§ SIR PHILIP MILES
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether Mr. William Gray, a tenant farmer, who was, in January, 1883, nominated by Earl Spencer to the judicial appointment of Sub-Commissioner for fixing fair rents in Ireland, is the same person who is reported in The Belfast Morning News, of January 17th 1882, to have used, on a public platform at Armagh, the following language:—Notwithstanding the howl of distress that was given vent to at a meeting in Dublin, landlords would, at 8s. 6d. an acre, have plenty to live on; indeed, as much as was good for them. Pity the poor landlords;whether he is aware that, at a public meeting at Coleraiue, as reported in The Belfast Northern Whig of October 9th 1882, Mr. Gray used the following language: —Now that this Act has been handed over to landlord partizans to do what they like with it, it was high time that the farmers should speak out and look to their interests. If the Government thought that they would succeed in satisfying the landlords there were more cabbage-headed men among them than ever he thought. He was afraid that if the Government did not remedy this mistake it would tell against them when the General Election came round;and, further, to ask whether, in view of the qualifications which His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant laid down, when he stated—That a studious search should be made for men whose integrity of purpose, impartiality, and independence of position and character, would make their decisions respected by all parties coming before them in their judicial capacity,Mr. Gray will be maintained in the office of a Sub-Commissioner?
§ SIR HERVEY BRUCE
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether he will lay upon the Table of the House a copy' of Mr. Gray's letter, explaining how he reconciles the statement that he only alluded to Griffiths' valuation as repudiating all valuations, although he founded an argument in figures upon that particular valuation; also, on what grounds he states that the seditious cries were used against him, instead of with his approval, as he is not reported to have dis- 1300 sented from or reproved the use of them; whether he will lay upon the Table of the House copies of the letters of recommendation of Lord Yarmouth, Sir Richard Wallace, and Mr. Stanners, on which he relies, as justifying the appointment and reappointments of Mr. Gray for the office of Sub-Commissioner; whether the Government was aware of the language complained of early last year; whether Mr. Gray has expressed any regret for the language used by himself and others in his presence; and, whether he has withdrawn the sentiments expressed on the platforms referred to?
§ VISCOUNT LEWISHAM
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether he was aware that, at a meeting held at Dunmurry, county Antrim, Mr. William Gray, a few weeks previous to his being appointed to the judicial office of Sub-Commissioner to fix "fair rents," made use of the following language, as reported in The Belfast Daily Post of October 26, 1882: —We deplore that men in whom the farmers have confidence have generally been excluded from the position of Sub-Commissioners, and that the Courts, being mainly composed of landlords and agents, are not doing justice to the people;whether he, at the same meeting, spoke of Chief Commissioner O'Hagan as follows: —The judicial mind is fearfully and wonderfully made. It loves to make mysterious and incomprehensible that which is clear as daylight. It is never so much in its glory as when turning plain common sense into nonsense, and commend me to the judicial mind for making things as clear as mud;and, whether Mr. Gray would be maintained in the office of a Sub-Commissioner?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
I have no objection to lay on the Table so much of Mr. Gray's letter of explanation as refers to the points which the hon. Baronet (Sir Hervey Bruce) mentions. But it is not desirable to lay on the Table of the House letters of recommendation of candidates for offices. I have no objection to show the letters of Lord Yarmouth, Sir Richard Wallace, and Mr. Stanners privately to the hon. Baronet. With regard to the speeches of Mr. Gray, which are quoted from in the several Questions, the Lord Lieutenant was not aware of the various ex- 1301 pressions used until they were referred to recently in a speech made by a noble Lord in "another place." Mr. Gray has given an explanation of language used by himself and by others in his presence. His Excellency would not have appointed Mr. Gray had he been aware that he had taken an active part in Party discussions of the Land Question; but, having appointed him, the Government can only have regard to his conduct as an Assistant Commissioner, and do not propose to take any action in respect of words spoken by Mr. Gray before he was in the Public Service. From a conversation which His Excellency has had with Judge O'Hagan, Mr. Litton, and Mr. Vernon, the Government learn that there is no evidence before the Commissioners as to Mr. Gray's action as an Assistant Commissioner which would, in their opinion, justify their recommending his dismissal. The testimony of Mr. Bourke, the legal Assistant Commissioner, with whom Mr. Gray has been associated, is strongly in favour of his independence and impartiality as well as his ability. Mr. Bourke says of him—He is a perfect farmer; he does not care a brass farthing whether he offends landlord or tenant.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, the appointment of nearly all the Sub-Commissioners would terminate, he thought, at the end of about two months—at the end of four months from the beginning of the present financial year, and only a comparatively small number of them would be reappointed. There would be 10 Sub-Commissioners instead of 17.
§ SIR HERVEY BRUCE
asked, was he to understand that the Lord Lieutenant was not aware of Mr. Gray's language when he reappointed Mr. Gray?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, His Excellency, as a matter of fact, was not aware of Mr. Gray's language until quite recently. His Excellency admitted that it was mentioned in "another place" a year or a year and a-half ago; but His Excellency was not aware of it until within the last two or three weeks.