HL Deb 18 August 1843 vol 71 cc912-5
Lord Wharncliffe

laid on the Table of the House certain additional papers connected with the dismissal of the Earl of Lucan.

The Earl of Lucan

moved for copies of all the correspondence which had passed between Mr. Barron, the stipendiary magistrate, and the Irish Government, relative to what had occurred at the Petty Session Court of Castlebar, on the 23rd of October last. The noble Earl remarked that the papers on the Table consisted of a letter from Mr. O'Malley, and some newspaper articles. He would not do the Lord Chancellor of Ireland the injustice of supposing that he would insult the proprietor of the town, dismiss a magistrate, and degrade a member of their Lordships' House on such evidence.

The Marques of Londonderry

had never heard of a harder case, or one which called for fuller inquiry and information. Unless some further information were given it would be impossible for a man of honour to hold the commission of the peace.

The Earl of Charleville

said, that considering as he did that the party most to blame in this transaction was the stipendiary justice presiding on the occasion. It appeared to him to be astounding to be told, that not only no censure or even remonstrance had been conveyed to that individual, but that no communication of any kind or sort had been had with him upon the matter. He did not wish to say anything offensive to Mr. Barron. He believed Mr. Barron to be a person of great kindness of conduct; but as he thought a great part of the unpleasantness which had arisen was owing to his want of firmness in not keeping proper decorum in his court, and in allowing a plaintiff to be insulted in the way the plaintiff was on the occasion in question, without exercising any authority to prevent it, he must say that the assertion of the noble Lord, sort had been made, either with or from the stipendiary magistrate, who, as all stipendiary magistrates were, was bound by his orders from Government to report every circumstance deserving of notice, did seem to him most extraordinary. Was he to be told that on such an occasion the stipendiary magistrate had neither communicated to the Chief Secretary nor to the Constabulary-office, nor to the Lord Chancellor, what had occurred? [Lord Wharncliffe: I never said so. I only said the Lord Chancellor said he knew nothing of any document of the kind.] In his opinion, the Lord Chancellor, before he proceeded to inflict the strongest censure in his power on the noble Earl who had served his Sovereign with fidelity and credit in the field, ought to have paused for further information; he ought not to have been led away, whether it was by popularity hunting, or by the vain hope of conciliating the Irish people. He (the Earl of Charleville) had too high an opinion of their sense of justice to believe they would be conciliated by any such means, to suppose that he could effect it by degrading a friend of the Government, and so showing them that he was impartial in his punishments. He thought it was the bounden duty of the Lord Chancellor to have first communicated with Mr. Barron. What might be the consequences of what he must call this interruption of justice—this attempt to deter a gentleman who held the commission of the peace from entering the Court of Petty Sessions in Ireland? If the other party had personally attacked the noble Earl by his greater skill and prowess in the art of self-defence, had given Mr. O'Malley an unquestionable thrashing, would the Lord Chancellor have dismissed the noble Earl from the commission? Was every magistrate who went into a court of justice, having an interest in a case before the court, to be subjected to insults which no man scarcely ever submitted to without returning, and when he made an unguarded reply, to be dismissed from the commission? How could the Government expect from the magistracy of Ireland that support they at the present crisis so much required for the great experiment they were making with reference to the agitation going on there, unless the magistracy had confidence in the learned individual who was placed on the bench to preside over them.

The Duke of Wellington

to put an end to this discussion would entreat his noble Friend to consider how this question stood. On Thursday last the subject was brought forward for the first time. He was not in the House, being engaged in another place; but certain papers were moved for on that day which were produced yesterday, and it appeared they did not contain all the papers that noble Lords wished to have. Whether those papers were mentioned on Thursday he did not know, but they were not produced. Now, Mr. Barron had been condemned by one noble Lord, and the Lord Chancellor and Lord-lieutenant had been condemned by another noble Lord, without seeing a line on the subject. He must say, he thought that their Lordships would not do any good either to his noble Friend (Lord Lucan), who was placed in a disagreeable situation, or to any one else, by this discussion, and by casting blame either on one side or the other before they had full information, and before they had all the papers. It was true that the Session was approaching to an end, but he would entreat their Lordships to consider that they could not decide with justice on this or on any other subject without information, and that without justice their decisions would not satisfy the public.

Lord Wharncliffe

stated that the Lord Chancellor's words were, I know nothing of any correspondence with Mr. Barron, at least I do not recollect it. Under these circumstances all the Government could do was to communicate with the Irish Government. [The Earl of Charleville: The thing has been going on for five months.] It may have been going on for five months, but it was only on Thursday that it was mentioned here. I do not in the least give any opinion whatever on the merits of the case, but I do not think the House will do right to censure the Lord Chancellor of Ireland without seeing all the papers.

Lord Brougham

hoped that his noble Friend would listen to the suggestion which he was about to make, and on which he could assure his noble Friend he would act if he were in his situation. No one could now for a moment suppose, after the explanations that had been made, that the slightest stigma could rest in this matter on the character of the noble Earl, either as a magistrate, an officer, or a gentleman; but he would suggest to his noble Friend that they could not at that late period of the Session come to any decision on the matter until all the papers on the subject were on the Table. If this was a case in which there was anything doubtful as to the character or conduct of his noble Friend, then he admitted that there would be a reason for pressing for a decision at once, but there was nothing of the kind. He therefore recommended that all further proceedings on the matter should be allowed to drop until the papers were produced, which it was clear could not take place until early next Session.

Motion agreed to.

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