§ [ADJOURNMENT OF THE HOUSE.]
§ Mr. T. W. RUSSELL (South Tyrone)
rose in his place and asked leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, "the over-riding of the law as declared by the Irish King's Bench by the authorities of Dublin Castle in the case of Leslie v. The Justices of Monaghan"; but the pleasure of the House not having been signified, Mr. SPEAKER called on those Members who supported the motion to rise in their places, and not less than forty Members having accordingly risen—
§ *MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said the facts in this case were so simple and so plain as to appeal to the judgment of the House against the action of the authorities of Dublin Castle. According to law, the annual licensing sessions were held at Monaghan in the month of October last. Those sessions were the only sessions at which new licences could be legally granted, and Mr. Leslie, the agent to Lord Dartrey, applied for the transfer of a licence previously held by a Mr. Gardiner. The application, which was heard by the lawfully constituted licensing authority, the justices of Monaghan, was opposed, not by the police, but by the clergy and residents of the neighbourhood. The magistrates came to the conclusion that the premises were unsuitable and the applicant unfit, and those were two out of the three legal objections which could be urged in such cases. The transfer was accordingly refused. The applicant appealed to the Court of King's Bench, when, before a full court of four judges, the decision of the magistrates was upheld. In the ordinary course, Mr. Leslie would have had to close his premises, as the licence expired on the 11th 112 October. But Ireland is an extraordinary country. Things occurred there which could take place in no other country. Notwithstanding the legal decisions, Mr. Leslie had been selling liquor every day since, and the police refused to prosecute. The Attorney General for Ireland had stated that Leslie paid the heirs of the previous holder £400 for the licence, that the place had always been conducted as a publichouse, and that no objection on the ground of unfitness had been taken. But the heirs of the previous holder were offered £600, and the Earl of Dartrey's agent stopped the sale by means that everyone from Ireland understood, namely, by the right of pre-emption. So the heirs were first done out of £200, and then this man applied for a licence himself. Who authorised this man to break the law? As the transfer had been refused, a new licence would have to be applied for, and that could not be done until next October, although possibly exceptional circumstances might be pleaded. The people of the neighbourhood had tried to find out who was responsible for the evasion of the law. The police knew nothing; they were ordered not to prosecute—not to give Lord Dartrey's agent any annoyance. The magistrates knew nothing, except that their decision had been over-ruled by some authority which had no legal warrant for its action. Dublin Castle referred the inquirers to the Excise authorities, from whom the following letter, dated 6th February, was received—I have laid before the Board of Inland Revenue your letter of the 31st ult., respecting the permission granted to Mr. H. T. Leslie to carry on business pending his application to the quarter sessions, to be held on 26th March next. In reply thereto, the Hoard direct me to state that in allowing Mr. Leslie to sell they are acting upon a recommendation of the Irish Government at Dublin Castle, to whom they must respectfully refer you for any information you may require on the subject.He (the speaker) had applied to the representatives of Dublin Castle in the House of Commons, and had been sent back to the Excise. It was a short story, but it illustrated how things were done in Ireland. What he wanted to know from the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General was, even supposing Dublin Castle had the power to over-ride the 113 licensing authorities, why was that power exercised in this case? Why was that done for Lord Dartrey's agent which would not be done for any humble applicant in County Dublin or anywhere else? This was a most unwarranted interference on the part of Dublin Castle with the law of the land, and he hoped that the Attorney General, if he could not explain this case, would at all events take great care that the action was not repeated during his time at Dublin Castle.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, X.),
in seconding the motion for adjournment, said that in all the long history of scandal connected with Irish administration—although it was seldom concerned with licensing matters—he had never known so gross, so illegal, so shocking a case. What was the offence tolerated and winked at by Dublin Castle? In a county where the magistrates were practically chosen by Lord Rossmore, the head of the Orange Lodge in Ireland, they were not likely to be a bench favourable to the people, but, in this case. Lord Rossmore's Orange magistrates had actually refused to permit the transfer on the ground of the unfitness not only of the premises but also of the applicant. The case was decided practically on the authority of the decision in Sharpe v. Wakefield, the case upon which the whole of the English licensing law depended. The Attorney General smiled, but he laughed best who laughed last. The magistrates were entitled to take into account the distance of the house from the police barracks. He did not know who the magistrates were, but apparently they had the concurrence of the religious bodies of all denominations—a very unusual state of things in Ireland. The Earl of Dartrey's agent appealed last October or November, but for the four months that had elapsed since then, although the place had been as much without a licence as any shebeen or brothel, he had been allowed day after day to commit this breach of the law. For selling a single glass of whisky without a licence, a man was liable to a penalty of £50 or imprisonment, and the penalty was increased for subsequent offences. Why was not this man prosecuted? Why was Lord Dartrey's agent allowed to do these things? In 114 a case of hardship it could be understood if the Government said they would not prosecute, but here there had been a legal decision. By what authority had Dublin Castle overruled the decision of the judges? In the times of James II. the suspensory power was considered to be revolutionary, and was formally condemned by the House of Commons. The reason this had happened was that a new sessions met on the 25th of this month, and this man had, he supposed, been allowed to remain unprosecuted because Lord Rossmore's friends would pack the bench for him in a fortnight's time and the Attorney General, being accustomed to the act of jury-packing, wanted to encourage the transaction. Who was Mr. Leslie? He was a member of one of the Carlton Clubs, he was a gentleman from Somersetshire, was formerly agent to King-Harman, and had been promoted to be agent to the Karl of Dartrey. If an ordinary publican sold a tent of liquor after licensed hours, he was prosecuted. Why was the law not enforced in the case of a man in the position of Lord Dartrey's agent who had broken the law for four months? If any Irish Nationalist, getting up a ball on St. Patrick's night, applied for an extension of time, he would be hooted by the police and the authorities. If any Nationalist had been found committing the smallest illegality the authorities would be only too ready to pounce upon him. Was it the law of the country that if you were Lord Dartrey's agent you could do as you liked, while if you were a poor man the law would be immediately enforced against you? The House might say this case was unworthy of their attention, but it gave them an admirable picture of what was going on in every town in Ireland. There was no law for the Nationalists and any amount of license for the Conservatives. What were the circumstances of the case under which Mr. Leslie was granted this unusual indulgence? There was a law by which the landlords under the Land Act could pre-empt and obtain possession of their neighbours goods without paying for them. In this case the price of the house in the open market was £600, and the landlord grabbed it for £400, and the Government, which professed to be 115 so anxious to uphold the rights of property, wanted to enable this man illegally to remain in possession of his ill-gotten gains. He did not know why the Government poked their noses into these cases. Why should the Government go out of their way to assist this agent? Had they not enough agents and landlords on hand, for the whole work of Dublin Castle was simply carrying on the business of landlordism? Why should the Government bring down upon themselves this additional hornet's nest? After the Government had taken up this case simply because the man concerned was the agent of a noble Earl, and allowed it to go forth that they would tolerate illegality of this kind, he believed that even the Protestants in Ireland would now come to the conclusion which the Nationalists had long ago arrived at that there was in Ireland one law for the rich and another for the poor.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn"—(Mr. T. W. Russell.)
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOE IRELAND (Mr. ATKINSON, Londonderry, N.)
I do not think that the real facts of the case leave any room for the indignation shown by the two hon. Members who have spoken. These are shortly the facts in regard to the action of the Government, so far as they have taken any action at all in the matter. I do not intend to enter into the merits of this dispute between the agent to Lord Dartrey and the former tenant of his house. I may say that the facts in possession of the Government do not tally with those mentioned by my hon. friend upon this question. According to the facts in possession of the Government I understand that for some years the tenant carried on business as a publican in this house, the tenant himself having got an assignment from the preceding tenant, who had also carried on business for several years, and who died leaving a direction to his executors to sell and dispose of his interest in the house. The landlord—Lord Dart-rey—exercised the right of preemption when the tenant died. According to his right of preemption he was entitled to go into possession, but although Lord Dartrey was absolutely entitled to walk 116 in for £120 he voluntarily increased the purchase money to £400. As far as I can find out there is no evidence that the sum of £600 is a fair valuation, but the fact remains that Lord Dartrey voluntarily increased the sum from £120 to £400. Of course the licence was the thing of real value, for the house was worth nothing without it.
§ MR. ATKINSON
There was only a small bit of land attached, and its value was comparatively nothing, for the real value was in the licensed house. The question decided by the Court was that in fixing the right of preemption they could not take into consideration the value of the licence, and Lord Dartrey thought it such a very unfair thing to the executors to deprive them of what was really the only thing of value that he refused to take advantage of the preemption price, and he increased it by the sum of £280.
§ MR. ATKINSON
I do not mean at all to decide or attempt to decide who was right or wrong upon that contract. Lord Dartrey's agent applied to the October Licensing Sessions for a transfer of the licence to himself. The case came before the magistrates, and they decided by a majority of eighteen votes to fifteen that the premises were unfit and that the applicant was an unfit tenant. My hon. and learned friend entirely mistook my smile just now. I did not at all intend to suggest that it was not perfectly competent for the magistrates to take those facts into consideration. They decided that the premises were unfit and' it was decided also that the applicant was unfit, although no objection was taken to his character. The objection taken to him was that he did not intend to carry on the business himself, and therefore the magistrates decided—rightly enough in my opinion—that he was an unfit person to hold the licence. That occurred at the October Sessions. I understand that the only objector to the transfer was one of Lord Dartrey's tenants who was under notice to quit, and who shortly afterwards surrendered his farm.
§ MR. ATKINSON
That is the custom, but what I have stated about this man I am informed is correct. Under these circumstances, the magistrates having decided that they would not transfer the licence, Mr. Leslie determined upon having that decision brought up by a writ of certiorari. I understand that it is quite a common thing for the Excise authorities to grant licences pending litigation of that character, in order to preserve the rights which would be lost otherwise. He applied to the Excise to be permitted to sell during the interval, and I understand that such a thing is rightly done almost every day, because it would be a most monstrous thing in an application for the transfer of the licence in which the magistrates decided wrongly that permission to sell in the interval should be refused because by the non-sale in the interval the valuable interest in the licence would be forfeited. The hon. Member admits that there may be circumstances which justify the Excise authorities granting a licence to sell pending the decision of another Court. The application was made at the October Sessions, and forthwith made to remove the case to the Queen's Bench, and the decision of the Queen's Bench was not given until the 21st of December. On the 31st of December the Court of Queen's Bench delivered judgment, upholding the decision of the magistrates. I understand that neither of my hon. friends objects to the procedure of the Excise authority in granting a licence up to the time that the Queen's Bench delivered judgment and the application for a writ of certiorari because that must be on the principle that the civil rights must be protected while the case is sub judice.
§ MR. ATKINSON
But this thing is constantly done and rightly done, and that being so Mr. Leslie determined to apply for a new licence. The ordinary time to apply for a new licence would be the 21st of Januarys.
§ MR. ATKINSON
He could have applied at the January Sessions for a licence to trade on, and he was advised that he had a right to do it.
§ MR. ATKINSON
I am not pledging myself to the propriety or impropriety of these proceedings, but I am telling the House what he was advised, and he was told that this was the proper course for him to take. As three weeks notice of his application was necessary, he was too late for the January sessions, because he did not know that he had been unsuccessful in the Queen's Bench until the 21st of December, and the interval between that date and the January sessions did not allow an interval of twenty-one days to elapse. By that misadventure owing to the delay in the Court of Queen's Bench delivering judgment on the writ of certiorari Mr. Leslie was deprived of making his application at the January sessions.
§ MR. ATKINSON
Inasmuch as he could not proceed at the January sessions owing to the fact that he could not give three weeks notice, the first sessions that he could apply for the granting of an interim certificate for a new licence was the March sessions. That was entirely due to the fact that the Court of Queen's Bench delayed the delivering of their judgment until late in December. Under these circumstances Mr. Leslie applied to the Excise authorities to permit him to continue to sell until the March sessions so that his rights might not be prejudiced and for granting this permission the Irish Government is accused of exercising the prerogatives of James II. That is all the share which the Irish Government took in this matter. They received a communication from the Excise authorities setting out these facts and asking 119 the Government if they had any objection to granting this permission to sell, inasmuch as Mr. Leslie had already paid for the licence. The reply given was that the Government had no objection to permitting him to continue to trade up to the 25th of March.
§ MR. ATKINSON
Yes, I understand that it is usual. This permission was granted because otherwise valuable rights would have been destroyed, and the licence was granted to sell until the owner had an opportunity of finally deciding the matter. We have done nothing except giving this man permission to sell up to the 25th of March, when his application at the licensing sessions will be finally adjudicated upon either one way or the other. That is the ordinary practice. It was not done by the authority or direction of the Executive at all.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Will the right hon. the learned Gentleman say how Mr. Leslie would have been prejudiced if he had not obtained protection when he made application for the new licence? Is it not the fact that he was allowed to carry on the public-house business for four months without a licence?
§ MR. ATKINSON
The decision was given by the Queen's Bench on the 21st December, and it was only then that the licence was really lost. Whether Mr. Leslie took the right course or not I cannot say; but at all events he made application to the Excise authorities, who asked the Executive Government if they might grant permission, and the Executive said they had no objection.
§ *MR. HEMPHILL (Tyrone, North)
I have had some experience of the licensing system in Ireland, but I confess I have never heard of anything like the present state of affairs arising before. From the statement of the Attorney General, of course he was in no way responsible in this matter. Had it come before him originally, I am quite sure the present state of affairs would never have come into existence. I am not going into 120 the merits or the motives of Mr. Leslie the agent of Lord Dartrey, but there is the undoubted fact stated by the hon. Member for South Tyrone, not controverted by the Attorney General, that the personal representative of the deceased publican was offered £600 for the interest in the public-house, and it is admitted that the value of the farm, apart from the licence, had been fixed under the Land Act at £120. Of course, the real value of this farm, therefore, lay in the licence; the other was merely illusory. It is said Mr. Leslie was very generous in offering £400, but an outsider offered £600, so that Mr. Leslie got a very considerable bargain. The matter came before the quarter sessions which were the licensing authorities in Ireland, in October. There was a large attendance of magistrates, and the matter was fully discussed. There are three legal grounds on which a licence can be transferred or can be granted in Ireland. The first is the fitness of the applicant; the second, the fitness of the house; and the third, the number of public-houses in the neighbourhood. The majority of the magistrates, by a majority of eighteen to fifteen, decided that the applicant was unfit, and why? Because he was a gentleman living in a very handsome place, the agent of Lord Dartrey, one of the great magnates of the county, who in fact. could not from his position carry on the business on his own account and live on the premises. On that ground he was held to be unfit. But in addition to that the magistrates held that the premises were unfit, being such a distance from the police barracks, on which account the police could not exercise proper supervision over it. For years in Ireland that has been one of the grounds on which licences have been refused, because roadside public-houses, unless within reasonable reach of the police barracks, cannot be supervised, and the police cannot see that a house is properly conducted. At all events, in October the magistrates refused the licence. The house was then an unlicensed house. Nobody had a right to sell liquor until a new licence was granted by the adequate authority. A certiorari was moved for, and the case brought before the Court of Queen's Bench in Dublin, which 121 Court decided on 10th December that the magistrates were perfectly right. What then occurred? The Excise Office, in the teeth of the announcement of the magistrates in October, confirmed by the Queen's Bench, approached the Dublin Castle authorities, and Dublin Castle authorised that Office to do what the statute gave it no authority to do—namely, to give a temporary licence to Mr. Leslie until his application was made before the magistrates in the following March. Surely never has there been a more unwarrantable act countenanced by the Executive Government, even in Ireland. There is no authority for it in the statute. There is a power, in the interval between two quarter sessions, for a magistrate to give a certificate of character, so that an Excise officer may then give a permit to sell until the following quarter sessions; but here there was no licence. This house was no more licensed than any other farmhouse in the whole country. The Excise Office evidently felt that themselves, because they would not act on their own authority and consulted the authorities at Dublin Castle who said in effect, "Why should we be stiff about this?" and told the Excise Office to do what they liked. That, of course, placed the magistrates in a very false position, and the whole of the licensing authorities throughout Ireland in a very false position. It is the more to be regretted, that at a time when public attention is so much excited in regard to this question of licensing. Dublin Castle should have given their high imprimatur to such an abuse of the law.
§ *MR. BLAKE (Longford. S.)
This seems to me to be very a serious question not to be set aside by the very lame explanation of the right hon. the Attorney General. It is one thing to deal under a recognised custom or practice with the case of a licence that has been issued, and which is still current and subject to an arrangement for transfer. In that case the applicant asks for permission for a continuance of the right to sell until an appeal is made against the decision of the magistrate adverse to the transfer to a higher jurisdiction. But it does not at all follow that when a final adjudication has taken place and the 122 question is once and for all and irrevocably settled, and when the licence is thus practically at an end, that a new man should be allowed to sell liquor without a licence because ho intends to make application for a new licence at a future quarter sessions. What is going to be the result of the action of the authorities? Any person favoured by Dublin Castle who professes his intention of applying for a new licence may be put in possession of a house and be allowed to sell liquor on the ground that he means afterwards to apply to the magistrates for a licence, and that the magistrates are practically constrained to confirm what had been done by the Dublin. Castle authorities. The right hon. and learned Gentleman cannot escape, and Dublin Castle cannot escape by saying that all that they did was to say that they had no objection. Was this transaction lawful? And if it was not lawful what right had Dublin Castle to interfere? The right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland has carefully abstained from staking his reputation upon the legality of this matter. He has not said it was lawful. He said that Mr. Leslie's advisers alleged it was so. But he has acknowledged that the facts were laid before Dublin Castle and that Dublin Castle authorised these transactions. So far as I understand the law, even as explained by the Attorney General, Dublin Castle had no right to authorise the Excise authorities to do what was an absolutely illegal act. And yet that was done by the Executive Government which is constantly putting itself forward as engaged constitutionally in upholding the sanctity of the law. That seems to me to be a most objectionable transaction, calculated to create much confusion unless it meets with the general reprobation of the House.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
There is one matter of fact about which the House ought to have more clear information than it at present possesses, and that is by what authority the Inland Revenue Board acted in this case.
§ MR. ATKINSON
Mr. Leslie applied on the 11th January to the Inland Revenue for permission to sell, and the 123 Inland Revenue wrote to the Under Secretary at the Castle, who replied that the Executive had no objections.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
But that is not what the Board of Inland Revenue say. They say in reply to a communication addressed to them by Mr. Leslie's solicitor:—"The Board direct me to state that in allowing Mr. Leslie to sell they are acting upon the recommendation of the Irish Government" (not merely that they had no objections) "to whom they most respectfully refer you for any information you require." That seems to me to be absolutely inconsistent with the theory that Dublin Castle merely said that they had no objections, because that reply indicated that the Board of Inland Revenue refused to proceed on their own authority. Now, the Board of Inland Revenue is represented in this House by the Chancellor of the Exchequer who has been an interested spectator of this debate. I daresay the right hon. Gentleman has informed himself on the point, and he may be able to tell us what the Board of Inland Revenue did, and whether the responsibility lies with Dublin Castle, or whether the Board of Inland Revenue acted on its own responsibility because Dublin Castle did not object. There is another point. We ought to know something about the value of this permission given by the Excise authorities, and possibly the Chancellor of the Exchequer may be able to tell us that. Again, what right have the Excise authorities to give this permission? Have they acted under a statute, and if so under what statute? When we know the Act we can refer to it and determine, to some extent, the nature of their responsibility. This case is full of scandals, but there is one scandal not mentioned at all in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is more interested than any one else. What is the root of all this mischief? We have been told that the farm without a licence was worth £120, and with the licence £600. The difference between the two values is the property of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and if he received the duty at the proper 124 date he must have the money. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer has informed himself on the question I am sure the House would be delighted to hear from him what would not be an ex parte statement—what part the Inland Revenue Board took in this matter, and whether they acted at the instigation of Dublin Castle.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOE IRE LAND (Mr. WYNDHAM,) Dover
I will attempt to answer the specific question that has been put. As I understand it, the solicitor for Mr. Leslie wrote to the officer of the Excise on the 11th January stating that his client had intended to make application for a licence at the January session, but was entirely precluded from doing so owing to the decision of the Queen's Bench being so late. His client, however, intended to make the application for a new licence on the 26th March, and in view of that fact his client wished to know whether there was any objection to his carrying on the business till the 26th March. I appeal to hon. Members not to make too much of a technical point which I do not think is material to the ethics of the case. It is admitted that Mr. Leslie was legally entitled to conduct his business until the decision of the Supreme Court of Law-, and that if that decision had been against him he could make application for a new licence. [An HON. MEMBER That is not so.] At any rate, he thought so, and wrote to the Excise that it was no longer in his power to make application for the licence in January, but that he proposed to make application in March, and in the meantime asked the Excise to allow him to exercise the privilege of selling liquor until 26th March. The question has been asked whether the suggestion came from Dublin Castle or from the Inland Revenue to grant the permission. Now, the officer of Inland Revenue wrote to the Under Secretary at the Castle saying that he had been directed by the Board of Inland Revenue to forward a letter from the solicitor of Mr. Leslie craving an extension of the period of indulgence under the circumstances. Before taking any steps the Board would be glad to know whether his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant Would have any objection to the proposal being acceded to; but in the meantime 125 the local officer of Excise had been instructed not to interfere with Mr. Leslie.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The circumstances set forth by Mr. Leslie's solicitor. The correspondence showed that the suggestion had not come from Dublin Castle.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin County. N.)
This is a case which in a small way presents a perfect picture of the manner in which Ireland is governed. Both in and outside the House we have been asked to regard the government of Ireland as based upon lawand order, and everything is supposed to be carried on in the purest manner; and if any attempt is made from the Irish benches at any time to cast disrespect on the judges of the land we are solemnly rebuked. But what has been the answer of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland to the charge made by the hon. Member who raised the debate? The substance of the answer, particularly when he wanted to point out the futility of the ground that this man Leslie was refused a transfer of a licence, was this: "I disagree with the judges of the Queen's Bench; they were not right in withholding, as they did, a licence for this man on the ground they did."
§ MR. ATKINSON
I said nothing of the sort. The only question decided by the Queen'S Bench was whether the magistrates had acted within their powers in refusing the licence.
§ MR. CLANCY
Then why did the right hon. and learned Gentleman enter into this matter at all? What business was it of his whether this man should have been refused the licence at all? I assume that the law has been rightly decided, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman assumes in his answer that the law was not rightly decided. Imagine such a thing occurring in England! Supposing 126 a bench of magistrates in England had decided that a man should not have a licence, imagine after such a decision the man daring to keep a public-house open! But in Ireland such a thing has happened, and the man has kept the public-house open in defiance of the law. Then he appealed to the Queen's Bench Court and was beaten there but he still kept the public-house open. He allowed the time to elapse in which he could have applied for a new licence to the quarter sessions in January, but he still kept the public-house open, trusting to the influence of his friends in Dublin Castle, and of the Orange Lodge of which he was a member, to keep him safe from the consequences. The right hon. and learned Member entered into the merits of the question, and told of the generous treatment of Lord Dartrey to this man. But what business was it of the Attorney General to inquire into Lord Dartrey S conduct? The only question is, Was the law broken? I admit at once that the benevolent doctrine of the right hon. and learned Gentleman might commend itself to some people in certain circumstances. If they Mere to take into account special circumstances of great hardship, they might, if they possibly could, wink at some violation of the law. But what if they applied that doctrine all round? Every man who belongs to Ireland knows that it has been applied to Orangemen. Conservatives, Unionists, landlords, and people of the upper classes, but it has never been applied to any man, of the National faith or who occupy a humble position in life. This case gives another illustration of how Ireland is governed. The application for leave to keep the public-house open after the magistrates had refused the licence was made to the Board of Inland Revenue and to the authorities of the Castle. Would that be tolerated in England? What connection is there between the Board of Inland Revenue and the Castle? What business has the Board of Inland Revenue to communicate with the Castle? Have they not the law before them to carry out? Does the Inland Revenue Board ask the Castle what they would do in similar circumstances in the case of a Nationalist? Not at all. The very fact that the Inland Revenue Board wrote a 127 private letter to the Castle—which would have never seen the light but for this debate—was a condemnation of the system of government carried on in Ireland, and must carry conviction to the mind of any honest man that that system of government is absolutely indefensible. At the same time the English could not govern Ireland in any other way by upholding the law impartially. By-and-bye, when they have conquered the Transvaal, they will be obliged to govern it. too, against the will of the people. At all events, Irishmen are entitled, meanwhile, to protest that the law, while it is the law, should be impartially administered, and I think the hon. Member for South Tyrone is to be congratulated in having brought this glaring case before the attention of Parliament.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir M. HICKS BEACH. Bristol. W.)
said as this was a matter having a great deal to do with the Inland Revenue, it might not be out of place for him to say a few words. He had never heard of the case until he came into the House, and he did not profess to be so intimately acquainted with the law or its administration in cases of this kind as to he able to give a definite opinion. He thought all would admit that the mere continuance of non-interference with selling, pending the hearing of the appeal by the Queen's Bench, was proper. The Chief Secretary had shown that there might be a case of hardship even beyond that, on which it would be right that a similar non-interference should continue to be exercised on the part of the Inland Revenue. Whether this was one of those cases or not he could not say offhand, but he would certainly inquire. But bethought non-interference after a decision of the Court of Queen's Bench against the applicant should be very rarely used. If non-interference had been exercised not in accordance with the ordinary custom, which should apply equally to all, but in favour of Mr. Leslie, because he held a certain position, he most distinctly condemned the proceeding, and should certainly interfere to prevent its continuance.
§ *MR. WHITTAKER (Yorkshire. W.R., Spen Valley)
said the point which he 128 wished to emphasise was that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland in all he had said had studiously avoided giving his own opinion upon the case. He did not venture to assert that Mr. Leslie had a right to any such permission as had been exercised. He had no such right. There was no justification for any such application, and therefore it was erroneous for the right hon. Gentleman to say that the case would be finally adjudicated upon at the March sessions. The application to be made, then, was a new application altogether.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
said that, after the extremely satisfactory statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he desired, with the leave of the House, to-withdraw the motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.