Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding £58,660, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1899, for criminal prosecutions and other law charges in Ireland.
Motion made, and Question put—
That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £100 in respect of the salary of the Attorney General for Ireland."—(Mr. John Redmond.)
§ MR. J. REDMOND
Sir, I beg to move to reduce by £100 the salary of the Attorney General for Ireland, in order that I may bring before the House a very high-handed and arbitrary proceeding in the dismissal of one of their officials in Ireland—Mr. Mark Delandre—who was one of the public prosecutors for the city and county of Waterford. In bringing this matter before you I wish to state that the dismissal took place last year. I was anxious to raise the question on the Estimates last year, but when the discussion came on at the end of the year I was prevented from doing so. I may say at once, Sir, that this has nothing whatever to do with politics. I am moving on purely neutral grounds, and in the interests of common justice. Mr. Mark Delandre is a Unionist, and it will be seen, therefore, that I am not moving on political grounds. Mr. Delandre belongs to the Unionist cause in Ireland, and I trust in this matter to have not merely the support of the Unionist Members for Ireland, but also the support of honourable Members on the other side of the House. This gentleman was public prosecutor for Waterford for 10 years; and I assert, in the presence of members of the Irish Bar, that during all the years of his term of office no complaint was ever made against him as to the manner in which he transacted his business. Suddenly, at the end of 1897, without a word of complaint, without a word of 368 warning to enable him to offer one single word in his own defence, he was summarily dismissed. I wish the Committee to consider the circumstances of that dismissal. When a solicitor in practice in Ireland is called upon to fill a position like this he has to give up his private practice; and, as a matter of fact, Mr. Delandre gave up his private practice immediately on his appointment; and surely, Sir, it is a terrible thing when a man, having lost his private practice, is dismissed without any complaint being made against him, and without having been heard in his own defence. The Attorney General asks for facts; well, I will give the facts as they appear from the correspondence; and I am very glad that in this instance we have the presence of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for North Tyrone [Mr. C. H. Hemphill] to hear what I have to say. He was for many years leader of the Bar on the circuit where this took place. He has had a long and intimate acquaintance with that circuit, and in particular with the conduct of Mr. Delandre. He has for many years appeared for the Crown in conjunction with Mr. Delandre, and I ask him to bear witness with me that Mr. Delandre was a competent and able advocate for the Crown; and my honourable Friend will bear me out, as well as my Friend the right honourable Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin—who, I am sorry to see, is not present to-night—and who has also had a distinct and intimate acquaintance with Mr. Delandre. I would, further, ask the other counsel on that circuit who are present to bear me out in this: that Mr. Delandre has been an efficient, a painstaking, and a zealous servant. If, Sir, with this record attached to his name, Mr. Delandre has been dismissed from office, and practically reduced to beggary by his private practice having gone—given up 10 years ago—I think I make out a serious case of hardship against the authorities, and one deserving the favourable consideration and support of the Government. Now, Sir, up to January, 1897, no great complaint ever reached Mr. Delandre as to the manner of the transaction of the business of his office. At the commencement of 1897 considerable trouble arose in the city of Waterford in connection with the trade in bacon with the city; it is the chief trade of that city. It was 369 a most unfortunate and deplorable dispute, and took place between the men and masters in the bacon factories. Happily, that dispute has been closed for some time, but at the time I am speaking of it was the cause of considerable turmoil and distress. Well, as a result of it, a considerable number of men were prosecuted, and it was the duty of Mr. Delandre to undertake the prosecutions. Nobody complained that he was doing more than his duty. But suddenly, on the 15th January, he received the following telegram from the Chief Secretary—The district inspector is to prosecute in the Waterford cases. Please see him from Attorney General.That was absolutely the first intimation he received that there was any dissatisfaction with the way in which he had discharged his office. The second telegram was—In confirmation of the telegram sent to yon by the Attorney General yesterday evening, Mr. Smith, D.I., R.I.C., has been directed to take charge of these prosecutions. It will not, therefore, be necessary for you to take any further action in any of these cases.This was a very sudden intimation that he had not fulfilled the duties satisfactorily that devolved upon him in connection with those prosecutions. Now, Mr. Lowther, I think, if it could be proved that Mr. Delandre had any unfair leaning towards those whom he prosecuted there might be something to be said against him. But it does not stop there. That message which I have just read was followed by this letter, signed by the Under Secretary—
§ "Chief Secretary's Office,
§ "25th Jan., 1897.
§ "Sir—With reference to my minute of the 16th inst., confirming the Attorney General's telegram of the 15th, asking you to hand over to District Inspector Smith the papers in the case arising out of the bacon trade dispute in Waterford, I am directed by the Lord Lieutenant to inform you that under the circumstances which, unfortunately, rendered it necessary to take the conduct of these cases out of your hands, his Excellency feels that it is not possible to any longer entrust to you the discharge of the responsible duties of Crown solicitor. Before giving effect to this decision, which has been arrived at with very great regret, I have been directed to communicate it to you, with the object of affording you the opportunity, if you should think fit, of tendering your resignation."370
Sir, I have said that no complaint had been made before this gentleman was dismissed. These letters and telegrams bear that out. I repeat that there was no complaint made against Mr. Delandre as to his conduct. The first intimation he gets that they are dissatisfied with him is that he is not to be allowed to conduct certain prosecutions. In short, he is dismissed without an opportunity of hearing and answering certain charges made against him, and he is given the opportunity of resigning. Mr. Delandre, having received that intimation, writes on January 27th—
Sir,—Referring to your letter of the 25th inst., I have respectfully to ask for particulars of the circumstances to which you refer, and for further time to consider the matter before replying, as I am in total ignorance on the subject. I have always endeavoured to fulfil the duties of my office with faithfulness and energy, and can fearlessly refer to the several Crown counsel and constabulary officers with whom I have been brought into contact with respect to the performance of such duties. Mr. Whelan, Assistant Inspector-General, R.I.C., has known ma for years, both officially and otherwise, and I feel sure he will fully bear out what I have stated.
Therefore it comes to this: he is told that he is to be superseded before any complaint is made against him, and before he is afforded an opportunity of defending himself. He asks what he has done, and for a chance to defend himself. He then receives, in February, particulars of the grounds of complaint on which he is dismissed. It is a long letter, giving him details of certain prosecutions, and the gist of it is where it is said that owing to a mistake that he made with regard to the value of certain evidence—which mistake was only corrected by the district inspector on the spot—it might have led to the case against the prisoner being dismissed. That, Sir, is the sole ground put forward for the man being dismissed. In reply, Mr. Delandre wrote a long letter, and asked—a perfectly reasonable request—that his dismissal should not be regarded as a settled matter until he had been heard in his own defence, and until some more serious accusation had been made against him than this particular bit of evidence, which in itself was of no very great importance. He received no answer. The only other communication he received was that, as he had not resigned, the Lord Lieutenant
had signed his dismissal at the Castle. The result is that this gentleman, who is advanced in years, who has a large family, and who, by reason of his former position, has lost his practice, and cannot possibly, at his time of life, resume it, is left absolutely penniless, after many years of devoted and efficient service. Sir, I think this is a very hard case. I have been induced to bring this matter up before the Committee for two reasons. First, I am naturally interested in a case of hardship occurring in the city of Waterford; but, more than that, I have known Mr. Delandre for many years as a member of the Leinster Circuit, and I am naturally indignant at the shabby, scurvy treatment which has been meted out to him. I think, Sir, it would be difficult for the Attorney General to justify so highhanded and summary a proceeding as this. This is the view taken with absolute unanimity by the whole of the profession to which Mr. Delandre belongs. Now, no one will say—the Attorney General will be the last man in this House to say—the Incorporated Law Society in Ireland, representing as it does the whole of the profession, would take up a case if they did not think it was a fair case to take up. I am perfectly certain that he will admit that they would not press on the Government as a case of hardship any case which they did not believe thoroughly merited fair consideration from the Government. What have they done? Here is a copy of the resolution passed last year by the Incorporated Law Society and sent to the Lord Lieutenant—
Resolved: The council of the Incorporated Law Society (Ireland), having given their careful consideration to the correspondence between the Under Secretary for Ireland and Mr. Marcus H. R. Delandre, solicitor, consisting of telegrams of 10th and 16th days of January, 1897, from the Under Secretary to Mr. Delandre; letters of 25th day of January and 2nd and 10th days of February, 1897, from the Under Secretary to Mr. Delandre; and letters of the 22nd day of January and 5th day of February, 1897, from Mr. Delandre to the Under Secretary, which correspondence terminated with the removal of Mr. Delandre from the office of Crown solicitor for the county and city of Waterford, and having made inquiries touching the circumstances relied upon in justification of this step by the Executive, are of opinion that it is due to Mr. Delandre, and to the solicitors' profession generally, that an inquiry"—
all they ask for is an inquiry—
into the particulars of the circumstances which resulted in his removal, should be instituted; and the council respectfully pray his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant to direct a public inquiry to be held in Waterford, to ascertain whether the particulars of the circumstances as stated in the letter of the Under Secretary to Mr. Delandre of 2nd February, 1897, are in accordance with the facts of the case.
That reasonable request made by the Incorporated Law Society on behalf of the whole profession of solicitors in Ireland was received with scant courtesy by Government House. The reply was simply a curt acknowledgment and the intimation—
I am directed by the Lord Lieutenant to state that the request of the council for a public inquiry is not one that can be complied with.
But the solicitors' profession in Ireland took so strong a view about this case that they did not let it drop even there, because they followed up the resolution by a second one, which was sent to the Chief Secretary on the 17th June, 1897. It was as follows—
The council of the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland, having considered the letter dated 15th May, 1897, from the Assistant Under Secretary, in which he informs the council that he is directed by the Lord Lieutenant to state that the request of the council for a public inquiry into the circumstances concerning the removal of Mr. Delandre from the office of Crown solicitor of the county and city of Waterford is not one that can be complied with, respectfully pray his Excellency to direct an inquiry of a private nature to be held"—
they had asked in the first resolution for a public inquiry, that was refused, and they now asked for a private inquiry—
at which Mr. Delandre, with such legal assistance and witnesses as he may require, may be present, in order to ascertain whether the particulars of the circumstances, as stated in the letter of the Under Secretary to Mr. Delandre, of 2nd February, 1897, are in accordance with the facts of the case;
and that communication of theirs was treated with still scantier courtesy, because they did not receive an answer at all. No acknowledgment nor reply whatever was received to this communication from Dublin Castle. Now, Mr. Lowther, those are, shortly, the facts in
this case. Personally I feel very keenly that this old gentleman at the end of his days and service has been badly treated. I think it is a case of extreme hardship, and I shall be extremely surprised if the members of the legal profession from Ireland in this House do not take the same view as I do. I beg, Sir, to move.
MR. J. H. M. CAMPBELL
In rising to say a few words in this House in support of the Motion of the honourable and learned Member opposite, it is hardly necessary for me to preface my observations by the remark that this Motion is in no way intended as any reflection upon my right honourable and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland, because, in common with the honourable Member who introduced this Motion, I am sure we recognise the ability and industry he brings to bear on the discharge of his duties both inside and out side the House. But I am confident that a consideration of the facts will show that a mistake has been made in this particular case, a mistake that has resulted in a very grave injustice to a deserving public official, a member of an honourable profession. In one respect I differ from the honourable and learned Member opposite, because I never, either privately or professionally, came in contact with Mr. Delandre, and do not know him by sight; but the facts of his case have been brought before me and pressed on my notice by a good many of his constituents. It appears that, having been engaged up till 10 years ago in the pursuit of his profession as a private member of it, he was selected, and we must presume and assume that he was selected after due inquiry, and after the Government of the day were satisfied with his qualifications—he was selected to fill the responsible position of Crown solicitor for this county. Now, that was only 10 years ago, and so far as anything is known to either myself or, I think, my honourable and learned Friend opposite, during the entire duration of that 10 years no complaint of any kind from the Executive ever reached Mr. Delandre until this month of January, 1897. Now that is a very important matter, because from my view of this correspondence it seems to me that the letters of the Executive disclose no ground for their action 374 in dismissing this gentleman, and I can only understand it being justified on the ground that some previous complaints existed; and if it is attempted to justify it on that ground I say nothing could be more unfair than to keep complaints pigeon-holed against an official of this kind which are never communicated to him, and which he has never had an opportunity of dealing with. I think, therefore, there will hardly be any attempt made to justify the summary dismissal of this gentleman by anything that occurred antecedent to the month of January, 1897, because no such attempt can be made in face of the fact that up to that month, during his 10 years of office, no complaint ever reached him. We therefore have to fall back upon the proceedings of this month of January to see what the justification is for the summary and arbitrary dismissal of this gentleman; and the House must bear this fact in mind, that when a professional gentleman, such as Mr. Delandre, is selected by the Government of the day to fill a position of this kind in a particular county in Ireland, the result is that he is entitled to look, and does look, upon it as practically a provision for his life, because the necessary consequence of his taking service for the Crown in a matter of this kind brings him into daily conflict with the people in the discharge of his duty. So that if he ceases for any reason to hold this office of Crown solicitor he is placed at a great disadvantage in endeavouring to return to the ordinary practice of his profession in that county. Now I am not going to weary this House by going through the correspondence that has already been referred to by the honourable and learned Member opposite, but I must again very briefly recall the attention of the House to a few dates disclosed by that correspondence. On the 16th January this gentleman, Mr. Delandre, received a Minute from the Castle to say that he was to hand over the conduct of two not very important prosecutions at petty sessions to the district inspector. Nothing further was heard by him from the Executive for 10 days, and it was not until the 25th January that he received a letter from the Under Secretary stating that he was to discontinue to hold his office from that date, or, in other words, calling upon 375 him to resign his office. He replied to that, and on the 2nd February he got from the Under Secretary the only document there is in the entire correspondence that gives any clue or any reason for this act of arbitrary dismissal. Now the two causes in that letter—and I ask the attention of the House particularly to this—the only two causes alleged in that letter for the summary dismissal of a gentleman who, so far as the records go, had fulfilled his duties for 10 years to the satisfaction of successive Governments, the only complaint put on record is, first, that he fails to produce some link in the evidence that was wanted to convict one of the accused persons; and, second, that he allowed the constabulary officer in charge of the case to prompt him during the course of it. Now, with regard to the first, Mr. Delandre, in his reply, pointed out the obvious and conclusive answer. He said it was quite true that he had not called the particular witness mentioned; but the reason of that was because the case had come up on adjournment, and the witness mentioned had made a deposition on the first occasion, and that that deposition was before the presiding magistrate on the second occasion, therefore it became unnecessary to call him. As to the second allegation, that he had received the promptings of the district inspector during the course of the case, Mr. Delandre does not take the trouble to deal with that, or to deny it, and I think he did very properly. I can say for myself, after an experience of 20 years in the conduct of prosecutions in Ireland, and also in the defence of accused persons, that it is the invariable practice for the district inspector, even in cases that are entrusted, not to Crown solicitors, but to Crown counsel, it is the invariable practice to sit in the vicinity of the Crown counsel and to make a suggestion and prompt him if he thinks it necessary. So far from resenting that, I have always found that of great assistance and importance in prosecuting. It seems to me to be childish that this gentleman, who for 10 years had filled this responsible office to the satisfaction of the Executive of successive Governments—it seems a childish thing that when he is dismissed in this arbitrary way, and he, challenges the Executive to tell him why, the only two reasons 376 that should be assigned are, first, that he failed to produce a witness who had made a deposition before the case had been adjourned; and, second, that during the conduct of the case he had listened to the promptings of the officer of the police who was in charge of the case. Now, assume that in neglecting to produce a particular witness he had for a moment made a slip or a mistake. Surely, at the outside, and as the most extreme method, a reprimand, a caution, would have satisfied the exigencies of the position. I do not really deal with the other suggestion about his taking the promptings from the district inspector who was there, acting for the police, in the course of the prosecution, because that is so trivial and so unreal. I really do not propose to deal with it. But assume that he had made this mistake, or this slip—because at the worst it was only a slip—what justification was that for depriving this gentleman not only of his livelihood as a Crown solicitor, and degrading him in the eyes of the public and of his professional brethren, but also for turning him adrift, practically, on the world, without any means whatever of returning to the ordinary work of his own profession, which had parted from him during the 10 years he had been doing the work of the Executive? The council of the Incorporated Law Society, representing the entire profession of solicitors, passed a unanimous resolution requesting the Executive to give this gentleman a public inquiry. Mr. Delandre writes back himself to say that the very district inspector who was mentioned and the very solicitor who was there conducting the defence of the accused person would testify that the charges alleged against him by the Under Secretary were false and unfounded, and I think he could not have taken a more fair or more reasonable course than to appeal to the very two persons, the solicitor for the accused and the. District Inspector of Police as the persons who were prepared to contradict the alleged neglect of duty complained of. Well, they reply to the Incorporated Council, representing the entire solicitors in Ireland, and the executive declines to give a public inquiry. That is immaterial. You have the resolution of the body saying, "Well, if you object to public inquiry, then give this gentleman a 377 private inquiry. Let him have a chance of meeting his accusers face to face; let him know what the charges are, and let him have an opportunity of bringing up his own witnesses; and then, after a fair investigation has taken place—as one against the other—then condemn him if you like." No answer was returned to that letter. Now, the position is this, that this gentleman, who held this responsible public position—a position in which he had discharged, from time to time, duties of the most onerous, and sometimes of the most unpleasant, character—a man, it must be assumed, whose qualifications for the office must have been proved before his appointment to the office were sufficient—this man is to be summarily turned adrift, his name degraded and his reputation challenged! I really suggest that the executive should admit that a mistake has been made, and I think, in the interests of justice, and also in the interests of other gentlemen occupying similar positions in Ireland, that, so long as they hold their office, they ought to let these gentlemen know that they hold their offices on some more secure tenure, and that so long as they discharge their duties it will not be open to the executive to dismiss them in this summary and arbitrary way; but if they do, they will, at all events, be doing away with the chance which is given to the worst criminal in the land—of giving his own answer to the charge brought against him.
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
As I have been referred to in the speech of my honourable and learned Friend the Member for Waterford, I think I am bound to say a few words. Now I am very glad that there is not a suspicion of Party aspect in this Motion; I am glad also that in bringing it forward there is no suggestion whatsoever of personal blame attached to the learned Attorney General, while I fully concur in the observations of the last speaker with reference to Mr. Delandre. The reason I trouble the Committee is this. I, for the best years of my life, was a barrister on the Leinster circuit, of which circuit the city and county of Waterford was an important part. I have known Mr. Delandre as a solicitor since he 378 joined the profession; he was not only a solicitor himself, but his father had been for years a most respectable solicitor, enjoying a most respectable business. He has been described by my honourable Friend as a Unionist. Mr. Delandre belonged to a family of the French Huguenot extraction, who were settled in Waterford; he was a Protestant of the Protestants, and a Tory of the Tories. Now, he was appointed to the Crown solicitorship only during the pleasure of the Lord Lieutenant; he was obliged to give up his private practice—at all events, in the county for which he was Crown solicitor. As Crown solicitor, as my honourable Friend will know, Mr. Delandre's office was worth £500 or £600 a year, and it is only by bringing the matter before this House that this gentleman is afforded an opportunity of getting anything like redress, not only for the loss of office and of his position as a solicitor, but also for his character. I may also mention, as reference has been made of it, that he was not only the son of a respectable solicitor to whom I have referred, but he was connected with another solicitor of note, Joshua Nunn, the solicitor for the University of Dublin.
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
That being the character of the gentleman, you must also bear in mind that he was an appointee of a Tory administration, being, I think, appointed by the present Lord Chancellor of Ireland. I, as a member of the Leinster circuit, was perfectly able to form a judgment of the qualifications of Mr. Delandre. Now I can say this, that before he was appointed I was thrown into professional connection with him in the county and city of Waterford; afterwards, when he became Crown solicitor, I had an opportunity of judging of his qualifications, and I say that this gentleman was a fair and competent representative of the interests committed to his care. It is very hard to weigh in golden scales the professional attainments of any gentleman, but for years within my own knowledge that gentleman acquitted himself with general satisfaction. Now, on what grounds has this man, still in the prime of life, been insulted 379 and degraded in the presence of those who know him? What hope has he of ever recovering any of his private practice? I confess there is no remedy unless by the vote of this House. He has no claim by Petition of Right, because he was appointed only during the pleasure of the Lord Lieutenant. Is that fair play? I put that to any of you. If any of you should have heard of such a man, a friend of your own, being dismissed, how would you act? The best way to consider such a question is to ask yourselves what you would do under like circumstances. Mr. Delandre has no tribunal to appeal to except the House of Commons, and if you turn a deaf ear to his appeal it means for him no hope and no chance of redress. Now, it has been explained very clearly by both my honourable and learned Friends that it was arranged between Mr. Delandre and Mr. Allingham, representing the prisoners, that it would not be necessary to re-examine witnesses on the second trial who had been examined on the first, and the magistrate, I suppose, had no information as to what had occurred on the first hearing. If the magistrate had taken the trouble to ask the clerk, he would have found that the depositions taken at the former trial——
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
It is no use interrupting me. Now, Mr. Allingham was asked if he required the depositions to be again read, and he said he did not, that he would take them as read. Mr. Delandre then said that closed the case for the Crown on the evidence before the court. The whole thing is this: some person who had some grudge against Mr. Delandre gave some information to the Crown, and then, without giving him any warning, and without giving him an opportunity of being heard, he is dismissed in a summary way. It is suggested that there were other complaints. All I can say is that no intimation has been given to him of such complaints. I was not aware of any complaint being brought against him in the discharge of his duties when I was responsible as a law officer of the Crown. In common justice, I am 380 bound to state that to the House. If there are any other grounds of objection to this gentleman, why not state them to the House? If not, it will be a replica of the Dreyfus case. I ask the Attorney General for Ireland, is there some reason for which the Government wished to get rid of this gentleman? If so, he ought to have brought it forward. On inquiry by the responsible heads of Mr. Delandre's profession, a demand for a public inquiry is made, but no answer is given, except that it is not a case for public inquiry. I cannot understand why a public inquiry is not given, except that it would throw a certain amount of light on those proceedings. Then a private inquiry is asked for. Why is not that private inquiry given? I hope the learned Attorney General will not take the responsibility on himself for that. I am sure there are Members of the Legislature who must have known Mr. Delandre, and I cannot imagine it possible that either my right honourable Friend the Attorney General or the Lord Chancellor must not have known Mr. Delandre's qualifications when his appointment was made, and I do trust that, by giving a very decided opinion on the Division that will be taken on this Vote, the members of the Committee on both sides will decide in favour of justice and fair play.
§ MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)
Any one who has listened to the speeches of honourable Members on this subject must be convinced that Mr. Delandre has received high-handed and unjust treatment, and deprived of his office before he knew that the authorities had any complaint against him. I know Mr. Delandre well. At the time he was deprived of his position he had a very good practice in Waterford, and was a competent pleader at petty sessions. It is possible that the Committee may be inclined to give additional weight to my statement, because Mr. Delandre and all his connections have been active political opponents of mine. That does not, however, blind me to my sense of duty, and I cannot help saying that he has been treated in a most shabby way, in a way in which no official of a company would be treated. 381 He was not told what was the complaint against him, but was summarily dismissed. If everyone is to be dismissed from the position he occupies for a mere mistake of judgment, very few men could hold any public position. Immediately after Mr. Delandre was superseded a gentleman was appointed to fill his place. He was a gentleman who had no connection with the district, but he was considered a competent man, and was ordered to take charge of the prosecutions in connection with the bacon strike at Waterford. But in the very first action in which he appeared before the petty sessions he was completely "unhorsed," if I may use the expression, and the case was scouted out of court. I have nothing to add to the very lucid statement of the honourable Member for North Tyrone. As I have already said, Mr. Delandre is no particular friend of mine in politics, but he has pleaded before me at petty sessions, and I have always looked upon him as a very competent man. I believe he has been particularly harshly treated, and I hope honourable Gentlemen on the other side of the House will recognise this and see that justice is done.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. J. ATKINSON,) Londonderry, N.
The dismissal of Mr. Delandre was no act of mine; it was an act of the Executive Government, but it was done on my advice, and I accept entire responsibility for giving that advice. The advice was given by me with infinite pain, because—and here I may say that my right honourable Friend opposite is entirely mistaken as to the relations between this official and myself—Mr. Delandre was a friend and acquaintance of mine, and I have been employed as a barrister by him. But I gave the advice because of the position which I hold. Sir, I hold that it is not competent for a man in the position I occupy to consider what pain and loss he must inflict when his imperative duty demands that he shall take such a course as I took in the case of Mr. Delandre, and I consider I would have been false to my duty—which is to provide, as far as I can, and above all things, for the due administration of public justice—if I had for a moment 382 refrained from advising the removal of a man from office when he was no longer fitted for the discharge of his public duties, and whose office depends in a great degree on their due discharge. I think, in the first place, it is well for me to call attention to the extraordinary misconception which appears to prevail in the minds of honourable Members opposite regarding the terms by which Crown solicitors hold their office. They are appointed at the pleasure of the Crown. They must know that they can be dismissed at the pleasure of the Crown. I presume some good reason must exist why a not more stable tenure has been given, and it must be this. For the carrying on of public business it has been found to be absolutely necessary that the Executive Government of the day may, if it so pleases, remove these men without giving a reason to any public body, whether it be the Incorporated Society of Solicitors or any other public body, and it would be impossible to carry on the government of the country if officials of this character held such positions, that the Lord Lieutenant, or head of the Executive of the day was obliged to account to public bodies like the Incorporated Society of Solicitors for the exercise of his authority, or to submit his ruling to the investigation of third parties. The men who take these official positions must know that perfectly well. The honourable Member for the St. Stephen's Green Division of Dublin said that some intimation should be given to these officials throughout the country that they could not be removed except for cause; so that the Executive would be reduced to this: that, if they attempted to get rid of one official they would be compelled to justify their position in a court of justice, and give some good reason why a jury should find in their favour. Mr. Delandre was not only a Crown solicitor, but Sessional Crown solicitor, and in the latter capacity it was his duty when called upon to take charge of the important prosecutions in the petty sessions court, or of police cases which assumed a gravity that made it desirable that they should be conducted by a special man and not by the ordinary police official. At the time in question, as the honourable Member 383 for Waterford knows, Waterford was convulsed by turbulence and by riotous disturbances, and the ridiculous spectacle was even presented of half a dozen farmers driving 10 or 20 pigs to the butcher's yard, escorted by a file of police 50 or 100 strong. It was absolutely necessary that the violence and turbulence should be checked by a firm enforcement of the law. It so happened that in this month of January two persons were to be prosecuted in connection with this strike. Under ordinary circumstances the case would be conducted probably by the sergeant of police or the district inspector, but in order that it should be more efficiently done, and that it should be presented by a skilled and competent man, I directed that the case should be taken charge of by Mr. Delandre. That was the occasion of the sending of the telegram referred to. He had been directed to take charge of the prosecution, and immediately after that direction was given I received a communication from the resident magistrate at Waterford to the effect that Mr. Delandre was hopelessly incompetent, that he had shown his incompetence on previous occasions, and that it would be more desirable to leave the conduct of the case in the hands of the police.
§ MR. ATKINSON
In due time: I will follow my own order. I did not, of course, think of acting on that communication alone save so far as to telegraph to Mr. Delandre asking him to kindly leave the conduct of the case in the hands of the police. That telegram is set out in Mr. Delandre's letter, and is to the effect I have mentioned—District inspector is to prosecute in Waterford cases; please see him.The magistrate who had made the communication was asked to forward a full and detailed report on the matters he complained of against Mr. Delandre. That was received shortly after—on 17th January—and then the letter was written to Mr. Delandre, which has already been referred to, saying that his services could 384 no longer be continued, but that, if he desired, he would be given the opportunity of resigning. He did not resign, but he asked that the charges against him should be made known to him. That request was complied with, and the charges were set out in full detail in the letter of Sir David Harrel of the 2nd of February. Surely there could not be any greater perversion of fact than to say that this man was dismissed without having been given any opportunity for explanation. He was not dismissed. He was asked whether he would prefer to resign, and when he asked what were the charges against him they were distinctly detailed, and it was because his answer was not only unsatisfactory, but because it showed a hopeless ignorance of his profession, and that he was entirely unfitted for the position he held, that he was dismissed. Now, what were the charges? They have been already mentioned to the Committee, and arose out of his conduct of these cases at petty sessions. The case referred to by Mr. Bourke, as an instance of Mr. Delandre's incompetency, was that of a man named Cummins, who had been charged with malicious injury to property. I will read to the Committee the full and detailed statement of the charges against Mr. Delandre contained in Sir David Harrel's letter—Sir,—I am directed by the Lord Lieutenant to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 27th instant, asking for particulars of the circumstances referred to in my letter to you of the 25th instant, such circumstances being those which rendered it necessary to take out of your hands the conduct of the prosecutions arising out of the bacon trade dispute in Waterford. In reply I am to state that the attention of his Excellency and of the Attorney General having been drawn to the unsatisfactory manner in which you had discharged your duties as Crown solicitor in the prosecutions before referred to, his Excellency caused inquiries to be made, when the following facts were elicited:—On the 8th instant, at the Waterford Borough Police Court, you appeared as Crown solicitor to prosecute one Thomas Cummins, who was charged on the complaint of the police with maliciously breaking glass, the property of Thomas Quinn, hotel proprietor. You produced Quinn as a witness, and he duly proved that the damage in question had been committed, but stated, on cross-examination by the defendant's solicitor, that he could not say who had committed it. You thereupon announced that the case for the Crown closed.385 That is to say, that a man comes up and says his windows were broken, and says nothing about the prisoner in the dock, and then the person prosecuting says, "That is my case." The letter proceeds—The defendant's solicitor at once asked that his client might be discharged, on the ground that there was no evidence against him. Mr. Bourke, R.M., who was sitting alone, pointed out to you that you had in no way connected the defendant with the case. You, however, still maintained that your case was closed. At this point the defendant must necessarily have been discharged, had not Mr. Bourke been familiar with the evidence which was available, owing to the fact that he had previously taken the depositions of four police witnesses in the case. By his directions the depositions in question were produced, and the witnesses re-sworn. Two of these witnesses proved that when the window was broken they heard a crash of glass, and immediately saw the defendant running away from the spot. A third proved that for five minutes prior to the breaking of the glass there was a complete absence of persons in the street. The case having been thus circumstantially proved, the defendant's solicitor raised the point that the police had no power to prosecute in cases of malicious injury of property, the owner of which was known. In reply you argued that the police had the right to prosecute where the owner was unknown—a case which did not arise, and which was the direct converse of the case you were required to meet.That is an example of the intelligence of which my honourable Friend speaks, and the merits of the case are not affected by the fact that honourable Members knew this gentleman's father or grandfather. The letter continues—
§ "The magistrate, however, held that the prosecution was properly laid, and convicted the defendant, fining him £1 and costs. Again, on the 15th instant, you appeared at the same court to prosecute one Thomas Donnelly, on the complaint of the police. Mr. Smith, the district inspector in charge of the case, had on the previous day given you a full statement in writing of the available evidence, and had also gone over the same with you viva voce. Notwithstanding this fact, and although you held in your hand the statement of evidence, it became necessary for District Inspector Smith to sit beside you, and prompt you continuously in your examination of the witnesses. His Excellency is advised that your conduct of these cases alone shows a manifest inability on your part to conduct prosecutions of the simplest nature. The cases in question were of the most normal character, and such as in ordinary circumstances would have been left in the hands of the police. The fact that the offences were committed in pursuance of the object of a lawless conspiracy alone invested the cases with importance, and rendered it necessary that they should be put before the court with care 386 and completeness—a function which you signally failed to perform."
§ "I am, Sir,
§ "Your obedient Servant,
§ "D. HARREL."
Before reading the reply of this gentleman allow me to state to the Committee so much of the law as will enable them to appreciate the point made against him, and his reply. This man Cummins was taken up for malicious injury to property. He was arrested and brought before a magistrate. The law on the subject is that if it turns out that the injury is not valued at over £5 the offence ceases to be an indictable offence, and must be dealt with summarily by the magistrates. That is the plain Petty Sessions Act. In this instance Cummins was arrested, taken before a magistrate, and depositions were made to justify his arrest, but no proof was given of the value of the property or of the person who owned the house. The case was adjourned, and when it came up at the petty sessions court in the usual form Quinn, the owner, appeared, and then it turned out that, the injury not being over £5 in value, the offence was not indictable, but an offence which then and there was to be tried and adjudicated on by the presiding magistrate, and the Act of Parliament requires, and common sense and justice require, that the whole case should be gone into de novo, and witnesses examined and cross-examined, and a case made, not for the return of the accused for trial, but a complete case to justify the magistrate in passing sentence. The idea that under those circumstances the person prosecuting in the case should only examine one witness to supplement the depositions, when it was well known the man was not to be returned for trial, shows a crass and culpable ignorance of his profession by this gentleman, and I submit to the Committee that I should have been false to my duty had I for one moment allowed him to take part in the administration of criminal justice in the city of Waterford, if he had ten thousand friends, and if they gave him ten thousand testimonials, when I found that he showed out of his own mouth that he was entirely ignorant
of the Petty Sessions Act and the Malicious Injuries Act. The merest attorney's clerk who was ever present at a court of justice ought to know that when it comes to a case of finally trying and deciding a man's guilt or innocence it is not competent for any prosecutor to put up a witness to prove unimportant facts, and then say that the rest of the case has been gone into before. Let us see the gentleman's answer, because my case is this: I submit to this Committee that, however numerous may be his friends, or however, by accident or design, they are all so much interested on his behalf, if it can be proved to me, and especially by his own letter, as I will show in a moment, that he was incompetent, it was my duty to act upon it, and I did act upon it. Now, what is the answer Delandre gives to that? Here is his answer: the depositions of course justified the arrest, and the depositions were taken before he received instructions in the case, and the case was adjourned, as I am informed, solely for the purpose of the production of the evidence to prove ownership. That was for a trial then and there upon the spot, and I said any person who would suppose for one moment that that was the ultimate tribunal to determine the man's guilt did not know the Act. When he had proved ownership, I asked if he required the depositions, and he said he did not, and that he would take them as read, and that was all the evidence that could be given before the court. That, Sir, is in corroboration of what Mr. Burke said, "That as the ownership was proved, I said my case was closed." He must have known that he was then engaged in the prosecution to have a sentence passed upon a man, and it was ridiculous to suppose that the solicitor for the prisoner could assent in any way whatever to one-half of the evidence being kept away from the court. Therefore, Mr. Lowther, I was convinced that the representation of Mr. Burke, which was embodied in a letter, was a true reason that he did not know anything about it. He supposed that all that was necessary was to prove this ownership. The depositions which had already been made were then verified. The man is mixing up two things. He is mixing up the depositions with an indict-
able offence when you are about to return a man to quarter sessions to stand his trial. There was no application for which his guilt is to be proved and sentence inflicted. His chief contention was that the police had no power to arrest the defendant, not having seen him in the act of committing the misdemeanour, but the police would have a perfect right to arrest him without a warrant. He quoted the section, but I pointed out that the section did not contemplate the defendant being seen committing the offence. Now, let me call the attention of the Committee to the section itself. Section 61, and I must apologise for troubling the Committee with these technical details, says—
Any person found committing an offence may be arrested";
and he tells you that the argument of that section did not apply to a man seen committing an offence. That is, when he was seen he was not found. Now, really an appeal has been made to me, and my honourable Friend has been very complimentary to ask fair play from the Committee as to what this statement means. But did it not show absolute ignorance? The idea of any man being permitted and entrusted with the administration of justice in a town like Waterford who could stand up and say that, where the section provided that a certain thing might be done if he was found committing an offence, that he could be deprived of it if he was seen committing it.
§ MR. ATKINSON
I beg the right honourable Gentleman's pardon, but that is not so. The 64th section is worse. It is the 61st section. He stood up and contended that, when a certain thing was to be done when he was found committing the offence, that that did not apply to him when he was seen committing the offence. I pass on to the remaining points. There is the statement that the defendant's solicitor raised the point that the police had no power. But his contention was that nobody but the owner of the property maliciously injured could take proceedings. I relied on the 24th 389 and 25th Vic., cap. 27, section 67. That raises the point that the police had no right to prosecute where the owner was known. Let us see how this gentleman answers that point. He relied upon the 64th section, which provides for the mode in which damages are to be given when the owner is unknown. It provides that every sum of money which will be forfeited in respect of any injury done shall be assessed by the convicting justices, and shall be paid to the party aggrieved, except where he is unknown. The point was, as I have already said, that the police have no right to prosecute where the owner is known, and the answer of the counsel was that damages are to be applied only where the owners are known. I wonder that some of Mr. Delandre's friends were not more merciful to him than to bring his case before this House, and reluctantly drag from me the exhibition which this man made. Under these circumstances, Mr. Lowther, I gave advice to the Irish Government that he was no longer fit to be entrusted with the administration of the law in the court at Waterford. The right honourable Gentleman and the Members who have introduced this matter before the House have said that politics are not in it. Well, it is difficult to see that any motive could have influenced me, except the imperative sense of the necessity of getting rid of him. Had he been, of different politics, then this action might have been taken for that. Had he been a personal enemy of mine, it is possible that the accusation would have been made against me of gratifying my own feelings. But he was a friend of mine, an acquaintance of mine, and a man whom I knew, and whose family I knew well, and nothing but a sense of what I owe to the position I fill and my bounden duty to allow nothing to stand in the way of the proper administration of the law would have induced me to take the action which I did take. The honourable Member has suggested a pension. I wish heartily that there was some superannuation allowance to be made. I think this is probably a defect in the law that they cannot get superannuation. They are appointed to these offices, and it is a mistake to say that they are obliged to surrender their private practice. They do sometimes, because 390 they are so employed, but sometimes for other reasons; but there is no means of making provision for them, and no means of giving this man a superannuation allowance, and I say with all sincereity I wish there were. Therefore, the only choice was left to me to continue this farce in the sessions court of Waterford, or to do what I did—that is, to advise that the gentleman should be removed.
§ MR. J. L. CLANCY (Dublin County, N.)
I do not think anybody is entitled to speak to the House with greater effect than the right honourable Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, and I am sure his closing remarks were heard with satisfaction. At the same time, the case he has made out to-night is one of a very remarkable kind indeed, and the Attorney General has apparently proved too much. Here is a man who has been dismissed, according to him, for exhibiting ignorance of the law which any ordinary law clerk could not be guilty of upon any ordinary occasion. Well, now, is it not an extraordinary thing that this man should have been appointed, it he had such a character as that, by Lord Ashbourne? I say that deliberately, because not only did Lord Ashbourne appoint this gentleman, but Lord Ashbourne was a member of that circuit, and knew Mr. Delandre, and must have known him for several years. Except for what I have heard here to-night, I am a perfect stranger to the facts altogether, but I have listened attentively to the Debate; and the most extraordinary thing I have found in this House for years is that Lord Ashbourne, who was at the head of the legal profession in Ireland and a member of the Cabinet of the Empire, who had practised on this circuit for years, and who had known Mr. Delandre for years, should have appointed for this position in the city of Waterford a man who had less knowledge than any ordinary lawyer's clerk. Well, Sir, the second extraordinary thing in the case is this, that this ignorance of the law on the part of Mr. Delandre was never found out for 10 years. Now, Mr. Delandre was appointed 10 or 12 years ago. During that period there had been very serious prosecutions taken on that circuit in the county. There were during that period 391 prosecutions for murder and for manslaughter, and other felonies, and Mr. Delandre had charge of these prosecutions. He was considered fit enough to administer the Coercion Act, and he was fit enough to prosecute men for murder, manslaughter, and other felonies of all kinds, and he never made a mistake during all those years, ignorant though he was. But now Mr. Delandre has suddenly been discovered to possess such a lack of knowledge as to be absolutely unfit to hold his post. I really think that the honourable and learned Gentleman has proved too much. But really, after all that has been said to-night, the point I am going to urge on behalf of this gentleman is this: that I think he was punished for a very trivial offence indeed. This offence, the Committee will observe, the right honourable Gentleman said was committed upon a very important occasion. He spoke of a crisis, and he led the Committee to understand that if that crisis had not been met in a firm, determined, and courageous manner, and by the punishing of lawbreakers, something dreadful would have happened in the south of Ireland. Now, in this very case I observe that this man was convicted and fined £1. Now, that was the crisis. As to this crisis I recollect another fact. Several men were prosecuted for disturbances, or participation in disturbances, in Waterford. They were tried, I think, before the Lord Chief Justice, and what happened upon that occasion? I think they were all convicted, or pleaded guilty, and what did the Lord Chief Justice do in order to meet the crisis? Why, he let them all out upon their own recognisances. So little did the Lord Chief Justice think of the peace of the south of Ireland being endangered by not administering the law in a firm, determined, and vigorous fashion, that he absolutely told these men to go home, and did not send one of them to gaol for a single day. Really, I do think that this offence was very trivial, and supposing for a moment that the right honourable Gentleman was correct in saying this man was very ignorant and incompetent, could he not possibly have found some other post for him if he could not have found a pension? [Laughter.] The right honourable Gentleman laughs at that sugges- 392 tion, but no man knows better than himself that amongst the official class in Dublin there are men as incompetent and as ignorant as Mr. Delandre, and I venture to say that there are men upon the magisterial bench in Ireland holding the office of resident magistrate who have been shown to be possessed of even less legal knowledge than Mr. Delandre. Could he not have turned Mr. Delandre on to the magisterial bench? I make that suggestion to the right honourable Gentleman. He was not here during the years that we were discussing the administration of the Coercion Act, or he would have known that on several occasions the resident magistrates were found either to have known nothing about the law, or to have entirely disregarded it; and, nevertheless, they were kept on, and when their administration was attacked, and when no defence could be made for them in this House, the present First Lord of the Treasury, who was then the Chief Secretary for Ireland, did not give up these men, and he never surrendered them for their exhibition of ignorance. Not at all, but he promoted them. He made one of them a commissioner. He turned them, anyhow, into something or other that would be better, and where, as far as I know, it was equally necessary for them to have known some law. Well, I say that there are plenty of posts in the gift of the authorities at Dublin Castle where ignorance is a good qualification, and where disregard of the law is not a disqualification, and where anything that would be a disqualification in any ordinary position is no disqualification. Why does not the right honourable Gentleman look about and see which of these incompetents is nearest to the age of 65, so that he can get rid of him and put Mr. Delandre in his place? I am, of course, speaking entirely on the assumption that Mr. Delandre is really as ignorant as the right honourable Gentleman has represented him to be. I really think, speaking as seriously as I can, that a man who was appointed by Lord Ashbourne 12 years ago, who knew him for years before he was appointed, who was retained in office by a Unionist Government and by a so-called Home Rule Government, and was then kept on again by another Unionist Government, and 393 never during all that time was found out to be the ignoramus which the right honourable Gentleman, knowing as much law as he does, eventually found him out to be—I do think to dismiss him under such circumstances was really too preposterous. The only other remark which I desire to make is this: that this case throws a very curious light upon the whole administration of justice in Ireland. We have found complaints made in this House of the practice of mixing up judicial and administrative functions in Ireland, and I think everybody will agree that it is highly desirable indeed that a person who is desired to act in his judicial capacity should not be acting in an administrative capacity at the same time. Well, what has happened? Here, in this case, Mr. Burke, the resident magistrate, is found by the contention of the Attorney General for Ireland to have been acting almost as a spy upon the local Crown prosecutor. He is allowed to send in a private report, and on that private report, without this poor man being given an opportunity of examining it, on that private report of the resident magistrate, this man was dismissed. I say that throws a fearful light upon the way in which things are managed in Dublin Castle. It may have been all right, perhaps, in this case, and I do not say whether it was or not. But, at all events, from this one example those who do not believe that these things are done in Dublin Castle as they ought to be done will be inclined to think that many things are done there, and have been done there in the past, which are as indefensible as they are represented to be in this House; and I venture to denounce here the practice of the magistrate, which is apparently not only condoned, but approved of by the Executive, acting as a spy upon this man, and sending in a private report, and the Government then acting upon that report in private without giving this man an opportunity of defending himself.
§ MR. CLANCY
That does not affect the argument I was making. It is that the resident magistrate, who is supposed to stand as an impartial authority between the people accused, between the public and the Crown, is found acting as a confidant and intimate agent for the Crown. What respect can be had in Waterford, or in any other part of Ireland, for Mr. Burke, or how can he be regarded as an impartial magistrate in any case in which the Crown chooses to prosecute? Supposing some other crisis occurs in Waterford, and Mr. Burke is sent down there to adjudicate, what will be the opinion of any ordinary man under such circumstances? Will he regard Mr. Burke as an impartial agent, or as a man who goes into the court as any judge ought to do, without knowing anything of the case, without prompting the prosecutor and deciding upon the evidence that is brought before him. That is the idea of the judge, but what have we in Mr. Burke and the Irish resident magistrate as typified by him? He is an agent of one of the parties, the real confidant, the secret confidant, of the Crown, making a report when he thinks the Crown prosecutor does not do his duty, and getting the case adjourned when he thinks there is not evidence enough. Imagine a judge in the Royal Courts of Justice stopping a case because he knew from some private information if the case was resumed on a future day other evidence might be forthcoming. If any judge were found guilty of that, a Motion would be made here, and in the other House of Parliament, and especially in England, for removing him from the Bench, and the Motion would be carried.
I must remind the honourable Member that it is the conduct of the Attorney General for Ireland that is before the Committee, and not the conduct of the resident magistrate.
§ MR. CLANCY
In order to show what the conduct of the Attorney General was I had to show what the conduct of the resident magistrate was. That is the only way I can show it, and I say again that that was conduct on the part of the resident magistrate that ought not to have been tolerated by the Executive. 395 They ought not to have, and no single man in Dublin Castle ought to have, listened to that private report from a magistrate, who was expected to act by the public in a judicial and impartial character. They ought to have gone to some other source for information. They ought to have gone in mercy to their own servant for 10 years and their own political supporter for 10 years; they ought to have gone to him and said, "We have heard rumours of such and such a character; what have you to say about them?" But they did not do that; not at all. They acted on the private report of the resident magistrate, which ought never to have been presented. They dismissed the man, knowing very well that the trial was a farce, and that no amount of explanation on his part would have been of any use, and, as the Attorney General had said, they could not give him a pension. For my part, I regard this matter as not only a very serious and painful matter as regards Mr. Delandre, but I regard it as a matter of very serious consequences from a public point of view. It is intolerable that courts of justice should be polluted by such things as these, and the people of Ireland cannot have any confidence in the justice of the law which is administered in such a fashion as that. And though I should regret that any vote of censure should be passed upon the right honourable Gentleman which would lead to his resignation—("Oh, oh!")—well, I say that because we might get a great deal worse; still, in the interests of justice and in the interests of public peace, and in the interests of a
§ fair and just and impartial administration of the law, I do hope the House of Commons will vote to-night upon this question in such a fashion that they will teach the Government that they will have to act in another fashion than they have shown in this case.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
When I came into the House and heard the arguments I seemed to think that Mr. Delandre had a good case; but, having now read Mr. Delandre's own version of the correspondence, that has brought me to the conclusion that he has no case at all, and I was therefore prepared for the answer which the Attorney General, with so much accuracy, has made in proving that there was no case at all on behalf of Mr. Delandre. The only thing that I regret is that we have no hold in this country over the Irish Incorporated Law Society. Had it been the English Incorporated Law Society which was concerned we could have moved the reduction of the amount which is annually voted to that body, and I should have done so, but as it is the Irish Incorporated Law Society we cannot do anything. But having got rid of Mr. Delandre, in my opinion, the time has now arrived for us to ascertain whether we cannot find some means of disestablishing and disendowing the Irish Incorporated Law Society.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 46; Noes 127.—(Division List No. 196.)397
|Allan, Wm. (Gateshead)||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Caldwell, James||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||O'Malley, William|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Chas. H.||Parnell, John Howard|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Hogan, James Francis||Pinkerton, John|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Holburn, J. G.||Redmond, J. E. (Waterford)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Daly, James||Jordan, Jeremiah||Roche, Hon. J. (Kerry, E.)|
|Dillon, John||Knox, Edmund F. Vesey||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lewis, John Herbert||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Macaleese, Daniel||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Duckworth, James||McDonnell, Dr. M.A. (Qn.'s Co.)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan)||McCartan, Michael||Williams, J. Carvell (Notts)|
|Farrell, J. P. (Cavan, W.)||McDermott, Patrick|
|Field, William (Dublin)||Maden, John Henry||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Patrick O'Brien and Mr. Power.|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Morris, Samuel|
|Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary)|
|Hammond, John (Carlow)||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)|
|Arnold, Alfred||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Folkestone, Viscount||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy||Forwood, Rt. Hon. Sir A. B.||Palmer, Sir Charles M.|
|Baird, John George Alex.||Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Balcarres, Lord||Garfit, William||Pease, Arthur (Darlington)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch.)||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Phillpotts, Capt. Arthur|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Gilliat, John Saunders||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Pollock, Harry Frederick|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. E.|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Purvis, Robert|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M.H. (Brist'l)||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Pym, C. Guy|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Hamond, Sir C. (Newcastle)||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W.||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Richardson, J. (Durham)|
|Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn)||Heath, James||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Helder, Augustus||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Henderson, Alexander||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Charles T.|
|Butcher, John George||Hill, Sir Edward S. (Bristol)||Robertson, H. (Hackney)|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs)||Hoare, E. B. (Hampstead)||Royds, Clement (Molyneux)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Howell, William Tudor||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, E.)||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Rutherford, John|
|Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W.||Kemp, George||Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Kenyon, James||Saunderson, Col. E. J.|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Knowles, Lees||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lafone, Alfred||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Charrington, Spencer||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh.||Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H.||Sidebottom, W. (Derbyshire)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn- (Sw'ns'a)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs)|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles R.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Loder, Gerald Walter E.||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)||Thomas, Alf. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Cross, Herbert S. (Bolton)||Lowe, Francis William||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Cruddas, Wm. Donaldson||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Warkworth, Lord|
|Curzon, Rt. Hn. G. N. (Lancs, SW)||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Wharton, Rt. Hon. J. L.|
|Curzon, Viscount (Bucks)||McKillop, James||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|Donkin, Richard Sim||Milward, Colonel Victor||Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Monckton, Edward Philip||Wilson, J. W. (Worc., N.)|
|Drucker, A.||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||More, Robert Jasper|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E.||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Flannery, Fortescue||Murray, Col. W. (Bath)|
§ Original Question again proposed—
Motion made, and Question put—
That Item B (Crown Solicitors) be reduced by £600 in respect of the salary of the Crown Solicitor for Mayo."—(Mr. Dillon.)
§ MR. DILLON
I desire to direct attention to the conduct of the Crown solicitor whose salary is provided for in this Vote. Whatever opinion may exist as to the merits of the gentleman to whom reference has been made in the discussion which has just taken place, I think the revelation of the proceedings of the magistrate and the ideas which were in that magistrate's mind is most extraordinary. I desire to direct attention to a very different aspect of the administration of the criminal law in Ireland, in the 398 proceedings of a Crown solicitor named Kelly, who conducted a prosecution recently at Westport. The prosecution took place on the 17th of February last, when there were three or four young men brought up, charged on a summons, so far as I recollect—I do not think they were arrested—with having formed part of a riotous assembly; charged with hooting a certain individual. It was not charged that they had done any injury, or that anything amounting to a riot had taken place; it was an extremely slight matter, as the proceedings and subsequent sentences of one month's imprisonment show. When these young men were brought before a bench of magistrates, Mr. Kelly, the Crown solicitor, who had been retained specially to prosecute in the case, appeared to conduct 399 the prosecution. An application was made on behalf of the prisoners for an adjournment for a fortnight; Mr. Kelly stated, on behalf of the Crown, that he had no objection to there being an adjournment, but, while agreeing to that adjournment, he made use of the following extraordinary and monstrous language—language absolutely, I believe, without parallel in this country—the Crown solicitor had agreed to the adjournment, and no evidence was gone into, the proceedings were on a summons, and the Crown solicitor had no kind of right, nor had the bench any right, to assume the guilt of the prisoners, or to use the language to which I wish to call attention—Mr. Kelly, continuing, said he could not allow that occasion to pass without referring to what had taken place in that district recently; he wished to say that the clemency which had been shown would not be continued.When you remember that no one had been tried and found guilty, such language as that on the part of the Crown prosecutor is perfectly monstrous.If there was a repetition of the criminal conduct which had been shown the Government was determined to put down disorder and protect individuals from insult and outrage, and for that purpose it would use all its powers of prosecution; and he desired to say the utmost protection would be given to individuals, and, if necessary, all the powers of the Crown would be employed to protect them. He desired to say that if occasion arose the authorities would be no respecters of persons, and that any person who broke the law, no matter what his position might be, would be treated as would be the humblest individual. He uttered those words of warning to let people know what was in store.If he had been judge, jury, Chief Secretary, and Attorney General rolled into one, he could not have made use of more outrageous language; and when we remember that this extraordinary harangue was delivered on the occasion of a summons on which the charge against those standing upon their trial was simply adjourned, and no evidence had been gone into with respect to the charge, nothing at all was charged against them, and the representative of the Crown had already agreed to the adjournment, then I say the language used was simply monstrous. It would be almost impossible to get anyone who is only acquainted with the 400 administration of the criminal law in this country to believe that language of this sort should be allowed; and do not we know also that the bench takes its view from the Crown solicitor, and that they are all part of the same machinery? Do not we also know what the purport of that language is? It is to tell the bench that they are expected by the Government, upon whose good will their daily bread depends—because there is no security of tenure to the magisterial bench in Ireland—it was to warn them that the Government would expect them to convict the men who were to be tried that day fortnight, and to convict any other men that the Crown saw fit to bring before them in pursuance of their policy. It is for that reason, and because such language is taken by the magistrates as a direction from men whom they dare not and cannot disobey, and have no idea of disobeying. This is an extreme illustration, I think, of the fact well known to many of us who have had an opportunity of testing it before the resident magistrates in Ireland, that you can expect no justice, or impartiality, or fairness from them; and that, when the Crown is conducting the prosecution, and they are aware that it is hostile, they have no consideration and have no mercy. At the present time I am condemning the conduct, not of the magistrates, but of the Crown solicitor. I am entitled to assume that Mr. Kelly would never have dared to have used such language without instructions. He was sent down to conduct this prosecution, and for the purpose of making an harangue of an intimidating character, and to make this into a sort of State trial. I have to admit that in many cases the magistrate does his duty fairly man to man, where he has no reason to believe his paymasters are not interested in the case, but the moment he is led to believe, or thinks he has reason to believe, the Crown is strongly interested in the case he becomes a Crown agent himself and ceases to be a magistrate. That being so, and the Crown in Ireland being aware that these men are absolutely in their power, the Attorney General ought to be extremely cautious not to give magistrates any direction in criminal cases. Bearing that in mind, the fact that a man is sent down from that town to represent the 401 Crown in order to deliver such a monstrous oration, is a very outrageous illustration of the depths to which the administration of criminal law in Ireland has fallen. In this particular case the matter acquires exceptional importance from the fact that this language was brought to the attention of the Chief Secretary shortly after the occasion upon which it was used, and, instead of giving some explanation of the quality of the language that was used, he fully endorsed it, and conveyed to us by the manner which he assumed that he directed this language to be used, and that it was a proper tone to adopt. Under these circumstances, I desire to bring the conduct of this matter before the Committee, and unless we can obtain some assurance from the law officer of the Crown that the prosecutions in the future will be conducted in a different spirit, and that Crown solicitors will not be allowed to harangue and threaten all who are before the court with pains and penalties, I shall have to move a reduction in the Vote on the question of his salary.
§ MR. ATKINSON
said this was the second time that the House had heard of the use of the language complained of, and that that gentleman's name had been brought before it. He might say at once that Mr. Kelly was one of the most respected solicitors in Ireland, he enjoyed a lucrative practice in Roscommon, and he was known to be a person of good character, and had been a most fair and effective Crown officer. The honourable Member for East Mayo had, in order to found an accusation, upon this occasion as upon the last, represented this language as if it were in some way connected with the case which was pending investigation. Nothing could be more contrary to the fact. What occurred was that certain men were brought up for assaulting a man named Conolly, and were sentenced to one month's imprisonment. The magistrates refused to increase that imprisonment, which was desired, in order that an appeal might be lodged. Then it was that an attempt was made to get up a riot. The honourable Gentleman had said that no riot had taken place, but that was probably due to the fact that a 402 great number of police were present to prevent it. O'Donnell was charged on the 29th of January with having, with persons unknown, to the number of 40, riotously assembled and intimidated a certain person. The charge came up for hearing on 3rd February, and an adjournment was applied for until the 8th, when the case was again adjourned to the 17th. The way in which O'Donnell had employed his time during the previous adjournments was by gathering together a riotous mob of 150 people armed with sticks, and going through the country at their head, visiting the houses of different people who happened to have herds and grazing farms, to consult the herd and reason with him by means of this kind of moral suasion and persuade him to give up his employment. When the case next came before the court, and when the language complained of was used, a further adjournment was asked for, and the language which was used by Mr. Kelly, as that gentleman explained, was not directed against that charge. He simply thought that he was right in giving a warning to those persons who thought it right to embark in such a course.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
It is curious that the warning should be given after the case was adjourned. It is surprising that this fellow dared to go on.
§ MR. ATKINSON
pointed out that all Mr. Kelly did was to warn people that in future cases would not be adjourned from day to day, and week to week, for the benefit of the accused, who in the meantime headed riotous mobs. He thought, as his right honourable Friend had said on a previous occasion, that the language used was not only right, but wise, and really kind and considerate. It was addressed as a warning. Placed as he was in conducting the case, he was perfectly within his right, on the occasion of the application for the adjournment, in 403 warning the people that if they took action similar to that which had been taken by the accused individuals after the action upon which they were charged, then they would have to take the consequences. The honourable Member for East Mayo had suggested that this had been done for the purpose of warning the magistrates to convict, and that that gentleman had been sent down for that purpose. That was not the fact. Mr. Kelly was sent down because he was a competent solicitor, and he had no special instructions, no special instructions had been given to him as to the manner in which he was to conduct his case.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
said the right honourable Gentleman had favoured the Committee with a speech upon the working of the criminal law in Ireland. Mr. Kelly, a persona grata at Dublin Castle, was sent down to conduct the prosecution of these men. There was no case before the magistrates at all. It was intimated that an adjournment of the case would be applied for, and the man Kelly consented to the adjournment. The man Kelly had no more right to brawl at the court than any person had to brawl at other courts, but he was brawling there at the instigation of the executive Government. If the magistrates had been independent magistrates, they would not have allowed him to go on—they would have committed him for contempt. This man, who had his brief from the Castle in his pocket, was giving this moral lesson with his eye on the Castle and the Treasury Bench; and that he was not out of his sphere or mistaken in his point in the wording of his own speech was beautifully manifested when they had the Chief Secretary coming up, and, in such phrases as he could command, endorsing his words. There was no case before the court, and the man Kelly's observation was that they would not grant an adjournment again if the people did not behave themselves. Was he the 404 magistrate, or what was he? He had mistaken his vocation clearly as the agent, but as a responsible agent of the Crown the man Kelly knew his right and knew that if he did not come up to the mark probably the magistrates on the bench would have acted the part of spies, and have reported his failure to Dublin Castle. That was the reason why the people so loved the law in Ireland. It was because justice was only machinery for one party in the hands of the Government to set party against party. Not only was the man Kelly on his trial, but the Chief Secretary was also on his trial, because, although Kelly's brawling in court was bad enough, the part taken by the Chief Secretary in endorsing it in the manner in which he had done was intolerably worse. He (Mr. MacNeill) believed that it would not be difficult for anyone to become a magistrate who desired to do so; if he had been on the bench, and Mr. Kelly had commenced that performance, he would very quickly have found himself in gaol for seven days for contempt. He would watch with very considerable interest Mr. Kelly's future proceeding; that gentleman upon that occasion was speaking not for the good of the country but for his own promotion. Whether he had received instructions or not he perfectly well knew that observations of that kind would be approved by his employers. In all cases of that kind the point one had to consider was the nature of the tribunal before which the observations were made. One had to look to the connection of the parties, and to look at the directions that were given to the man upon the subject. He noticed that there was a sum of £20,000 put down in the Votes for the purpose of Crown prosecutors and Crown counsel. In the case of a Crown counsel it was not the same as in the case of a Crown solicitor. The Attorney General had the appointing of the gentlemen to the position of Crown counsel, and when a gentleman had been appointed Crown counsel in Ireland it had been the practice to maintain him indefinitely; that was a very bad practice, because it bred up a class of people whose whole duty is to act as prosecutors for the Crown against the people at large. He believed in the principle adopted in England, where, as the 405 Attorney General was well aware, the Crown cases were distributed amongst the barristers in each particular circuit, and which gave rise to the remark by a man who was acquitted, "God bless the Crown, who leaves us all the good counsel and take the bad for themselves." The result of the Irish system was well known. He would not mention any names, because it might give pain to people still living, but the Attorney General would no doubt remember perfectly well, after he had taken the silk, when he (Mr. MacNeill) was a young man at the bar, that there was an old gentleman, who had a large practice as Crown counsel, who, although he had long outlived his faculties, used to attend the court with a dummy brief in his hand, and two other counsel who did the work. That had been so for six years in his recollection, while in the recollection of the Attorney General it must have been so for at least 25 years; yet nobody thought, it worth while to alter it. It would be very much better to let the Crown briefs circulate through the circuit as they did in England, and not to breed up a single class of people who become by their training the natural enemies of the people. It would make the members of the Bar less dependent upon the Government of the day if they got their cases in the same way as they did in England. There would not be that army of harpies and spies in the guise of Crown prosecutors, and counsel would not be so demoralised and debased as they were. He did not know whether the Attorney General was aware that out of every three men at the Bar two had some small place in the Government given them, and were silenced and made to be respectful to the Government in the hope of getting something else. If this practice were discontinued, and there were a circulation of Crown briefs amongst the Bar, it would be of incalculable benefit to the Bar and the public at large, because it would be remembered that in Ireland the Crown was in every case the prosecutor, and certainly such a thing as a private prosecution did not occur more than once a year. In Ireland 406 all prosecutions were Crown prosecutions, or what was known in England as Treasury prosecutions. There was one other matter which he would like to bring before the attention of the Committee of a different nature; it would only detain them five minutes. The Attorney General would no doubt recollect the case which occurred in Dublin in which a Miss Brown was brought up on a charge of wilful murder of her servant. She was committed or remanded by the magistrates for 15 or 16 days, and then she received a private intimation that no further proceedings would be taken against her. That case abundantly illustrated the fact that in Ireland there was one law for the rich and another for the poor. Miss Brown, he believed, was a Protestant. She belonged to that dominant faith and dominant politics of Ireland, but had the misfortune to be poor. She led a life of genteel poverty, as people often do in the suburbs, letting lodgings. A servant whom Miss Brown had recently engaged, who had only been in the house one night, after some quarrel which she had had with her mistress, who had dismissed her for being lazy and doing no work, took prussic acid, which was in a cupboard in the house. Miss Brown, considering the girl's screams and shrieks were only the result of ill-temper, for some time took no notice. She eventually sent for a doctor, who refused to visit until his fee had been paid, and Miss Brown still thought nothing was the matter until the next day, when she found the girl was dead. There was some prussic acid in a cupboard in the kitchen where the girl had been, and Miss Brown was arrested on a charge of wilful murder. She had no solicitor and no counsel; she could not afford legal advice, and the solicitor who appeared for her was provided by public subscription. What occurred was that in the criminal proceedings before the magistrate Miss Brown was remanded without bail to prison for some 10 or 12 days in all. Then her solicitor appeared, and applied to the magistrate to hear her evidence. In England there is a Commission which says that magistrates must hear if the prisoner 407 desires evidence tendered on his behalf 24 hours after his arrest, but in Ireland there is not, and the magistrate in that case held that he was incompetent to hear her evidence, as he only had to make a primâ facie case for the Crown, who would produce the witnesses. The lady was kept in prison for some time longer, and at length she was told that no further proceedings would be taken against her on the charge of wilful murder. In his opinion, a very great outrage had been committed in respect of this lady, who had been deprived of her liberty, and of her whole means of earning her livelihood, and who had received no compensation whatever. She had had no opportunity, which she would have had if she had been brought before a jury, of vindicating her character. All that had been done was that, having brought a capital charge against her, the authorities had let the proceedings drop, and left the charge hanging over her head. He thought that, under all the circumstances, she was entitled to be compensated. The case was one in which great interest was felt in Dublin; the unfortunate lady was suffering under the awful imputation of murder, and he thought that the Government might act in a generous spirit, and restore her to her former position.
§ On the return of the CHAIRMAN, after the usual interval,
§ MR. DOOGAN (Tyrone, E.)
said: Mr. Lowther, I have heard the speech of the Attorney General, and, as far as I could follow it, it was to the effect that in making the speech at Westport, of which we complain, Mr. Kelly was animated by a spirit of pure benevolence. I would ask whether there is any precedent for a law officer making such a speech, when no charge had been proved against the accused? Is it not the theory of the Constitution and the law that no man should be assumed guilty until he is proved to be so? Proof was not given at all upon this occasion, and those accused persons in a remote part of Ireland pleaded for an adjournment in order to get an oppor- 408 tunity for their witnesses to appear, and to engage counsel. It was upon the occasion of the adjournment being granted that this violent harangue, threatening pains and penalties against the defendants and the locality was delivered by the Crown prosecutor. Had their legal adviser been present when this speech was made, he would have intervened to secure due and proper administration of justice. To say the least of it, that speech was a most suggestive one, and seemed to be an attempt to prejudice the bench against persons charged with only trivial offences. I would ask the Attorney-General whether it is not the duty of the Crown prosecutor in Ireland, or anyone prosecuting on behalf of the Crown, to do what he can, not to force a conviction, but to try to get a just finding? Why, no prosecuting counsel in England would ever think of trying to make his case except on evidence. Well, in the case to which I am referring the defendants were charged with going around the country trying to intimidate. At the next sitting of the court the evidence showed that there was no case for punishment, and the defendants were merely ordered to be bound over to keep the peace. One of them indignantly denied that he was guilty of any offence against the law. The position which he took up was that he did not break the law; that he had not been in conflict with the law; and that he would not enter into recognisances to keep the peace. Well, what was the result? He was ordered to enter into bonds of £5 to keep the peace, which he refused to do, and the alternative of three months in gaol was imposed by the bench. Now, I do not know whether the Attorney General would think three months in gaol a just equivalent to giving bail for £5 to keep the peace, but it seems to me to have been a very extraordinary sentence. I do not understand how the Attorney-General can seriously maintain that these proceedings were justifiable. The object of Mr. Kelly's coercive and unconstitutional speech was to intimidate and suppress the United League, which has been proved to 409 be a perfectly legal association, and, in fact, instead of its being suppressed, it is now a most flourishing and permanent institution in this very locality. All things considered, I cannot, for the life of me, see that it can tend to the better government of Ireland, or the preservation of peace and order in the rural districts of Ireland, that these political speeches on the part of the authorities should be defended and justified in this House.
§ MR. PINKERTON (Galway)
I wish to direct the attention of the right honourable Gentleman or the Attorney General to the item I find here of £1,000 for fees to the Attorney General and Solicitor General for contentious business. I want to know whether they pay this money for the purpose of preventing disturbances, and what is the nature of the contentious business for which this sum of £1,000 is paid. So far as I can understand, it is a mistake to pay any money to the law officers of the Crown for the purpose of carrying on contentious business; but, in my profound ignorance of the requirements of the law in this respect, I want an explanation of this Vote, and to know for what purpose it is paid, and on what occasions.
§ MR. DALY (Monaghan, S.)
I also wish for some information from the right honourable Gentleman as to a large item in this Vote. There is a sum here of £2,500 for miscellaneous charges, and I think that should have been explained, and not left until we inquire in this House of the right honourable Gentleman what this large sum is for. I also observe that there is a charge here for Crown solicitors for special duty, although, to my mind, it would seem that the Crown solicitors have salary enough to enable them to do all their duty without getting £800 for special duties. I also notice that there is a further charge of £300. Now, Mr. Lowther, I am certain that these items require some explanation from the right honourable Gentleman of all the reasons for these large sums, and I hope he will be able 410 to make a satisfactory statement. With regard to the special question before the Committee now in reference to Mr. Kelly, I am sure the right honourable Gentleman regrets the action of the Crown solicitor as much as any Member of this House. It is certainly deplorable to see that an official goes into a court-house and makes a most inflammatory speech, intended to excite the people of the district. And it must be taken into account that the people in the west of Ireland, while they are well-conducted and law-abiding people, at the same time, in the smaller districts, as is to be expected, they are not very highly educated; and it is hard to tell what the incendiary language which the Crown solicitor used might have led to if the people were not loyal and law-abiding. I say that if this Crown solicitor had been practising before any other court than a court of landlords, he would have been immediately made to sit down and retract the language he had used to slander these pepole of the west of Ireland. I hope that the right honourable Gentleman will not forget to take into account the fact that an agent sat with his landlord on the bench, and adjudicated upon this case. I think that if the right honourable Gentleman is not prepared to take some action in this matter he will be very seriously neglecting his duty. To my mind, it is quite illegal and quite wrong for any land agent to act at the same time with the landlord in trying a case of this kind—in which an unfortunate peasant is concerned. Unless the honourable Member who has raised this question gets a very satisfactory answer from the right honourable Gentleman, I hope he will go to a Division. I think the right honourable Gentleman, after this time, ought to give a caution to Crown solicitors to curb their tongues in the future, and remember that the people who contribute to the salaries of these gentlemen have a right to be respected, and not hectored when they are looking after their own business. I hope that the right honourable Gentleman will, at least, give a caution to this Mr. Malachi Kelly. It has often been in the past that when an official insulted the people of the country he obtained immediate promotion, but I 411 trust that Mr. Kelly will not be promoted so soon as he expected to be on account of his action before the magistrates of county Mayo.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
It has been truly said that there are no people who love impartial justice more than the Irish, and that is the reason why cases of this kind excite so much indignation in Ireland, and are brought forward by Members on these benches. I am greatly persuaded that it is no part of the professional duty of the right honourable Gentleman to defend an official who acts like Mr. Kelly, for there is no man more likely to condemn conduct of that kind than the right honourable Gentleman, and certainly the unjustifiable language used by Mr. Kelly deserves that some notice of it should be taken by the law officers of the Crown. These proceedings, which were reported in the Irish newspapers, were followed with considerable interest by the people; and what was their effect? Charges were made against certain men in connection with a public movement. There is no more dangerous lesson to convey to the Irish people than that they are not to organise and hold meetings in public, and have the right of free speech in public meeting. If you want to teach them that lesson you will try to drive the expression of discontent below the surface. Everybody knows that thousands of people in Ireland were on the verge of starvation at the time this movement was organised. The object was to relieve the people in the congested districts from chronic poverty, and give them some chance of working out their lives in decency and comfort. That was the object of the league, and speeches in support of it were made in public and reported in the newspapers. The action of the Crown ought to have been, if there was anything wrong in these speeche anything contrary to law, to indict. Mr. W. O'Brien, or to indict some of the other speakers; but, on the contrary, attempts were made to bring about a surreptitious conviction. As if the tribunal before which a prisoner has to be tried for certain offences in Ireland is not already sufficiently hostile 412 to the accused, the Crown prosecutor must give the weight of his opinion and authority against them, too. What is the reply of the right honourable Gentleman? That the language of Mr. Kelly had no reference to the offence. I do not wish to be disrespecful, but, surely, that is contrary to the facts. Does not everybody know that the language had direct reference to the offence with which the accused were charged? It is juggling with common sense to say that the action of the Crown prosecutor was to serve as a warning to the general public. I contend that it was no part of the duty of the Crown prosecutor to indulge in language of that description in a criminal court. It is intolerable enough to have judges going through the country lecturing the community in this manner without having a Crown solicitor, panting for promotion, doing the same kind of thing. It is no part of his duty, at any rate, and, even if it were, he should not have done so while this case was undecided and the men were, in the eyes of the law, absolutely innocent. Is it conceivable that a Crown prosecutor would, under similar circumstances, indulge in language of that kind either in England or Scotland? We have had scenes of disorder in many parts of England from time to time in connection with strikes, and in connection with trade union movements. Do you think the public would tolerate for one moment, in any dispute which may have arisen in the course of the colliery strike in South Wales, the use of similar inflammatory language on the part of a Crown prosecutor? No, Sir. You would have had the adjournment of the House moved, and a very severe lecture given to any Crown official who acted in this manner. One of the evils of Irish administration is that, right or wrong, the officials are always upheld. It is not to be wondered at that under these circumstances there is not that confidence in the administration of the law which is felt very largely in a large part of Great Britain. Now, Sir, there is one other matter connected with the Vote, that I should like to bring before the Committee—namely, 413 the question of jury packing in Ireland. Some time ago I mentioned a case of jury packing in connection with Munster Assizes, but I was unable to obtain very much information. I am in possession of quite a long list of cases in which a large number of respectable men in the city of Cork have been ordered to stand by, even in non-agrarian cases, consequently creating a suspicion in the public mind that there is a lack of fair play. These jurors, in their busiest times, are made to attend the court day after day under a severe penalty, sometimes amounting to £10; they attend the court, without receiving a penny of remuneration, and they turn their backs on their business only to very frequently find that they have to stand by. Mr. Lowther, let me say, en passant, that I do not care whether the order under which this system is conducted was made by a Liberal or a Conservative Government, we condemn it as altogether wrong.
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
If I am not out of order, I may point out that my recollection is—and I was in office at the time—that it was in 1894 that the order was made. It was made to mitigate the order which was in existence, and, if possible, to palliate the offence of packing juries.
§ MR. FLYNN
I am very glad to elicit that information. Apart altogether from the question as to whether it was a Liberal or Conservative Administration that introduced the system, I say that it is one which ought to be abolished. I have several cases in my mind where jurors have been ordered to stand by, but I do not desire to press them this evening. I do, however, say that it is most unfair to the jurors. I am sometimes sorry that one of the few privileges of a Member of Parliament is that of not being obliged to serve on a jury, because, if I had not been a Member of this House, I should be qualified to serve on a jury, and I could then object before the Crown prosecutor and the judge to 414 the existing practice. It was bad enough 20 or 30 years ago, but the system to-day is an anachronism as well as a scandal.
§ MR. DAVITT
I was very much interested in the Attorney General's defence of Mr. Kelly. The intemperate and unprovoked harangue of this Crown official might be to some extent justified if he had been speaking in a county or in a district where crime was prevalent, or where there was some disturbance going on. But is it not a fact that shortly after this performance two of Her Majesty's judges visited the county of Mayo and congratulated not only the grand jury, but the whole county upon the peaceful condition, of that part of Ireland? And this statement was made by these two judges in face of the fact that the United Irish League, from the date of Mr. Kelly's performance, had spread over the whole county and increased its organisation and membership almost everywhere. Now, I contend, Sir, that this conduct on the part of this gentleman was most unwarranted. He ventured not only to prejudice the case against men who were not virtually on their trial at the time but to utter threats against other men who were not only not before the court, but who had not been charged by anybody with a breach of the peace. He uttered his threats against Mr. O'Brien, and against some clergymen who had taken part in this movement, which, I contend, has a perfectly legitimate object in view. Well, I do not think he has succeeded in either frightening or intimidating Mr. William O'Brien. He is not a man easily frightened by men of the stamp of Mr. Kelly. But I would appeal to the right honourable Gentleman, in the interest of the administration of law and justice in Ireland, to see that conduct, which would not be permitted in England by public opinion, is not practised in future in Ireland.
§ MR. DILLON
I rise for the purpose of moving the reduction of the Vote by £600, the amount of the salary of Mr. Malachi Kelly. I have listened with very 415 great interest to the Attorney General's attempt to defend the attack on this gentleman, and, Sir, I confess that my original astonishment considerably increased in the course of the right honourable Gentleman's speech. What did the Attorney General say? He said that the language of Mr. Malachi Kelly had no reference whatever to the offences with which these young men were charged. He said it had reference to certain riotous proceedings which had occurred immediately before. What right had that man to assume, in the first place, that these proceedings were either illegal or otherwise? I deny that they were either one or the other. There was evidence before the court as to the nature of those proceedings. According to the Attorney General, they had no bearing on the case, and so a more unfair attempt to prejudice a trial than for a Crown official to deliver from the petty sessions court a political harangue I have never known. The speech was nothing more nor less than a political harangue in defence of the Government, and I say, Sir, it is unjustifiable that it should have been delivered inside a court. What is the history of this case? This alleged offence—which, I say, was no offence at all, and I have strong grounds for that opinion—was committed about a fortnight or three weeks before the meeting at Westport, addressed by myself and Mr. William O'Brien. It was committed early in January, and for three weeks after the alleged riot no action whatever was taken by the Government, For the purpose of manufacturing a case, to justify the Chief Secretary in prancing about the floor of this House and insulting Members, this bogus charge was trumped up, not on the merits of the case, but because a meeting had been held at Westport. Now, I believe that if we had had no meeting at Westport on the 27th of January, you would never have heard of this prosecution, but in order to make out that this meeting had given rise to outrage and disorder, the police were directed in the usual style to find out some crime to prosecute as 416 a consequence of the meeting. And what followed? When the matter was subsequently brought before the House, what does the Chief Secretary say? He says that Mr. Kelly's remarks were directed against Mr. O'Brien and myself. You have heard of Dean Swift's description of Ireland of 60 years ago as a country in which everything was turned upside down, but I think that even Dean Swift could not have equalled this contention of the right honourable Gentleman. The police were ordered to summon these unfortunate young fellows, not because they had committed a crime, but because we had held a meeting at Westport on the 27th of January, and it was necessary to show what frightful effects came from our meeting; and in order to demonstrate the turbulent condition of things that resulted, this intelligent and able solicitor was requisitioned, and in his mouth was placed a speech which would have been more in order if it had been delivered at Belfast after 103 policemen had been sent into hospital.
§ MR. DILLON
Not in Westport; but I would ask the Attorney General why these harangues were not delivered by the Crown prosecutor in Belfast, where there was real riot and disorder and danger to public life and peace, and where 103 policemen were wounded in a single night? Westport is a district which has been in a state of absolute peace for a long time, yet, in connection with a case of a most trifling character, a salaried officer receiving £500 a year is directed to deliver a political harangue in a court of justice. Sir, I say that the whole proceeding is disgraceful to the Crown, and disgraceful to everybody who took part in it, and it would not be tolerated in this country for a single moment. An honourable Member has asked what would be thought if a similar state of things occurred in South Wales. Suppose in South Wales a certain body of colliers had been summoned on the 417 terrible charge of having booed at a certain individual, and that the Attorney General for England had sent to South Wales an official with instruction to deliver in the court an oration on the iniquities of strikes, and on the determination of the Executive Government to show no mercy to anybody who was guilty of those wicked practices in the future. I should like to know what would be the result? Such language would not be tolerated for a single moment. The Attorney General used an extraordinary expression, which I took down at the time he was speaking. He said that the Crown prosecutor's speech was intended for the purpose of warning those who might be disorderly. I respectfully submit to the Committee that that is not the province nor the privilege of Crown prosecutors. They are not paid for the purpose of insulting and of bullying Her Majesty's subjects who are accused of no crime. They are paid for the purpose of administering the law, and not for the purpose of turning courts of justice into political platforms. We may be opposed to the Government, but until the Government are prepared to indict us, or to summon us, and to bring forward evidence against us, we ought not to be subjected to the insolence of hired officials.
§ MR. ATKINSON
As I have already explained, the man O'Donnell abused the privilege of the adjournment of his case by conducting a riotous mob through the county armed with sticks. When the case came up again, and application was made for a further adjournment, Mr. Kelly merely cautioned the people against taking part in these riotous proceedings.
§ MR. DAVITT (Mayo, S.)
The honourable and learned Member forgets that when the Westport riots were last discussed in the House the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland said that the warning uttered by Mr. Kelly was addressed to Mr. William O'Brien, and possibly to the Member for 418 East Mayo. The right honourable Gentleman's words were—I suspect it had reference to Mr. William O'Brien, and possibly to the honourable Member himself.Which of the explanations is the true one—the Attorney General's or the Chief Secretary's?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
In the speech which he made when the Westport riots were discussed in this House the honourable Member for East Mayo ventured upon the proposition that Mr. Kelly's warning was meant for the priests, and in answer to that I interjected that I suspected "it had reference to Mr. William O'Brien, and possibly to the honourable Member himself."
§ MR. DILLON
Does the Attorney General suggest that Mr. Kelly was afraid that I was going to visit the people's houses at the head of a mob armed with sticks?
§ MR. ATKINSON
I do not think that any person has ever filled this office for us with more intelligence—
§ MR. DILLON
Was this warning addressed to me to prevent me going round with a stick—that is the suggestion that has been made—to prevent me being seduced into going round with a stick intimidating these people?
§ MR. ATKINSON
I understand that in the course of the speech of my right honourable Friend the Chief Secretary, when these riots were last discussed in the House, somebody interjected that Mr. Kelly's remarks had reference to the priests; and the Chief Secretary replied that he suspected they had reference to Mr. William O'Brien, and possibly to the honourable Member for East Mayo. I do not know to whom Mr. Kelly desired to refer; he named no individual. I 419 wish, however, to repeat that Mr. Kelly had no instructions to make the statement complained of; but it seems to me that, under the circumstances, his statement was entirely right and thoroughly justified.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
The right honourable Gentleman the Attorney General has defended the language of Mr. Kelly on the ground that it was directed, purely and simply, to the case of O'Donnell, but the charge of the honourable Member for East Mayo is that Mr. Kelly made a general political harangue. The defence of the right honourable and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland is that Mr. Kelly did not make a general political harangue, but that he made a statement directed exclusively and entirely to the case of O'Donnell, who was then before the court, and the right honourable and learned Gentleman went on to justify those references to O'Donnell on the ground that the man had abused the clemency of the Crown by going round, at the head of a riotous mob, visiting people, and endeavouring to intimidate them. Therefore the whole defence of the right honourable Gentleman the Attorney General is based on the statement that the language of the Crown solicitor was directed simply to the particular case and the particular individual then before the court; but the Attorney General for Ireland was forgetful of the speech of the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland on the occasion when the Westport riots were discussed. I remember that speech. I had the honour of taking a small part in the discussion, and I remember very well that the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in defence of the speech of Mr. Kelly, said across the floor of this House—in language and with a manner which I thought unduly provocative, and almost beyond the limits of the courtesy which should exist between even political opponents—the right honourable Gentleman threw across the floor of this House the taunt that this 420 speech, which, according to the right honourable and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, was simply a piece of legal oratory directed to a particular case, was meant for Mr. William O'Brien and the honourable Member for East Mayo. The right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland has himself just stated that somebody said, across the floor of this House, that Mr. Kelly's speech was directed against the priests, and that he (the Chief Secretary) corrected that statement, and said the speech was not directed against the priests, but against Mr. William O'Brien, and possibly the honourable Member for East Mayo. What relevance has that to the defence of the right honourable and learned Gentleman the Attorney General? Whether the speech was directed against the priests, as alleged from these benches, or whether it was directed against Mr. William O'Brien and the honourable Member for East Mayo, it comes to the same thing. It was a political speech, according to the Chief Secretary; it was a legal speech, according to the Attorney General. Which is the correct version? Was it a legal speech or a political speech? If that poor, unfortunate gentleman, who did not know the difference between the 61st and 64th sections of the Petty Sessions Act, had happened to have as charitable a master as the House of Commons he would have escaped, as the Attorney General has escaped now, although his statement is absolutely diametrically opposed to the statement of the Chief Secretary. I take my stand with the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary. As Mr. Disraeli said, "I like to be on the side of the angels." I am told the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland is a member of a highly-refined, scholastic, and spiritualised body called "The Apostles." I do not know whether they are called "apostles," or "souls," or whether there are societies with such titles, but I am on the side of the Chief Secretary, and the right honourable Gentleman gives a political 421 meaning to this speech. That is just the gist of our complaint. What right has the Crown solicitor to make a political harangue? If in England a gentleman occupying the respectable and lucrative position of Crown solicitor went into a court of law, and à propos of nothing, delivered a political harangue, what would the people say? They would say he ought to be dismissed from the public service, and, like the honourable Gentleman opposite, ought to become a theological Member of the House of Commons. Sir, this Mr. Kelly goes into a court of law, and, à propos of the question of adjournment, says that the clemency of the Crown is almost exhausted; that, if the people go a little further, that clemency will be no longer extended to them, and he, as ambassador of the mercy or of the severity of the Crown, declared to the people of Mayo that his loyal patience was almost exhausted. It is almost like the figurative language of the Old Testament.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
What is the meaning of it all? The meaning is that the government of Ireland is conducted on Chinese principles. In the earlier portion of the evening the right honourable Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland got up, and, in defence of his own action, made a revelation of Irish legal and political methods, which, I think, was most startling, declaring that a judge on the bench reported to Dublin Castle that the Crown prosecutor of Waterford was not zealous. The Attorney General says he is a friend of the late Crown prosecutor for Waterford. In that case it was an unkind thing of the Attorney General not to utter a friendly word of warning in Mr. Delandre's ear. Why did not the Attorney General tell his friend that he ought to look to Mayo, and he ought to read the speeches Mr. Kelly had made, when, in place of attending to his legal duties, he uttered political harangues? Then, instead of being dismissed, and in his old age reduced, with his wife and children, to poverty, 422 his actions would have been pronounced legitimate, and his professional abilities and political zeal on behalf of the Government would have been eulogised. Mr. Kelly's speech, the Chief Secretary says, was a warning to an honourable Member of this House, the leader of a party in this House, and to Mr. William O'Brien. What strange functions these legal dignitaries have to perform! A judge on the bench reports the Crown prosecutor at Waterford because he is not sufficiently zealous, not in the cause of justice, but in the cause of Dublin Castle! The representative of impartial English law is employed to report an underling of the Government because he is not sufficiently eager in procuring a conviction in a case as to which the judge on the bench is supposed to hold an impartial position. Go to Mayo, and there you will find the great exemplar of the Chief Secretary and the Attorney General. Let a Crown solicitor prejudge a case, try to create prejudice in a case, try to convict a man, not because of his offence, but because of a general political and social movement around him, and the Attorney General, who has exhausted his vituperation against one whom he considered a lukewarm servant of the Government, will exhaust his eulogiums and his encomiums upon him. I think this Debate will have the best results. I have heard many charges made against the government of Ireland from Dublin Castle; I have made many charges against the Government myself; but I have the satisfaction of knowing that the worst things I have ever said have never equalled in effectiveness the statement made this evening by the right honourable Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. GERALD BALFOUR, Leeds, Central)
It is somewhat difficult to take seriously the speeches that have just been made from the other side of the House. At the same time honourable Members have said several things which I feel I cannot pass over. I shall not 423 dwell upon the misrepresentations contained in the latter part of the speech of the honourable Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool, the part in which the honourable Member repeated the statement that my right honourable and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland had advised the Executive to dismiss the Crown solicitor for Waterford on the ground that he was not sufficiently zealous in carrying out prosecutions. If the honourable Member had been present when the Attorney General made a crushing defence in reply to the attack made upon him, he would have known that the Crown solicitor of Waterford was dismissed, not for what the honourable Member says, but for sheer incapacity and want of knowledge of his profession. I shall not dwell upon that. What I rose to speak upon was the references to myself made by the honourable Member for Liverpool [Mr. T. P. O'Connor]. The honourable Member referred to Mr. Kelly's speech at Westport, and told the Committee that, whereas the Attorney General described that speech as a legal speech, I had described it as a political speech. I never did anything of the kind. I never thought of describing it as a political speech, and, with the permission of the Committee, I shall read what the Crown solicitor did say, in order that they may judge for themselves of the character of the speech. I may explain that application had been made on behalf of the accused that the case should be adjourned for the second or third time. The Crown solicitor consented to the adjournment, but, at the same time, made these remarks. He said—He could not allow that occasion to pass without referring to what had taken place in this district recently. He wished to say that the clemency that had been shown would not be continued if there was a repetition of criminal conduct. The Government was determined to put down disorder and to enforce the law in the interests of the public peace and to protect individuals from insult and outrage, and for that purpose it would use all the powers of protection; and he desired also to say that the utmost protection would be afforded to individuals assailed, and, if necessary, the forces of the Crown would be employed to protect them should occasion arise, and should occasion for strong measures arise he desired 424 to say the authorities would be no respecters of persons, and that every person who broke the law, no matter what his position, would be treated as would be the humblest individual. He uttered these words of warning to let people know what was in store for them. Lawlessness would not be tolerated by the authorities. It had gone on long enough, and if there was any repetition of it the Crown would deal with it in a manner that would surprise all the parties concerned.The honourable Member for East Mayo, referring, not to the speech as a whole, but to one single passage in it, that in which Mr. Kelly said—the authorities would be no respecters of persons, and every person who broke the law, no matter what his position, would be treated like the humblest individual,remarked that he presumed that referred to the priests, and I said, across the floor of the House, that I thought it referred, not to the priests, but to Mr. William O'Brien and the honourable Member for East Mayo. I have read Mr. Kelly's speech, and I ask the Committee whether it could be, in any sense, a political speech. In my judgment, considering the state of disorder in the district, and the speeches delivered by Mr. O'Brien and the honourable Member for East Mayo, and the consequences which followed upon those speeches, the Crown solicitor, in consenting to the adjournment of this particular case, was absolutely justified in giving the warning he did, and my right honourable and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland has described the speech with absolute correctness as a warning in regard to the future. The Attorney General said, with absolute correctness, that Mr. Kelly's speech had no reference to the offences for which these persons were brought before the magistrate on this particular occasion, but was a warning for the future. I said at the time, and I repeat now, that, in my judgment, the Crown solicitor, considering all the circumstances of the case, was absolutely justified in giving notice to all concerned that the scenes of lawlessness which prevailed at that time would not be tolerated by the Crown, and that, if they continued, strong measures would be taken to put them down.
§ MR. DILLON
I think the speech of the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland has proved our case absolutely. The speech of Mr. Kelly, which the right honourable Gentleman read, was, I maintain without fear of contradiction, a foolish speech. It might or it might not be justified; but I do not think it would have been justified if it had been delivered by the right honourable Gentleman himself, or by some other representative of the Government. This gentleman, Mr. Kelly, undertook to speak on behalf of the Government, and to declare that strong measures would be taken. What strong measures did he mean? Was he authorised to say that the Executive was prepared to go beyond the law? Is the enforcement of the law a strong measure? I say that that speech was a violent political speech which no conceivable circumstances would make justifiable by a supporter of the Government, by the right honourable Gentleman himself, or by any politician undertaking to speak on behalf of the Government. Such a speech, whether the case was a small one, as in the present instance, or an important political one, was most unsuitable and unworthy, and utterly foreign to every proper conception of the duty of counsel; and I say, further, that I am perfectly convinced that if an English counsel or Crown solicitor had used such language, it would have met with the universal condemnation of his professional brethren. I traverse, to a certain extent, the speech of the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary with regard to the interruption that took place when the Westport riots were under discussion. In the report in "Hansard" I am made to say that I thought Mr. Kelly's speech was intended for the learned counsel.
§ MR. DILLON
My recollection agrees with that of the right honourable Gentle- 426 man, that what I said was that I presumed it was intended for the priests. I had read an extract from the speech, which concluded with the following words—He uttered these words of warning to let people know what was in store for them. Lawlessness would not be tolerated by the authorities. It had gone on long enough, and if there was any repetition of it the Crown would deal with it in a manner that would surprise all the parties concerned. That was intended for the learned counsel.I think I said that was intended for the priests, and the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary interrupted me, and said—I suspect it had reference to Mr. William O'Brien, and possibly to the honourable Member himself.I say that more insulting and scandalous language never was used in the House of Commons. What right had the right honourable Gentleman to challenge me across the floor of this House, and say that his officials in Ireland were warning me of what was in store for me? The right honourable Gentleman had no more right to use such language to me than I have to use it to him, or to make such statements across the floor of the House, and it is a scandalous instance of the spirit in which the law is administered in Ireland. When we know that language was used for the purpose of prejudicing events against those unfortunate young men who were on trial; when we know, as the revelations of to-night have shown, what are the relations that exist between the Crown prosecutor and the magistracy and the Castle; and when we know that this Crown prosecutor, who used that language, was the direct representative of the master of the magistrate who sat on the bench, and who could in a single moment deprive that man of his living, I say it was a monstrous case of attempting to intimidate the bench by language which ought not for a moment to be tolerated in a court of justice. All I desire further to say is that I only wish 427 that Englishmen, who understand very little about these matters, would leave this question to the judgment of representatives of Ireland, and, if they did that, Mr. Malachi Kelly would get his deserts.
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
I hesitate in supporting the Vote for the reduction of this salary on two grounds. First, from the very words which have been now read out, attributed to Mr. Kelly, I think it is clear that if this reduction was carried, then that prerogative which has been so sternly insisted upon in the Waterford case should be at once exercised with regard to Mr. Kelly, and I, for one, am very reluctant indeed to condemn any man unheard, and without having an opportunity of explaining his conduct, more especially in this case, because, so far as I can appreciate them, the defences which have been made for him by my right honourable Friend the Attorney General for Ireland on the one hand, and the Chief Secretary for Ireland on the other, are somewhat inconsistent. If Mr. Kelly were here at the Bar of the House—and I am not sure that that would not be the proper course to pursue—we could learn under what circumstances this extraordinary harangue was delivered. I am not at all sure from the language that was used—we must remember that the case had been adjourned on two or three occasions is an admitted fact—that he may not have been acting on instructions from Dublin Castle. But if he was acting on instructions from Dublin Castle, he knew that was at the will and pleasure of Dublin Castle, and considerations that his bread and his salary depended on his pleasing Dublin Castle may have influenced him very much when, in obeying orders, he delivered this extraordinary harangue. I think, therefore, that to vote for the reduction of this salary without knowing whether he acted on instructions, would be, perhaps, a strong measure. Unquestionably that speech appears to me to be a speech carrying out instructions, and 428 not uttered on the mere spur of the moment, but probably the result of some communication which had taken place before. There is another reason why I draw attention to this Matter. I am not at all sure, in the interests of the poor, starving peasants of Mayo, that they might not go further and fare worse if Mr. Kelly were now dismissed, as he should be if this Amendment were carried. I do not know what protégé of some Tory landlord might be appointed as his successor. It is impossible to forecast these things; it is impossible to anticipate how far the poor peasantry of the neighbourhood of Westport would be gainers by the result. Again, the revelations in this case do appear to me to raise the curtain a little which hangs over the administration of justice in Ireland, and to afford an object lesson to this House as to the relations of the landlord, the agent, and the resident magistrate. There was a rule for several years subsisting in Ireland, and I thought it still subsisted, that if it happened that the principal and his agent for the same property were in the commission of the peace for the same county, they only received that commission on the express understanding that they were not to sit together. The bench generally consists of only three or four men, and if the principal and the agent sit together—that is, two rolled into one—of course, against the poor tenant, and against the poor fellows charged with offences directly affecting the interests of the estate, the result is a mockery of justice. In this case, however, until we have heard the explanation of Mr. Kelly, I would recommend that the mover of this reduction should be satisfied with the strong expression of opinion that has emanated from below the Gangway, and should put the saddle on the right horse, and either have Mr. Kelly at the Bar of the House to explain his conduct, or ascertain whether he was not really carrying out instructions from the Executive when this strange and extraordinary oration was delivered.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I am rather disposed to agree with my right honourable and learned Friend who has just sat down, that, perhaps, after all, the real blame is not to be laid upon the head of Mr. Malachi Kelly so much as on the heads of his superiors. Mr. Kelly is in the employ of the Crown. He is a solicitor earning his living. He is bound to earn his living by doing his best for the Government which employs him. He knows now, as we all know, that he has on the bench a very vigilant critic of the manner in which he performs his duties. If he happens to be slightly ignorant, or slightly lax with regard to his interpretations of the Petty Sessions Act, the impartial, the calm, the high-minded judge who sits on the bench, instead of holding the scales of justice even between the Crown on the one side and the subject on the other, is engaged in writing secret reports to the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and to the Attorney General, as to the manner in which he discharges his duties. Why, Sir, was ever in the history of any civilised country a more grotesque or more odious exhibition than that of the Irish Government here to-night? What has the chief law officer given as his defence for the dismissal of Mr. Delandre, the prosecuting counsel for Waterford? A secret report against that counsel by the judge on the bench! Next, Sir, I must take notice of the language of the Chief Secretary. He considered it in accordance with Parliamentary courtesy to say that a speech—if I may so dignify it—a few observations I have made, was unworthy of serious attention. My statement was that you had a judge on the bench acting the spy on the Crown solicitor. Is that a serious question, or is it not? Why, Sir, let me tell the Chief Secretary that I never knew a man in his position who received more personal kindness—and I think I may go further, and say personal generosity—on the part of political 430 opponents than he has on the part of honourable Members on these benches. I do not know anybody in his position who has laid himself open more to attack than he has. He has used language the tactlessness of which, the heartlessness of which, has disgusted even his own supporters, and if it has not brought them into our Lobby, at any rate has not brought them into his. He thought it becoming to him to utter across the floor of this House words of menace against his political opponents, my honourable Friends beside me. Well, Sir, I do think there ought to be a little give and take in the personal relations of even political opponents in this House, and if the right honourable Gentleman is treated with singular and almost unprecedented personal indulgence and generosity by Members on these benches, he ought to answer a little better than by what I might almost call the gross remark that he has thought it right to make across the floor of this House to his political opponents. I feel it necessary to make this explanation. I do not wish to attack the Attorney General for Ireland it all. I know he is a kind-hearted and generous man, and discharges his duty with great ability. I do not blame him for speaking to his brief. I blame the man who instructed him in his brief. The Chief Secretary for Ireland just now read the speech of Mr. Kelly—a political speech.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
The right honourable Gentleman denies that. How can he deny it in face of the speech as he read it out? Mr. Kelly says the people will be surprised at what takes place. The people do not know what is in store for them! The Crown will not act with clemency any further! A stupid attorney, a miserable country solicitor, is wielding the coercive forces that lie in the hands of the Chief Secretary! What did it mean? It meant that the Chief Secretary had given him the hint. I hear laughter. Will the honourable 431 Gentleman the Member for West Belfast, who laughs and interrupts me, have the manliness to get up and say what he has to say?
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
I was so genuinely amused by the absurdity of the suggestion that I could not help laughing.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
In my country it is said that a loud laugh bespeaks a vacant mind. Perhaps the honourable Gentleman's laugh might not be described as loud, but he interrupted me, in some form or other, by some unuttered expression which he had not the manliness to put into articulate language. Was Mr. Malachi Kelly acting on instructions, either expressed or implied, from Dublin Castle when he announced that the Chief Secretary was determined, was ready to employ the forces of coercion against the people of Mayo? Is that the duty of a Crown solicitor? The Crown solicitor's duty is to speak about the law and the legal bearings of the case. The duty of the Crown solicitor is to deal with the case immediately in hand. Why, Sir, in this country the commonest ruffian that is brought up to the old Bailey will not have brought against him a single conviction or a single act of his previous life until the jury has decided one way or the other. It is, I think, one of the finest principles of English law that a case shall be decided on its merits, and
§ on those merits alone, and that there shall not be brought into it any extraneous or antecedent matter. In Ireland we reverse all that. A man is brought up to be tried for "booing" at a policeman, or some other charge of that kind, and against him are brought public meetings addressed by political men, and political or social movements all round, to influence the court. Why, Sir, it is a monstrous thing, a monstrous perversion of justice, that would not be permitted for one hour in this country, and against which, if it were introduced, the laughing philosopher on the other side of the House would be one of the first to protest. This Debate to-night, although it has not been heard by many people during its earlier stages, will have had good effect. We know what the Government of Ireland now means, with the Chief Secretary at the top and Mr. Malachi Kelly at the bottom. We have had an object lesson to-night in the manner in which the government of Ireland is carried on by the Chief Secretary, and although he may have a majority in the Division against us, the lessons that has been preached to-night will tell in time.
That item B be reduced by £600 in respect of the salary of the Crown solicitor for Mayo.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 54; Noes 107.—(Division List No. 197.)433
|Allen, W. (Newc.-under-L.)||Hazell, Walter||Parnell, John Howard|
|Billson, Alfred||Hogan, James Francis||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.|
|Brigg, John||Holburn, J. G.||Pinkerton, John|
|Caldwell, James||Holden, Sir Angus||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Richardson, J. (Durham)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Jordan, Jeremiah||Roche, Hon. J. (Kerry, E.)|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Kilbride, Denis||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Crean, Eugene||Macaleese, Daniel||Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||MacNeill, John G. Swift||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Daly, James||McCartan, Michael||Warner, Thomas C. T.|
|Davitt, Michael||McDermott, Patrick||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Mandeville, J. Francis||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan)||Molloy, Bernard Charles||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Morris, Samuel|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Murnaghan, George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Dillon and Mr.Doogan.|
|Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Gilhooly, James||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary)|
|Hammond, John (Carlow)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Malley, William|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Gilliat, John Saunders||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.)|
|Arnold, Alfred||Goschen, Rt. Hn. G.J. (St. Geo's)||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Gosohen, G. J. (Sussex)||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Baird, John George Alex.||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Balcarres, Lord||Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. E.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch.)||Gretton, John||Purvis, Robert|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Pym, C. Guy|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W.||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne-|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M.H. (Brist'l)||Heath, James||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Helder, Augustus||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Henderson, Alexander||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Charles T.|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs)||Hermon-Hodge, Robert T.||Robertson, H. (Hackney)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, E.)||Hill, Sir Edward S. (Bristol)||Robinson, Brooke|
|Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W.||Howell, William Tudor||Round, James|
|Charrington, Spencer||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Kenyon, James||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Knowles, Lees||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Colston, Chas. E. H. Athole||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Lea, Sir T. (Londonderry)||Sidebottom, W. (Derbyshire)|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H.||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Cross, Herbert S. (Bolton)||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Stanley, H. M. (Lambeth)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn- (Sw'ns'a)||Stock, James Henry|
|Drucker, A.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Finch, George H.||Loder, Gerald Walter E.||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)||Warkworth, Lord|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lorne, Marquess of||Wharton, Rt. Hon. J. L.|
|FitzGerald, Sir R. Penrose-||Lowe, Francis William||Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)|
|Flower, Ernest||Lucas-Shadwell, William||Wilson, J. W. (Worc., N.)|
|Folkestone, Viscount||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Wodehouse, E. R. (Bath)|
|Forwood, Rt. Hon. Sir A. B.||McCalmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Garfit, William||Monckton, Edward Philip||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Gedge, Sydney||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy|
|Giles, Charles Tyrrell||More, Robert Jasper|
Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. FLAVIN (Kerry, N.)
I would like to direct the attention of the Chief Secretary to a recent case in which the constabulary, without any authority, arrested two boys and brought them before a magistrate. Subsequently an action was brought by the boys' mother for illegal arrest. When the case came on for trial the county court judge directed that the jury, notwithstanding their own opinions and the weight of the evidence, should sign the issue paper declaring that there was no arrest of any kind. I should like to ask the Chief Secretary whether a county court judge has the power of directing a jury to find a verdict against the weight of evidence?
The action of county court judges in legal matters cannot be challenged upon this Vote. Their salaries are placed upon the Consolidated Fund for the express purpose of placing their actions outside the scope of review in this House.
§ MR. FLAVIN
In the case I refer to the jury had formed an opinion upon the facts, and wanted to express that opinion, but the county court judge told them they must not do so.
§ MR. FLYNN
May I call the attention of the Attorney General for Ireland to the matter of the selection of juries at the last winter assizes in Cork? Some time ago I gave to the right honourable Gentleman particulars of two or three cases of jury packing, and I would like an expression of opinion from him in view of the approaching summer assizes and the probability that the old practices, will be repeated.
§ MR. ATKINSON
It is perfectly impossible for me to give any undertaking that in future no jurors 435 will be ordered to stand aside. Every administration must maintain the right to enforce this power of challenge, but I think I may challenge the honourable Member to find any case in the last 20 years in which so few jurors have been ordered to stand aside as at the last winter assizes at Cork. There were only 55 jurors who were ordered to stand aside, and of those 39 were challenged by the prisoners. It is impossible for me to give an undertaking that this power of challenging jurors will not be exercised by the Crown, but I think I can give the assurance that the power is never used by Crown solicitors for any reason but one—namely, that there is some ground for thinking that the persons challenged, if sworn, would not give an impartial verdict. I can assure the honourable Member that he is under a great misapprehension if he thinks that Crown prosecutors wish to exercise this right. Everybody who is engaged in public prosecutions knows the amount of criticism and censure that such a course brings down. The power is only used in cases where there is real ground for believing that it is necessary in the interests of justice.
§ MR. FLYNN
My remarks in the earlier part of the evening rather had reference to the Cork winter assizes of December, 1896. In December, 1897, there were a number of stand-bys, so large as to be absolutely alarming. I think we are entitled to have an assurance from the right honourable Gentleman that he will give a general instruction to solicitors and counsel representing the Crown to exercise less zeal in taking advantage of their right of challenge. I say it is a bad principle and it is fraught with danger when exercised in the wholesale manner in which it is by over-zealous and indiscreet Crown prosecutors and solicitors.
§ MR. DAVITT
In connection with the Vote for law charges and criminal prosecutions, I should like to ascertain why it is that there is no diminution corresponding to the dwindling population and the general crimelessness of the country. There is not to-day any civilised country in the world that can show a clearer record in the matter of crime than Ire- 436 land. It is quite a common thing for judges at assizes to be presented with white gloves, and in connection with the county I have the honour to represent, the judges who went down shortly after the so-called disturbances in Westport declared that the county was in a most satisfactory condition in the matter of crime. In face of these things, which no one can deny, one would expect that something less than £62,660 would be required for criminal prosecutions in Ireland; and when we add to this the salaries of the judges and the enormous sum of money paid for the police, I think I can safely say that the administration of justice in Ireland is scandalously extravagant and without parallel in the history of any other country.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
I desire to draw attention to one item in this Vote, namely—For the defence of public officials, expenses in actions taken against resident magistrates, divisional and other magistrates, constabulary, and other public officials, £400.We are entitled to have details of the expenditure under such an extraordinary heading as that.
§ MR. ATKINSON
The Estimates for this year for law charges are less than they have been for the last 22 years—very little more than half what they were in 1883–84. They were then £115,825, and they have been dwindling since that date until this year. I have not the figures further back than 1877, but for the last 30 years the figure has not been so low as it is at the present time. In 1891–92 the figure was £77,621; in 1892–93, £76,000; in 1893–94, £70,000; in 1894–95, £67,000; in 1895–96, £66,000; in 1896–97, £65,000; in 1897–98, £64,000; and this year, £62,000, or £1,500 less than last year, representing the lowest figure during the present century; thanks to the rapid and uninterrupted decline in Crown prosecutions, indicating a corresponding decrease in crime. With regard to the item of £400 referred to by the honourable Member for East Donegal, I think that is an exceedingly moderate and proper 437 charge. If an action is brought against a police sergeant for acts done in the execution of his duty, and it turns out to be totally groundless, the costs of defending himself might mean ruin to the officer, unless the Government came to his rescue. What is done is this. The Government refuse, in the first place, to undertake to pay costs at all; they wait until the result of the action, and if the officer is blameless they will pay his costs. It would be impossible, in many cases, for the officers to defend themselves against such actions unless the Executive came to their assistance, and I think the Committee will agree that the Government cannot be blamed for standing at the back of their own officials.
§ On the Vote of £69,929, to complete the sum for Supreme Court of Judicature and other Legal Departments in Ireland,
§ MR. DILLON
On this Vote I should like to ask the Chief Secretary to let us know what has been the net amount of saving made in pursuance of an Act, passed at the end of last year, called an Act to reduce the Irish Judiciary. I see that in the Supreme Court of Judicature there is a decrease this year of £4,829, as compared with last year. I should like to ask whether the whole of that saving has been carried to a separate Irish account, according to the promise that was made when the Bill of last year was under discussion? Having put that question to the Attorney General, I should like to say a word on the general question of judicial salaries, and to draw a comparison between the law charges in Ireland and those in England and Scotland. When we have thrown in our teeth the cost of the civil government of Ireland, and when we are told that we could not afford to run Ireland on a deficit of a million a year, it is well to make such a comparison as I suggest. The Supreme Court of Judicature and other legal departments in Ireland cost £112,000 last year, and £107,000 in the year now under discussion. In England 438 the Supreme Court of Judicature, with, at the lowest estimate, about 20 times the amount of business, cost only £326,000 this year. Then, the law charges in England, with a population of 28 millions, and an enormous commercial business, considerably greater in proportion than that of Ireland, were only £79,000, whilst in unfortunate Ireland, with its population of four and a half millions—less than the population of the city in which we now are—and with one-tenth of its commercial business, our expenditure for law charges and criminal prosecutions is no less than £62,000, nearly as much as the whole of the law charges of England. Then, in addition, there is a charge of £119,000 for the land court, which has no analogy in this country. Then we have county court officers £113,000, whereas in England the sum is only £38,000. If you take the case of Scotland, the law charges are £92,000, and for the Register House (I have not the remotest idea what the Register House is) £41,000, making in all £133,000, as against £300,000 in England and £107,000 in Ireland. Sir, I do not want to go into the details of this Vote, but I would ask the Attorney General to tell us what is the net amount of saving up to the end of the last financial year on the salaries of judges, and what arrangements have been made for carrying the savings to a separate account, and what will be the name of that account.
§ MR. ATKINSON
I am afraid I cannot state accurately the amount of the present and prospective savings referred to by the honourable Member, and I am not sure that the Treasury are in possession of the information. Perhaps the honourable Member will put a Question on the subject to a representative of the Treasury. With regard to the law charges, I must say that I am really astounded at the comparison the honourable Member makes between England and Ireland. Surely he must be in ignorance of the fact that all the expenses of a criminal prosecution in Ireland that is taken up by the Crown are borne by the Treasury, and there is not one-fortieth part 439 of the total expenses that does not appear on the Votes. In England a considerable portion of the expenses of criminal prosecutions are borne by private individuals, and only a small proportion of the total cost falls upon the Treasury. Therefore, the comparison instituted by the honourable Member is wholly fallacious.
§ MR. DAVITT
I think the right honourable Gentleman has evaded the real point of the remarks of my honourable Friend. He pointed out that the cost of the Supreme Court of Judicature in Ireland—£107,000, for a population of 4½ millions—was altogether out of proportion to the cost of the Supreme Court in England—£326,000, for a population of 28 millions.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
The right honourable Gentleman the Attorney General is one of the most successful pleaders at the Irish Bar, and yet he expresses the opinion that, considering the average income made by professional men in Ireland, the judicial salaries are not large. I venture to say that all the occupants of the bench in Ireland, even the puisne judges, are overpaid if regard be had to the incomes earned at the Bar: £2,000 a year is a very large income for a Queen's counsel in Ireland, and a man when raised to the bench receives considerably more. In the case of this country, it is a well-known fact that any successful or eminent lawyer who accepts a position on the bench generally does so at a considerable sacrifice of income. We find the same exaggerated scale of payment not only in the case of the judges themselves, but in the case of the minor legal officials. I find that the chief clerks in nearly all the Irish judicial departments get £1,000 a year. The Attorney General knows very well that in Ireland a man earning £300, or even £250, a year is looked upon as having reached a position of security and opulence, which makes him the envy of all the men, and the courted of all marriageable ladies. Now, putting these facts into aggregate form, I find that in Ireland we have a total Vote of £107,900, as against a Vote in-England of £320,000. The population 440 of Ireland is four and a half millions, mostly law-abiding; England has a population of 28 millions, most law-abiding too, but with a larger percentage of the criminal class than there is in Ireland; and yet, despite of that enormous disparity between the populations of the two countries, we find that the law charges are, for Ireland £107,000, as against £320,000 for England. Now, the importance of this Vote has been pointed out by my honourable Friend. In the first place, it shows a diseased condition of the country where law charges are so high. These law charges are largely the result of political disability. But the second and more important feature of the Vote is this: these amounts are all charged against Ireland in the account between England and Ireland which we discussed a few days ago. And, to show the way in which these bloated Estimates are made up, let me draw the attention of the Committee to this item: we have, first of all, a chief clerk, with a salary of £1,000 a year; then, a "first-class clerk to the chief clerk, £400;" and a "second-class clerk to the chief clerk, £350." Was there ever such an instance of piling Pelion on Ossa? And all this in a country with a population less than that of this city! This is the heritage we have from the days when Ireland was governed by a certain number of great families, and when snug places were provided as a sort of outdoor relief for members or those families. It is a system that is no longer tolerated in this country, and I think it my duty to protest against its continuance in Ireland.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote for Salaries and Expenses of the Irish Land Commission,
§ MR. DILLON
This is one of the most contentious of all the Irish Votes, and must necessarily give rise to some considerable discussion. As it is just upon 12 o'clock, I beg to move, Sir, that yon report progress.
§ Resolutions to be reported; Committee report progress.
§ House adjourned at 12.1.