HC Deb 21 March 1890 vol 342 cc1507-9
MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether his attention has been called to the report of certain proceedings at the Kerry Assizes on the appeal of Mary Quinlan against Mr. George Sandes from the decision of a County Court, for the maintenance of his illegitimate child, in which it was admitted by Mr. Sandes that, in 1882, he was a land agent for Several estates, and that some disputes having arisen which led to litigation, in a place where he frequently acted as presiding Justice, he sent for Mary Quinlan, one of the parties to the litigation, and seduced her; and that, although frequently applied to for the maintenance of the child that was the result of this intercourse, he had refused to make such maintenance; and that he further would not deny that, when acting as land agent, he had had intercourse with many tenants' widows; and whether the attention of the Lord Chancellor will be called to the conduct of Mr. Sandes in this case?


The only sources open to me on the subject of this question are the reports which have appeared in the public Press. The matters of fact referred to in the question (which appear to have occurred some eight years ago) came out in evidence on the hearing of an appeal recently tried before Mr. Justice Andrews. If the matter, in the opinion of the Judge who heard the appeal, was one calling for the attention of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, he would, I have no doubt, have communicated with him in reference to it.


May I ask whether there were not in Court affidavits of Mr. Sandes's sister alleging misconduct, and whether the Listowel Workhouse, of which Mr. Sandes was Chairman, was not used as the nursery for his illegitimate children? Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman also aware that all the newspapers which report the case state that the learned Judge in giving his decision was not audible to the reporters? And, further, that this man seduced a servant girl in his own house. At any rate, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman consider the propriety of asking that Mr. Sandes should not be allowed to sit upon the Bench of Magistrates?


The hon. Member must see that these are matters which do not arise out of the question upon the Paper. He must be aware that I have no power to exercise a general censorship over the moral conduct of Magistrates. If the hon. Gentleman wishes for further information I will make inquiry.


Is it not the fact, admitted by Sandes himself, that the seduction of this girl took place in his own house, upon an occasion of her going to him, upon receiving an intimation from him that he was to preside on the Bench when a case concerning her was to be brought on?


No doubt there were certain discreditable matters brought to light in the course of a civil trial; but it is no part of the functions or duty of the Attorney General to interpose in such cases.

MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

I venture to think that the House will expect some further reply. This person, who is still a Magistrate, has made grave admissions of systematic seduction. Will the Government continue to ignore these facts, or will they call the attention of the Lord Chancellor to them? The fact that this man is still a Magistrate is a scandal.


Did not Sandes swear that he had not seduced 20 girls, but that he would not swear that he had not seduced 12?


I have no doubt that if the Judge thinks it necessary the facts will be laid before the Lord Chancellor, if they have not already reached him.

MR. J. MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

This is clearly a matter not unconnected with law and order in Ireland. I ask the Chief Secretary whether he will call the attention of the Lord Chancellor to the matter?


The question was not put to me, and I never heard of this matter before. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the jurisdiction does not rest with me, but with my right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. I shall, however, be glad to call his attention to the matter, if that has not already been done.


Is not this one of the three persons who are alleged to have been boycotted in Kerry?


Order, order! That has nothing to do with the question.