HC Deb 27 October 1902 vol 113 cc818-9
MR. ARCHDALE (Fermanagh, N.)

On behalf of the hon. Member for Mid. Armagh, I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether the Under Secretary, Sir David Harrel, has given instructions to resident magistrates on the subject of the sentences, or form of sentences, imposed by them in cases brought before them under the provisions of The Criminal Law and Procedure (Ireland) Act, 1887.


Neither directly nor indirectly, verbally or in writing, has the Under Secretary, or any other person connected with the Government, or, so far as 1 am aware, any person unconnected with the Government, ever suggested to any resident magistrate or magistrates what sentence or form of sentence they should impose in cases brought before them under the Grimes Act before, during, or after the hearing of such cases, I desire in the strongest way to resent the suggestion that the resident magistrates in Ireland, in the discharge of their oath-bound duties would be influenced by any consideration, save what they, to the best of their ability, conceive to be the merits and justice of the case before them.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can explain the remarkable unanimity with which the magistrates on a particular day began to give hard labour sentences to those whom they tried for political offences.


The explanation for which the hon. Gentleman asks is, I think, contained in the answer I have already given—namely, that those magistrates passed sentences in accordance with their views of the justice and merits of the cases brought before them.


What instructions did the right hon. Gentleman give in my case when they sent me to gaol?