HC Deb 03 August 1885 vol 300 cc822-3

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether it is the duty of the Dublin Metropolitan Police to make returns to the registrar of the Irish Court of Queen's Bench respecting all warrants lodged in their hands by the Court; whether it is also the duty of the registrar to make half-yearly returns to the Fines and Penalties Office of all fines imposed by the Court; whether the Fines and Penalties Office is subject to the Chief Secretary; and, whether any such return has been made, either by the police or the registrar, in respect of a warrant of the Court dated July 1st 1884, ordering the levy of a fine of £500 on the goods of Mr. O'Brien, M.P., or, failing such goods, his arrest and imprisonment for twelve months; and, if not, whether he will inquire into the reason of the default, and take the necessary steps to insure obedience to the law in the matter of the said warrant?


I believe the practice is substantially as described in the Question. I have already stated that I know nothing of the history of this particular case, and I am advised that I am under no obligation, after a lapse of 14 months, to take action in regard to it. How far the enforcement of such a penalty would ordinarily devolve on the Executive is a point on which I have not particularly informed myself; but if the hon. Member wishes for information I would suggest that he should ad- dress himself to some Member of the late Government, who were in Office at the time, and who, no doubt, were advised as to the legality of their position.


Arising out of the answer to this Question, and two previous replies on the same subject, I desire to ask for your ruling, Mr. Speaker, upon a point of Order, if it be not even of Privilege. I desire to know whether it is not the right of Members of this House to put Questions to Ministers; and whether, in replying to such Questions, it is consistent with his responsibility, or respectful to the House, for the Minister so interrogated either to refuse to answer, unless he be precluded from doing so in the public interest, or to give vague and evasive replies, containing none of the information asked for, although it is within his knowledge or readily in his power to obtain?


No question of Order can arise in connection with the point put by the hon. Member. Of course, the hon. Member is entitled to put a Question to a Minister of the Crown; but it is entirely within the discretion of the Minister to give it any answer which he thinks right. It is for him to judge what answer should be given to any Question.