§ 49. Mr. GINNELL
asked the Prime Minister whether the Law Officers of the Crown were consulted as to the legality, without legislation, of the present policy of arresting persons on suspicion, imprisoning them indefinitely without charge or trial, and then permitting them to make an appeal in the nature of a defence without having been informed of the charge against them; whether the Law Officers have advised that this abrogation of the right of charge and trial and supersession of ordinary courts is legal; whether they have advised that the Advisory Committee set up to enforce this policy has been legally constituted for a legal purpose; whether they have advised that an Act of Indemnity will be necessary; and why a Bill for this purpose was not introduced before rather than after this procedure?
The procedure which is followed in these cases was adopted after consultation with the Law Officers. The internment of the prisoners is a necessary measure for the public safety, and is authorised by the Defence of the Realm Act. No Act of Indemnity is necessary. Every prisoner is furnished with a statement of the grounds for his internment.
§ Mr. GINNELL
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what part of the Defence of the Realm Act justifies sending men from Ireland, where the offence is alleged to have been committed, to this country?
The general provisions of the Defence of the Realm Act enable regulations to be made, and Regulation 14B, which has been enacted, authorises the procedure referred to.
57. Mr. O. O'CONNOR
asked the Prime Minister when it is proposed to constitute the Advisory Committee under the Regulations of the Defence of the Realm Act to try the Irish political prisoners now interned for alleged participation in the recent rebellion; has the Irish section of the Committee been selected, and will the name or names be now disclosed; what the procedure will be; and what facilities will be given to the prisoners to state their case?
As I have already stated in the House, the Advisory Committee has been constituted and has held a number of sittings. The Committee, when considering the Irish cases, consists of Mr. Justice Sankey, Mr. Justice Pim, the right hon. Member for the Epping Division, the right hon. Member for Peebles, the hon. Member for Newry, and the hon. Member for the Bewdley Division. Mr. Justice Younger is also a member of the Committee, but is at present unable to sit. As regards procedure, counsel and solicitors are not heard as advocates, but each prisoner has every opportunity of stating his case before the Committee, and, if he so desires, is allowed to consult legal advisers beforehand.
§ Mr. J. O'CONNOR
I desire to know whether any reference has been given to the Committee in respect of these prisoners, and whether they have instructions to confine themselves to acts of rebellion and to ignore expressions of opinion and opposition to recruiting?
The reference to the Committee is really contained in the Regulation 14 B, under which they are appointed. No special reference has been issued to the Committee in respect of this group of cases.
§ Mr. GINNELL
Does the right hon. Gentleman and the Government hold that the law empowers them to call upon persons to make a statement in the nature of a defence before any charge has been made?
I have repeatedly told the hon. Member that at the same time the order of internment is served on the person interned the nature of the charge is stated in writing.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that these prisoners have not the advantage of legal advice, that they are far away from their legal advisers, that it is almost impossible for them to get legal advice, and that the defence is of no advantage to them whatever?
As no question of law arises in these cases, I think the Committee can be trusted to get at the facts of the case from the man's own statements.
§ Mr. GINNELL
The question is whether the law can be trusted. The law 1200 empowers them to cross-examine prisoners who have never been categorically charged.
§ 51 Mr. CREAN
asked the Prime Minister (1) on what charge Daniel and Denis Manning, of Kilbrittain, county Cork, were arrested; why they are still detained in Wakefield Prison; and, as their business has been practically ruined and their mother, who has been an invalid for some time, is entirely dependent on them, if he will have their cases inquired into immediately; (2) why Eugene Murphy, who was arrested at Barra Upton, county Cork, on the 8th of May, without any definite charge being made against him of taking any part in the late rebellion in Ireland, is still detained in Knutsord Prison; and whether he will have this case immediately inquired into, so that he may be permitted to return to his home, as he is the only support of his mother; and (3) whether any charge can be made against Mr Michael Griffin, Ballinadee, county Cork, to justify his arrest and imprisonment other than that of permitting the local volunteers to meet in a house, his property, in the village; whether this house has been freely used for many years by the people of the district; and whether, in view of the fact that this man's family are kept from starvation by the charity of their neighbours, who are making weekly contributions for their support, he will have the man released immediately?
The persons referred to are all at Frongoch. The grounds on which they are interned are stated in the orders for internment with which they have been served. Their cases are being considered by the Advisory Committee, to whom I will communicate the circumstances mentioned by the hon. Member.