§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
I wish to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether Her Majesty's Government will lay on the Table of the House a copy of the record and depositions in the Court of First Instance and on appeal in the case of Mr. John Dillon, a Member of this House, sentenced on the 29th ultimo, at Dundalk, to an imprisonment of six months? I should be obliged if the right hon. Gentleman could answer me now; but if not, of course, I shall put the Question on the Paper in the ordinary way.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not object to put it down on the Paper, as it is a 826 matter of some importance, and requires consideration; and I would remind him that the course he asks the Government to pursue is not usual. I do not say that it is wholly without precedent. There are certain precedents for it, but they are very few and far between. The right hon. Gentleman is sensible that, although such a course may be justifiable in some cases, it ought not to be generally followed; and I shall be glad if he will give the special reasons why it should be done in this case; because, as far as I understand the matter, the points of law and the facts which were raised at this trial were of a very simple character.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I fear that if I gave the special reasons now, it would be your duty, Mr. Speaker, to check me, so that I am afraid I cannot do so.
MR. PIOTON (Leicester)
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware of any other case in which a prisoner, condemned to six months' imprisonment, received, before leaving the dock, an address, signed by 150 Members of this House?
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
I should like to ask the Chief Secretary a Question in reference to an answer which he gave me yesterday afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman then told me—these are his words—The Court of Exchequer in Dublin had said that there clearly was evidence of conspiracy at Common Law. I see by the reports in the papers to-day that the Court said there might be evidence, if it were furnished, of conspiracy at Common Law.I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman, whether his account last night, or the account which appears in the papers of to-day, is correct?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Of course, I answered the right hon. Gentleman last night from such telegraphic information as was at my disposal, I was not aware, when the right hon. Gentleman put the Question just now, that there was any discrepancy between the information which I gave him last night and the reports in the papers of to-day. I will, however, inquire into the matter, and give the right hon. Gentleman an authoritative statement with regard to it to-morrow.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
A day or two ago I asked the Chief Secretary whether there was, or whether there would be, any other evidence of the Killeagh trial besides that which appeared in the reports in the public papers of that trial; and, after referring to the Irish Law Officers, he told me that he should be prepared to supplement the evidence which had appeared in the newspapers on that subject. I wish now to ask him whether he will supplement the evidence, as he said he would do?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Of course, I have not the slightest objection, if the right hon. Gentleman will take the usual course of placing his Quostion upon the Paper, to give him all the information in my power on the subject.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
Might I ask if the right hon. Gentleman would have any objection to laying on the Table also the Judgment of the Judges?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I wish to ask the Chief Secretary, whether he will be able to say to-morrow how many prisoners are now undergoing terms of imprisonment in Ireland for taking part in a criminal conspiracy to compel or induce others not to do what the law gives them a right to do; how many of these prisoners there are; and, whether, as in the case of the Milltown Malbay prisoners who got six months for refusing to sell provisions, the Government will consider the sentences in the light of a recent judicial decision?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not know whether I can obtain the information which the hon. and learned Member desires by to-morrow; but I think that it is quite possible—at all events, I will do my best—to obtain it. But with regard to the action which the Government may take with regard to prisoners, I would point out that if they, or their legal advisers, think that they are wrongly sentenced, they have their remedy, and they are wrong if they have not appealed. There is no one more competent to know that that is the case than the hon. and learned Gentleman.