HC Deb 07 February 1893 vol 8 cc668-70
MR. WILLIAM KENNY (Dublin, St. stephen's Green)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether there is any objection to making a Return of the 712 alleged cases of seizures by night under civil bill decrees in which police protection, was afforded under the late Government with, in each case, the names of the parties in the civil bill, the county in which the decree was executed, and the hour at which the decree was executed?


It is impossible to give the information required by the hon. and learned Member. The Constabulary records do not contain it. The Executive Government has no control over the information which the Sheriff may possess.


Then on what information did the right hon. Gentleman make his statement?


The Constabulary do what they are bound to do, file requisitions; and the figures furnished to me were merely figures referring to the facts. The names in these transactions are not furnished to me.


Did the information filed by the Constabulary distinguish between the protection afforded to the Sheriff by night and the actual seizures which took place?


The Return was headed "Seizures and Attempted Seizures."


I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether, in affording protection by night to the Sheriffs in the alleged cases of seizures under civil bill decrees, there was any departure from the practice adopted during his former Chief Secretaryship, and during previous Administrations?


To what extent protection has in fact been afforded by night in the execution of civil bill decrees, during the periods referred to, I am unable to say. But from 1837 to 1860, the giving of such protection by night was prohibited by the Constabulary rules. By the rules in force from 1860 to 1888, protection to the Sheriff was enjoined in the case of the execution of Writs of the Superior Courts, but not so enjoined in the case of civil bill decrees, or other process of Inferior Courts. In 1888 a Constabulary rule superseding the previous rules was framed, which directed the Constabulary to afford protection by day or by night, if required by the Sheriff, alike in the case of civil bill decrees and Writs of the Superior Court. This, of course, was in contravention of the law.


I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he still adheres to his statement made the other evening that so many seizures were made illegally?


The statement was this: that police protection was, afforded to seizures, or attempted seizures, by night in the execution of civil bill decrees. As far as my information went, and still goes, I must adhere to that statement.


May I ask whether one of the Law Officers responsible for the drawing up of the illegal order was not one of the Judges who took part in the decision in respect to the Sheriffs the other day in Dublin?


I am not quite sure, but I believe that to be the case.

MR. W.REDMOND (Clare, E.)

Arising out of the question I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not the fact that there exists a very strong feeling in various parts of Ireland, especially in County Clare, against the execution of these decrees by night, and that the moving about of large forces of police by night is extremely dangerous and calculated to produce great excitement; and whether it is not the opinion of both the police authorities and the people generally that these operations should be carried out in the light of day?


Order, order! That is rather an expression of opinion than a question.