HC Deb 18 July 1907 vol 178 cc926-7
MR. JOWETT (Bradford, W.)

I beg to ask Mr. Attorney-General for Ireland whether his attention has been drawn to the prosecutions arising from the trade dispute in Belfast, when local magistrates interested in the dispute have appeared upon the bench and given sentence; whether his attention has been drawn to the case of Edward O'Reilly, charged before a resident magistrate and a local justice with riotous behaviour and fined the maximum penalty of 40s., supplemented, however, by a proviso that he should give bail himself in £4 and find two sureties in £20 each to keep the peace, and in default of finding such bail that he should be imprisoned for three calendar months; whether it is customary that justices, in addition to imposing the maximum penalty provided by statute, should impose a further punishment by having recourse to their powers under their commission; and whether, in view of the whole circum stances of the case, he will take steps to secure a revision of the sentences passed by local justices in connection with cases that have arisen out of the Belfast dispute.

MR. LONSDALE (Armagh, Mid)

Before the right hon. Gentleman answers the Question, may I ask if he is aware that one of those sentenced connected with the strike has a record of eighty-three previous convictions, seventeen of which were assaults on the police, and that another had against him eighty-two convictions?


I do not see how this arises out of the Question, which refers to one particular individual.


The Question asks whether the sentences passed by local justices in connection with cases that have arisen out of the Belfast dispute may not be revised.


According to the information I have received, the local magistrates in Belfast have taken very little part in cases connected with the labour dispute. The Belfast police courts are invariably presided over by a resident magistrate, and in no case have local magistrates sitting alone dealt with prosecutions arising out of the strike. I am informed that the facts connected with the case of Edward O'Reilly are as stated in the Question, and that neither of the magistrates who acted in that case has the slightest interest in the labour dispute. I have no power to secure a revision of sentences passed by magistrates, but the Lord-Lieutenant has power to mitigate punishment in such cases, and I have no doubt that any petition presented to His Excellency would receive full consideration. I understand, however, that an appeal has been lodged in the particular case in question, and the matter is there fore sub judice.


asked whether it was not a fact that magistrates who had interest either direct or indirect in the subject matter of the dispute were disqualified from sitting and adjudicating.


That point does not arise. The Attorney-General has said that the magistrates had no interest either direct or indirect in the dispute.


said that remark had escaped his notice.