MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY (Londonderry City)
asked Mr. Solicitor General for Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to the decision of the Court of Appeal in Ireland, in the registration case of "Hassan v. Chambers;" whether the effect of that decision is to disfranchise all sailors in the United Kingdom who, between the 20th of July in one year and the 20th of July in the next, go on any voyage in pursuance of articles; and whether the Government int end to take any steps this Session to prevent such a result from this decision?
THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR)(who replied) said (Manchester, E.)
My hon. and learned Friend's attention has been called by the Question of the hon. Member to the case referred to, and I have obtained copies of the case stated by the Recorder of Londonderry, and the Judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal. I am advised that it appears that the claimant had signed articles of agreement on the 26th of June, 1888, by which he bound himself to serve as a sailor on board a ship on a voyage from Londonderry, the probable length of which would be 12 months, and that under this agreement he was compulsorily absent for several months from the 26th of June. The Court of Appeal (affirming the Recorder) held, following previous decisions both in England and in Ireland in the case of Militiamen absent for a short period for training, that as the claimant had, by the agreement, deprived himself of the power of returning to his dwelling-house whenever he pleased during the period of his absence at sea, he was not an inhabitant-occupier during the whole of the qualifying 12 months. The effect of the decisions in "Hassan v. Chambers," and previous cases, is that all sailors in the United Kingdom who, between the 20th of July in one year and the 20th of July in the next, go on any voyage under an agreement depriving themselves of the power of returning when they 1402 please to the dwelling-houses out of which they claim, are not entitled to be registered.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said, that as the answer of the right hon. Gentleman practically meant the disfranchisement of all sailors in the country who went on a week's voyage, he would ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he would not consider the desirability, during the Recess, of taking some means to prevent this large class of the community being wholly disfranchised?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, it was possible that the cases of soldiers and sailors might require to be considered; but the hon. Member appeared to be mistaken in his view of the law. It was only, as he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) understood the matter, that when a voyage which a sailor had contracted to perform covered the whole period between the 20th of July in one year and the 20th of July in the next year, any disfranchisement could occur.