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Commons Chamber

Volume 217: debated on Tuesday 5 August 1873

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House Of Commons

Tuesday, 5th August, 1873.

MINUTES.]—PUBLIC BILL— Withdrawn—Law of Evidence [274].

The House met at half after Ono of the clock.

Law Of Evidence Bill—Bill 274

( Mr. Attorney General, Mr. Solicitor General.)

Second Reading Bill Withdrawn

Order for Second Reading read.

moved that the Order for the Second Reading of this Bill be read, for the purpose of being discharged. He desired in making his Motion to state that he had never proposed to do more with the Bill this Session than to introduce it, print it for the consideration of Members, and, if he should have the opportunity, endeavour to pass it into law in a future Session. The Bill was one as to which he could claim but little merit; it was the work of his friend Mr. Fitzjames Stephen, whom he had been able to employ in consequence of the kind liberality of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Motion agreed to.

Order discharged; Bill withdrawn.

Criminal Law—Middlesex Grand Juries—Question

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If his attention has been called to a statement made before the Assistant Judge at the Middlesex Sessions to the effect, that a person summoned to attend as a Grand Juryman had, on stating that it was inconvenient to attend, received a reply at the office of the summoning officer, "I suppose you are a gentleman;" also an intimation that two guineas was the fee to exonerate from serving on juries?

in reply, said, he had communicated with the Assistant Judge on the subject of the hon. Gentleman's Question, and he had informed him that there was sufficient primâ facie evidence of the correctness of that statement to warrant him in instituting inquiries. Accordingly, he had instructed the county solicitor to investigate the circumstances of the case, and to take such steps as might be desirable to punish the offender.

South Kensington Museum


asked the Vice President of the Council, Whether any, and if any, what arrangements have been made to prevent the recurrence of defalcations such as occurred at South Kensington Museum two years ago?

in reply, said, that his noble Friend (the Marquess of Ripon) and himself, after hearing of the defalcations alluded to in the Question, lost no time in taking steps to render them impossible for the future. It would be difficult to describe those steps in detail; but the result of them was that all extra receipts were paid into the Bank of England every day, and no money was drawn out of the Bank of England for the payment of wages, except on the signature of two persons, and then it was paid at once.

Criminal Law—The Weaverham Cock-Fighting Case—Question

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether the statement is correct which appeared in the Times of 29th July, that Colonel Peel of Hove, Brighton, gave a false name and address to the police when arrested at the "International Cockfight;" and, whether that officer is in any way at present under the control of the military authorities; and, if so, whether any steps have been, or are about to be taken by those authorities, touching his conduct in this affair?

Sir, the officer in question is on half-pay, and therefore not subject to the Mutiny Act. The only power which can be exercised over an officer so circumstanced is, that in a very extreme case Her Majesty can be advised to dispense with his services. In the present instance attention having been drawn to the statement in question, an inquiry has been made respecting it.

The Royal Commission On Officers Of Her Majesty's Army—Abolition Of Purchase—Question

asked the Secretary of State for War, Whether the Commissioners about to be appointed to inquire into the grievances of the Officers of the Army will have power to examine witnesses?

Civil Service Superannuation Act—Case Of Mr Freeth


asked the Junior Lord of the Treasury, Whether the 9th section of the Civil Service Superannuation Act (22 Vic. c. 26) does not, for special services, empower the Treasury to grant pensions up to the full amount of salary; and, whether the case of Mr. Freeth, whose appointment as Chief Clerk (Military Department) in the War Office has lately been abolished, does not come within this section; especially as Mr. Freeth has been recommended by His Royal Highness the General Commanding in Chief for "full pay or the highest rate of retirement to which his special services seem to justly entitle him?"

in reply, said, there could be no doubt that the officer in question had discharged his duties praiseworthily. At the same time, the Treasury considered the 9th clause of the Civil Service Superannuation Act could only be applied in cases where the services were of a peculiar and unusual degree of merit. Though it was quite true that the General Commanding-in-Chief, in forwarding the case for recommendation, did make use of the term "special services," yet neither His Royal Highness nor the War Office particularized any service of such a peculiar degree of merit as to justify the Treasury in applying the section in question.

Do I understand the hon. Gentleman to say that it is necessary for the services to be specially mentioned in order to entitle him to this pension?

Navy—Chatham Dockyard—The River Wall—Question

asked the Surveyor General of the Ordnance, Whether the statement contained in the "Times" of Thursday last, that "a party of workmen have commenced sinking for foundations at the Gun Wharf, Chatham, to repair the river wall which recently gave way, and which will cost several thousands of pounds to repair," is true; and, if so, to what extent such wall has given away, and what is the estimated cost of its repair?

Sir, on the 15th of July last about 40 yards in length of the old Gun Wharf wall at Chatham fell into the Medway, and carried with it a small part of the wharf', built about 25 years ago. About 50 yards altogether will have to be re-built. The cause of the wharf giving away is stated to have been due to the drainage, from a large drain which runs through the wall having been impeded by a stoppage at the mouth of the drain, and a consequent accumulation of water at the back of the wall. No estimate can yet be given of the cost of re-constructing the wall. The workmen referred to in the Question of the hon. Member have been employed in examining the site preliminary to a plan and an estimate of the work of re-construction being made.

Parliamentary Elections—Declaration Of The Poll


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If he intends to take any steps with a view to accelerating ascertainment and declaration of the results of polling in Parliamentary Elections?

Sir, soon after the passing of the Ballot Act, the Home Department, with the assistance of my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council, drew up directions for the application of its provisions in a most expeditious way. I am not aware that any improvement can be made in the regulations. I shall be glad to receive any suggestions on the subject; but I would remind my hon. Friend that the casting up of the votes is a laborious task, and that the Secretary of State cannot annihilate space and time.

Army—Pensioners From Woolwich Arsenal—Question

asked, Why men at weekly wages, who are pensioned from the Arsenal at Woolwich, are not permitted to commute their pensions in the same manner as salaried officers?

Sir, when the measures for carrying out the Act of' 1869 for permitting the commutation of pensions were under consideration, it was determined that the plan should not be extended to the lower ranks of the service—such as labourers in the Government manufactories. Exception was made in favour of cases in which men of those classes were about to emigrate, and for them arrangements have been made by which their pensions may be commuted, the proceeds of such commutation being paid, not to the men, but to the Emigration Commissioners on their behalf. The Government have seen no reason to alter their views on this matter, but continue to hold the opinion that it would not be beneficial to men of these classes to be allowed to commute their pensions, except for the purposes of emigrating.

Mexico—Diplomatic Relations


asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether any communication has been received from the Government of Mexico, or through the Representative of any friendly Power accredited to that Government, on the subject of the renewal of Diplomatic communication with this country; and, if not, whether, considering that the Government of Earl Russell refused the offer of the United States of America to settle with the English bondholders, and thereby used the debt for purposes of State, the present Government is prepared to take steps to protect the property of the English creditors in Mexico—that is to say, the Land and Customs Dues, assigned to the English bondholders, but now being used by Mexico for other financial purposes, notwithstanding such assignments?

Sir, no official communication of the nature alluded to in the hon. Member's Question has been received for some time past by the Foreign Office, and in the present state of relations with Mexico Her Majesty's Government are not prepared to take any steps with that country in reference to British claims of any kind.

Patent Rights—International Conference, Vienna—Question

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether he has seen the following statement which appeared in the Continental telegrams to-day:—

"Vienna, Aug. 4.—The first International Patent Congress was opened to-day.….The official representatives of the various Governments present were: —England—Mr. T. . Webster."
Whether it is or is not correct that Mr. Webster represents the Government of this country; and, if not, whether the Under Secretary does not think it expedient to take means to prevent other misapprehensions that must ensue from that learned Gentleman being received, and his part in the proceedings seeming entitled to he recognized as more than the facts of the case warranted?

in reply, said, that he had no reason to believe that Mr. Webster was officially authorized to represent the Patent Law Commission at the International Patent Law Congress at Vienna. He had no doubt that misapprehension on the subject would be avoided by the hon. Member having called attention to the subject.

Ireland—Dundalk Magistracy

Motion For Correspondence

moved for a Copy of Correspondence, and all Documents con- netted therewith, between the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, his Lordship's Secretaries, and Mr. Callan, M.P., and E. H. MacArdle, esquire, between the 23rd clay of December 1868 and the 31st day of July 1869, with respect to the filling up of a vacancy on the Dundalk Bench of Magistrates, by the appointment of the Chairman of the Town Commissioners thereto. The hon. Member said, that as he understood that his Motion would be opposed by the Government, he must very briefly explain the facts. In 1868 there was a vacancy in the Dundalk bench of magistrates for the county of Louth, and he (Mr. Callan) having been recently elected Member for that borough, was requested by a large number of residents to apply to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland for the appointment of Mr. Edward Henry MacArdle, of Cambrickille, to the magistracy. This he (Mr. Callan) did; but received a reply front the Lord Chancellor's secretary, informing him that according to usage the application should, in the first instance, be made to the Lord Lieutenant of the county. He accordingly applied to the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Rathdonnell; and received from that nobleman a curt refusal, no reason or cause being assigned. This ungracious refusal excited much surprise and indignation; and a Memorial was in a few days presented to the Lord Chancellor, stating—

"That Mr. MacArdle had for ten successive years been unanimously elected Chairman of the Dundalk Town Commissioners, during which period he had acted as borough magistrate efficiently, and with satisfaction both to the public and the authorities, and that from his general knowledge and great experience the memorialists felt confident that he would discharge the duties incident to the commission of the peace with credit to himself and advantage to the public."
That Memorial was signed by the most rev. Dr. Kieran, the Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of Ireland, the Member for the borough, and the only two Catholic as well as Liberal magistrates on the Dundalk bench; and the appointment of Mr. MacArdle was advocated by other local authorities, and by the public Press, Liberal as well as Tory. A correspondence with the Lord Chancellor ensued; and in the result the Lord Chancellor, in the exercise of his discretion, sent to Mr. MacArdle the usual documents to be filled up, which were ordinarily trans- mitted by the Lord Lieutenant of the county. Then came the delay and the hesitation of which he (Mr. Callan) complained. The Lord Chancellor plainly shewed that his hesitation arose from no scruple as to overruling the decision of the Lord Lieutenant of the county—other influences came into action, in which Lord Rathdonnell was not concerned—influences the nature of which he would much prefer should be explained in the words of the Lord Chancellor than by any words of his own.

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That there be laid before this House, a Copy of Correspondence, and all Documents connected therewith, between the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, his Lordship's Secretaries, and Mr. Callan, M.P., and E. H. M'Ardle, esquire, between the 23rd day of December 1868 and the 31st day of July 1869, with respect to the filling up of a vacancy on the Dundalk Bench of Magistrates, by the appointment of the Chairman of the Town Commissioners thereto."—(Mr. Callan.)

(for the Marquess of HARTINGTON) said, that the communications referred to in the Motion were of a confidential nature, and such as it was not usual to produce, and he must therefore oppose the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Counties, Ireland (Lori) Lieutenants And Magistrates)

Motion For A Return


"That there be laid before the House, a Return, as per annexed form, as to each county in Ireland stating the name of Lieutenant and date of his appointment as such; names of the local Magistracy with dates of appointment, distinguishing resident front non-resident, and amount of property for which each Magistrate appears rated for the relief of the poor as Occupier and as Immediate Lessor, and stating whether usually resident or non-resident in County, in a tabular form."
His object in moving for this Return was to obtain the information with respect to counties in Ulster, and more especially as affecting the county of Louth. More than three years since, the then Chief Secretary for Ireland stated, in answer to a Question which he (Mr. Callan) had considered it his duty to put—
"That every influence would be used by the Government to have advantage taken of all fair and proper opportunities to reduce the inequalities admitted to exist in the undue disproportion of Protestants to Catholics on the magisterial bench."
And within the last few days the noble Marquess the Chief Secretary for Ireland, whom he regretted not to see in his place, stated that the promised revision had been completed in 26 counties in Ireland, including the county of Louth; and the noble Marquess took the opportunity of making a statement, not on his own authority, but on that of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland—"That every opportunity had been taken to remove the inequality existing between the Catholics and Protestants, so far at least as the landed property of Catholics would permit, and that there was no dissatisfaction in Ireland with regard to magisterial appointments, save amongst those—including himself—who had not been appointed to the Commission of the Peace." With regard to the dissatisfaction alleged to exist, he held in his hand a letter from one of the ablest, as he was one of the most retiring and unassuming, Bishops of his Church (the Bishop of Clogher). His Lordship wrote—
"May your efforts prove effectual in causing sums improvement of our magisterial condition. I have long believed, and often said, that we, in this province especially, are but half emancipated as long as our magisterial courts are constituted as they are. We are ever made to feel that all the penalties of the law are for us, and all its loop-holes for others. One section of the community feels that it cannot exercise its lawful privileges with safety, whilst another section feels it may defy the law, and violate it with impunity."
He would content himself with referring to one official document—the Report of the Commissioners of Enquiry held at Dungarvan in 1871, which recommended that where there was no Catholic qualified for the Commission of the Peace, a resident Catholic magistrate should be appointed; and the Lord Chancellor in transmitting this Report to the Lord Lieutenant pointed out that there were places, especially in the North of Ireland, where there was none or a very inadequate representation of Catholics on the bench, and recommended that wherever there was fit and competent persons their appointment should certainly take place. Now, in the county of Louth, where he (Mr. Callan) resided, out of a population of 70,000, 64,000 were Catholics; but out of a magistracy numbering 56 there were only 8 resident Catholics; and of 10 petty sessions benches, there were 5 on which there was not a single Catholic magistrate. Yet the House had Returns of the pro- perty qualification of 9 Catholic gentlemen of the county, which would well bear comparison with that of any other gentlemen on the Commission, and who were personally as well qualified in every respect. It might be, and indeed it had been said, that the present Chancellor had, in a great measure, reduced the inequalities existing in other places. He (Mr. Callan) held a Return, extracted from the records of the Hanaper Office, Ireland, from which it appeared that since the appointment of the present Chancellor, there had been 17 appointments to the magisterial bench in the county of Antrim, of whom only I was a Catholic; in Armagh, 16, of whom only 2 were Catholics; in Cavan, 13, of whom but 4 were Catholics; in Donegal, 19, of whom only 2 were Catholics; in Down, 33, of whom but 4 were Catholics; in Fermanagh, 9, of whom not even I was Catholic; in Londonderry, 20 Protestants, and only 1 Catholic; in Monaghan, 10, of whom 2 only were Catholics; in Tyrone, 17 Protestants, and only 1 Catholic. It was clear, then, that since the present Lord Chancellor came into office, instead of reducing the inequalities complained of, he had in reality considerably increased them. He therefore considered himself justified in moving for the Return.

said, that the Return would be entirely useless. The hon. Member seemed to imagine that a magistrate must have his qualification in the county for which he was acting. But this was not so—a qualification would enable a magistrate to act in one county as well as in another. A magistrate might become non-resident in the county for which he was originally appointed; but his qualification would enable him to act in the county in which he became resident. Moreover, rateable property was not the only qualification for a justice of the peace. It was clear that the Return was one which ought not to be granted.

objected to the Return on the ground that it raised a new qualification. The inference would be drawn that Roman Catholics were excluded from the magistracy on account of their religion, and that the Lord Chancellor ought to appoint a certain number of Roman Catholics, whether they were qualified or not,

said, that anyone acquainted with Ireland could vouch for the fact that there was no disposition on the part of the Irish Executive to make any distinction in the appointment of magistrates on account of creed. If Roman Catholic gentlemen were qualified by property and station for the commission of the peace, it was quite a mistake to suppose that there was the least desire to exclude them.

said, that at this time last Session the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley) was adopting a similar line of argument to that now put forth by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire. That hon. Member was said to be at present on his way to America; but his mantle appeared to have fallen on the shoulders of his fidus Achates, the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate). But the hon. Member was entirely mistaken in supposing that the Return moved for "would give a new qualification." The Return did not ask for the slightest information on the question of religion—it was intended to meet the assertion of the Chief Secretary for Ireland—

"That all fair and proper opportunities had been taken to reduce the inequalities that had existed in the undue disproportion of Protestants to Catholics on the magisterial bench."
That assertion, he was certain, had never been tested by the noble Marquess, who in making it had been merely the mouthpiece of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He had already shown by the condition of the county of Louth how far that was from being the fact. He could now state that in Fermanagh, which had a Catholic population of 51,756, there was but one Catholic magistrate, and he was non-resident; while the Protestant population of 40,932 had no fewer than 66 Protestant magistrates. He had no doubt whatever that the failure of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland to purge the magisterial bench of prejudice and partizanship, and to confer the commission of the peace on men linked to the great body of the people by the sympathy of a common faith, had done much to create dissatisfaction, and had caused the Irish Executive to be as unpopular in Ireland as the conduct of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, during the Session, had tended to make the Government in England.

said, the House would very shortly be summoned to "another place," and he deprecated a division which might occur at an awkward moment.

Motion negatived.

Prorogation Of The Parliament

Message to attend The LORDS COMMISSIONERS:—

The House went:—and a Royal Commission to that purpose having been read, the Royal Assent was given to several Bills.

And afterwards Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech was delivered to both Houses of Parliament by The Lord High Chancellor, in pursuance of Her Majesty's Command.

Then a Commission for proroguing the Parliament was read.

After which,

My Lords, and Gentlemen,

By virtue of Her Majesty's Commission, under the Great Seal, to us and other Lords directed, and now read, we do, in Her Majesty's Name, and in obedience to Her Commands, prorogue this Parliament to Wednesday the Twenty-second day of October next, to be then here holden; and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Wednesday the Twenty-second day of October next.