HC Deb 28 June 1920 vol 131 cc204-6

Resolution reported. That, for carrying out the provisions of any Act of the present Session to amend the Law relating to the offices of sheriff and under-sheriff in Ireland, and for other purposes incidental thereto, it is expedient to authorise the payment, out of moneys provided by Parliament, of annual sums not exceeding two hundred and fifty pounds each to under-sheriffs and of increased salaries not exceeding forty pounds per annum each to process servers who are also bailiffs.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."


The Bill for which this Resolution is required is a short Bill to increase the salaries of under-sheriffs in county boroughs and counties in Ireland. The total increase, so far as the Imperial Treasury is concerned, in connection with sheriffs, amounts to a sum of £362.


Agreed, agreed!

Lieut.-Colonel KENWORTHY

It is not only a matter of £362. If hon. Members had given the right hon. Gentleman time they would have learned that there is about £4,000 which will have to be paid by the local governing bodies in Ireland. I would point out that we are offering sheriffs, who, it was stated the other day by the Government, must be people of position, and who are not allowed to practice at the Bar, the magnificent sum of £200 to live on. I think it is too bad of hon. Members to shout the Irish Attorney-General down before we have heard the whole story. I should have liked to hear whether the local governing bodies in that country are to pay this money, and whether these men are to starve while waiting for distraint upon the local bodies which can be resisted and fought out. In addition to the money, there is a very serious matter of principle involved to which we on this side object very strenuously. Up to now these under-sheriffs have been appointed by the sheriffs, and now the power of appointment is to be vested in the Lord Lieutenant. As many appointments as possible ought to be made by the local bodies, and as few as possible left in the hands of a bureaucratic central government like Dublin. It is not the Lord Lieutenant, but some permanent official, who has grown old and mildewed in the Service, who will make the appointments. The men appointed will be of one political colour. Later on there will be officials of a different outlook, and they will only appoint men who have the other point of view, which is equally objectionable. We are objecting to this on principle, and we shall vote against it.


I have been anxious to make out what the hon. and gallant Gentleman was trying to get at. From what I understood, he objected strongly to this House passing any Money Resolution, because it was not really £300, but thousands of pounds, which we should have to find on account of the local governing bodies not recognising British rule. In the same breath he suggests it is unsound that those bodies should be prevented from appointing the under-sheriffs. It sounds somewhat of a political paradox. But I object from a different point of view. It has been suggested that, unless we pay these men well, we cannot expect honest service. I do not like that point of view at all. You might just as well say that, because a Member of this House is only paid as much as a railway guard, you cannot expect honest legislation from this House. I take exception to the inference that it is necessary to pay a man a large sum of money to make him honest. On the other hand, I do object, and I think other hon. Members ought to join me in objecting, to the taking of Financial Resolutions after eleven o'clock at night, when only 20 per cent. of the Members are in the House.

Captain W. BENN

This Resolution—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide, divide!"]—increases the pay of the under-sheriffs and transfers the appointment from the High Sheriff to the Lord Lieutenant. But supposing later the local authorities refuse to pay, do we incur any contingent liability? The matter is an important one. Where are we to understand the liability falls?


The liability falls upon the Imperial Exchequer.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Are these officers to starve, or what is going to happen?