religious selection, from those appointed by his Predecessors.
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
said, he was anxious to say a word or two to explain why he supported the Motion, although 1728 he did not agree with all the arguments which had been used in its favour. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) had skilfully turned a debate which was intended to be a complaint of the manner in which magistrates were appointed into a defence of the manner in which those magistrates discharged their duties. He (Colonel Colthurst) believed, himself, that taking the ordinary affairs of life, day by day, Irish magistrates did just as well as any others. But that was not the question. The question was, whether the mode of appointing them was a right one? The noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) had spoken about the difficulty, in regard to the status of the majority of the population of Donegal, in connection with the selection of magistrates. But Donegal was an extreme case, and no doubt extreme cases would always be found. He was quite ready to admit that in Donegal, and in some other counties, it might be difficult to find Catholics in any number who were fitted to discharge the duties of the Magistracy. But let them take the county of Cork. Although there were a large number of Catholic magistrates there, there were very few in some parts of the county. What was the cause? By the present canons the Lord Lieutenant considered himself bound to appoint, only except in rare cases, the owners of landed property or land agents; and it was almost impossible to obtain the appointment of a magistrate who did not fulfil one of these conditions. He was able to speak from personal knowledge of the difficulty of obtaining the appointment of Roman Catholics as magistrates in the county of Cork. He did not say that the present Lord Lieutenant had any prejudice himself. On the contrary, he had appointed several magistrates who were Roman Catholics; but in some cases he had refused, or had put the matter off. In cases where no allegation could be made against the Catholic gentlemen put forward, the reason why they had not been appointed was that they were not considered by the magistrates of the district in which it was proposed to appoint them to be of a social status sufficient to qualify them for a seat oil the Bench. For that reason, 1729 and for that reason alone, there were gentlemen at that moment in the county of Cork who were magistrates who, if they were Catholics, would not be magistrates, and gentlemen who ought to be magistrates who, because they were Catholics, had not been placed upon the Bench. As far as the suggestions for reform were concerned, nothing more practical could be done than that the Lord Chancellor should institute, as had been suggested by several speakers, a searching inquiry into these cases, and then use the large powers vested in him. He would certainly be the first Lord Chancellor who had ever taken that course. He wished to speak with great respect of Lord O'Hagan and the late Lord Chancellor; but, except in very rare instances, they had never felt themselves justified in using the powers of which so much had been made. He trusted that what his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary had said that night would be carried out; and that the present Lord Chancellor, who had the will, the power, and the talent to carry out a great reform, would at any rate make a beginning, by calling for information, and finding out for himself, in each county, whether among Catholics, Protestants, or Presbyterians, those who were best fitted to serve on the Magisterial Bench, disregarding those canons which had hitherto required a magistrate either to be a landowner or a land agent.
§ MR. HEALY
remarked that the legal training of the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) had been of considerable service to him, because it enabled him completely to deny the justice of everything which had been said; and it had placed him in the position of the man who, having a brief from one side, was determined to take no notice of the other. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, in his speech, had made a declaration which, practically, amounted to this—that he admitted everything, but that he would do nothing. The right hon. Gentleman had not said a single word to traverse the case which had been made out in the course of the debate by hon. Members on that side of the House. All he said was—"We can do nothing; we have no remedy to offer to you," except, indeed, to quote the right hon. Gentleman's own phrase—"we will 1730 use, vigorously and impartially, the power of the Lord Chancellor." Now, what did that mean? Did it not mean that the right hon. Gentleman condemned the partiality of the conduct of the Lords Lieutenant of counties, and that he would use, vigorously and impartially, the power of the Lord Chancellor to restrain the course of the Executive in future? Why did he not chasse the 32 Lords Lieutenant of counties altogether who refused to use, vigorously and impartially, the power which the law had given them? The right hon. Gentleman had, as usual, endeavoured to trim and to compromise. He (Mr. Healy) had no wish to impute unworthy motives; but that was certainly the position of the Government of Ireland. They told hon. Members privately that they would do all they could for them, in favour of justice and impartiality; that they wished to treat Ireland as if it were Yorkshire or Kent; but hitherto they had signally failed in treating Dublin as if it were situated in Yorkshire, or Galway as if it were a town in Kent. At the same time, the Chief Secretary fully admitted that the Irish magistrates so abused their functions that it was necessary to call in the aid of the Lord Chancellor to use his powers vigorously and impartially; but he said nothing about putting pressure upon the Lords Lieutenant themselves. If the present Lords Lieutenant were deprived of the power they had so grossly abused, the next set of Lords Lieutenant would be much more careful how they used it. The right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) had made a great point of the fact that 61 Catholic magistrates had been appointed by the present Lord Chancellor; and that at a meeting of Catholics held at Enniskillen only three gentlemen had been recommended to the Lord Lieutenant for appointment. He (Mr. Healy) did not know that that statement was correct, because he generally found that Tory facts were not correct when they were able to get at the bottom of them. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had made the allegation that two of the three gentlemen were connected with the publicans' interest, and he spoke of it as if it were a very great fault indeed. Was it a fault in my Lord Ardilaun—the biggest publican and creator of drunkards in the Kingdom—whom a 1731 Tory Government made a Peer? That noble Lord, publican as he was, was good enough, not merely to be made a Justice of the Peace, but to be converted into a Peer of the Realm. Surely, a Tory Government who made a big publican, like Lord Ardilaun, not only a magistrate, but a Peer, might condescend to wink at the minor evil of elevating a publican to the Magistracy. Personally, he (Mr. Healy) contended that what was wanted in the Magistracy of Ireland was the honesty and straightforwardness of an intelligent Irish juryman. Where did they get their jurymen now? Did they look for men of learned leisure? Certainly not, except when they had the Prevention of Crime Act in full operation. Who were the men who distributed justice throughout Ireland, week by week and day by day, without receiving 1d. of pay for their services? It was the jurymen of the country. There used to be a property qualification for jurymen; but except where the Prevention of Crime Act was concerned it was practically non-existent, and yet the Irish jurymen were called upon to decide cases in which hundreds of thousands of pounds depended upon the honest decision at which they arrived. But if it became necessary to fine a man 5s. for being drunk and disorderly, the penalty must be inflicted by a man of learned leisure. It was a ridiculous position; and when the Chief Secretary condemned the notion of electing magistrates, although he represented the border Burghs, he displayed gross ignorance of Scotch law—probably because his experience was confined to the Borders. If he lived in the heart of Scotland, he would know quite well that the system of elected magistrates was in full blast in the Sister Kingdom. The right hon. Gentleman had denounced the American system, because it was elective; but as they had the same system in cannie Scotland, surely that was far enough to go without travelling to Democratic America. He would, however, say this of America—that the elected Judges of that country administered the law with far greater purity and impartiality than the Judges of this country. In the American Divorce Court they would not find a Sir James Hannen, who would shut up a case because it affected somebody who was connected with the upper classes. ["Order!"] 1732 In the Republic of America it would be impossible to find a Judge like Mr. Justice Lush, who would sentence a man like Valentine Baker to only 12 months' imprisonment for a disgraceful crime, while he——
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Member is not in Order. He must not use language that is disrespectful to Her Majesty's Judges. He may comment upon their conduct; but he is not in Order in using language that is disrespectful towards them.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member was using disrespectful language in regard to the Judges of this land, and was contrasting their conduct with that of the American Judges.
§ MR. HEALY
said, that after the correction of the Chair he would only remark that in America it would be impossible to find a Judge who would sentence one man to 12 months' imprisonment for a disgraceful crime, and in the same Court sentence a man of lower position, for the same offence, to seven years' penal servitude. The Judges of the American Courts were elected; they were courteous to the suitors, and neither browbeated or bullied the witnesses. They were the servants of the people, and they depended upon the favour of the people for the position they occupied. He was satisfied that if they had more of the elective system, both in Ireland and in this country, they would derive much advantage from the greater purity of their judicial institutions. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary told them the magistrates of Ireland were not to be trusted to deal with and decide Party questions, and that such questions in future must be given to the Resident Magistrates, who would hold the balance equally between the parties. But who were the Resident Magistrates in Ireland, and where would they get the judicial balance? Was it in British Burmah, or Hindostan, or Madagascar, or those other far-off places from whence the offscourings of the Judicial Bench were swept into Ireland? Was it a broken-down military man, or a disused sailor, who was the fittest person to administer justice in that country, for those were the men who were created Resident Irish Magistrates? They were told 1733 that the ordinary magistrate in Ireland was not to be intrusted with the decision of Party questions in Ireland, because he did not know how to deal with them. So far as he was concerned, he would much sooner take his chance with the hon. Baronet the Member for Coleraine (Sir Hervey Bruce) than with Mr. Clifford Lloyd. He would say this of his own countrymen—that they were Irishmen; and he would prefer to deal with an Irishman in his own country any day in the week, where Irish questions were concerned, than to deal with some British foreigner. They had been told that they had suggested no remedies. Well, he would venture to suggest a few. He would suggest this to begin with. Let every magistrate who held the Commission of the Peace in more than one county be obliged to decide which he would keep, and give up the others. That would cause a number of vacancies, which could be filled by better men. In the second place, he would suggest that any magistrate who did not attend in his Petty Sessions district for a certain number of days out of the 365 should be struck off the roll. That, he thought, would only be fair. What was the use of absentee magistrates? What were they good for? He would tell the House what it was that pricked on the feeling in Ireland with respect to the magistrates. It was not so much the decisions at Petty Sessions, and the fining of individuals 5s. and costs for being drunk and incapable, or the sending of men to gaol in a Party case; but it was the fact that every magistrate in the county, in addition to being a Justice of the Peace, was a Grand Juror, and in that capacity he decided what roads were to be made, what bridges were to be built, and what compensation was to be levied. He expended the money of the people without check or control; he did what he liked in the district without any representative authority, and he possessed enormous prerogatives, power and patronage. Then, again, the magistrates were ex officio Guardians. Indeed, one-half of the Board of Guardians were composed ex officio Guardians. Therefore, it was not merely what the magistrates did at Petty Sessions, but what they did as Grand Jurors, and upon the Board of Guardians, that affected the real life of the country. They would find these absentee magistrates who did 1734 not attend a single meeting at Petty Sessions, now the 25th of March was past, going across the Channel like swallows from the warmer climate of Cannes, Nice, and Madeira, to vote as ex officio Guardians for the election of Chairman and Vice Chairman of every Board in Ireland. Indeed, he was suprised to see the hon. Baronet the Member for Coleraine (Sir Hervey Bruce) in his place. Why was he not over in Ireland voting as an ex officio Guardian?
§ SIR HERVEY BRUCE
was understood to say that the meeting of his Board had taken place the previous Saturday, and that he had been re-elected Chairman.
§ MR. HEALY
congratulated the hon. Baronet upon having been able to make matters fit in so neatly. It was in this way that all the officers in the Union were appointed—the master, the clerk, the rate collector, and every other employé. By this means they were able to influence the voters' list, for the rate collector could strike off certain persons and put on others; and the clerk had similar power. The Tory magistrates in Ulster manipulated the electoral lists in this way; and it was that grievance—a far more striking one than anything done by the Magistracy at Petty Sessions—of which he complained. And who were these magistrates? What was their title to the confidence of the people? The fact was, that every man among them—from the hon. Baronet, who was Lord Lieutenant of the county of Londonderry, down to the Custos Rotulorum of Roscommon, the hon. and gallant Member for the County of Dublin (Colonel King-Harman)—had been branded by the Land Commission as an extortioner, and had had his rent-roll reduced. As a class, they had been told, by the highest authority in the land, that they had been plundering the people for generations; and it was to these plunderers on the Magisterial Bench that they asked the common people of the land to give their confidence to. These Custodes Rotulorum and Lords Lieutenant were the men who had raised their rents so immoderately that the Land Commission found it necessary to cut them down by 20 percent. The Irish people derided and mocked at the entire system; and if the people of Ireland had not been mere serfs they would have made a far more vigorous 1735 protest against it long ago. He believed that the people of Ireland were the greatest serfs that ever existed in any country. They had allowed the British Government to tyrannize over them in every possible way; whereas, if they had kicked and showed their teeth like men, they would get far more justice than they did from the British Government, and the Government would get rid of some of the difficulties they now experienced in governing them. In such circumstances, it would be impossible to reject the Motion of the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin McCarthy) by a speech like that which had been delivered by the Chief Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman admitted the existence of grievances, and told them that the Lord Chancellor would in future exercise, vigorously and impartially, the powers vested in him; but, in the meantime, in regard to the Lords Lieutenant, who, as the right hon. Gentleman admitted, had degraded the duties of their office, he would do nothing. Why not sweep them away altogether? What magic was there in rack-renters? It might be thought that there was some holy chrism about these men which entitled them to the confidence of the people. Every man among them was branded as a thief, and yet it was to men of that kind that they intrusted these large and important powers. If the Government were in favour of treating Ireland as they would treat Yorkshire or Kent, the Irish Members would not have been met with a shuffling speech such as that which they had heard from the Chief Secretary, who, while admitting the grievances, refused to redress them, and told them the Government would vigorously and impartially use the powers of the Lord Chancellor, who, in the course of four months, had appointed 61 magistrates, 19 of whom were Catholics. He made no complaint of that fact, because he regretted to say that some of the greatest villains in Ireland had been Roman Catholics. He prefered the honest Protestants of Ireland, who stood aloof from the religion to which they belonged, to the unfortunate Catholic serfs. In the whole course of history the leaders of the Irish people had been Protestants. If the people of Ireland had to erect monuments to-morrow to their great men, there would be a long roll of Pro- 1736 testants to commemorate. There had been admirable Protestant magistrates. One of them was a gentleman named Charles Parnell, and what had Her Majesty's Government done with him? The Government of the even keel had struck him off the roll. When the Irish Members made Motions of this kind it was not upon religious grounds. If the Government wished to have the law respected they must bring respect for the law home to the minds of the commonest people of the country. Three hundred years ago, when Sir John Davis was Attorney General, justice was administered, and no people respected the law and stood by it more than the Irish people. Give them justice again, find the law which they now despised they would obey.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
said, that while the case of the Irish people was being stated by more able Colleagues, he had determined not to contribute any observations to the debate; but having heard the grievances of the Irish people fairly stated, having heard the moderate and explicit address of the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) in introducing the Resolution to the House, and having listened to the most unsatisfactory and certainly discouraging statement made to the Irish Members by the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, he thought he should not be doing his duty to the people who sent him to that House to represent them if he failed to avail himself of this opportunity of entering his solemn protest against the action of the Government in refusing to redress the grievances which they practically admitted the Irish people were labouring under. It had been proved most clearly that night, by moderate and calm speeches from the Irish Benches, that in Ireland, which was preeminently a Catholic country, the vast majority of the magistrates were of a different religion. That was a state of affairs which he thought would be admitted even by Englishmen and Scotchmen to be very much against the interests of the country, and the chances of the people living there in a contented and satisfactory spirit. It had been urged by a Member of Her Majesty's Government that more Catholic magistrates were not appointed because, forsooth, some difficulty was found in obtaining gentlemen in fitting positions to 1737 occupy the post of magistrate. In a Return which had been placed before the House in response to the demand of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), what did he find? He found that in some of the Northern counties of Ireland, where, unfortunately, the Orange spirit and feeling was predominant, Her Majesty's Government had not hesitated to appoint as magistrates gentlemen occupying the position of merchants, farmers, shopkeepers, hotel proprietors, and even there was one gentlemen who had been appointed a magistrate for the county of Tyrone, who, when they looked for his description, was designated "unknown." He certainly thought it would be a very long time before Her Majesty's Government would appoint to the Commission of the Peace a gentleman in the county which he had the honour to represent (Wexford) who was as completely unknown to them as this gentlemen in the county of Tyrone appeared to be. It was a hollow and lame excuse to say that more Catholic magistrates were not appointed for the Southern counties of Ireland because there were no gentleman possessing the qualities that would enable them to fulfil the position of magistrate. If Her Majesty's Government could see their way to making a hotel proprietor a magistrate in the county of Tyrone, or a publican, why could they not also see their way to making a hotel proprietor or a publican a magistrate in the South of Ireland? Surely, a gentleman occupying the position of a merchant or farmer in the South of Ireland was quite as capable in every degree of fulfilling the duties which appertained to the position of a magistrate as gentlemen occupying similar positions in the North of Ireland. Over and over again it had been stated that this was not a religious grievance. That was not really so, because it was undoubtedly an outrageous state of affairs that, in a Catholic country like Ireland, there were only 1,000 Catholic magistrates to the 3,000 or 4,000 Protestant magistrates upon the Irish Bench. But he did not put their claims before the House on religious grounds at all, nor even on the ground of national feeling. They had no wish that the Government should appoint gentlemen to the Commission of the Peace who were Nationalists, or who belonged to any other political Party. 1738 They did not think it was absolutely necessary for gentlemen, in order to discharge the duties of the Commission of the Peace, to be either distinctly an Orangeman or a Nationalist—a Catholic or a Protestant. The qualifications which were necessary in a gentleman to fulfil properly in Ireland the duties of the office of a Justice of the Peace were that he should reside in the locality where he was to exercise the duties of a magistrate, and that he should have some sympathy with the people over whom he was to exercise control. Now, was that the state of affairs in Ireland? English Members could not say there was anything unreasonable in the demand, when the Irish Members asked that the magistrates who were appointed should he gentlemen permanently residing in the district where they were to exercise the duties of their office. What did they find? The list of magistrates given in the Return showed that out of 89 half that number were nonresident. They were gentleman who did not live in Wexford; who, for the most part, did not go there; and who, so far from being popular with the people, did not in any degree enjoy their confidence. It was idle for Her Majesty's Government to pretend that they could not find Catholic gentlemen in Ireland of sufficient education and other qualifications for the Magistracy. There were plenty of Catholics there fitted for that office in every way; but it was well-known that the Catholics of Ireland were national in their aspirations; and it was not because they could not be found, but because the Government did not want to place the office of magistrate in their hands, that the Catholic gentry of Ireland were not represented on the Commission. It was well that a little plain speaking should be sometimes indulged in; and he would toll Her Majesty's Government that the sooner they recognized the predominance of the Nationalist feeling in Ireland the sooner would peace between the two countries be promoted. The English Government had not to deal with a section of Irish Members sitting in this or that quarter of the House; they had to deal with a Party which extended itself beyond the little Island for which he and his hon. Friends had been struggling—a power I which existed in every one of their 1739 Foreign Dependencies, and which one day or another would be concentrated against them, unless in time they acceded to such reasonable demands on behalf of the Irish people as, in language of the most moderate description, had that night been made upon them.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 106; Noes 59: Majority 47.—(Div. List, No. 55.)
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," by leave, withdrawn.
§ SUPPLY,—Committee deferred till Monday next.