§ THE EARL OF MAYO rose to call the attention of His Majesty's Government to the position of certain magistrates in Ireland, namely, Mr. J. K. O'Connor, of Castleisland, Co. Kerry; Mr. Eugene O'Sullivan, of Killarney; Mr. Patrick Scott, of Scribbagh Garrison, Co. Fermanagh; and Mr. John Sweeny, Burton Port, Co. Donegal—
- 1. In relation to the conviction of these magistrates in a Court of Law.
- 2. Their still retaining the office of Justice of the Peace; and to move for Papers.
The noble Earl said: My Lords, in calling the attention of His Majesty's Government to the position of certain magistrates in Ireland I do not intend to enlarge upon the evil of keeping on the Bench magistrates who have been convicted in a Court of Law of certain offences which I will mention. That, I should think, was palpably clear to everyone, and I hope it will be much clearer when I state the cases against these magistrates. The first case I will take is that of Mr. Eugene O'Sullivan. He was a candidate for the representation of East Kerry in the House of Commons and was elected, but there was an election petition in relation to that contest, and Mr. Justice Madden and Mr. Justice Kenny, who tried the petition, reported that corrupt practices were proved to have been committed with the knowledge and consent of the said Eugene O'Sullivan, and that the nature of such corrupt practices was "undue influence and intimidation exercised in order to induce voters to vote for the said Eugene O'Sullivan or to refrain from voting for the petitioner, John Murphy." The result of that petition was that the election was declared void, and the decision of the Judges was reported by Mr. Speaker to the House of Commons on July 11, 1910. But there was something further which was rather serious, and which Mr. Justice Kenny mentioned, with regard to Mr. O'Sullivan. Mr. Justice Kenny, in delivering judgment in the East Kerry election petition case, said—
The Firies district a quarter of a century ago was the scene of a terrible crime. It is hard to credit any decent law-abiding person identifying himself with that terrible outrage, yet we find the respondent (Eugene O'Sullivan) delivering a speech of a very shocking character in connection with moonlighting in the Firies district.
Mr. Justice Madden, too, said that of the speech of Mr. Eugene O'Sullivan and the sentiments that prompted it there could be only one opinion amongst those who had any respect for the law or any regard for the good fame of the county of Kerry. That is the record of Mr. Eugene O'Sullivan, and, as far as I know, after this occurred he was made a justice of the peace for the county, and for all I know remains on the Commission of the Peace. There I leave Mr. Eugene O'Sullivan.
I now come to the case of Mr. J. K. O'Connor. Mr. O'Connor is a justice of the peace for the county of Kerry and stood as a candidate for the county council for the division of Castleisland. That election will long be remembered, because Castleisland swam in porter, and treating and drunkenness prevailed. So bad was it that the Roman Catholic Bishop of Kerry, in the Lentern Pastoral, referred to it. He said—
Another matter which a sense of duty compels me to mention is the manner in which some of our local elections are conducted. The language used, instead of being informing and elevating, is grossly personal, lowering, and demoralising.
And he concluded—
Worse still, some of these elections are conducted without even an appearance of public decency. They become the occasion of wholesale drunkenness, and sometimes even of violence.
Mr. O'Connor, at the Castleisland election, headed the poll. He is a most successful merchant in that town, and a wave of porter—you can describe it as nothing else—landed him safely on the county council beach. He headed the poll with a majority of thirty votes. But, alas!there was an election petition. Mr. O'Connor appeared as respondent, and this was the result of the Commissioner's finding: He found that the respondent had been guilty of corruptly supplying drink to voters for the purpose of corruptly influencing such voters, and that the respondent was also guilty of corrupt practices, and he declared the election void. The Crown Solicitor of Kerry represented the Attorney-General for Ireland at the Commission. It is, I believe, laid down by Statute that the Attorney-General should report to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland any one guilty of corrupt practices at an election. That, however, was not done in this case. A long correspondence ensued between Mr. Peirce Gun Mahony (a Kerry gentleman) and the late Lord Chancellor, but nothing came of it
whatever. Mr. Mahony also wrote to the Lord Lieutenant, and again nothing came of it. He also wrote to Mr. Redmond Barry, then the Attorney-General and now Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and received an answer that the matter had his attention. I would not have brought this before the House, but as far as I can gather the authorities have treated the whole matter with the utmost unconcern, and as far as I know this Mr. O'Connor is still a justice of the peace. But whether he is now or not, I am perfectly certain that he was for some time after this occurred in consequence of the authorities not acting at once as they should have done. That is the case against Mr. O'Connor.
§ Now let me take the case of Mr. Patrick Scott, who is a justice of the peace for the County of Fermanagh. Mr. Patrick Scott has repeatedly been fined for drunkenness, especially in May, 1909, at Belleek. He became an ex officio magistrate for the County of Fermanagh in October, 1909, by virtue of his election to the office of chairman of the Ballyshannon (No. 2) Rural District Council. A year after, while still a justice of the peace—namely, in November, 1910—Mr. Scott was brought before a magistrate out of petty sessions at Enniskillen and fined 1s. on a charge of intoxication. That was, as I say, after he had been appointed a magistrate, and that has been admitted, in answer to a Question, by the Chief Secretary in the House of Commons. I am a magistrate for my county, and I am perfectly certain that if I was fined for drunkenness and then proceeded to sit on the Bench the first person who would ask a Question in the House of Commons about it would be the Nationalist Member for my county, and I should be removed—and very properly so—from the Commission of the Peace at once. But Mr. Scott goes on as chairman of the Ballyshannon Rural District Council and also as a justice of the peace administering justice, notwithstanding that after he was made a magistrate he has been fined for drunkenness.
§ The last case I shall refer to—and I am sure that your Lordships are tired of hearing of the ill-doings of these magistrates in Ireland—is that of Mr. John Sweeny, who is a justice of the peace for the County of Donegal. Mr. Sweeny was, on February 14 last year, convicted of selling drink on premises not duly licensed, and was fined £50. Mr. Birrell, in answer to a Question in the House of Commons, 486 admitted that Mr. Sweeny had been convicted of the illegal sale of spirits and beer at his hotel in Burtonport, which is not licensed, and that he was fined nominally £50 in each case, but the fine was reduced by the magistrates to £12 10s. in each case with a recommendation by the Bench that the amount be further reduced to 10s. in each case.
§ Those are the cases which I wish to bring before your Lordships. It is well that you should know the excessive supineness of the authorities in Ireland with regard to these cases. Surely the county Benches in Irelard ought to be kept as clear of these sort of men and their actions as possible. I am sure you will all admit that, and we ask that they should be. I do not care under what form of Government we are, nothing tends to the social welfare of a community more than that the magistrates who deal with small offences in a county should be above suspicion and should be men of integrity and high standing. That holds good in every country in the world and in no country does it hold so good as in England, where everyone is proud of the county magistrates. We ask that Ireland should be treated in the same way, and that there magistrates when they commit offences of this sort should be at once removed from the Bench. I have a sort of idea that perhaps some of these men are no longer justices, but I should like to ask His Majesty's Government how long after these offences were committed were they allowed to remain on the Commission of the Peace. That is the question I wish particularly to put. I beg to move for Papers if there are any available on the subject.
§ Moved, That there be laid before the House Papers relating to the position of certain magistrates in Ireland in relation to their conviction in a Court of Law and to their still retaining the office of Justice of the Peace.—(The Earl of Mayo.)
§ THE PAYMASTER-GENERAL (LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS)
My Lords, the Motion of the noble Earl is another instance, of which we had au example yesterday, of the drastic o and disciplinary action which noble Lords opposite are always urging the Government of Ireland to adopt towards people who happen to be their political opponents. I do not know whether that is intentional or not, but the noble Earl will see that it must deprive his Motion of much 487 of the moral force to which it would otherwise be entitled. Yesterday the attack took one shape against one individual, to-day it takes another against other individuals, but the objects and motives are always the same. I will say this, that if the suitability of every public officer in view of Ins speeches and actions is to be impartially considered, and if any departure from the best traditions of his office is to be visited with indiscriminate severity, there are other individuals occupying more important and more responsible positions whose actions would come under the consideration of the Irish Executive and whose dismissal from the offices which they occupy could, I think, be better defended in the public interest.
Yesterday noble Lords opposite thought they had a good case, but they cannot expect to be always equally fortunate. I think the noble Earl who has moved this Motion had some misgivings in the matter, for he has no less than three times edited and revised the "black list" which he has submitted to your Lordships. But, even so, he has not succeeded in eliminating all the mare's nests which his original document contained, because the first gentleman to whom he called attention—Mr. J. K. O'Connor—is no longer, and has not been for a considerable time, on the Commission of the Peace. Now with regard to these cases, in the first place I must decline to discuss the cases which have been subsequently added to the list. I think the noble Earl himself will agree that when the subject involves the private character of certain individuals and the discretionary power of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, it is only fair that longer notice should be given than that which he has been able to afford. One name was only put on the Paper to-day, and another name was only put down yesterday—I refer to Mr. Eugene O'Sullivan and Mr. John Sweeny. Therefore I shall have to ask the noble Earl to be good enough, if he wishes to raise those two cases, to put them down for a future day. With regard to Mr. O'Connor, I have already stated that he is no longer on the Commission of the Peace. Mr. O'Connor, as the noble Earl has stated, was elected to the Kerry County Council in June, 1908, and was unseated on petition. For some reason or other, which is not very clear I admit, the fact was not brought to the notice of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and there was some doubt whether he could interfere 488 in the matter in view of the fact that he had no official information on the subject. But subsequently, in view of a decision given by Mr. Justice Kenny in another case to the effect that the office of a magistrate was ipso facto vacated from the date of the making of the report, the name of Mr. O'Connor was removed from the Commission. Therefore in that case the noble Earl's indictment is a little out of place.
I come to the case of Mr. Patrick Scott, the only other case with which I shall deal to-day. It is true that Mr. Scott was on one occasion brought before a magistrate and convicted on a charge of intoxication and fined the sum of 1s. The matter was reported to the Irish Lord Chancellor, and he, having considered the circumstances of the case, did not consider it incumbent upon him to take action. The noble Earl also mentioned that this man had, previous to his appointment to the Bench, been convicted of a similar offence. With regard to that I should like, in the first place, to say that this gentleman was an ex officio magistrate. He owed his appointment to the Act of 1898 passed by the Party opposite, by which the chairmen of rural district councils and such like bodies become ex officio members of the magistracy. The Lord Chancellor of Ireland has always considered that, although he is, of course, responsible for these magistrates as he is responsible for all magistrates, his responsibility with regard to them is of a lesser character than if he had been responsible for their appointment, and he is always less inclined to intervene in those cases than if it was a case of an ordinary magistrate who owed his appointment to the Lord Chancellor's discretion and authority. I think the noble and learned Lord opposite will bear me out when I say that.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
I am surprised that he does not. I think he was Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1905.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
At that time it seems that the noble and learned Lord took the view that though these ex officio members fell within his jurisdiction, yet in a sense he was not so strictly responsible for them as he would be for a gentleman whom he had himself appointed.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
The Lord Chancellor does not appoint these ex officio magistrates. He is, of course, directly responsible for those he does appoint.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
Mr. Walter Long was asked a Question in the House of Commons in 1905 concerning a Mr. Kelly. I dare say the noble and learned Lord will remember the case of Mr. Kelly.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
This was rather a well-known Mr. Kelly. He was chairman of the Loughrea District Council, and this is what Mr. Walter Long said in answer to a Question in the House of Commons with regard to certain observations made by this gentleman—I have referred this Question to the Lord Chancellor whose observations are as follows: Mr. Kelly became a magistrate under the provisions of the Local Government Act without the need of any previous sanction or approval from the Lord Chancellor, and he only thereon became amenable to the jurisdiction of the Lord Chancellor under the enactment which places him in the same position as other Irish magistrates with regard to conduct after he became a magistrate. But this power does not authorise the Lord Chancellor to inquire into speeches made several months before his election.
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
I agree, and that is the point I am trying to make. The noble Earl endeavoured to make a considerable point of the fact that this gentleman, who was in the same position as Mr. Kelly in that he was an ex officio magistrate, had been convicted of intoxication before he joined the magistracy. Then, of course, there was the subsequent charge after he had become a magistrate, and there, as I have said, the late Lord Chancellor, having the circumstances of the case before him, did not consider it sufficiently grave to justify him in removing this magistrate from the Commission. The fact that Mr. Patrick Scott was only fined 1s., which is a nominal fine, proves that it was not a serious offence. Anyhow, all I can say is that that is the position of affairs. With regard to the other two cases, I shall be glad to answer the noble Earl upon them on a subsequent occasion if he will put a further Notice on the Paper.
§ [No answer was given.]
THE EARL OF DESART
My Lords, I had not when I came down to the Home by any means made up my mind to speak, though I had made myself acquainted with the facts of the cases cited, and after the explanation that has been given I think I ought to say one or two words. I heard with great regret the opening sentences of Lord Ashby St. Ledgers's speech in which he attributed to my noble friend political motives in bringing this matter before your Lordships' House. I hope that will not be assumed about all of us, because I certainly, speaking for myself, know nothing of the magistrates mentioned, and except from what I have read I know nothing of the incidents beyond those I ascertained when the matter was brought to my attention. I really must ask the noble Lord whether he does not think that it is a legitimate thing for noble Lords in this House to bring before the Government cases which affect the administration of justice.
The pure administration of justice in the petty sessional Courts of the country is of the utmost importance to all classes of the community. I do not for a moment suggest that you can select magistrates from a particular class. I should be very sorry to say that. I believe that cases where objection is to be taken are not many in Ireland. I know that in my own county I am associated on the Bench with magistrates, some of whom are tenant farmers and, I believe, hold strong Nationalist principles, but who administer justice as well as any magistrates that I know of. I work with them on the pleasantest relations. So I start with no feeling whatever in the matter. But I do say you ought not to put aside an inquiry concerning a magistrate, who occupies a judicial position and exercises judicial functions, as a purely Party matter to be dealt with as such. My noble friend said very little of the case of Mr. O'Connor, and I will not deal with either of the cases with regard to which the noble Lord who spoke on behalf of His Majesty's Government said he had not had sufficient notice.
491 The case of Mr. O'Connor deserves a little more notice than has been given to it, because it has a very curious history. Mr. O'Connor was appointed a magistrate, as I understand, in 1907. I take no exception to his appointment, but whether or not he was appointed without sufficient inquiry—and I do not attribute blame to the then Lord Chancellor for a moment—he was unseated on petition, in the circumstances to which my noble friend has called attention, in 1908, and, that having happened. Mr. Mahony, the gentleman to whom my noble friend referred, being interested in the matter, communicated with the Lord Chancellor. I think his letter was written in August, 1910, and in April, 1911, he received a letter from the Lord Chancellor in which the case was dealt with as follows—As to the case of Mr. J. K. O'Connor, of Castleisland, who is stated to have been reported by an Election Court for corrupt practices, neither the report of that Court nor the evidence on which it was based has been transmitted to the Lord Chancellor in accordance with the procedure prescribed by Statute. The Lord Chancellor does not, accordingly, consider that he is called upon to decide whether under the circumstances any action by him should or should not be taken or to express au opinion on the legal aspect of the ease.You get in that way to a most extraordinary position.
The Attorney-General, under a section of the Corrupt Practices Act, has a Ministerial duty thrown upon him to report every case in which a justice of the peace has been reported by an Election Court for corrupt practice. It was my duty for many years as Director of Public Prosecutions to perform that duty in this country, and it is not a matter in which any discretion is exercised. It is a mere Ministerial act, and, of course, it is possible that the Attorney-General's attention was not drawn to the omission of some one to write the letter for him to sign. Anyhow, you get to the position that it is not reported, and the Lord Chancellor stated that not having received the report there was nothing for him to do. It does seem that the result of that is entirely to neutralise the effect of the Act of Parliament, because it is a perfectly clear statutory duty. The report is to the Lord Chancellor, and the Lord Chancellor then exercises his discretion. That does not appear to have been done at this stage, and, as we were told by Lord Ashby St. Ledgers, it was 492 not until the case of another magistrate—an ex officio magistrate—was heard and the question was raised that the Lord Chancellor realised or thought that he ought to take action in the case of Mr. O'Connor—in the year 1911 I think that was. That meant that Mr. O'Connor was exercising judicial functions from 1908 to 1911 without it having been considered at all whether he should or should not remain a member of the Bench.
I am afraid it does not end quite there, because, as I read the Corrupt Practices Act, I am disposed to think that Mr. O'Connor was incapable of exercising his functions at all after the report of the Election Judges. The Statute seems to be clear, because what it says is this—If a candidate is reported for treating or undue influence he is subject to the same incapacities as if at the date of the report he had been convicted on indictment of corrupt practice.And another section runs—A person convicted on indictment of corrupt practice shall for seven years not be capable of holding any public or judicial office, and if he holds any such office the office shall be vacated.A judicial office is, in the interpretation clause, to include a justice of the peace. I should have hesitated to express that opinion if it had not been the exact point in the case before Mr. Justice Kenny when he quashed the conviction of a person convicted by a magistrate sitting under those circumstances. The result really is that Mr. O'Connor has exercised judicial functions for something like three years when he ought not to have sat at all. That was due, no doubt, to some official mistake at the beginning, because I have no doubt whatever—and anybody who knew the late Sir Samuel Walker will agree—that if he had realised the seriousness of the case some action would have been taken at the time.
This has been altogether a most unfortunate state of things. I have no feeling whatever about Mr. O'Connor, and I can assure the noble Lord that I have no political feeling in this matter at all. But I think it is a most important thing that justice should be justly administered, and that people of all classes should believe that it is justly administered. If there once arises mistrust 493 of the administration of justice communities begin to take the law into their own hands. The law is the protector of the weak and the guardian of everybody's rights, and its administration is of much more importance than whether it is a good law or a Lad law. I can only say that I am glad that at length the question of Mr. O'Connor has been settled.
As regards Mr. Patrick Scott, I do not think there is much to be said. People may hold different opinions as to whether one conviction of drunkenness should involve removal from the Bench. I confess that if I had to give my own opinion I do not think leniency is much in place in dealing with magistrates so convicted. I am not, I hope, a hard man, but I think that to allow a person who has been convicted in the locality to sit on the Bench in judgment on other people charged with similar offences a very questionable thing. It is a case, perhaps, where severity against the individual may be necessary in the interests of the administration of justice.
My working life has been passed in a responsible position connected with the administration of the criminal law. It is a matter which is near to my heart, and I do think that the case of Mr. O'Connor ought to have been a little more developed and explained. I desire to repeat that I make no attack on the distinguished Lord Chancellor of Ireland who has unfortunately passed from among us, or on the Attorney-General of the time. I am sure there was some mistake. I do not know whether this discussion will be of much use, but I am quite sure that the distinguished lawyers who now occupy the positions of Lord Chancellor and Attorney-General in Ireland will need no stimulus from this House to do their duty, and I recognise gladly that the particular wrong to which my noble friend referred has now been righted.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords. I should not have intervened in this discussion had it not been for the rebuke, I think the wholly unjustifiable rebuke, which the Paymaster-General of His Majesty's Forces thought proper to address to my noble friend and those who have supported him on the present occasion. The noble Lord told us that we were not for the first time advocating drastic and 494 disciplinary action towards our political opponents. A more unwarrantable imputation of political bias was never, I think, made in this House. Does the noble Lord suppose that it is only those who hold our political opinions who are interested in the fair administration of justice by local Benches in Ireland? I say it is a matter which concerns all classes of the community, the humblest as well as those who are in a higher position. I believe it is notorious that many of these local Benches are at the present moment recruited in such a manner that nothing but a denial of justice can be expected from them in cases of a certain class. I have no doubt that if this attack had been anticipated we should have been able to bring forward examples in support of the view which I am endeavouring to express, but amongst the papers which I happen to have by me I have one or two to which I will venture to refer in order to convince the noble Lord that this is not, as he supposes, a mere Party move on the part of my noble friend and others.
Here is the report of a case which was heard at Omagh before Judge Todd in the mouth of October last. His Honour said that the evidence was perfectly and absolutely clear and there was no contradiction, yet a number of magistrates expressed the opinion that the defendant should not be convicted. Judge Todd observed, upon that, that—It made him ashamed that some gentlemen, after the evidence which had been sworn before them, should act contrary to it.That was the opinion of a learned Judge.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
It happened in the month of October, 1911, at Omagh. Then in the case of Patrick Scott, referred to by my noble friend, I will read what the learned Judge—Judge Craig—had to say. He said—He had often spoken about the class of persons appointed to the magistracy in both Counties Monaghan and Fermanagh. It was a disgrace to the administration of justice, and if the people who appointed such magistrates could only see them they would be ashamed of themselves.I will give the noble Lord one more quotation. The Roman Catholic Lord Bishop 495 of Elphin, in his address at Roscommon in June last, stated that—Magistrates too often had no respect for their obligations to dispense the law justly and without favour. The Bench of Magistrates was sometimes so packed that culprits, although guilty, were certain to be acquitted.With observations of that kind from a right rev. Prelate and from learned Judges, it is a little hard that we should be told when we draw attention to these matters that we are actuated only by political motives. I must say that all I have heard about the manner in which the Benches are recruited in Ireland leads me very strongly to the opinion that just as we had an inquiry into the appointments of justices of the peace in England, so it is high time that a similar inquiry should be instituted into the manner in which persons are appointed to the local Benches in Ireland, and the manner in which they are allowed to remain on those Benches after they have been guilty of conduct obviously and clearly rendering them unfit to perform judicial duties.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
My Lords, I merely rise with reference to the point raised by my noble and learned friend on the Cross Benches (Lord Desart) to express the satisfaction which I feel that in drawing the attention he did to the case of Mr. O'Connor he entirely exonerated the memory of my friend the late Lord Chancellor of Ireland from any imputation either of unfairness or of negligence. I am quite sure that all those who knew Sir Samuel Walker would know well that he was incapable of either. And in saying that I do not at all dissociate myself from the regret expressed by the noble and learned Earl on the Cross Benches that the oversight, or however it ought to be described, should have occurred by which the case of Mr. O'Connor, which seems to have been a simple one for action in the sense that his removal from the Bench was necessary by Statute after his adventures at the Castleisland election, was not dealt with.
The noble Marquess opposite appeared to resent the observation which my noble friend behind me made at the beginning of his remarks. It is surely one of the unfortunate features of all discussions about Ireland that by common repute, when attention is drawn to a matter by one side or the other or when steps are taken by 496 one side or the other which may be described as being severe, motives are almost always imputed, and it is said that the action is due to some form of Party feeling. We all know and regret how high both Party and religious feeling run in Ireland, and if noble Lords opposite are on an occasion like this subjected to the possible imputation of motives by those outside—
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I am equally convinced that if it should fall to our lot at any time to be obliged to take action of a disciplinary character against those who are politically opposed to us, imputations of a similar character would be made, and supposing, for instance, at any time we found it necessary to deal with a prominent Orangeman in a disciplinary manner we should undoubtedly be told in the North of Ireland that we were simply actuated by Party feeling and opposition to Unionists. Nobody regrets more than I do that such a state of feeling should exist in Ireland as to make such imputations possible. It was certainly not the intention of my noble friend to accuse noble Lords opposite of being simply actuated by Party feeling, but he was within his rights, I think, in drawing attention to the fact that such imputations were not unlikely to be made.
§ LORD ASHBOURNE
My Lords, the noble Marquess, who was in some difficulty in making the somewhat laboured remarks which he has just made, must be conscious that the noble Lord who dealt with this question on behalf of His Majesty's Government made a grave mistake in commencing his remarks with the charge that this matter was brought forward for political motives. I ask any of your Lordships who listened to Lord Mayo whether the case could possibly have been presented in a more impersonal way. There was no suggestion that he knew anything of the politics or religion of any of the gentlemen mentioned. I myself do not know them. But the noble Lord who rose to speak in reply began by denouncing the whole matter as "a Party move." It is not a question of what would be said outside; it is a question of what has been said in your Lordships' House by the representative of the Government. I say the imputation was improper, it was unbecoming, it was uncalled for, and it should have been 497 repudiated by the Leader of the House. The noble Marquess who leads this side rightly commenced his remarks by administering a dignified reproof of the language which had been used, and it would not have been unbecoming if the noble Marquess who leads the House had said some words to show that he concurred with what had fallen from the Leader of the Opposition.
The noble Lord asked that two of the cases mentioned by my noble friend should stand over. Accordingly they will stand over until a future date. As to the case of Mr. O'Connor, the noble Lord informed the House that he is no longer a magistrate. That case occurred in the time of my lamented friend the late Lord Chancellor, for whom I had the most unqualified respect. He was a dear and valued friend of mine, and is no longer alive to give a statement of the grounds on which he dealt with the case, but I am sure he was animated by a high sense of duty. As to the other case in which he exercised a discretion, I have no doubt that when he did apply his mind to it he did so with an anxious desire to do what was right and what was required by the exigencies of the case. When attention is called at a subsequent date to the other cases mentioned I am sure they will be presented by my noble friend behind me with the same moderation that he has displayed to-day, and I trust that the matter will be dealt with on the next occasion by the Government without any suggestion of political motives.
THE EARL OF MAYO
I am sure it is not necessary for me to repudiate the statement that I had any political motive in bringing this matter forward. What I do object to is that when I call attention to the cases of these magistrates and their actions I should be accused of introducing "mare's nests."
§ LORD ASHBY ST. LEDGERS
The object of the noble Earl's Motion was to secure the removal of these men from the Bench. As one of the men is no longer on the Bench I think my term was applicable.
THE EARL OF MAYO
But a man who was convicted of drunkenness is still on the Bench. I will, however, withdraw my Motion to-day, and deal with the cases of the other two magistrates on a future occasion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.