HC Deb 10 April 1888 vol 324 cc869-71
MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)

said, the Question which he had put upon the Paper seemed to have been slightly altered. The Question now stood—To ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether his attention has been called to a Circular recently ad- dressed by Sir West Ridgeway, on behalf of the Lord Lieutenant, to the magistrates in Ireland, conveying the disapproval of His Excellency of short sentences of imprisonment, and suggesting that a certain class of prisoners should receive longer sentence of imprisonment; and, whether any interference by the head of the Executive in Ireland with the judicial discretion of magistrates has the sanction of the Government? He would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant for Ireland simply whether such a Circular had been recently issued by Sir West Ridgeway?


The hon. Member now simply asks me whether such a Circular has been issued, and my reply is that such a Circular has been issued.


I wish to ask the whole Question.


The hon. Member, in his Question, does not accurately convey the meaning of the Circular to which he refers. The main objects of the Circular were—(1) To bring the English and Irish practice more into harmony; (2) to save waste of time and money; (3) to induce magistrates to follow the course indicated by various statutes with regard to first offences or trivial offences, whereby terms of imprisonment which are injurious but not deterrent may be avoided. It is hardly necessary to add that the Circular has nothing to do with the Criminal Law and Procedure (Ireland) Act of last year.


I wish to ask whether, in addition to the motives which the right hon. Gentleman has explained as to the sending out of the Circular, there is not another, and whether that is not the one that at the present time the local gaols are principally occupied by National Leaguers, and that this is a hint to the magistrates not to be sending drunkards and the hardened classes of criminals into the gaols by sentencing them to imprisonment; and, also, whether it is not a fact that in Tralee Gaol at the present time the percentage of the criminal classes is only about 10; and, whether the hardened criminals are not going about the streets and boasting that the respectable people are all in gaol and that there is no room for hem?

[No reply.]