§ Resolutions [16th March] reported.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, it would be in the memory of hon. Members that a man 1807 named Dennis Murphy was shot in his house at Castleisland, and that he died, from the effects of the injury received, in two days. Two constables reported that an outrage had been committed, and that shots had been fired from the outside of the house, and the District Inspector on going to the house found that a window had been broken. However, on closer examination, he found that the outrage could not have been committed from the outside of the house, because, judging from the position which the man occupied, the shots could not have been fired through the window in which the hole was made. In the course of two days it turned out that the two constables were in the house of Dennis Murphy, and that Murphy had been wounded by the discharge of one of their rifles, after which the two constables went out of the house and fired shots in order to create the impression that an outrage had been committed. They then induced the family of the wounded man, and the wounded man himself, to support their story, and it appeared that the circumstances were such that he would have corroborated any story which they chose to present. It was strange to him, under the circumstances, that the Inspector forwarded to the County Inspector a Report describing the case as an outrage, and that he caused to be arrested 12 men at night, one of them having been dragged out of the house in which his father was dying; after that application was made to the magistrate, and a remand obtained. He wished to impress on the House that the Government had not taken the course which the desire to do justice in this case would seem to demand. The Coroner's Jury appeared to think that the killing of Murphy was purely accidental, and the Resident Magistrate appeared to have been of the same opinion. But there remained another question gravely concerning the administration of justice; and that was, whether one of the constables invented, or whether both constables conspired to fabricate a false story for the purpose of producing an impression that an outrage had been committed, and thereby to impede the administration of justice? There could be no rational doubt that the constables did invent and propagate that story. On Friday last the Lord Chief Baron of Ireland opened the Assizes at Derry. 1808 Now, 20 days had elapsed since the occurrence of the accident, and 16 days had elapsed since the District Inspector announced in the public Press that it was not an outrage, but an accidental occurrence. He (Mr. Sexton) said that there had been ample time for the Crown and its agents to consider whether there was or was not sufficient evidence to put these constables on their trial for conspiracy to defeat the administration of justice. The constables had denied at first that they were in the house at all, although they were subsequently compelled to admit that they were there, and one of them had since admitted that he had induced the family to endorse the story, and that he had fired the shots outside the house. Well, the Lord Chief Baron was confronted with these facts, and in addressing the Grand Jury how did he deal with the case? He said, whatever might be the question as to the accidental or other character of the death of Murphy, there was no reason to doubt that a grievous misdemeanour had been committed. He said that it was a lamentable thing that members of the Constabulary Force should have deceived their superiors in a matter of this kind; that officers paid to support the due administration of justice should have endeavoured to defeat and misdirect the administration of it. He expressed his deep regret, and said that it was most unfortunate that the Crown had not sent up before the Grand Jury any Bill whatever which would have enabled them to investigate whether or not this gross offence had been committed. He (Mr. Sexton) said that within his memory no such language of censure had been applied to the Crown agents in Ireland by any Judge on the Bench; and he wished to ask what steps the Crown intended to take for the administration of justice in this case? For his part, he thought they ought to take very stern measures indeed. This was due from them, first, to those members of the Constabulary Force who desired to do their duty honestly; secondly, they owed it to the public at large, who in Ireland found it especially difficult to procure the administration of justice; and, in the third place, they owed it to the people of Castleisland, who had by accident been saved from becoming the victims of an atrocious conspiracy, and from having 1809 been thrown into gaol and indicted for murder. And Irish Members knew from experience in the last four years that in that case informers would have been forthcoming—that there would have been a flood of evidence forthcoming against these innocent persons, and that the sequel would have been that the two peccant constables would be promoted for efficiency and ability; that iron huts would have been put up in the district, and that the people would have had to pay a special tax on account of the alleged outrage. He thought it would be seen that the Government had erred gravely in allowing so much time to elapse in coming to a conclusion with regard to the conduct of these men; and he trusted they would do their best to remove the heavy censure under which they lay at the hands of the Lord Chief Baron. He wished also to ask the right hon Gentleman if he sanctioned the extraordinary freak which had been perpetrated by the Local Government Board in Ireland on the Board of Guardians of the North Dublin Union. Not long ago the Guardians desired to change their treasurer. The Bank of Ireland having been their treasurer for many years, they applied to the Bank for a loan of £2,000 at 4½ per cent, and the Bank refused to give it. The Guardians then applied to the Hibernian Bank, who agreed to advance the money on the security of the rates, and to charge no interest for the first three months. Thereupon the Board of Guardians transferred their account to the Hibernian Bank. After that the Local Government Board wrote to the Guardians and said that it rested with them to decide on the removal of the treasurer of the Union, and that they refused to agree to the transfer from the Bank of Ireland to the Hibernian Bank. The result of that was that the North Dublin Guardians had been compelled to seek for a loan of £2,000 elswhere on more disadvantageous terms than they could obtain from the Hibernian Bank, and to pay interest upon an advance which the Hibernian Bank was willing to give them for nothing. He said that it was the duty of the Local Government Board in Ireland to protect the interests of the ratepayers, and that they were not doing so in acting thus, and that their attempt to influence the Guardians in the choice of a treasurer was an intolerable pre- 1810 tension. In order to allow the right hon. Gentleman to say that he disagreed with the Local Government Board or with the Guardians of the North Dublin Union, he should move that either the Vote be reduced by £500, or that the House disagree with the Committee in this Resolution.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, the last matter to which the hon. Member referred was one with regard to which he had given him no Notice.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, he was still more unfortunate in not having heard of it at all; and it was impossible for him to give any explanation or tell the House anything about the facts at that moment. He would only say that the matter should be looked into; but as to its being debated that night, it was perfectly impossible for him to make any statement upon the subject. The hon. Gentleman had brought forward a most deplorable event which had occurred in Castle-island. The hon. Gentleman had stated the circumstances as they occurred, and as he (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) had explained them in his answer to an hon. Member opposite a few days ago. But the hon. Gentleman had conveyed an impression to the House that the Government had been extremely remiss in dealing with the case. What were the facts? When the circumstances were brought to the notice of the Government the constables were immediately dismissed from the service, which was in itself a very considerable punishment. Then it was said that the District Inspector was greatly to be blamed, because he had proceeded in the case when he had suspicions of its not being correct; but the charge having been reported and substantiated by the testimony of the two men, it was his bounden duty to proceed with it as if it were correct. It was true that he had suspicions with regard to it from the first; but whatever those suspicions might have been he had to wait until he obtained corroborative evidence. He (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) thought his conduct in this respect was greatly to be praised, because he got the two men to make a clean breast of the matter and contradict one another, finally worming 1811 from each of them the truth. But as to screening anyone, or attempting to defeat the true interests of justice, every disposition had been shown from the bottom to the top of the hierarchy of the Constabulary to bring the matter into the light of day and expose what had happened. So much as to the conduct of the Constabulary. Then the question was raised as to what the Law Officers should have done in the way of prosecution. He had told the hon. Member that that had been considered. The decision of the Resident Magistrate was, he believed, that the death of Murphy was accidental; and that, of course, took away the idea of proceeding against the men for manslaughter. Then there remained the question of conspiracy. Well, that had been under the consideration of the Law Officers; but he believed it was not by any means so easy and plain a matter as hon. Members seemed to suppose. Since he answered the Question a few days ago he had heard nothing more as to the decision arrived at; but he could assure the House that there was every desire on the part of the Government to proceed in this matter in such a way as should mark their sense of the great mischief done to the public interest by the conduct of those men or one of them, if their conduct were proved to be what it was supposed to have been, and there would be no reasonable steps untaken which would lead to the punishment of such acts in future.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he thought the statement of the right hon. Gentleman was very well calculated to spread alarm and dismay in Ireland. Here were two constables actually engaged in conspiracy to murder. Those two men spread the story that Dennis Murphy had been shot through the window of his house, and that he had been murdered. On that statement 12 men were arrested and kept in prison for three days. The two constables adhered to their statement until they were forced into contradiction, not by remorse of conscience, but by cross-examination. They would have persisted in their story if they could; they would have gone to the table in Court and given their evidence against the men arrested, and those men would have been hanged upon that evidence. Therefore, he said that the two constables were guilty of 1812 conspiracy to murder. And what punishment had they received? Those two guardians of the peace appointed to protect the life of Murphy, the caretaker—those two guardians of the peace were only to be dismissed from the Service. [Mr. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN: No, Sir; I did not say so.] He said it was an abuse of phrases, and an insult to the intelligence of that House, for any sane man to say that serious action was taken against the two constables engaged in a conspiracy to murder when they were dismissed from the Service. He wondered that the right hon. Gentleman had learned so much during his short stay in Dublin as to be able to come before the House of Commons and say that the Government had taken serious action against two guardians of the peace because they had been dismissed the Service. The right hon. Gentleman had implied that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) rather underrated the difficulties of bringing these men to justice. Now, his hon. Friend (Mr. Sexton) was not a lawyer by profession, but the Chief Baron was a lawyer by profession; and he, like the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sexton), expressed his sense of bewilderment that so awful a crime as this should have been committed, and that the Government had not taken the trouble to appeal to the Grand Jury. How could the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, or any other man, defend such apathy, such screening, on the part of the Government? Why, not 20 hours, much less 20 days, ought to have elapsed before the men committing such an atrocious offence were brought to account. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) did not wish to exaggerate matters; but he was persuaded that when the right hon. Gentleman's statement was read tomorrow in Ireland it would be taken as amounting to this—that killing was no murder when it was done by a policeman. What would have happened if the story of those men had not been found out? Twelve men were arrested, and he supposed they would have been convicted. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman), through his agent, would have taken good care to have had a jury of the proper colour; and he certainly would not have had any difficulty in getting a Judge of the proper colour. With a jury of 12 of the Loyal 1813 Party, and with a ferocious partizan in the shape of a Judge——
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman has just used an expression which is quite out of Order. [Mr. BIGGAB: Oh, oh!] I said the hon. Gentleman has used an expression which he ought not to have used in speaking of a Judge as a ferocious partizan. I ask him to be good enough to withdraw that expression.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he would certainly withdraw the expression; but he supposed he would be in Order in saying that the same jury-packing would have taken place as had taken place in several other cases in Ireland, and the two policemen with their story well arranged, with informers procured by the lavish rewards that were offered by the Government in all these cases—the two constables, with all the means at the disposal of Government, would have been able to procure the conviction of the men. What would have happened? He supposed that two of the men would have been found guilty. They would have gone to the scaffold protesting their innocence; but, as the House knew, that would not have been any protection against the extreme penalty of the law. The neighbourhood would have been denounced in the House as a district in which innocent men were murdered at night by bands of marauders. The next step would have been that the relatives of the unfortunate men would have applied for a large money compensation, and of course that compensation would have been given. If the head of the family had been murdered, there was no reason why it should not have been given. The district, which was one of the poorest in Ireland, would have had perhaps £1,000 in the shape of a Blood Tax put upon it; and in the face of all these possibilities which had been avoided by something like a miracle the right hon. Gentleman now said the Government had taken serious action, because the two constables had been dismissed the Force. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had said that an endeavour was now being made to get the constables reinstated. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) should not be surprised if they were taken back, because they had proved themselves efficient in the manufacture of crime, and, therefore, they were most fitting to per- 1814 form such services as were required in Ireland. He did not think that the action of the Sub-Inspector had been sufficiently vindicated by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) upon this point. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) could say strong things, but he would refrain from doing so, because he wished to stick at what was the central fact of the whole case—namely, that two men had invented a charge of murder against innocent men; that they persisted in the charge until they were compelled to acknowledge its falsity; that on this charge 12 innocent men were arrested and imprisoned for three days; and that in the face of so atrocious a crime the Government had up to the present—more than 30 days after the event—confined their action to dismissing the constables from the Force. He thought that a more shameful neglect of duty was never displayed by any Administration.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. WALKER)
said, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Galway Borough (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had spoken very strongly of the two constables. Now he (the Solicitor General for Ireland) was not there to say one word in justification of those constables. He could imagine nothing more improper than their action. The question was, what was to be done under the circumstances? He apprehended the first thing was to dismiss them from the Force; no one would find fault with the Government for doing that, inasmuch as it was a very natural course to take; and, as his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) had said, a course involving to the two men most serious consequences, such as loss of employment, and loss of the chance of pension. The Government were not to stop there of course, for it was necessary that the men should be punished in other ways. It was necessary, in the first place, to consider whether the men should not be prosecuted for manslaughter. The Coroner's Jury found a verdict of accidental death, and the magistrate, before whom the case came, did not feel himself justified in sending the men for trial. The next step to be taken was, not as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Galway Borough (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had suggested, to try the constables for conspiracy to 1815 murder, but to consider whether they might not possibly be prosecuted for some conspiracy to defeat justice.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he would not go so far as to say that their crime amounted to conspiracy to murder innocent people.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. WALKER)
said, the hon. Gentleman agreed with him that it was impossible to prosecute the men for conspiracy to murder. As a matter of fact, the Attorney General for Ireland was at that moment considering whether the constables could not be prosecuted for conspiracy to defeat justice. It was too late to undertake such a prosecution at the last Assizes. ["Why?"] The prosecution for manslaughter only took place a short time ago, and it was by no means easy for any lawyer to arrive at a conclusion as to whether an indictment for conspiracy would lie. As a matter of fact, from information he had received within the last 24 hours, he knew his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland was now considering the matter.
said, that the fact stood, after all the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Walker) had said, that not only the first thing, but the last thing the Government had done up to that moment to punish the two constables had been to dismiss them from the Force. If the Solicitor General for Ireland had studied the charge of the Chief Baron to the Grand Jury, he would have found that the Chief Baron was of opinion that the dismissal of the men from the Force for the atrocious conspiracy against the lives of 12 innocent men was an insufficient display of energy on the part of Her Majesty's Government. Surely the opinion of the Chief Baron, as a lawyer, was of some weight. He (Mr. O'Brien) was not a bit surprised that the Government in Ireland, or its instruments, did not follow up the scandal in Kerry, and did not follow it up with indignant zeal. That fact was that the higher police officers of Ireland were in the power, and at the mercy, of many of the police subordinates; they did not know what depths of villainy would be disclosed if men were pushed too closely. The district of Castleisland was one that had been noted for moonlight outrages. It was not long ago that a very similar 1816 moonlight outrage was reported; but policemen were found to have been the delinquents, and they were let off with a fine of £2. How did hon. Members know that it was not in this way that the district had earned its reputation? How did the House know that it had not been imposed upon by many occurrences of the same kind? Surely if policemen were capable of fabricating one story they were capable of fabricating other stories. The fact was that many of these police officers lived in glass houses. Again and again proof had been brought before the House of complicity on the part of the police in Ireland with crime; but the proofs had never been inquired into. There was the case of the man Noonan, who was hired by County Inspector French to assassinate Judge Barry. There was the case of the policeman Woods, who, disguised as a blacksmith, went down to Tubbercurry to organize a conspiracy to murder. There was the case of McDermott, who was closeted with Mr. Jenkinson in Dublin Castle at the time he was at the head of the dynamite conspiracy in Cork, the unfortunate dupes of which conspiracy had since been sent to penal servitude. Those things he (Mr. O'Brien) and his hon. Friends had brought forward in the House again and again, and the answer had always been the same—vague general statements of the good intentions of the Government. The people of Ireland gave mighty little for the good intentions of the Government. All they knew and believed was that the Government were afraid to have any honest inquiry into the proceedings of their police in Ireland, for fear it would turn out that their own police were the worst criminals and the greatest outrage mongers in the world. Just let them see the sort of latitude that was given to those very policemen of Castleisland, the very men who invented the story of the moonlight outrage—the latitude that was given to them in dealing with the people in the neighbourhood. A week ago he asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) a question about the systematic persecution of a very respectable man in that district named Mr. Hussey, probably by those very policemen. On the morning to which his Question referred Hussey was waked up about 2 o'clock by a body of police- 1817 men who had not even a warrant, and his house was ransacked for concealed Moonlighters. It was on the very night or morning of this bogus occurrence that these men went roaming about the country breaking into innocent men's houses. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was not able to deny that Hussey's house was systematically invaded by the police just at their whim and pleasure in the middle of the night. The fact was that the police wanted to create an impression in the public mind that Hussey, who had previously been kept for over a year in prison as a suspect, without trial or without any charge being made against him, was guilty of complicity in crime. The police, however, had never been able to lay their hands on a scrap of evidence that would warrant them in injuring, and insulting, and blasting in this way Hussey's character before the public. If the house of an Englishman were invaded in the middle of the night by police without a warrant the police would be shot, and he did not believe that any 12 men in England would be found to convict the man who fired the shot of murder. Unfortunately in Ireland the people were perfectly helpless to prevent raids by the police. So long as things of that kind continued under the wing of the Irish Administration, so long as the crime of those policemen remained practically unpunished, England need not be in the least surprised if the Irish people cheered on every occasion they assembled together for the Mahdi, and for the success of other enemies of England. "While he was in possession of the House he wanted to say a word about another matter. The other night he had a Motion on the Paper in regard to it, but it was dropped because the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Hibbert) said it was not convenient for him to accede to it. He applied for a—Return of all Loans made to landowners or others in the county of Donegal, since the 1st day of January, 1880, according to the records now in possession of the Board of Works, specifying:—1. The names of borrowers and town-lands in which works were situated; 2. The nature of the works in respect of which Loans were granted, whether (a) Arterial Drainage; (b) Thorough Drainage; (c) Subsoiling; (d) Farm or other Buildings; (e) Demesne Walls; (f) other Walls; (g) Fences; (h) Improvements or other Works, distinguishing new works from repairs of old; 3. The amount approved for 1818 each of the foregoing together with the amount expended in each case; 4. Act under which each Loan was made.Now, he received a communication from the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Hibbert), stating two reasons for objecting to give this Return. They were reasons which he was perfectly certain could not for a moment impose upon the hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Hibbert's) own good sense; they were reasons which, it was quite plain, were invented by the Board of Works in Dublin for the purpose of evading what they expected would be an inconvenient investigation. The first of the objections was that the Return would be of an inquisitorial character, and that to give it would be unfair to private individuals who were indebted to the Government. It would have been nothing at all of the sort. The Act under which all those loans was made was an Act which was passed by the late Government in 1879. It was an Act by which £1,000,000 of Irish money was set apart in loans to the Irish landlords, at a nominal rate of interest after two years, no interest at all being charged for the first two years. The loans were made for the express purpose of giving employment in the distressed districts. It was, therefore, public money given for an express public object, and he submitted that the persons who received the money were absolutely bound to account for it to Parliament. If the money had been honestly applied by them they had done a service to the community, and they ought to be very glad to have the matter cleared up. The other objection really seemed almost too absurd to be advanced by any public Department. It was that the Return would overtask the energies of the staff of the Board of Works. Now, the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Hibbert) knew thoroughly well that the Return could be made out by a single clerk in a week. It would be very useful if the Return could be made for every distressed district in Ireland; but there were special reasons for confining it to the one county of Donegal. Donegal was very greatly distressed, and there was the strongest possible reason to believe that large sums of the money which were granted to the landlords for the purpose of giving employment were never so employed, but employed upon bogus works, or devoted by 1819 landlords to their own necessities. Of course, the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Hibbert) stated that he would inquire into any special charge of this character. Now, a promise of this sort was perfectly worthless. The Return for which he asked was absolutely necessary, in order that people might be able to test their information and test their suspicion. At the present moment people had no accurate information, and no way of getting at accurate information, as to the amount of money that was lent, or as to the works towards which it was supposed to have been given, or as to what became of the money at all. If the money had honestly been put to the purpose that Parliament intended it for, there was nobody who would be injured by the Return that he asked for. This was truly a matter of very great importance and interest in Ireland. This huge sum of money had been lent as a public trust; and he now stated, upon the authority of some of the very best informed persons, that large sums advanced were never applied to the proper purposes at all, but were applied for the benefit of the landlords themselves. There was the best reason to believe, moreover, that not only had some of the landlords—of course, he was sure his remarks only applied to a small number, and therefore it was all the more easy to get at the facts—not only had some of the landlords misapplied the money, but the inspections by the Inspectors of the Board of Works had been of the most cursory and most unsatisfactory character. In point of fact, in some cases of which he had information, certificates of the Board of Works were actually given without the works being examined at all, given upon the words of the landlords to their friends and brother Freemasons, the Inspectors of the Board of Works. He could not imagine that the hon. Gentleman, with his high sense of justice, could accept the miserable excuse that had been given by the Board of Works for shirking this investigation. All he could say was that if the hon. Gentleman could not that night give them some more substantial, some less ridiculous and trivial reasons for refusing this Return, the only conclusion that Lit would be possible for the people of Ireland to arrive at would be that there was something behind which both the Board of 1820 Works and the landlords were anxious to keep in the dark.
§ MR. WARTON
said, he thought that, in the case of the two policemen referred to by the hon. Members for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) and Gal way Borough (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), the Government had done all they could reasonably be expected to do. Of course, it was quite right that the men should be punished; it was quite right that an attempt should be made to see whether they could not be prosecuted for manslaughter. That step, however, had been taken. He was inclined to think that, if the hon. Member for Galway Borough (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had not explained his meaning in the course of the speech of the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Walker), a certain section of the inhabitants of Ireland would have gone under the impression that the hon. Gentleman charged the men with conspiracy to murder, and that the men could have been indicted on such a charge. Now, such a thing could not be done. He agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman (the Solicitor General for Ireland) that it was an exceedingly difficult matter to draw an indictment in such a case as this. Indeed, if the hon. Member for Galway Borough (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) were to sit down and endeavour to draw up an indictment suitable for this case, he would find himself in a most difficult position. It was evident that, on general principles, the constables had been guilty of a Common Law misdemeanour.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, he did not know whether he had any right to fancy himself a lawyer; but it did appear to him that, on the face of the case, it was clear that an indictment would lie for conspiracy. It was a crime recognized by the law to be guilty of a moonlight outrage. It was also a crime to accuse another man falsely of committing an outrage, and it was also a crime to conspire falsely to accuse another man of outrage. Ho thought that if his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Warton) were to refer to the well-known book of Archbold, he would find in it the form of indictment for this offence. Why the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Walker) hesitated so much, and allowed his conscience such delicate procrastination in the case of these policemen, he (Mr. A. O'Connor) found it difficult to 1821 understand. He had not read the charge of the Chief Baron; but he could imagine any Judge—at any rate, any English Judge—would have little difficulty in expressing himself on the action of the Government in respect of those policemen. Now, as to the Board of Works, he, too, had ground for complaint. It seemed to him that the whole history of the Irish Board of Works was a history of mismanagement and obstruction. It was the worst, the most useless, and most extravagant Board in Ireland, and God knew that they had enough of very bad Boards in that country. The whole of Ireland was studded with monuments to the mismanagement of the Board of Works, and he supposed there was no Department of the Government which had squandered so much money as that Board. In the Board's Reports, given year after year, hon. Members would find whole pages devoted to a record of the drainage works which they had in hand. He did not know for how many years they had been engaged in draining; but, at any rate, there was not a county in Ireland—there was no division of any county in Ireland—in which the Board of Works had not been called upon to do something or other in connection with drainage. As a general rule, it had been very badly done. Whether the works of drainage were public or private, they all had to come under the cognizance of the Board of Works. Nothing was so important in Ireland as draining, and the other day, when he asked the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Hibbert) if the Board of Works were in a position to furnish information, merely of an elementary kind, necessary for the formation of any judgment with regard to general drainage in Ireland, or with regard to any particular basin, the hon. Gentleman was obliged to admit that the Board of Works were not in a position to give information with regard to a single basin. Well, he thought that was absolutely scandalous. It was disgraceful that this Board, with all the materials in the Office of Registry, should hesitate about furnishing such a Return. He himself would undertake to furnish such a Return with less than two days' work, either from books and documents in the Library of the House of Commons, or in his own library, 1822 and he was certain that at that moment the Board of Works must have in its possession Mr. Griffiths' survey of the bogs taken in 1809, 1810, and 1811. That alone would be sufficient to furnish almost all the information required. That was only one Department of the work of this Board, and in every single on8 of those Departments they found the same incompetency, maladministration, and waste of money, and injury done to the country. He regretted that no Motion had been made to reduce the Vote, because he thought that such a proposal should have been submitted, if only to secure some declaration from the Government with regard to this particular Board. He was perfectly certain that if the Government would only inquire into the constitution of the Board of Works in Ireland—if they would only send a Treasury officer over to inquire into the work of the staff of the Office—they would find the staff capable of reduction by at least 30 per cent. He felt satisfied that the Treasury would be able to effect considerable saving of the public money, and that while they did that they could also so far improve the efficiency of the Board, that the Public Service would gain in more respects than one. As a matter of fact, the Department was a kind of outwork and buffer to the Treasury, and the Secretary to the Treasury was its mouthpiece in that House. The Board of Works in Ireland was incorrigible and inert, and asked only to be left alone, and all the Treasury asked was that that Board should help the Treasury to be left alone. Now, when they had a new broom in the Treasury in the person of the hon. Gentleman the present Secretary (Mr. Hibbert), who seemed willing to improve all matters in Ireland that came under his management in any way, he (Mr. A. O'Connor) trusted that this question would not be lost sight of. He hardly thought it would be, from what they had seen of the action of the hon. Gentleman since he had anything to do with Irish affairs. He (Mr. A. O'Connor) hoped that in 12 months they would see a great improvement in connection with the Irish Board of Works, and that when this Vote came on for discussion they would hear that the hon. Gentleman had seriously considered the question.
§ MR. HIBBERT
thanked the hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien) for having given him private Notice of his intention to bring forward this question, because if that Notice had not been given, in all probability he (Mr. Hibbert) should not have been in his place, and would not have been able to have submitted a proper reply. He could assure the hon. Member that it was with very great regret that he was unable to assent to this Motion for the Return, and he took upon himself to say that though the hon. Member had used strong language towards the Board of Works, on account of the reasons they had given for not granting this Return, he thought the first reason referred to was one which anyone who looked at the wording of the Motion for the Return would agree was perfectly justified. The Motion was in these words—Return of all Loans made to landowners or others in the County of Donegal, since the 1st day of January 1880, according to the records now in the possession of the Board of Works, specifying:—1. The names of borrowers and townlands in which works were situated; 2. The nature of the works in respect of which Loans were granted, whether (a) Arterial Drainage; (b) Thorough Drainage; (c) Subsoiling; (d) Farm or other Buildings; (e) Demesne Walls; (f) other Walls; (g) Fences; (h) Improvements or other Works, distinguishing new works from repairs of old; 3. The amount approved for each of the foregoing, together with the amount expended in each case: 4. Act under which each Loan was made.All that, of course, not only applied to loans to be made to landowners, but also to loans to be made to tenants; and he thought that if the Act of Parliament had intended that the circumstances connected with the granting of those loans were to be made public, and that if it were legitimate for such Returns as that to be made, it would require very inquisitorial proceedings.
§ MR. HIBBERT
If the names were advertised in the papers when the loans were made the information would be at hand, and there is no necessity for this Return. I think it would be an inquisitorial thing to publish the information asked for in this Motion.
asked whether he understood the hon. Member to say that if he (Mr. O'Brien) could find the Return of landowners, and those who obtained 1824 loans under the Act of 1879–80, the Return would be granted?
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, he did not say that. What he said was, that the Return, as drawn, would include information with regard to loans made to landowners and tenants alike, and that if the Act of Parliament had intended such a Return to be made to Parliament, it would have contained a provision to that effect. If the hon. Member would give him any case in his county in which he suspected the occurrences to which ho had. alluded, or where he thought there was ground for suspicion that the money obtained for loans was not being properly spent, he (Mr. Hibbert) would undertake to inquire into those cases, and to supply all the information he could obtain privately. Having made that offer, he should have thought that the hon. Member would have been satisfied, and would not have thought it necessary to proceed further with his Motion with regard to the Return for which he seemed so anxious. He (Mr. Hibbert) could only say that since he had been at the Treasury he had been anxious on every occasion to give the Irish Members all the information in his power, and that he had given them such information whenever they had applied for it. That was the first occasion on which he had had to refuse an application of the kind; and he could assure the hon. Member that if he would give the names of any persons whose case he suspected, he would make inquiries and undertake to give him all the information he could.
§ MR. HIBBERT
But the difference is this. In the one case the information will be made public, and in the other it would be given to the hon. Member privately.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, that in any ease the inquisitorial inquiry would have to be made. The reason why he thought that the information sought for in this Return should be granted was that the money granted under the Act of 1879–80 was really handed over to the applicants in the form of a public trust. Other Acts of Parliament had granted loans 1825 for the carrying out of public improvements, but public improvements which, so far as the landlords were concerned, were their own special improvements—improvements on their own holdings, and in their own interest. In the case of the fund in question, however, the money was granted to the interest of all; not merely that the landlord should be able to carry out work upon his property, or that the farmer should be able to drain his land for his own benefit, but that by the spending of the money the landlord or the farmer would be able to give a large amount of employment to the peasantry and the poor people generally, when famine was in the country. Under the circumstances, this fund was looked upon in Ireland as a trust fund, and he thought that the Irish Members had a perfect right to demand information as to how that trust fund had been expended—how the trust had been fulfilled. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hibbert) said he would not like to give the names; but it had been pointed out that those names had had to appear in the newspapers when the applications were made. The amounts when granted by the Board of Works also appeared in the newspapers; and surely to goodness there could be no serious objection to stating how much of that money had been expended on the works in respect of which it had been applied for, and the nature of those works. He did not wish to mention names, because he did not like to bring charges without being able to substantiate them, which he should not be able to do without the Return asked for; but he had heard of cases in which the money granted had been singularly misapplied. There was one case, however, in Donegal, where a landlord had borrowed money ostensibly to make a wall round his demesne. The landlord had received the money, and if he had applied it to the work for which he had obtained it a large amount of work would have been done and a large amount of employment given; but instead of that he only repaired a portion of an iron railing. The principal reason why the Irish Members made this demand was because this money was public money, lent for a specific public object and for the public benefit, and therefore the public had a right to know how it had been expended. If £5,000 or 1826 £10,000 had been granted for the erection of a pier, if the pier were for the benefit of the fishing community generally, the hon. Member would have no objection to state how the money had been spent. Why, then, should he object in this case, in which, as he said, the money had not been granted for the purpose of benefiting the landlords primarily, but for the purpose of benefiting the public? He (Mr. Leamy) was sorry that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury had found it necessary, so early in his official capacity at the Treasury, to refuse the reasonable request of the Irish Members; and he could not help thinking that the more the hon. Member considered the matter the more he would come to the conclusion that the Irish Members had no inquisitorial motive in moving for this Return, but that they merely wanted to know how this money given for the Public Service had been actually spent. The Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, in answer to the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) with regard to the action of the Local Government Board, had made a statement in the House that night which he no doubt thought a sufficient reply to the hon. Member. He had said that he did not know anything about the matter. That was to say, that the right hon. Gentleman who was President of the Local Government Board in Ireland knew nothing whatever of the action taken by the Body over which he presided. He did not blame the right hon. Gentleman for not knowing much about it; but Englishmen who grumbled at the temper of the Irish people ought not to be too much surprised at that temper when they saw, as in this case, a right hon. Gentleman at the head of a Department pleading absolute ignorance of the work of that Department, and being unable to give information except from people who were hostile to the majority of the Irish Representatives. He (Mr. Leamy) only referred to the right hon. Gentleman's ignorance for the purpose of pointing out the difficulty in which the Irish. Members were placed in dealing with matters of this kind. The Solicitor General for Ireland had stated that the case of the two policemen was occupying the attention of the Government; but surely it was a very remarkable fact that the Chief Baron in Ireland should have de- 1827 clared that these men should have been sent up for defeating the ends of justice. He (Mr. Leamy) would give no opinion as to whether these men could have been indicted for conspiracy to murder. It was said that there was some doubt as to whether one of the policemen conspired with the other; but if one conspired with the members of Murphy's family to defeat the inquiry, the Coroner was bound to make it "and for the purpose of defeating the ends of justice;" and if the policeman made his statement for the purpose of enabling the family to obtain blood money, in case his statement was supported there was no doubt plenty of ground for indicting the man. He (Mr. Leamy) hoped that now the hon. and learned Gentleman had taken the matter into his hands the delay which had occurred would be made up for.
§ MR. MAYNE
said, that they had a right to expect something more definite from the Chief Secretary than the reply which the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had obtained as to the action of the Local Government Board in regard to the North Dublin Union. This was a matter of considerable importance to the ratepayers of the City of Dublin. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant was President of the Irish Local Government Board, and this matter had now been pending nearly a fortnight, and yet the right hon. Gentleman appeared to know nothing of what had been going on. Was not the right hon. Gentleman aware that a letter from the Local Government Board of Ireland had been read at the meeting of the North Dublin Union Guardians yesterday, dated November last—a letter in which it was stated that their attention had been called to the Minute of the Board of Guardians, in which they changed their banking account by resolution, and in which they stated their refusal to permit the Board to carry out that change? The Local Government Board of Ireland took this course on a ground that he thought he was justified in describing as a quibble. They stated that the banker of the Board of Guardians was an official of the Board. Their allegation was that its banker was really the Board's Treasurer, but the banker was paid no salary. He was not appointed in the way officials were appointed, and yet the Local Go- 1828 vernment Board refused to permit the banking account to be changed, because they stated that under the 24th Order no official of the Board could be changed unless the Local Government Board themselves changed him; and in this case they refused to authorize the change. The reason why the Board of Guardians had endeavoured to effect this change should be borne in mind. It was a very substantial one. The Bank of Ireland had refused a loan for 10 years to the Board of Guardians that the Board deemed to be necessary. The Hibernian Bank had consented to grant it for 4½ per cent, on condition that the account of the Board of Guardians was transferred to them. They at the same time consented, if this arrangement were carried out, to charge nothing on the overdraft which was necessary for the Board of Guardians to make in Dublin and probably everywhere else, because, as most people knew, the rates for the year came in very slowly during the first three or four months of the year, with the result that the Dublin Board of Guardians, at all events, were considerably in debt during those three or four months, and had to overdraw their account. The Bank of Ireland, under those circumstances, took very good care of themselves, and charged 5s. per cent on any overdraft that occurred up to May, notwithstanding that during the remaining months of the year they had a large sum in their hands standing to the credit of the Board. The Hibernian Bank offered to put the large credit which the Guardians had during the latter part of the year against the overdraft in the early part of the year, allowing the overdraft to stand without interest. Those were the reasons why the Guardians of the North Dublin Union thought they could do better for the ratepayers by dealing with the Hibernian Bank. Why, therefore, should the Local Government Board step in between the Guardians and the Banking arrangement, and insist upon mulcting the ratepayers for the benefit of an institution which had hitherto had a monopoly? He (Mr. Mayne), as Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Dublin Corporation, knew that the Bank of Ireland, having this monopoly, were most illiberal under it. The Dublin Corporation were bound by law to deal with this bank, or they would not con- 1829 tinue their present relations for a moment. The Dublin Corporation would take their account away from the Bank of Ireland on Monday if they could do so. The Bank of Ireland, knowing the position in which they were placed by the Local Government Board and other official bodies, took advantage of it for the benefit of their shareholders, and mulcted the ratepayers unmercifully. The Guardians of the North Dublin Union had made a manly attempt to deal with a bank which was just as safe a concern as the Bank of Ireland, and was anxious to deal with them liberally. He (Mr. Mayne) submitted that the President of the Irish Local Government Board owed it to the House and to the Irish Members to now state that the action taken by his Board had his disapproval. If the right hon. Gentleman expressed disapproval with the action of the Board of which he was President now, the Board might probably listen to the remonstrances of the Board of Guardians of the North Dublin Union. That Board of Guardians had passed a resolution remonstrating with the Local Government Board, and asking them to reconsider their extraordinary decision; and he asserted that it would help the Local Government Board very considerably if there was an expression of opinion on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, if he could address the House, and if he could not, then on the part of some other occupant of the Treasury Bench, in favour of the spirited and proper action of the Guardians of the North Dublin Union.
§ MR. SMALL
said, that he had listened with great attention to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland, and he had understood from his observations in regard to the Castleisland case that the Government were of opinion that they could not prosecute the policemen for manslaughter, because the Coroner's Jury had not brought in such a verdict against them.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. WALKER)
I did not say that. The magistrates had refused to send them for trial.
§ MR. SMALL
said, there were one or two other matters which had occurred in the North of Ireland which had come under the notice of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and which could not 1830 now, therefore, be regarded by Mm with surprise. He (Mr. Small) wished to draw attention to a trial which had taken place at Armagh in the case of Francis Hughes. An application had been made to get the venue changed from Armagh, on the ground that Party feeling ran so high that a trial of this kind could not be properly held in that county. A man had been violently murdered within a few yards of the Orange Hall in the town where the outrage occurred, and the murder was consequently attributed to Orangemen. He (Mr. Small) had some knowledge of the district, and he was aware that the majority of those on the Jury Panel in that county were strong sympathizers with the Orange brotherhood, many of them being sworn and active members of the organization. Three men, believed to be Orangemen, were charged with the murder to which he referred—the murder of a Catholic, and it was hardly likely that if they were tried locally they would get a fair trial. Therefore, a request was made to the Government to have the venue changed to some other county. The application was a very sensible one, and should have been complied with; but the Government, he understood, held that it would be unfair to change the venue, and that there was no reason to believe that a proper trial could not be had in Armagh. Accordingly, the three men charged with the murder of this Catholic were brought to trial in the county of Armagh. The bill sent up before the Grand Jury was for manslaughter. The Grand Jury threw it out, and found a bill merely for assault occasioning grievous bodily harm, and this notwithstanding that the man whose death was the subject of the trial had been killed by having his skull smashed in with a stone of several pounds weight. Could there be any doubt that an assault of this kind was an assault "occasioning grievous bodily harm?" The case came before the Petty Jury. He (Mr. Small) had often been present at Assizes in the city of Armagh, and had noticed the way in which this business was done. The Crown Solicitor, himself a Catholic—one of the class of men who were most despised in Ireland, that was to say, a Castle Catholic, one of those who were usually found to do the dirty work from which respectable Protestants would reooil—was in the habit of holding the 1831 Jury Panel in his hand, going over it, and carefully excluding from it all those whom he knew or believed to be Catholics. He (Mr. Small) asserted most positively that this Crown Solicitor, Kilkelly, had struck off Catholic names time out of mind, and that whenever a Catholic had got upon the panel it was only in consequence of his bearing a name which had a Protestant sound. In the case to which he was referring a jury was empanelled consisting of 11 Protestants and one Catholic, and that in a county where the majority of the people were Catholics. The one Catholic upon the jury got on simply because his name was Adams, which the hon. and learned Gentleman must be aware was a well-known Protestant name in Ireland. Mr. Kilkelly had felt himself reasonably certain that William Adams was a Protestant, otherwise he would not have put him on the panel. The three men were put upon their trial before this jury, with the curious result that the prisoners were acquitted even on the minor charge, and were found guilty of a common assault. He presumed that the hon. and learned Gentleman knew, as every criminal lawyer knew, what a common assault was. It was a term which was generally applied to an assault of the slightest character, unaccompanied by serious disturbance or serious result. The jury found that the men who had smashed in their victim's skull with a stone which weighed several pounds were only guilty of a common assault. The trial had taken place before Mr. Justice Johnson, of whom it might be said, whatever could be said of other Judges in Ireland, that he at least was an impartial and just magistrate. This Justice said that of all the evidence which had ever been brought before a Petty Jury none had been clearer than this, and that they would have been justified in bringing in a verdict of manslaughter. It was stated in that House, in reply to an hon. Friend of his (Mr. Small's), a day or two ago, that all the evidence had been produced before the Petty Jury. Was all the evidence produced? Mr. Justice Johnson had given the men 12 months' imprisonment, which he believed was the utmost he could possibly give them. In that way he showed his appreciation of the conduct of the Grand Jury, in the first place, for returning a true bill for a less offence 1832 than that for which the prisoners had been indicted; and, secondly, of the conduct of the Petty Jury in bringing in a verdict for a common assault. In sentencing the men the learned Judge said that they had followed their victim as Indians dogged their enemies. He (Mr. Small) could inform the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland that before very long he would hear a great deal more about this trial. In the beginning of June there was a Nationalist demonstration in Newry, on which occasion the Orangemen fired with murderous intention on the Nationalist gathering. Although they were sent for trial by the magistrates, it was found that an impartial trial could not be had in the county town, and application was made to change the venue. The Government, always ready to bring prisoners to Dublin to be tried by special juries, hesitated to bring those men to Dublin to be tried. It was said that the Dublin juries had too much to do, and in the last two years, no doubt, they had had a great deal of work, because they had to try criminals from all parts of Ireland; but it was strange that this only struck the Government when an application was made to change the venue in this case. The Irish Government, however, after hesitating and coquetting with the question, promised to change the venue locally, and they changed it to—Belfast. Yes; they agreed that the prisoners could not have an impartial trial in the county town, and they thought it would be better to bring them before a jury in the county of Antrim. Anyone acquainted with the North of Ireland would know that the Antrim juries were the worst and most bigoted and intolerant in any part of Ireland. The Crown entered on the case at the Belfast Assizes with all the machinery of a State trial. Mr. Justice Murphy formed a strong opinion on the case; but notwithstanding that the jury disagreed. The trials were then adjourned, and it was understood that the venue should be changed to another place; but, to the surprise of everyone, within the last few days the Government had again changed the venue, and again changed it to Belfast. What did the hon. and learned Gentleman think the effect of this would be on the minds of the people in the North of Ireland? Did they want to purge their minds 1833 altogether of the idea that they would get any justice whatever from the Government? Irish Members knew that this farce would be gone through again and again; and the Orange jury would be empanelled, and this time he thought there was no chance of disagreement, because the jury would be too well versed in the case before the trial took place. Would the House believe that, in a later trial of an Orangeman charged with firing on a Nationalist procession, the Crown ordered Catholics to stand aside on the jury being empanelled? Only a few days ago, Mr. O'Hare, who was on the panel in Armagh, and a Catholic, was suspected of being a Nationalist, and because of that he was not thought fit by the Crown to be on a jury. Politically, however, he was not sorry for what had occurred in the county of Armagh, for when the next election took place at Newry he knew that the two circumstances he had drawn attention to would be well remembered, and if any gentleman under Whig colours presented himself there he would be likely to go away without the letters M.P. attached to his name.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, it could hardly be a matter of surprise to the House that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland should have pleaded ignorance in the matter of the Hibernian Bank and the Guardians of the North Dublin Union, because he was in point of fact thoroughly ignorant of all Irish affairs, and, from what could be judged, likely to continue so. Perhaps, however, owing to the amount of enlightenment he had received from hon. Gentlemen on those Benches, there was hope that he would make some inquiry, and that justice would be done in the case. Then, with regard to the application made to the Board of Works, to which the hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien) had alluded, he had listened with attention to the reply of the Secretary to the Treasury, and although he was not disposed to think harshly of that hon. Gentleman, who, he believed, was desirous of doing what was right, he was bound to say that he had in this case given a peculiarly weak and injudicious answer. It was notorious that the grossest frauds were practised by those who borrowed money from the Government. There was nothing exceptional in the fact that 1834 frauds were committed in connection with these Government loans, and the hon. Gentleman, instead of saying to the hon. Member for Mallow that he was very much obliged to him for drawing his attention to the circumstance, and that the subject should be investigated, replied—"If you will make a statement to me privately with regard to any particular case, I will give you every information." But then he took away from the hon. Member for Mallow the means of pursuing the case. He (Mr. Biggar) pointed out that if Returns of the loans were published, the local knowledge of persons who saw them would enable them to form an opinion as to whether or not there was any cause of complaint, and they could then draw attention to the subject through their Representatives, who would endeavour, if possible, to get some redress. A story had been told him by an hon. Member to the effect that, on one occasion, he had gone with the Board of Works Inspector, who had to grant a certificate for work alleged to be done. What occurred? His hon. Friend was alone with the Inspector, who simply went on the confines of the land supposed to have been drained, and asked the farmer—"How many purchases have you made for drainage, and what am I to certify for?" The Inspector never investigated any part of the work done, and in point of fact the certifying was a perfect farce, and he might just as well have certified on the statement of the farmer without going on the premises at all, and without pretending to investigate the matter in any way. He thought, although this was only one instance, that it was sufficient to show that the hon. Gentleman should reconsider this question, with a view to seeing whether, not only in the interest of Irish Members, but in the interest of the Board of Works, whose duty it was to get the work done honestly, and act with some show of judicious management, the system could not be altered. The Board of Works were in this matter the representatives of the Treasury, and he thought, seeing that there was such a tendency to borrow money from the Government on private representations alone, that all those transactions should be made as public as possible, and that information should be given to Members of the House for 1835 the purpose of saving the Government from being plundered by advancing money on such pleas. Turning to another subject, he had over and over again drawn the attention of the House to the Vote of £1,200, which year by year came forward for the Ulster Canal Works. The Canal, he pointed out, had never been opened at all, and the money had gone into the pockets of some swindlers, notwithstanding which it was the custom of the Government to grant the money annually. He had always protested against the throwing away of public money for any unproductive work in Ireland and everywhere else, because it was a thing which ought neither to be defended nor practised; and he would always be ready to throw obstacles in the way of the borrowing and spending of public money on works of that kind. Then, with regard to the Castleisland case. It was well known that two persons alleged to be innocent had been hanged for a murder which was committed at that place; and now, when a similar case was proved—when it was shown that two constables had attempted to get innocent men hanged—the Government simply dismissed the men from the Force, and there would be no chance of punishing them further, because, if they had any sense at all, they would get out of the jurisdiction of the Courts of Law. He thought with his hon. Friend the Member for Galway Borough (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) that the Government ought to be ashamed of themselves for the course they had taken in this matter; because if the constables had not been found out in this conspiracy to murder, of which if not legally they were morally guilty, some of the 12 men who were arrested would undoubtedly have been hanged. The Government would have taken care that the men were tried at a place where they would be certain of getting a packed jury, they would have brought the case for trial before a partizan Judge like Mr. Justice Lawson or Mr. Justice O'Brien, and a conviction would have followed as a matter of course. Earl Spencer would then have said—"There has been a verdict by a jury given, and I will hang the men whether right or wrong." The hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Small) had drawn attention to the change of venue which had taken place in the case of Orangemen 1836 who fired upon a Nationalist gathering at Newry, with regard to which he (Mr. Biggar) said, from his own knowledge, that it would be perfectly impossible to get an honest verdict at Belfast. He knew that, because he had been engaged in several cases in which civil juries had perjured themselves in the most atrocious manner, and had returned verdicts against him simply because he happened to belong to a Party different from that to which they belonged. The Government seemed to have lost their minds altogether, or they ought to know that it was their duty to get just and not dishonest verdicts; they ought to know, even from a mere Party point of view, that it was the interest of their Party to be reasonably popular with the Party to which hon. Members on those Benches belonged. As the hon. Member for Wexford had said, there was no doubt that it was the bounden duty of Nationalists in the North of Ireland to throw the whole weight of their power and influence against the Party who acted as gross partizans by deliberately packing juries and taking care that a class of persons who were their enemies politically should get off scot-free, and that those who belonged to the Party whose support they hoped to have at the next Election should be convicted, whether guilty or not. Those were matters with regard to which he thought the Government ought to turn over a new leaf. There was a large part of the Irish population living in England, whose support it would be impossible for the Government to gain if they continued their present course of action with regard to Judges, officials, and juries in Ireland. In point of fact, the whole conduct of the Government in Ireland had been to screen and support persons of bad character, and with regard to persons of good character to do all they could to injure them.
§ MR. P. J. POWER
said, if some of his hon. Friends were a little more experienced in the way in which the Local Government Board discharged the duties of the Department, they would have expressed no surprise at anything they did. It was the practice to send down to the Poor Law Boards in Ireland a gentleman as Auditor from the Local Government Board, who, as a rule, differed with the Guardians on every point. Those gentlemen were most peremptory 1837 in the matter of surcharges. In England, if the Auditor made a surcharge there was an appeal against it; but in Ireland there was no appeal, and the Guardians had to submit to any charge, although it might be of the most outrageous character. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) ruled with gentle sway in Ireland, when he arrested and threw into gaol hundreds of the Irish people, without trial, it was not unusual for the wives of persons so arrested to apply to the Boards of Guardians for outdoor relief, while their husbands were in gaol. A "suspect," in the neighbourhood of Waterford, having been arrested, his wife applied to the Guardians for outdoor relief, which was granted her to the extent of 10s. or 15s. a-week for herself and five children. Shortly afterwards the Auditor came down and surcharged the amount paid. The Guardians were told that they should have applied to the Local Government Board before they made the grant, although it should be remembered that the poor woman would have had nothing to subsist on in the meantime. Well, the surcharge was made, and those who signed the checks had no remedy, and they had to pay the amount of the surcharge. If the advice which the hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien) had given had been acted upon, the Board might not have found it very easy to collect the money, and in future they would probably profit by that advice. Then there was another case, with respect to the working of the Labourers' Act, in which a great interest was taken in Ireland. The Board thought it might be well that they should procure guides, published in Dublin, which clearly stated the object of the Act and the way in which it should be put in force. They were obtained, and in that case also the Auditor of the Local Government Board came down and surcharged the amount. Again, for some years previously it had been the habit in the Union over which he had the honour now to preside to make a certain annual payment of £55. He himself made the same payment in one year which his predecessors had made; but owing to some cause which he knew not, the Auditor came down and surcharged him with the sum of £55. That was another peculiar instance of even-handed justice on the part of 1838 the Local Government Board. He was happy to say, however, that his predecessor, Sir Robert Paul, and some gentlemen of his (Sir Robert Paul's) way of thinking and some gentlemen of his own way of thinking, considered the surcharge so monstrous that they interested themselves in the matter, and the Local Government Board spoke to their Auditor, and he, under their influence, did not make a charge. He thought that these few instances would suffice to show hon. Members, no matter to what Party they might belong in that House, that they in Ireland had to put up with a dictatorial spirit on the part of the Local Government Board which English or Scotch Members would not tolerate for 24 hours. The Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had, last autumn, held out some hopes that he would be prepared to bring in a measure dealing with this subject; however, he had not moved in the matter up to that time. The Local Government Board seemed to have no other work in Ireland than to thwart and annoy the Guardians. Certainly there could be no greater instance of their incapacity than their treatment of an eminent medical man a few years ago. The political views of this gentleman were not in accordance with the opinions held by the Local Government Board, and they, therefore, thought him an inconvenient person to have in a responsible position. When he was thrown into prison his practice suffered considerably, of course; but, in addition to that, this Board of worthies, who sat in Dublin, afterwards deprived him of the position which he held, by sealed order; and he would have been without his position to that day had it not been that popular opinion, which in Ireland was very strong, compelled the Local Government Board to reinstate him. He wished to mention these facts, so that hon. Members on both sides of the House might know what some of the advantages of the present system were. He imagined that a similar state of things would not be allowed to continue in England for 24 hours.
§ MR. KENNY
regretted that the Members of the Government who were responsible for the administration of Ireland had already exhausted their right to reply to the observations which had been made by some of his hon. Friends. There were a few questions to which he 1839 wished to draw attention, and perhaps when the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Mr. Campbell-Banner-man) heard him he might be enabled to offer a few words of explanation. Some time since he (Mr. Kenny) called the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the manner in which the Irish Government had set their promise at naught with regard to the appointment to the Magistracy of gentlemen who belonged to the popular religion. Last year the Predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman, the present Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Trevelyan), and also the present Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Walker), made repeated and distinct promises that if steps were taken to bring before the attention of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland the names of Catholic gentlemen suitable for the position of Justices of the Peace, those gentlemen would be appointed; that, in fact, the Lord Chancellor would exercise his inherent right to appoint them over the heads, if necessary, of the Lord Lieutenants of the counties. Previous to that time, and unfortunately since, the appointment rested with the Lord Lieutenants of counties. Furnishing the other day an example in which a palpable unfairness was perpetrated, he asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether the Government meant to redeem their pledge by appointing a fair and reasonable number of Catholics to the Bench. The right hon. Gentleman, in reply, said that if the names of Catholic gentlemen were sent directly to the Lord Chancellor, he would consider them, no matter what the Lord Lieutenants of counties might think of the subject. No sooner had the right hon. Gentleman made that statement than he (Mr. Kenny) had sent to him a letter from the Secretary to the Lord Chancellor, in which he stated that with regard to the recommendations for the Commissions of the Peace the Lord Chancellor could not accede to them, owing to the fact that the Lord Lieutenant of the county had not sent a recommendation on the subject. Now, as a matter of fact, the two gentlemen who were recommended by the local Board of Guardians, and also by the respectable people of the locality, happened to be Catholics in religion, and also happened to differ in political opinions from the Lord Lieu- 1840 tenant of the county, who was notoriously an extreme Orangeman and a very extreme Tory. Without entering into the question of the appointment to the Magistracy further, he (Mr. Kenny) would like to know from the right hon. Gentleman whether the Lord Chancellor of Ireland was fulfilling the expressed promise of the Irish Government last year when he said deliberately in a letter to a responsible body in Ireland that he refused to appoint certain gentlemen to the Commission of the Peace because the Lord Lieutenant of the county would not recommend them? There was another question to which he (Mr. Kenny) desired to direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, and it was this. The Government had undertaken to relieve certain districts of Ireland from a portion of extra Constabulary stationed there under the Act of Will. IV. Now, by the system of removal which had been adopted a great injustice had been done to the men who had been removed. In certain of the districts some of the subordinate men were removed while the sergeants remained. Now, under such a system the constables and sub-constables of the district had their prospects in the Force indefinitely postponed. Fifty-two had been removed from the county of Clare. These were all constables and sub-constables, but the sergeants were allowed to remain. Now, the result was that if that force of sergeants was kept up the constables and sub-constables who remained would have no possible chance of reaching any higher position in the Service for the next five or 10 years. That might seem a simple matter to the right hon. Gentleman, but at the same time it was a system which was practised throughout the whole of Ireland, or certainly in those counties in Ireland where the extra police had been stationed. There was another question to which he (Mr. Kenny) wished to draw attention—namely, the manner in which the County Court of Clare had been turned into a mockery by the antics of a gentleman who was called the County Court Judge of that district. For a long time the action of this man had been a perfect public scandal. It was ridiculous in the extreme to suppose that a person of this man's peculiar character could be capable of exercising judicial discretion to the satisfaction of anybody but 1841 himself. To give the man his due he was perfectly impartial in his vagaries, for he attacked all men no matter what position—high or low—with an equal want of discretion. He (Mr. Kenny) had drawn the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, and also of his Predecessor (Mr. Trevelyan), to certain of this man's performances. He drew the attention of the Chief Secretary the other day to the fact that this County Court Judge was anxious of knowing from a witness who had been a juror in a previous case what verdict he was in favour of giving. Now, the Judge, if he knew the law at all, must have known very well that the question he put to the witness was a gross violation of the law. That was only one of the many freaks this man was constantly guilty of. Now, one of his favourite pranks was when witnesses were called on the table, witnesses infinitely more respectable than himself, to tell them that he did not believe a word they were going to say. That was rather hard on men who, in the first place, had not opened their mouths in the case, and who, in the second place, as far as public character was concerned, stood in a much higher position in the county than the County Court Judge. Recently, he (Mr. Kenny) had his attention drawn to another case in which two gentlemen, both of extreme Conservative views, came into conflict in a civil matter. It was the case of Mr. Studdart, a well-known local gentleman, a Justice of the Peace, a member of the Limerick Board of Works, but who resided in the county of Clare, and who was an extreme Tory, and a Mr. Stacpoole, also an extreme Tory. They had come into conflict concerning the value of some land. Mr. Stacpoole was engaged in the case previous to the one in which he was in conflict with Mr. Studdart. Mr. Stacpoole failed to prove the case, and then when the case in which Mr. Studdart was engaged was called, this County Court Judge immediately asked if the defendant was his friend, Mr. Stacpoole. Mr. Studdart handed up the account as required of him, whereupon Mr. Stacpoole's solicitor said that he had only received a copy of the account that day. A discussion ensued with regard to a longer notice being given; but the plaintiff explained that it was a matter which could be mastered in a few minutes. 1842 Then it was that the peculiarities of the County Court Judge were demonstrated. He threw the account book which had been handed to him on the table, saying he would not hear the case, and directing the Clerk of the Peace to dismiss it. He also told Mr. Studdart to go to some other Court which would hear the case. Mr. Studdart appealed in due course to the Judge of Assize, and the Court gave him a decree with costs. In another case the County Court Judge gave a decree to the plaintiff, refusing to hear the defendant; but when the latter appealed to the Judge of Assize, the decision was reversed. Now, there was another peculiarity about this Mr. Kelly, the County Court Judge. He resided at the county Club, which was kept up by landlords and their agents, and the members of that Club; whenever they were concerned in a suit, took good care to earwig his Honour, and prejudice him beforehand on their behalf. That was a thing which went on constantly. If proof were wanted of the manner in which matters were conducted at the County Club, it was only necessary to take the testimony of Mr. Justice O'Hagan. When he was originally appointed Chairman of the county of Clare, he put up at the County Club; but he found he was so annoyed by gentlemen coming to him and stating their cases, and, when he refused to listen to them, taking seats near him, and discussing amongst themselves the relative merits of the suits in which they were engaged, that he was forced to leave the Club, and he refused to re-enter it again until his term of office in Clare ceased. Mr. Kelly stuck to the Club all the closer, because the members made themselves pleasant, and made his duty extremely simple. He (Mr. Kenny) assumed that Mr. Kelly was prejudiced against Mr. Studdart simply because that gentleman happened to be a member of the Limerick Club, and not of the Ennis Club. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) would only consult the statistics in the possession of the House with regard to the successful appeals which had been made from the decision of this County Court Judge to the Judge of Assize, he would find sufficient proof of everything he (Mr. Kenny) had said. Some time ago a pamphlet was published in Ireland by a well-known mem- 1843 ber of the Irish Bar, dealing with the County Court question, and condemning strongly the present system. It was conclusively proved in that pamphlet that not only in one, but in many counties, the County Court system was equivalent to a travesty of justice. This was a serious matter to the unfortunate persons who happened to be litigants in Ireland. Many litigants were compelled to graduate through the County Court, involving them in great expense, before they were entitled to appear before the Judge of Assize. When, in 1877, a new law came into force, and a number of very able men were removed from the position of County Court Judges, or Chairmen of Counties, as they were then called, and a number of men, who were unfortunately their inferiors in every respect, were put in their place, appeals had grown rapidly, and the expense incurred by litigants in Ireland had been vastly multiplied, owing to the present most unjust and worthless system. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary thought it worth while to pay any attention to what he (Mr. Kenny) was saying; but he assured the right hon. Gentleman that the subject was not altogether unimportant, and that he might find before long there would be such an outcry raised with regard to the system of administration of the law in Ireland that it would be made extremely uncomfortable for any English Minister who turned a deaf ear to the demand of the people. Now, attention had been called to the money expended in foolish and absurd projects by the Board of Works. It was a notorious fact that almost every work which the Board of Works had undertaken had failed. The Board commenced their career a failure, in 1846 or 1847, during the Famine period, for at that time their favourite amusement was the endeavour to make water run up hills. If necessary, he could give an instance in which the Board of Works absolutely intended to drain a district in such a way that the water, instead of flowing downwards, would have been forced upwards. The conduct of the Board of Works in Ireland in sanctioning loans in a great many instances where loans ought not to have been sanctioned deserved the serious attention of the House. It was well to contrast their conduct in this respect with 1844 their niggardliness in refusing loans to industrious farmers simply on account of some technical flaw in the form of agreement, or in the signatures sent up. As a matter of fact, the Board of Works placed every objection in the way of honest and industrious men who required money for the improvement of their farms. Yet they made no demur in granting a loan of many thousand pounds to an arrant swindler. He knew instances in which the Board of Works had so assured farmers of their safety in getting loans, that the farmers had undertaken works, and virtually carried them out, expecting to receive an advance in due course from the Board of Works; but that then the Board of Works had sprung some objection, and the result was that the farmers, having undertaken an expenditure they could not afford, were virtually brought to ruin. Contrast such conduct with the action of the Board in lending to Mr. Drinkwater, of County Clare, a sum of £80,000 for the purpose of working out a scheme which would never be worth £20,000, or even £10,000. The loan was made to this individual under the régime of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). He (Mr. Kenny) believed that this Mr. Drinkwater, who happened to be an Englishman, went across to Dublin, after having got some kind of a Private Bill passed through this House, authorizing a certain loan, and made a speech in Dublin Castle to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, in which speech he described the inhabitants of Clare as a set of barbarians whom he wished to civilize. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, with his cast-iron notions of philanthropy, got the Treasury to grant the man a loan of £78,000. Now, there was no inquiry whatever made into the character of the man. When Drinkwater had run through the money which he got from the Government in Ireland, he came over to England, and started as one of the "Long Firm," with the result that the gentleman soon found himself in gaol. This was the character of the man who went over to Ireland to civilize the people, and carry out philanthropic projects nominally for the civilization of the people, but really for the benefit of his own pocket. Drinkwater succeeded in extorting money from 1845 the Treasury, whereas honest Irishmen, who were really anxious to expend money in reproductive works, were refused loans by the Board of Works. This was one of the things which had the effect of ruining Irish credit; and perhaps five or 10 years hence, when a genuine scheme of reproductive work was formulated, and a loan was asked for, it would be thrown in the teeth of the people that a certain Drinkwater, in the year 1880, got a loan of £80,000 from the Treasury, and that not a single fraction had ever been repaid. The Government must admit—though the late Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Courtney) would never admit it—that in their action towards Mr. Drinkwater they had been extremely mistaken and extremely foolish. At the same time, he (Mr. Kenny) pointed out to the Treasury that in this matter they were themselves entirely to blame, and that they ought not to be in any way prejudiced with regard to future schemes which were promoted by honest and proper men. The men who were really anxious to carry out proper schemes were men who did not object to have their antecedents and character fully investigated. It was only swindlers like this man, Drinkwater, who never intended to repay loans made them, that so objected. He trusted the Government would be able to give some satisfactory explanation as to the manner in which Drinkwater succeeded in obtaining £78,000, and how it was they had allowed themselves and the country to be swindled to so great an extent.
§ Resolutions agreed to.