§ (1.) £69,316 (including a Supplementary sum of £3,000), to complete the sum for County Court Officers, Ireland.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the House had repeatedly heard, of late, that there was a great improvement in the condition of Ireland. It had formed a matter of congratulation at the commencement of the present Session. The late Government took credit to themselves for abandoning the main part of the Prevention of Crime Act, and limiting themselves to the retention only of certain portions which they considered valuable. Fortunately, circumstances had put an end to the late Government and their intentions. The present Government had gone further, and had wisely and intelligently dispensed with all the provisions of the Prevention of Crime Act. He had been curious to ascertain, therefore, whether the combined opinions of the late Government and the present found a reflection in this Estimate. He should have been glad to find that that was the case, and he had hoped, for instance, that the staff of magistrates, which had been inflated for the purpose of meeting an exceptional state of things in the last few years, would have been brought back to its normal level. They all knew that even before the Prevention of Crime Act came into operation in 1882 Earl Spencer, and his Predecessor, Earl Cow-per, had added to the magistracy generally, and had increased the number of stipendiary magistrates. The day the present Parliament ended, which he supposed was about a fortnight distant, the Prevention of Crime Act would cease. It was enacted in 1882 for three years succeeding, and it would pats out of existence on the day that Parliament was prorogued. Therefore, the period of its cessation was quite close enough to justify an inquiry as to what steps the Government intended to take to reduce the establishment of paid magistrates in Ireland to its normal level. In 1884–5, according to the present Estimates, there were 79 paid magistrates, and for the present year he observed that the number was precisely the same. 1815 He knew that the present Government was not responsible for this Estimate, which was drawn and presented before the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir William Hart Dyke) could have imagined that the luxury of being Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant was reserved for him. But when it was drawn up, in the present year, it ought to have been quite apparent, from the state of the calendars and the reports in the newspapers, that there was nothing exceptional in the state of crime in Ireland. Nevertheless, not only in the number of magistrates that were proposed to be maintained, but in every other item, the Estimates, on the face of them, denoted an exceptional state of things. The seven temporary appointments of magistrates were to be continued at a cost to the country of something like £3,000. If seven temporary magistrates were necessary in a time of great emergency, when Boycotting prevailed and conspiracy meetings were rife, why should they be necessary now? What was the meaning of this? Had those seven gentlemen really any functions to discharge? He could understand that at a time when the Lord Lieutenant was required to gallop through the streets of Dublin surrounded by a small army, the circumstances were very different from those which now existed, when the Lord Lieutenant could drive about in an open phaeton like any other gentleman. He saw in the Estimate that there were travelling allowances for those seven temporary magistrates in addition to other expenses. He failed to see, on the face of the Estimate, any sign whatever that the Government conceded the necessity of reducing the expenditure, although they acknowledged, by their policy of allowing the Prevention of Crime Act to cease, that the country had passed from an exceptional into an ordinary condition. Nevertheless, when it came to a question of the expenditure of money they made no reduction in the establishment, and no diminution in its cost. He trusted that his hon. Friends would support him in obtaining some explanation from the Government. He maintained that it was of evil effect to continue an inflated magisterial establishment which the necessities of the case did not justify. When there was an exceptional state of crime in Ireland there might have been reason for 1816 creating an exceptional establishment of officials to deal with it. But he did not see why they should make a divisional magistrate a present of £1,000 a-year, instead of going back to the original payment of £500 a-year for persons who held the rank of ordinary magistrate. He would not go so far as to say that those exceptional magistrates would feel inclined to provoke an exceptional state of crime; but undoubtedly they would not be sorry for the continuance of such a state of things as would enable them to claim this exceptional remuneration. So long as the Government paid heavy salaries for the performance of so-called exceptional duties, those men would continue to represent up to the latest moment the necessity for high salaries and an exceptional staff. He thought he was entitled to say that there was no longer any need for special magistrates, or a temporary staff. The ordinary officers of the law in ordinary numbers were amply sufficient to meet the requirements of normal times, so far as the preservation of the peace of Ireland was concerned. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was not responsible for these Estimates; but ho was responsible for the change of policy which had been announced since the Estimates were drawn, and he thought the right hon. Gentleman ought to be able to assure the Committee that no officials would be much longer continued in public employment in Ireland for the repression of crime, or the administration of the law, except those who were employed before the cry was raised that Ireland was in an exceptional condition. He thought he was entitled to claim in a country like Ireland that the unpaid magistrates, drawn as they were exclusively from one class of persons— namely, the landlord class, and persons of one creed—Protestants—saturated as they were with social prejudices—that it was, therefore, all the more essential that the paid and Resident Magistrates who were appointed should be men of high mind and independent judgment, who would go upon the Magisterial Bench among the unpaid magistrates in order to keep the inferior members of the Bench in a right path, and use their influence with them in favour of impartiality and even-handedness in the administration of justice. The Resident Magistrates ought to show their activity 1817 in deprecating all prejudices; they should endeavour to urge upon the unpaid magistracy the necessity of equally administering the law among different classes of men, and should provide this limited security, at all events—that whenever an unpaid magistrate was inclined to obey the bigotry of creed, or unduly to favour prejudice, a paid official should be there to point out how he ought to administer the law, and, at any rate, to dissent from their action when they refused to take his counsel. The country had a right to expect that men who were so highly paid by the State would use their influence on the side of impartiality and justice. Unfortunately it was not often that the paid magistracy of Ireland answered that description; its members were too frequently old soldiers or old sailors who had lived all their lives among persons of this particular class, and who made their appearance on the Bench of Ireland saturated with old prejudices. A paid magistrate was probably the younger son of a landlord who could get nothing else to do, and the paid magistracy had come to be regarded very much as the Church of England was once—namely, as a place where a comfortable living could be found for those who were fitted for nothing else. If the Government really desired to impress the people of Ireland with a sincere desire to inaugurate a new era and to make the law respected, one of their first steps ought to be to consider seriously the class of men whom they selected as Resident Magistrates. He was not speaking of one class more than another. There were good men of all classes, just as there wore bad men, and it would be very easy for the Government to obtain the services of men who, if they were not trained in the law, would at least have some knowledge of the law, and be actuated by good intentions without being identified with either one side or the other in Ireland. Ho was afraid that the era foretold by the right hon. and learned Attorney General a short time ago was not yet quite at hand. It was all very well to talk of getting rid of religious prejudices in connection with Irish affairs; but the best way to hasten that time would be to take care to have, on every Magisterial Bench in Ireland, a man who, by his character and training, would not 1818 be inclined to lean to one side or the other, but who, in the name of the Government, would stand out firmly for a fair and equal administration of justice. The unpaid magistracy were very much like a flock, of sheep—if they were led by one of themselves they would mostly go the wrong way; but if a paid magistrate were in every district among them he would take a firm and independent stand, and it would be found that very few Benches of local Justices would feel inclined to go against him. Ho might illustrate that by a fact which had occurred in the count}' of Sligo. Some time ago a well known gamekeeper—George Garton—went into a public-house to drink, and in the course of a squabble which ensued he knocked down a man, made an assault on the police, resisted arrest, defied any Papist to interfere in the matter, fired off his revolver, and when taken to the station took out a jack-knife to defend himself. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that that particular gamekeeper had for a long time kept this part of the country in a state of terror and commotion. He (Mr. Sexton) had had occasion, more than once, to call attention to his conduct. Garton went about firing off his gun in the yards of peaceable inhabitants, and he had excited so much hostility and resentment by his unprovoked acts of aggression that he had to go about escorted by the Emergency Police. A temporary barrack had been planted for his accommodation, and he (Mr. Sexton) was now told that it would become a permanent charge upon the locality. All that expense had been incurred solely for the sake of one ill-conditioned person who was a pest to the whole district. Attempts had been made to get his licence to carry arms taken away, but they had failed. It was then requested that some other Resident Magistrate should adjudicate upon the case; but the authorities replied that the Resident Magistrates were engaged elsewhere, and it was impossible to send one there. In the particular instance to which he had referred the case was proved up to the hilt; several witnesses spoke of seeing the man quarrelling in the road; they saw him strike a man without provocation, and then fire his revolver. The plea put forward in his behalf was that the revolver 1819 went off of itself. But it was an old Colt revolver which could not go off of itself, and very deliberate action was required to fire it off. Three charges were brought against him. The first was that he was drunk, and had unlawfully fired off firearms; the second was that he had unlawfully made use of firearms on the Queen's highway; and the third that he had assaulted the police in the execution of their duty. Could any man suppose that if a member of the popular Party in Ireland had been brought before a Resident Magistrate upon such a charge he would not have been sent to prison with all the hard labour that could be imposed upon him? In this case the punishment for the first offence was a fine, for the second also a fine, but for the third charge a man, on conviction, was liable to suffer six months' hard labour. But what happened to this man, George Carton, this riotous gamekeeper, who had been the principal cause of the proclamation of the district, and of the employment of an extra police force? Simply because he happened to be in the employment of Mr. Evelyn Ashley, the Member for the Isle of Wight, although the evidence was quite clear upon all the three charges, when a paid magistrate came to hear the case he found himself surrounded by friends of the man's employer. Having heard the evidence they retired and deliberated for an hour. He would do the Resident Magistrate the justice to suppose that he was engaged during the whole of that time in remonstrating with the other members of the Bench. He did not know how he could have been otherwise engaged for an entire hour. It could only be supposed that Mr. Henry Turner, the paid magistrate, was trying to bring his unpaid colleagues to reason. But when they returned into Court they held that of the three charges the drunkenness was not proved, although the man was staggering and falling about the road. They held further that the revolver went off accidentally; but they found him guilty of an assault upon the police, and for that offence they fined him £2. That was the way in which justice was administered in Ireland. He could only regard it as an exasperating farce, and the whole case terminated with a simple fine upon a blackguard for whose protection a police force had been saddled upon the district and made 1820 permanent. The inhabitants had repeatedly expressed their indignation. Why was an ill-conditioned man of this sort allowed to carry firearms? If he had not had this revolver in his pocket it was possible that he would have been much less aggressive and impudent, and he would have made himself far less offensive if he had known that in all probability he would have had to defend himself with his fists. So long as cases of this kind were tolerated in Ireland the administration of justice in that country would be looked upon with contempt. The people saw that a chartered bully, because he happened to be in the employment of a popular Member of Parliament, could do what ho pleased; that he could get drunk, fire off his revolver in the high road, and have a police barrack erected for his protection. He (Mr. Sexton) had no doubt that the Attorney General, in appointing magistrates, always endeavoured to get the best men; but the best men were those who administered the law, and if this state of things were to be continued no respect whatever could be felt in Ireland for the administration of the law. Before he sat down he would like to know how it was that the Earl of Belfast had been so long retained in an important office in connection with the Commission of the Peace in the county of Antrim? At one time the noble Earl was in the 6th Regiment of Foot, and was regularly employed with his regiment, nevertheless he had been for 35 years Clerk of the Peace for the county of Antrim. Ho had drawn from that office in salary and fees about £1,600 a-year, and, therefore, he had picketed from the public purse not far short of £60,000. But in the course of the 35 years during which he had been Clerk of the Peace he had never once been seen in the county of Antrim. He had never lived in that county at all, nor had he lived in Ireland; and if all the records were searched for the name of the Earl of Belfast it would be found that he had no address to which a letter could be sent except London. He employed a deputy at £200 a-year out of the £1.600 he received to do all the work. Yet the law declared that the Clerk of the Peace should sign certain documents—for instance, the Clerks of Unions sent in the list of voters and a list of claimants in order that they might be placed before 1821 the Revising Barrister. But the Earl of Belfast had signed none of those lists. The duty had been discharged by his deputy, and strong doubts had been expressed whether the law had not been violated, and whether the last election for the county of Antrim, which took place not very long ago, was not invalid because the Clerk of the Peace had not done any of those acts which the law declared he ought to do. The Earl of Belfast was the son of the Marquess of Donegal, and in the course of nature he would become a Peer. Was it legal that he should be Clerk of the Peace and a Peer of the Realm at the same time? Ho thought the case was unprecedented. The noble Earl's father was more than 80 years of ago, and not likely to live very long. How did the Earl of Belfast acquire those fees? What was the tenure of it? Was there any possibility of his getting rid of it? It was a gross scandal that a man who had never done a stroke of work, and who lived regularly in London, should draw £1,600 a-year for 35 years as Clerk of the Peace for the county of Antrim; a man who had not even an address in Ireland. In these days, and in the present position of public affairs, he thought they had arrived at a time when persons of this kind would not be tolerated in preying as sinecurists upon the public purse. He asked the Government to inform him whether there were no means of relegating the Earl of Belfast to that private life he was so fitted to adorn, and to replace him in the office of the Clerk of the Peace in the county of Antrim by some person legally competent to perform the duties of the office?
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he thought the case which had been mentioned by his hon. Friend of Mr. Evelyn Ashley's gamekeeper was one which ought to be looked into. It was simply scandalous that, because a man happened to be in the employment of the hon. Mr. Evelyn Ashley, and that Gentleman happening to be an official of the House of Commons, and a local landlord of high station, that this fellow should be able to disturb the peace of an entire locality, and bring upon it the stigma of having an additional police force quartered upon it, the inhabitants being compelled to pay the extra taxation that was rendered neces- 1822 sary. He, therefore, trusted that the Chief Secretary would be able to say that a case of this kind would be carefully looked into. Of course, the Chief Secretary could in no way interfere with the action of the magistrates in regard to it—that was all done and gone; but he could consider whether the licence to carry arms ought not to be taken away. Certainly, a man who wont about the country drunk, and threatening the lives of Her Majesty's subjects, was really not a fit person to be entrusted with a licence to carry arms, especially when he had been convicted of firing off a revolver upon the highway. The case was a notorious one, and had been brought before the House several times by his hon. Friend; but hitherto his hon. Friend had found it impossible to obtain any satisfaction. He (Mr. O'Connor) had no hesitation in saying that the real reason was that this man had very powerful protectors; but he thought that even the high position of Mr. Evelyn Ashley ought not to be sufficient to protect the man from the ordinary process of the law. As to the second case which his hon. Friend had brought before the Committee—namely, the extraordinary anomaly of allowing the Earl of Belfast to hold the position of Clerk of the Peace in the county of Antrim—he trusted that that also would receive attention at the hands of the Government.
said, he thought it was necessary that he should stop the hon. Gentleman at once; and he regretted that he had not stopped the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) from entering into a discussion of this case. There was no item in the present Vote which affected either the gamekeeper, who had already occupied so much of the time of the Committee, nor did he find any reference in the Estimate to the Earl of Belfast. Indeed, he saw no mention of the Clerk of the Peace for the county of Antrim; and, therefore, the two matters which had been referred to at such great length ought not to occupy the further attention of the Committee. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) was only now repeating the remarks which had already been made by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton).
§ MR. SEXTON
wished to point out that the Vote included an item for the 1823 payment of Resident Magistrates in Ireland, and one of those Resident Magistrates was Mr. Turner, who, as he thought, had adjudicated wrongly and scandalously in the case of this gamekeeper. He was questioning the acts of the Resident Magistrate in the particular case to which he had called attention. So far as the Earl of Belfast was concerned, he had referred to that case in connection with the Vote for the office of Clerks of the Peace, and his object was to call attention to a circumstance which was regarded in the county of Antrim as a serious grievance.
said, he must adhere to his ruling that it would be irregular to enter into those cases. So far as the Clerk of the Peace for the county of Antrim was concerned, although there was no mention of that officer in the Vote, he was far from saying that such matters should not be alluded to incidentally; but it would not be in Order to discuss at length the position of the Earl of Belfast in this particular county or in Ireland.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he should not have risen to address the Committee at all if the Chief Secretary had given any sign that he intended to reply to his hon. Friend. He would only add that it was a scandalous thing that any man should receive a salary for so many years without performing any service for it whatever. The case put forward by his hon. Friend in regard to this nobleman might have an important effect in regard to future legislation for Ireland. His hon. Friend the Member for King's County (Mr. Molloy) had already expressed an opinion that the recent election for the county of Antrim was rendered illegal by the non-performance of his duties by the Earl of Belfast.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE)
said, he should like to say one word as to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) in the earlier part of his remarks. In regard to the question of Resident Magistrates, there was a reduction in the Vote, although not a large one. amounting to £521. In regard to the question of extra magistrates, it seemed to him that the point raised by the hon. Member was entirely a question for the administration of the law in Ireland. The hon. Member re- 1824 joiced that it was not proposed to re-enact the Prevention of Crime Act; but he must remind hon. Members that if the Government allowed that Act to lapse, they wore, at the same time, responsible for the preservation of life and property, and for the proper administration of the law in Ireland. If any further reduction could be made in the Vote, it would be a good omen for the future of the country; but the present Government had been but a very short period in Office, and there were questions which should only be dealt with on mature consideration. The hon. Member had alluded to the case of a gamekeeper in Sligo. It was the first he (Sir William Hart Dyke) had heard of the case, and he could only reply in regard to it as he would reply in any other case; that if full information were placed before him he would consider it his bounden duty to deal with it according to its merits. The hon. Member had also alluded to the case of the Earl of Belfast. He thought his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General had more information upon that case than he had, and he would ask his right hon. and learned Friend to explain the state of the matter with regard to the position held by the Earl of Belfast. He did not think he had any further remarks to make, and ho trusted that after the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) heard the observations of the Attorney General he would be satisfied, and would allow the Government to take the Vote.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. HOLMES)
said, he was not aware that any reference was about to be made to the case of the Earl of Belfast as occupying the position of Clerk of the Peace for the county of Antrim. He was unable to do more than give an explanation of the circumstances under which the Earl of Belfast occupied that position. He was quite willing to admit that the appointment of Clerks of the Peace had once been in a very unsatisfactory position. The position in which the Earl of Belfast stood was practically this—he occupied the position of Clerk of the Peace for life, and had virtually a freehold property in the office. He could not be dispossessed of his rights, and he had the right to appoint a deputy, and as long as that deputy discharged his duties faithfully there were no means by which the Earl of Belfast could be forced 1825 to attend personally to the business of the office, or could be held responsible for any neglect of his duties. In 1877, when his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) was Chief Secretary for Ireland, a Bill was passed, the object of which was to bring into a position more in accordance with modern ideas the status of the Clerks of the Crown and Clerks of the Peace. The effect of the Act was to amalgamate the two offices, and to render it obligatory on the gentlemen who wore appointed to perform the duties in person, for it was expected that when a new appointment was made the officer appointed would discharge the duties not only nominally but personally. That Act contained certain provisions which were intended to induce Clerks of the Crown and Clerks of the Peace, who were not performing the duties personally, to retire on equitable terms, and the scale offered to them was a pension amounting to two-thirds of their salary. He was happy to say that in a great many instances the object of that Statute had been carried out; and in many counties, where in the year 1877 there was a Clerk of the Crown or a Clerk of the Peace who for many years had had no connection with the county at all, those gentlemen were induced to retire on the terms offered to them, and the gentlemen who had been appointed since were bound to give personal attention to their duties. But the Statute to which he referred did not provide, nor could it do so, that a person who was entitled to a freehold office, and who was permitted to discharge the duties by deputy, should be deprived of his office. It was left to the gentlemen who held those appointments to avail themselves of the provisions of the Statute, and in some instances they had done so, while in others they refused to do so.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND
said, he did not believe that there were more than two or three, and the Earl of Belfast held one of them. The position of the Earl of Belfast was this—lie was appointed at a time when he had a right to nominate a deputy. As one of the terms of his appointment he had that right of appointing a deputy, and so long as the deputy discharged 1826 his duty so long would the Earl of Belfast have a right to be continued in the office. That arrangement could only be of a temporary character, because the Statute removed the anomaly in regard to fresh appointments. No doubt, in the course of a few years, all the officers appointed as Clerks of the Peace under the old system would cease; and he, for one, would not be sorry for it. It was the Government of the Earl of Beaconsfield which first directed the attention of the Irish Executive to the matter; and although it was impossible to go further at present, unless those officers retired of their own free will, in the course of a few years the legislation of 1877 would be carried out to the full extent, and there would he in Ireland, and in every county, a real Clerk of the Peace and Clerk of the Crown actively engaged in performing the duties of the office personally, and not by deputy. As a matter of fact, it was an arrangement which was already almost completely carried out in every county in Ireland.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, his hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had referred to an opinion he had expressed in regard to the recent election for the county of Antrim. He was under the impression that the duties of the Clerk of the Peace in reference to Parliamentary elections were bound to be carried out by that officer in person. He might be mistaken, but he had a strong impression to that effect, and that the personal attendance of the Clerk of the Peace was made compulsory. In this particular case the Earl of Belfast had never put his hand to an hour's work; he had never done anything for the county whatever, and yet he had drawn from it an annual salary which amounted, during the years he had held the office, to nearly £60,000. He certainly thought that that was purely an imposition upon the taxpayers.
§ MR. SEXTON
asked from whom, and in what form, this gentleman acquired the office, and were they to understand that Parliament had no power to pass an Act obliging him to retire?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND
said, that Parliament, of course, had power to pass any Act it pleased; but the rule, in matters of this kind, was that a person should not be interfered with as long as he conducted the business of the office properly. In 1827 this case the Earl of Belfast had the rig-lit to appoint a deputy, and so long as the deputy faithfully performed the duties the rule was that he should not be interfered with. The only thing the Statute of 1877 did was to hold out inducements to those gentlemen to retire, and to make a different arrangement when the office became vacant. He was quite sure that the hon. Member would not, for the sake of the two or three gentlemen who were holding appointments vested in them before the Act was passed, and who were acting, unquestionably, under powers given them by Statute, interfere with a principle which was founded on what was generally considered to be just in such matters.
§ MR. SEXTON
asked whether the Lord Lieutenant had the power of making the appointment, or, if not, who had?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND
thought that at the time the appointment of the Earl of Belfast was made it was in the gift of the Lieutenant of the county, and the person appointed had the right to hold the office during his life, and could not be deprived of it or the emoluments attached to it, except some malfeisance was shown in connection with the performance of the duties. The Clerk of the Peace himself had the right to appoint a deputy, and as long as he performed his duties properly no change could be made.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, the Chief Secretary for Ireland had stated that it was the great desire of the Government to carry out the law. But this Vote was itself a violation of the law. There was a violation of the law last year, and a violation of the law the year before. The Resident Magistrates were allowed certain salaries by Act of Parliament, which were fixed and limited to a certain sum; but some of those Resident Magistrates were receiving a salary in excess of the sum allowed by Act of Parliament. That fact had been pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor General, and it was not the first time that attention had been called to a similar circumstance. No doubt the late Government were responsible for these Estimates, and on those occasions when a flaw was pointed out they brought in a Bill to cover the illegality; but that Bill did not pass 1828 into law, and he was not aware that any satisfactory explanation had yet been given. Therefore, those payments in excess were still illegal, and were altogether contrary to the law, which the Chief Secretary was so anxious to see administered. The observation which was made by the financial officer of the Government in regard to the matter was that the Vote for the Resident Magistrates included payments to them in excess of those which were authorized. That expenditure was provided for in a Supplementary Estimate, and the payment was not made until the Supplementary Estimate was passed. In order, however, to put the matter right, the late Government introduced a Bill; but it did not become law. The payments in question were illegal, and had remained illegal; and yet it was proposed now to continue the illegality. If hon. Members would look at the Estimates, they would find that a sum of £43,000 was voted last year, and that there was also a Supplementary Vote amounting to £1,000, making a total of £44,000. The Estimate this year was still £44,000 odd, so that those payments, which were admittedly illegal, were to be continued in the present year. If the late Government had continued in Office, they would certainly have had this matter brought before them. The last three Chief Secretaries were perfectly well aware that the Vote had been challenged. The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was also aware of it, and yet not a single one of those officials was present to defend their own Estimates. It really seemed as if the Liberal Party cared for Office, and nothing but Office. When the occasion arrived when they certainly would be expected to defend the Vote they had themselves drawn up, and which they knew would be challenged, not a single Member of the late Government put in an appearance. Of course, the present Government could not be expected to account for these Estimates. The present Government could do no more than take the Estimates of their Predecessors; but he did not see how they could defend and recognize a clear infringement of the law. No attempt had been made to account for the omission to secure the passing of the Bill brought in by the late Government, which was intended to rectify the error they had committed, or to account for 1829 the non-revision of the Vote in the Estimates now placed upon the Paper. Under those circumstances, he did not see how the Government could resist the proposal to reduce the Vote by the sum of £1,000, which it would be illegal to disburse. He was interested to know what answer to that challenge the ingenuity of the present Cabinet could devise. He had drawn their attention to the fact, and he know, of his own personal knowledge, that the circum-stances he had stated were correct.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY(Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE)
said, that he had intended to refer to that point, and he was obliged to the hon. Member for having called his attention to the omission. It was perfectly true that four divisional magistrates had been paid a sum in excess of what they were entitled to, and it was true that it had been provided for in a Supplementary Vote. The hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), who at the time filled the Office of Secretary to the Treasury, did bring in a Bill last year to try and remedy the difficulty; but the hon. Member did not succeed, and, of course, during the short time the present Government had been in Office, they had not been able to prepare a Bill to deal with the matter in the remainder of the present Session. At the same time, it was quite true that he had had his attention called to the point, and he had no doubt that a warning would betaken in order to prevent a similar irregularity in the future. But the hon. Member must be aware that it had been impossible to devote to the matter the attention which it deserved; and it would not be expected that, 011 behalf of the Government, he could be prepared to say exactly how the irregularity ought to be dealt with. He would only say that the matter ought to be dealt with as soon as practicable.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (2.) £880,091, to complete the sum for the Constabulary, Ireland.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said, that a Notice stood upon the Paper in his name in reference to this Vote, and it had been placed there by him as an alternative to raising the question again of District Inspector Murphy. As the Committee would remember, he had already had an opportunity of going into 1830 the merits of that case, and he did not propose to go again into the question. He had only risen now for the purpose of asking the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary if he had yet had time to fulfil the pledge which he bad given on that occasion to the hon. Member for King's County (Mr. Molloy)? It would be recollected that the right hon. Gentleman, on the occasion to which he referred, said that be had only had time to inform himself cursorily of the facts of the case, and that he did not see his way to granting the inquiry which was asked for; but he expressed his willingness to consider any new facts or new evidence which might be brought to his knowledge in reference to the matter. The right hon. Gentleman also gave a distinct pledge to the hon. Member for King's County on one particular point. That point was this. The acts of insubordination alleged against District Inspector Murphy were dealt with at the time they took place. District Inspector Murphy was punished for them; and the contention, therefore, was that the offence had not only been purged by the punishment then inflicted, but also condoned by subsequent commendations from District Inspector Murphy's superior officer. That point did not seem to be within the knowledge of the right hon. Gentleman on the previous occasion, and he promised to inquire into the matter. He (Mr. Redmond) had, therefore, risen now to ask the right hon. Gentleman if ho had yet had time to fulfil that pledge, and if he would be prepared to consider any statement of new facts and new evidence which might be placed before him on behalf of District Inspector Murphy? Upon the answer he received would depend whether he pressed the Motion of which he had given Notice.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY
said, the hon. Member had correctly stated the nature of the pledge he had given, and he was sorry that he had not been able to carry it out as fully as he desired. He had, however, made an inquiry to a certain extent, and, as far as he could gather, the acts of insubordination on the part of District Inspector Murphy went on up to February, 1884. He had not, however, got all the information he would like to have, and it was probable that when he went over to Ireland he would be able to obtain more. As far 1831 as he Lad been able to ascertain, the acts of insubordination did go on until February, 1884.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said, the right hon. Gentleman had not quite met the point he had raised. The question he had asked was whether the acts of insubordination had not been punished at the time they were committed, and whether the offence was not purged in consequence; further, whether, in any case, the insubordination of District Inspector Murphy was not condoned by the subsequent commendations which he received from his superior officer? The information he had obtained went to show that, up to a very recent period antecedent to his dismissal, District Inspector Murphy received favourable records from his superior officer, so that any acts of insubordination must have been condoned. He (Mr. Redmond) fully appreciated the difficulties of the right hon. Gentleman, coming, as he did, new to the Office; and he was not disposed to censure the right hon. Gentleman after his statement that he had not yet had time to go as fully into the details of a somewhat complicated case as he would like. He would, therefore, be content if the right hon. Gentleman would promise to inquire further into the matter, and to consider any new facts connected with the case which might be brought before him. He was only anxious to discharge his duty to District Inspector Murphy, and to submit all the facts of the case to the right hon. Gentleman.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. HOLMES)
said, he had had an opportunity of looking at the Papers which his right hon. Friend had asked for, and he found that the first occasion on which District Inspector Murphy was reprimanded was in 1881. It was undoubtedly the fact that in 1882 he was favourably commended; but it would appear that there had been other acts of insubordination in the interim. The information he had received was to this effect. Colonel Bruce said that although it was quite true a favourable record was given in 1882, the insubordination was subsequently repeated so late as the month of February, 1884, and even down to the months of June and July in the same year. The Government had received that information; but neither his right hon. Friend nor 1832 himself had had an opportunity of inquiring into the nature or character of the alleged acts of insubordination which were committed in 1884. They would be fully investigated, both by himself and his right hon. Friend; and if the hon. Member had any further information to lay before the Government it would be received and duly considered.
§ MR. MARUM
asked for some information in regard to the manner in which the redistribution of the Constabulary had been carried out in Ireland, and what the intentions of the Government were in regard to it, especially as the redistribution affected his own county of Kilkenny. He found, in reference to the redistribution of the Constabulary which the Government had made in obedience to an Act of Parliament, that the total force for the county of Kilkenny was put down at 350. He now found, from the official documents received from the County Inspector, that the entire number for the county of Kilkenny was placed at 365; and he wanted to know what the explanation was of this increase of 15 additional constables? There had been a meeting of the magistrates to consider what force was required in the month of November at Kilkenny, and a resolution was passed asking for a reduction of 10 men. A Petition had been presented on behalf of the Grand Jury, and unanimously adopted at the last Lent Assizes, objecting to the excessive number and the extra charge for the force. No objection would be made to the extra force if it were not charged upon the rates of the county. The officials were called into the Grand Jury room, and gave information that 40 or 50 additional constables were necessary for the ordinary protection of the county without regard to the Prevention of Crime Act, and, therefore, they ought to be placed there as a regular and not as a special force. At the present moment a sum of £1,700 a-year was charged upon the rates of the county for the extra force, and the popular idea was that the extra force was not required, and that the regular force was amply sufficient to do the ordinary work of the county. The imposition of this charge was regarded by the taxpayers as a grievous evil, and the notion was that the county were called upon to pay permanently for an extra force, although in regard to the protec- 1833 tion of life and the preservation of peace and order the county had returned to its normal position.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
wished to revert back again to the case of District Inspector Murphy. He thought it was somewhat extraordinary that the Inspector General of Constabulary should have power to dismiss an officer summarily for insubordination. He was of opinion that if any gentleman in the Army had such a power conferred upon him it would be certain to be abused. His temper would often get the better of him, and in such a case as not looking after the care of the pickles, or something of that kind, he would probably do some extraordinary act arising simply from ill-temper or haste. Under such circumstances, to give to any officer the power of arbitrary dismissal would be to run the risk of having the power grossly abused. He certainly failed to see why the Inspector General of Constabulary should be in a different position from a General of Brigade. This power did not, at the present moment, rest even with the Commander-in-Chief so far as the Regular Army was concerned; and whenever a charge was made against even the lowest soldier in the ranks he could not be summarily dealt with until after he had undergone the ordeal of a court martial. He did not see why a similar course should not be pursued with regard to the Constabulary. There ought to be the protection which a court martial afforded in the Army, and the court should be open to the public, so that the whole country should be made acquainted with the grounds of complaint, and should be able to see whether the person who was accused was properly treated or not. Every officer dismissed arbitrarily without inquiry would naturally smart under a sense of wrong. District Inspector Murphy was dismissed for acts of insubordination in writing letters to his superior officer. He (Colonel Nloan) had been told by an officer in the Army that he had only written two clever letters in his life, and that he had got into so much trouble about one of them that he never intended to write another. It must be borne in mind that the letters written by District Inspector Murphy only came before his superior officer; but, as they had not been produced, the House did not know whether they were 1834 subordinate or insubordinate. But, no matter what their character was, at any rate they had had the effect of taking away the value of 20 years' previous service. That was a very extraordinary and severe punishment, and he did not think that the power of inflicting it should be left in the hands of any one man. No matter how good a General they might have in the Army, if they conferred upon him such a power it would be resented by every officer in the Service; and he did not see why they should put the Constabulary officers in Ireland on a different footing from the soldiers in the Regular Army. He was glad that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had intimated that he would inquire further into the matter. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would go fully into all the Papers, and see if the acts of insubordination alleged to have been committed by District Inspector Murphy were of such a character that so severe a punishment was rendered necessary. He had no doubt that District Inspector Murphy had written improper letters which ought not to have been written; but the Inspector General ought to have given him an opportunity of withdrawing them. The punishment which had been inflicted seemed to him to have been an unnecessarily severe punishment, and one that was contrary to all military discipline, and would not be tolerated in any Military Service in the world, not even in that of Russia. The Emperor of Russia dared not give such a power to any of his officers, and certainly the exercise of such a power would not for one moment be tolerated in the Civil Service of this country. It was a power utterly uncalled for and altogether unnecessary, and he thought that the Chief Secretary for Ireland ought to inquire into the matter most carefully, and be prepared to take full responsibility for confirming the action of the Inspector General. He now proposed to enter into a different matter, which was a pure matter of business raised by the speech of the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Marum). He objected to the manner in which the Estimates had been drawn up, and ho thought it was important to know how much was credited to each county. That fact did not appear on the face of the Estimates. He had often found fault with the manner 1835 in which the Estimates wore drawn up in that respect, not only in regard to Ireland, but in reference to the Army. The Government brought forward prominently something apparently small and insignificant, and included it as a permanent item. General attention was accordingly drawn to it, while more important points wore hidden away, and no attention directed to them in the Estimates. He complained that the Estimates had been so drawn up that the really important information they ought to contain did not appear on the face of them. For instance, the Estimates should show the number of Constabulary credited to each county, and the amount charged to each county for their cost. As regarded his own county (Galway), by a system of jugglery, and by not publishing the full details in the Estimates, it would appear that the county was paying for 510 men, whereas they were in reality paying for 570. He found, among other things, that, although the actual force employed in any county might be only 500, yet it appeared in the Estimates as in reality 20 per cent more, owing to deductions that were made for sickness and other causes. He thought that so large a percentage was altogether extravagant, and he had always attributed it to the natural inclination of the heads of the depot at Dublin to have everything smart there at the expense of other localities. The authorities at the depot, therefore, drew a large number of men from the counties and kept them at the depot; but they were charged upon the counties, although they were never employed there. For instance, there was a band maintained at Dublin which was contributed to by the force at large. He did not object to that band; it was a very good band indeed, and he had heard it at the Exhibition the other day; but he did object to the cost of that band being charged upon the counties. It ought to be charged upon the National Exchequer, and there ought to be someone to see that the counties were not cheated by being required to pay for the services of men who were never employed by them, but were simply maintained in order to keep things smart in a different locality. In the Army there. was a regular committee of officers to deal with the band question, and to see that no undue charge fell upon the Na- 1836 tional Exchequer. But that was not the case in regard to the Royal Irish Constabulary; and until they had some regular official appointed in Dublin, or had a Chief Secretary who was an Irish Member, they would never be able to deal with those matters. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would look into the question, he would find that a very large expenditure was unnecessarily incurred for work that in the Army was simply done by the Adjutant of a regiment, or by a Brigade Major in camp, or the Adjutant General in the case of a large Army. These were matters of very great importance, especially when it was borne in mind that they were dragging the county rates out of men with very small means, forming very attenuated holdings, and that they never succeeded in getting back from the landlords one-half of the amount they paid. He suggested that there ought to be a central depot from which proper men could be sent down as supervisors to the counties, and more attention would then be devoted to this question. He thought that the amount which the counties had to pay for extra police should appear clearly on the Estimates. If the Chief Secretary would look into this practice, which he (Colonel Nolan) contended ought to be entirely abolished, he thought he would be doing good service.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, the subject to which his hon. and gallant Friend had referred was brought before the House four years ago, and it had also been brought prominently forward by his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) during last Session. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) had expressed his opinion that the system should be inquired into; and perhaps they might, under the new Government, be able to get some kind of redress. It seemed to him that the whole system in regard to this Vote was unusual, and there was one clear violation of recognized principle of Government finance which would strike anyone who had followed the Estimates for some time. On page 311 there was, under the Sub-head L, a gross charge of £34,000 for Rent of Barracks; but the sum actually charged was only £7,500, because there was a deduction of £26,000, which was obtained by stoppages from 1837 men accommodated in barracks (46 & 47 Vict. c. 14, s. 2). Well, he said that that appropriation under a Civil Service Vote was altogether abnormal; the Government had no right whatever to take the extra receipts in aid on a Civil Service Vote. It required the sanction of Parliament to allow extra receipts, in the case of the Army, to be taken in aid of the Vote, and not paid into the Exchequer. According to the established system, all those receipts ought to be paid into the Exchequer; but, instead of that, the sum of £26,500 had been handed over for the purpose of reducing by that amount an item of £34,000 on the Estimates. He regretted that the Financial Secretary to the Treasury was not in his place, because he would have appreciated the force of that argument, and would at once have recognized the fact that those who were responsible for drawing up the Estimate had acted against the whole policy of financial administration, at any rate as far as these Estimates were concerned. The effect of this departure from established rule was that the Department was enabled to play with a largo sum of money, the appropriation of which practically escaped the control of Parliament. For his own part, he thought that the Committee would do right in rejecting this Vote, and requiring another Vote to be submitted in the proper form. Then, again, with regard to an item on page 305 for compensation for loss through being Boycotted, which last year was put down at £60. It seemed to him that the Department of the Treasury had here done a distinctly illegal thing, and the Committee had no assurance that the illegality would not be committed this year. The heading, "Compensation for Loss through being Boycotted," was printed in italics, showing that the charge was incurred last year; there was no charge for the present year. But if hon. Members would turn to last year's Estimate, they would find that there was no such heading at all. The money was not voted; it had been taken out of the baronies, and had been sanctioned by the Treasury, but not by the House of Commons. He objected to the Treasury taking upon itself to pay away public money on such a Vote as this. No doubt, several persons had lost from being Boycotted; but if they had no friends to assist them they had their 1838 remedy at law, and they could proceed for damages if they could prove that they had sustained special damages; but the Government had no right to spend money voted for a special service in Ireland to make good any losses sustained by those who made themselves obnoxious to persons connected with them, or because, in other words, they had been Boycotted. The whole proceeding was illegal. This particular sum of £60 was spent last year, and his complaint was that it was never voted. The Comptroller and Auditor General said that the authority for this seemed to be a Treasury letter of the year 1882. The Treasury had taken upon themselves to authorize a particular payment out of a Vote which had nothing whatever to do with it. As the Committee had no means of knowing that the same illegality would not be repeated hereafter, he asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to give them an assurance that there should be no such illegal payment as this next year.
MR. JUSTIN HUNTLY M'CARTHY
said, there was a point to which he wished to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in connection with this Estimate, and that was the sending of police reporters to take down the words of speakers at public meetings in Ireland. The subject had been brought under the notice of the Government in the course of a debate which took place last year, and a promise in respect of it had been extracted from one of the many Predecessors in Office of the right hon. Gentleman the present Chief Secretary. On the occasion in question the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) gave a promise to the effect that, as far as possible, those police reporters should not be sent to public meetings in Ireland. For himself, the right hon. Gentleman had said he should be very glad if the authorities could be induced to say that at public meetings in Ireland, attended by Members of Parliament, shorthand writers should be dispensed with; and he had expressed the hope that that state of things would shortly pass away. However, Government shorthand writers were still sent to public meetings in Ireland, and no attempt had been made to carry out the promise of the right hon. Gentleman the 1839 Member for the Border Burghs. It was that of which hon. Members on those Benches complained—Government spies or reporters being still sent to the meetings. It was absurd to imagine that any Nationalist Member or speaker, addressing an auditory of his countrymen, was at all likely to be intimidated or to alter his speech by the presence of Government reporters. If he altered it in any direction, he would probably make it more extreme; he would be inclined to comment more strongly on the Government when he saw that the authorities were inclined to send down reporters. At any rate, the reporters of the police were useless; they were supposed to know how to write shorthand; but, according to the received authorities, the art could only be properly exercised by men regularly engaged in the work of reporting. Charles Dickens had said it was as difficult to learn shorthand as to learn six modern languages. Certainly, the average police reporter was not a man likely to be able to learn six languages. On former occasions in Ireland, when Daniel O'Connell found that he was being followed by police reporters, he spoke to his audience in the native tongue, and so baffled those persons. He (Mr. J. H. M'Carthy) asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to say that he would fulfil the promise given by his Predecessor (Mr. Trevelyan), and see that these particularly obnoxious persons should not be allowed to attend the meetings. They were of no use whatever, and only served strongly to irritate the Irish people, and to cause an amount of ill-feeling and disturbance which could only be injurious to the administration of any Government in Ireland. The amount of crime and disturbance in Ireland had really diminished, and he thought he was right in saying that the Judges at the Assizes had, in many cases, commented with emphasis on the remarkable absence of crime; whilst magistrates at Quarter Sessions had, in very many cases, also received the customary compliments of pairs of white gloves. Such conditions as those afforded a strong argument for removing such irritating exhibitions as the presence of police reporters at public meetings, and also a strong argument against the maintenance of extra police. There 1840 was another point to which he desired to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary There was in Cork a Resident Magistrate called Captain Plunkett, who had succeeded in making himself obnoxious by the manner in which he had acted in the ingenious manipulation of the body of which he had control. There was one point in particular to which he had called the attention of the late Chief Secretary last year, and in respect of which there had since been no alteration whatever. Captain Plunkett had an ingenious method quite his own, and, as far as he knew, not followed by any of his fellow-magistrates, of endeavouring to make the body of police under his control as obnoxious as possible to the persons with whom they came in contact. He thought the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would do well to direct his attention to that matter.
§ MR. JOHN O'CONNOR
said, he had to make some remarks on the charge of £36,560 which appeared under Subhead G for Clothing. They, in Ireland, complained that vast sums of money were spent by the official class in Dublin Castle every year, and that the ratepayers derived little or no benefit or advantage from that expenditure; and that those sums of money found their way into the pockets of people in Scotland and England. Now, the labourers and artizans in Ireland had formed the idea that they had something to expect from the present Government, and certainly the labourers were justified in coming to that conclusion, because the Government were actually dealing with a measure which they hoped would greatly improve their condition. Owing to the presence in the Cabinet of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), the artizans also had formed the opinion that the present Government was interested in the industrial movement in Ireland, and were very anxious to improve the industrial condition of the country. Added to that, there was the interest which the Chief Secretary had in Irish affairs, and from all that they felt justified in believing that something would result before long. They had this item of £36,560 for clothing the Police Force in Ireland, and certainly the traders and manufacturers of Ireland thought that 1841 a portion of that very large sum might find its way into the pockets of the Irish people. It was a subject he knew on which the Government could not then be expected to give a final answer; but it was one worthy of the attention of the Government, and if they were anxious on the matter he was sure that they could get enough cloth for clothing their men in Ireland, although they might not perhaps be able to get the exact kind of cloth they were in the habit of using. He hoped that the subject would engage the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, because it would show that the expectations which the artizan class had formed in this matter were not quite without foundation. At one of the meetings he had had the honour of addressing lately, the people were so impressed with these ideas, that, to his surprise, he heard cheers given for the Tories, and he hoped that the result would show that the good opinion formed of them was justified. There was another subject connected with this Vote which he thought demanded explanation at the hands of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman, having been in Office but a short time, might not, of course, be able to answer him that evening fully; but he should be glad to have such a reply as the right hon. Gentleman was able to give. He asked what had occurred in the county of Waterford to justify the authorities in charging the people there with £2,000? Judging by what had been stated to be the condition of the county, they were under the impression that there was little or no crime there; and, in fact, the Chairman of Quarter Sessions had congratulated the jurors that there was absolutely no crime. The only crime committed there had been done by a soldier. There was an affray in which an unfortunate person had been killed. But in spite of that state of things in all the divisions of the county, the Government still charged this peaceable county £2,000 a-year for extra police. The right hon. Gentleman, as he had said, might not be in a position to give a satisfactory explanation of that very heavy charge on this county; but he asked him to communicate with the authorities in Ireland, and to state to the House at a future day what had justified the use of extra police in the 1842 county of Waterford. If the right hon. Gentleman preferred it, he would put a Notice on the Paper for Tuesday, and by that time probably the right hon. Gentleman would be able to state the particulars of the case.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he wished to join with his hon. Friend the Member for Athlone (Mr. Justin Huntly M'Carthy) in his comments upon the irritating and useless custom of sending police reporters to public meetings. The practice would be objectionable under any circumstances; but it became not only objectionable, but folly, when applied to Members of the National Party in Ireland. The Orangemen in Ireland might do as they pleased; they might defy the law, they might threaten to kick the Queen's Crown, and yet the Government never interfered. They never sent a reporter, still less one of Gurney's staff, to take down those flowers of rhetoric. But if a Nationalist addressed a meeting in the most proper language he would find that there were two reporters at least taking down his words. He had himself been often obliged to provide those reporters with chairs at the meetings he had attended during his stay in Ireland, and to place them in a position of safety. He know that words uttered by someone else at a meeting had been attributed to him by official reporters; and if Gurney's reporters made a mistake, how much more likely were police reporters to do so in these cases? If a meeting were illegal it could be suppressed; but it was exceedingly mean to endeavour to entrap speakers at Provincial meetings by sending police reporters there. If the Government wanted to prosecute a man they could bring him before a packed jury, and Messrs. Bolton and Anderson would do it for them in a moment. Therefore, ho did not see why so much care should be taken to send these reporters to public meetings, because nothing in the nature of accurate evidence was necessary, unfortunately, to get a conviction. Ho hoped that no more would be heard of this practice. He thought the time had come when they might claim an explanation from the Government on the subject of extra police; and he trusted that they would henceforward give up these extra police altogether. Now that life and property in Ireland were safe, and there was 1843 nothing but ordinary crime to deal with, I he trusted that the Government would fall back on the ordinary law. He said that the people of Ireland should be relieved of charges under this head, and not be required to pay any more than for the actual quota of police employed. Then, he would ask whether it was a fact that some of the Irish police were employed in Great Britain? He remembered that not long ago some Irish policemen followed respectable Irishmen in London. He himself happened to be once at a restaurant with a friend; he was told that there were detectives present; his three friends took a cab, and the detectives also took a cab; they went to the Princess's Theatre, and the three detectives went there too. He gave the present Government credit for stopping short, in some degree, of the imbecility which the late Government had displayed in the management of Irish affairs. He understood, however, that there was still a corps of about 50 Irish detectives in Great Britain, and that those men, distributed over Liverpool, Leeds, Glasgow, and other large towns, still lurked about public halls where meetings were held; they were always to be found in the vicinity. There were other capacities in which those men could be employed, if necessary, that would be of more use to the State. Then, again, the funds given for the preservation of rivers were not effectual, at any rate they had not the effect of making those who received the money carry out the law. Only a short time ago, at Gweedore, where two or three English gentlemen leased a portion of a salmon river, a boy of 15 was found in possession of a spear or gaff. He was instantly seized by a constable, and accused of endeavouring to take salmon. That incident occurred in the middle of the day, when the constable clearly had no right to interfere; however, he took upon himself to do so; and when the mother of the boy came on the scene, and endeavoured to protect her child, the policeman drove the spear into her wrist. The boy was taken to the police barrack and locked up. The father went there and demanded his son's release; but that demand, notwithstanding that the case was one for the issue of a summons, and not for summary arrest, was refused. Would the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary say whether or not the police were to be allowed to 1844 continue conduct of that kind? It was not the duty of the police, nor the duty of the Government, to allow the police to make themselves the agents of private persons for the protection of their private interests. The people who had salmon rivers ought to watch and preserve those rivers by means of their own keepers and water bailiffs, or, if they did not, the duty should be undertaken by the Conservancy Boards. At any rate, the police should not turn themselves into the under-strappers of the people who owned salmon rivers. There could be no doubt that the expenditure of this million and odd of money, according as its distribution was good, tended to the promotion of peace and order in Ireland, and according as it was ill-judged and corrupt tended to disorder and discontent. He contended that the secret of success with the Constabulary Force was this—to keep the men at their proper duty. The vicious principle adopted by the Irish Government in the past had practically resulted in this—that the honest policeman who did his duty fairly between man and man had slight chance of promotion; whilst the constable who put on list flippers and listened in door ways, who collected the gossip of neighbours, suborned perjury, and threatened a prisoner that unless he swore up to the mark a terrible punishment awaited him, was the practitioner who obtained promotion. A glance at the list of honours and rewards bestowed upon the Irish Constabulary during the past few weeks would show that the trickster and perjurer had had chevrons and stripes and money benefits conferred upon him, and had been lauded in the Reports of the Constabulary, whilst the man who had contented himself with an honest. performance of his duty had been left to starve on his legal salary. Would they, he would like to ask, have a repetition of the case of the policeman Barclay, who disguised himself as a blacksmith, at Tubbercurry, and worked there at a forge? The Government had sent that man down there in a blacksmith's jacket, had supplied him with the means to light a forge, and as he had gone on with his work he had attempted to lure innocent young men of the district into crime. Would conduct of that kind be repeated? He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would never allow the 1845 Queen's uniform to be so degraded in the future, nor allow public money to be so misapplied. The case of Constable Lynch, at Barbavilla, was fresh in the minds of hon. Members. That man had obtained evidence by telling a man that unless he swore to a meeting at Widow Fagan's to put certain persons into penal servitude he would have to go into penal servitude himself. Then there was the case of Sub-Inspector Gibbons, who had worked up the Maamtrasna trials. He had worked up the case so as to satisfy a Green Street Special Jury; but who was satisfied with that case now? The Government had had to re-open it; and it had been a cause of grave social excitement in Ireland, and would continue to be so until it was settled. The spectre of Myles Joyce, hanged for a crime with which he had had nothing to do, would haunt every Irish Executive until his memory had been vindicated. They found that such was the favour secured in Ireland by Sub-Inspector Gibbons through sending an innocent man to the gallows and four innocent men to penal servitude that he was able to hold the positions of District Inspector of Irish Constabulary and Lieutenant Colonel of the Egyptian Forces—he did not know whether there was any pay attached to the latter post. Inspector Gibbons was a "Bey" in Egypt. There was no reward which was too great for the man who either committed a useful perjury himself, or induced someone esle to do so; and he trusted that in this matter the Government, would in the future pursue a course at right angles with that hitherto adopted. He would give two instances to exhibit the kind of fair play practised by the police in Ireland. The other day, at Dungannon, the Orange faction lit bonfires in celebration of the anniversary of the day which threw Irish Catholics into misery. That was painful to the Catholics—it was virtually celebrating their subjection and their misery, and they could not tolerate it; but the police stood round those bonfires. They not only allowed them, but bestowed upon them the favour of their presence. Well, in Kilkenny the other night, a Catholic Bishop was coming home from Rome. He was a Prelate of so eminent a zeal, and of so keen a desire for the social harmony of all classes of the Irish people, that he (Mr. Sexton) did not 1846 think respect for him was limited to one class. But while the procession was passing along the street a lieutenant threw up the window of the barrack, thrust his sword out, and shouted to the crowd that they were "rebels, Fenians, and Papists." He repeated that proceeding on the return of the procession, and if it had not been for the influence exercised over the people by the eminent Prelate they were honouring the town would have been in a state of tumult and disorder. As an evidence of the partial manner in which the law was put into force in Ireland, it would suffice to again call attention to the case of Sub-Sheriff Ormsby, himself a guardian of the law, who was found the other day, lying drunk and helpless in the street, and was carried away by the police on a stretcher. That gentleman was not brought up at the police court and charged with drunkenness as an ordinary citizen or peasant would have been; and he (Mr. Sexton) could not, under those circumstances, help reflecting that in connection with any further legislative measures which might be considered necessary for Ireland the Government would recognize the fact that those laws were best which were best administered. All the Government had to do to make the Constabulary Force effective and remove its unpopularity was to teach each man in it that the countenance of authority and the favour and good-will of those who were set over him would depend on his remembering every day of his service, and in every action of his life, the terms of the oath he took on entering the Force, which was to "do his duty without fear, favour, or affection, without malice or ill-will."
said, that before the Chief Secretary got up to reply he should like to ask what the intention of the Government was with regard to the employment of extra policemen. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had pointed out that owing to the fact that the Prevention of Crime Act was to die out the extra police force quartered under that Act would have to be withdrawn. The number of extra police who had been quartered on the people under that Act was merely nominal as compared with the number quartered on them under the Act of William IV. After a great deal of cross-questioning the Irish Members had elicited from 1847 the then Chief Secretary the information which they now had before them as to the number of extra men the ratepayers of Ireland had had to pay for the last 10, 12, or 15 years. In fact, so long had that being going on, and so little attention had been paid to it by the Government of the day, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) had been actually unable to state the period during which many thousands of men were stationed in certain districts in Ireland—for instance, in the county of Cork, where the annual charge on the rates for those men was not less than £10,000. When the Irish Members asked under what circumstances those men had been stationed there, the Chief Secretary had been absolutely unable to afford them any information whatever. The expiration of the Prevention of Crime Act would relieve the people from taxation for extra police to a certain limited extent; but the people objected to pay the remainder. When they took into consideration the question of the redistribution of police in Ireland and the reduction of the total number of constables in that country, the Government should have borne in mind the great difficulty they had experienced in collecting the extra police tax in certain parts of Ireland. For instance, in the county of Cork, it was only when goats, and donkeys, and other property were seized that the authorities had been able to obtain this 2s. or 3s. a-head from the ratepayers. In many places processes had been issued for 2d., 3d., and 6d., and so on. The payment of the tax was frequently resisted. The people resisted it because they believed there was no necessity for those extra men at all. The county of Cork had been singularly quiet for the past two or three years. In fact, there was scarcely a Quarter Sessions where the Chairman did not consider it his duty to comment on the marked absence of the crimes which might render the imposition of that tax necessary. If there had been any reason for the quartering of extra police on them the people would have been glad to pay the tax; but no such reason could be assigned. The quartering of the men on the ratepayers was an injustice. With regard to the number of extra men in Cork City, the hon. Gentleman the 1848 Leader of the Irish Party (Mr. Parnell) had, on more than one occasion, raised a question in that House, and for a long time he had been unable to get the Chief Secretary of the day to accede to any alteration in the law, or to any reduction of the extra police force in the City. But at the end of last Session he induced the Government to give a promise that a short Act would be passed which would enable the Lord Lieutenant to redistribute the free force in Ireland with a view to relieving such a City as Cork of the enormous charges which were now put on it for this extra force. He would remind the Committee that the amount paid by the ratepayers of the City of Cork in respect of extra police had been very close on £20,000. It could not be denied—indeed, no Member of the Government of the Queen had ever sought to deny—that Cork was one of the most peaceable cities in the United Kingdom. The criminal records showed in a most conclusive manner that crime and disorder were singularly absent from the South of Ireland. Under those circumstances, why it was that the ratepayers of Cork should be subjected to an annual charge of £1,000for the purpose of keeping up this enormous force was more than he could understand. Of course, those who were acquainted with the circumstances of the last couple of years would attribute it to the fact that they had in their midst in Cork a gentleman named Captain Plunkett, a gentleman who, for his own glorification, kept no less than 20 constables about him, either in plain clothes or in uniform. The presence of this person in the City was enough to drive people to desperation. The fact of his being seen strutting about with nothing to do and followed by a large number of policemen was quite enough to irritate the people and make them disorderly'. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would, perhaps, tell the Committee in reply to these observations what the Government intended to do with these official Resident Magistrates on their offices being abolished. What Captain Plunkett and his men did he did not know. They did not do ordinary street duty—they were never known to do more than arrest a man or prevent a street fight now and then. As to regulating the traffic or doing anything of that kind they would not stoop to it. It 1849 was altogether below them. The police in Ireland sought to exercise over the people more control than even the magistracy exercised in England, or, perhaps, in any other part of the world. The state of things in the City of Cork was this. The free Police Force was nominally 150 men, but in reality it did not number more than 140; because, for some reason or other which did not appear quite clear, eight or 10 men were generally away from the City—or, at any rate, the people did not see them. No return was made of them, but the Government charged for them and for an extra force, notwithstanding that if the City had the full number of the free police, 150 men, the peace would be efficiently preserved, and there would be no necessity for an extra force in the place at all. But, putting that aside, on the basis of population the City of Cork was entitled to a free force of 170 men, and there were there at the present time about 170; but of that number the Government charged for 29 or 30 as an extra force. That was, they charged as extra men those who supplied the places of the absent members of the free force to the number of eight or 10 men, as he had just stated, and 20 men besides who were stationed in the city over and above the free force. Ho maintained that if the Government did not give the City the full complement of free police that it was entitled to—that was 150 men— and if they continued to quarter a number of extra police on the ratepayers, they were bound to pay for those extra police out of the Imperial Funds. They had no right to levy a rate for them. The City, as he had said, was entitled, on the basis of population, to a free force of 170 men; therefore, nothing could be more unjust than to charge it for 30 extra policemen when it was really nine or ten short of its legal complement. He trusted that in the redistribution of the Constabulary Force that must take place, under the Act of Parliament, between this and the 21st of August, the Lord Lieutenant would see his way to reducing the number of extra men all over Ireland, and that he would consider this case of Cork particularly because the people of that City were determined not to be coerced into paying an unjust rate of this kind any longer. They had resisted it for the past three or four years, and were deter- 1850 mined to continue resisting it, no matter what the consequences might be to themselves. Under those circumstances, he hoped that before the end of the Session the right hon. Gentleman would be able to inform the House what course the Lord Lieutenant had decided upon in regard to those extra police. He (Mr. Deasy) had put a Question to the Government the day before yesterday as to the redistribution of the Force in Ireland, but had been informed that it would be impossible to know what could be done until the 21st of August, as the actual changes could not take place before that date. Perhaps the Lord Lieutenant and the Irish officials would endeavour to make up their minds, before the time for making the change came, what they intended to do with the men.
§ MR. MARUM
said, the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had alluded to the police protecting fisheries, and ho (Mr. Marum) wished there to be no misunderstanding on that point. It was true,' the police looked after the rivers, and he did not object to it so far as the Police Regulations of the rivers were concerned; but if they watched the fisheries as gamekeepers it was highly unsatisfactory. The water bailiffs under the general law were entrusted with the preservation of fish, and their duties should not be undertaken by the police. With regard to the manner in which those water bailiffs conducted themselves, he wished to remark that two months ago he had been obliged to fine one, James Lund, for firing off a loaded revolver in the public road or street. He had fined the man only 10s. A short time afterwards that man and his comrade, Patrick Foley, were out by the river, when they met two or three women who, in a larkish humour, made some shouting. The bailiffs fired their revolvers over the heads of the women. The men were prosecuted, and the defence set up was that they were justified in intimidating the inhabitants by firing their revolvers. Of course, he need not say that the magistrates took a very different view of the law, and fined both the men for what they had done. He had felt it his duty to make a representation to the Lord Lieutenant, and to express the opinion that the men should not be entrusted with firearms; but he was sorry to say that all the notice the Lord Lieutenant took of his 1851 complaint was to say that he would consider the matter, and so forth. Three weeks ago Patrick Foley had been brought before him at the Petty Sessions charged with being drunk, and having a revolver in his possession. Of course, they imposed upon him a mitigated penalty under the circumstances, and then he (Mr. Marum) had made a representation to the present Lord Lieutenant—a similar representation to that he had made before—declaring that the man ought to be deprived of the use of firearms. A man who had pleaded guilty to firing shots to intimidate parties, and who had then been found drunk with a revolver in his possession, was not a proper person to enjoy that privilege. The first thing the Lord Lieutenant did was to withdraw the licences of those men. That was a good augury for the future. He did not think the police should be allowed to perform the functions of gamekeepers, and that he said notwithstanding that he was interested in one of the best fisheries of the River Nore.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sligo had mentioned that, as far as he was aware, the police no longer attended private meetings of the National League which were held in different parts of the country since the accession to Office of the present Government. It was only three or four days since he (Mr. Molloy) had had to ask a question of the Lord Lieutenant as to the action he would take in connection with a case which had happened in his county. A meeting had been held in a certain place— merely a meeting of the people of the neighbourhood, with no strangers present. The people who attended were very well known in the neighbourhood; the meeting in fact was the usual one, and yet, for some reason which he could not explain, the police sent a considerable distance to ask permission to attend. The expense of sending, of course, had to be paid; but that was a small matter. It was the irritation caused by action of this kind to which he wished to draw attention. That irritation was exceedingly great. There was no earthly reason why the police should attend—the meeting was one of the usual weekly meetings. It was advertised in the papers, and yet the police went down and endeavoured to 1852 force themselves into it—a meeting of an organization which was legal in every sense of the word, and which the Government had over and over again declared to be legitimate. What, he should like to know, was the object of such a proceeding—why were police sent down to local meetings to the annoyance of people taking' part in them? It only helped to add to the expenditure; it only helped to add to the sums the Committee were asked to vote year after year. When he (Mr. Molloy) had challenged the Predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary upon this subject, the right hon. Gentleman had stated that the police had no right to indulge in this sort of occupation, and that instructions had been issued to them to that effect. But here was the thing going on still. The fact was that the County Inspectors and their subordinates had come to look upon themselves as superior authorities to the people in Dublin Castle. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, as he had charge of this matter, whether he would issue instructions to the police that they must no longer contravene the law as they had been doing day by day? The police had no right to interfere with those meetings. They had no more right to attend them, and force themselves into the private rooms in which they were being held, than they had to enter the dwellings of private persons in London. He would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman to take this matter seriously in hand. If there was any necessity for him to send to a meeting in order to see that the law was not broken, let him do it; but when there was no necessity and no excuse, let him restrain the police from acting illegally.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, he should like to call the attention of the Secretary to the Treasury to the manner in which the Appropriation Accounts were made out in the Estimates. In the case of one item, £134,000 in one Appropriation Account had been estimated £131,000. The system of putting down those items was not satisfactory. He should think it would be much better to give the details and to say "so much from the county of Gal way," "so much from King's County," "so much from Louth," and so on, and then the officers of the Grand Jury who had to pay the county 1853 rates would be able to say that they had paid over the money. He did not say that it occurred; but it was plain from the manner in which the accounts were rendered that there was great opportunity for swindling. If they looked at the remarks of the Comptroller and Auditor General they would see how necessary it was to print something that the people could see, and which would account for the expenditure of this money for extra police. The receipts were so fluctuating that, in his opinion, a special account of them should be presented to the House. The receipts did not correspond with the Estimate; indeed, the Comptroller General did not know how many men were estimated for. Nominally, a certain number of men were allowed the counties; but a less number was given. The fact of the matter was, that the late Government were so ashamed of the present state of things that, instead of putting the accounts in the Estimates in order that there should be some check, they had hidden the whole thing away.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRE-LAND (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE)
said, that, as was to be expected from the fact that the Vote was a very interesting one to hon. Members, the discussion had ranged over a very wide area. Many of the subjects which had been dwelt upon he had not had time to go into carefully. There were, however, one or two points to which he wished to refer. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan) had complained of the Inspector General dismissing a member of the Force. As far as he (the Chief Secretary) understood, the power to dismiss a member of the Force did not rest with the Inspector General, but with the Lord Lieutenant, though it was very unusual for His Excellency to exercise that power without the concurrence of the Inspector General. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had spoken of the account keeping, and had laid a great deal of stress on the fact that there was not sufficient information given in the Estimates in regard to any change or fluctuation in the accounts. It seemed to be imagined by the hon. and gallant Gentleman that under the present system there might be cheating and fraud; but he (the Chief Secretary) thought that anything like fraudulent proceedings were sufficiently guarded 1854 against. Personally, however, he saw no objection to granting a Return of the men in each county. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman would move for the Return, no doubt the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Sir Henry Holland) would be able to see his way to grant it. The hon. Members for Kilkenny and Cork City (Mr. Marum and Mr. Deasy) had referred to the question of the distribution of the free force. The maximum free force was 10,006, and it was no doubt a grievance, if the number was considerably below that maximum, that any district should have to pay for extra men. But hon. Members wore, no doubt, aware that an Act was passed this Session to guard against the possibility of such a state of things; it was one of the few Acts of Parliament passed by the late Government which mot with his cordial approval. The Act came into force on the 21st of May, and it was stipulated that its provisions should be carried out by the 21st of August next. He fancied that the difficulty mentioned by the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Marum) was one which could be brought to an end by the distribution under the Act of this Session. The present Viceroy had now an enormous number of subjects to deal with; but he (the Chief Secretary) assured hon. Members that His Excellency would take the earliest opportunity of concluding his labours with respect to the distribution of the free force. There had been considerable discussion as to the advisability of members of the free force attending meetings. It was only the other day that he was asked a Question as to a constable attending a meeting, and the answer he then gave was that if any protests were raised against his presence he had no right there. The hon. Members for Sligo and Cork City (Mr. Sexton and Mr. Deasy) had addressed themselves at some length to the question of the maintenance of the extra police. As he had said earlier in the evening, the question of the reduction of the extra police was closely allied to the question of the administration of law and order in Ireland; and he could only repeat that if the country was peaceable and a very considerable reduction of police was attained, he would be the first to welcome such a state of things. As a matter of fact, 1855 there had already been a very considerable reduction of extra police. Then, again, complaint had been made of the intervention of the police in fishery matters. Of course, if it could be shown to him or to the Executive that the police had been exceeding their duty, and that they had, as alleged, been acting the part of under-keepers, the matter should receive the attention it deserved. Earlier in the evening the hon. Gentleman the Member for Queen's County (Mr. A. O'Connor) complained that a sum of money—he believed it was £26,500—- which ought to have passed through the Treasury was entered in the account and balanced off against other charges in the Estimate. The sum of money was that which was stopped from those men who were accommodated in barracks; and therefore he (the Chief Secretary) did not think there could be any real grievance in the matter. A considerable time had been spent in the discussion of the Vote; he hoped that now it would be allowed to pass.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, it was very evident the Chief Secretary had not yet mastered the details of a good many of the questions which had been raised in the course of the debate. That being so, he suggested to his hon. Friends that they should not press the details that night. If the right hon. Gentleman would give them a pledge that the police would be kept to their proper-duties, and would not be rewarded for exceeding their duties, he thought the Irish Members would be disposed to take it for the present as an assurance of a better spirit in the administration of the Force. He was disposed to let the Government take the Vote now, on the understanding that the next Vote relating to the prisons, which contained a good deal of contentious matter, would be a good time to report Progress.
§ Vote agreed, to.
§ (3.) £56,150, to complete the sum for Reformatory and Industrial Schools, Ireland.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he had to make a few observations on this Vote by way of an appeal to the Government, and he sincerely trusted he would not be put off as he had been by the last Government. The Bishop of Achonry wished 1856 to found an industrial school to which girls under 12 who had been convicted of crime could be sent. The object was to prevent the children being contaminated by association with criminals; but as yet the authorities had not seen their way to grant the necessary certificate. A similar institution for boys had proved a great success. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary (Sir R. Assheton Cross), who was an expert on the subject of industrial schools, would reconsider the question. He thought the Government ought to jump at such an offer made by a Prelate of the capacity of the Bishop of Achonry. He trusted the Government would assure him that they would accept the offer. It was very important that a Prelate like the Bishop of Achonry should have an opportunity of watching the children of his own district. In the public interest the settlement of this matter should be no longer delayed.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir R. ASSHETON GROSS)
assured the hon. Gentleman that the question of industrial and reformatory schools was one in which he took a deep interest. He did not know much about this particular case; but, at the first blush, he did not see any reason why the school should not be established. He would, however, consider the matter, and communicate with the hon. Gentleman.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
pointed out that in the Connemara district there was no industrial school for boys. The Archbishop of Tuam, who was the principal Bishop in that district, had bought laud for the purpose of establishing an industrial school at Letterfrack, a pretty part of the country, and one where there was very much land which could be easily reclaimed. If the Chief Secretary would give his sanction to the establishment of a school at that place, the institution would be found extremely useful to the people of Connemara. It would be very advantageous that the boys should be instructed in the reclamation of land, besides which the extreme beauty of the situation was not to be altogether forgotten. He hoped the Chief Secretary would look into the case; if he did, he would find that his Predecessor (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) looked upon the project with great favour, and, without making an absolute 1857 promise, was anxious that such a school should be established next year.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Sir WILLIAM HART DYKE)
said, he could not make any promise; but he would not only consult his Predecessor, but all those who were interested in the matter.
§ Vote agreed to.