§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
I beg to ask the Attorney General for Ireland whether the attention of the Government has been directed to the recent trial in Ireland of a Scotchwoman, named Mrs. Montagu, for cruelly torturing her child to death; and whether he can inform the House why the further charges of cruelty alleged to have been perpetrated by the same woman were dropped, and a nolle prosequi entered? I should like to supplement this by asking the right hon. Gentleman if he can inform the House whether there is any method by which this monster of cruelty——
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The rule to be observed in putting a question which is on the Paper must also be observed when putting a question which is not on the Paper.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN,) Dublin University
This case has received throughout my careful attention. The further charges of cruelty referred to in the question have not been finally dropped. I am informed by the Solicitor General for Ireland, who conducted the prosecution, that, having regard to the evidence in the posses- 862 sion of the Crown at the time of the trial, he did not consider it advisable to proceed with the charges of ill-treatment by Mrs. Montagu of her male children, Austen, Walter, and Gilbert. The course which he took enables the Crown to bring forward those charges again, should further evidence be available. Having regard to the fact that those charges are still pending against Mrs. Montagu, the House will see that it would be wrong for me to enter any further into the details of this case.
§ MR. MADDEN
The case, in one sense, is prepared by the Crown Solicitor, but the form it assumes is largely dependent on the material which is laid before him.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
Will the right hon. Gentleman state whether it was by his instructions that Catholic jurors to the number of 17 were challenged at this trial?
§ MR. MADDEN
I have no information whatever, or means of information, as to the religion of the jurors who were challenged by the prisoner, or of the smaller number, as I observe, who were ordered to stand aside by the Crown. I may mention, as the case has excited considerable interest, that this prisoner was originally returned for trial at Londonderry Assizes, but at my instance the venue was changed to the County of Dublin in order that it may take place where the trial could not possibly be affected by local feeling or prejudice of any kind. It was there tried before a Special Jury of the City of Dublin, presided over by, perhaps, the most capable and experienced Judge on the Irish Bench.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, having regard to the feeling of horror which this case has excited amongst every class and every sect in Ireland, he does not suppose that Catholics who were summoned to attend this trial would regard it as an abominable slur upon them——
MR. P. O'BRIEN
Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to proceed with the prosecution of the governess?
§ MR. JOHNSTON
Did the right hon. Gentleman receive a letter from a Roman Catholic priest testifying to the purity and piety of Mrs. Montagu?
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
May I ask whether, considering the extraordinary severity of the sentence on the girl Fanny Gane——
§ An hon. MEMBER: It is very hard on the poor woman.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! It is not permissible to question the decision of a Judge in that manner.
§ MR. NORRIS (Tower Hamlets, Limehouse)
I beg to ask the Attorney General whether, with reference to such cases as that of Mrs. Montagu, he will consider the expediency of introducing a Bill empowering the Public Prosecutor to intervene and take further proceedings in the public interest where indictments of a criminal nature have been withdrawn, and to do so notwithstanding conviction upon any other charge.
SIR R. WEBSTER
The hon. Member will remember that Mrs. Montagu's case arose in Ireland. So far as England is concerned, the regulations already in force relating to the office of Public Prosecutor are, in my opinion, sufficient.