On behalf of the hon. Member for Waterford, I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether the hon. Member for the Birr Division of King's County has been removed from the commission of the peace for a speech alleged to have been delivered by him at Kilchreest, without being asked to give an explanation of the speech; whether it is the usual practice of the Lord Chancellor to ask for explanations of any alleged misconduct; and whether the hon. Member for the Birr Division will be treated in the ordinary way, and be heard in his own defence.
Yes, Sir. The Lord Chancellor has superseded the hon. Member for the Birr Division in the Commission of the Peace. Some two months ago the Lord Chancellor had occasion to warn the hon. Member that as a magistrate he was bound to be specially careful to avoid the use of language that could in any way be construed as an incitement to a breach of the law. Notwithstanding this warning the hon. Member delivered a speech at Kilchreest on 21st July, in which he advised his hearers—not once or twice, but repeatedly—to drive the cattle off the grazing lands. The Lord Chancellor had a verbatim report of the speech before him, and therefore did not consider it necessary to call on the hon. Member for an explanation. The speech throughout was of such a character as to admit of no satisfactory explanation.
Is it not the usual practice in such a case to forward a copy of the speech to the person who is alleged to have made it and to ask whether he admits the authenticity of the report, and is it not a fact that in this case the report upon which the Lord Chancellor acted was of the usual official police type—a type that has not often been acted upon in Ireland?
I have read the speech of the hon. Member myself from the shorthand writer's report which is a verbation report of the speech, and I quite agree that he should have been communicated with if the question rested on any particular passage, or any particular paragraph, but the fact is that the whole speech was of such a character—that not one paragraph merely was of the kind complained of, but a great number.
May I ask who was the person who made the report—was it an ordinary police reporter?
He was a police reporter qualified to take down a speech in shorthand.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that juries in Ireland have repeatedly refused to act upon such reports of speeches after counsel had tested them showing that they were not reliable reports?
This, let me remind the hon. Member, is not a case of criminal prosecution. It is simply a question which is at the discretion of the Lord Chancellor—whether a person who made a speech of this sort is a proper person to be in the Commission of the Peace, and I am quite sure that if the hon. Member read the speech he would be satisfied that the hon. Member for the Birr Division was in the light of it in a position of not being qualified.
Is it not of the essence of the case that the Lord Chancellor should be satisfied that the person who supplied the report was competent to give a correct report of the speech?
[No answer was returned.]
As I understand it now the hon. Member is going to run away from what he said in the speech referred to.