HC Deb 17 April 1885 vol 297 cc19-20

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Has his attention been called to the severe comments and observations of the Judges of Assize in Ireland on and in respect to the Circular issued by the Attorney General, varying and reducing the scale of expenses to be allowed in Crown cases in Ireland; is the decision as to the amount actually to be paid by Law vested in the Judges, and must not the sums so awarded by them, notwithstanding such Circular, be paid in the first instance by the treasurers for the several counties out of the county rates, and in case the allowances so awarded by the Judges exceed the sums mentioned in the Circular, has it been stated, on behalf of the Treasury, that they will not in future reimburse such extra allowances to the county rates; is it the intention of the Government to now insist that such extra allowances, when sanctioned by the presiding Judge of Assize, shall not in future be reimbursed to the county treasurer, and can he state the reasons which have led to the imposition of this increased charge and burden on the county rates; and, will he have any objection to lay upon the Table of the House Copies of the present Circular and the one issued in the year 1880?


I believe some of the Judges have disapproved of the Circular referred to. It must be borne in mind that the Treasury are not liable for any of the expenses of witnesses or prosecutors in Ireland, which, under the law, are chargeable to the counties. The Treasury, however, have been in the habit of recouping to the counties the amount so paid; but in assuming this responsibility they have never divested themselves of the right to fix the amount they will contribute, and Circulars with this object have been issued from time to time. In a Circular issued in 1880 a minimum and a maximum scale were laid down, and, so far as I am aware, no objection was made to this. The effect of the Circular recently issued has been to restrict the amount to be paid to the minimum allowed by the Circular of 1880, unless special reasons exist for exceeding it. I consider the amount so fixed to be fair and reasonable; and if in any special case a larger sum be paid—the right of the Judge to order this not being controverted—the burden thrown on the counties will be insignificant. I have no objection to lay Copies of these two Circulars on the Table. It is the intention of the Government to adhere to the course they have laid down.