HC Deb 20 March 1906 vol 154 cc226-8
MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

On behalf of the hon. Member for North Sligo I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether his attention has been directed to proceedings in the Land Judge's Court in Dublin, on March 9th, when attachments had been issued against Thomas J. Smith, J.P., Joseph Mulligan, and Terence Fitzpatrick; whether he is aware that the three defendants named were charged with a criminal offence, and pleaded not guilty, and demanded, through their counsel, a trial in accordance with constitutional usage; and whether, seeing that there is no appeal from the order made sentencing the defendants to unlimited terms of imprisonment, and that under that order they may be kept in prison for life unless they plead guilty of a charge which they deny having committed, he proposes to introduce legislation to deal with the matter.


I beg to refer to my replies to previous Questions on this subject on Thursday last. I understand that these persons were charged with contempt of court in taking part in an unlawful assembly, the object of which was alleged to be to intimidate the holder of a farm which is under the control of the Court. I am informed that there is no constitutional usage which requires trial by jury to be had in such cases. I understand that the law in these matters is the same in England as in Ireland. There is no intention of introducing separate legislation for Ireland.


Then are the Irish Government prepared to acquiesce in a system which allows a Judge on the affidavit of an interested person to imprison a man for life?


I cannot make any statement as to altering the law until I have considered the point. It is the same in both countries.


It is not administered in the same way.

MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)

Will the right hon. Gentleman refer to the declaration of Mr. Gladstone that legislation ought to be introduced on this question.


Yes, if you give me the date. See (4) Debates, cliii.,1383.


October, 1882, in this House.

MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)

Does the Lord Chancellor propose to remove Mr. Smith's name from the Commission of the Peace?

[No Answer was returned.]