HC Deb 13 February 1888 vol 322 cc251-2
MR. M'CARTAN(for Mr. GILHOOLY) (Cork, W.)

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether his attention has been drawn to legal proceedings at the Quarter Sessions, held at Skibbereen in October last, at which it was shown that Mr. John E. Barrett, agent to Mr. Gumbleton, and Justice of Peace for the County of Cork, falsified a rent receipt in order to procure the benefit of the Arrears Act for Mr. James Mahoney, a tenant to Mr. Gumbleton; whether Mr. Barrett made an affidavit that Mr. Mahoney owed arrears; whether, in the course of the proceedings referred to, that affidavit has been proved to be false; whether Judge Ferguson decided that Mr. Barrett had charged Mr. Mahoney a half-year's rent remitted by the Arrears Court; and if the above allegations are correct; and, whether Mr. Barrett's action will be brought under the notice of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland?


The matter referred to occurred in 1881, and the dispute about it only arose when Mr. Barrett, as agent, sued for subsequent arrears in 1887. Judge Ferguson, who tried the case, found that Mr. Barret had not given credit to the tenant for a half-year's rent which had been paid, and therefore made a corresponding deduction when decreasing the amount of rent due. He, however, stated that he was clearly of opinion, and so stated openly in Court when giving judgment, that the matter in dispute which involved all the circumstances of the case was a mere mistake, and that no fraud was intended. Mr. Barrett did make the usual affidavit jointly with the tenant; but Judge Ferguson, in his Report to the Lord Chancellor, has not referred to the subject. The matter was then dealt with by the Lord Chancellor. He found that Mr. Barrett, acting as agent for Mr. Gumbleton, had made an alteration in the receipt, but without any intention of fraud, the alteration having been made openly and in good faith, Mr. Barrett believing that he was simply carrying out the intention of the Arrears Act. The Lord Chancellor thereupon decided there was nothing calling for further action on his part. The case of Mr. Byrne, late Collector General of Rates in Dublin, is materially different from this. In that case he inserted in his own tenants' receipt a false date for the day of payment of the rent, in order to bring within the Act cases that would otherwise be outside it—a matter regarded as especially serious in an officer whose public duties involved accuracy of accounts and dates. The date of payment was the date that regulated the right to the benefit of the Arrears Act, and Mr. Barrett did not alter that date.