§ MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War in reference to the action now pending, and brought by the War Office against Mr. Stoddert for conspiracy to defraud in the purchase of remounts in Ireland, at what date was the action commenced; how far has it proceeded; when is it probable that it will be concluded; and unless he proposes to institute an immediate and specific inquiry into the purchase of remounts in Ireland, will he take such measures as may be in his power to bring the action to a decision as speedily as possible.
§ MR. BRODRICK
This case has been very long delayed to my great regret. In December 1900 I directed that proceedings should be taken by the Yeomanry Committee against Major Stoddert and any others who could legally be associated with him. In the following month, finding that counsel advised it, 518 I approved the association of the Secretary of State's name with that of the Yeomanry Committee as plaintiffs. The defendants have by various motives caused adjournments from time to time, and the Lord Chief Justice in December last held that the action between Lord Lonsdale and Colonel St. Quintin should be first heard. This was not decided till 13th January. I have since pressed on the Irish Authorities to use every means to secure an early trial and an appeal by the defendants is being heard in Dublin today. My right hon. friend may rest assured that I shall use every means in my power to bring the action to a decision and have justice done, and the true nature of the case made manifest.
§ * MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN (Kilkenny)
Was the right hon. Gentleman aware when he ordered the prosecution of this gentleman that he was one of the very few who constitute, the Unionist and Loyalist minority in County Clare?
MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
Is it the fact that an officer who is a witness in this case has gone abroad?
§ MR. BRODRICK
My right hon. friend may be sure that no officer who is a necessary witness will be permitted to leave the country.