HL Deb 21 June 1842 vol 64 cc278-80
The Marquess of Clanricarde

would take the opportunity of asking a question of the noble Duke opposite, to which he thought the noble Duke would have no difficulty in giving an answer. It was in reference to the re-appointment of Mr. St. George to the magistracy of the county of Galway. About six years ago, the Irish government, at the head of which his noble Friend, the Marquess of Normanby then Was, took some steps which had displeased the magistracy of this county, and Mr. St. George, in consequence, wrote a letter, the effect of which was, that the noble Marquess caused him to be removed from the commission of the peace. Lately, the Magistrates had met together, and a considerable number of them had addressed a memorial to the Government, which they had begged him to forward to the Lord-lieutenant, requesting that Mr. St. George might be re-appointed. He knew the gentleman himself, and he knew that he was a most worthy, excellent person, fully qualified in every respect to perform the functions of a magistrate, and he believed that it was very desirable that be should re-assume his position in the commission of the peace. He had written to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, forwarding the memorial of the gentlemen of the county to which he had already alluded, and expressing his own Opinion that it would be convenient to accede to this proposition. In doing so, he had abstained altogether from making any remark upon the letter originally written by Mr. St. George. The Lord Chancellor did not think it right to act on his recommendation, or on that of his brother magistrates, inquired into the case, and having referred to the original letter, the Lord Chancellor thought it right that that Gentleman should express his regret for what had happened, and Wrote to him to intimate that such was his opinion. In this letter the Lord Chancellor expressed himself towards Mr. St. George in the most Courteous manner. The sentiments expressed in this communication were subsequently conveyed to Mr. St. George, but that gentleman declined to express any regret for what had passed before, or to withdraw anything which he had written. He had forwarded this reply to the Lord Chancellor, and had supposed that the matter was at an end. He had, therefore, been a little surprised to read in the newspapers an intimation by the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, that the Government had subsequently re- appointed Mr. St. George to the magistracy. He was at a loss to understand how it was that this result had been brought about, and whether it were attributable to the exertions of one of the newspapers which was looked upon as the organ of the high Tory party in Dublin, the Evening Mail, in which he had seen a very well written article on the subject, he could not, of course, say. The step which was taken, however, he thought, must in some sort justify the letter which had been originally written. He therefore begged to inquire of the noble Duke whether it were true, that Mr. St. George had been restored to the commission of the peace, and whether the noble Duke had any objection to make known the communications which had passed on this subject between the Irish government and Mr. St. George, or between the Lord Chancellor and Mr. St. George, or the Lord Chancellor and the Irish government?

The Duke of Wellington

said, that in answer to the first question of the noble Marquess, he begged to state, that Mr. St. George had been restored to the commission of the peace. The noble Marquess had, so far as he knew, correctly stated the circumstances of this case. Five years ago, Mr. St. George was dismissed from the magistracy, in consequence of his writing a letter to the Lord-lieutenant upon an act performed by him in the exercise of the authority of his office. The noble Marquess had omitted to advert to this letter, but he could not otherwise than say that, in his opinion, the noble Lord at the head of the Irish government could not have done otherwise than desire that Mr. St. George might be dismissed from his office. The noble Marquess had stated truly, that he and other magistrates of the county—and, he believed, a large proportion of the gentlemen of the county—had expressed a desire that Mr. St. George should be restored to the magistracy. The Lord Chancellor thought proper, before he acquiesced in the application, to inquire into the circumstances attending his removal from office; and, having done so, he had thought it necessary to consider well, and to consult with others whether it would be expedient that he should be restored. Upon such consultation, he determined to restore him, and after a certain time, he was restored. There was a correspondence upon the subject, but he could not say that he considered it expedient to lay that correspondence on the Table of the House. If the noble Marquess thought proper to move for those papers, he might give notice of a motion, and the Government would take the subject into their consideration, and he would give the noble Marquess an answer whether the papers could be produced or not. In the meantime, he must say, that it appeared to him that the re-appointment of this gentleman to the magistracy had given universal satisfaction to the country, and that most undoubtedly that re-appointment was not to be attributed to any desire to gratify the editor of any newspaper in Dublin. It was admitted, that the removal of Mr. St. George was a very proper step, and when his restoration did not take place until five years after that removal occurred, he thought that it might be perceived, that it was not attributable to any other cause than that, which was founded upon the length of time during which he had been out of the commission.

The Marquess of Clanricarde

would not move for any papers in reference to this transaction; but he must say, that the answer of the noble Duke was far from satisfactory. From that answer, it rather appeared that the restoration of Mr. St. George had resulted more from what had appeared in the newspaper than from any other cause. He had applied for the restoration of Mr. St. George, but had failed. The editor of the newspaper had made something like an application in public, whether he had also applied in private or not he could not say, but the editor had succeeded. It was undoubtedly very satisfactory that Mr. St. George should be restored; but he must say, that if the Lord Chancellor was of opinion that there should be a retractation of something which had been said before, and that retractation was refused, it was singular that the request for his re-instatement, which bad been previously refused, should be now acceded to.