HC Deb 09 September 1887 vol 321 cc153-5
MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

Before the House adjourns I wish to put a Question to the Head of the Government. Intelligence of the utmost gravity has arrived to-night from Ireland, and, in my opinion, a situation of unprecedented public peril has been suddenly created there. My information is that whilst a meeting, addressed by English and Irish Members of Parliament, was peacefully in progress this afternoon in the public square at Mitchelstown, a body of Constabulary armed with rifles suddenly forced themselves on the meeting, and eventually fired with bullets on the people, killing two men on the spot, and dangerously wounding several others; and I am informed that one man has since died. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) whether he or any other Member of the Government can give us any information; whether they are in possession of any; and particularly I want to know who was in command of the armed forces, and who ordered them to fire; who, in fact, is responsible for this occurrence?

THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

I am aware of the fact that an unfortunate collision has occurred; but I am not informed of the details, nor have the Government received any official information on the subject. It is, therefore, impossible for me to give the hon. Gentleman the information which he desires. I can only express my profound regret at the circumstance.


I can only protest against the absence of the Irish officials when this sad affair was so well known, and when it might reasonably be expected it would form the subject of a Question in this House.


I had not the slightest idea that the hon. Member had an intention to put a Question on the subject, or I would have secured the attendance in the House of one of the Irish Officers.

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

I should have thought that the Government having—according to the right hon. Gentleman's own admission—themselves received intimation that this had occurred, and knowing of this de- plorable occurrence, would have deemed it a sufficient reason to suppose that a Question would be addressed to the Government.


I have received no official information.


But they apparently knew what had occurred. This is rather too grave an occurrence for such a lame excuse, or to be passed by as "an unfortunate collision." It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to express regret at these things; but he should have been a little wiser before, and have taken measures to prevent this civil war arising in Ireland through the mischievous policy of the Government.

MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)

Are we to understand that the Government have heard of this from merely an unofficial source, and that they did not think it a sufficiently grave matter to inquire into and obtain official information?


As soon as the information reached us, we at once telegraphed to Ireland for information—full information—on the subject.


And I wish to point out that eight hours after this murderous occurrence the Government are without information on the subject.

MR. BIGGAR (Cavan, W.)

I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House if he will adopt the practice prevailing in former Parliaments, and at the close of Government Business to-day will he move the adjournment of the House, or does he intend to allow Private Business to be taken?


As soon as the Government Business is concluded tomorrow—or, rather, to-day—I shall move the adjournment of the House.

MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)

Is it the intention of the Government to resist the passing of the Vacant Grounds (Nuisances Prevention) Bill, which stood for second reading last night?


This Bill was blocked by direction of the Government, because there was an understanding between the promoter of the Bill—the hon. Member for West St. Pancras (Mr. Lawson)—and the Home Office that the Bill should not be pressed if it were objected to by the Home Office. There are very serious objections to it, and therefore the Bill is blocked.

An hon. MEMBER

No notice was taken of this Bill last night, and when the Motion for second reading was made no grounds of objection were advanced. The treatment of this Bill by the Government will be taken by Nonconformists as a grievous and crying scandal.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 84; Noes 16: Majority 68.—(Div. List, No. 470.)

House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock.