HC Deb 22 February 1886 vol 302 cc886-8

asked Mr. Attorney General, with reference to the Resolution of this House which declares— That it is a high infringement of the liberties and privileges of the Commons of the United Kingdom for any Lord of Parliament. … to concern himself in the election of Members to serve for the Commons in Parliament. … or for any Lord Lieutenant or Governor of any county to avail himself of any authority derived from his Commission to influence the election of any Member to serve for the Commons in Parliament; whether his attention has been called to the action of the Earl of Meath, in reference to the recent election for the East Wicklow Division of the county; whether he is aware that Lord Meath, in his capacity of Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of the county of Wicklow, summoned a meeting of so-called Loyalists, at which he took the chair; whether he has seen a report of Lord Meath's speech on the occasion, in which, referring to the election about to be held, he spoke of the honourable Member for Cork City as the leader of "Communists" and "Anarchists," adding— He was not bringing forward one-half of the villainous projects these unscrupulous revolutionists sought to accomplish; whether he has noticed the following passage in the speech— This autocratic leader went on plainly and without reservation to educate them in the political doctrines they were to support. First, the land of the country was to be taken from all landowners and applied to National purposes. Secondly, no property of any description was to be allowed to accumulate in the hands of any person; whether he has noticed the announcement made to the meeting by Lord Meath, who read a letter from Earl Fitzwilliam, in which it was stated— You will be told by my son what I believe you already know, that I should wish to contribute to the election expenses of any candidate approved by the meeting, to which Lord Meath added— He might say he had received a very large subscription from Earl Fitzwilliam, but he was not at present at liberty to mention the amount; whether it is a fact that several other Peers, including Lord Carysfort and Lord de Vesci, took part in the proceedings; and, what steps he intends to take in support of the Resolution of the House in the case now brought under his notice?


I am bound to point out to the hon. Member that it does not come in any special sense within the sphere of my duty to interfere in regard to this Question, which would more properly be addressed to the Leader of the House. However, in courtesy to the hon. Member, I may say that I understand that the speech to which reference is here made was spoken before the issue of the Writ for the Election for the Eastern Division of Wicklow; and, under these circumstances, it is not usual to take any notice of a speech so delivered. Indeed, it is customary for Members of the House of Lords belonging to the two great political Parties in the State to take part before the issue of the Writ of Election by addressing public meetings; and in this case the speech was, I understand, delivered before the issue of the Writ.


asked whether the Attorney General would take into consideration the desirability, in order to make the matter plain, of inserting the words, "after the issue of the Writ," when a Motion was made for the issue of a new Writ?


That is also a Question which would be more properly addressed to the Leader of the House.