§ (1.) £39,206, to complete the sum for Law Charges and Criminal Prosecutions, Ireland.
§ (Mr. RITCHIE in the Chair.)
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he was glad to notice a very considerable reduction in this Vote in the present year. The Irish Members on those Benches had contended for years that excessive sums of money had been voted under this head; and they had often expressed their opinion in that House that the money so voted had been very badly, and even corruptly, employed. The Government had taken a wise step in abandoning the use of the extraordinary law in Ireland, and in reverting to the use of the ordinary law. He ventured to say, however, that it was true that even extraordinary laws might be made tolerable if they were wisely and well administered, and that the ordinary laws might become intolerable if they were oppressively used. He would remind the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (the Attorney General for Ireland) that a good deal of the success of the experiment, as it was called, now being made by the Government in reverting to the use of the ordinary law in Ireland would 1519 depend on the manner in which they used the money given to them by the present Vote. He hoped the new Government would embark on the policy which had accompanied their accession to Office, not merely by rejecting extraordinary enactments, but also by confining themselves to a pure and justifiable use of the finances put into their hands for the administration of the ordinary law. He saw that there was an item in the Vote of £20,000 for the expenses of prosecutions and witnesses. He hoped they would not have to complain again, as they had had to complain in recent years, that, while witnesses expected to prove anything for the Crown had excessive expenses almost forced on them, the witnesses for the defence, especially in cases of a political tinge, were starved. He knew cases of men in the City of Dublin, summoned to the Green Street Court House in the hope that they would give favourable evidence for the Government in cases in which the jury had been severely packed—he had known such persons not examined at all; but after remaining scarcely 20 minutes in Court they had had sums of money tendered to them by the Crown Solicitor, which in common self-respect they felt bound to return, because they objected to place themselves under the suspicion of having accepted a bribe. On the other hand, in the case of the Tubbercurry conspiracy, witnesses were brought from Sligo and kept for months in Dublin, in regard to whom the Crown pursued a course of huckstering and higgling about their expenses, and it was by no means certain yet whether the Crown Solicitor had paid the expenses necessary for the defence. He hoped henceforward they would see in this matter a fair and just administration of the law, and that, while fair expenses were paid to the Crown witnesses, similar treatment would be accorded to those for the defence. He also hoped that the tribe of professional perjurers would not any longer be quartered on the public purse. He knew that in the depots for Crown witnesses some of these hideous reptiles had been retained and paid out of the public money for condemning innocent men to penal servitude, for swearing away innocent lives, and for having provoked against the British Government a feeling of enmity unequalled in modern times. 1520 They had rendered the administration of the ordinary law far more difficult; and if the Government had the principle and the courage to abandon the resort to these creatures, although they might fail now and then to snatch a verdict, and although they might have fewer verdicts, yet they would evoke a widespread feeling of respect for the administration of the law. When the people had greater confidence in the equity of the administration of the law, the Government would have a more voluntary and cheerful observance of its demands. His principal object in rising to comment upon this Vote was to ask the Government to instruct the Law Officers of the Crown to consider the grounds which existed for a prosecution for perjury against John Morrin, the approver, in what was well known as the Tubbercurry case, and for a prosecution for conspiracy against Mr. Randal Peyton, Sessional Crown Solicitor for Sligo; Mr. Home, Resident Magistrate; and Detective Carroll, of the police. It would be easy to show the grounds of this application. With regard to Mr. Randal Peyton, the Sessional Crown Solicitor for Sligo, he made the application on the faith of a letter which had been addressed to him from Liverpool by a man named Joseph Wall in the employment of a man named Whelan, a butcher, at Carlow, whose brother had been unjustly accused of purloining a sum of £45 from his employer, but whose evidence was sought to be obtained against the Tubbercurry prisoners. This man had been prosecuted both at the Quarter Sessions and at Assizes; but the Crown, feeling that it was impossible to obtain a conviction, had withdrawn from the prosecution. After the Crown abandoned, the prosecution, there was an offer made to give back the sum of £45 to Wall and substantial expenses on condition that he would go and give evidence against Mr. Fitzgerald, one of the Tubbercurry prisoners. The man seeing that what was designed was an improper attempt upon the life of a fellow-man, promptly declined to be a party to any such case; whereupon Mr. Home, the Resident Magistrate, sprang from his seat, spat on him, and roared out, "Go to Sligo," meaning that it would be the worse for him if he did not put the construction upon certain letters which the Govern- 1521 ment desired. Wall was afterwards served with a Crown summons, and although it would scarcely be believed, it was nevertheless the fact, that Mr. Peyton, the Crown Solicitor, there and then told him. that the £45 which the man was accused of stealing would be given back without any further trouble, together with substantial expenses, if he would only put the construction upon the letters they wished, or appear against Fitzgerald. If that was not an open bargain for perjury and simple subornation of perjury he failed to see what it was. Perhaps the Attorney General for Ireland would be able to show the Committee whether it was anything else, and ho should await the reply of the right hon. and learned Gentleman with some curiosity and interest. This man—Joseph Wall—-said further that he heard Detective Carroll telling his brother that he would have his money back and obtain his expenses if he would only consent to give evidence against Fitzgerald. The letter which it was desired to convert into evidence against Fitzgerald was one addressed from some other person to Wall asking if "the gods were all well," meaning the other parties to the conspiracy, and Peyton told him to swear what the meaning of the letter was. The Committee would observe that this man Wall was leaving his employment, and would naturally desire some other, and he was told in the letter that "hardware was profitable." Mr. Peyton told Wall that "hardware" meant arms, and that it was to be "Sligo Gaol; or swear that." Surely these circumstances raised a primâ facie case of suspicion against Randal Peyton and Detective Carroll for subornation of perjury. Although the sum of £45 was offered to be returned if Wall would consent to place upon the correspondence the construction put upon it by the Crown and not his own, as far as he (Mr. Sexton) could learn Mr. Peyton still retained that sum. Both by bribes and threats attempts were made to induce this man to give false evidence, and he knew of no stronger grounds to justify the institution of a prosecution for subornation of perjury. He had spoken of the informer Morrin. He claimed that a prosecution should be instituted against John Morrin, the approver at the trials, of whom he would say boldly that his 1522 evidence teemed with perjury; but he would be content to adduce two evidences of it in support of the present application. It was no reply to say that the conspiracy failed. These unfortunate men were taken out of their homes in the middle of the night and kept in gaol for half a year. A private inquiry was carried on for a month, and these men were tortured with the public ordeal of a trial in Sligo time after time. They were then hurried away to Dublin, and at the last moment when the case against one of them— Fitzgerald — ignominiously failed, notwithstanding the fact that under the special Crimes Act a jury of Orangemen in the County and City of Dublin was empannelled, the jury themselves became so disgusted with the case presented by the Crown that to their verdict of acquittal they added a rider of rebuke, strongly condemning the authorities for the manner in which they had brought forward the case. He contended that the crime of perjury had been completed so far as the intention went, and intention was the gravamen of a crime of this sort. The Crown Solicitor did all that he could to convict this innocent man, and the fact that he escaped was not due to anything which he did. Would the Committee consider for a moment what the informer Morrin swore '? He made an information that on the 31st of March last year he got to know of the existence of a Fenian organization as it was called. He said that about eight years ago he was asked to join the Society; but he did not consent at first. Three weeks after ho was first asked ho did consent, and was sworn in. Nine months after that a meeting was held, at which he was elected a "B" over nine, men—a B being a superior officer of the Fenian organization. There was also present a stranger named Fitzpatrick—a middle-sized man with a hump on his shoulders. The Government, it must be remembered, were principally anxious to procure a conviction against Fitzgerald, otherwise Fitzpatrick, and it became important to fix his attendance at certain meetings. Upon this information of Morrin, an Inspector of the Royal Irish Constabulary laid a further information declaring his belief that the man Fitzpatrick, with a hump on his shoulders, was Fitzgerald, and on that information 1523 Fitzgerald was seized in the public streets of London, put into a cab, driven away, and sent over to Ireland. In the month of April a man named John Daly was arrested in Birmingham on a dynamite charge, and the Crown then learned that it was absurd to believe that Fitzgerald was present at the meeting spoken to by Morrin, because at that time, and for some time afterwards, he was engaged in his own business at Cork. It became necessary, therefore, to amend the first information, and Fitzpatrick's name was taken out of it. The Crown, however, thought it necessary that some other stranger's name should be put into it. Accordingly Morrin made another information on the 6th of May, in which he stated that he had known of the existence of a Fenian Society for about eight years; that he was asked to join it about seven or eight years ago by Pat Moran; that he did not consent at first; but on being asked again to join about three weeks afterwards he did so, and that some months afterwards he was elected a "B." Pat Duggan told him that he was elected a "B." after the election had actually taken place. He said it was a shame that Morrin had not attended the meeting. The Committee would observe that in the last information Morrin said someone told him it was a shame that he had not attended the meeting; whereas in his first information he said that he was present, and that he saw Fitzgerald there. In the meantime it turned out to have been physically impossible for Fitzgerald to have been there, and Morrin was convicted of having deliberately committed perjury in his first information. Morrin went on to say that he was told by someone who attended the meeting that there was a strange man there of the name of Daly. In the meantime the Government had received information that a man named Daly had been arrested at Birmingham on a dynamite charge, and they used the information to affect the evidence against the man who had been arrested in London and taken to Dublin. Morrin said—After I was told by Duggan that a man of the name of Daly was one of the persons who attended the meeting at which I was elected a 'B.' I saw him on the following Sunday at Mass. I have seen him since in Birmingham Gaol.1524 He (Mr. Sexton) asked the Committee to bear in mind the purport of these statements. The first information of Morrin was used to incriminate a person whom the Crown desired to convict. In the following month the Crown found that the person so implicated was at the time in another part of the country. Therefore the informer withdrew his perjured statement that Fitzgerald was present at the meeting; but, in order not to waste the force of perjury at their command, they actually put into a second information a statement that another person was present at the meeting whom, in the meantime, they had arrested, and for whose conviction they would make Morrin useful, and, in fact, make him earn his money. They meant to convict somebody; but it did not much matter who. Another ground on which he asked for the prosecution of the informer Morrin on a charge of perjury was the sworn statement he had made in reference to an attack upon a police officer named Doherty, in which he incriminated certain individuals, and gave detailed information on oath at a subsequent detailed magisterial inquiry, all of which turned out to be perjury. What were the facts? The attack upon Sub-Inspector Doherty took place on the evening of the 19th of May, 1882, and shortly afterwards Morrin swore that James Lyons, a man named Armstrong, and Teddy Higgins, entered into a conspiracy to shoot constable Schoolan. Now, James Lyons, who lived at Tubbercurry, left for America on the l5th of February, 1882, sailed from Liverpool four weeks previous to the attack upon the Sub-Inspector, and had not returned to Ireland since. The other two persons mentioned were Armstrong and Teddy Higgins. It would be borne in mind that the attack on Sub-Inspector Doherty took place on the 19th. of March, 1882, and that these men were incriminated for an act alleged to have been done shortly afterwards. Now, Armstrong was arrested on the 2nd of January, 1882, more than two months before the attack on Sub-Inspector Doherty, and remanded in Omagh Prison, safe under lock and key until the month of July following. With regard to the third man, he was in prison as a suspect under the act of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), who in this in- 1525 stance did a splendid turn in favour of the accused, because it enabled his friends to prove his complete innocence of the more serious charge made against him. This man was arrested in December, 1881. nearly four months before the attack on Sub-Inspector Doherty, and ho remained in prison until the month of August, 1882. Under these circumstances, could the Government refuse to prosecute Morrin for perjury? He had sworn in the most positive way that three men were concerned in an attempt to murder a police constable by shooting him in a road near Sligo in the month of March, although one of them had left the country for America, and had not returned since, and the other two were under lock and key as prisoners to the Government. He did not deny that there had been a conspiracy; but it was not among his constituents in Sligo, but among the officials of the Crown, to convict these men without the slightest regard to the truth of the evidence against them. The first fact he would mention in support of this contention was a statement made on the authority of the Rev. P. Lowry, the parish priest of Conway, who alleged that two days after the arrest of the prisoners he met in the streets of the town of Sligo Mr. Welsh, the Governor of Sligo Gaol. Welsh spoke about the prisoners to Father Lowry, who asked what they were in for, when Mr. Welsh said that he could not say they were informers; but he was told on the best authority that so many persons were offering themselves to the authorities as informers that the authorities did not know whom to choose. That was the beginning of the detestable practices by which the Government endeavoured to secure convictions. They did what they had often done during the last five years, seized a body of respectable men at random, and having thrown them into gaol, their officials deliberately sot themselves to concoct evidence to secure their conviction; and the first step in their attempt to concoct evidence was the rumour spread by the Governor of the; gaol, on the best authority, that all the men were informing against one another. They all knew that the best way to make the path of perjury smooth and easy was to persuade people that perjury had already been committed. If every reckless 1526 character in the county of Sligo was led to believe, on the best authority—that of the Governor of the gaol—that persons were swearing away in the character of informers, it would not be difficult to convince them that they might swear in and earn a little money. The next step was to supersede the local constabulary; a host of officials and constables were brought from other parts of the country, and while the private inquiries were proceeding, and even while the public inquiries antecedent to the committal were going on, exerted themselves in the way he should briefly describe; and he would leave the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, who was new to Office, and new, no doubt, to the practices which officials had forced upon them, sometimes, perhaps, against their natural tendency and character, to say what opinion he would give to the Committee on these proceedings and what course he would take in regard to them. The prisoners were arrested on the 2nd of April last year. Nine days after the following incident occurred. John De-vaney said that on Good Friday last Sub-Constable John Sullivan went to him, and, telling him that he was terribly implicated with the prisoners in Sligo Gaol, asked him to tell all he knew about them. Devaney replied that he knew nothing; when Sullivan said he did not press him to acknowledge airy-thing, but it could be proved that he was a "B" and had attended a meeting in Henry's Field. Sullivan added subsequently that Devaney had a brother in the Police Force, and that if ho (Devaney) did not tell what he knew his brother would suffer for it, and he would be put in prison himself. It would thus bo seen that nine days after the arrest of the Tubbercurry prisoners the Government, not having one particle of evidence against them except the perjured statements of Morrin, sent Sub-Constable Sullivan to John Devaney to say that his brother would be dismissed from the Police Force if he did not tell what he knew. Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman say that that Sub-Constable was fit to retain his place in the force, and that he had not rendered himself open to a prosecution for an attempt to suborn perjured evidence? In the month of June a young man was sentenced to three months' imprisonment 1527 for some criminal offence, and a short time after his conviction Sub-Constable Cronin entered his cell and spoke about the Tubbercurry prisoners. The Constable said that if this young man would give him any information about the prisoners in Sligo Gaol he would let him out. The man was imprisoned for a criminal offence; he had scarcely reached the police barracks before the Sub-Constable visited him and told him that if he would swear so and so against the men charged with treason felony the sentence of three months' imprisonment passed against him should be cancelled, and ho should go out of prison a free man. What authority had Sub-Constable Cronin to reverse, at his individual will, the sentence of a Court of Justice? He had thought that the prerogative of mercy rested with the Lord Lieutenant. No doubt it had been so seldom exercised that it might be said hardly to have existed at all. In this case, however, it would appear that Earl Spencer either authorized sub-Constable Cronin to take upon himself the exercise of the prerogative of mercy, or else the police were at liberty to cancel the sentence of a Court of Justice in any agrarian or political case in which the Government desired to obtain evidence. Sub-Constable Cronin told this man, whose name was Callaghan, that if he would give evidence about the prisoners in Sligo Gaol he would let him out of prison himself. The young man said he knew nothing about it. "Oh yes, you do," replied Cronin. "You know as much about those men as Wall himself." This was keeping up that system of interrogation pursued in the French Courts which had been so often condemned in this country. "If you do not tell all you know," said Cronin to the young man, "when your time is over you will be detained in prison yourself." Notwithstanding these threats Callaghan persisted that he knew nothing about the prisoners, and that he would not swear anything against them. There was another very curious instance to which he would ask the attention of the Chief Secretary as well as of the Attorney General for Ireland, because it would appear to touch the jurisdiction of the Local Government Board. A man named B. Macatrick was the porter of the workhouse of Tubbercurry, and he had made a statement 1528 that after he had been elected to the Tubbercurry Workhouse Sub-Constables Cronin and Sullivan, who, it would appear, had in this case combined their forces, after having acted separately in others, called upon him and asked him to acknowledge that he was a Fenian, that he had attended a certain meeting at Henry's Field, and that it was better that he should acknowledge the matter, as they had three persons to prove it. Now that was a deliberate lie, told by officers of justice to entrap a man into perjury. They had nobody to prove it, and no statement of the kind had ever been made in evidence. Would the Attorney General for Ireland justify the lie? Macatrick said he denied that there was a particle of truth in the statement, and told the Constables to summon him to the Crimes Court investigation. Sullivan said they would do no such thing; but he would remind the man that his appointment had not yet been signed by the Local Government Board, and that if he did not tell all he knew about the Tubbercurry prisoners he would not be long where he was, as he (Sullivan) would himself write to the Local Government Board and get them to refuse their sanction to the appointment. This was one of those little facts which threw a lurid light on the system of government pursued in Ireland, and especially the system of government which had practically been carried on there during the last few years, from the highest officers of Dublin Castle down to the humblest police constable. The Lord Lieutenant in one instance refused an inquiry into the case of an innocent man, and in another the village policeman was found going about pretending that he was acting with the authority of the Local Government Board. If such a thing could be reported of Russia, or of Turkey in Bulgaria, the Press of England would teem, and every platform would ring with denunciations of such a system, and he supposed that the Concert of Europe would be evoked to put an end to it. He. might be told that the statements to which he had referred were not on oath; but the men were forthcoming; they were in the county of Sligo at this moment, ready to state and prove all that he had asserted, and much more. The next document he had to read was an affidavit from a man examined in the Crimes Court in connection 1529 with the Tubbercurry conspiracy trial, and admitted into the Tubbercurry Workhouse afterwards. It would be found that these were men mostly on the point of entering the workhouse; men without a penny or a home; reckless creatures driven to despair by want, like the Apothecary in Romeo and, Juliet. These were the class of persons the agents of the Crown in Ireland attempted to secure in order to swear away innocent lives. There were always such persons to be found. The Crown officials in Ireland well knew the type of men likely to do their work; but he hoped the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland would inaugurate a new era, and depend for a conviction on honest evidence rather than evidence obtained by the subornation of perjury. The affidavit he was about to refer to came from a man who was examined at the Crimes Court in connection with the Tubbercurry conspiracy on the 4th of July. He entered the Tubbercurry Workhouse three weeks afterwards, and he was there visited by two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, one of whom was Sub-Constable Sullivan, who suggested to him that he should make a certain statement, which should not be given to another Sub-Constable named Phillips, or it would be worse for him. What would English Members think of this Sub-Inspector entering into a conspiracy against the rights of a pauper in the Tubbercurry Workhouse, telling him to conceal a statement, or that it would be worse for him. The witness went on to say that a few days later Sub-Constable Sullivan again called upon him. It must be borne in mind that a policeman was sworn by oath to do equal and impartial justice between man and man. Sullivan asked this man if he had done a certain act, to which he replied that he had not. On the 5th of August Sullivan, accompanied by two men who appeared to be policemen in plain clothes, called upon the man again. Sullivan said that he had made a mistake about an answer given by the man previously; that he found it had no reference to Lyons, one of the accused; and he asked if the man had not said that the circumstances to which it related happened on the night that Doherty was fired at— 1530He almost insisted"(said the man)"that I should say so, and in reply I distinctly told him that it did not occur on that night, hut two or three nights after.The man afterwards had a conversation with the master of the workhouse, and told him that ho did not want to receive any more constables, and he subsequently expressed the same wish to the sub-chaplain of the workhouse. He (Mr. Sexton) would now close this statement with another fact, even more disgraceful for the meanness and the despicable ingenuity with which the subornation of perjury was attempted to be carried out. A man named Michael Meekam said that he was deeply under the influence of drink on two occasions when ho was examined. With regard to the first occasion, he stated that when in the police barracks Constables Sullivan and Cronin wrote down his statement, and ho was supplied with half a tea-cup full of whisky after having previously drunk five glasses of whisky and two pints of porter. Surely, any man who had had five glasses of whisky and two pints of porter would be drunk if ever a man was drunk, unless he possessed extraordinary drinking capacity. Yet the police not only took this man's evidence, but gave him a tea-cup full of whisky in addition, to prime him up for more information. Even that was not enough, for Sub-Constable Cronin suggested to the man that ho might go out and take another drop, and it might give him nerve to tell them a little more. The man thus concluded when sworn and examined in the Crimes Act Court—"I had taken six glasses of whisky previously" He (Mr. Sexton) did not think he could conclude with a more startling fact than that, and he called upon the Attorney General to say whether he had not made out a good case against John Morrin of flagrant, and what might have been fatal, perjury, if it had not been counteracted; and whether, in the case of Mr. Randal Peyton, the Crown Solicitor, Mr. Home, the Resident Magistrate, Detective Carroll, and Constables Cronin and Sullivan, he had not established a clear case of subornation of perjury? He maintained that it was only by the will of Providence that those 11 men were now able to pursue and honest industry instead of suffering the horrors of penal servitude.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
wished to say a word, in support of his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), against the extravagant and lavish expenditure of public money in connection with what was called the administration of justice in Ireland. The result of that lavish expenditure of money on these occasions had not been the promotion of the ends of justice, but exactly the reverse. A few nights ago the Irish Members were making an application to the Government to grant a re-investigation of some of the recent crimes and convictions in Ireland, and the re-investigation had been rendered necessary by the fact that money had been lavishly expended upon the occasion of the Maamtrasna trials for the purpose of procuring evidence, whether right or wrong. He believed it would be proved, when the time for the re-investigation came, that the public money so given had been deliberately and knowingly expended in the subornation of perjury. It was on account of that subornation of perjury that the late Government found themselves complained of and denounced by the whole Irish people for having administered in Ireland not justice, but injustice. Reference had been made to the Barbavilla trials. In that case the whole evidence turned upon the statements of persons who had been bribed with large sums of the public money. The case against the prisoners had no other basis whatever. Could it be wondered at that the offer of large sums of money for evidence in cases of this sort should exercise a powerful influence on the minds of a class of ruffians consisting of thieves and rogues of the worst character? These were the men who were attracted by the jingling of British gold; they were drawn up to the surface just as if they were steel filings acted upon by a magnet. In the Barbavilla case there were the two M'Keowns—both liars, both bad characters, and both drunkards. The younger M'Keown was acknowledged and proved to be a perjurer beforehand; it was well known that he had been concerned in various acts of criminality in that part of the country. He was a man who, having deserted his wife, entered the Army, having first sworn before he could be enlisted that he was an unmarried man. In that man the Government had a ready made perjurer to their 1532 hand. He was of the kind of man they generally picked up, and, being largely paid with English gold, he soon gave evidence of a nature that was readily accepted under the Prevention of Crime Act. On the evidence of that man, and a number of others like him, a number of men were sent to prison whose innocence of the crimes imputed to them had been clearly established, and would certainly be proved as soon as any further investigation took place into the case, by any tribunal on earth except a Crimes Act jury such as that which tried the case. It was not only this class of persons who were demoralized by a large expenditure of public money, but it had a bad effect upon a class of men who were somewhat above them in the social scale—that was to say, upon a large number of men in the Police Force of Ireland. He was very far from desiring to throw any slur upon that body as a whole; but from the nature of their employment they were a body of men accustomed to swearing, and thought very little about it. Moreover, they were absolutely hungering for promotion, and he knew no hunger that could compare with it in the case of men with a small fixed salary who saw no chance of increasing it from day to day. A miner working in the bowels of the earth had less desire for money than such men; a labourer in the fields was less easily corrupted. With a small and miserable salary, a constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary was compelled to live up to his last penny; and he was exactly the type of man who would do anything for promotion, or a little increase of pay. These were the men who had been employed in getting up these cases; and he told the Government and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland that it was because the public money had been spent in an improper manner that they had in their hands that day the serious trouble and difficulty of re-investigating the Maamstrasna case, the Barbavilla trials, and other cases of the same kind. The whole kernel of the matter lay in a nutshell. It was perfectly plain that the expenditure of thousands of pounds upon persons living a life of penury and misery, whose moral repute was bad, and whose character was known to be vicious, would procure any amount of perjured evidence; and it was, therefore, essential that every scrap of in- 1533 formation obtained in that way should be narrowly scrutinized. If that were not done, injustice, cruelty, and wrong would undoubtedly be committed. That was what had happened in these cases; it was what was sure to happen again unless the system were changed. The appeal made to the Government by his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) was that the system should be changed; that after the dark and troubled and blood-stained times Ireland had gone through a new life and a better and brighter prospect should be opened out. It was in the hands of the present Government to open out this prospect. They had come into Office with an open book—with a clean record and a virgin page. If they decided upon following in the footsteps of those who went before them, and adopted the bad habits and principles of their Predecessors; if they, too, jingled British gold before the people when any crime was unfortunately committed; if they dangled these temptations before a vicious and corrupt class of men, then the result would be what it had been before— namely, that to the first outrage committed by some ignorant and ill-conditioned member of the community another and a graver outrage would be added in the encouragement of perjury in support of the administration of the law throughout the country, and an outrage committed, too, by gentlemen who ought to know better, who claimed to be the guardians of law and order, and the defenders of right and justice. He hoped that the system would be entirely changed. It had long been provocative of wrong and injustice, of bitter feeling, and even of vengeance, in the hearts of those who had been wrongfully treated. In future, let justice be done. The Irish Members did not stand there to plead in favour of immunity for criminals. They had no sympathy with perpetrators of crime and outrage. They said let justice be done; but not injustice and wrong. Why were young Pat M'Keown, the thief and double-dyed perjurer, and his drunken father, to trouble the community, living in luxury, and revelling in English gold, poured into their pockets by Her Majesty's Government, while innocent persons were sent to penal servitude through their perjured testimony? For what purpose was that expenditure so lavishly 1534 incurred? Simply to obtain the conviction, right or wrong, of a number of men whom the Government thought fit to accuse. He maintained that that was not the administration of justice; on the contrary, it was crime; it had a bad effect, and could not possibly produce a good one. He, therefore, trusted that the new Government just entering upon the path of public duty would respond to the appeal which had been made to them by his hon. Friend, so that it might become known in Ireland, through every rank of the Constabulary, and among every class of informer who were hungering to obtain promotion or money, that in future there would be no rewards for perjury or crime, but that all that was sought was simply the punishment of crime, and the payment of the expenses fairly and legitimately incurred in the prosecution and punishment of crime. The Irish Members had no sympathy with criminals of the humbler classes, still less had they sympathy with criminals in high places, who committed the intolerable wrong and grievous injustice of sending innocent men to gaol, so long as they could produce against them the oath of a perjured informer, backed up possibly by some sort of corroborative evidence brought to light by what was called an active and intelligent police constable. He hoped the Government would seriously consider the matter. He asked from them nothing unfair or dishonourable, but merely the performance of their bounden duty. MR. P. J. POWER said, he was desirous of asking the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland what was the present arrangement with regard to the position of Crown Solicitor in the Leinster Circuit? That Circuit, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman was doubtless aware, comprised the counties of Water-ford, Kilkenny, Wicklow, Wexford, and Tipperary. It was now some time since the people of Waterford had enjoyed the pleasure and distinction of seeing Mr. Bolton acting for that district in the capacity of Crown Solicitor; but he was not quite so clear as to Mr. Bolton's connection in that capacity with other counties, and he should feel obliged if the right hon. and learned Gentleman would inform the Committee what was the exact position of that official? It was all very well for them to be told 1535 that they in Ireland were in the enjoy-meet of Catholic Emancipation; but he took leave to say that the measure of Catholic Emancipation they possessed was only a very partial one, and that in many respects it did not exist at all, as was made manifest when the majority of his countrymen, who possessed the same creed as himself, were told that they must "stand aside" at the bidding of men like Messrs. Bolton and Finch' when summoned to discharge their duty as jurors, on the ground that being Catholics they were unworthy of the position, and unfit to act as jurors. He desired to impress on the Government, which had lately been called on to take charge of the affairs of the country, that the Irish Members were as anxious as anyone that there should be respect for law and order in Ireland; but he also wished to impress on the mind of the Government that if they wished to see law and order respected in Ireland, the first thing they ought to do was to insure that those who were intrusted with the administration of the law were themselves worthy of respect. He believed, however, he might say, without any hesitation, that in a vast number of cases those who had been intrusted with the administration of the law were totally unworthy of respect. He thought that, in view of the revelations that had taken place within the last few years, and the character some of those persons had received from distinguished Members of that House, it was monstrous that they should be retained in positions in which they had the power of insulting the Irish people. He hoped, therefore, that the new Government which had so recently come into Office might, at the very outset, be able to see their way to discontinuing the services of some of those persons. He should be glad if the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland would accurately define the position which was occupied by Mr. Bolton with regard to the Leinster Circuit; and whether it was really the fact that the premier county of Ireland still retained the distinction of having in its employment that individual?
§ MR. MARUM
said, he would not detain the Committee at any length by standing between the interesting and powerful speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), and the reply 1536 of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland. The hon. Gentleman had very clearly set forth a number of facts of a most astonishing nature; but he (Mr. Marum) desired to obtain from the right hon. and learned Gentleman some information with regard to the Resident Magistrates in Ireland. He saw in the Estimate relating to the present Vote an item for expenses of actions taken against Resident Magistrates, Divisional and other Justices, and the Constabulary, for acts done by them in the execution of their duty; and he wished to remind the Committee that there had of late been a very considerable departure in the right direction in the appointment of magistrates. It was to be hoped that the new Lord Chancellor (Lord Ashbourne) would follow in the same groove. He wished to know why the Irish magistrates were without that advice of which it was evident they stood in need? Another matter to which he wished to call attention was to the cost of the Court Houses and their repair. In England this charge was defrayed out of the Consolidated Fund; but in Ireland it had to be defrayed out of the local rates.
§ MR. DEASY
desired to say a few words in reference to the case to which the attention of the Committee had been called by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) and the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Sullivan), and he should do so in order that ho might recall the Committee to the consideration of that matter. He did not think it could be said that in the experience of the oldest Member of that House a more convincing case had ever been put before it than that which had been made out by the hon. Member for Sligo. He had not only made distinct charges against officials, both high and low, in the service of the Irish Government; but he had clearly shown that each and all of those charges were well grounded. He had given the names of numerous men in the most respectable positions, who were ready to come forward and prove what they had already deposed to on oath. One of the persons imprisoned happened to be one of his (Mr. Deasy's) constituents; and he, therefore, took a special interest in the matter. Mr. Fitzgerald, a man of the highest character, who was engaged in behalf of several business firma 1537 belonging to the City of Cork, was, while so employed, arrested in the City of London, sent over to Ireland and kept in Sligo Gaol for a considerable time together with other prisoners, to whom reference had been made, and who, only when the injustice that had been done had been brought before that House, the Government were at length forced to put upon his trial. No sooner was that prisoner put upon his trial than it became perfectly clear to anyone who followed the progress of the case, that the Government had not a particle of evidence against those men. They had put them in prison because they thought they would give them as much trouble as possible, and they had kept them in gaol in the hope of being able to do what in certain other cases they had succeeded in doing—forcing one or other of them to give evidence against the rest, so that they might thus be able to secure convictions. It so happened, however, that those men did not belong to a class that could be bought over by the Government in that way. In other cases, such as that of O'Connell, at Cork, the Government were easily able to procure false evidence of the most formidable character against respectable men; but in this instance the men they had to deal with happened to be of a different character to those on whom the Crown authorities generally relied for their success in obtaining verdicts, and the consequence was that when the prisoners were brought to trial it was found that, although the Crown Solicitor had been to each of them separately and had asserted that several of the others were about to give evidence of an incriminating kind, not one of them could be bought over, and the result was that they all had to be released. The system carried on in Cork, under Captain Plunkett, was, perhaps, as bad as anything that had taken place in Ireland for a long time. During the period of Fitzgerald's incarceration, Captain Plunkett sent a detective officer to the wife of Fitzgerald in order that he might get from her the names and addresses of her husband's acquaintances and associates, and such information as he could procure as to Fitzgerald's whereabouts immediately before his arrest and during the outrages for which he and the other prisoners had been arrested. Ho did not 1538 succeed; but there could not be much doubt that if Mrs. Fitzgerald had not suspected the object of the detective's visit, she would probably have innocently given him the names of all her husband's acquaintances, and he would thereupon have gone to one of the most likely to give evidence and, in all likelihood, have succeeded in manufacturing a case against the prisoner. Another point on which ho desired to offer a few words to the Committee had reference to the system under which juries were packed in Ireland for the purpose of ensuring convictions, although in the case under discussion the system was not successful, for even an Orange jury in the City of Dublin could not be induced to return a verdict of guilty under such circumstances. So disgusted were they with the evidence that had been put forward in that House with regard to convictions in other cases that, in this instance, they absolutely refused to bring in a verdict of guilty. However, ho felt bound to make a protest against the system of packing juries which notoriously prevailed in Ireland, and against the system under which the cure for crime in that country was sought in the manufacture of crime and the arrest and conviction of men who were totally innocent of it. In the Tubbercurry case a policeman was sent as a blacksmith to that place, in order that he might originate a conspiracy and get the people who might be drawn into it arrested and transported. There could be no possible doubt that the system of jury packing had had a most injurious effect on the Irish people. It would be far better to revert to the old system of trying cases, than to have resort to the system that had prevailed under the Crimes Act. It was quite possible that the common juries who might be empannelled in the ordinary way might be unduly in favour of the prisoners tried for agrarian offences; but under the operation of the Crimes Act every man sworn upon a jury was against the prisoner from the outset, and consequently be never had the slightest chance of escaping. Under that Act the jury invariably went into the box with the determination to bring in a verdict of guilty against any man who happened to be put upon his trial for taking part in the agitation that was being carried on in Ireland. He was very glad to see that the present Govern- 1539 merit did not propose to renew the unjust and iniquitous provisions of the Crimes Act, which had been the means of bringing about a complete revulsion of feeling among the people of Ireland towards the juries and the administration of justice generally. The common juries of Ireland were, upon the whole, a body of men who, if the Government would trust them, would not justify the fear that there would be any serious miscarriage of justice. Doubtless, wrong verdicts would be brought in from time to time. That happened in every country in the world where trial by jury obtained. But in most cases of late years they had been found to convict on charges of outrage; and he had no doubt that if the old system were reverted to they would be found, in the future, to convict in nearly every instance where the evidence would justify a conviction. The Government had promised an inquiry into the Maamtrasna case; and before very long the Irish Members would be obliged of necessity to bring forward further evidence in other cases, in order to show that other persons besides those convicted in the Maamstrasna case, and who were now suffering the penalties of the law, had not committed the crimes for which they had been sentenced. In conclusion, he would ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland whether he would give a full and detailed reply to the statement made by his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton)? He did not see how the Government could go behind that statement. If they attempted to do so, the Irish Members would consider that they were following the pernicious example of their Predecessors, and it would have a very bad effect on the minds of the Irish people. If, on the contrary, the right hon. and learned Gentleman gave a favourable answer, and promised to inquire fully and minutely into the cases laid before him, he would do much to conciliate public opinion in Ireland. He did not believe that there was any reason to distrust the independence and honesty of common jurors. The right hon. and learned Gentleman might rest assured that in every case where a man was put on his trial for an agrarian offence before a common jury, that jury might be depended on to do its duty fairly and conscientiously.
§ MR. W. J. CORBET
desired to call attention to the conduct of the late Government in regard to a case in which there could be very little doubt about the perjury of a witness in one of the prosecutions undertaken by that Government. There was a case in which two Nationalists were convicted on the evidence of a wretched creature named Thorpe, and underwent nine months' imprisonment. He (Mr. Corbet) remembered asking the late Chief Secretary (Mr. Trevelyan) whether he would propose to give any compensation to those men for the imprisonment they had undergone, it having been clearly established that Thorpe was a perjurer. The late Chief Secretary, however, declined to make any such proposal. This man, Thorpe, was a person who had accused others of having written threatening let-ters to so high a functionary as the Lord Lieutenant; but when the evidence was gone into it was found that there was not a single word of truth in Thorpe's allegations, and that, on the contrary, he was himself the writer of those letters. On another occasion the same person had accused two young men—mere boys —of attempting to drown him by lowering him with a rope from the Avoca Bridge into the river; and when the charge came to be inquired into it was found that he was seen putting a rope round his waist, that he then went down into the river and rolled about in the water, after which he went to the police office and gave information against the two boys, whom he accused of attempting to drown him. When the case was before the magistrates, the solicitor who was acting for the defence of the accused persons was about to bring an action against Thorpe for perjury; but the police interposed and said they would take up the case. The result was that Thorpe remained in the charge of the police for about six months, and at the end of that time he was put on his trial— not for perjury, but for writing threatening letters to the Lord Lieutenant. To that charge he pleaded guilty. And what was the penalty inflicted on that man, who was proved to have been guilty of perjury? He had been six months in the charge of the police, during which he had been petted and taken care of, and then the Judge sentenced him to nine months' imprisonment, which was to date from the time of his committal. 1541 Of course, the present Government were not responsible for what was done in that case; but he did hope that now they had come into Office they would take a lesson from the action of their Predecessors, and that the House would hear no more of the informer and the perjurer being shielded by the Government.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOB IRELAND (Mr. HOLMES)
said, he fully agreed with some of the remarks that had fallen from the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), who, however, had referred to many different subjects, and had dealt in some detail with the circumstances of the Tubbercurry case. The hon. Gentleman bad prefaced his observations with the remark that the present Administration had acted wisely in the policy they had adopted in regard to Ireland—namely, that of foregoing exceptional legislation and relying on the enforcement of the ordinary law. In that remark he (the Attorney General for Ireland) fully concurred. Probably the hon. Gentleman agreed with him in the view he took of the way in which the Administration should enforce the ordinary law of the country, and would not, he was sure, object to their doing their duty with the vigilance and energy they were wont to display, especially when, on the other hand, he (the Attorney General for Ireland) could assure the Committee that as far as the Law Officers of the Crown were concerned they would endeavour to be fair. The hon. Member for Sligo had made reference to one matter which he (the Attorney General for Ireland) regarded as of considerable importance—namely, the subject of the expenses of witnesses. It was said to be unfair that those witnesses who were called on behalf of the Crown should be paid large sums of money, while, on the other hand, the witnesses called on behalf of the prisoners should not receive expenses on the same scale. On that point he might state that his Predecessors in Office had, for some time past, taken steps to ensure that witnesses, no matter on what side they were called, should be paid a proper amount for their services in attending the Court, and that they should be paid no more and no less on the one side than on the other. When he stated that in this matter ho should follow their example, he believed he was only 1542 taking that course which was his duty, and for which he was unable to claim for himself the inauguration of any new policy. Having dealt with that subject, the hon. Member for Sligo had expressed a hope that the period of what he called professional perjurers had passed away. By the term "professional perjurers," he supposed the hon. Gentleman referred to informers giving evidence in Courts of Justice. He thought he might say that, no matter what Government they might have in power, there was no Law Officer representing the Crown in Ireland who would prefer that class of evidence for the purpose of securing justice. He entirely concurred in the remark that justice was never better carried out in Ireland than when reliance was placed on the evidence of honest men willing and able to bring' crime home to those who were really criminals. He also expressed his entire concurrence in the hope that in future they might be enabled, by means of that class of evidence, to secure convictions for crime; but he was sure the hon. Member would agree with him when he stated that the Law Officers of the Crown would not be justified in rejecting or throwing aside a statement made by a person who admitted that he was an accomplice in a crime. From the earliest period evidence of that kind had been relied upon in Courts of Justice, and ho was afraid that in carrying out justice it must be continued to be relied upon, although, as far as he was individually concerned, he had no wish whatever, and he believed that no Law Officer of the Crown who had preceded him had ever had any wish, to encourage informers to give evidence; and he might add that, for himself, he should be very slow to raise in the minds of persons of that class the expectation of profit or reward for giving evidence of that sort. He thought it hardly necessary for him to say —because, in doing so, he should only be stating that which he knew every Gentleman who had or who might occupy his position would say—that he would prevent by every means in his power any official employed by the Crown from endeavouring, either by threats on the one hand, or by promises on the other, to obtain evidence. Having made those observations in reference to the opinions advanced by the hon. Member for Sligo in his opening statement, and having 1543 shown that as regarded some of the observations in that opening statement there was very little difference between the hon. Gentleman and himself, he had now to say that there were some other matters on which he could not agree with the hon. Gentleman, as well as other hon. Members who had spoken. The hon. Member for Sligo had once or twice make use of the expression "packed juries;" but so far as he could gather the hon. Gentleman had not made any attack on the jury in any particular case. In regard to the Tubbercurry case, to which the hon. Gentleman had specially referred, it would have been impossible for the hon. Gentleman to have done so, from his own point of view, because the jury in that case had done their duty well and faithfully, as he (the Attorney General for Ireland) believed, by pronouncing a verdict, of which the hon. Member approved, for the acquittal of the prisoners. Some of the hon. Members who had followed had also denounced the jury system in Ireland, and the verdicts that had been given in recent times. He must say that having watched those things, as in the Profession to which he belonged he was bound to do, his own opinion was—and he thoroughly believed that if the matter were argued out in that House hon. Members representing Ireland would agree with him—that as far as the Judges and juries were concerned not only the Judges, but the juries who were empannelled, did their duty honestly and according to the best of their ability. That was a matter of so much importance that he was sure the Committee would pardon him if he referred to two or three cases that had been incidentally mentioned in the course of the discussion, in order to show that he was fully justified in using this language. In the Tubbercurry case, for example, the jury listened to all the evidence that was laid before them, and, although it was alleged that the jury belonged to a class whose sympathies were against the prisoners, the result showed that they did not allow their feelings to warp their judgment, for the verdict they came to at the end of that trial was one of acquittal. In the Maamtrasna case, no attempt had ever been made to attack the jury in a serious way; and he would tell the Committee the reason why no such attempt had been made. There were 1544 three verdicts given in the Maamtrasna case. The first two were admitted to have been just and right in every particular; and although it was stated that the third verdict was erroneous, that verdict was given on precisely the same evidence as that on which the first two verdicts had been arrived at, the only ground on which the justice of the third verdict was challenged being that circumstances had since come to light that would have altered the conclusion then come to.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND
said, he was glad the hon. Gentleman had interposed with that remark, as it would relieve him from one portion of his contention. He thought that hon. Members on the opposite side of the House below the Gangway would agree, however much they might assail the composition of the juries in Ireland, that when those juries came to consider the facts put before them they did their duty to the best of their ability, and it certainly would be very difficult to show that they did not. What he understood to be the argument on the other side was not that there was not in several of those cases evidence on which the juries could act, but that subsequently circumstances had been brought to light which would have altered the conclusion at which they had arrived. [Mr. SEXTON: That is so, usually.] It was obvious, under those circumstances, that, looking at the matter from his point of view, he was justified in saying that the juries had been governed by a desire to do fair justice as between man and man; and he should be sorry if any Member of that House were to suppose that anyone connected with the administration of the law in Ireland was not firmly impressed with the belief that both Judges and juries were actuated by a sincere anxiety to do what was right, and that in the cases that had been brought before them they had done their best in that respect. There was another matter to which he wished to refer, as one that had been commented on in the course of that debate. It had been stated that policemen, the Crown Solicitor, and 1545 District Inspectors had conducted themselves improperly in the way in which they had approached persons who were expected to become witnesses in important trials. He had said before, and he would say again, that no language could be too strong to condemn the action of any official who would approach any man, whether in Ireland or elsewhere, either with a promise or a threat, to induce him to give false or even coloured evidence; but, at the same time, it must be borne in mind that a charge of that character ought not to be received unless it were distinctly formulated and fully investigated, and, above all, that the person accused ought to have an opportunity of answering the charge brought against him before even an opinion could be formed one way or the other on the subject. He was sure hon. Members opposite would be the last to wish him to give an ex parte judgment on any case. The first matter was to see whether the individual himself knew anything of the charge, and to hear what he had to say before they put forward any opinion formed on the subject. Now, the Tubbercurry case had occupied a very considerable portion of the remarks of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), and almost all hon. Members who had spoken since had dealt with it. As far as he was concerned, he knew little or nothing about that case until he entered the House that day, and, as far as he was aware, the present was the first occasion on which there had been any discussion in reference to it. Further, as far as he was aware, the statement brought before the Committee by the hon. Member for Sligo had been made public for the first time on that occasion. He, at any rate, had never heard anything about it before, and he had entered the House without any Notice that it would be the subject of discussion. [Mr. SEXTON: The essential points appeared in The Freeman's Journal a month ago.] Ho could, of course, only deal with the matter on the information before him. He did not complain of the hon. Member for Sligo not giving him Notice of his intention to raise this question, because he knew that hon. Members must in that House take advantage of opportunities as they presented themselves for raising questions of the kind, and he was also aware that he and his right hon. and learned Col- 1546 league must be prepared to deal with such matters when they arose. The observations which ho desired to make upon the subject were very few indeed. He wished to refer to one or two gentlemen whose names had been mentioned in connection with this matter. In addition to that of Mr. Randal Peyton the hon. Gentleman had mentioned the names of one or two detectives and policemen. He believed Mr. Randal Peyton to be incapable of doing any such act as had been imputed by hon. Members opposite. Mr. Peyton appeared to him to be a zealous and fair-minded public servant, and having regard to the fact that for a considerable time before he became Crown Solicitor ho occupied an eminent position in the Legal Profession, he should not be disposed to think that his character would have been so changed by reason of the office which he now held, and especially because he had no personal interest in the matter. His salary was not dependent on results; ho had simply to do his duty in the position which ho held; and, therefore, he should be exceedingly surprised if it could be shown that he had acted improperly in this or in any other case; and certainly ho would not allow himself to be influenced in any degree against him or any other official by the statements made in the House that day. He said that with all respect for hon. Gentlemen who made those statements. He had already stated that in questions of this kind no person was justified either in forming an opinion or in allowing his mind to take a bias simply because statements of a certain kind were made. Whatever might result, he wished to guard himself by saying that at the present time he did not think ho should be justified in taking action against gentlemen who, as public officials, had hitherto borne an honourable character; and he repeated that in making that statement he did so without the slightest disrespect to hon. Gentlemen who brought forward those matters, or to persons who made those statements. If a charge was to be brought against any individual, he need not point out that there was a way in which it should be brought, and that there was a regular process by which it should be supported. Ho was quite sure that hon. Members opposite would be the first to say he was wrong if he 1547 were then to express an opinion that the persons in question had acted rightly or wrongly. A suggestion had been made by some hon. Members opposite that a person named Morrin should be indicted for perjury. Inasmuch as the jury, having heard the case, could not accept his testimony, he also was obliged to reject the evidence of that informer. He thought it the duty of the Law Officers of the Crown and everyone else to accept the verdict of the jury, which in his own mind he was satisfied was a just one. As he understood it, the alleged perjury rested on the difference that existed between one information sworn in the month of March and another sworn in the following April. He was sure that an indictment for perjury founded upon that would not be sustainable before a jury. When a man with a large number of circumstances in his mind extending over many months made a statement with regard to any particular person which was not in accordance with fact, no jury would, he thought, be disposed to assume that he was wilfully making a wrong statement. Therefore, he should not, under the circumstances, feel justified in having this man indicted for perjury. He had now expressed his views upon the particular matters brought forward by the hon. Member for Sligo. With regard to the constables, he dealt with them in exactly the same way as he had dealt with the other persons named. He repeated that he could not accept as proved anything against the character of those men until the matter had been brought in the shape of a properly formulated charge. There were some other subjects that he wished to refer to before he sat down. The hon. Member for Waterford County (Mr. P. J. Power) had asked a question with regard to the position of Mr. Bolton. The hon. Member appeared to be under the impression that Mr. Bolton had once acted as Crown Solicitor for the county of Waterford; if so, it was a matter with which he (the Attorney General for Ireland) was unacquainted. Mr. Bolton was Crown Solicitor for Tipperary, and still retained that position. His salary was £400 a-year, with £250 for allowances.
§ MR. P. J. POWER
presumed that Mr. Bolton's visit to Waterford was in connection with the Prevention of Crime 1548 Act. He had seen Mr. Bolton challenge a number of respectable jurymen in the Waterford Court House.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND
said, the fact was as he had stated. Mr. Bolton was Crown Solicitor for the county of Tipperary, and received the salary mentioned in the Vote. That was certainly the only position held by him in his Department. [Mr. SEXTON: The Valuation Office.] He thought not; but if there was any question on that point, it was a matter for the Treasury. The position of Crown Solicitor for the county of Tipperary had been held by Mr. Bolton for a great number of years. There had not been any charge brought against Mr. Bolton in that House with regard to the discharge of his official duties as Crown Solicitor for Tipperary. In reference to the matter referred to by the hon. Member for Waterford County (Mr. P.J.Power), there was no doubt that Mr. Bolton had been employed at times during the last four years for special purposes, for which he received a special remuneration. They all knew that, under the exigencies of the Public Service, officials were often sent to do other work than that which strictly appertained to their office, and Mr. Bolton had frequently had such duties imposed upon him. He believed that duties of this character should be performed by responsible officers as their ordinary work, and that their salaries should appear on the Estimates, so that they might bo subject to the control of the House from year to year. The hon. Member for Kilkenny County (Mr. Marum) had asked him a question with reference to the Law Adviserships. He had had the honour of holding that Office for one or two years. It was an Office which was abolished by the late Government; but the hon. Member for Kilkenny County had advocated its restoration on the ground of the assistance given by the Law Advisers to the magistrates. He confessed that even at the time he held the Office, he thought it was one of a questionable character, and which ought not to be continued. He thought that magistrates should not be advised by any Officer of the Crown, and that any person occupying a judicial position should perform his duties with entire independence. He thought he had now referred to the various matters brought forward by hon. Members in relation to the Vote under 1549 discussion. If he had omitted to reply to any particular question, he would be glad if hon. Members would direct his attention thereto. Finally, he thought that the Judges and juries in Ireland had done their duty—that was to say, as far as ho could judge; and even where the verdicts might appear to be divergent from, some of the evidence, it was with reference to matters brought to light subsequently.
§ MR. WALKER
said, he wished to refer to one or two matters mentioned by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton). He meant the charges and attacks made against certain persons who had discharged their duties in respect of the Tubbercurry case. First, there were the Resident Magistrates, who held the investigation; secondly, the Crown Solicitor; and, thirdly, the constables who had been named by the hon. Member for Sligo; and with regard to the latter he would say that, although they occupied a lower position, they were as much entitled to the same treatment which any fair-minded man would extend to persons in a higher situation. They also lived by their character, and their bread depended upon their maintaining it. He agreed with his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland in saying that they ought not to form an opinion as to the conduct of persons upon ex parte statements, even when made by responsible Members in that House. They knew that in those cases statements of the kind had circulated far and wide throughout the country, and that they had received a significance far beyond what they deserved, as coming before the public with a certain amount of weight attached to them. Whenever any statements had been made in that House with reference to the conduct of persons connected with the administration of the law in Ireland and those statements reached his ears, he had taken what he considered to be the right course of inquiring into the matter, and ascertaining whether there was any foundation for them. It was a fact that a charge had been made against the Resident Magistrate referred to, on the representation of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), and that matter was investigated—it was thoroughly inquired into, and, upon the statement of everyone connected with the matter, 1550 the most complete contradiction was given to the charge, which was, of course, inconsistent with the high position filled by the gentleman in question. Then, as regarded Mr. Randal Peyton, that gentleman had held, and still held, a high position in the Public Service; it had been his lot to meet him on several occasions, and so far as he knew his character he entirely concurred with his right hon. and learned Friend opposite in believing that he would be utterly incapable of committing anything in the nature of the act ascribed to him by the hon. Member for Sligo. The charge against this gentleman had never been made in any definite form, so far as he was aware; he therefore treated the statement as entirely ex parte, and he was sure the Committee would attach no value to it until it had been substantiated. With regard to the constables, the charge against them, as the hon. Member for Sligo agreed, was now mentioned in that House for the first time. He had been present on almost all the occasions on which the Tubbercurry case had been mentioned, and he could say that no allusion had ever been made to this statement with regard to the three constables. He thought it unfortunate that, if there was any foundation for the charges made against them, the case had not been referred to those in authority over them, in which case, as far as he knew, the Chief of the Force would have been ready to deal with it, and everyone would admit that if he did not do so, his conduct would deserve the strongest condemnation. Then, with regard to the affidavit which the hon. Member for Sligo read, as coming from the porter at the Sligo Workhouse, who said that he had been threatened with respect to his place; a charge of that kind had certainly been hinted at, but he had never heard it specifically stated. Upon the face of it, he thought the statement required some further corroboration before it could be accepted as true. Finally, all the charges made had been thoroughly investigated and disproved.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he believed hon. Members on those Benches were quite prepared to acknowledge the courtesy in tone and the kindness in spirit exhibited by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney Gene- 1551 ral for Ireland in his reply to the hon. Member for Sligo; but ho thought they would have been better pleased if the result had been different. His hon. Friend the Member for Sligo had brought before the attention of the Committee certain definite charges, expressed in unmistakable language; and he thought that while the right hon. and learned Gentleman was justified, indeed, called upon, to refuse to express any opinion on those charges, he might have gone more fully into them and said that an investigation would be held. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had pointed to several obstacles in the way of investigation; but he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) thought that those obstacles would not be found to be insuperable if the charge had been laid against a person accused of agrarian crime. What were the obstacles which the right hon. and learned Gentleman had brought forward. First, he said that the statements were ex parte; but his hon. Friend had placed statements in the hands of the authorities with everything necessary to support them. He said with regard to the constables, that men charged with such grievous offences should not be allowed to remain in the Force, or, at any rate, that they should be suspended until those charges had been investigated. If the charges had the slightest foundation in fact, the men in question were a danger and a pest to society, and it was the duty of the Government to see that they were no longer continued in their present position. With regard to the man Morrin, he saw no reason why he should not be brought to trial; his statements contradicted themselves; ho said that men were present at a place at a time when they were really suffering terms of imprisonment. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken of the discrepancies in this man's statements as small discrepancies; but the hon. Member for Sligo had been able to show that there was a very wide difference between the statements of Morrin and the actual facts. His hon. Friend had shown that some of the men who Morrin said were at a certain place at a certain time, on a certain day, were not and never had been at the place. Certainly bethought there was a primâ facie case for inquiry into that matter, and hon. Members on those Benches would be very disappointed if the right hon. and learned 1552 Gentleman did not mean that an investigation should be made. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had, of course, adopted the usual tone with regard to these matters. It seemed to him to be a villainous tradition of the Office that the Law Officers of the Crown were bound to stand by all officials, whether they were good, bad, or indifferent; and he said that the very attitude of the Government towards officials in Ireland was one of the strongest reasons why law and justice were sometimes in contempt. It was not part of the case of his hon. Friend to challenge the composition of juries or the verdicts they had given, although Irish Members were quite ready to discuss that question when it was properly raised. But there were cases in which the verdicts were open and might be said to be in suspense, in consequence of evidence which had come forward since they were given. He referred to cases which he and his hon. Friends thought demanded re-inquiry, and in which they had been able to bring forward evidence that was not at first in their possession. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland seemed to cast some doubt on the statement of the hon. Member for Sligo with regard to the general conduct of these cases in Ireland. He ventured to say that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was the one solitary individual in Ireland who was not acquainted with the fact that the testimony in these cases had been obtained by the liberal use of bribes and threats. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken with becoming horror of the profession of informer. But was it not extraordinary that not only had the Government got informers to give evidence, but that they seemed to have gone on a voyage of discovery for the purpose of getting men of the lowest and basest description to support their case? Take the witnesses in the cases under consideration, and it would be found that not only were they persons belonging to the lowest classes, but that they were criminals before these trials occurred. The informers in most of the cases had been men who, long before these trials, were notorious as the pests, outcasts, and scourges of society in their neighbourhoods; and that alone was one of the i most suspicious circumstances connected 1553 with the trials. And then the rewards given to informers and witnesses had been, considering the circumstances of Ireland, monstrous in amount. Did they not know that in England, where Government offered a largo reward for the detection of a crime, there were always some persons degraded enough to come forward and try to get it by giving false evidence? There was the case of the trial which took place in connection with a murder in Holborn. A soldier of the Grenadier Guards was killed, and the assassin had not been discovered; the Government of the day offered a large reward, and the result was that a few days afterwards a man was arrested; a woman went before the magistrates and gave evidence which seemed to connect him with the murder; she broke down, however, in her story, and it was perfectly clear that the wicked creature had come forward with manufactured evidence in the hope of gaining the large reward offered for the discovery of the murderer. The man who had been arrested was discharged; he was not sure whether the woman was prosecuted for perjury; but there was no newspaper in the country which did not comment on the danger of offering large rewards for the detection of crime; and so much indignation was felt that the late Home Secretary (Sir William Harcourt) issued a public Memorandum to the effect that these rewards did, usually, far more harm than good. That was the second point that had to be taken into consideration in the case. Thirdly, there was no doubt that the men when taken from the dock were plied for days and weeks with all the resources of terrorism which the Prevention of Crime Act placed in the hands of officials in Ireland. It could not be denied that they were threatened, and that Inspectors and others had been in their cells in order to cajole these wretched men to make statements in aid of the prosecution; so that, in fact, they had in this case all the circumstances which cast doubt on public trials. The Crown witnesses were spies, and their informers were outcasts. Their witnesses had been subjected alike to the hope of reward and the fear of punishment, and in many cases the witnesses had given the clearest disproof of the truth of their evidence by their own contradiction. In consequence of the ruling of a dis- 1554 tinguished authority he would not even make the suggestion that there could be even in the imagination, such a thing as hypothetical partizanship of Judges; but here they had the preliminaries of the trial attended with all those circumstances which throw suspicion on the proceedings. Then there was a question which occurred to the mind of everybody who considered these cases. He referred to a policy that had been recently vindicated in that House by the right hon. Gentleman the late Chief (Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman). The extraordinary doctrine had been laid down that the foundations of law and order would be shaken if the Head of the Executive in Ireland, who had the prerogative of mercy at his disposal, did not refuse investigation in cases of this kind, no matter what might be brought forward. But it was only yesterday that a Question was asked in the House with regard to the case of Dr. Bradley, who had been sentenced to two years' imprisonment for an assault on a woman, who it was afterwards found was habitually and constantly bringing false charges against men; and, in reply to that Question, the Home Secretary said that he had investigated the case, and found so much doubt involved in it that he had ordered the man to be released. Now, if the case he had mentioned had occurred in Ireland, instead of in England, the right hon. Gentleman would have been blamed for investigating the case after the sentence, because, on the doctrine which had been laid down with regard to Ireland, he had done that which would shake the whole foundations of law and order. [Mr. BERESFORD dissented.] The hon. Member for Armagh dissented from that; but if he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) were convicted and imprisoned, and subsequently to his conviction it was shown that there was doubt in the case, he was entitled to have the case retried. He was, therefore, unable to perceive the nature of the objection which the hon. Gentleman brought forward. But here the principle had been laid down that it was better for the preservation of law and order that an innocent man should remain in prison than that an investigation should be held. They were finding the principles of the Liberal Party put forward by the most con- 1555 spicuous Tories in the House; and he repeated that it had been laid down by one of them that it was necessary for the preservation of law and order in Ireland that innocent men should continue in gaol, rather than that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland should hold an investigation. Well, he said that the Government should not allow themselves to be deterred from dealing with these matters by the cry of every malcontent below the Gangway, and of their Friends on the opposite side of the House. In this matter he said to Her Majesty's Government —"Be just and fear not," and he was certain that they would stand the better for it. Was it not an intolerable thing, when the whole mind of Ireland was shaken with doubt as to the justice of a verdict on which a man had been hanged, when men in that House holding opposite political opinions joined in a demand for inquiry—was it not intolerable that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland should be called on to refuse all inquiry and investigation, and that men should be allowed to remain in prison, under the circumstances that had been described, without any chance of being released? He watched with some interest the electioneering manœuvres now taking place; and, as far as he could see, one of the cries with which the Liberal Party were going to the country was that Earl Spencer, whether right or wrong, ought to be defended by his Successors in Office; that they should stand up for him, although they had no share in his appointment or his government in Ireland. If that cry was to be adopted by the Liberal Party, he would suggest a counter cry for the use of the Conservative Party. The Government should ask the country to answer the question—"Was it our duty to keep innocent men in gaol, or to hang innocent men; if there was alleged proof of their innocence, was it not our duty to investigate their case, and declare them free if innocent?" What strength would there not be in that appeal in the mind of every honest man in the Kingdom! The great argument against granting the inquiry which his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo demanded in the case of the Tubbercurry prisoners and other cases was that the abuses pointed out were necessary for the maintenance of law and order in 1556 Ireland. But, ho asked, what had this system of bribing, terrifying, and jury-packing done for the maintenance of law and order in Ireland? He said that these trials had done more to sow the seeds of future discord and crime in that country than if all the guilty men who had been recently brought to justice there had been acquitted.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said, he had listened with some interest to the speech of the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland in reply to that of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton). It had been remarked that nothing could be more courteous than the manner in which he had addressed himself on that and on previous occasions to Irish questions; but ho (Mr. Redmond) thought it incumbent on Irish Members to point out to him that he would be greatly disappointed if he thought that he would be able to rule Ireland by giving courteous replies, and if he did not go further in the direction of satisfying the demands now made upon him. It would seem that the right hon. and learned Gentleman misunderstood, almost purposely, the demand made by Irish Members on the present occasion; he appealed to the Committee for support when he said that he should not be justified, on ex parte statements, in ex-pressing an opinion as to the guilt of certain persons connected with the Tubbercurry case; and he very rightly said that he could not, on such statements, use his authority to order an indictment. But he (Mr. Redmond) understood that neither his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo nor his Colleagues expected the Attorney General for Ireland to stand up at the Table and say at once that he would on that ex parte statement order an indictment. What they wanted was that he should consider the grave charges made, and that when he had received, those formulated charges, and duly considered the evidence brought forward to sustain them, he should then make up his mind as to whether he would order an indictment or not. It seemed to him, therefore, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had almost purposely misunderstood the real nature of the demand made. He trusted that the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who had listened to the debate with the attention he was accustomed 1557 to bestow upon Irish questions, would be able to give them more satisfaction in this matter. Ho was obliged to say, also, that he had listened with some regret to the sweeping comments of the right hon. and learned Gentleman on the conduct of the Judges and juries throughout Ireland; it looked as if he were answering the speeches from the Front Opposition Bench, which charged the new Government with having abandoned the Judges and juries in Ireland. But they had not been attacked by Irish Members, as an essential part of their case in reference to these miscarriages of justice. They agreed that in some of the cases the juries had acted independently and honestly; their point was, that the constitution of juries was such that they probably found verdicts which men otherwise chosen could not have found. It was all very well to say that the Government were sure the juries had found verdicts in accordance with their honest convictions; but the reply to that was that those juries were taken from a class whose bias and political prejudice must have unfitted them to form a free judgment. Of course, it was true that those juries had been selected under the Prevention of Crime Act, which Act was about to expire, and they might hereafter be saved the miserable exhibition of prisoners being brought from one end of the country to another, to be tried before juries composed substantially from a class known to be hostile to the National movement. He might, perhaps, be allowed for one moment to allude to the action of the officials and Judges in one of the cases which he hoped would also become the subject of inquiry; and he would do so simply to afford an illustration to the Committee of the manner in which the Crown officials had acted, and to show how careless had been the sweeping comments of the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland. He referred now to the Barbavilla case, with regard to which some extraordinary revelations had come to light. The case was one of murder, and it rested on a certain meeting, on a certain day, in a certain house; the only witnesses were the two M'Keowns, father and son, and an informer, who had afterwards stated that he had given false evidence. The two men named made statements to the Crown at different periods; the father 1558 made a statement which was not corroborated by the statement of the younger man; but in a subsequent statement it was corroborated, and it was then alleged that collusion had taken place. The idea was scouted out of Court, and the learned Judge himself said that—To insinuate that collusion had taken place was to insinuate that the very sources of justice were polluted.The suggestion, as he had said, was scouted out of Court. One of the jurors, he believed, had written to the papers to say that if collusion had been proved at the trial, he, for one, would not have brought in a verdict of guilty. He was alluding to this case in illustration of the manner in which the Crown officials and Judges acted in cases where it could be proved that collusion had taken place. An official of the Crown who still occupied a position in the Police had come forward to make a solemn declaration that collusion did take place; and here he would again emphasize the fact that upon this one point of evidence depended the whole case, because Judge Lawson had also stated that if the evidence of these witnesses was shaken, the case of the Crown would not hold water. Sergeant Fitzgerald, who was concerned in making up the case, and who was still in the Police Force, had come forward to prove that this collusion did take place. He stated that, in regard to the difference between the two statements, the father had said that if he had an interview with his son he could make it all right; whereupon the Crown officials put the two men together, and allowed them to arrange the point between them, and thus it was that the evidence of the two men was made to coincide, and their story was hashed up for the jury. It was in this way that the officials who had been extravagantly praised by the Attorney General for Ireland had acted in some of the cases. It was notorious that some of the juries had been packed. A panel of 200 jurors was returned to try the Barbavilla case; the whole of whom were called out and had to answer to their names in Court; the prisoner had the right to challenge six jurors, while the Crown had the unlimited power of challenging the rest of the jurors; 24 Catholic gentlemen were ordered to stand aside, one of whom was a magis- 1559 trate of the county of Down. So that it was notorious that these jurors were picked from a class which could not be expected to give the prisoner that fair and important trial which every accused man had a right to. It had been the custom throughout all the trials, whether the alleged crime arose from agrarian disputes or not, for the Crown officials to give every one of them a political aspect. A political aspect had been given to the Barbavilla case; and that should be taken together with the well-known political bias of the Judges, and the fact that juries were packed with men hostile to the movement from which they thought these crimes had sprung. He did not wish to go into the merits of these cases, because they had been told that they would be reconsidered by the Lord Lieutenant. The only use of this debate was to show that the investigation which was about to take place should be a thorough and a sweeping one, and that it would not do for the Government to dispose of charges like those made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sligo against Government officials in the cavalier way in which they had been disposed of by the right hon. and learned Gentleman at the Table that day. If those charges were formulated—as, no doubt, they would be—and if the evidence on which they rested were sent to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, it would be his duty to have them inquired into. If, after that, he thought that a case was made out against those men, he should order an indictment. He (Mr. Redmond) trusted that the present Administration would endeavour to get rid of any opprobrium which rested as supporters of the late Government by showing a willingness to do justice to Ireland. If they did that, he was convinced that they would be more successful in the government of Ireland than any of their Predecessors had been.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he had heard part of the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), and also part of the reply of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, and he could not say that he had any fault to find with the expressions of opinion he had heard from his hon. Friends as to the manner in which the right hon. and learned Gentleman had replied to the 1560 case put before him. At the same time, he (Mr. Biggar) might be permitted to say that he considered the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman very plausible and very unsatisfactory. One point on which he was disposed to find fault with the right hon. and learned Gentleman was this. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had expressed himself very strongly against certain lines of conduct which he said had taken place, and he had declared that, so far as be could help it, such conduct should not take place in time to come. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman had gone further, and had, unfortunately, declared that in his opinion his Predecessors had acted in times past as it would be fitting for him to act in the future. He (Mr. Biggar) considered it a mistake on the part of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to endeavour to whitewash his Predecessors, whose conduct had been so notoriously bad that it would be impossible for any conduct to be worse. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, as a matter of fact, had acknowledged every point laid before him. He had commenced by saying that the system of paying extravagant fees to the Crown witnesses and stingy fees to witnesses for defence was one which he could not defend, and one which he intended, in time to come, to use every exertion to put an end to; but he had gone on to say that his Predecessors in his present Office had also used every exertion to set aside that pernicious system. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman intended to display the same kind of exertion to set aside the pernicious system as his Predecessors had shown, could it be supposed that his discharge of his duties as Attorney General for Ireland would be more successful than that of his Predecessors? He (Mr. Biggar) was willing to acknowledge that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had much greater ability than one or two of his Predecessors; but, at the same time, the Gentlemen who had held the Office of Attorney General before him wore Gentlemen of considerable standing at the Irish Bar, and it must not, after all, be assumed that they were without intelligence and capacity. The right hon. and learned Gentleman bad also said that be objected very much to the employment of informers where it could be avoided, 1561 and that ho would do all he could to manage without them. Now, he (Mr. Biggar) did not know that ho would say that an informer should never be allowed to give to evidence. So far as he could form an opinion, he thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman who had preceded the present Attorney General for Ireland in Office also objected strenuously to allowing informers to give evidence. The Irish Members had no objection to urge on that score; but they did object to encouraging parties to give evidence which those parties knew to be false. They objected, in the first place, to the offering of such heavy awards in the shape of payments to witnesses— the public offering of awards for untrustworthy testimony. They objected to men of disreputable character being permitted to give evidence that was not of a trustworthy character; and they objected strongly to police officers being allowed to go into the cells of persons in custody who were known to be of low character for the purpose of threatening them that unless they gave evidence of a certain kind they would suffer punishment—that charges, false or otherwise, would be made against them, and that they would be brought up for punishment. That was the conduct on the part of the late Government of which he complained, and ho thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman might announce his objection to such a system. He thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman did say that, so far as he could avoid it, he would do so; but the right hon. and learned Gentleman should have refrained from defending the acts of his Predecessors which had notoriously been of the kind referred to. After the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had dealt with the circumstances of the getting up of the case against the Tubbercurry prisoners, the right hon. and learned Gentleman had been very emphatic in pointing out to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wexford (Mr. W. Redmond) that he did not undertake to investigate what he called "ex parte charges." It was no use talking about "ex parte' charges," because every indictment was an ex parte charge until it had been investigated. The right hon. and learned Gentleman should have said this—"Lay the case before me; I will look into the indictment, and if I find sufficient evi- 1562 dence on which to found a charge of subornation and perjury I will do my duty." But instead of that, so far as he (Mr. Biggar) could form an opinion, the right hon. and learned Gentleman had refused even to investigate these charges. He should have said — and have said very properly—"I offer no opinion." No one asked him to give an opinion whether John Morrin was guilty of perjury, and whether or not the authorities had supported him in it. All he was asked to find was whether there was a ease for investigation. If there was no case, the right hon. and learned Gentleman would not allow it; but if, on the other hand, the evidence warranted a prosecution, he would only be doing his duty in ordering one. Even in spite of the fact that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had avoided giving a pledge on the subject, he (Mr. Biggar) did not think the right hon. and learned Gentleman would be acting within his duty if he refused to order an investigation and to order a prosecution if it were warranted by the facts. As to the persons affected by the charges which were made, there was, first of all, Mr. Peyton, Sessional Crown Solicitor for Sligo. With regard to him, he might say that these allegations as to the character of judicial personages were, of course, of more or less value, but not of extreme value, because, after all, a person was assumed to be innocent until he was proved to be guilty. But no matter what Mr. Peyton's reputation was or might have been, if ho had been guilty of the charges brought against him, it was only right that he should be made amenable to the law. As to Mr. Randal Peyton, he was employed as Crown Solicitor for this special prosecution—in point of fact, in a position which the right hon. and learned Gentleman acknowledged in a subsequent part of his speech to be of a very objectionable nature.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. HOLMES)
He was the Crown Solicitor and doing his ordinary work, receiving for it no special remuneration.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he had perhaps been misinformed, and he apologized for any allegation he made which was not accurate. He (Mr. Biggar) had been informed by one of his hon. Friends that this person was Sessional Crown 1563 Prosecutor for the county of Sligo. He withdrew this part of his allegation against Mr. Peyton—as to his having the inducement of special fees for special services in connection with this particular action. Still they did know that in many cases men in a professional position exhibited great zeal of a nature which was not always to be defended. If Mr. Peyton had been guilty of collusion with this man Morrin—and it was charged against him that he had been guilty of the subornation of perjury— he would be entitled to the punishment his offence deserved. Then, as to the police officers, he (Mr. Biggar) was disposed, primâ facie, to believe almost everything which was said as to the misconduct of the police in Ireland. The position of the police officer in Ireland was that of a professional suborner of perjury. To believe his oath was a thing which was never done by any intelligent person in Ireland. Such a phenomenon in that country as a police officer who would tell the truth might exist; but the general opinion with regard to the Force was that their oaths were not to be believed. Then they came to the case of Morrin himself. There was something very peculiar in that. He had described the personal appearance of John Daly, whom he had alleged to have seen at a particular meeting; and then, in his description of the man in connection with a second meeting, he had given the personal characteristics of a totally different individual. In one affidavit he had described the man as stoop-backed; whilst, subsequently, the man he pointed out as having been at the meeting was a man extremely straight and active. The evidence of this man Morrin was used against John Daly, notwithstanding that the authorities knew that he had sworn two affidavits of an absolutely contradictory nature as to the personal appearance of the man. He would take a case which was of a most conclusive nature—a case of alleged watching to shoot a particular person. This man swore that on a particular night named by him—in the month of February or March—certain parties were present at a certain place and did certain things. He described all the details in the most minute manner. But what was the fact? Why, one of the men whom he named and described had gone to Ame- 1564 rica before the date of the meeting he was said to have attended, as the register of the steamship conclusively proved. In two other cases, men spoken to as having been present were absolutely in prison at the time; one had been two months in gaol before the alleged occurrence took place, and the other three months. And not only were those men in prison, one for two months and the other for three months, before the alleged occurrence took place, but they were imprisoned for several months under the Prevention of Crime Act after those proceedings took place. If the hon. Member for Sligo had not made out a conclusive ease against Morrin, then he should think that such a thing as a conclusive case could not exist. This man, first of all, swore to the personal appearance of a man, giving him two descriptions which were the descriptions of totally dissimilar individuals — individuals as dissimilar in appearance as himself and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sligo; and then he swore to men having been at a particular place, at a particular time, in a particular month, when, as a matter of fact, the men were in gaol at the time, and continued there for months after. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman, on such evidence as this, refused to investigate the case, and to bring this man to trial, he (Mr. Biggar) did not know what sort of evidence would satisfy him. The Government were to blame if they refused to investigate a case of this sort. With regard to the conduct of the jurors and Judges, the right hon. and learned Gentleman had spoken as to the fact of the jury in the Maamtrasna case having found two persons guilty who undoubtedly were guilty. Was that not an extraordinary thing—that they should find two persons guilty who were guilty? But the charge against them was that they found men guilty whether they were guilty or not—that they condemned two men guilty and one innocent. As to the Judges, would anyone say that it was not a peculiar thing that for these Crimes Act trials the Government always selected one of two Judges —either Judge Lawson or Judge William O'Brien? One could form only one view as to why they did that. If they had allowed other Judges to take part in the trials it would have been far more satisfactory.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, he was not familiar enough with the circumstances to warrant him in making a statement as to the Tubbercurry case; but a few words which had fallen from the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) as to judicial arrangements in Ireland induced him to rise as an Irish Member and in the interests of public decorum. The hon. Member had alluded to a large class in Ireland—the Constabulary—to whom, in a great degree, was committed the preservation of law and order in that country. Ho (Sir Patrick O'Brien) very much regretted that the hon. Member should have considered it necessary, or consistent with what he considered to be his duty, to impute charges of perjury and subornation of perjury to this class. His impression of the judicial arrangements in Ireland—derived from knowledge of what happened in the olden days, perhaps, although not very long ago—was that if the Government so far forgot its duty as to refuse to proceed on a proper statement made in reference to misconduct or malfeasance on the part of these officials, it lay with anyone to indict them and have them tried before juries of their countrymen; and he thought it would be more becoming, if these gross outrages on public justice in Ireland were so patent as to require nothing but a statement in that House to prove them, that the offenders should be brought to the bar to which every subject of Her Majesty was liable to be brought for outrages of the sort, and, if found guilty, should be punished as the law directed. But one thing he did object to, and that was that in that House—where there was full protection for every man against assaults, by libel or otherwise—an hon. Member should come forward and bring charges against officials which he could not make outside without, perhaps, incurring certain liabilities. He was not saying that the charges which had been brought were untrue, because he had no special knowledge of the proceedings in question; but he held that it was not fair to those people, who were intrusted, to a certain extent, in difficult circumstances, with the administration of the law in Ireland, to call them perjurers and suborners. Of the Maamtrasna case he knew nothing at all. He did not know that the hon. Member for Cavan was not right in the statement he had made; but his 1566 regret was that the hon. Member should select the safety of these Benches to make charges against these men which he would not make elsewhere, where he might be held answerable for what he said. ["Oh, oh!"] Whenever anything was said unpleasant to his hon. Friends below the Gangway the word "Oh!" was about the strongest argument they got in reply. A series of transactions had taken place in Ireland during the past five or six years which one side of the House might say merited the approval of the House, but which the other side would condemn as meriting the disapproval of the House, the country, and even of Europe; and he could well understand this latter section saying—"We have had too much of this thing for six years past; would it not be better to do as has been done in England and other countries—that is to say, proclaim an amnesty in regard to these transactions?" Whilst ho was as anxious for the peace of Ireland as anyone, he certainly thought it would be right to proclaim an amnesty on the one side and on the other. But he would not sit silent, no matter what disfavour he might encounter for it, and hear the character of men whom he knew to be deserving of the highest possible approbation so violently attacked. Many of those men were drawn from the national ranks, as he was in a position to testify. Applications had been made to him and others of his acquaintance for the use of what influence they might possess to secure appointments in the Constabulary for Nationalists. He could not sit silent and hear these gross and outrageous charges made against as well-conducted a lot of men as existed in Europe. Hon. Members might attack individuals. They might attack the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone); they might attack the late Viceroy of Ireland. They had Friends in the House who would defend them; but ho strenuously resented the attack which had been made on the Irish police, to whom he and many men in his county, often under intimidation, were under extreme obligation. Without going into the Tubbercurry case, he must again say he would not sit silent and hear those men described as perjurers when there was no possibility of answering the charge, and when the person who made it was not 1567 liable to those consequences to which he would be liable if he made the charge outside.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he thought the hon. Baronet had gone too far in what ho had said. He had asked for a general amnesty in regard to every criminal affair in Ireland. He (Mr. Biggar) and his Friends did not ask for anything of the kind. They asked for an amnesty only in regard to those people who had been proved innocent—not for persons who had been proved guilty of crime. They did not ask that men proved guilty and confined in gaol should be set free. All they asked was that men who were proved to be innocent, after proper inquiry, should be liberated. He did not defend criminality; but he objected to the system of convicting men on insufficient evidence by packed juries and the other means to which reference had been made. The hon. Baronet also said that the Irish Members belonging to the National Party ought to prosecute these men at their own trouble and expense. Well, he (Mr. Biggar) should like to know how he could carry on a prosecution against this man Morrin or the other parties against whom these charges were made? He and his Friends had certain duties to perform, such as calling attention to these matters, in their capacity of Members of Parliament. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland had duties to perform as Law Officer of the Crown, and it was his duty to prosecute parties if a primâ facie case for prosecution were made out. He (Mr. Biggar) would not undertake to prosecute criminals, because he had no connection with the law, and had no means of procuring evidence against the accused parties without great trouble and expense to himself and great risk of a miscarriage of justice.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, he was sure the hon. Gentleman did not wish to misrepresent him. He had put a suppositious case as to what might take place under the change of Government. He had not recommended a general amnesty, neither had he called on his hon. Friend to prosecute those individuals. He had risen to protect the 14,000 men of the Irish Constabulary from broadcast accusations of perjury, and to what he had said on that subject the hon. Member had made no reply.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he was puzzled to understand why the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland had thought it necessary to intervene in the debate, or, having intervened, why he had not thought it necessary to say something relevant to the subject before the Committee in place of scattering about idle compliments. He failed to see why the right hon. and learned Gentleman should have thought himself called on to act as master of ceremonies and teacher of deportment, and why he should have come so readily to the defence of late Administrators who had been attacked. He (Mr. Sexton) highly approved of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's determination to equalize the expenses of witnesses for the Crown and witnesses for the defence; and he shared the right hon. and learned Gentleman's abhorence at the character of the informer. He called upon the right hon. and learned Gentleman, as Law Officer of the Crown in Ireland, always and in all circumstances to reject the evidence of men who testified to acts in which they themselves had been concerned in order to bring about the conviction of others. It was a vile thing to put a number of respectable men in gaol on the sole and uncorroborated evidence of an informer, and then, when there was manifest perjury in the information of that person, to endeavour by threats and bribes, through agents of the Crown, to get other men to support the informer's statement. He recognized, however, in the tone and temper of the right hon. and learned Gentleman an agreeable contrast to the tone and temper which had characterized some of the utterances of his Predecessors; and he could only tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman that if the principles of jurisprudence which he had stated that day were carried into effect in the law of Ireland, the Irish Members would not be compelled to continue in the course they had been obliged to adopt in that House, and his own career would be easier and more honourable. He (Mr. Sexton) had been glad to hear the right hon. and learned Gentleman's statement with regard to Mr. George Bolton. There had been no part of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech which he had more rejoiced to hear than that in which he had stated 1569 that special individuals would not be employed in connection with criminal investigations all over Ireland, for nothing could have a more demoralizing effect than allowing free scope to an agent of the Cabinet like Mr. George Bolton to mix himself up in every case in which these miscarriages of justice happened. Mr. George Bolton had pleaded his employment in the Barba-villa and Tubbercurry cases, in reply to attacks which had been made upon him by the Irish Members; he had thrown himself upon the consideration and protection of the Crown, because he had been concerned in cases in which justice had miserably failed. What did that mean? Why, just as was said when James Ellis French was dragged to the bar of justice, that there was no one in Ireland who knew so well how to work up a case, that there was no one who sailed so close to the wind. George Bolton had made his knowledge of criminal cases his reason why he should not be prosecuted. He (Mr. Sexton) declared that when a Government sent out an unscrupulous agent, and established a common understanding that he was to be allowed to set traps for men in order to obtain evidence, all pure government was at an end, because the agent acquired an immoral power over the Government which employed him which they found it impossible to shako off. He (Mr. Sexton) had not gathered that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had refused what he had asked him that day. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had said that he could not form an opinion on the matter; but, as a matter of fact, he believed the right hon. and learned Gentleman had already done what he said ho could not do. The right hon. and learned Gentleman was not his own master in this matter. Certain statements had been laid before him on the most credible authority; it was shown that the Grown Solicitor had compounded felony by offering to give sums of money to men accused of crime, if they would give certain testimony. It had been shown that the detectives and magistrates had threatened imprisonment unless particular constructions were placed on certain incidents, and that, in order to obtain evidence, promises of release from prison had been made, and men had been primed with liquor. All these 1570 means had been adopted to obtain evidence of a certain colour. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had heard those allegations, and he must have come to some conclusion about them. Everyone who had heard him (Mr. Sexton) that day must have come to some conclusion or other as to his statement. Some believed that he was right, others believed that he was wrong, but all believed something. In like manner the right hon. and learned Gentleman must have formed an. opinion on the matter—he could not help himself. Well, he would ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman what was he going to do to follow up the impression he must have formed in his own mind? Did he not think it was his duty to ascertain whether or not there was any foundation for the statements which had been made? There was plenty of evidence before the House—would the right hon. and learned Gentleman take any measures to ascertain whether it was true? Would he ascertain whether the persons who had been mentioned wore willing to verify the information communicated to the Committee by sworn testimony? He (Mr. Sexton) did not think there was a rational man of any school of politics who had not come to believe in his secret heart that there was a strong foundation for what ho had said. The hon. Baronet the Member for King's County (Sir Patrick O'Brien) seemed to think that he (Mr. Sexton) lay open to some blame, or was open to some question—
§ MR. SEXTON
He thinks it better that I should make a statement elsewhere, where I shall be subject to an action for libel?
§ MR. SEXTON
He thinks it desirable that I should bring these charges where men can defend themselves?
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
No; the only complaint I made was against the attack made on the Royal Irish Constabulary by the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar).
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he did not share in the attack to which the hon. Baronet referred. He believed there were as 1571 many honourable men in the Constabulary as were to be found elsewhere. But here they had the case of 11 of his constituents taken out of their beds, taken from their shops and from their farms, and brought, as the late Prime Minister would say, "within a measurable distance" of penal servitude. He (Mr. Sexton") had to defend those men and present their case, and he was told that he must do it elsewhere. That House was the place in which he must defend his constituents as their Representative in Parliament. He had procured for them the ordinary facilities for defence, which were given to the commonest criminals in England, with the greatest labour and trouble. And if he had given Notice of this debate, what would have been the result? Why, the Government would have asked the magistrates and the constables and all persons concerned on the part of the Crown whether they were guilty or not, and of course those people would have said no —men usually said "no" when asked if they were guilty, whether guilty or not. His statement would have been met with a flat contradiction; therefore, it made no difference whether he gave Notice or not. The public would now see the grounds on which he had made his complaint; and, whatever the Government did, the public would make up their minds upon the matter. The Government would be the losers, and not him, if they refused to take up the matter in a proper way. Before he sat down he would mention another case, with regard to which he would like to ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether he had received any information— he should like to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether he had any knowledge of it, and why it had not come before the police magistrate of the Northern Division of the City of Dublin? He had received a letter in which it was stated that Mr. W. Ormsby, the Sub-Sheriff of Dublin, who had a great deal to do with the selection of juries in that city, had been found lying drunk in the street. It was stated in this letter that the writer had requested a policeman to take Mr. Ormsby in charge, and that after having exhibited a great deal of reluctance the constable at length did as requested, Mr. Ormsby being removed on a stretcher. Although this gentleman had been removed by the 1572 police, no charge had been brought against him in the police court on the following morning. That was another case which shed some light on the impunity with which certain officials in Ireland could break the law, whilst all the resources of wealth were employed for the purpose of securing evidence to obtain verdicts of guilty against ordinary individuals who were accused of offences. He would ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether he had received any information on this matter? It was necessary, if people in Ireland were to have any respect for the law, that they should feel that justice was administered equally to all classes.
§ MR. DEASY
said, he understood the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland to say that he could not go into the conduct of the late legal officials in Ireland in that House on account of the great pressure of business upon him. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had denied that jury packing took place in Ireland; but, coming as he (Mr. Deasy) did from Cork, where a most deliberate system of jury packing had been practised, he could not allow the observation to pass without bringing a few facts within his own knowledge to bear upon the question. During the Winter Assizes Mr. Peter O'Brien, in almost every case under the Prevention of Crime Act, had brought about the almost entire exclusion of Catholics from the juries, those who were empannelled being almost exclusively Orangemen and Freemasons. In one case 23 jurors were challenged, 22 of them being Roman Catholics. In another case four jurors were challenged, all of whom were Roman Catholics, nine Protestants being on the jury. In a case in which seven men were indicted for conspiracy to murder 23 Catholics were challenged. In another case 39 Catholics and five Protestants were challenged, a remarkable fact being that each of those five Protestants had served on juries which had disagreed. On the 31st of December 19 Catholics were challenged, and the jury was composed of 11 Protestants and one Catholic, this one Catholic being well known in the county of Cork as one of the worst landlords and one of the strongest opponents of the popular will in the county. He did not care to mention that gentleman's name now; but if pressed to do so he 1573 would comply. In the next case 34 Catholics were challenged, and the jury was composed of 10 Protestants and two Catholics, one of the two Catholics being the gentleman to whom he had just referred. In the next case 15 Catholics were challenged, the jury being composed of 10 Protestants and two Catholics, the two Catholics who were permitted to serve being the two who were on a previous jury, and who had brought in a verdict of guilty. That, he thought, showed clearly that in the county of Cork this jury-packing had been carried on to a most alarming and unwarrantable extent; in fact, to such an extent that some of the Protestants themselves who happened to serve on the juries actually proposed a resolution censuring the Government for administering the law in that horrible and disgraceful manner, and declaring that a Petition should be presented to the Government protesting against that system of justice. That resolution was put to 12 jurors in the Grand Jury room, and only defeated by seven votes to five. Well, when five men of that character could be got to say that the Government behaved badly in packing those juries, he thought it was sufficient evidence that he was justified in making this statement, that jury packing had prevailed in Cork, and had been carried on there very largely. A most respectable shopkeeper in the City of Cork, a Mr. M'Sweeney, a member of the Town Council, had protested in open Court against this system of excluding Catholics from the jury panel, and the Judge had not committed him for contempt of Court, or censured him in any way. He (Mr. Deasy) found, on looking over Hansard, that in the City of Dublin a still more striking state of things had existed; for there, out of a panel of 200, composed of 153 Catholics and 47 Protestants, 56 jurors tried almost every ease at a particular Assizes, and of those 56 47 were Protestants, the remaining nine being Catholics. In one case 56 Catholics were challenged, and the jury was entirely composed of Protestants. In another case 47 Catholics were challenged, and so on. He did not think he need say anything further than that it was a very regrettable fact that when such a serious state of things as that existed the right hon. and learned Gentleman should not have better 1574 informed himself on the question he addressed himself to. The late Solicitor General for Ireland would not have attempted to deny that accusation, because ho knew perfectly well it was true; but here they had the case of an official coming over to England to throw light on Irish matters who seemed to know nothing of what had gone on or of what was going on in Ireland at that moment. It would be impossible in the future to pack juries as they had been packed during the past five years, owing to the fact that the Act under which Crown officials had been allowed to do it was about to expire. There would be a certain limited power of packing juries in the future; and he hoped that for their own sakes and for the sake of the country it would not be availed of, and that Catholics would not be excluded from juries without sufficient reason. It was not because a man was a Catholic or a Protestant that he should be allowed to servo on a jury. So far as ho (Mr. Deasy) was concerned, some of his Protestant friends were amongst the best men in Ireland, and he would trust them quite as much as ho would trust many of his Catholic fellow-countrymen. On the other hand, there were some Protestants who were opposed to all National movements, and who, though they might go into jury boxes with the best intentions, could not give a verdict according to the evidence. Their minds were biassed, and they could only see one side of the question; and if juries were to be solely composed of those men it would be impossible to get honest and true verdicts. In Cork 86 or 87 per cent of the population was Catholic. The percentage was not so high in Dublin; but it was clearly an outrage upon justice in such communities that juries should be composed of 10 or 11 Protestants and one or two Catholics, and sometimes of Protestants altogether. In conclusion, he could only express a hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman would be better up in his facts before he addressed the House again upon this question.
§ MR. P. J. POWER
called attention to the fact that the Crown Solicitor for Tipperary still continued to hold a separate legal appointment under the Government, for which he received a salary of £400 a-year. He had thought that person had ceased to hold the separate 1575 appointment; but he found that such was not the case.
§ Vote agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £53,677, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1886, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Irish Land Commission.
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
said, he wished to call the attention of the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant to one point in the Report of the Land Commission published last year. The right hon. Gentleman and the Committee would remember that by Clause 19 of the Land Act complete power was given to the Sub-Commissioners to investigate as to whether labourers' cottages were required in any given part, and that power was conferred on them to order the erection of such cottages. By an Act subsequently passed at the instance of the senior Member for the County of Waterford (Mr. Villiers Stuart) a heavy penalty was imposed on every man who after a certain time—he thought six months — failed to comply with an order of that kind. A fine of £ 1 a-week was to belevied by the magistrates. His hon. Friend, who understood the subject very well, had put a section in his Bill providing that an Inspector should be appointed by the Land Court to see that the work was carried out. The Treasury, that had to bear many sins of omission and commission, would not consent to that; therefore, though it was in the power of several people to put the Act in force it was nobody's duty to do it. And yet the Land Commissioners made orders; the Land Court in Dublin reported to the Local Government Board the name of the occupier and the Union in which he lived. The Local Government Board, as he showed the other night, had no power except what was given them temporarily by statute. They had no power to compel the Board of Guardians to act on the order. They sent down the name to the Board of Guardians, and on the Board of Guardians devolved the compelling of the occupier to comply with the order of the Court. If the Board ordered the occupier to do it and he failed they could—but they Deed not—summon him be- 1576 fore the magistrates, and he was liable to a fine of £ 1 per week for every week which he delayed. But Boards of Guardians were largely composed of the very class of people upon whom those orders were made; and, therefore, without naming them and attributing their laches to anything but the ordinary feelings of human nature, the Committee would not be surprised to learn that, by a Return which was published last year which gave the story of this Clause 19 of the old Act up to August, 1884, it was shown that no action whatever had been taken in more than half the cases in which the Sub-Commissioners had declared that a labourer's cottage was necessary. Of course, many thousands of cases came before the Sub-Commissioners; and it was a fair thing on his part, he thought, to assume that they did not order cottages to be built except in the most flagrant cases—except in cases where it was absolutely not to be avoided. The Sub-Commissioners had power also to order cottages to be rebuilt, and the occupiers could obtain from the Board of Works, on the easiest terms, the smallest sum of money—even £10 or £5—in order to rebuild cottages; and yet, through the unfortunate action of the Treasury in striking out the power which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Waterford had desired to give of having persons appointed to see that the work was done, the Act had been almost a perfect failure. The Land Commission spoke of it themselves in these terms—We have again, on this occasion, to state that the 19th section of the Act which aimed at increasing and improving the accommodation for labourers has not been operative to any large extent.He had had another object in mentioning that, or he should not have obtruded himself on the Committee. They were about, or were believed to be about, considering a Bill which was called the Labourers' Bill. He thought it was very important that Her Majesty's Government and the House, whilst they were considering an important subject of that kind, and when they trusted or expected that the Bill would be carried out by those various Boards of Guardians, should know how completely those Boards of Guardians had, as a rule, failed in their duty to carry out the law as it at present stood, notwithstanding that no burden was imposed upon the 1577 ratepayers—because this money was only charged when a man had derived benefit from the Land Act by having his rent fixed. No burden whatever was imposed on the ratepayers in general. Yet, for 6ome reason or other, there had been a sort of unwillingness on the part of Boards of Guardians to put the Act in force. He wished to be germane to the subject before the Committee, and would, therefore, ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant to call the attention of the Land Commissioners again to the subject. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) had, at his request, some two or three years ago, issued either an order or a recommendation—he thought the right hon. Gentleman could not order, but had recommended—to the Sub-Commissioners, advising them, in every case that came before them, to inquire themselves whether the accommodation for labourers was sufficient. It would be very important, he thought, if that recommendation were repeated; and, secondly, the right hon. Gentleman, as President of the Local Government Board, might inquire as to whether some statutory power should not be given to the Local Government Board to compel the erection of those labourers' cottages after a certain time. There was a belief in the country that no one was in earnest on this question. A neighbour of his had come to him complaining that a fine of £20 or £30 had been imposed on him. He (Colonel Colthurst) had said to him —"You knew you wanted a cottage; why on earth did you not obey the order before?" "Oh!" was the reply—"To tell you the truth, I never believed the order was to be carried out at all."
MR. J. LOWTHER
said, the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member were rather instructive when viewed in connection with the demands which had been so frequently advanced in favour of Irish local self-government. It was amusing to hear hon. Members opposite complaining of the action of elected Boards of Guardians—connected with whom there were some ex officio members—and desiring to place power in the hands of the Land Commission. The hon. and gallant Member throw out grave doubts—and that was the least that could be said of it—as to the manner in which elected Boards would dis- 1578 charge their duty. But he (Mr. Lowther) rose to express a hope that great caution would be observed in meeting even half-way the demands now so freely made for the application of public money in the erection of what were called labourers' dwellings. Of course, that the labourers might be adequately housed was an object they all of them had at heart; but the proposal to hand public money over to the Local Authorities to be expended by interested parties, without any adequate safeguard to be observed as to due economy, was, he thought, a step which that House ought most carefully to scan. Of course, they would be told it was desirable that funds should be forthcoming to enable buildings to be erected of a suitable character for the occupation of the agricultural classes; but, as ho understood it, the condition on which the hon. and gallant Member relied was power given to occupying tenants—or, rather, powers which were thrust upon occupying tenants—to provide dwellings on land of which they were not the freehold possessors. That, of course, opened up a very serious future. He did not wish to refer to legislation of the past few years, which had thrown an entirely new complexion over arrangements of this kind; but he would express a hope that the greatest caution would be observed in facilitating the advance of public money to be expended by persons not on their own property, but on the property of other persons, without any adequate safeguard as to economy being observed. In connection with this matter, he would remark that the Land Commission, to which reference had been made, and to the funds for the maintenance of which the Committee was now called on to vote, had failed in the most signal manner to command the confidence of every body of men in Ireland. They had heard the Commission freely condemned from every quarter of the House. He had before now taken on himself to say that in no shape or form was it a Judicial Body; that it had not been actuated by judicial principles; that it was essentially a political institution, composed of political partizans, who had acted without the slightest regard for the first elementary principles of fairness and justice, and who had been generally condemned from both sides. The representatives of the proprietary—or, rather, 1579 he should say, the ex-proprietary class —["Oh!"]—he meant the class to whom the land formerly belonged, and from whom it had been taken without compensation to give to those to whom it did not belong, and when had only hired it for a time—had generally condemned the proceedings of the Land Commission. And when he spoke of the Land Commission, he was not dealing with the humble and obscure personages who bad been so frequently referred to—namely, the Sub-Commissioners, better known as the "subconfiscators," to whom were relegated the details of transferring property from one set of persons to whom it did belong to another set of persons to whom it did not belong. He referred not to those, but to the chief movers in this system of confiscation—he meant the Chief Commissioners. Those gentlemen— against whom, personally, he had not a word to say—had, in their collective capacity, been the instruments of the perpetration of as great a series of frauds as bad ever defaced the pages of history; and he hoped the House would be very careful before it assigned any further powers to a body which had so misused those it already possessed.
MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
said, that one illustration was sometimes worth a score of arguments, and be thought the illustration given just now of the way English officials—or, rather, ex-officials —understood Irish affairs was worth any amount of reasoning which could be brought to bear upon the matter. The right hon. Gentleman who bad just sat down was at one time connected with what the right hon. Gentleman would call the Government of Ireland. During the time he acted as Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant he did not seem to have acquired the most elementary knowledge of the manner in which, the Boards of Guardians were constructed in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman bad said the Irish Members were complaining of something done or not done by the Irish Boards of Guardians, and that in so complaining they were condemning their own proposition for local self-government, "because," said be, "these are your Boards, chosen of the Irish people representing Irish opinion; and surely they do not do their duty." The right hon. Gentleman, whilst associated with the Government 1580 of Ireland, might have been expected to have at least rendered himself familiar with the fact that Boards of Guardians in Ireland were, to a great extent, composed of ex officio members. [Mr. J. LOWTHER: I said so.] The right hon. Gentleman bad also declared the Boards of Guardians to be the elect of the Irish people. There was no meaning in his imputation; at any rate, be (Mr. M'Carthy) could not understand it. If the Board of Guardians were not the elect of the Irish people, it was because the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends had prevented them from being so. The right hon. Gentleman bad gone on to warn the House against devoting public money to the erection of labourers' cottages, after having admitted the complaint that the Boards of Guardians had done practically nothing in the matter. He (Mr. M'Carthy) had been reminded, whilst the right hon. Gentleman was speaking, of the reply given by Prince Metternich to those appealed to on the subject of German Confederation. He had said he had one advice to give them, and it was "not to be precipitate." In alluding to what he called the transfer of property in Ireland from one set of persons to another, the right hon. Gentleman had not gone back far enough in his history. If he bad gone back a little further, he would have found that some of his friends, the landlords, bad obtained their property very much after the manner in which the brigand obtained his. He (Mr. M'Carthy) would not, however, pursue those subjects, but would merely appeal to the memories of hon. Gentlemen as to how the Labourers' Clauses in the Land Act passed.
§ MR. P. J. POWER
said, the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. J. Low-ther) wished the Committee to understand that the failure of the Labourers' Act in Ireland was attributable, to a great extent, to the action of the elected Guardians. Well, from a little experience in this matter, be (Mr. Power) could say that in the vast majority of cases in Ireland the Act bad been opposed far more by the ex officio than the elected class of Guardians. When the elected class bad opposed it, that class were Guardians returned by the ex officio vote.
§ MR. P. J. POWER
said, he was referring to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He wished to show that the Act was far more likely to be worked satisfactorily by popularly-elected Guardians than by ex officio Guardians, or Guardians elected by the ex officio vote. His experience in connection with Unions—and it was shared by others—was that in Minister, Leinster, and Connaught, the Act had failed in consequence of the action taken by its enemies, the ex officios. He imagined that there was more difficulty in the way of obtaining the loans for the construction of labourers' dwellings than the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think; and in connection with this matter he would point out that the labourers themselves were not so anxious for the cottages as the right hon. Gentleman imagined, for the reason that if the cottages were built by the tenants under the order of the Sub-Commissioners, the labourers occupied them merely at the will of the employers, and that they were not in a position to dispose of their labour in the best market. There was, consequently, a difficulty amongst the labourers themselves in this matter, which those who were not familiar with the subject did not quite appreciate. He pointed out to the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Colthurst) that action had been taken by several Boards of Guardians in this matter. In the Union of which ho was Chairman proceedings had been instituted; indeed, he should be sorry if it were to go forth that the elected Guardians generally had not been fairly anxious to discharge their duties to the labourers.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
understood the contention of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the County of Cork (Colonel Colthurst) was that in certain cases where reductions were made and judicial rents fixed it was possible there should be appended to the reduction a condition that certain labourers' cottages should be built. It might be asked how that was to be carried out. It was to be carried out by the action of the Boards of Guardians. Without wishing to enter into the question whether it was the fault of the ex officio or of 1582 the elected Guardians, he must say it was patent to everyone who knew anything of Ireland that in certain cases the statutory directions in the 19th clause of the Land Act had been inoperative in consequence of the inaction of the Boards of Guardians. His hon. and gallant Friend came to the House and asked—as ho was quite justified in asking—how matters were to be altered, and then the Committee were treated to dull disquisitions like that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Lincolnshire (Mr. J. Lowther) and of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy). First of all, let them consider how the provision of the Land Act relating to labourers' cottages, which, up to the present, had been inoperative, was to be amended. The appeal of his hon. and gallant Friend to right hon. Gentlemen opposite was whether they were prepared to make the amendment, an amendment which was essentially necessary in the interest of the Irish people.
The Usher of the Black Rod, being come with a Message for the House to attend the Lords Commissioners, the Chairman left the Chair: —
§ Mr. SPEAKER resumed the Chair:—
§ Message to attend the Lords Commissioners;—?
§ The House went;—and being returned;—
§ Mr. SPEAKER reported the Royal Assent to several Bills.
§ SUPPLY again considered in Committee.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, that, to continue for a moment the observations he was offering to the Committee, he would impress on Her Majesty's Government the necessity of remedying the present state of affairs, so as to make a provision intended to benefit the Irish labourer a reality, instead of, as it was now, a phantasm.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE)
said, that the Committee would, perhaps, allow him to say a word or two before the discussion proceeded further. There was no doubt that Orders made under the 19th section of the Land Act had been disregarded by Boards of Guardians; but it was impossible for him to say off-hand what remedy could be ap- 1583 plied. He admitted that the present state of things ought not to continue if a remedy could be found for it. He would cause it to be brought to the attention of the Land Courts that those Orders were being constantly disregarded, and he would also bring the question before the notice of the Local Government Board in Ireland. The hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Colthurst) had suggested that the Treasury might render some assistance in the matter. He (the Chief Secretary) would communicate with his hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Holland), and see what could be done in the direction the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggested.
§ MR. DEASY
said, he thought the speech they had just heard would commend itself to the Members of the Irish Party. There could be no doubt at all that there was a general disinclination amongst Boards of Guardians in Ireland to carry out the 19th section of the Land Act. There were several reasons for that disinclination. In the first place, there was an Act of a very different character in force — namely, the Labourers' Act, introduced by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor). That Act contemplated that labourers should get plots of ground and be altogether independent of their employers. Under that Act a labourer could retain possession of his house as long as he paid the rent imposed; but under the section of the Land Act to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Colthurst) had addressed himself a labourer was completely at the mercy of his employer. There was power to compel the erection of labourers' cottages on a farm the judicial rent of which had been fixed; but a labourer occupying one of the cottages would be just as much at the mercy of his master as he had previously been—he might be dismissed from his employment and dispossessed of his house any week or month. Boards of Guardians were naturally not at all inclined to compel the erection of cottages under the Land Act, for the simple reason that the benefit conferred on the labourers was very little indeed. But if, however, the Labourers' Act and the Amendment Bill now before the House were to be carried into effect, the labourers would be in a much better 1584 position than they would if the 19th section of the Land Act were put in force. But there was a reason why Boards of Guardians should not be in a hurry to carry out the Labourers' Act as it now stood, and that was that the high rate of interest which the Treasury claimed made the charge on the rates of the country, already enormous, still very much higher. The Treasury would not lend money under £5 1s. 6d. per cent. or for a longer term than 35 years. The Treasury were empowered by that Act to lend money at a low rate of interest, and for a very much more extended time; but whenever the Boards of Guardians applied for a longer period of repayment the Treasury refused to make a grant. Again, the Guardians were unwilling to put a heavy tax on the ratepayers at present, particularly as there was every probability that the Bill now before the House would pass into law, and that under that Bill very much easier terms would be made for the erection of labourers' cottages. Under the present Act the cost of purchasing plots of ground for the erection of labourers' cottages was very great; and if the landlord or tenant objected, the Boards of Guardians would be obliged to come up to London for an Act of Parliament, and the legal expenses would be very much larger than the actual cost of the ground. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Lincolnshire (Mr. J. Lowther) made a statement which was altogether at variance with the facts. If the right hon. Gentleman would examine the Return presented to the House of the number of labourers' cottages which had been erected within the last year or two he would find that in those Unions in which the elected Guardians, the real representatives of the ratepayers, were in a majority, the Labourers' Act had been carried out in a very large degree; and, on the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman would find that where the ex officio Guardians preponderated the Act had not been put in force at all. Not long ago, in one of the Unions of County Cork, Macroom, it was decided to erect a number of labourers' cottages—a meeting was held in compliance with the Act, and it was unanimously decided to erect a number of labourers' cottages. Another meeting was called a fortnight afterwards for the purpose of complying with some 1585 necessary legal forms, and without giving the slightest intimation to the elected Guardians of their intention, a few of the ex officio, with a landlord's solicitor, attended and threw out the scheme. If the right hon. Gentleman only knew a little more of the particulars he would be slow to say that the fact that the Labourers' Act had not been put into force was largely due to the elected members of the Boards of Guardians. It was well known that the mode of appointing Guardians in Ireland was such that, as a general rule, the representatives of the people formed a very small minority of the Board. It was to remedy that state of things that a Bill, which was now before the House of Lords, was introduced. If that Bill was passed, and if the representatives of the ratepayers did in future form a majority of the Boards of Guardians in Ireland, the Committee might rest assured that before very long the Labourers' Act would be put into full operation, and that the labouring classes of Ireland would have nothing to complain of in the matter. In conclusion, he had only to say that he was not strongly in favour of the view taken by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for County Cork (Colonel Colthurst). He did not think it was very desirable that the 19th clause of the Land Act should be largely put into force. There was a reasonable prospect—indeed, there was almost the certainty—that during the present Session the Labourers' Act would be amended. It was only by the amendment of that Act which was sought that the condition of the labourers could be in any way improved. At the same time, it would be well if the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Sir William Hart Dyke) communicated with the Members of the Land Commission, and asked them to see that some of the Orders they had made, particularly in the poorer parts of the country, for the erection of cottages were carried out.
§ MR. HEALY
entirely agreed with the view which his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Deasy) had taken upon this question. There was not the slightest doubt that the Boards of Guardians had not been able to put the Act into force, owing to the ridiculous character of the measure which was passed at the instance of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Waterford 1586 (Mr. Villiers Stuart). No more absurd Bill was ever passed by the House of Commons, because it was a Bill to enforce penalties amounting, in some cases, to £60, £70, and £80, penalties so crushing that no Board of Guardians would impose them. It was another case of the old story; they put on a heavy penalty to check mischief; but the penalty was so great that the jury refused to convict. Supposing that a man applied to the Land Commission, and they made an Order for the erection of a cottage. Supposing that then the landlord appealed. It was sometimes three years before the appeal was heard, and during all the time penalties of £1 a-week were accumulating, owing to the absurd and idiotic Act which was passed at the suggestion of the hon. Member for Waterford, and which the Irish Members were so soft as to allow to pass without amendment. It would be simply ruinous to the tenants if those penalties were imposed. The tenants found the greatest difficulty in borrowing money from the Board of Works. He had known farmers to try for six or 12 months to get a paltry loan from the Board of Works. The farmers had no money with which to pay for the erection of the cottages; and yet, under the Bill of the hon. Member for Waterford, the fines against them increased weekly. What greater absurdity could there be? The men tried to get the money from the Board of Works, and because the Board of Works chose to employ the red tape for which they were so renowned the poor tenants were to have those fines of £1 a-week accumulating against them. He had had great experience in this matter, and he did not hesitate to say that the penalties provided prevented the Act of the hon. Member for Waterford being more rapidly enforced. What he recommended, when the Land Act was passing through Parliament, was that there should be an official attached to the Land Commission for the special purpose of inspecting labourers' cottages. That suggestion was received by a snort from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). Well, with regard to another subject. Not long ago the Government promised him that they would be able to make a statement with respect to the Sub-Commissioners who were to go out 1587 of office. Of course, the Tory Government knew very well that the Land Commissioners were supposed to be more favourable to the view of the landlords than they were to that of the tenants; therefore, very great suspicion naturally attached to the selection of the Sub-Commissioners who wore to go out of office. The rumour had got about in the country that the Sub-Commissioners who were most favourable to the landlords were to be continued in office, and that those who had got the reputation of being friends of the tenants were to be turned away. He thought that everything that was possible should be done to guard against any ground for that suspicion. The state of the case with regard to the Sub-Commissioners was very unfortunate. They had a gentleman like Mr. Wylie hunted from office for the slightest supposed favour to the tenants. They had Mr. Meek and a number of other gentlemen, whoso names it was not necessary to mention, hunted from office because it was supposed they purposely gave judgments in favour of the tenants as against the landlords. Now, he understood that the office held by Mr. M'Devitt would shortly be vacant. Mr. M'Devitt was notoriously the chief enemy of the tenants of Ireland; he was a gentleman who, wherever he had gone, had been a blister upon the Sub-Commission, and who had brought more odium on the Land Commission than anyone else. As he (Mr. Healy) showed in the House some time ago, Mr. M'Devitt on one occasion struck out the case of a poor widow in County Cork because she could not speak English. In fact, whenever Mr. M'Devitt had a chance of doing an injury to the tenants he did not fail to avail himself of it. His term of office would very shortly be brought to a close, and the very grave suspicion existed that he was to be re-employed to the detriment of other gentlemen who had not brought down upon themselves the odium of either Party. The main consideration which ought to weigh in this matter was which of the Sub-Commissioners had steered, as it were, an even keel, and not incurred the odium of the people. There was no doubt that the continuance of Mr. M'Devitt in office, to the detriment of Commissioners whose conduct had not caused an outcry against them, 1588 would strengthen the belief that the Government desired to retain the services of the friends of the landlords. Now, there was another matter to which he wished to refer. The Land Purchase Bill, which was coming down from "another place," proposed to create two additional Commissioners, and those Commissioners were to be drafted on to the existing work of the Land Commission. He must say he viewed with an entire want of confidence the proposal to entrust to the Land Commissioners any scheme of land purchase. The Committee could not have forgotten what Mr. Litton, Land Commissioner, declared on the question of land purchase in the House of Lords. That gentleman there said that to carry out a scheme of peasant proprietary in Ireland would tend to a separation of the two countries. Did the Committee imagine with any confidence that the people of Ireland would view with much favour a scheme of land purchase which was to be carried out by persons, one of whom had made such a declaration as that? Something should be done to separate the Land Commissioners, who were charged with the duty of fixing rents, from the body who had to deal with purchase. They could not forget how Mr. George Fottrell was treated by the Land Commission, simply because he was supposed to be inclined to promote a scheme of land purchase. Mr. Fottrell was obliged to retire from his position as Solicitor to the Land Commission, though the Government gave him a much better position, and no doubt a much happier position, since it had a salary of something like £1,000 a-year attached to it. The people had a deep distrust of the action of the Land Commissioners with regard to the scheme of land purchase. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Sir William Hart Dyke) and the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes) must have read the comments of the Land Judges' Court on the Land Commission. Some tenants declared that they could not get money from the Land Commissioners, and the comments made by the Judges had been called attention to in "another place" by Lord Castletown. And yet it was to that body, which was admittedly a body of obstructives, so far as land purchase was concerned, that it was proposed to en- 1589 trust the scheme of land purchase in Ireland. It would be very regrettable indeed if the proposal were adopted. He would like to receive from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary the names of the Sub-Commissioners whose services were to be retained, and the names of those whose services were to be discontinued, and he would also like to know what hope there was of a settlement of the question of appeals. There were only three gentlemen who heard appeals; and it was perfectly impossible for those men to settle, at the present rate of progress, the appeals which had already been made to them under three or four years. It would greatly facilitate the settlement of appeals if some assistance could be obtained. Besides, it was a hardship to tenants to be dragged up to Dublin from all parts of the country because of the Report of the Court Valuer. The system was most extraordinary. When the Sub-Commissioners hoard a case there were valuers on both sides; but when an appeal was entered a most extraordinary system was inaugurated, as the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes) well knew. He did not think the right hon. and learned Gentleman would have the courage to stand up at the Table and defend the system which now prevailed in the Appeal Court. What happened? A landlord entered an appeal against the decision of the Sub-Commission. A Court Valuer was sent down, and he gave his view of the value of the land as it stood, with improvements and everything else. He ought to say, first of all, that the Commission had to some extent discouraged appeals by the tariff they had adopted. 10s. was to be paid, and then the Court Valuer was sent down to the farm, and the landlord and tenant received a copy of the valuation, and then it very frequently happened that the landlord dropped the appeal. The landlord had put the tenant to the expense of getting a distinct valuation, to be made for himself, to the expense of getting a solicitor to attend to the case, and of bringing up his witnesses, and then he had the power to drop the appeal. Supposing he did not drop the appeal, what happened was even still worse. Witnesses on each side were brought up; but the landlord's advocate might get up in Court and say—"I produce no 1590 witnesses. I rely on the Court Valuer." The tenant might call for the production of the Court Valuer, but he was not called—he was not to be got at; he was not to be examined; he was a shadow which hung and prevailed over the entire Court; but as to how he arrived at his valuation, as to whether the valuation should have been £10 or £1,000, there was no means of ascertaining. That bloodless shadow poisoned the entire system of appeal. It was hardly possible to conceive the feeling of suspicion which was created in the minds of the people when a valuation was flung on to the table of the Court, and there was no chance of cross-examining the valuer. The system was a most mischievous one, and one which ought at once to be corrected. He was amazed that his countrymen had not made a strong protest against the system. If the landlord had the option of cross-examining the Court Valuer, why should not the tenant? The system was bad— it was a makeshift which should not have been attempted. There was one other matter to which ho wished to call attention. The Treasury had now got in hand something like £.5,000 of the tenants' money,' which, according to a recent decision, they had no business to have. It was held lately by the Court of Appeal that the affixing of a stamp —he believed it was a ls. stamp—on the original notice and on the appeal notice was illegal; it was held to be an infringement of the right of the subject, which was guarded against by a distinct Act of Parliament. What were the Treasury going to do with the tenants' money? He thought they ought to give it up. Of course, the distribution of the money amongst the tenants of the country would not be worth the expense which it would involve; but the Irish people ought to get the money back in some shape or form. It might possibly be given in prizes for some educational subject. Anyhow, the Treasury had no right to it, and they ought to give a pledge that they would refund it in some way or other.
§ MR. MARUM
said, that Boards of Guardians would carry out the Act, but for the enormous taxation involved in doing so. Take his own county, Kilkenny. In 1840 the population was 202,000; it was now only 99,000. Upwards of 100,000 of the labouring 1591 classes had left the county owing to the depression in the agricultural interest. When they spoke of Boards of Guardians, they must bear in mind that the Guardians themselves felt like other people the effects of the agricultural depression, and that therefore they were not as active in incurring expenditure as they might otherwise he. He agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) that the appeal system amounted to a very grave scandal. Within the last few days he had called the attention of the Chief Secretary (Sir William Hart Dyke) to the fact that there were about 10,000 appeals unheard, and that of those appeals a great number would not be heard, because the difficulties and injustices which the tenants had to struggle against in the Appeal Court were such that sooner than go on with their appeals the tenants withdrew them. There could be no graver scandal than that poor appellants were absolutely obliged to give up the chance of getting their rights, because of the condition of things which had been so graphically described by the hon. and learned Member for Monaghan. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would give his earnest attention to this subject, because there was nothing which so much disposed people to disaffection and discontent as to find that they could not get justice in the Courts of Law.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he should like to say a word upon a question which only indirectly arose upon this Vote—namely, the question of land purchase. He was extremely anxious to see the Land Purchase Bill passed; but he understood it was proposed that the machinery of the Bill should be worked by the Land Commission Court.
§ THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. RITCHIE)
It is well I should direct the hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that we are now considering the Vote for the Irish Land Commission; and, therefore, we cannot now discuss the merits of the Irish Land Purchase Bill.
§ MR. BIGGAR
, continuing, said, there was nothing in the shape of permanence with regard to any of the officials of the Land Commission when they were appointed. He did not wish to draw any invidious distinctions; but it was well known that none of the gentlemen connected with the Laud Commission 1592 Court were trained officials. They were men without experience, gathered together in an emergency; and, therefore, ho held that they were not competent to settle land titles, and questions of that kind. The Sub - Commissioners, and also the Chief Commissioners, moved about from place to place; and the duties they had had to perform in times past did not fit them for an office of a real, permanent, and substantial character. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) had very properly raised the question of the 1s. fee upon the original and appeal notices. He did not know what was the best way to dispose of the £5,000 which the Treasury illegally held; but he had not the slightest doubt that there were many beneficial purposes to which it could be applied. He also desired to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary the importance of the question of appeals. It was quite true, as had been pointed out, that many litigants were ruined by delay. The tenant was held liable for the old rent until the appeal had been decided; and therefore, if the old rent was a very extravagant one, the tenant was ruined before he had an opportunity of obtaining a decision of his case. That was a grievous state of things, which no time should be lost in remedying.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND
said, it was proposed to reduce the number of Sub-Commissioners, and thus effect a saving of something like £5,000. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) had referred to the reconstitution of the Sub-Commission. He could not at that moment give the names of the Sub-Commissioners of the future; but if hon. Members would allow this Vote to pass now, he would, either to-morrow or the next day, possibly by Report, give them the names they desired. Of course, he need not say that, in the interest of the body itself, it was very necessary it should be constituted in the most impartial manner. Various other matters had been mentioned by the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Healy); but he (the Chief Secretary) was unable to go into them, because he was not acquainted with the circumstances. With regard to the valuers, however, he might say it appeared to him that the valuers were a Judicial Body, constituted by Act 1593 of Parliament for the purpose of attending to appeals, and that, of course, he had no power to interfere in any way with their judgments. It was perfectly obvious that the question of the block in the Appeal Court did require attention on his part, and he promised hon. Gentlemen that it should have his attention. That was the first time that the question of the 1s. fees charged on notices had been brought under his notice. He had communicated with his hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Holland), and that Gentleman had informed him that the sum specified was in the hands of the Treasury.
§ MR. SEXTON
asked whether, in case Irish Members accepted the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, and awaited further explanations on Report, the Government would be willing to report Progress after this Vote?
§ Question put, and agreed to.