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Question

Volume 220: debated on Friday 19 June 1874

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asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to the fact that for some years past the County of Wicklow has been required to pay half the cost of an extra Constabulary Force, when in point of fact there was no such extra force acting for the County; whether the grand jury were not compelled to present for seventeen men for the quarter ending 30th September 1873, when there were considerably less men than the free Parliamentary quota, and that, too, after frequent remonstrances on the subject by the grand jury, and after the withdrawal by the Magistrates—specially assembled in April 1873 to consider the matter—of all authority for an extra force; whether he is aware that the Law Officers of the Crown advised the late Government that the charge for an extra force was not legally sustainable, and that the late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in the beginning of this year communicated to the Lieutenant of the County, acting on behalf of the Magistrates and the Grand Jury, that the charge would not be again made; and, whether, under these circumstances, it is the intention of the Government to continue to claim from the ratepayers of Wicklow for the cost of an extra force which it has not?

, in reply, said, that it was not within the limits of an Answer to a Question to give a full explanation of the matter referred to; but he believed that the County of Wicklow had for some years past enjoyed a reduction in the cost of the Constabulary similar to the rest of the Counties of Ireland, in proportion to the number of its force actually serving as compared with the proper Parliamentary quota. In addition to the actual force there had been extra constables stationed in the county, for which the usual charge had been made and it would have been unfair to the other counties, if it had not. The Grand Jury, under these circumstances, were compelled to "present" for an extra force. The magistrates seemed to have recalled their consent to the withdrawal of the extra force, by declining to con-sent to a reduction of the number of stations that would be the necessary consequence of such withdrawal. He was not aware whether the Law Officers of the Government had given any opinion to the late Lord Lieutenant on the subject, nor did he find any official traces of correspondence between the Lord Lieutenant and the Lieutenant of the County of Wicklow. He would, however, look into the matter, and if there was any legal difficulty he would refer the right hon. Gentleman in the ordinary way to the Law Officers of the Crown.