§ (Mr. William Henry Smith, Mr. Attorney General.)
§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. William Henry Smith.)
§ MR. BUTT,
who had given Notice of an Amendment, complained that two Irish Coercion Acts had been included in the General Continuance Bill, contrary to precedent, and without affording any fair opportunity of considering the propriety of their discontinuance or modification. There was no necessity for calling upon the House to discuss this matter at the present time, for, if the Bill should not be passed, the Acts mentioned in it would nevertheless continue in force till the end of the Session of 1875. It seemed as if it was intended to enact these coercion measures perpetually, and this being the case, it was the duty of Members to press for such Amendments as they considered necessary. He brought forward his Amend- 980 ment on two grounds—first, in regard to the effect of the practice in question on our general system of legislation, and, secondly, with regard to its effect on Ireland. The Attorney General for Ireland was wrong in saying that the Peace Preservation Act of 1870 was not renewed by this Bill. That measure was passed to amend the Act of 1856, and the present Bill renewed not only the Acts named in it, but also those amending them. Now, nothing was more objectionable than to place Bills of such vital importance, as regarded the liberties of the people, in a Continuance Bill. But, apart from the mischief of renewing Acts of this nature in a General Continuance Bill, he maintained that there was never less justification for proposing a renewal of the Coercion Acts than at the present moment. All the Irish Judges who had recently gone on circuit bore testimony to the absence of crime in Ireland, and one of them expressly declared there was more committed in one county of England annually than in the whole of Ireland. Government, it was said, had not been long enough in office to be able to judge of the necessity for these Acts; but this was a decisive reason for not asking the House to continue them, inasmuch as they ought to be continued, if at all, on the responsibility of the Government, and on Government making out a good case. There was no necessity whatever for determining the question this year. It would be far better to allow it to stand over till next Session. Neither himself nor his hon. Friends around him intended to offer any opposition to the Government, nor had they done so on former occasions, with any factious purpose; but it was not just or fair that they should hold in their hands for two years to come a stock of coercion laws to coerce the liberties of the people. It was suggested on the debate for the second reading of the Bill that a Dissolution of Parliament might take place next year, and it was therefore necessary to guard against such contingency. But was that probable? "Were they going to have a new Reform Bill that would make such a proceeding necessary? He proposed on Saturday that the Acts in question should be re-enacted for a time certain—say, till September 1, 1875. He did not now repeat this offer; but on the former occasion it reduced the whole 981 question definitely to this—wore they going now to renew these Acts for 1876? Perhaps the House was not aware of the effect of this legislation. For one thing it disarmed the whole of Ireland. In 31 out of 32 counties it was a penal offence to keep a gun, even for the purpose of protecting one's crops, without having a licence from the stipendiary magistrate. Nay, more, power was given to the Lord Lieutenant to authorize a search for arms; and from an official Return he learned that no less than 224 warrants issued under that authority were at this time in the hands of persons empowered to execute them. The search might be carried out at any hour, day or night, and any constable might have the task assigned to him. He knew that the power conferred by these Acts had been abused in Ireland, and of that no man in the House could approve. That power had been used for the purposes of private malice and revenge. Now, he maintained that if such a law was to be continued it should be continued after the very gravest deliberation and the fullest consideration, and ought not to be included in a Bill regulating petroleum and turnpikes continuance. In conclusion, he contended that they ought not to condemn Ireland by anticipation, as they would do were they to agree to continue the Coercion Acts till 1876. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, it is inexpedient that when important Acts of Parliament have been passed for a limited period, any of such Acts, especially those conferring' on the Executive extraordinary powers, should he included in a general Bill for the continuance of Expiring Laws, brought in at the close of the Session, without affording any fair opportunity of considering the propriety of their discontinuance or their modification,"—(Mr. Butt,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Dr. BALL)
complained that the hon. and learned Gentleman was using his influence to make those Members of the House who were not lawyers believe, that if the Continuance Bill were agreed to, the statutes which were called in 982 the debate the Coercion Acts would necessarily be continued for two years. No one knew better than the hon. and learned Gentleman that such would not be the case. The Prime Minister had given a distinct assurance that if it should be proposed to renew these Acts in another Session a separate Bill should be brought in to effect such renewal. ["No!"] Yes, the Prime Minister had promised that the subject of the renewal of those Acts should, in the event of a proposal to renew them, be submitted to the consideration of the House. The words "till the end of the then next Session of Parliament" were simply intended for conveyancing purposes, and would not be acted upon except in the case of some emergency—such as a new Government coming into office at a time when they might not be able to move for the continuance of these Acts. In such a case they would undoubtedly be continued for two years; but unless something of the kind happened they would be renewed as hitherto year by year. They were dealing with the continuance of Bills not only as regarded fire-arms, but the conduct of the Press and other matters in Ireland, which would end next June, and it would be absolutely necessary to reconsider them before that period arrived. As to the possession of arms, the Irish Government were not prepared to give up restrictions which they deemed necessary. Those restrictions were not intended exclusively to prevent agrarian outrages, but party encounters and hostile conflicts especially in the North of Ireland. Not many days ago riots took place in the North of Ireland, and many shots were fired, so that it was utterly impossible to give up the restrictions as to the possession of arms. His hon. and learned Friend said that the power conferred by these Acts had been abused; but since he (the Attorney General for Ireland) had come into office there had been no complaints of the abuse of the power. He was prepared to say that the whole of this subject ought to be reviewed, and every one of these Bills examined by the Government, with a searching inquiry into the condition of the different places at present proclaimed. But such inquiries would occupy some time, and the Government had stated what they intended to do next Session with reference to this question. He would put it to the 983 House whether the Government were open to the charge of asking for the continuance of these Acts for a longer duration than was absolutely necessary, and whether a proposal to review the whole subject during the Recess was not as much as could be asked from the Government? He would challenge hon. Members connected with Ireland to say that there had been any disposition on his part to press the law too stringently or too strongly. In the absence, therefore, of any complaint, he submitted that the Government ought to be intrusted with the powers given to them by these Acts for the limited period provided by the present Bill.
§ MR. SERJEANT SHERLOCK
said, that the statement of the hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland might be directly tested by the application of legal principles, and he maintained that this legislation was plainly legislating for 1876. Why should they not accept the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick? If the Government did not intend that the words objected to should have effect, why retain them? The Prime Minister had promised that these Acts should be taken into consideration; but it was impossible that there could be in 1876 any circumstances to plead more strongly in favour of their repeal than the Reports of the Judges on the present state of Ireland, the absence of crime, and the generally satisfactory condition of the country. If those circumstances were insufficient to induce the Government to repeal these Acts, what circumstances would occur next year to induce them to take that course? It was not for Irish Members on his side of the House to assert that the Irish Government had pressed these provisions unduly. That was not the issue they took. They regarded these Acts as unconstitutional, and they objected to their continuance in an Expiring Laws Continuance Bill.
§ MR. C. E. LEWIS
remarked that considerations of great importance centred round this Bill, and he apprehended that an accumulation of this class of legislation would commend itself to no one. This system commenced in 1864, when eight or nine Acts were included in an Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. In 1868–9 the number had increased to 23 or 24, and now about 34 Acts were found in the Schedule. From the nature of the 984 case powers concentrated in a measure of this sort were contradictory to the very act of Legislature itself. The object of passing a temporary Act was to meet a temporary evil, and the measure being of a tentative character, it was most desirable to make it temporary; but by renewing it in this manner no opportunity was given for amendment. What had been said from the Treasury Bench seemed to prove that the Government were of opinion that high-class measures involving constitutional questions ought not to be included in a measure of this kind. He presumed that when the House went into Committee on the Bill there would be a specific Resolution to omit the Irish Peace Preservation Act from the present measure. Unless a statement was then made by a responsible Minister of the Crown as to the grounds upon which it was proposed to renew an Act to suspend the Constitutional liberties of the people, he could not vote for its continuance. As an illustration of the evil of continuing Acts in this manner, he might mention the Election Petitions Trial Act. It was essential for the safety of those who were subject to the provision of that Act that certain Amendments should come before the House for consideration if not for adoption. When the Election Petitions Bill was introduced some years ago, the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) pointed out that for the first time in the history of this country, matters of the gravest importance were to be decided by a single Judge without there being any power of appeal, and he anticipated what had actually happened—namely, that a man might in that way be stamped with infamy without having been tried by his peers. In what would always be known as the great Rabbit Case, a gentleman who in the middle of an election and of an election speech—without intending anything wrong—declared that his tenants should in future have the power of shooting rabbits, had on that account been declared to be incapacitated for public life for seven years. That could not have been intended by the Legislature. It had not been found that this tribunal insured uniformity, and the House having lost all control over the proceedings, the question of the right of a Member to take his seat might, as in the case of Boston, remain in abeyance for six months. The certificates were some- 985 times not easy to comprehend; Judges had stopped certain trials, so that the great advantages which it had been alleged would result from local inquiry had not always been realized, while so far from expense diminishing, he believed it would be found to have increased. Although he felt that the House could not possibly vote for the Resolution of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick, yet he could not help thinking the terms of the hon. and learned Gentleman's Motion were perfectly well justified in themselves, and that in the case of the Peace Preservation Act, the Election Petition Act, and some others, there was every reason why they should be dealt with separately, and not included in this kind of measure.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that apart from the particular question of the trial of election Petitions, scarcely a word had been uttered by the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down, in which he and the Government did not cordially concur. In point of fact, the expressions he had used in regard to this kind of legislation were in strict conformity with the remarks made by Lord Salisbury and Lord Carnarvon last year, and made substantially by himself (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) last Saturday. He entirely agreed—and he spoke for his Colleagues as well as for himself—that it was important that they should put a check on what appeared to be an abuse of their system of renewing Acts. It was not quite a new proceeding—it had now been going on for some 10 years—and gradually the convenience of the system had commended itself to those interested in this or the other piece of legislation. Undoubtedly they had fallen into a rather "slip-shod" way of dealing with matters which ought to be dealt with more carefully. It was certainly a very easy mode of getting over the difficulty when legislation was proposed that it should only be proposed temporarily or for one year, in order that they might have some experience of its working, and then consider what more ought to be done. But then, after going on in that way for one year, it was so easy to slip the matter into a Schedule of a Bill brought in at the end of the Session, and to repeat that process from year to 986 year, that they really ran the risk of gliding unawares into permanent legislation when it was not the intention of Parliament to do so. Besides the Acts to which the hon. and learned Member for Limerick and the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken had referred, there might be found others in the Schedule to which remarks more or less of the same character might apply; and therefore there was a decided feeling on the part of the Government that a check ought to be put on that system of legislation. But with regard to those Irish Acts, his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government had promised that they should not on any future occasion be put into an ordinary omnibus Continuance Bill, but if it was desirable to renew them that they should be dealt with separately. Again, it had been pointed out on Saturday and also that night that the whole question of legislation of that description for Ireland must almost of necessity come under review at an early period of the next Session, because the question would arise whether enactments that expire in June should be renewed, or, if not renewed, what should be done. It would be seen, therefore, that there was a desire on the part of the Government to take those Acts, at all events, out of that category of legislation. The same principle would apply to other Acts of importance, and they might safely undertake to say that in future much more care and rigour would be observed in regard to the insertion of Acts in the Schedule of that Annual Continuance Bill. It should also be remembered that the Attorney General for Ireland had that evening stated that the bonâ fide intention of that legislation was to legislate for one year only, and not practically for the year 1876. That was a statement entirely in accordance with the purpose and feeling of the Government. But it was undoubtedly open to the answer which had been given to it, that in point of fact they were probably, though not necessarily, legislating for 1876 by the form the Bill assumed. He admitted that that might be the case, and, if so, it would be very desirable so to amend the Bill as to make it clear that they did not intend to carry it over to that year. It was said, "Then let your Acts terminate at the periods here proposed, and strike 987 out the words, 'the end of the then next Session.' "That, however, was open to one objection. It was all very well to say that they were not likely to have a broken Session, but nobody could positively assert that about June next year they would not have some Ministerial crisis or other event happening. [A laugh.] He was glad to find that that suggestion provoked merriment; but such a contingency might arise, and what would be the result? They would not necessarily have a Dissolution, but they might have something equally inconvenient for that purpose—a change of Government. A new Ministry might come in in the month of June or the beginning of July; they might not have time to consider all their policy, and might be disposed to have an Autumn Session and to close the business of the Session very rapidly. Now, what he would propose—and he thought it would substantially meet the justice of the case—would be this: that they should alter the Bill by striking out the whole of the fifth column of the Schedule, which provided that those Acts should be continued until certain dates mentioned in each of them and until the then next Session, and should then provide that those Acts should be continued until December 31,1875. ["No."] That would literally fulfil the statement of his right hon. Friend. What did hon. Gentlemen desire? Was it not that they should have a fair opportunity next Session of having the subject of the renewal of those Acts brought before the House in a distinct form? Well, if they were made to continue until a limited period—namely, the end of next year—they would secure that opportunity, because it would be absolutely necessary then for the Government to come forward in the course of next Session and make a distinct proposition on the matter. If hon. Gentlemen agreed to that suggestion it would save time now and perhaps avoid unnecessary discussions, while they would really gain the main point which he imagined they aimed at, and thus introduce a better principle into their system of legislation.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
said, he wished to set the Attorney General for Ireland right with respect to what he had stated about the Peace Preservation Act. That Bill was passed on the 988 30th of June, 1856, and was to take effect from the 1st of July of that year, and expire on the 30th of June, 1858, and there was not one word said about the end of next Session. That Act was not renewed until within a few days of its expiration. In the House of Lords, the Earl of Donoughmore condemned it as an assertion on the part of Parliament that the people of Ireland were beyond the control of the ordinary law, and his views were supported by Lord Redesdale, and at length the Earl of Bess-borough, who had charge of it, agreed to the compromise that it should be continued in force for five years, and no longer. Here it was still, showing that faith had not been kept with the Irish people, and under those circumstances he could not accept the offer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
could not see in what respect their present position would be improved in that matter if they accepted the Chancellor of the Exchequer's offer. The right hon. Gentleman said, if they limited the operation of that Bill to the 31st of December, 1875, the Government would be forced to take the matter into consideration next Session. But whether they passed the Bill in its present form, or in the form suggested by the right hon. Gentleman, that would be equally the case. What he wished was that the Continuance Bill should be taken earlier in the Session, in order that there might be time to consider separately each measure whose operation it was proposed to continue. What was said on a previous occasion did away with many of the objections that might be raised against the course of the Government in respect to Irish legislation; but there were other Acts included in the Bill before the House on which much might be urged, and he wished, with regard to those measures, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given a more definite promise on the part of the Government. No one could doubt the absolute necessity which existed for a review of the law relating to corrupt practices at elections, in order to important amendments being made. Many of the Judges—especially Mr. Baron Bramwell—who had tried Petitions in various parts of the country had, in their Reports to Parliament, made important and valuable suggestions with a view to the 989 amendment of the law, and he maintained that it was the duty of Parliament to consider these suggestions, and, if necessary, to render them the basis of future legislation. There was a growing opinion in the country that, on the whole, more substantial justice was done by the former Election Committees of the House than by the Judges who now tried the Petitions. The legal training of Judges led them, on the one hand, to unseat Members on the strength of single cases which were clearly proved, even though they were what were called "planted" cases; and, on the other hand, Members in whose elections corrupt practices were resorted to, retained their seats because the offences could not be proved in the strictest legal form. In the case of the Wigtown Burghs, an election had been declared void on the technical ground that the voting papers had been wrongly marked—a point on which the House was by no means clear at the time of the passing of the Act; but no evidence was laid before the House as to the way in which the papers were marked, and it was probable that another Judge would have decided the matter differently from the Judge who tried the Petition. All these facts showed the necessity for revising the existing law.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, it was a grave question whether the list of expiring laws contained in the annual Continuance Bill had not grown to an inconvenient length, and did not contain many Acts which had better be left out of it; but, at the same time, he thought the present was the most inopportune and unfair time for bringing such a question forward which he recollected in his Parliamentary experience. What was the state of the case? Last Session the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) entered a very mild protest against some of the Bills contained in the Continuance Act, and five months since the Government changed. What would have been thought if the in-coming Government, instead of stating what course they were going to take in reference to many pressing matters, had announced their intention to look up all the evil and all the good that had been done during the last 25 years, and then to do nothing else until everything with regard to past legislation had been put right? He did not think such a course would have been at all satisfactory. With regard to the 990 election laws, for instance, he did not think it would have been decent—and he used the word in its strongest sense—to enter into a consideration of those laws at a time when the Judges were administering them in different parts of the country. Then, with regard to the Irish laws, he found from the public prints that when the Chief Secretary visited Ireland it was not Coercion Laws to which his attention was called, but the Shannon, which the Irish people wanted to have shut up or opened, or something of the kind. He did not think that the hon. Members who were opposed to the continuance of the Coercion or any other Acts did justice to themselves by bringing the matter forward at this period of the Session, in face of the fact that at an earlier date, when full discussion was possible, they could have asked the House to repeal the Acts to which they objected. The fact that they left the matter until the introduction of the Continuance Bill was apt to lead the outside world to believe that their case was weak on its merits, or that, at any rate, they had a very Irish way of dealing with important subjects. No man could think more strongly than he did that many of the Acts proposed to be continued required looking into; but it could not be maintained for a moment that at that late period of the Session the Government or the House had sufficient time properly to consider them. That discussion might do good in a sense, because it might lead the Government to look into the matter in the Recess; but, considering how supine the House had been in allowing the list of Bills to grow up inch by inch, he did not think it fair to raise the general question at the present time. The list ought to have been watched, and gnawed down bit by bit, instead of being allowed slowly to grow up into the great structure which it had become in these days.
remarked that had the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) spoken of this measure in an even less kindly spirit his (Mr. Sullivan's) hon. Friends and himself would have replied to him only in a most considerate and respectful manner. The right hon. Gentleman had demonstrated the unwisdom of the course pursued by the Government, for he had stated that the present was the most inconvenient time to raise the question. Well, but who had raised 991 it but Her Majesty's Government? The right hon. Gentleman said, that the Government could not be expected in their first Session to look into the future and crowd the Table of the House with Bills. That was just what they had done. They had gone into the legitimate labour of next Session, and had anticipated by 12 months the work which was cut out for them in the statute, and this they had done at the close of a Session in which they pleaded for consideration, and the days of which had been so few. Having ruthlessly slaughtered the Bill which they had promised at the beginning of the year, they drew upon the work of next Session, and asked the House to pass a Bill which would indirectly give rise next year to lengthened discussions. "Why, it was asked, had not some of those hon. Members who acted with him brought in a Bill to repeal the Coercion Act? The fact was that it had been resolved to bring in such a Bill; but it was considered that a fair argument which might be urged against it would be that, as the Act would expire in September, 1875, the House ought not to be overloaded with the work of considering such a measure, and that view was acted upon. They had therefore avoided the question which the Government had needlessly and offensively raised. ["Oh!"] He repeated that the Government had needlessly and offensively raised the question. He would appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider what he had offered. If there were any force, or meaning, or cohesion in the offer, it virtually amounted to this—that the whole subject must be fully discussed next Session. If that were so, what was the practical difference between the expiry of the Act in September or December? To Her Majesty's Government that meant very little, but to the Irish Members it meant a great deal. If they accepted the offer made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, they would be placed before their constituents in the false position of having agreed to the continuance of the Coercion Act for a period of four months. For his part, he declined to be placed in such a position. He protested against the continuance of a Coercion Act not only for four months, but for four weeks, or even for four days. The Irish Members protested against such Acts as being unnecessary, offensive, and galling; but they would meet 992 the reasonable opinions of English Members by consenting to the phrase being altered from "the end of the Session" to "August" or "September." Were the Government afraid that before that time arrived there would be a Dissolution, and that a Liberal majority would follow the close of the Conservative reaction? He would appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be as considerate and conciliatory in action as he had been in tone. When he heard the speech of the Attorney General for Ireland and that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was reminded that when one of those Coercion Bills was being brought into that House, many years ago, Lord Althorp, the Minister of the day, made part of his speech, but his heart revolted against the task, and he flung the Bill upon the Table; but he found some Colleague to take it up. What the Irish Members were asked to do was to vote that the Irish people were beyond the control of the law, and that the ordinary laws of England, Scotland, and Ireland were not sufficient to guide the social and public life of his countrymen. These Coercion Acts were the most odious and most insulting indictments ever cast upon the virtue, manhood, and morality of a people. As an Irish Member, he would exhaust all the Forms of the House in making his protest against the proposition that Ireland was so steeped in crime and so given over to lawlessness that she must be denied from year to year the free privileges of the Constitution, and that she was not fit for liberty. The Irish people were not a nation of thieves, assassins, and murderers. On the contrary, the charges of the Judges, the white gloves which had been presented to them on several circuits, and the general freedom from crimes not only of violence, but of every kind, was a direct contradiction to the assumption. But it was said that this state of things was owing to the existence of these extraordinary Coercive Acts, and so whether Ireland was peaceful or disturbed, there was always an excuse for governing her by martial law. Cavour had said that anyone could govern in a state of siege, and it was a reflection upon successive Governments in this country that that was the only way in which they governed Ireland. He had no desire to raise the question of the state of crime in England 993 as compared with Ireland, or to enter minutely into the criminal statistics of other parts of the United Kingdom, though he had been taken sharply to task by some of his constituents for not doing his duty by carrying the war into Carthage. He found, however, in The Manchester Guardian—a highly respectable journal—a list of kicking assaults which had been committed both upon men and women, but principally upon women, by their husbands, which would be disgraceful even among savages. Did anyone propose to pass a Coercion Bill for Lancashire in consequence? Why, the hon. Members for Lancashire would be the first to protest against such legislation, and tell the House that it might as well attempt to bring back the Curfew bell. In that very morning's paper were recorded brutal and bestial outrage and crime in a portion of England. He protested against a country where such crimes prevailed—crimes which were impossible in virtuous Ireland—holding up his countrymen as assassins, immoral, and given up to vice. He would not have Mrs. Harriett Winslow, the baby-farmer, shouting across the Channel to his virtuous countrywomen to take care of their infant children; or Broadhead, of Sheffield, shouting to his countrymen to beware of vice and crime. He would not have, by a country where so many of the basest and vilest passions of human nature ran riot, such accusations levelled against his countrymen, who presented to the world the spectacle of a race in which the home affections and the innate virtues of humanity took a stronger hold than in any other. He would not allow that House, for its own convenience, to ratify the fearful indictment against the Irish people that they were beyond the pale and the reach of the British Constitution, and that they needed exceptional Acts of coercive legislation to keep them in the paths of morality and virtue.
said, that although there had been a great deal of discussion on these Acts, yet it appeared to him that the real object for which they were maintained had not been placed before the House. Almost every hon. Member who had spoken had stated that there was no country in the world, considering the extent of its population, which was so free from ordinary crime as Ireland. He (the O'Donoghue) would 994 add the expression of his firm conviction that in the world there were no more virtuous people than the Irish. But everybody knew that the maintenance of these laws had nothing whatever to do with the repression or the existence of ordinary crime. Why was it necessary that these Coercion Laws should be passed? It was because Ireland within the last few years had been threatened with insurrectionary movements—["No, no!"]—and with attempts to distribute arms for purposes of insurrection. The police were continually seizing arms secreted with an unlawful object, and raids were frequently made on the rifles of the Militia. If there had been no active Fenian organization these Acts would long since have disappeared from the Statute Book. He voted for the Westmeath Act in order to enable the law to get at a gang of agrarian conspirators in that county who were holding the entire community, high and low, landlord, farmer, and labourer, in a state of abject terror. He voted to give the Lord Lieutenant extraordinary powers over the whole of Ireland in order to enable the Government to cope with the Fenian recruiting sergeant. He had supported the Press Clauses in the Act of 1870 in order to restrain writers who by their odious libels on the Government and by distorting everything which concerned the true interests of the Irish people had endeavoured to stir up sedition and civil war. Was Ireland coerced because a gang of murderers in Westmeath had their arms paralyzed and their plans frustrated? Was Ireland coerced because moderation had been enforced in two or three newspaper establishments in Abbey Street? or because the distribution of arms for purposes of insurrection had been rendered difficult and dangerous? or because nameless impostors from America, representing themselves as captains, colonels, or brigadiers, as fancy dictated, had been forced to leave the Kingdom? The great mass of the people suffered in no way from the operation of these laws, and would know literally nothing of their existence but that it was thought necessary to have animated discussions upon them in that House every year, and be cause of the noise that was made in certain quarters in Dublin. The peasantry had no cause to complain of the conduct of the magistrates or of the constabulary 995 in carrying out the Acts, the only persons who had suffered a trifling inconvenience under these statutes being a few sporting characters, who had to apply to two persons instead of one for a gun licence, and were unable when their barrels burst to have them repaired by the gun-maker as rapidly as they might wish. It was a grave abuse of language to say that Ireland did not enjoy her Constitutional rights. What Constitutional rights did any Englishman or any Scotchman enjoy which he himself, as an Irishman, was denied? The simple truth was that these measures had been passed for the sake of public safety. Extraordinary powers had, doubtless, been vested in the hands of the Executive; but the Executive could not, under the watchful eye of the public, abuse those powers, even if they wished to do so. He would not repeat familiar arguments to justify measures of a repressive character or cite examples from contemporary history. In common with every hon. Member in that House, he regretted the necessity that existed for these measures; but he could not close his eyes to the fact that it was absolutely essential for the peace and well-being of Ireland that they should be passed. He should vote for the proposal of the Government with a clear conscience, believing that they would not inflict hardships upon any individual, and that their proposal did not involve the deprivation of a single constitutional right. The statement by the hon. Member who last addressed the House that there was more crime in England than in Ireland had nothing to do with the question. If in Lancashire or elsewhere men kicked their wives to death, did they escape punishment? ["Yes."] He was not aware that they did. On the contrary, he saw accounts in the papers that they were constantly punished, and when punishment failed to overtake them the hon. Member might have some reason in bringing this argument before the House.
§ CAPTAIN NOLAN
said, that two English Members had already admitted that Coercion Bills were bad; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) had pleaded in justification of this proposal that the Government had been only five months in office and that this was a convenient course for them to 996 take. Now, the grand argument for flogging in the Army was that it was convenient; but he objected to it on that very ground, because he had seen men flogged for offences which did not deserve more than a few hours' confinement. He advised his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) not to accept the offer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that this Continuance Bill should be passed to the 31st of December, 1875. He objected on principle to some of the Acts contained in the Bill, and he trusted that a majority of the Irish Members would have an opportunity of recording their votes against it, and thus be no party to their own degradation. The hon. Member for Tralee (the O'Donoghue) deserved the gratitude of Irish Members for the way in which he had stripped the debate of all pretences, for he told the House that arms were denied to Irishmen because there was fear of insurrection. He, on the contrary, maintained that the chance of an insurrection in Ireland was a very remote contingency, and it was admitted in every nation which had constitutional rights that the people of a free country were entitled to carry arms. The hon. Member for Tralee had asked what rights had English and Scotch Members of Parliament which were denied to Irish Members? That might be true of Members of Parliament; but the case was very different when they came to deal with men not in that position. It was said that the number of persons who when they applied were refused the use of arms was small. But to judge of the number of persons who wanted arms from the number who were refused was absurd. It was evident that when one farmer in a district was refused, his neighbours would not apply. There were other acts in this Bill to which he also objected. He particularly disliked the 14th clause of the Master and Servant Act, which seemed to hold the same position with respect to the English working-man that the Coercion Acts did in the case of Irishmen. It was felt as a degradation.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke), had stated that the Corrupt Practices Act would be prolonged by this Bill till next year. He found that this was not exactly correct, inasmuch as the Act was continued till the 997 1st of July, 1875, and from that time to the end of the next Session of Parliament. Consequently it would be prolonged for two years. He objected to the Act being continued longer than was necessary, to enable Parliament to discuss and fully consider it, in order to ascertain whether it should be continued or whether something perfectly different should be enacted. That Act involved an important constitutional question as to whether a Judge alone, without a jury, was to decide matters not only of law, but of fact. Election Petitions were very much in the nature of criminal proceedings, because they might result in a Member losing his seat and being subjected to serious political disability; and yet by this Act he was deprived of the benefit of trial by jury, to which the smallest offender in the land was entitled by the Common Law of England. Prior to the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the rule was that a return to a Writ must be traversed in the Court from which the Writ issued. Therefore, an election Writ being issued from the Court of Chancery was returned to the Common Law side of that Court. If the validity of the return was impeached, it turned on a question either of fact or of law. If it was impeached on a question of law, the Judge, the Lord Chancellor, decided it; but if the traverse involved questions of fact, or of fact and law mixed, the Lord Chancellor was incompetent to pronounce a decision. He delivered the Writ and the return to the Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and the record was tried in that Court either at Bar or at Nisi Prius by a Judge with a jury. That was the Common Law on the subject. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, however, this House asserted to itself the right of trying cases arising out of Writs for the return of Members to Parliament. There was, he believed, a general opinion in the House that the decisions of the Select Committees were, on the whole, more satisfactory than the decisions of the Judges on Election Petitions, for the latter appeared to be various, very conflicting, and sometimes not very intelligible. He maintained, therefore, that it behoved the House to consider the constitutional law on the subject, and that the question ought to be raised whether election cases, if they were to be tried by a Judge, ought not to be tried by a Judge with a jury, thus 998 restoring the right of every Member to be tried in the same manner as any other person. In order to enable the House to consider the subject next Session, he would move an Amendment that the Corrupt Practices Act should be continued only to the end of the next Session of Parliament.
§ MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY
protested against the continuance of these Coercion Acts, because they did more to irritate and annoy the people of Ireland than any other measures in the Statute Book. If the management of Ireland and the regulation of her affairs were handed over simply to the Common Law of the land—which was now administered in the Assize Courts fairly and justly—it would do more to conciliate the country, and bring about peace and concord, than any legislation that had taken place for a long time. What was the origin of these coercion laws? Their origin was to be found in the past history of Ireland, and the constant attempts by the Government of this country to govern Ireland by a minority of creed, race, and class. English writers and statesmen had admitted that such was the fact, and Parliament had admitted it by the reforms it effected through recent legislation—as in the case of the Irish Land and Church Acts, and the few other beneficial measures that had been passed with respect to Ireland in recent years. Now, that admission having been made—that the origin of these coercive measures was the attempt to govern the majority by the minority—it was proposed to maintain that unreasonable system of government so uselessly tried in the past. They had had long experience of the effect of these coercion laws, and had seen that they were a failure now as they had been before, and by that experience Parliament ought to he guided with respect to the present Bill. There was little hope that this debate would have a satisfactory result. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, like his Predecessors, had to look at the political affairs of Ireland with other eyes than those which guided him in reference to the Shannon navigation and other matters affecting the material prosperity of the country; he had to look at them with the eyes of an Attorney General who was a man of good intentions and high professional qualifications, and who if he had the 999 necessary experience would be the proper man to direct the Chief Secretary, but who had not that experience. Those who were entrusted with the government of Ireland in these matters get their advice from a few officials at Dublin Castle, who know no other panacea for the ills of the country than the repetition of these Coercion Laws. This debate might be practically useless for the present; but, as in regard to the other proposals which had for a while met with equal disfavour in the past, the time would yet come when the course now recommended would be adopted, and when the Government would feel that if these coercive measures had been repealed in 1874, more would have been done to conciliate Ireland and to remove causes of irritation than by any measure that had been passed in recent years.
§ SIR EARDLEY WILMOT
deprecated the unconstitutional policy which had been pursued by the Government on this' occasion. In his opinion, it was a most mischievous and indefensible plan to introduce in one Bill the renewal or continuance of several Acts, some of which would not expire for 12 months, instead of bringing them forward as separate measures. The hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) had made a proposition to the House that those Acts should be renewed for one year only, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer-had met this by another proposition—namely, that the Acts, when renewed, should not remain in force longer than the 31st of December next. That was a concession on the part of the Government, but not such a concession as hon. Members on the other side of the House desired. But he thought that by mutual concessions a satisfactory arrangement might be arrived at. He would, therefore, propose that the time for the expiration of the Act should be set down for the 1st of October, 1875. He believed that if the hon. and learned Member for Limerick would adopt this proposal it would meet the view of the Government; and, if not, and the House divided, then, considering the unconstitutional way in which it was proposed to renew these Acts, he would support him.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, that he really believed the Chancellor of the Exchequer was desirous of retrieving the blunder that was made by including the 1000 Coercion Bills in this Continuance Bill, and that he saw that the inevitable consequence of leaving them in the Schedule, as they were now, would be to continue them for 12 months longer. That being his view, he had very properly thrown over the logic of the Attorney General for Ireland, who endeavoured to persuade the House, against its common sense, that the objectionable words added to the words "year 1875," "and to the end of next Session," meant nothing at all. But let the Government consider the position in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer placed Irish Representatives. The Bills were intended to expire at the end of next Session—that was about August; and the proposal to add four months longer—namely, until the 2nd of December—was really to ask them voluntarily to assent to keeping Ireland in chains for four months more, when from the bottom of their souls they abhorred the idea of keeping her under coercion, even for a single day. One of the Government's own supporters—the hon. and learned Baronet the Member for Warwickshire (Sir Eardley Wilmot)—had very kindly come to the rescue, and proposed that the date of the 1st of October should be adopted in Committee, and it would certainly become a strong Government, like the present, to make that concession. A weaker Government might stand upon its dignity, and prefer to keep a third part of the United Kingdom under deprivation of the Constitution rather than yield when it had once spoken. That would not, however, be a truly dignified course, and his great respect for the character of the Chancellor of the Exchequer made him believe that he sought only to provide against the contingency of a sudden Dissolution, and did not desire by a side issue to add four months to the humiliation of Ireland. For his part, without having any authority to speak for his hon. Friends around him, he was of opinion that the adoption of the 1st October, instead of the last day of December, would be as satisfactory a solution of the difficulty as they could fairly expect, and what would the House have gained? Why, a distinct repudiation of the justice of these Continuance Bills, which was a great constitutional gain, and for which the general country would be indebted to 1001 the Irish Members, and they would also avoid the shame and humiliation of keeping Ireland under coercion for an unnecessary period. He would also say that when the House of Commons knew Irish Representatives a little better, they would find them true and just supporters of constitutional Government. The Ballot had sent to the House Representatives who were not place hunters, but were men really desirous of serving their country, and there were few of his hon. Friends who did not attend the debates in the House of Commons at great personal inconvenience and pecuniary loss, and he trusted that one effect of this debate would be to give the House a more adequate idea of the intense feeling of the Irish people in regard to the suspension of the Constitution in that country. He would now sit down, but he felt that it was impossible for him to pass over the speech of the hon. Member for Tralee (the O'Donoghue) without making reference to it. He regretted his absence from the House, for he would far rather have spoken in his presence. Ireland had long felt the humiliation of the deprivation of the civil rights of the people; but there was one humiliation and one degradation which she felt even more deeply, and that was the desertion of those whom she had trusted. When the hon. Member for Tralee made light of her liberties, she felt the pang involved in the defection of one of her hereditary champions. "Yea, mine own familiar friend in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me." For what other bread that hon. Member now sought he did not know; but this he did know—that if violent language had been used in Ireland, it was by that hon. Member. The House had some specimens the other evening, and he would only remind them now that when England was really in peril and prepared to avenge the insult put upon her in the forcible seizure of the Ambassadors from the Southern States in 1861, the hon. Member presided at a meeting in the Rotunda, and used language of the most violent kind. Who was it, he would ask, that on that occasion excited the Irish people? Who was it who told the Irish people that then was their opportunity? Who was it that proclaimed to the people of England that they could never depend upon 1002 Ireland at such a crisis, and that America would find in Ireland her best support? He had the words used by the hon. Gentleman on the occasion to which he was referring in his pocket; but he need merely observe that, for the language which he had used the hon. Gentleman had been removed from the Commission of the Peace. Was it, he would ask, because he desired to be restored to that honour or to obtain the favour of right hon. Gentlemen on either side of the House that he now rose in his seat night after night to slander his fellow countrymen? It was sad to think that one whom they had loved, should thus have turned against them; it was a deep humiliation; and having said thus much he would merely warn the House not to put implicit faith in the statements of an hon. Gentleman who had so completely changed his colours.
§ MR. FAY,
as the Representative of a constituency in the North of Ireland, repudiated the assertion that discord was growing among the various classes of the people there. When these Acts were first passed, there was a deadly feud between Protestants and Catholics; but that feeling had gradually decreased, and now the peace and harmony which prevailed showed that no coercive measures were needed. He might add, to show how little prevalent crime was in Ireland, that the number of persons convicted for offences of all kinds in his own county (Cavan) in 1872 was only 61, out of a population of 150,000. What county in England, he asked, could present a comparatively favourable return?
§ MR. BIGGAR
contended that it was unreasonable, unnecessary, and unjust to include such important measures as the Coercion Acts in an Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. Moreover, it was not fair to insist upon such a Bill being passed at this period of the Session, when there was no time to consider it properly. The hon. Gentleman was reading in a very low tone of voice from a book, when—
§ MR. FORSYTH
rose to Order, and asked the Speaker whether it was regular for an hon. Member to read to himself from a book.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the hon. Member was not out of Order in quoting an extract; but he must, at the same time, 1003 remind him that the rules of debate required him to address himself to the Chair.
§ MR. BIGGAR
did not understand that it was contrary to the Rules of the House to read, as he was doing, an Act of Parliament to illustrate the absurdity of their being asked to renew the statutes which in various of their provisions were thoroughly obsolete. The hon. Gentleman was proceeding to make further quotations, when he was again admonished by the Speaker to address himself to the Chair, and after a few further remarks against the Bill, he resumed his seat.
§ MR. CALLAN
begged to record his protest against the principle of this Expiring Laws Continuance Act. Whatever reasons might have been urged formerly in favour of the Peace Preservation Act of 1870, and the miscalled Protection of Property Act of 1871, those reasons did not apply on the present occasion. The Attorney General for Ireland had told them that those Acts entailed no inconvenience whatever, and that no honest or loyal man in Ireland would suffer any wrong. He might test the accuracy of that assertion by his own case. In his own county (Lowth) he had obtained a licence from a stipendiary magistrate to carry arms. Now, he had taken apartments across a little channel on the south side of the County Down, and had taken with him a revolver, a rifle, and a fowling-piece; and if a constable, in his absence, had entered his apartments and found those weapons there, he would have been liable to two years' imprisonment with hard labour. He had, however, run this risk with his eyes open, and he did not intend, should any action be taken, to plead that he had been ignorant of the law. Mr. Justice Fitzgerald, in opening a recent assize in the county Down, congratulated the grand jury on the fact that there was no single criminal case for trial, and that the county was in a most peaceful state. Yet this was one of the counties which was to be under the operation of one of the Acts, the operation of which, the House was asked to continue. He maintained that of no English or Welsh county could the same be said in regard to the absence of crime, and therefore he contended that it was grossly unjust to continue this Act in force. As a Member 1004 of Parliament from Ireland, and as one who had a peculiar knowledge of politics in that country, he wished to refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Tralee (the O'Donoghue). It was an old saying in Ireland, that if a man who seduced a girl married her before the birth of their offspring', he made an honest woman of her. Applying that saying to the hon. Member for Tralee, he could only hope that his, he would not say tergiversation, but change of opinion, would in the eyes of the Ministry who had the power to give place, result in the making an honest man of him. He had never in the course of his life attended more than one meeting of a rebellious character, and he hoped he should never attend another. On that occasion he was unfortunately taken to the meeting by the hon. Member for Tralee. He was at that time possessed of more money than he had at the present time, and he invested a not inconsiderable portion of it in a daily National newspaper, of which he became the director. Whether it was due to affection for himself or to the facilities generally resulting from a friendship with the director of a newspaper he knew not; but the hon. Member for Tralee at this time frequented his company, and took him to the meeting, for attending which the hon. Member was deprived of the Commission of the Peace to which he had not been restored, and also, he (Mr. Callan) believed, deprived of his commission in the Kerry Militia. The hon. Member for Tralee afterwards corrected the proof of a speech he made at the rebellious meeting, and, as he (Mr. Callan) remarked at the time, made it more rebellious by his corrections than it was in the utterance. Since then the hon. Member had become enamoured of the Treasury Bench, and would, he hoped, meet with his reward by redeeming himself in the eyes of the House and of the Minister for the Colonies, to whom his attention was particularly directed.
§ MR. RONAYNE
said, for 20 years he had never known agrarian murders in the counties of Kerry, Waterford, or Cork, until the Peace Preservation Act was passed. Last year there was one murder in Cork. In his opinion, there was no reason whatever for extending this Bill. Let them contrast the relative state of society in England and Ireland. 1005 He was not a "bloodthirsty scoundrel," yet he could not but feel the difference in the circumstances of the two countries under the same Constitution. He was liable to two years' imprisonment for having in his possession a gun or a pistol, or even a percussion cap. His house was liable to be invaded at any time of night or day, and every room searched. When he came over here and saw in every street of the metropolis civilian soldiers with rifles on their shoulders and swords by their sides, walking like freemen, he felt it bitterly, and the sight did not make him well affected to the laws of this country.
§ MR. O'CLERY
said, the persistent action of the Ministry in thus forcing measures of coercion upon Ireland was only part of the reactionary policy of every Government since the Union—only part of that programme of bringing Ireland, as a conquered country, to the feet of England, that had always been pursued against her. The sooner the Government announced that fact to Europe the better for Ireland. Russia held Poland in subjection without giving Europe any assurance respecting her future lot; but, at any rate, she did not calumniate her as a nation. Russia did not hold up Poland to the world as a country in which crime was rife, and where the population was guilty of every conceivable offence, the constant perpetration of which, warranted the application of the most stringent measures. The Czar did not seek any such subterfuge to proclaim a state of siege for the maintenance of his sway in Roland. Let the Ministry say at once that they were not prepared to deal with Ireland in the same way as they would with England, and so get rid of all Pharisaical pretence about the blessing of Constitutional Government. If they really wished to do away with dissatisfaction in Ireland, it could not be done by the introduction of such measures as the Coercion Acts. Lot the Members of that House consider the state of things in Ireland. Let them think for a moment what would be said if an Englishman was unable to go out after sunset without being liable to arrest by the first policeman he met; and this tyrannical law was not to be carried out by the ordinary constable as understood in England, but by a man armed with a rifle and sword-bayonet, who possessed 1006 far more of a military than police character. This principle of coercion was sustained and encouraged by a few officials in Dublin Castle, whose only chance of advancement in the eyes of the Government was in its continuance, regardless of the wishes of the people. Why not declare that the Irish people were to be altogether debarred from constitutional rights, and that the protection such rights afforded were intended exclusively for England and Scotland, and not at all for Ireland? Such a Bill deserved, and should receive, the strongest opposition on the part of the Irish Representatives.
§ MR. J. MARTIN
said, he hoped and trusted that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for limerick (Mr. Butt) would persist in dividing the House on his Motion. He (Mr. Martin) had been waiting on this occasion, as he had waited when this Bill was introduced, but he had waited in vain, to hear one intelligible sentence from any Member of Her Majesty's Government, how it was, and why it was that they tried to cause the people of Ireland not only to be disaffected, but to remain and continue perpetually disaffected, by deliberately, year after year, on one pretence or another, or on no pretence at all—by deliberately depriving Her Majesty's subjects—forming one third of the United Kingdom—of their rights as British freemen or Irish freemen? He had waited in vain. [Laughter.] Yes, he had heard hon. Members who followed the Government, and who would vote at the Government's bidding that black was white, or that two and three made six in Ireland, mocking at an Irish Gentleman—[A laugh]—yes, an Irish Gentleman, standing up indignantly to denounce this violation of the rights of the Irish people by the Ministers of the Crown. The Ministers of the Crown might regard Ireland as so poor, so despicable a thing—yes, he repeated a "thing"—as so contemptible, as a vile body, upon which experiments in legislation were to be made, that they were not required to give any reason to the civilized world for keeping the people of that country outside of the Constitution, and thereby providing that that people should continue to be disaffected and socially dangerous not only to Her Majesty's honour, but to Her Majesty's authority. He deliberately charged the Government—not 1007 merely the present Government—but every Government which had been in power in England since the usurpation of the Sovereign rights of the Irish nation—with doing this. He said "usurpation," and he would be glad if some Member of the Government would rise and contradict him. The Government had governed against the Constitution which it was pretended prevailed in the Three Kingdoms, governed by an usurpation, causing Her Majesty not to fulfil the promise made in her Coronation Oath—to regard her Irish subjects as equal before the law with her English subjects. ["Oh, oh!"] He challenged contradiction to his words. The facts were notorious. The rights of Ireland were usurped in the year 1800, and the constitutional rights of Ireland had been kept from Her Majesty's subjects there year after year since then. Every year since then the great majority of the people of Ireland were disaffected to the rule of the English people over that country—over Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland. Every year it was notorious that the people of Ireland were disaffected. The English Parliament had passed a long succession of unconstitutional, anti-constitutional, and illegal statutes in order to smother the disaffection that existed in Ireland, and represent to the world and to the people of England that Ireland was a consenting party to the usurpation. Now, at last, through their neglect and contempt of the Irish people—whom they thought they had rendered powerless by starvation and depopulation, they had enabled them to send to that Parliament real Representatives of the national sentiment. [Laughter.] He loved to hear hon. Members like the Attorney General for Ireland laugh at his words, because everybody in Ireland, and every Irishman in that House, might be of opinion that the right hon. and learned Gentleman spoke from his brief. He thought he had said enough to indicate the feeling of an Irishman—of a loyal subject of the Queen—of one who had no enmity towards England, and who scorned the conduct of hon. Gentlemen and of the British Press, that thought it necessary for their purposes to carry out a system of calumniation against the people of Ireland.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, however mistaken hon. Members might think the 1008 opinions of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down to be, no one could doubt his honesty and sincerity. Asking himself, however, how it was that the Irish people sent such men to represent them, and to express such views, he (Mr. Mundella) came to the conclusion that Parliament had mistaken in a great measure the spirit of the Irish people, and had legislated against their wishes, feelings, and prejudices. He had on former occasions voted for the continuance of these laws, though he had done so with great repugnance, but having noticed the diminution of crime in Ireland he had come to the opinion that these Acts were no longer necessary. He appealed to the Government to promise that when these Acts expired in due course they would free Ireland, at least for a time, from their operation, and for once try her on a fair footing with England. He had no sympathy with federalism or repeal, each of which was absolutely impracticable; and if anything could induce him to vote against the Resolution before the House it would be such speeches as that of the hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. Callan)—speeches of a kind that they were not accustomed to hear in that House, and of the hon. Member who succeeded him. It was absurd to compare the position of Ireland to that of Poland, and the sooner such absurdities were dropped the better. For the reasons he had stated he should vote for the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt).
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 156; Noes 83: Majority 73.1010
|Adderley, rt. hn. Sir C.||Bristowe, S. B.|
|Allsopp, H.||Bruce, hon. T.|
|Allsopp, S. C.||Buxton, Sir R. J.|
|Arkwright, A. P.||Callender, W. R.|
|Assheton, R.||Cameron, D.|
|Baggallay, Sir R.||Cave, rt. hon. S.|
|Ball, rt. hon. J. T.||Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.|
|Barrington, Viscount||Chambers, Sir T.|
|Bass, M. T.||Clowes, S. W.|
|Bassett, F.||Cobbold, J. P.|
|Bates, E.||Corry, J. P.|
|Bateson, Sir T.||Cotton, Alderman|
|Beach, rt. hn. Sir M. H.||Cross, rt. hon. R. A.|
|Bentinck, G. C.||Cubitt, G.|
|Boord, T. W.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Bourke, hon. R.||Deakin, J. H.|
|Bousfield, Major||Dickson, T. A.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||M'Lagan, P.|
|Douglas, Sir G.||Mahon, Viscount|
|Dowdeswell, W. E.||Makins, Colonel|
|Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W.||Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.|
|Marten, A. G.|
|Egerton, hon. A. F.||Mellor, T. W.|
|Elliot, Admiral||Mills, A.|
|Elliot, G.||Mills, Sir C. H.|
|Elphinstone, Sir J. D. H.||Monckton, hon. G.|
|Eslington, Lord||Montgomerie, R.|
|Ewing, A. O.||Mowbray, rt. hn. J. R.|
|Fellowes, E.||Murphy, N. D.|
|Folkestone, Viscount||Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.|
|Freshfield, C. K.||O'Donoghue, The|
|Gardner, J. T. Agg-||Parker, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Gardner, R. Richardson||Peek, Sir H. W.|
|Pelly, Sir H. C.|
|Garnier, J. C.||Pemberton, E. L.|
|Gordon, rt. hon. E. S.||Perceval, C. G.|
|Gordon, W.||Percy, Earl|
|Gore, J. R. O.||Phipps, P.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Pim, Captain B.|
|Grantham, W.||Plunket, hon. D. R.|
|Greenall, G.||Plunkett, hon. R.|
|Greene, E.||Polhill-Turner, Capt.|
|Gregory, G. B.||Price, Captain|
|Guinness, Sir A.||Puleston, J. H.|
|Gurney, rt. hon. R.||Raikes, H. C.|
|Halsey, T. F.||Read, C. S.|
|Hamilton, Lord G.||Ripley, H. W.|
|Hamilton, hon. R. B.||Ryder, G. R.|
|Hamond, C. F.||Sackville, S. G. S.|
|Hanbury, R. W.||Samuda, J. D' A.|
|Hardy, rt. hon. G.||Sanderson, T. K.|
|Harvey, Sir R. B.||Sandon, Viscount|
|Henley, rt. hon. J. W.||Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.|
|Hermon, E.||Scott, M. D.|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.||Scourfield, J. H.|
|Hill, T. R.||Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.|
|Hogg, Sir J. M.|
|Holker, J.||Shirley, S. E.|
|Holt, J. M.||Sidebottom, T. H.|
|Home, Captain||Simonds, W. B.|
|Hood, Capt. hn. A. W. A. N.||Smith, W. H.|
|Smollett, P. B.|
|Hunt, rt. hon. G. W.||Somerset, Lord H. R. C.|
|Jackson, H. M.||Spinks, Mr. Serjeant|
|Johnson, J. G.||Stanhope, hon. E.|
|Johnstone, H.||Stanley, hon. F.|
|Karslake, Sir J.||Starkey, L. R.|
|Kennaway, Sir J. H.||Stewart, M. J.|
|Knight, F. W.||Storer, G.|
|Knowles, T.||Tennant, R.|
|Learmonth, A.||Torr, J.|
|Leith, J. F.||Turner, C.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Vance, J.|
|Lewis, C. E.||Wallace, Sir R.|
|Lindsay, Col. R. L.||Wells, E.|
|Lloyd, S.||Whitelaw, A.|
|Lloyd, T. E.||Wilmot, Sir J. E.|
|Lopes, Sir M.||Wynn, C. W. W.|
|Macartney, J. W. E.||Dyke, W. H.|
|Mackintosh, C. F.||Winn, R.|
|Anderson, G.||Bowyer, Sir G.|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Brady, J.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Briggs, W. E.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Brogden, A.|
|Blennerhassett, R. P.||Browne, G. E.|
|Bryan, G. L.||Monk, C. J.|
|Burt, T.||Moore, A.|
|Butt, I.||Morgan, G. O.|
|Callan, P||Morley, S.|
|Chadwick, D.||Mundella, A. J.|
|Collins, E.||Nevill, C. W.|
|Colman, J. J.||Nolan, Captain|
|Cowan, J.||O'Brien, Sir P.|
|Cowen, J.||O' Byrne, W. R.|
|Crossley, J.||O'Callaghan, hon. W.|
|Davies, R.||O'Clery, K.|
|Dilke, Sir C. W.||O'Gorman, P.|
|Downing, M'C.||O'Keeffe, J.|
|Dunbar, J.||O'Leary, W.|
|Ear)), T.||Power, R.|
|Ennis, N.||Ramsay, J.|
|Errington, G.||Redmond, W. A.|
|Fay, C. J.||Reed, E. J.|
|Ferguson, R.||Ronayne, J. P.|
|Goldsmid, J.||Shaw, R.|
|Gourley, E. T.||Sheil, E.|
|Gray, Sir J.||Sherlock, Mr. Serjeant|
|Harrison, J. F.||Simon, Mr. Serjeant|
|Havelock, Sir H.||Smith, E.|
|Henry, M.||Stacpoole, W.|
|James, W. H.||Stanton, A. J.|
|Jenkins, E.||Stevenson, J. C.|
|Kirk, G. H.||Sullivan, A. M.|
|Laverton, A.||Swanston, A.|
|Lawson, Sir W.||Synan, E. J.|
|Macdonald, A.||Ward, M. E.|
|Macgregor, D.||Watkin, Sir E. W.|
|M'Kenna, Sir J. N.||Whitwell, J.|
|M'Laren, D.||Williams, W.|
|Martin, J.||Yeaman, J.|
|Meldon, C. H.||Conyngham, Lord F.|
|Monck, Sir A. E.||O'Shaughnessy, R.|
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ On Question, "That the Preamble be postponed,"
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
said, he had an Amendment on the Paper to omit from Schedule 14 "19 and 20 Vict. c. 36, Preservation of the Peace, Ireland," and he wished to know whether his Amendment for omitting this whole Bill would not take precedence of Amendments for omitting particular clauses.
moved that the Chairman do report Progress for the purpose of enabling the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government to express an opinion upon the important suggestion made by the hon. and learned Baronet (Sir Eardley Wilmot.) He also conceived it extremely desirable that Progress should be reported in order 1011 that they might return to the discussion of the Bill in a spirit which would prevent the repetition of language which he had heard with pain and mortification.
§ MR. DISRAELI
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has expressed the views of the Government upon this subject. He has an Amendment on the Paper in accordance with the opinion he has expressed, and I am perfectly ready to support him in that proposition.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had placed no Notice of Amendment upon the Paper, and unless he made some statement he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) should support the Motion for reporting Progress.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, although he had no Amendment on the Paper, it was his intention, when they came to Clause 2, to propose, in line 4, to leave out the times respectively specified, and to say, "shall be continued until the 31st of December, 1875." That was the proposal which he made early in the evening, and to it he adhered.
said, in answer to the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt), he believed it would be possible on a Motion to that effect to postpone the new clauses until after the Schedule, but there was no precedent to postpone the clauses in the Bill until after the Schedule. Of course, it was customary to postpone some clauses of a Bill until other clauses had been disposed of.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, the Committee, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, would be quite justified in making a new precedent.
§ MR. BUTT
said, his object would be perfectly attained by postponing the new clauses. He had no wish to protract the discussion unreasonably. Perhaps, when they came to the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer something might occur which would prevent the new clauses from being proceeded with.
§ Motion, by leave, withdratvn.1012
§ Preamble postponed.
§ Clause 1 (Short title) agreed to.
§ Clause 2 (Continuance of Acts in Schedule.)
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHE-QUER
said, I believe my Amendment will come first. I propose in line 17 to leave out all the words after the word "until" down to the word "Schedule" in the next line, for the purpose of inserting "the 31st day of December, 1875." That is in accordance with the statement I made early in the evening that the Government do not desire to carry this practice of continuing important laws by a mere Continuance Bill further than it has hitherto been carried, but rather to restrict it, and on proper occasions at a future time to bring laws which are of importance more directly and conveniently under the notice of the House. But, on the present occasion, what the Government hold to be the most convenient course is not to distinguish between one of those Acts and another, whether they may be Coercion Acts, as they are called, or Election Petition Acts, to which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Londonderry (Mr. C. E. Lewis) referred, or the various other Acts of the Schedule, as that might lead to discussion; but we propose that the various Acts should be continued for what appears to be a convenient time. The hon. and learned Member will see that in the course of next Session it will be necessary for the Government to bring in a Bill to continue such laws as are necessary to be continued, because otherwise they will cease absolutely with the end of next year. If the House fixes the 31st of December next year as the date on which the operation of the Acts shall cease, it will give a fair breathing space in case of any unforeseen events occurring; and it must be obvious that if my Amendment is passed the question of continuing the Acts will have to be considered next Session, and then the date can be discussed and determined in a full and temperate manner. There is no wish on the part of the Government to deal unfairly in reference to this matter. We feel the inconvenience of the system of continuing laws in what is called an omnibus Bill, and I have drawn my proposal deliberately, believing that it will deal fairly with the question.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 17, to leave out from the word "the," to the word "Schedule," in line 18, in order to insert the words "thirty-first day of December, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-five,"—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer,)—instead thereof.
§ MR. BUTT
said, the principle for which he and those who thought with him had been contending was conceded by the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, and he hoped the House had seen the last attempt to deal with questions of the gravest importance in a mere Continuance Bill. The difference between them and the Government was now reduced to a very narrow one, and he hoped that Government would see their way to fixing a date earlier than the 31st of December, 1875, for the expiry of the Bill, so as not to mar the grace of their concession by throwing into it a little bitterness and causing the people of Ireland to feel that in parting with these Acts the Government was hugging and desiring to retain them to the very last moment. If the suggestion of the hon. Member for Warwickshire (Sir Eardley Wilmot) were adopted, there would be no further occasion for opposition on the part of the Irish Members.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.
§ SIR EARDLEY WILMOT
said, he hoped the Government would accept the 31st of October as the date of the expiry of the Coercion Acts. Earlier in the debate, he had suggested the 1st of the month; but owing to the date at which some other of the Acts included in the Bill would expire, he thought the 31st would be the more convenient date to fix.
§ Question proposed, "That the words' thirty-first day of December, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-five,' be there inserted."
informed the hon. Member that the Amendment could not be moved until the Question was put, that the clause be added to the Bill.
§ MR. J. MARTIN
said, he was obliged to the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Eardley Wilmot) for condescending to patronize Irish Members, by urging on the Government to accept the term 31st of October, 1875, instead of the 31st of December. They would gladly accept the proposition of the hon. Member if they could do so honourably—if they could do so on principle; but they could not. To prove that they desired not to obstruct Public Business, but that it was the Government that were doing so, he would consent to the 1st of September, but not one day longer. The English faction in Ireland, supported by their large majorities, might ridicule them for that determination, but they had arrived at it deliberately, and meant to adhere to it.
§ MR. RONAYNE
observed, that it ill became the hon. Member for the more criminal county of Tyrone (Mr. Macartney), which enjoyed immunity from the restraints to which his own county was subject, to call out for prison and handcuffs for its population. The Government was a miserable one that could retain the Irish people in allegiance without such expedients.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
then proposed that the words "first of October, 1875," instead of the words "thirty-first of December, 1875," proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, should be inserted. He hoped the Government would not divide the Committee on his Amendment.
§ Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, to leave out the words "thirty-first day of December," in order to insert the words "first day of October,"—(Mr. Downing,)—instead thereof.
§ MR. DODSON
asked whether it was worth while for the Government to have a discussion on so small a difference as that between the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Downing). The change which the Government proposed should be made in this Bill was satisfactory as far as it went, because in a Constitutional point of view it was not desirable that Acts should, in a lump, be kept alive by 1015 a Continuance Bill. Was it worth while to mar the grace of the concession which the Government had made to the Irish Members by inserting the words "thirty-first day of December," instead of the words "first day of October?" He had no hesitation in saying that he preferred the words "first day of October" to the words "thirty first day of December" with reference to the continuance of these Coercion Acts. What would happen if the words "first day of October "were inserted? The House would then know that no period of grace would be allowed, and that the subject must be dealt with in time. No means of escape would be allowed if those words were inserted. But if the words" thirty-first day of December" were inserted, the House would defer the consideration of these Acts to the last hours of next Session, relying on the fact that they were continued till the thirty-first day of December. Suppose a catastrophe occurred at the end of that Session, would there be any opportunity at all of discussing these Acts? Or supposing a political catastrophe occurred next Summer, and if it were followed by an Autumn Session, the House in such a Session had no leisure to proceed with other than those matters of immediate interest for which it was summoned. He hoped the Government would not be deterred by any feeling of false pride from making this further concession, which he might assure them would not be regarded on his side of the House as a triumph.
said, that when the principle contended for had been conceded, it was almost childish for the Government to haggle about the little difference of time involved in the question now under consideration. If they would not yield on so trifling a point, upon their own heads would rest the blame of discussions which Irish Members were anxious to avoid.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
reminded the Committee that, besides these Irish measures, there were no less than 34 Acts involved, a considerable number of which were important, and that if the proposal of the hon. Member for Cork were accepted the House might find itself next Session with a large amount of Autumn business on hand, which a Dissolution or various other contingencies might render it im- 1016 possible to get through. They might find themselves towards the close of the Session in a position similar to that in which they sometimes found themselves about 4 or 5 o'clock on Wednesday afternoons, when important measures were talked out. The fact that the hon. Member for Cork and his Friends had consented to extend the time from August to October was in itself an admission that it might be expedient to give the House some breathing-time in order to meet exigencies which might arise. As these Irish Acts expired in June, it was a matter of certainty that they must be dealt with early in the Session, whether they were to be continued to October or to December. It was not the intention of the Government to propose a continuance of these Acts again, and therefore hon. Members, if they would only believe the Government were speaking in good faith, would see that there was every intention to meet them fairly. To accept the Government proposal would in no way compromise the position they had taken up. They had fought a good battle, and everyone knew that their object was to protest against particular measures.
§ MR. DODSON
would suggest to the Government that, as regarded the two Irish Acts, they should be contented with the insertion of the words," the 1st of October "—["No, no," from the Ministerial side]—leaving the other Acts to be extended, as they proposed, till the end of the year.
§ MR. DISRAELI
wished to make one practical remark to the hon. and learned Gentleman. He seemed to think there was but an infinitesimal necessity for the Government to have the time on the importance of which they were now insisting. He believed that since he had sat in Parliament there had been no fewer than 10 November Sessions, and the hon. and learned Gentleman would, therefore, see there was great importance in having the additional time.
§ MAJOR O'GORMAN
said, he was dreadfully shocked to find that the front Op- 1017 position bench was occupied by Home Rulers. What had become of the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who usually occupied that bench? With respect to the time of fixing the duration of those obnoxious Bills, all the Government had to do was to employ a Whig officer to get up "a row" in Ireland on the 1st of January, and then call Parliament together to pass a Coercion Act. Hon. Members would then be confined to Parliament from the 1st of January to the 1st of August; for if they met in January, it would be useless to return to Ireland if the sitting of Parliament should be adjourned to February. If there was "a row" in Ireland on the 1st of October, the Parliament might be called together in four or five days. The Government had put the "whip" in motion on this occasion; and they would have nothing to do in January but to get "a Whig" to stir up a row in Ireland.
§ Question put, "That the words 'thirty-first day of December' stand part of the said proposed Amendment."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 165; Noes 104: Majority 61.
§ MR. BUTT
moved, at end of second section, to add the following Proviso:—Provided always, and be it enacted, That from and after the passing of this Act section two of the Act mentioned in the second column of the Schedule to this Act as eleventh and twelfth Victoria, chapter eighty-nine, shall he and the same is here by repealed; and nothing contained in the said Act, or any Act continuing or amending the same, shall authorise or empower any constable or other person to enter or remain in any dwelling house, house or place otherwise than he might have done if said Act had not been passed.
§ MR. RUSSELL GURNEY
remarked that that was a Motion which could not be made in a Continuance Act. No doubt the hon. and learned Member had power to move that certain parts of any Act should not be continued, but he could not introduce Amendments into the original Act.
§ MR. BUTT
said, he thought Continuance Acts were bad enough, but it would be monstrous if the right hon. and learned Gentleman's assertion was correct. In the Peace Preservation Act Continuance Bill of last year, he moved several Amendments.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on 1018 Saturday, said it would be in the power of any Member to move the omission of any clause, and he presumed, therefore, that the addition of a Proviso to modify a clause would be equally in Order.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the proposed addition was in effect a new clause, and that was not what he contemplated when he made the statement referred to.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Dr. BALL)
contended that no change could be made in a Continuance Act which would alter the status of any Act so continued.
§ CAPTAIN NOLAN
maintained that after the statement made the other day by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that they would be at liberty to discuss Amendments in Committee, the Government ought to re-commit the Bill.
said, he must remind the Committee that it would be necessary to obtain an Instruction from the House before going into Committee, in order to make changes in a Bill outside its general scope and character. He was, therefore, of opinion—and he had taken occasion to fortify himself by the highest authority he could obtain on the matter—that it would be outside the purview of the Bill now before the Committee to propose to make it, under the semblance of a continuing Bill, a Bill for abridging or amending the provisions of the Acts it professed to continue. The effect of the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick would be to bring to a summary and immediate conclusion provisions which, if this Bill did not pass, would continue to exist some time longer. It was quite open to the Committee to say whether they intended to continue any Act, and how much, of, it; but he was of opinion that it was beyond the province of the Committee on this Bill to introduce into it any such Amendment as the hon. and learned Member for Limerick proposed to make. As to amending the Acts contained in the Schedule, he should have thought there was no doubt, for this Bill was not to amend, but to continue the Acts. He was of opinion that none of the Amendments of the hon. and learned Member were in Order, and therefore they could not be put.
§ MR. FORSYTH
said, he thought the hon. and learned Member might attain 1019 his object by simply moving the omission of Section 2 of the Act.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
said, it would be open to the hon. and learned Member to move a new clause on the Report.
said, there would be a practical difficulty in dealing in strict form with the Schedule if the Acts were taken singly. It would be more convenient if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would strike out the 5th column.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he had been about to rise for that purpose. He had never pledged the' Government to give any particular facilities to hon. Members for moving Amendments; but he had pointed out that if they moved that it be an Instruction to the Committee that certain Amendments be made in the Bill those Amendments could now be moved. He entertained no doubt that hon. Members would move Amendments in Committee. He moved to leave out Column 5 in the Schedule.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out Column 5.—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
§ Question proposed, "That Column 5 stand part of the Schedule."
§ CAPTAIN NOLAN
moved that Progress be reported, seeing that the Government would not afford facilities for the discussion of the Amendments as had been promised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and as he was reported as having said by the reporter of The Times.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Captain Nolan.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he would not say whether the report in question was or was not accurate; but he certainly had not intended to convey the impression imputed to him.
said, that he and those who sat around him had certainly understood the Chancellor of the Ex- 1020 chequer to say what the gentlemen in the Gallery reported he had said. There had evidently been a misunderstanding. But as the Amendments had been tabled under the impression that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said what he was reported as having said, an unfair advantage ought not to be taken of the Irish Members. The Bill ought to be recommitted, so that they might have the opportunity of doing what they might have done but for the mistake into which they had fallen.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had correctly represented the purport of what he said on Saturday. He did not see the use of reporting Progress, and hon. Members could do all they desired to do when the Report was brought up.
observed that the views now held by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Taunton, were the opposite of those he expressed on the Endowed Schools Bill.
§ MR. J. MARTIN
said, he thought the Irish Members should be placed in the position they would have occupied had they not misunderstood what had fallen from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He thought they had better report Progress.
§ MR. DODSON
said, that any statement made or supposed to be made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not affect the Rules of the House, which had been properly laid down by the Chairman. If Progress were now reported the opponents of this Bill would be in no better position. Two courses might be taken—either to have the Bill recommitted with specific instructions from the House for its Amendment, or hon. Members might move their Amendments on the Report, because there was 1021 no limit to the discretion of the full House.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, it would facilitate matters if the Report was taken at an hour when the Amendments could be discussed.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 50; Noes 204: Majority 154.
§ Question again proposed.
§ MR. O'CLERY,
as the Irish Members had been misled by the treaty or understanding come to on Saturday, begged to move that the Chairman now leave the Chair.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. O'Clery.)
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, he had voted with the minority in the last division, but appealed to hon. Members not to divide the Committee again, but rather to move afterwards the re-committal of the Bill.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
must say that was the oddest kind of disarming he had ever beard of. Whatever he had said on Saturday was entirely harmless in its effect on hon. Gentlemen opposite, because they treated it at the time in the most contemptuous way; and, so far from entering into a treaty or disarming, they went on fighting the whole day.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
disclaimed on the part of Irish Members any intention to treat contemptuously anything that proceeded from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had been under the impression that Irish Members would be able to move Amendments. He wished to know whether, when they came to the 14th Schedule, it would be 1022 competent for him to move the omission of the whole Act therein named?
remarked, that whenever a minority availed themselves of the Forms of the House they were accused of factiousness. He did not know what the correspondence of the present Premier would reveal about these measures, but he found that Lord Palmerston wrote on one occasion—You see by what spanking majorities this Reformed House of Commons is passing the most violent Bill ever carried into law. Few Governments could establish such a system of coercion as that which the free chosen Representatives of the people are placing in the hands of the Government of this country.He hoped the Committee would, by reporting Progress give them a chance of preparing Amendments to Acts which answered to this description, and so remove much of the angry feeling which prevailed amongst his friends.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I am always in favour of fair and honest discussion, and much opposed to the idea which might prevail from these debates that the Irish Members are a very ill-used body of men. I know they insist upon it that they are so. As I understand the complaint of the hon. Member, it is that in consequence of the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, they have been prevented from moving the Amendments which it was their intention to propose. I am quite certain that whatever may be its effect, the statement of my right hon. Friend was a sincere one, and if it was misunderstood it is very much to be regretted, because it has led to a very violent feeling. The hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Captain Nolan) stated that he was prepared to enter, and was entering, into a vexatious opposition, and therefore the hon. Member who has just addressed us is scarcely justified in saying that we are improperly imputing faction to Irish Members. But what is the grievance of the hon. and gallant Member with regard to that phrase of my right hon. Friend? Upon referring to the Paper, I find that the Amendment of which the hon. and gallant Member gave Notice was placed upon it a week before the Chancellor of the Exchequer made any of those observations to which he has referred. So much for 1023 the hon. and gallant Member for Galway, who in consequence of having been so misled by the statement of my right hon. Friend, is now entering upon factious opposition. Nor is the position of the hon. and gallant Member for Galway isolated or peculiar. I find that there were Amendments put upon the Paper more than a week ago by two hon. Members who are taking a very distinguished part in this Parliamentary manœuvre. There is the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar), who has introduced a new style into Parliamentary proceedings, who has given Notice of Amendments quite irrespective of the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Whatever advice or suggestions my right hon. Friend may have made must be taken with the implied condition of which all hon. Members who are accustomed to Parliamentary life must be aware—that every Amendment they move must be consistent with the Forms of the House. I think, therefore, that the conduct of the hon. and gallant Member for Galway and his Friends shows that the Irish Members in this case are by no means so ill-used as they are so anxious to persuade their compatriots and the people of England that they are. I might regret, under these circumstances, that they have met with this kind and courteous conduct on our part. I know that they are disappointed—I know that they were prepared to be persecuted and popular. Notwithstanding our "spanking" majority, I would rather terminate the Session with good humour, and I hope that upon reflection they will feel that they have carried this style of Parliamentary manœuvre quite far enough.
§ CAPTAIN NOLAN
explained that although he had put his Amendment upon the Paper a week ago, he had been given to understand that he could not move it, and all he asked was that the Government would not permit the Forms of the House to stand in the way of his moving it.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that what was asked was that the Government should supersede the Forms of the House. Hon. Members ought to have applied to the Speaker, who would have informed them whether their Amendments were in Order; and they could gain nothing by bringing themselves into collision with the Forms of the House.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
observed that the Irish Members could listen with pleasure to a good-humoured and witty lecture from the Prime Minister, but they would not tamely submit to be lectured by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire. They did not seek to supersede the Forms of the House, but only that the Bill should be re-committed, to enable them to discuss their Amendments.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
thought the re-committal of the Bill would not give the Irish Members an opportunity of discussing the new clauses. What was required was that there should be an Instruction to the Committee which they would have an opportunity of moving at a future stage.
§ MR. BUTT
said, the Irish Members would give up the opportunity which they had of discussing the various Acts in question if an assurance were given that they should not be opposed in recommitting the Bill and moving an Instruction to the Committee. He was not afraid of the word "factious," and was prepared to be factious, if to be so were to protect the rights of a minority against the proceedings of a tyrant majority. One thing he altogether denied—namely, that the Chairman of Committees or the Speaker was the judge of a point of Order. The House, and not its President, was the ultimate judge of Order.
§ MR. DODSON
said, it occurred to him that by this discussion the Committee was wasting time. The Amendments in question could not be moved at the present stage, and the proper occasion for bringing them forward was on the Report.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he hoped that on a point of Order a proposition which had been ruled to be, and was manifestly, out of Order, would not be further discussed.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 31; Noes 199: Majority 168. Question again proposed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Biggar.)1025
§ MR. BUTT
said, he hoped the hon. Member for Cavan would not persevere with his Motion. It would not only impede the Business of the House, but would bring discredit and disgrace on the proceedings which some Irish Members thought it their duty to take. He was always prepared to resist any attempt on the part of the majority to overbear the rights of the minority, and to use the Privileges of the House for that purpose; but he thought that was the only case in which a minority was justified in resisting the majority of the House. He believed that the Irish people would endorse what he said. [Major O'GORMAN: No, no!] They would, he believed, better consult the dignity of the House and the interests of Ireland by proceeding with the Bill—a course which would give him an opportunity of moving his Amendments—than by further seeking to impede the progress of the Bill.
§ MR. DISRAELI
The hon. and learned Member has spoken like one who is proud, and justly proud, of being a Member of this House. There has been some complaint made that Irish Members, when Irish measures are brought forward, are not afforded an opportunity for full and free debate. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have chosen to consider the present a measure of that kind, and certainly they cannot complain of the conduct of the Government in this instance. We have given them the whole day from the commencement of Public Business, and have not in any way interfered with the exercise of their Parliamentary privileges. If the Committee should conclude its labours tonight, I will take care that to-morrow evening at 9 o'clock, we shall commence the Report, and that will give hon. Members an ample opportunity of bringing Amendments forward.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 13; Noes 206: Majority 193.
§ Column 5 omitted from the Schedule
§ Schedule 2.
§ MR. BUTT
moved in page 2, line 15, to leave out in column one, "2 and 3 Victoria, c. 74, Societies Unlawful, Ireland," and all the corresponding entries in the other columns. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, this Bill was 1026 passed in 1839, and was directed exclusively against Orange Societies in Ulster; but it had been used for a very different purpose since. It had been directed against any society which had secret signs and passwords except the Freemasons and Friendly Brothers.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, column 1, line 15, to leave out the words "2 and 3 Vic. c. 74, Societies Unlawful, Ireland."—(Mr. Butt.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Dr. BALL)
pointed out that the Act in question was framed against secret societies formed for unlawful purposes, such as the purchase and distribution of arms, and the assembling for treasonable and seditious objects. He therefore trusted that the hon. and learned Member would withdraw his Amendment.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 169; Noes 40: Majority 129.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. O' Gorman.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 34; Noes 167: Majority 133.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, column 3, line 15, to leave out the words "11 and 12 Vic. c. 89."—(Mr. Butt.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."1027
§ MR. CALLAN
moved that the Chairman do now leave the Chair, and remarked that the Prime Minister, who appeared to be in a state of somnolence, [Mr. DISRAELI dissented] appeared to be unable to keep his back benches in order.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Callan.)
remarked that it was difficult to keep the back benches on the Opposition side of the House in order; and, for his own part, he wished to be completely disassociated from any reflections which had been cast upon the Prime Minister, whose conduct not only throughout that debate, but throughout the Session, had entitled him to the kindliest regard and respect from all parts of the House.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 16; Noes 157: Majority 141.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Biggar.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 15; Noes 160: Majority 145.
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.