HC Deb 22 March 1886 vol 303 cc1485-6
MR. SEXTON (Sligo, S.)

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether the Mayor of Belfast, Sir Edward Harland, was summoned to serve on the county Antrim Grand Jury at the current Spring Assizes; whether a number of local gentlemen regularly summoned for many years past were not summoned on this last occasion; whether amongst those who were summoned by the high sheriff, Mr. Samuel Allen, and who served at the Spring Assizes, was Mr. John Leslie Beers, formerly governor of the county Antrim prison, and now governor of the Kilmainham prison, Dublin; and, whether a governor is permitted to absent himself for several days from his post for the purpose of acting as a grand juror, and, in that capacity, aiding the adoption of a political resolution, which formed part of the transactions of the Antrim Grand Jury?


Before answering the Question, will the right hon. Gentleman kindly inform the House whether it is not the case that Mr. Beers was on leave at the time, and also inform the House whether there is any Statute which prohibits gentlemen holding the position which is filled by Mr. Beers—and being at the same time the landowner of a county—serving on a Grand Jury; and also whether, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, the High Sheriff of Antrim was not quite as justified in summoning Mr. Beers, a landowner, as the National Party were justified in choosing a leader from the same class? [Cries of "Order!"]


The latter part of the Question is irregular.


said, he was informed that the fact was as stated in the first paragraph of the Question. He was not aware, however, whether, as stated in the second paragraph, any gentlemen who were usually summoned were not so summoned at the last Assizes. The duty of summoning Grand Jurors rested with the High Sheriff under the provisions of the Grand Jury Act. He was informed that Mr. Beers was not given leave of absence for the purpose of attending, but he was on leave, and, being summoned, he attended.