§ MR. W. A. MACDONALD (Queen's Co., Ossory)
wished to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether it was true that three Members of the House of Commons were in prison under the Crimes Act for precisely the same offence that two of the number—the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) and the hon. Member for South Armagh (Mr. Blane)—were suffering as common criminals, while the third—the hon. Member for North Monaghan (Mr. P. O'Brien)—was treated as a first-class misdemeanant; what was the reason for that difference of treatment; and, whether it was just to visit the same offence with such widely disproportionate penalties?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
I presume the gravity of the offence depends 1147 upon the surrounding circumstances, and I do not admit that the offences in all these cases were identical. Moreover, I believe those who administer criminal jurisprudence have never yet found a means by which absolute uniformity of punishment should be arrived at when the offences were identical.