HC Deb 27 February 1888 vol 322 cc1534-90

(8.) £38,073, Supplementary, County Courts.

SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

said, he thought the Committee should have some explanation of the large increase in the Vote over the original Estimate. He had thought that the amount for the County Courts was a fixed Estimate, and they ought to be told whether the number of Judges had increased, whether the salaries had increased, or what the increase of £38,073 was owing to.


said, he was sorry he had not risen at once to give an explanation of the Vote, but he had thought the Committee was aware that this was one of the Votes which very often resulted in a Supplementary Estimate. The expenses were paid according to the amount of business. For instance, the Registrars were paid £4 for each 25 cases, and he did not think it was very easy to judge beforehand how many cases would be brought into the County Court during the next 12 months. An Estimate was usually taken as near as any approximate estimate could be made to cover the number of cases, but the real fact in the past financial year had been—and, no doubt, hon. Members would notice it—that the growth of expenditure was not only considerable in itself, but was disproportionate to the growth of receipts from fees. The explanation of that, he understood, was that the Registrars were paid so much per case, and the fees depended on the amounts which were involved in the cases. He understood that there had been a considerable increase in the total business, whether or not due to bad trade he could not say. There had been not only a considerable increase in the total business, but there had been at the same time a considerable increase in the cases involving very small amounts, and that accounted for the amount of fees not having grown proportionately with the amount of expenses, because the expenses were paid at so much per case, while the fees were collected according to the amounts involved in the cases. The Committee would see that it was not possible for the Government to correctly foretell the number of cases that would be brought on. He admitted that £38,000 was a considerable increase on an Estimate something short of £400,000, but he hoped the Committee would recognize that an expenditure of £400,000 on such a business represented in itself an enormous amount of work, and that it must necessarily be very difficult to estimate with anything like accuracy the amount that would be required. He hoped also, if he might say so at this stage, that the Committee would not be too severe and that the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) would not be too severe on the Treasury for not asking for large sums of money merely for the purpose of avoiding Supplementary Estimates. There was no check on expenditure which the House and the Treasury could exercise so effectually as being able to say "The amount of money voted is exceeded, and therefore we cannot give you any more."


We do not say it.


said, his noble Friend remarked that the House did not say that; but he would be more correct if he said "On some occasions we do not say it." The Treasury did not ask for large sums when there was necessarily uncertainty as to the amount which would be required.

MR. STAVELEY HILL (Staffordshire, Kingswinford)

said, he wished to ask, whether the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury could tell the Committee how much of this money was for additional payment to Registrars? At the rate of £4 for 25 cases, the Supplementary amount asked for would represent 208,000 extra plaints, which would be an enormous number.

MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

asked, whether the effect of paying Registrars by the case was not that some of them received salaries higher than the County Court Judges themselves?


said, he was afraid he had not very much knowledge on that subject; but he certainly did happen to know of one case where the fees of the Registrar became so large that it was thought desirable to cut them down by appointing someone else to help him to take them. With regard to what had fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Kingswinford Division of Staffordshire (Mr. Staveley Hill), he (Mr. Jackson) was afraid he could not supply the details asked for.


asked, if the hon. Gentleman would inquire whether it was true that many Registrars were now receiving by the scale of payments by case a higher sum of money than was paid to some County Court Judges; and whether, if that turned out to be the fact—as he believed it was—the Government would take some immediate steps, by legislation, to remedy that most outrageous state of things?


said, he would promise to inquire as to the facts; but he was afraid it was another question whether legislation would be brought forward. He must leave that to someone else to answer.


said, there could be no hesitation in giving an answer on such a subject. If it were shown that a subordinate received a higher pay than the Chief of his Court, the Government ought to feel bound to remedy the state of things at once.


said, he thought that there had been some gross miscalculation in reference to this Vote, and the Committee was bound to do what it could to see that such miscalculations did not occur in future; otherwise they might be asked next year to pay another £38,000.

MR. DIXON-HARTLAND (Middlesex, Uxbridge)

said, the Committee was called upon to pay a large sum in connection with bankruptcy remuneration. When the Bankruptcy Act was passed three years ago, they were told that its effect would be to cheapen the conduct of bankruptcy cases, and that the whole cost would fall on the people who used the Court, and not on the nation. Why were they called upon to pay nearly £30,000 for remuneration in bankruptcy cases when the whole of the expense ought to come out of the pockets of those who used the Courts.


said, he was afraid he had not the particulars as to bankruptcy remuneration, He would, how- ever, make inquiries and find out what it had been.

MR. NORRIS (Tower Hamlets, Limehouse)

said, he wished to call attention to the original Estimate of £17,910 for printing and stationery under the County Court Department. The addition to the Vote now asked for was £818. He desired to know if there was any check upon this expenditure; also on the postages, for which an additional sum of £796 was now asked, the original Estimate having been £10,294? If the "postages" represented penny stamps, 2,400,000 letters must have been sent out, and if it represented halfpenny stamps the letters must have numbered 4,800,000. It appeared to him that the items for postages and stationery were very large, and he should like to have information with regard to them.


said, he was afraid he could not give the hon. Member any detailed information on these sub-heads "C" and "E." All he could say was that when the Estimates were submitted to the Treasury every item was criticized with the greatest care, all sorts of questions were asked of those responsible, and every effort was made to cut down the expenditure. These sub-heads had been most carefully gone through by the officers of the Treasury, and he believed they had received much more searching investigation than in former years.


said he thought it would be desirable to have the Vote delayed for another night, in order to have an explanation of some of these matters as to which no explanation was now forthcoming.


said, it was notorious in many parts of the country that, under the dangerous practice of payment by fees, subordinate officers often came to receive most exorbitant salaries. He did think they should have a very distinct pledge that, attention should be paid to this matter. As the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury did not appear to be fully informed upon the matter, he thought it would be better that the Vote should be postponed.


said, he did not wish to prolong the discussion now, but would give notice to the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury that when this particular Vote in the new Esti- mates came on, unless the Government were prepared to give a distinct pledge to alter the system of paying the Registrars by fees, the result of which was in some cases to pay them higher salaries than were received by the Chiefs of their own Courts, he would oppose the Vote.


said, they should not only draw the attention of the Committee to this matter, but the attention of the public should be directed to it—to the fact that the Committee was asked to vote the very considerable sum of £38,073 as a Supplementary Estimate, of which no explanation had been given by the Secretary to the Treasury, and no explanation was forthcoming by the Secretary to the Treasury. The hon. Gentleman could not be expected to give them all the details of the procedure of County Courts. He (Lord Randolph Churchill) could not, however, refrain from expressing his surprise that the Law Officers of the Crown had not been in the House to defend the very large expenditure asked for under the Vote, because the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury had been quite unable to give them an explanation of the large increase in the item of salaries of £34,778, except that it was connected with Registrars. That large increase was an increase in fixed salaries, and showed a very un businesslike proceeding on the part of those responsible for the Estimates. The Government, he thought, should give a promise that this matter of the payment of these Registrars should be considered, and should be thoroughly explained on Report, or should postpone the Vote until the Law Officers were in attendance to give some account of the expenditure to the Committee.


said the noble Lord appeared to think that the Treasury had under estimated the fixed salaries of the Registrars, but that was not the case. He (Mr. Jackson) understood that the salaries of the Registrars were limited only in the sense that these gentlemen never received more than £1,400 a-year. The salary was not fixed, therefore it was impossible to say what the amount which would be paid in salaries would be unless they could say what the amount of business would be which would be brought before the Registrars. With regard to the question affecting bankruptcy remuneration, which really meant the sums paid to Registrars in bankruptcy under Sub-head "D," he had to point out that these Registrars were paid according to a certain scale—according to the amount dealt with. On sums exceeding £5 and under £10 they were paid 2s. 6d., and so on, over a considerable scale. The Registrars were entitled to a sum for every bankruptcy petition filed in their respective Courts—£4 for every petition filed in the year above £100 mid not exceeding £200. The amount of remuneration was regulated by a scale which had been most carefully considered, and the increase or decrease in these salaries fluctuated, as he had endeavoured to show, by reason of the increase or decrease which might occur in the amount of business done in the course of the year. The increase was not an increase of salary, but an increased payment for increased business, and it was very difficult to estimate correctly beforehand whether there would be an increase or decrease, because it was impossible to know what business there would be. The scale had been very carefully gone into, and, therefore, he hoped the House would not ask that the Vote be postponed. If it were postponed he did not see that any information he might be able to obtain could make any difference in the Vote, the increase on which arose from circumstances which were not under the control of the Treasury.


asked if the £34,778 were entirely connected with the salaries of the Registrars?


said, that was not so.

MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

said, he hoped the Committee would consider the whole question of printing, stationery, and postage, because there could be no economy as long as each Department went on drawing its supplies from another Department, so that each had no interest in keeping expenses down. He was afraid they would never have economy in this matter until each Department drew its own expenses for stationery, &c, and was made accountable for them. It seemed impossible that all this money could be accounted for under the head of printing and stationery, and he felt certain that if the matter were looked into it would be found that the amount could be enormously reduced.


said, he quite admitted that the Committee ought to be in possession of full details on every subject stated in the Votes, and he would take care that further information was supplied on Report.


said, he did not quite know what the position would be on the Report stage under the New Rules. If the Report were taken after 12 o'clock, he did not feel sure that the discussion would be of a sufficient character. He thought it would be a great advantage if the hon. and learned Attorney General would state what he knew of this matter.


said, that this particular matter relating to the Registrars had been the subject of some remarks last Session. Had he been aware that there would be any discussion upon the item that evening, he would have been in a position to give more information upon the subject. His impression was, however, and the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington was no doubt aware, that the Registrars were not allowed under the present system to make more than a certain amount from all sources. He regretted that he had not the details at hand, but he could not imagine that any extra payment was included here beyond that which was now fixed by the County Court Rules.


said, that having held the office of Registrar he was in a position to state that the salaries were limited some four or five years ago, at least in the case of the larger registries. With respect to postages, and other minor items, he could only boar his testimony to the extreme vigilance exercised over this expenditure by the Treasury. The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) appeared to be under a misapprehension which destroyed the whole effect of his calculation. He understood him to say that the number of Registrars was 50 or 60. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: I said I was so informed.] As a matter of fact, the number was very largely in excess of that. He believed that each County Court Judge had a constellation of Registrars surrounding him, and that the whole number was probably between 600 and 700.

SIR RICHARD PAGET (Somerset, Wells)

said, he believed the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury would not be surprised that this Vote had been made the subject of discussion. When they considered that there was extreme difficulty in obtaining from the Treasury aid for objects which stood greatly in need of it, it was only natural that they should expect details to be given when the House was asked for so large an amount as the present under a Supplementary Estimate. He asked the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury if he had any objection to lay upon the Table of the House a Return showing how this amount asked for the Registrars was to be disposed of? There appeared to be some uncertainty as to the number of the Registrars, and he would like a Return to be laid upon the Table of the House showing the number of Registrars who had received an additional sum. The principle of payment by fees was one which had been gradually abolished. He (Sir Richard Paget) himself considered it exceptional, and he wished to know whether the same unusual system of payment would be continued in the future?

MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)

said, he should like to know whether the percentage of increased expenditure to increased receipts was larger or smaller than the percentage of original expenditure bore to the original estimate of receipts? In all businesses it was expected that the expenditure would bear a certain proportion to the receipts. If this were stated, the House would then have a guide as to whether the expenditure was excessive or otherwise.


said, he should be happy to give the information which the hon. Gentleman asked for. He was not aware whether the hon. Gentleman was in the House at the time of making his (Mr. Jackson's) first explanation; but he had pointed out that the growth of receipts was disproportionate to the current expenditure, and he had also stated that the explanation was that the fees were paid at so much for 25 cases. The receipts were based upon the value of the cases, and therefore they could not make a complete comparison between the cost and the receipts at the time of framing the Estimates, because they would then not be comparing like with like, and the result would be to a certain extent fallacious. There were in all, he believed, 500 Registrars, the salaries of 188 of whom were regulated by the 19th Vict., and 312 whose salaries were regulated by the 29th Vict., and there were 250 High Bailiffs whose salaries wore regulated by the 19th Vict. The Committee would perceive that the number of these officers was very considerable, and that the increase of salaries was due to the cause he had stated. He would give full details of the various salaries on Report.

MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)

said, the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury was generally so well-informed and so courteous on the subject of the Estimates that they ought not to press him too closely for his present un-preparedness. Nevertheless, he agreed that the Committee should be furnished with further information on the subject of this Vote. He thought the hon. Gentleman should give an explanation of the fact that this particular Vote in the Estimates of 1887–8 had been reduced from the Vote of the previous year by £20,000, and that now in a Supplementary Estimate he was replacing that sum. That meant that the Treasury had a year ago made a great miscalculation. They had calculated last year that on the sum for the Registrars there would be a great economy of salary; but this saving had, in point of fact, not occurred. The mistake was made the worse because the receipts were not cut down in proportion, so that the Supplementary Estimate showed a considerable excess in the net charges, as stated last year. The balance of the account was altogether miscalculated, and the Treasury now came to Parliament to have the error rectified.


said, he admitted that there had been a miscalculation last year. The fact was that when the Estimates were sent to the Treasury the course of business showed a diminished quantity. It was not the Treasury who made the Estimate, but those who were supposed to know all the details of the work, and whose advice the Treasury believed they could take safely on the subject of reducing the sum in consequence of the falling-off of business. He had pointed out that the fees had proved to be less because the number of cases had been of less value. With regard to the increased receipts from fees, which were placed at £22,000, it was not as his hon. Friend the Member for Wandsworth (Mr. Kimber) seemed to think. The increased fees did not necessarily result from increasing business; it was a revised Estimate, and the best they could give of the amount to be received during the whole of the year, and their Estimate was that there would be an additional sum of £22,000 received from the fees. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) was perfectly right in saying that there had been a miscalculation as to the amount of business which would come forward, and that, therefore, the decrease in the Estimate was not justified by the facts of the case.

MR. ANDERSON (Elgin and Nairn)

said, he had listened to the discussion on this question attentively, and he had been quite unable to discover from anything which had fallen from the Treasury Bench what the Vote was taken for—whether for Registrars' salaries, Assistant Registrars, or as Registrars proper; no one seemed to know. He asked who it was that prepared this Estimate? He should have thought, whoever prepared it, that the information upon which it was based must now be in the possession of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury or of the Law Officers of the Crown. Although this discussion had been going on for a considerable time, the Committee were in a state of absolute and helpless ignorance as to the items of which the Estimate was composed. He did not think on a matter of such great importance that it would be right to pass this Vote unless they were in possession of information which would clear up the matter. He asked the Government either to postpone the Vote or to furnish the Committee with further details.


said, the Estimate was prepared by the Superintendent of County Courts, an officer of very great experience, and who, he believed, was thoroughly reliable. He wished the Committee to understand that the Estimate had not been cut down by the Treasury for the purpose of showing a saving. As he had explained, it was anticipated at the time the Estimate was framed that the amount of business would be less than it had been by £20,000.


said, in his opinion, the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury had given a very substantial reason for the increased charge, but he had given them no information on which they should vote the extra sum. He, therefore, thought the Committee would do well to refuse to vote the money asked for until further information was supplied.


said, that he regretted not having been prepared with further information, but he had, since the discussion commenced, somewhat refreshed his memory on the subject of the Estimate. The original Estimate was for £335,055, which was insufficient, inasmuch as they now had to ask for £34,778 more. But the amount really required was, practically speaking, only £12,000 more, being the difference between £34,778 and £22,000 expected to be received for increased receipts above the Estimate. He pointed out that the postages and similar charges were comparatively small in amount, so there could be no increase in respect of those items, and he had also formerly shown that the Registrars were paid amounts which depended upon the quantity of business done. The Registrars were partly paid by fees and partly by salary. The High Bailiffs were paid strictly according to statute, and the reason why there had been a miscalculation in round numbers of £12,000 was exactly that stated by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury—namely, that there had been an increase of business. The hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury had reminded the Committee that the information on which this Estimate was based came, in the first instance, from the County Court officials, who were the only persons who could give the necessary information. He (Sir Richard Webster) admitted that the business had increased; there was a larger sum required for salaries; but that was met, to a certain extent, by the £22,000 expected to be received from increased fees. The miscalculation was that it was thought that the original Estimate could be reduced by a larger sum than was found to be the case, and the consequence was that, too small a sum of money having been asked for originally it was now necessary to come to the House with a Supplementary Estimate. He pointed out that all payments were controlled by statute, and the Estimate depended upon the amount of business done. The Committee would, therefore, see that whatever mistake had been made in calculation was the result of estimating the amount which would be recouped. It could not be said that any extra charge had been thrown on the country, nor could it be said that there had been anything more than a too sanguine expectation formed at the time of preparing the Estimates.


said, he wished to point out that this Estimate was not alone for Registrars and High Bailiffs, because there was a large staff of clerks to be provided for, in some cases eight or 10, and where the Registrar was paid by salary, these clerks were paid for by Government. He knew in one case that the salaries for clerks had been increased, and that in consequence an additional charge for salaries would be included in the present Vote. The instance was typical, and explained to a large extent the amount now asked for.


said, he thought, after what had fallen from the hon. and learned Attorney General and his hon. Friend near him, it was absolutely necessary that the Government should furnish detailed printed statements as to the amount paid to the Registrars, and the manner in which they were paid.

Vote agreed to.

(9.) £7,300, Supplementary, Police—Counties and Boroughs, Great Britain.


said, he might, perhaps, explain that this Supplementary Estimate was mainly due to the additional expenditure entailed by the formation during the year of separate police forces by six boroughs in the county of Lancaster. These boroughs were previously policed by the county, but the authorities now decided to have their own police, which had led to an increase of 170 men. The Estimate was also partly due to an underestimate of the cost of pay and clothing in the other forces. This Estimate represented the amount of contribution which the Government made. The boroughs in question would, in future, find their own police, and not come upon the county as heretofore.


said, that in this instance it appeared that the Treasury had broken through the usual rule—namely, that there should be no extra expense for police incurred after the 29th of September. They had here, however, an increase of £7,300 in addition to the original Estimate. The authorities in his county had often tried to get an extra grant from the Home Office; but this had been invariably and rightly refused, because of the rule laid down that there should be no increase made after a certain date. He would, therefore, ask his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary how it happened that these extra police had been allowed to come into this year's account instead of remaining over till next year? He would also like to know how it was that the total original Estimate of £857,000 was now extended to £867,586, because if the latter figures were correct the total increase would be £10,586 instead of £7,300 now asked for?


said, there had been no increase properly so-called. As the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury had explained, these six boroughs had supplied themselves with police instead of coming upon the county. That change had occurred in July last. He (Mr. Matthews) need not point out that in the case of these boroughs, which had forces of their own, more men, and especially more officers, wore required. The extra allowance in regard to these boroughs only amounted to about £2,000 of the whole sum, that being for pay and clothing due to the change of system, and he could assure the Committee that there was no expenditure except that which was rendered necessary by setting up this force.


said, the inference which the Committee might very properly draw was that in the coming discussion on Local Government this would furnish an illustration of the effect of Government subsidies. It would be taken for granted that the result of these boroughs having their own police would nearly double the cost, and the change would not be made if the authorities did not see that a considerable portion of the cost would come from the Exchequer.

MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S. W.)

said, he should like to ask whether any portion of this sum was applicable to the Metropolitan Police?


said, that was not the case.

Vote agreed to.

(10.) £1,963, Supplementary, Courts of Law and Justice, Scotland.

MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

said, he should like to have an explanation of the details of this Vote.

THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. H. A. MACDONALD) (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)

said, that the first item was incurred in consequence principally of two very important litigations in which the Crown had been engaged, and which it was impossible to avoid. The first of these related to a property in the North of Scotland, and in the course of that litigation inquiries were ordered by the Judge which necessarily involved considerable expense. The result of the inquiry was that the case was decided against the Crown, and upon the advice of the Law Officers it was not carried further. The second case was also one of importance. An action had been raised against the Crown in consequence of a tenant of the Crown having made a cut for the purpose of diverting the course of a stream which would spoil a number of acres of land which afforded good pasture for sheep. The water was again diverted into the old channel by the parties interested below, and an action was raised for the purpose of preventing the Crown from re-opening the new cut and claiming £5,000 damages. There was a great deal of expense incurred in connection with the evidence of engineers and others who had to be called to defend the action. The Court decided in the first instance that the cut was not to be re-opened, but gave no damage against the Crown. Whether there would be an appeal or not he was not then in a position to say. With regard to the salaries of the Sheriff Court, hon. Members would see that a foot-note explained that at the death of the Commissary Clerk the Sheriff Clerk assumed his duties as well as his own. The result would ultimately be a very large saving to the country; but there was, of course, provision to be made for the expense of the work being done at the Sheriff Clerk's office, and that was the provision made in this Vote. With regard to the charge of £100, it had been thought advisable to establish a Sheriff Court in the town of Arbroath, in consequence of the extension of the district and the increase of the town making it suitable that they should have the convenience of a Court at their door. It was absolutely necessary to have an efficient Sheriff Clerk's department there, and for that purpose the sum of £100 had been allowed.

MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)

said, he would ask the Lord Advocate what became of the fees payable for Commissary Court business?


said, they were paid into the Exchequer. The accounts would appear in the next Estimate.


said, that the fees taken day by day would more than pay any salary given to the Sheriff Clerk.


said, these would be set against the amount now required in the next Estimate.

Vote agreed to.

(11.) £400, Supplementary, Police—Counties and Burghs, Scotland.

(12.) Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £6,550, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1888, for the Salaries, Allowances, and Expenses of various County Court Officers, and of Magistrates in Ireland, and of the Revising Barristers.

MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)

said, he thought the Committee would not be surprised that he should take an early opportunity of adverting again to a matter which he had brought before the House on Thursday last. He wished to point out to the Committee that no answer whatever had been made to the statement which he then put forward. He had made a serious charge against the Government and against the administrators of the law in a particular district in Ireland—namely, Woodford, and had stated, as the result of his experience there, that the Coercion Act was being used as a means of oppression against the tenants and in the interest of the landlords. He had quoted a number of cases in which, in his opinion, injustice had emphatically been done by the Resident Magistrates in that respect. The Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had taken no notice whatever of his statement. That statement was not sprung upon the right hon. Gentleman, because many of the cases to which he referred were contained in a letter he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had written to The Times; some of them had been mentioned in a speech of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) during the Recess. Under the circumstances, he was surprised that the Government made no reply whatever to his statements. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had contented himself with a tu quoque reply in respect of matters which took place under Lord Spencer's Administration; but he had not attempted to deal with any of his statements with reference to the Resident Magistrates, nor did the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden), who followed the right hon. Gentleman, take any notice of this. The noble Lord at the head of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton) did say that he had listened to his statement with great pleasure, because he considered it a proof that he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had been gulled by the people in that part of Ireland; and he further remarked that he had listened to any nonsense that reached him. The noble Lord, in short, undertook to say that the statements were false. He could assure the Committee that he was not in the habit of bringing forward matters of the kind without inquiries, and he undertook to say that all the statements he had made to the House could be substantiated by proofs. Although the deductions he had drawn from them might be open to criticism, the facts of the case were as he had stated them, and he was now in a position to substantiate what he had said. There was one statement to which the noble Lord especially took exception, and that was the case of a man who had been sent to prison by two Resident Magistrates at Woodford for inciting his widowed mother to resist eviction. He confessed that the statement did at first sight appear incredible; but when he came to make inquiries he found that it was substantially true. In the case of the woman in question the bailiffs declined to show their warrants, and the son thereupon advised his mother not to leave the house until the bailiffs complied with the requirements of the law and showed their warrant; for this the son was charged with inciting his mother to resist the bailiffs, and was sent to prison for two months. The sentence was appealed against; the counsel for the son alleged no extenuating circumstances in mitigation of the sentence; he addressed himself to the fact that the depositions disclosed no evidence whatever, and urged that he was entitled to acquittal on a question of law. The County Court Judge contented himself with reducing the sentence from two months' to one month's imprisonment. That was the statement which he had received from the counsel employed in the case, and he had every reason to believe that it was to be regarded as substantially true. That, he thought, showed the mode in which the Resident Magistrates in that district were pursuing their work. He would also refer to another case not mentioned by him on a previous occasion. A man named Kelly was prosecuted at Loughrea for intimidating a shopkeeper. It was stated that a person came into a shop and asked for a globe for a lamp, and that Kelly told the shopkeeper that if he sold any goods to this man he would leave the shop. The shopkeeper himself was not called by the police; but two policemen gave evidence that they had applied for goods. The reply was that he had not refused, but that he had not got lamp globes. This man Kelly was actually sent to prison for a month with hard labour. Curiously enough, he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had seen Kelly talking afterwards with the man whom he was alleged to have intimidated, and he could say that the meeting was of the most friendly character. That was another illustration of the way in which the Resident Magistrates were doing their work, and of the kind of evidence upon which they proceeded. He had adverted the other night to the cases of prosecution arising out of the midnight meeting at Wood-ford. He did not intend now to repeat what he had said. However, since that statement was made, he had found, in some back numbers of The Freeman's Journal, a statement to the effect that when the 12 men were arrested, and charged with having been present at a midnight meeting, the police had sworn informations before them with respect to nine other men—Mr. Blunt and several Members of Parliament—who had taken an active part in the proceedings, but against whom no prosecution was instituted. He asked why no prosecution had been commenced against these nine persons who made speeches, and why 12 persons were prosecuted who took no part in the proceedings, but were simply spectators at the meeting? That was a matter which appeared to him to require explanation; and he desired to know on what principle the selection for prosecution had been made? He would not go into details again with regard to the various charges made against Mr. Roche. He only wished he could bring him into that House, and let him tell his own story, so that the House might hear the gross injustice to which he had been subjected—namely, four prosecutions by the police arising out of matters for which he ventured to say no jury would, under any circumstances, have committed him to prison; he had been connected with a combination of the tenants, and he was Secretary to the Tenants' Defence Association, and it was believed that it was on account of this that he had been the subject of the successive prosecutions. He (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had also alluded to the prosecution of 11 men for being parties to the demonstration which took place on the release of some persons from prison. He would not go again into the details of that case; but there was one particular point that he wished to bring under the attention of the Committee. Of those 11 men nine were sentenced to one month's imprisonment with hard labour and two to three months with hard labour. In the latter case there was, of course, the right of appeal; in the former it was asked that the sentences might be enlarged in order to give an opportunity for appealing. The Resident Magistrates, however, refused the application. Now, if the two men sentenced to three months could, as he believed there was a reasonable chance of their doing, establish their innocence on appeal, it was clear that the nine men who were committed without appeal were suffering from injustice. He would only say that these were cases he had personally inquired into, and which he believed might be fully substantiated. He wanted to hear from the Government what possible answer there could be to accusations of this kind. It appeared to him that the proceedings of the Resident Magistrates in the district he referred to had been carried out with disregard to the ordinary principles of justice, with the result that a number of persons had been sent to prison on charges on which he believed juries would under no circumstances have convicted. How these matters were arranged he knew not, and he asked on what principle men were selected for prosecution out of a large number of persons who attended a particular meeting? He knew not whether this was done in Dublin or by the authorities on the spot; all he could say was that the general result of the cases he had mentioned caused him strongly to believe that injustice had been done, and it was the opinion of the people in the district that these steps were taken against persons who were engaged in an active war, if he might so call it, with the landlords on the question of arrears of rent, and that the object of the Government was to imprison men who had made themselves disagreeable to the landlords of the district. He knew not whether that was a right conclusion or not, but it was the belief of the people on the spot, and it, at any rate, seemed to him that injustice had been done. He did not say that the Chief Secretary for Ireland was, in the first instance, responsible for acts of this kind; he was probably not aware of all that was going on in the district; but if when cases of this kind were brought to his notice by speeches in the country or in that House no notice was taken of them, if no remonstrance were made to the magistrates concerned, and if no attempt was made to undo the injustice that had been done, then he said that the Chief Secretary himself became responsible. He only hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to show that he (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) was wrong in the opinion he had formed, and that no injustice had been done in the cases to which he had referred.

MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)

said, he believed the Committee could not be better employed than in bringing to the notice of the Government and the public such cases as those to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had called attention. On the 15th of February he had addressed to the House some observations on the subject of the Resident Magistrates, and he had named five persons, none of whom had been appointed by Lord Spencer. On that occasion the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who followed (Colonel King Harman) did not attempt to deal with any one of his statements. He had noticed that Mr. Meldon, one of the magistrates, had written a letter to The Times traversing some of the statements; but, at the same time, putting into his mouth assertions which he (Mr. Ellis) had never used in that House. He (Mr. Ellis) had found in Hansard's Debates a very accurate report of what he had said, and upon every word of that report he took his stand. The report was as follows— Another magistrate was Mr. Meldon, at Limerick. He (Mr. Ellis) knew nothing of that gentleman's character; but Mr. Meldon had done that which would not he tolerated in England for a single moment. Certain persons were charged before the magistrates in Court, The case was heard, and the accused were discharged. Mr. Meldon, however, went outside the Court, and gave instructions in regard to particular persons that they should be again arrested. He then took his seat upon the Bench, and the prisoners were brought before him as a magistrate under the Coercion Act on the same charge as that upon which they had been acquitted by the magistrates a short time before."—(3 Hansard, [322] 488.) Those were the words he had uttered, and by them he should abide. If hon. Members would refer to the report of this matter in The Times of the 21st of January, they would find that his statements were perfectly accurate. The Times report of his speech of the 15th February made him (Mr. Ellis) say the accused were dismissed, which Mr. Meldon denied. What he did say was that they were discharged, which was perfectly true. The men were discharged and set at liberty, and Mr. Meldon went outside the Court; the prisoners were brought inside and convicted. He had nothing whatever to withdraw in this matter. He did not understand why it should be left to these magistrates to write to the papers, and why it was that the Chief Secretary, or his subordinates, did not rise in their places, and deal with the cases brought forward. He would now turn to another case—namely, that of the notorious Captain Seagrave, who had admitted that he had absolutely failed twice to pass the examination for the Army; that he had gone to Cape Town and served there in the Mounted Police; but who was now placed by the Government in the responsible position of Resident Magistrate in Ireland. A case came before this magistrate only on Thursday last, which was thus reported in The Freeman's Journal of Friday, 24th February— ''At the sitting of the Court, Captain Seagrave said that, with the permission of the Chairman, he wanted to make a few remarks before the proceedings commenced. A meeting had been held on the Sunday after the last sitting of the Court, and several people spoke. One gentleman speaking, said that the reason they adjourned the Court that day was because they had a communication with Mr. Yates, District Inspector, who announced that he was not ready to take away any prisoners who might be convicted, and he wanted to deny that statement, and say it was a deliberate falsehood. The Bench had no communication whatever with the police. Father Kennedy said that he believed it was to him that Mr. Seagrave referred, for it was he who made the statement, and he made it upon what he considered reliable authority. He was informed by a person who was more or less in the confidence of those who had the direction of affairs there that the trial was to wind up abruptly, and that this course was adopted in consequence of the small number of police. As Mr. Seagrave thought proper to brand it as a deliberate falsehood—Captain Seagrave: I am quite willing to withdraw that. What would be thought in this country if a magistrate from the Bench made a speech in regard to the conduct of a person whom he was immediately afterwards going to try, and who, when the prisoner denied his statement that he, the prisoner, had uttered a deliberate falsehood, expressed his willingness to withdraw the statement? Such conduct was an outrage upon all ideas of justice. He was sensible of the great responsibility which attached to the words of hon. Gentlemen speaking in the House of Commons; but he had investigated these cases with some considerable attention, and he stood by every word he uttered on the 15th of February. This case certainly demanded an explanation from the right hon. Gentleman. The Government might be perfectly satisfied of this—that he and his hon. Friends would go on, undeterred by anything which was said, either in or out of the House, examining and criticizing the conduct of the Resident Magistrates of Ireland.


said, the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Rushcliffe Division of Nottingham (Mr. J. E. Ellis) was perfectly at liberty to criticize the conduct of Resident Magistrates or of anybody else who came under the cognizance of the House, and he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) should be the last person to object to legitimate criticism; but the hon. Gentleman, in common with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) who had opened the debate upon this Vote, said that various cases had been from time to time brought under the notice of the Chief Secretary, and that he had not always examined into them. It had been his (Mr. A. J. Balfour's) practice to inquire into charges of this kind when they had been brought under his notice, and the result of his investigations had invariably been to show that the charges had no foundation; that they were made in a reckless Party spirit by some irresponsible journals in Ireland whose statements appeared to be readily accepted by English politicians of the stamp of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. E. Ellis). That hon. Gentleman quoted these articles in the country and in the House, and he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) conceived—


said, that what he had said in this matter on the 15th of February he had said in the House, and in the House only.


said, he apologized for his error, and wished every Gentleman had followed the example set by the hon. Member. He was extremely glad to hear that the hon. Gentleman had not repeated elsewhere accusations made no doubt in good faith, but, as he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) thought, recklessly, which he had more than once made in the House of Commons. He confessed to being unable to give a full account of all the cases which had been brought under his notice, but some observations had occurred to him in regard to some points which had been raised. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had in his speech continued the debate which, in one sense, was formally concluded on Thursday last. He (Mr. A. J. Balfour) freely admitted that cases the right hon. Gentleman had brought before the notice of the Committee that night were not dealt with by him (Mr. A. J. Balfour) on Thursday last, partly because he had not the requisite information, and partly because it was absolutely impossible for a Minister of the Crown to deal with every point which was raised in a speech of an hour and three-quarters, even in a speech of equal length. The first case brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman tonight was that of a man who incited his mother to resist the law. He had made no inquiries in respect of this case, but would have done so had he known that it was to have been brought before the attention of the House. Certain observations, however, occurred to him upon the mere statement of the case as made by the right hon. Gentleman. It was well known to the House that there had been violent resistance to the police at Woodford. What, he presumed, occurred in this case was that there was a conspiracy or combination between the mother and the son, one of whom was probably the de facto tenant, and the other the judicial tenant of the holding in question, to resist the police; and if that were so, and he presumed it was so, there could be no objection to punishing the more responsible party of the two, whom he took to be the son.


said, he stated that the charge was not that of resisting the police, but of inciting the mother to resist the police.


said, that the right hon. Gentleman saw something very remarkable in the fact that the solicitor engaged for the Crown was also the solicitor to the Land Court. Had it ever been heard of in Courts of Law that the prosecutor was to have the impartiality of a Judge? He perfectly admitted that if anybody who was Judge in a case was connected by any tie of interest with one of the litigants he would be unfit to try the case, but the fact that the Crown Prosecutor in charge of the case held views of his own could make no difference in the conduct of the Resident Magistrate. Further than that, the right hon. Gentleman, having given his narrative of the case, said— I show you this as an instance of the terrible way in which Resident Magistrates, these removable magistrates, are doing their duty. But, so far as he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) could make out, an irremovable Judge, who was in no way the servant of the Executive—namely, the County Court Judge, concurred in the sentence passed by the Resident Magistrate, and no one had pretended to assert that the County Court Judges of Ireland were wanting in law or in independence. Therefore, when he found that the County Court Judge, on reviewing all the circumstances of the case, thought the offence committed was so serious as to deserve a sentence of a month's imprisonment, he felt assured that the right hon. Gentleman, in complaining of the action of the Resident Magistrate in the matter, had got hold of the wrong end of the stick. Then, the right hon. Gentleman was extremely indignant at the treatment of Mr. John Roche, a friend of his, resident in the neighbourhood of Loughrea. Now, Mr. John Roche had never been proceeded against for anything whatever, except for breaking the law. If the right hon. Gentleman asked him to regard Mr. John Roche as a virtuous martyr, he referred him now, as he referred him on a previous occasion, to the Charge of the Lord Chief Baron the other day. He referred him to the observations of his Lordship, in the course of which, after quoting the words of Mr. John Roche, the learned Judge clearly indicated his opinion that reckless words of that kind had something to do with the ghastly and horrible murder, one of the most ghastly and horrible in the tragic annals of agrarian crime, which shortly after followed the denunciations which Mr. John Roche had been rash or criminal enough to make of the unhappy man who was subsequently killed. He (Mr. A. J. Balfour) noticed that the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) followed in the track of the right hon. Gentleman, and was very indignant with him for the observations he made in regard to Mr. John Roche. He noticed, however, that though the hon. Gentleman had been anxious to defend Mr. John Roche, he had made no corresponding attempt to defend Mr. Francis Tully, the fidus Achates of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Finsbury (Mr. James Rowlands). The Government were asked on what principle they singled out Mr. John Roche for prosecution; and the right hon. Gentle- man asked that question principally with reference to the midnight meeting at Woodford.


And also in reference to the demonstration the other day.


said, he was afraid he could not give the right hon. Gentleman any information as to the recent demonstration. With regard to the midnight meeting at Woodford, the principal offender, no doubt, was the hon. Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien); and it might have been a question whether the hon. Member for North-East Cork ought not to have been proceeded against. As a matter of fact, the hon. Member was at the time undergoing a sentence of two months' imprisonment for using intimidatory language in August; and though the Government had been accused by the hon. Gentleman himself and by others of desiring the destruction of that hon. Gentleman, they had showed how incapable they were of carrying out that policy by not proceeding against that hon. Gentleman on the further charge, and in that way increasing his term of imprisonment, probably by one or two months. Whether they were right in that policy of mercy he did not intend to say; but they certainly adopted it with the best intentions. They could not attack the principal offender; and they did not proceed, they never thought of proceeding, no Government he ever heard of had proceeded, against every individual who took part in illegal assemblies of the kind. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the man who moved the chairman into the chair on that occasion took, as he said, no other part in that meeting. Why, what other part ought he to take? Could they conceive a much more important part than moving the chairman into the chair; was the man who took a part like that not identifying himself with the proceedings of the meeting; was he not showing that, if the meeting were illegal, he was one of the persons who were breaking the law; and could he turn round afterwards and say "they ought not to have selected me?"


I pointed out that there were eight other persons who took an active part in the meeting and made speeches, many of them of violent character, and that not one of those persons was proceeded against; whereas this gentleman—Mr. John Roche—who but merely moved the priest into the chair, was singled out for prosecution.


I am not quite sure how the question of the selection of the persons prosecuted is brought under this Vote at all.


said, he would not allude further to the right hon. Gentleman's criticism upon that Vote. The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Rushcliffe Division of Nottingham (Mr. J. E. Ellis) had referred to Mr. Meldon, the Resident Magistrate. As far as he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) could make out, Mr. Meldon clearly apprehended the character of the criticism made upon him by the hon. Gentleman. Was he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) not right in saying that that criticism consisted in accusing Mr. Meldon of having, after charges were dismissed by the magistrates in the ordinary course of law, come down from the Bench and committed the persons under the Crimes Act whose cases had been dismissed under the ordinary law?


said, his statement was that Mr. Meldon went outside the Court. He did not say he came down from the Bench, because, as a matter of fact, he was not on the Bench. He was in the Court and heard the cases tried by others and the men discharged. He then went outside the Court, and, by his own admission, communicated with the police. The men were brought inside the Court again, Mr. Meldon went upon the Bench, and then, upon the remonstrance of prisoners' counsel, said he would adjourn the case to another day.


said, that in substance the hon. Gentleman's charge against Mr. Meldon was that he had mixed up his judicial and executive functions in an improper manner. Mr. Meldon was not acting judicially in the Court. He never acted judicially in regard to these prisoners at all; all he did was to remand them to where they were to be tried by the proper Resident Magistrates.


He did not remand them until he was remonstrated with by their counsel.


He was obliged to remand them to the proper Court. He never tried them himself, and he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) did not gather from the hon. Gentleman's statement that he could show that Mr. Meldon was in any way actuated by improper motives in the matter. Mr. Meldon's own statement was that, on the occasion referred to, certain charges of assault on the police were entered in the list of cases to be tried before the Local Justices, and when they were reached he prosecutor stated that it was not intended to proceed with them under the ordinary law, but under the Crimes Act, whereupon they were marked "no appearance." The prisoners were discharged; but it then became necessary to have informations sworn and warrants for arrest issued in order to make the accused amenable under the Crimes Act. The prisoners were re-arrested, and Mr. Meldon remanded them for trial. He did not adjudicate on the cases at all; he stated that the men were subsequently tried; but by what magistrates he did not even know. It was perfectly hear that Mr. Meldon was guilty of no dereliction of duty, and that he did in no sense mix up judicial and executive functions. It was perfectly absurd to found any complaint against Resident Magistrates because they were removable, and it was not true to say that they were the mere creatures of the Executive. The hon. Gentleman had, in somewhat vehement terms, announced that nothing the Government could say or do would prevent him from performing his duty in criticizing the conduct of Resident Magistrates. By all means let him criticize the conduct of the Resident Magistrates; but let him do it with justice and moderation—let him recollect that these men were carrying out most difficult and responsible duties.


For which they were never appointed.


asked the hon. Gentleman to recollect that these men were carrying out most difficult and responsible duties under circumstances as to the character of which the hon. Gentleman himself had probably little knowledge. Let him conceive these men in remote parts of Ireland, subject to virulent attacks of the Nationalist journals; let him grasp the fact that they had little or no power of defending themselves, and that they were practically obliged to sit still under that storm of obloquy, and he would then see that, if he was to take part in their accusation, under no circumstances ought he to add to the injustice from which he (Mr. A. J. Balfour) feared they had already suffered too much.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

said, that in his remarkable appeal on behalf of the Resident Magistrates of Ireland the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) said the Resident Magistrates were suffering from a system of obloquy. He (Mr. Dillon) hoped before sitting down to show that that storm of obloquy was much more directed—and justly much more directed—against the men who conducted the system in the way it was conducted than against the Resident Magistrates themselves. He found fault in the strongest possible way with the conduct of some of the Resident Magistrates; but the blame that he sought to attach to the Resident Magistrates of Ireland sank into absolute insignificance compared with the blame which justly attached to the men who used those magistrates as their instruments. The real gravamen of the charge against these men was that they shaped their conduct in judging great and important cases in Ireland not according to the evidence laid before them, and not in an independent fashion, but with their eyes fixed upon the right hon. Gentleman and Dublin Castle. Every charge of want of impartiality and of subserviency to the Castle which he brought against the Resident Magistrates of Ireland fell with a hundredfold more force on the head of the men in Dublin Castle who kept under their heel these wretched men, who knew that they were removable—knew that they could, at a moment's notice be deprived of their daily bread if they did not carry out the behests of their masters. A Return of the Resident Magistrates of Ireland was furnished to the House last year, and he found that without a single exception the tenure of office of every one of them was the pleasure of the Executive. The Executive could remove these men, could punish them, could deprive them of their daily bread, and make themselves and their children starve without being called upon to specify a single reason. He (Mr. Dillon) asserted that within the last 18 months respectable and upright Resident Magistrates had been punished for no other offence than that they had given the people justice. Take the case of Captain Butler, a well-known gentleman in Ireland, and brother of the well-known Major Butler who was on General Wood's Staff in Egypt. This gentleman held one of the most important posts in the South of Ireland; he was the Resident Magistrate at Mallow, and made the arrangements for the reception of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. He gave great satisfaction to the Executive Government, and, strange to say, to a considerable extent to the people. He was, however, sent by the Government to try the case of 18 young men, who were charged with resisting the Sheriff's officers in connection with the Glenbeigh evictions. He (Mr. Dillon) was present at the trial, and when the Sheriff's officers were called upon to prove the warrant for the execution of the evictions they failed to show that they had any warrant. It was manifest to the whole Court that the Sheriff had been so careless as not to appoint a Deputy Sheriff, and that the officers had no right to evict the people. The 18 young men were, therefore, perfectly within their right in resisting the eviction. Captain Butler had the audacity to discharge the men in spite of the remonstrances of the Crown Prosecutor. What was the result? Captain Butler was removed to Cahirciveen in County Kerry, 35 miles from a railway station, where he had no opportunity of sending his children to school. He was perfectly banished because he dared to resist the browbeating of the Crown Prosecutor. Did they suppose that the case of Captain Butler was not a warning to the other Resident Magistrates in the South of Ireland, and that the right hon. Gentleman had not taken good care that he should not have anymore cases like that of Captain Butler? Young men had been appointed Resident Magistrates within the last year or two, because they were known to be partizans, and because it was perfectly well known they were perfectly willing to do the Emergency work of the Government. It was a contemptible and atrocious system to use Emergency agents and notorious partizans, to place them over the heads of senior officers, and shift them from district to district to do the work of the Government and of the Castle. What was the object of this Vote they were now called upon to pass? They were asked for an extra Estimate. The original Estimate for personal allowances and travelling expenses of these magistrates was £4,500, but an additional Estimate of £3,750 could have no parallel in the whole Civil Service Estimates. The Supplementary Estimate was very nearly as large as the original Estimate. What was the reason? Was it because the country had become so much disturbed since the Crimes Act had been introduced. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman had said that the Crimes Act had reduced the country to a state of comparative peace, and yet they had these enormous travelling expenses of magistrates. In short, these were the travelling expenses of the Emergency men of the Castle, who went about the country sentencing all the enemies of the Government to hard labour. The reason why the travelling expenses were so great was that the right hon. Gentleman could not trust magistrates to adjudicate in their own districts, but must needs get Mr. Cecil Roche and two or three others of the same stamp and style to circulate round several districts, because they had proved themselves to be thoroughly reliable He should like to know how much of this £3,750 went into Mr. Cecil Roche's pocket?—he should certainly think over £1,000. Let them inquire for a moment what justification there was for this enormous charge. The charge, undoubtedly, was the result of sending men about from county to county. Who were the men who were most sent about? At the top of the list stood the redoubtable Mr. Cecil Roche. Mr. Cecil Roche was a man who was appointed Resident Magistrate a little more than a year ago, and in the ordinary course of business he would not be called upon to adjudicate upon important cases under the Crimes Act over the heads of men who were his seniors in the service by 20 or 30 years' official standing. They were entitled to ask the Government on what grounds was it they had used Mr. Cecil Roche so largely for this purpose?—for he ventured to say that Mr. Cecil Roche had sent to prison, under the Coercion Act, four times as many persons as any other Resident Magistrate. What were this gentleman's qualifications? They would expect the first qualification would be a record which would raise him in the minds of the people among whom he was called upon to administer justice above all suspicion of partiality. Now, Mr. Cecil Roche was one of the orators of the Loyal and Patriotic Union who, in the month of June, 1886, perambulated this country and denounced the Irish Members as murderers and assassins, and the associates of assassins. Mr. Roche had written a letter to The Times stating that he had done all this for no pay and from pure motives of patriotism. The Committee had often hoard, no doubt, of gratitude for favours to come; and if this magistrate had received no pay for those services, he had, at least, got appointed after the Election was over to a salary of £500 a-year. That was good pay, he thought, for the services this gentleman had rendered to the Government. He maintained that there was no more scandalous transaction on record in the history of English Government in Ireland than that a partizan and virulent orator of the Election of 1886 should now be sitting in uncontrolled judgment on the men whom he denounced only 18 months ago. They were told that they were most unjustly and most unfairly pouring opprobrium on the Resident Magistrates of Ireland. He thought it would be hard to frame language to condemn too strongly the appointment of Mr. Cecil Roche. A book was published periodically, known in Ireland as The Constabulary Directory. The custom in that book was to divide the Resident Magistrates into three classes—the first class containing the names of the seniors in the service, and so on. An extraordinary change had come about this year. When they turned to The Constabulary Directory they found that, whereas in the index the division of the classes remained, in the body of the book, for some occult purpose, the division was not to be found; but the magistrates were classed alphabetically. It was plain that this had been done for the purpose of throwing dust into the eyes of the people who had taken up The Directory, it was obviously done with the intention of concealing the fact that men who were only recently appointed were put over the heads of men old in the service. He took another case—the case of a man who, by his previous records and recent performances in Ireland, was grossly and manifestly disqualified for the position he held, and that was Captain Seagrave. He was a gentleman who was appointed quite recently, and who entered himself in the column of qualifications as in the Army. That, of course, was a commonplace qualification—a great number of these men were in the Army—but he asked them to remember that this man, who was now adjudicating in great political cases in Ireland, a man who, the other day; sentenced a Roman Catholic priest to two months' imprisonment for taking part in a meeting of the League on grossly insufficient evidence—this was the gentleman who was in supreme command at Mitchelstown, and who, on that occasion, exhibited incompetency, cowardice, and brutality. In cross-examination, Captain Seagrave admitted that he had had no legal training; that he had tried several times to get into the Home Army, but had failed; and that it was in Basutoland that he got his commission. He came home from Basutoland and settled in Mitchelstown. This was the man, a junior in the Service—a man whose ignorance and incapacity was confessed by himself—the Home Government selected for the most important trials in Ireland. He thought that the charges in respect to the quality of the magistrates selected by the Government to try political cases in Ireland were fully borne out by these two instances. But there was a third case he might give, and it was that of Mr. Thomas A. Dillon, who was selected to try Mr. Blunt. Mr. T. A. Dillon entered himself in the list of qualifications as a County Justice. As a matter of fact he was a broken down, rack-renting landlord, whose rents had been reduced recently by the Land Commission to the extent of 40 per cent, so he (Mr. Dillon) was informed. But whether that was so or not, Mr. T. A. Dillon's name appeared week after week in the black list of defaulting creditors with a judgment debt of £2,000 hanging over his head, and he was known to be connected with other disgraceful debts for which no judgment could be marked. This was the man who was selected to try English gentlemen for asserting the right of public meeting in Ireland. If the Government had any regard for public decency they would not use such disreputable and disgraceful instruments as the men he had described. He (Mr. Dillon) now desired to direct the attention of the Committee to certain facts which, to his mind, afforded irresistible proof that these men took their instructions from Dublin Castle. At the outset of the administration of the Coercion Act the custom of the Resident Magistrates was to give a sentence of two, three, or four months, or of such a duration as would allow of an appeal. That, of course, was the natural course to be adopted by men who did not want to take full responsibility on their own shoulders. That course prevailed until a certain remarkable oration was delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in which, under the guise of defending himself from the charge of allowing certain men to give bail and go about the country, he pointed out that as long as Resident Magistrates gave long sentences he could not prevent this being done. The magistrates immediately changed their course and proceeded to give short sentences, and this precluded men from the right of appeal. There were cases in which when a man had been sentenced to a long term of imprisonment and he had appealed, bail being accepted, he had on leaving the Court been re-arrested on another charge and committed to gaol for a month, and in this way been deprived of his liberty pending the time of the hearing of the appeal. Would anyone believe that this device—a most contemptible, and rascally trick—to rob men of their right to liberty between the time of the first trial and the appeal, was carried out simply and safely in the interest of justice? He thought it was much more likely that it was one of the many evil inventions of Dublin Castle. He contended that it was a great evil that the poor peasants of Ireland should be at the mercy of such men as the present Resident Magistrates, who, as a rule, were appointed simply owing to their partizanship in favour of the landlords. A monstrous deal of cant had been spoken about the cowardice and absurdity of drawing distinction between priest and peasant—between a Member of Parliament and an ordinary person in reference to conviction under the Coercion Act. As to treatment in prison, he would scorn to draw any distinction between a Member of Parliament and any ordinary man. He claimed that a peasant convicted of a political offence should be treated as a political prisoner; and bad as it might be to strike at the liberty of a private individual with loaded dice, or without the securities that surrounded the ordinary Criminal Law, he maintained that the evil was multiplied a hundred-fold when they so struck at the liberty of a Member of Parliament, for they struck at the liberty of every one of his constituents, and it was in that respect an infinitely greater offence than to deprive an individual of liberty. The grievances of the present system of Resident Magistrates were multiplied tenfold when one came to consider the class of cases they were made judges of. When the protection of a jury was taken away with the Law of Conspiracy as existing at present under the Coercion Act, there was no liberty for the subject. If political feelings ran high, these peripatetic dispensers of justice were regularly sending batches of men to gaol in so-called conspiracy cases, where not a particle of evidence of conspiracy was proved. In one case a magistrate supplied the lack of evidence by saying that he "used his common sense, and had not the slightest doubt that there was a conspiracy." He (Mr. Dillon) and some of his Colleagues had stood their trial in Dublin for conspiracy some time ago; and the Crown then spent several days endeavouring to prove a conspiracy, though the packed jury refused to believe it. However, with these Resident Magistrates there was no delay in the matter at all. They decided a question at once against the accused, probably stimulated by the fact that a modest increase of £100 or £200 a-year might be the result of their compliance with the wishes of the Executive. Such a condition of things was only calculated to cover the Government of Ireland with hatred and contempt. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, and those who thought with him, were ever talking to the Irish Leaders about making the Irish people dislike the law. The Irish people would deserve to be kicked and trampled on and starved to death if they respected the law administered as it was at present. For his own part, he would be ashamed to call himself an Irishman, and ashamed of the people of Ireland, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would be welcome to treat them with the scorn and contempt which he delighted in showing towards them, if they respected such law. The supporters of the Government spoke of the want of respect for the law in Ireland; but when they said that they were in ignorance of the fact that the Irish people had never known what English law meant. Law, in its truest and highest sense, was unknown to the people of Ireland. He could produce, if he cared to do it now, a long string of testimonies extending from the days of Coke and Sir John Davys—the first English Attorney General they had in Ireland—in which those great lawyers, as the result of their experience, said that, where the law was honestly and impartially administered, there was no nation on the earth which loved and respected it more; but to expect that the Irish people would throw themselves down as before the Car of Juggernaut, or lick the feet of men whose greatest pride was to trample on them and kick them, was to expect what no man in that House would ever live to see. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary and his myrmidons of Dublin Castle were the greatest enemies to law and order in Ireland. They were its only true enemies; and so long as this shameful and disgraceful system of administration of what was called "law," with its subservient and slavish tools, was persevered in, so long would that so-called law be scorned by the people of Ireland.

MR. O'HEA (Donegal, W.)

said, that notwithstanding the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had dealt with the statements of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), that right hon. Gentleman had been able to justify the language he had used; and with regard to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), all the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had been able to reply was that the right hon. Gentleman was in the habit of taking as truth all that appeared in the Irish Provincial Press. But anyone who knew the Provincial Press in Ireland would admit that the reports which appeared in the columns of the most obscure papers were as reliable as the information supplied to the right hon. Gentleman by his officials in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had referred to several cases of sentences of one month's imprisonment, to be followed by other sentences of one month, and even to accumulative sentences amounting to three months, and that, too, in spite of all the applications to have the sentences increased so as to give the right of appeal. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) had referred to the case of Mr. Meldon, Resident Magistrate, in answer to which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary could only say that the story of the case was exaggerated; but the fact remained that Mr. Meldon had exceeded his duty, and acted as was usual with the Resident Magistrates in Ireland. He (Mr. O'Hea) had followed the administration of the Crimes Act since these Gentlemen began to put it in operation; and he would now refer to the case of Captain Plunkett, who perhaps exercised more authority under the Act than all the other Resident Magistrates together. There was no doubt that this gentleman wielded a sort of absolutism, so far as the Act was concerned. His hon. Friend the Member for East Cork (Mr. Lane) was arrested within one month of making a certain speech; he was charged with inciting persons to resist the law, and adopt the Plan of Campaign. The hon. Member for East Cork had been sentenced to cumulative sentences amounting to three months. His hon. Friend edited a paper, in which, with reference to a dispute that was all but settled, he said that the tenants were perfectly within their right in combining to bring the landlord to terms; he had in the course of his management of the journal exposed a condition of crime and vice which horrified every reader, and he received a message, which there was every reason to believe came from Captain Plunkett, remonstrating against the articles which had appeared. A prosecution was instituted against him, and he was brought before two Resident Magistrates. Dr. Hays was summoned as a witness as the person on whom it was said the language was likely to have a prejudicial effect, but the Government did not dare to bring him into court. He had, however, stated that he was not in any way afraid of the Plan of Campaign, and that the advice given he was glad of, because it was the means of an amicable settlement being arrived at. This Gentleman refused to take part in the case, and the consequence was that he was deprived of two positions which he held in connection with the Constabulary. This case showed the petty vindictiveness of the Exective in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the sentences inflicted by the Resident Magistrates, and said that they were invariably upheld when they came before a higher tribunal. But there were a number of cases which came before the Recorder of Cork, who was a Tory, and had frequently given expression to his Tory views, and these sentences were all reduced by one-half. This showed that the Resident Magistrates were not altogether infallible in the discharge of their duties. Again, Captain Plunkett was wanting in legal knowledge. A number of persons were summoned before a Court over which he presided, and charged with attending a meeting of the National League. The constable saw several persons going in the direction of the rooms, and told them that their object was illegal, and that they would be punished under the Act; the constables were not in a position to show that any meeting had been held, or that there was any contravention of the Crimes Act; but on the evidence that they were seen about the case was sufficient for this legal luminary, and although the constables had not established that they had done anything wrong, he said that the onus of proof lay upon the accused to show that they were innocent, and he proceeded to sentence them to imprisonment. It seemed to be this Magistrate's opinion that the legal principle was that every man's guilt must be assumed. Then there was the case of Colonel Carew, who had been mentioned in the course of the debate, and was the Presiding Magistrate at a trial in Tipperary. This Magistrate, in reply to the solicitor for the prisoners, said "I represent the Crown here," and on the solicitor objecting, he added, "I have received my orders from the Government, which I cannot disregard, and I do not feel called upon to give any explanation." He (Mr. O'Hea) could multiply cases of this kind were he not unwilling to trespass unduly on the time of the House. The qualifications of this Resident Magistrate were that he had spent several years in the 8th Hussars, and was afterwards in the Militia, in the bloodless campaigns of which service he had probably gained his spurs. The last case to which he would draw attention was noteworthy on several grounds. His hon. Friend the Member for East Clare (Mr. Cox) was sentenced to four months' imprisonment; he lodged an appeal, and immediately on leaving the Court he was arrested and brought before another tribunal. One of the magistrates was Mr. Roche, who—on the application to have the sentence increased so as to justify the right of appeal—said, that having regard to the persistent course of denouncing the law which had been pursued, he doubted whether a sentence of one month was adequate to the crime of the Gentleman before him. The speech of the hon. Member contained the advice to "shun crime and outrage as you would Satan," but he exhorted the people to maintain their allegiance to the National League, and that constituted the charge against him. The magistrates refused to increase the sentence against him. Another magistrate, however, had said that he could see nothing morally wrong in the speech which would not be an offence in any other country but Ireland. Here then they had it from the Bench that now offences had been created by the Crimes Act, although the Government had always denied that the Statute would have that effect, and he therefore agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) in saying that the administration of the Act was not alone a disgrace to England but a disgrace to civilization, and that the Resident Magistrates dare not do otherwise than carry out the behests of the Executive in Ireland.


I desire, Sir, to occupy the attention of the Committee for a short time while I reply to the charges that have been made by the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon). The first case to which he referred was the case of Mr. Meldon, the Resident Magistrate, a gentleman who was appointed by Lord Spencer, and who was a practising barrister. It was charged that in some way or other he, whilst sitting on the Bench, mixed up his judicial and Executive duties most improperly. Mr. Meldon has addressed a letter to The Times, in which he clearly and distinctly states that the charges made against him were utterly unfounded. Mr. Meldon gave the most unqualified denial to the charges made.


I rise to Order. The letter to which the hon. and learned Gentleman refers was written in reply to a speech of mine in which I alluded to Mr. Meldon by name; but I emphatically deny that I ever made such a charge against him as is conveyed in his letter.


The point is not a point of Order. If the hon. Member wishes to make an explanation he will have other opportunities.


Of course, if no charge is made against Mr. Meldon, my task is ended. I understood the hon. Member for East Mayo, in the course of his speech, to charge Mr. Meldon with improper conduct, and I wish to show the Committee that there is altogether a misconception about the matter. The fact is, Mr. Meldon did not act as a magistrate on the occasion. What actually occurred on the occasion has been already detailed to the House. The statement that he mixed up his judicial with his Executive functions is a pure fiction. The next case to which the hon. Member referred was that of Mr. Thomas Dillon. The charge against Mr. Thomas A. Dillon, as presented, is that he had appeared in the black list. That sounds a very formidable position to occupy, but the black list is a list that appears in Dublin of persons against whom judgment is marked. It was even suggested that the judgment against Mr. Thomas Dillon was for a racing debt. The facts are these. Mr. Thomas Dillon is the owner of an encumbered estate, and this judgment is in reference to a mortgage on that estate. I will leave the Committee to say how fair it is to bring a charge of that kind.

MR. T. P. GILL (Louth, S.)

There are other charges.


No doubt, there are other charges; but the charge by which it is sought to discredit Mr. Thomas Dillon is that he is the owner of an encumbered estate, the rents from which are unfortunately not sufficient to pay the incumbrance. It has also been said that Captain Butler, in consequence of some action of his, was removed from Mallow to another position in Ireland. I have made inquiry, and I find that it was during the time that Colonel Sir Redvers Buller was in Ireland that he was removed. It was during the time that Sir Redvers Buller was responsible for the peace of part of Ireland that Captain Butler was removed, and I absolutely deny that it was in consequence of any judicial action on his part that his removal was brought about. It was said that the removal was in juxtaposition to certain action of his; but I altogether repudiate any idea that he was removed in consequence of that action. With regard to Mr. Cecil Roche, I think that gentleman has good reason to complain of the charges brought against him. When the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) opened the debate on the administration of the law in Ireland, he distinctly stated that Mr. Roche was the paid agent of the Loyal and Patriotic Union. Mr. Roche is a gentleman of honour, and he, too, has addressed a letter to The Times, in which he denies that charge point blank.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

He does not deny that he had his expenses paid.


He denies that he was ever the paid agent of the Loyal and Patriotic Union. I cannot go beyond that denial. The hon. Member then stated that Mr. Roche had made use of certain strong language on some occasion; but Mr. Roche denies in the most positive way that he ever used the language attributed to him. What he did say was said long before he was promoted to the Bench. Mr. Roche complains that what he did say was grossly exaggerated, and the particular quotations attributed to him he entirely repudiates and denies. Two cases have been referred to by hon. Members as illustrating the charge that the Resident Magistrates convict on insufficient evidence, and that they lay down principles as to evidence that would not be adopted by lawyers. These two cases are, however, entirely misrepresented. One case was that tried before Mr. Eaton, R.M., and it was then said that Mr. Eaton stated publicly in Court that he did not want any direct evidence in order to find the prisoner guilty; that it was enough that the accused were seen on the previous Sunday coming from Mass with National League cards in their hats. That is an entire misrepresentation of what took place on that occasion. What Mr. Eaton said publicly in Court was that he did not want any evidence, or any direct evidence, of what occurred after the door was shut to show that it was a National League meeting. He also said that it was a mistake to suppose that direct evidence of what actually took place at the meeting was necessary to ensure a conviction. Now, in this case, there was distinct and conclusive evidence of the meeting, and of the intention of those holding it. No lawyer will be found to say that Mr. Eaton in that case laid down the law in a mistaken way. The meeting was proved to be a meeting of the League held for that object, and it was not necessary to prove what took place at the meeting. Another case referred to is the case of Captain Massey. He is a legally qualified R.M., and he was appointed by Lord Spencer. It is alleged that in a case tried in the County Kerry, persons were charged with taking part in an illegal meeting—namely, a meeting of a suppressed branch of the League, and that Captain Massey said that the onus of proof lay upon the accused. If that had been so it would have been a monstrous perversion of the law; but no such statement was made. It was proved by the most satisfactory evidence that the meeting was held, and the magistrate never said that any such onus of proof rested upon the accused. He commented on the fact of the meeting being held, and added that the accused were convicted in the absence of evidence to the contrary. The statement that the magistrate was satisfied that the meeting was held was totally different to the allegation of a conviction, because no evidence to the contrary was produced by the prisoners. Another incident that had been referred to was that in connection with certain statements of Colonel Carew when certain prisoners were brought before him. It was said that he stated that he had received instructions which he must not disobey. That simply meant that Colonel Carew had received certain instructions from the Divisional Magistrate, and that was that the prisoners should not be tried at Petty Sessions, but under the Crimes Act.


Colonel Carew said that he represented the Crown.


I have no information on that point. But what I hope the Committee will look at was this—Was the transaction a just one? What did Colonel Carew do? He simply did what he was bound to do. Hon. Members opposite do not seem to exactly appreciate what Colonel Carew did. He received no instructions as to his judicial action, and he did not act judicially in the matter. The hon. Member for West Donegal (Mr. O'Hea) alluded to the appeals tried before the Recorder of Cork, and he said that sentences had been reduced by the Recorder for Cork. We all know that the reduction of a sentence by a County Court Judge often only means that, an increased sentence having been asked for, for the purpose of appeal, the Judge has properly reduced and adjusted it. The House has been, night after night, discussing the conduct of these Resident Magistrates; but what is the best test to which their decisions have been subjected? The best test is the test of appeals. There has been a large number of cases, but yet up to the 1st of January there was only one single case of a reversal of the decision, and that was upon new evidence, and since the 1st of January there has only been one reversal, and that was upon a technical point; yet it is said that these tribunals are unsatisfactory when there are these means of testing the decisions. If these men were acting as they were said to do, their decisions would be reversed. The County Court Judges, to whom the appeals lay—it should be remembered—have nothing to hope or fear from, the Government. There is no promotion open to County Court Judges, as within recent memory no County Court Judge has been raised to a superior Judgeship. Their decisions are beyond suspicion. The fact is these charges are unfounded, and the best answer to them is that the decision of these magistrates are subjected to the practical test of appeal to the County Court Judges, and the decisions are upheld.

MR. P. STANHOPE (Wednesbury)

said, that on the part of the Government the debate always degenerated into two classes of arguments. The first was the tu quoque argument, and the second was that some of the Resident Magistrates in Ireland had been appointed by Lord Spencer. Lord Spencer would forgive him (Mr. Stan- hope) for saying that, at the time he was Lord Lieutenant, he made the appointments on the traditional Castle system, in more or less the same groove as the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, though unquestionably with less partizanship. He (Mr. P. Stanhope) entirely refused to believe that the origin of their appointment had anything to do with the question of the present conduct of Resident Magistrates. He was surprised that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden) should think it was sufficient to bring forward a statement of these gentlemen in manuscript, and appeal to it as an absolute proof in favour of their views. He regretted to say that his experience had led him to believe that those statements were not always reliable. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary told them that he had already made three long speeches in these debates, and was consequently relieved from saying much on the present occasion. But in the whole of the speech he had just made the right hon. Gentleman never replied to a single statement of fact made by hon. Members on that side of the House. The only instances in which the right hon. Gentleman had dealt with facts were the memorable one, as the right hon. Gentleman admitted, of Hannah Connell, and the alleged conspiracy between mother and son. The Chief Secretary had spoken about conspiracy between mother and son. The right hon. Gentleman was an authority upon the question of family conspiracy; he understood that a conspiracy between uncle and nephew was a possible thing, and, therefore, he no doubt, thought it might also be applied in the case of mother and son. But these were merely hypothetical arguments showing the ordinary temper of the right hon. Gentleman in dealing with the affairs of Ireland which he administered with so much grace. After all, what they desired to do was to produce facts, and he asked the right hon. Gentleman to oppose facts with other facts. He wished to state a few facts with regard to the conduct of Mr. Cecil Roche, facts which he had taken care to substantiate by sworn information, Mr. Cecil Roche, in a letter he had recently written to The Times, carefully abstained from saying he was not an agent of the Loyal and Patriotic Union, and went about the country lecturing at the expense of that organization. No person over imputed to Mr. Cecil Roche that he received a salary for his services, but people had asserted, and Mr. Cecil Roche had never denied it, that he received the payment of his expenses in connection with his services to the Loyal and Patriotic Union, and that he went careering about the country denouncing the Irish people for whom he was now called upon to administer justice. The point he (Mr. P. Stanhope) and his Friends wished to establish was that a gentleman who had been an ardent advocate of one class or clique in Ireland was not a gentleman who should be selected under the present circumstances to administer an exceedingly delicate Act of Parliament like the Crimes Act. He did not propose to call in question the magisterial decisions of Mr. Roche, for the very simple reason that he probably, like Colonel Carew and others, was merely the instrument of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. No doubt Mr. Roche received his instructions from Dublin Castle, and all he did was in consonance with those instructions. But what he did call in question was the conduct of Mr. Roche in abandoning his magisterial duties in order to perform executive functions, and in performing such functions in a manner which even hon. Gentlemen opposite would perceive was unusual. He (Mr. Stanhope) had in his possession affidavits sworn by a certain number of gentlemen in the town of Tralee. They related to the case of his hon. Friend the Member for West Kerry (Mr. Edward Harrington), who was sentenced by Mr. Cecil Roche to a month's imprisonment. On that occasion Mr. Cecil Roche, having been on the Bench, and having pronounced the sentence upon the hon. Member, descended from the Bench and went out of the Court, where there were not more than 200 people assembled. These people being townsmen of his hon. Friend, cheered when they saw the hon. Gentleman being taken to prison. Mr. Roche rushed into the street, brandished his stick over his head, and ordered the police to charge the crowd. Mr. Roche, in answer to a letter of his (Mr. P. Stanhope's) said he acted on that occasion in deference to the orders of Colonel Turner; but he did not use his stick. The information he possessed showed, first of all, that Mr. Roche was so excited that it was quite possible he did not know whether he had his stick with him or not; and, secondly, that the effect of the charge was that a certain number of people were wounded, and that naturally great exasperation existed amongst the population of Tralee. The first evidence he had was that of the Rev. William Casey, parish priest of Abbeyfeale, in the county of Limerick. He said— When Mr. Harrington appeared on the steps of the Court-house, this latter group set up a cheer, whereupon Mr. Cecil Roche, R.M., rushed out of the Court and down the steps, brandishing a large stick, and called on the police to clear the street. The next statement was that of Mr. Edward Murphy, who was Chairman of the Tralee Board of Guardians and a land agent; a most representative Gentleman. He said— When Mr. Harrington came out, a slight cheer was given, upon which Mr. Roche, R.M., turning round, ordered the police from off the steps to clear the streets. I say that I believe the police had been prepared beforehand for this order, in proof of which I say I saw one of them pull his baton out of the sleeve of his tunic, and they, the police, immediately rushed on and batoned the people indiscriminately. Mr. Daniel O'Riordan, a solicitor's clerk, swore in his affidavit— I saw a number of people, about 150, in the street near the Court-house, When Mr. Harrington came out in custody a very slight cheer was given, whereupon Mr. Cecil Roche, R.M., rushed out of the Court-house and down the steps in a very excited manner, and, without giving any warning, called on the police, who were drawn up outside, to clear the street, which they, led by him, immediately proceeded to do, batoning every one indiscriminately. Mr. Thomas Slattery, Town Councillor of Tralee, swore an affidavit to a similar effect, and added that he himself was severely wounded in the baton charge. This was not an isolated instance of Mr. Roche's outrageous conduct. He (Mr. P. Stanhope) had a letter from a most respectable Catholic priest, Father White, of St. Joseph's, Miltown Malbay, who, having seen his (Mr. P. Stanhope's) account of the incident, wrote to him on the 27th of December in these terms— On last Thursday week he (Mr. Roche) sentenced four hard-working artizans of this town to a month with hard labour, solely because they refused to surrender their right at Common Law to give their work as it suited them. This was 'conspiracy' under the Coercion Act, though it was notorious and known to the police here that these men never conspired either with others or with one another. While being marched through the town on a market-day their friends cheered them. Some priests who, fortunately, were present kept the people back from the strong police escort. Not a stone was thrown, not a stick raised, not a blow of any kind attempted, and yet this Mr. Roche turned round like a a man oat of his senses, brandishing and striking out with a stick or sword-cane and ordering the police to baton the people. I had to rescue one inoffensive old man who was struck down with a blow on the head, and I saw another man brutally kicked while on the ground. I pledge my honour, as a man, and my character as a priest, that no violence of any kind was committed from first to last except by the police under the direct command of Mr. Roche. Think of his shouting out to the people flying from the batons, 'Come on; I dare you to come on.' He wished to put a simple question to hon. Gentlemen opposite. What would be said if Sir James Ingham sentenced anybody to a month's imprisonment, and because the prisoner, when he was being driven away from the Court, was cheered by a number of his sympathizers, he rushed out of the Court in Bow Street with a stick in his hand and charged the crowd at the head of the police? He had no doubt they would be told this was done in Ireland and that Ireland could not be compared with England. He believed the ambition of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, if he had any sentiments which could worthily be called ambition, was to govern Ireland on English principles, and therefore he invited him to apply English principles to Mr. Roche's conduct. If the right hon. Gentleman considered conduct of that sort would be proper in an English magistrate, let him publicly commend Mr. Roche for his conduct upon the occasion in question. If, on the contrary, such conduct was to be reprobated in an English magistrate, let the Chief Secretary reprobate it in the case of Mr. Roche. He agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for the Rushcliffe Division of Nottinghamshire (Mr. J. E. Ellis), that the actions of the Irish Resident Magistrates must be carefully scrutinized and constantly brought to the notice of the House. It was absurd to suppose that the second-hand refutations of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, or the third-hand refutations of his subordinates on the Treasury Bench, would suffice to contradict the statements he (Mr. P. Stanhope) and may others had advanced, supported as they were by positive proof, with regard to the conduct of Resident Magistrates in Ireland. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) would take a Division on the Vote, in order that the House might have an opportunity of marking its disapproval of the unseemly conduct of many of these Resident Magistrates. It was no excuse to say that they were merely the agents of a Government whose actions they on the Opposition side of the House would continue to subject to very searching criticism. They were unable it was true to attack the right hon. Gentleman personally for the barbarous administration of the Act, but they would continue to do so in the person of his agents, and he firmly believed that when the conduct of these gentlemen was more universally known than at present it seemed to be, it would be strongly condemned by the public opinion of this country.


said, there was no wonder hon. Gentlemen opposite displayed incredulity when the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. P. Stanhope) was stating the facts about Mr. Cecil Roche, facts which had been vouched for upon oath, and which held the field until Mr. Cecil Roche, or someone on his behalf, came forward to contradict them. It was, perhaps, like pouring water on a drowned rat to say anything more about Mr. Cecil Roche; but this much might be said, that this habit of his of coming down from the bench and enjoying himself with a cudgel on the heads of the crowd was a constant one. It was not merely at Tralee, or at Milltown Malbay, but at other places that he had done this. At Dingle, the week after the Tralee incident, he got down from the Bench, went outside, and ordered a baton charge, taking part in it himself, Some of the crowd displaying their reluctance to submit to this sort of thing, Mr. Cecil Roche had them arrested. He then remounted the Bench and sentenced two men thus arrested to a month's imprisonment. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden) had, by his speech, only strengthened the allegations made against the Resident Magistrates. For instance, the hon. and learned Gentleman had said that the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) had charged Mr. Thomas A. Dillon with having had judgment marked against him on account of a gambling debt. That was an entire misrepresentation of the charge. What his hon. Friend (Mr. Dillon) said was that there was a judgment for £2,000 marked against Mr. T. A. Dillon, and that there were other debts of Mr. T. A. Dillon's which could not be brought into the black list, because they were gambling debts. The whole answer to the allegations made in regard to Mr. Meldon appeared to be that he was appointed by Lord Spencer. They had had quite enough of that kind of thing. What was it to the unfortunate people who were sentenced under the Crimes Act, that one of these men was appointed by one Lord Lieutenant or by another? They had seen what Mr. Meldon and his like were capable of doing when the Government or the agents of the landlords made charges against the Representatives of the people or the people themselves. He would give an instance of how Mr. Meldon acted when a charge was brought against one of the minions of the landlord class by one of the unfortunate people. Mrs. Collins, wife of a struggling farmer in Tipperary, swore an information that on the 2nd February last a wood-ranger in the employment of Count Moore, named Hugh Peters, fired two shots over her head. Peters was placed under arrest; but when brought before Mr. Meldon, he was discharged without bail. Now, what would have been done in the case, say, of a tenant farmer who fired two shots over the head of the wife of a landlord? What answer did Mr. Meldon make to this unfortunate woman? He told her that she might, if she cared, receive an ordinary summons against the wood-ranger. That was all the interest the Crown, or the right hon. Gentleman's minions, took in the vindication of justice, when the person offended against was one of the people. It was the same kind of interest they took when they managed to let off the Emergency men who murdered the unfortunate man, down at Coolgreaney, and who were now roaming about the country armed with Winchester rifles. Reference had been made to the evidence brought forward at some of these trials; it was certainly of a most startling and extraordinary character. Let him refer to some evidence which was given against his hon. Friend the Member for South Galway (Mr. Sheehy), who was now undergoing six months' imprisonment in Galway Gaol. The police reporter upon whose notes Mr. Sheehy was convicted was called. He was asked if he wrote shorthand? He said he never learned shorthand. Then he was asked if he were a very fast writer, if he was not regarded as the fastest writer in the barracks. He replied— I would not cast a slur on any man in the barracks by praising myself, but I believe I am the fastest writer. Then he was asked— While you would be writing a sentence how many sentences would the speaker get ahead of you? "—" He might get two or three." "Then when you completed your sentence, would you skip over what he had said in the meantime, and then catch him up again? "—"Yes; I would try and remember what he would say in the meantime." "When you say you would try and remember, what do you mean?"—"I mean that when I heard a sentence or two I would take it down, and pay no attention to what he would say in the meantime."—" When you had completed your note of any particular sentence, would you wait until he had completed a sentence, or would you take him up in the middle of a sentence?" "When I would have done writing down what I remembered at the time, I would wait until I remembered what Mr. Sheehy would say." "Now, if Mr. Sheehy used language, qualifying language in reference to what you took down, would you take it down?"—"I would if I were able." "Suppose while you were occupied in taking down a sentence which you considered improper, and he got two sentences ahead in which he qualified the language, did you miss that?" "Yes, I would not take that down. I did not take it down. Now, the hon. Member for South Galway (Mr. Sheehy) had been taken from his place in the House of Commons and was now in gaol on evidence such as this. To illustrate that kind of reporting, the counsel of his hon. Friend subjected it to a test. He took up a newspaper and read out slowly a passage from a speech of one of the English delegates to Ireland. The constable took it down, and the report he produced was— I as an Englishman have come here to-day. As these wrongs will cease. You have fought our Government for 700. As we. Let me tell you what has naturally grown in the English mind. John McDonnell, come. The Crown evidently did not think that evidence was such that they could decently ask for a conviction upon, and therefore they produced a speech his hon. Friend delivered at Clonmel. The hon. Member was sentenced to three months' imprisonment, and then he was taken to Clonmel, where he was sentenced to another term of three months for the very speech a report of which was produced in evidence against him at the former trial. In the case of the hon. Member for West Waterford (Mr. Pyne), the evidence laid before the magistrate was of a similar character. The constable was subjected to a test similar to that applied in the case of the hon. Member for West Galway (Mr. Sheehy), and there he admitted that he took no note of the speech at the time it was delivered. Counsel for the defendant read out a portion of Mr. Parnell's speech in the House of Commons, and then asked the constable to give his version of it. The witness, however, was unable to recall accurately three sentences of the speech. Mr. Pyne was sentenced to three months' imprisonment.


Order, order! The hon. Member must refer to another hon. Member by the name of the constituency he represents.


said, he was referring to the hon. Gentleman in the character of a defendant. His hon. Friend was charged with making a second speech, and similar evidence was produced against him. Counsel for the hon. Member stated in indignant terms that the magistrates were sent there with orders to convict the defendant, and therefore it was no use attempting any defence. Very likely to supply right hon. Gentlemen opposite with an answer to such criticism from the Opposition Benches, in a flight of the highest virtue, the magistrates dismissed the charge. But, in the first case, the hon. Gentleman was sent to gaol for three months upon evidence which, in the second case, the magistrates themselves declared to be totally insufficient. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden) concluded his speech by referring the whole controversy to the test of appeal, and he said—" After all, the test of the matter is what has been the result of the appeals." That was a very unfortunate reference when they had regard to the action of the Court of Exchequer the other day in reversing two decisions and in practically reversing a third, namely, that in the case of Mr. Blunt. In the case of the blacksmith, Sullivan, and in that of Mr. Walsh, of The Wexford People, the decisions had been quashed by the Superior Court. He could continue for hours citing instances of the gross injustice and brutality and wickedness of the way in which the Crimes Act was administered in Ireland; but he thought he had said enough in refutation of what the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland had said, and to justify the contention that the Resident Magistrates had proved themselves the veriest tools of the Castle in the administration of this most infamous Act.


was surprised the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden) had not thought it worth while to make any reply to the strong case made out by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. P. Stanhope). He (Mr. Edward Harrington) did not complain of the punishment Mr. Cecil Roche inflicted upon him; but he did complain that that magistrate made up his mind as to the sentence before the hearing of the case was concluded. He himself knew he was to be committed to prison for a month, and half-an-hour before the sentence was passed, a covered car was in waiting outside the Court House to convey him to Tralee Gaol. That showed how much the magistrate acted on evidence. He asked that a case should be stated, but the magistrate declined to do so. His ground for asking that a case should be stated was that articles that appeared in his paper three months before there was a proclamation of the county of Kerry were read in evidence against him, to show he was defying the proclamation of the county. The Court, in its supreme wisdom, decided that that was a frivolous ground of application. As it turned out eventually, the very points he had raised were held to be good points. He did his best during the trial to restrain the people from indulging in any demonstration; but when he left the Court a few children, disobeying what was well known to be his wish, attempted to raise a cheer. No sooner had they done so than Mr. Roche rushed out and ordered the police to charge the people. The policemen, who had been drafted in from outlying districts, drew their batons, rushed upon the crowd and smashed heads right and left. The little children coming out of the Convent school were batoned and scattered in all directions. He saw Mr. Roche flourish his stick and rush amongst some priests and threaten them. So violent, sudden, and frantic was the charge, that one policeman actually rushed headlong through the window of a publican named Doyle. Colonel Turner—Divisional Magistrate for the County of Kerry—was present. He was either in charge on the occasion, or he had no business to be there at all. It was well known in Tralee that Colonel Turner and County Inspector Singleton expressed their abhorrence of the course pursued by Mr. Roche, and that they made representations to that effect to the Castle; but Mr. Roche was so useful in careering about the country, casting newsvendors and the like into gaol, that it was impossible to assail his position. In proof of this he might mention that the Town Councillors of Tralee, a body of gentlemen who represented all creeds and classes, unanimously drafted a representation to the Lord Lieutenant to the effect that in the interest of peace and order in Tralee it was necessary that a sworn investigation into the matter should be held, or that, as an alternative, Mr. Roche be removed to some other district. The Poor Law Guardians, all the representative Bodies, and the Catholic Dean of Tralee, a Unionist in politics, made similar representations; but they had not been acted upon, nor their receipt even acknowledged by the Castle authorities. While men like Mr. Roche retained the confidence of the Government, men of the stamp of Captain Butler, men who did their duty fearlessly and without favour, were sent to remote districts, where their services were little or never required. The present Government seemed to think it was a complete answer to say that these things happened in the time of Lord Spencer. His (Mr. Edward Harrington's) testimony was that things as vile as they could imagine had been done by Dublin Castle under every Administration. The Government had in regard to the affair at Tralee adopted the policy of Dublin Castle, for they had paid no heed whatever to the representations of the various public Bodies. Let it not be said that they made in. the House charges that they would not make out of it. After he had completed his term of imprisonment in Tralee Gaol for merely publishing reports of meetings in a newspaper, so strongly did he feel the battering of helpless women and children for what he considered no crime, but for merely cheering him out of sympathy, that he wrote in his newspaper an article about the affair, making the charges which he had repeated here. He charged Colonel Turner with cowardice in permitting the command to be taken out of his hands by Mr. Roche, and charged Mr. Roche with having used a stick upon the people, and charged Frederick Bateman, the magistrate, with rowdyism. In the paper in which he made these charges he had stated to the Crown Prosecutor in Tralee his readiness to lodge in Court any guarantee for expenses if an action for libel were brought against him. His challenge, however, had not been taken up. Mr. Roche and the rest had been in no hurry to clear their character. The first time he appeared in public in the town of Tralee he expected to be picked up, not for anything which appeared in his paper, but for the attacks which he made on these people in this House. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland would, he (Mr. Edward Harrington) thought, do well to interest himself in the case he was about to mention. Some time ago the house of Dr. O'Kane was attacked. Four or five men were arrested at Castleisland, after men had previously been arrested by the local magistrates, and Mr. Roche had let them out on small bail, although they were recognized as having been present at a Moonlighting affair. To show that they paid some attention to the local Press, the authorities had had these men rearrested; but the prosecution had been conducted in such a half-hearted way that the depositions had been purposely vitiated. He thought that the Government were teaching the people of Ireland a very bad lesson by shielding one class of criminals. The nominal Crown Prosecutor in the case was Mr. M'Gillycuddy; the prisoners were defended by his cousin and partner, Mr. Morphy, who had the same office and sat at the same table with him. If men in that part of the country were accused of Moonlighting they had only to go to that office; they could not secure the services of Mr. M'Gillycuddy, as he was nominally the prosecutor, but they could get his partner as their solicitor, and then they would be sure to get off. If the Government gave people the idea that they shielded one class of criminals, he could assure them that they were teaching the people a bad lesson, and it was hard for him (Mr. Edward Harrington), and others like him who advised the people whenever they had an opportunity to refrain from committing crime, to produce any effect. His desire was that the authorities should be able to discover and punish real crime; but he did not believe that the right hon. Gentleman or his officials had any such desire. He did not charge the right hon. Gentleman with wilfully desiring to screen criminals; but he charged the right hon. Gentleman with that—which the right hon. Gentleman so flippantly charged others—namely, with a want of knowledge of the things which he had to adjudicate upon. There were numerous cases of maladministration in the County of Kerry; but he did not want to go into them on the present occasion. He did not wish to overload the weighty charges already made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wednesbury and others, and he would leave it to the Committee to say if they were satisfied with the silence of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in reference to these charges.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

said, he had sought out some adjective which would adequately describe the magistrates whose zeal in the service of the Government was now under discussion. He did not think the term "Resident" properly described them, as the Committee was now asked to pay £8,000 for their nomadic habits, and he did not think "removable" would properly describe them, because he supposed they were certain to retain their positions so long as the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. A. J. Balfour) continued to occupy his present post. He might, perhaps, describe them as the kept magistrates of Dublin Castle, and he might say that a more corrupt and servile body of men than these Resident Magistrates never disgraced the magistracy of Ireland. One of them—Mr. Cecil Roche—had been a lecturer of the Royal and Patriotic Union. It was true—as was stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Madden) that he (Mr. Cecil Roche) had written a letter to The Times declaring that he was not a paid lecturer. At all events, whether he was a paid lecturer or only got his travelling expenses, as he himself admitted, it was the fact that he was a lecturer for a partizan organization in the struggle now agitating this Kingdom, and, fresh and virgin from his violent speech in that great controversy, he was placed on the Judicial Bench there to deny the liberties of the very men he had been denouncing. The hon. and learned Solicitor General said Cecil Roche was paid only £500 a-year. Did not the hon. and learned Gentleman know very well that £500 a-year was sufficient to purchase numbers of the venal barristers of Ireland to do any dirty work, and, forsooth, Mr. Roche was to be considered a perfectly innocent gentleman because he was paid not during the delivery of his lectures but after. He had read with attention the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary during the Recess and in that House. The right hon. Gentleman stated that there was no difference between the laws of England and Ireland, except in the small matter of procedure. What did that little difference mean? If a person were tried in this country for a political offence, he would be tried by a Judge and a jury of his own class. In Ireland, however, there was no Judge independent of the Crown, and no jury; but political offenders were tried by two Resident Magistrates who were dependent on the right hon. Gentleman. If he heard a speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman on Tuesday, he should be able to forecast the judgments by Resident Magistrates on Thursday in Ireland. He charged the Irish Magistrates with acting in two capacities—as members of a judicial tribunal and as part of the Executive Government. This had been clearly done in the cases of the hon. Gentleman the Member for North-East Cork (Mr. William O'Brien), and of others. In the case of the hon. Member for West Kerry (Mr. Edward Harrington) on a cheer being raised as he left the Court, the magistrate seized a stick and headed the charge of the police upon the mob. No magistrate in England would have dared to have done such an act as that. Then people in Ireland were convicted on the evidence of so-called shorthand writers, who could not take down accurately two two words in ten, although shorthand writers ought to be equal to any emergency. Irish magistrates went where the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary pleased, and did what he pleased. The right hon. Gentleman began his career by summoning the Resident Magistrates to Dublin Castle, where he instructed them as to the sentences they should pronounce and as to the manner of their proceedings. Therefore, these so-called independent blameless magistrates, who ought to stand impartially and independently between the Crown and the people, were, in fact, the instructed and drilled tools of the right hon. Gentleman. Then, again, magistrates in England were never removed from place to place except for their own convenience and at their own request; but Irish magistrates were removed from one place to another as a punishment for their impartiality. Then, again, the crimes for which men and women had been sent to gaol were of the most ridiculous character—such as shouting the words of a popular song. The appeal to which the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland had referred was to the County Court Judges—the most odious school of the Tory Party in Ireland. In Mr. Blunt's case the Judge said that he was present at a meeting where the Proclamation of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was burnt, an act, he said, of insurrection, almost amounting to treason. Could anything be more absurd? The inequality of the sentences was also to be noted. Yet the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary spoke of these magistrates as independent, high-minded men. The names of these men would stink in the nostrils of even the Tories 10 years hence. The hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland, in his ultra-saccharine tones, had boasted that the sentences of these magistrates had—except in one or two instances— been confirmed on appeal. Did not the hon. and learned Gentleman know that the County Court Judge before whom these appeals lay belonged to the most odious type of Tory in Ireland? Look at the judgment of Mr. Henn in the case of Mr. Blunt. Nothing more odious, more ridiculous, more unjudicial was ever given from a judgment seat, even by a Resident Magistrate. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) was no lover of despotism, but he would say—away with this miserable sham and let them have in its place a candid and honest and bold despotism. Let the right hon. Gentleman openly abolish the Courts of Law, let him not seek to carryon an unconstitutional system under a mask of constitutionalism, and then they would be able to face the question whether Ireland was to be governed like Russia or like England.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 195; Noes 124: Majority 71.—(Div. List, No. 15.)