§ (Mr. Attorney General, Sir William Harcourt, Mr. Chamberlain, Sir Charles Dilke, Mr. Solicitor General.)
§ COMMITTEE. [Progress 15th June.]
§ [FIFTH NIGHT.]
§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on appointment of day for going into Committee, proposed [15th June], "That this House will, upon Monday next, again resolve itself into the said Committee."
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, he rose to renew the protest he had made on Friday last against precedence being given to the Corrupt Practices Bill over the Agricultural Holdings Bill. He had on that occasion pointed out that it had been originally the intention of Her Majesty's Government to proceed with the Agricultural Holdings Bill as speedily as possible. It had, however, afterwards transpired that the Government had entirely changed their views in this respect, and that it was no longer the desire of Ministers to press forward that 837 Bill. On Thursday last he put a Question to the Prime Minister with the object of ascertaining whether it was true that Her Majesty's Government had really changed their views upon the matter. On that occasion the Prime Minister gave a sort of general intimation that the Government had again changed their minds upon this question, and that they were then determined that the Agricultural Holdings Bill should have precedence over the Corrupt Practices Bill. That was the impression which the language of the right hon. Gentleman gave, not only in that House, but out-of-doors; and, in fact, the chief organ of the Government the next morning stated that the Government had made up their minds to proceed at once with the Agricultural Holdings Bill. Then had come the announcement which was made on Friday last, when the right hon. Gentleman stated that he had ascertained that the evident sense of the House was that the Corrupt Practices Bill should be disposed of before the Agricultural Holdings Bill was proceeded with. The hopes of those who desired that the latter measure should pass this Session thereupon fell 90 per cent. For his own part, he could not understand what had induced the right hon. Gentleman to depart from the understanding on Thursday last, because the cheers from both sides of the House that greeted his announcement on that occasion afforded a sufficient indication as to what the real sense of the House was with reference to this matter. Ho could not understand how it was that the right hon. Gentleman had arrived at what was the evident sense of the House on this question. He blamed Her Majesty's Government very much for this change in their programme, which was certainly very unfortunate; but, at the same time, he could not altogether exonerate right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who sat on the Front Opposition Bench from their share of the blame. It was evident to all on Thursday night that the Government were wavering on the point, and if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devonshire had made an energetic protest against precedence being given to the Corrupt Practices Bill it would have settled the question. The right hon. Gentleman, however, had most unfortunately not taken that course. There 838 were many reasons why the Agricultural Holdings Bill should be taken first. It was a measure of enormous interest to Members of the other House, and it was only a short time since the Leader of that House had impressed upon the Government the importance of its being passed through the House of Commons and sent up to the House of Lords before the Corrupt Practices Bill was proceeded with. There were good grounds for urging that the former Bill should be sent up to the House of Lords at a period of the Session when their Lordships would have ample time to consider its provisions. There was also a general desire on the part of hon. Members on both sides of the House of Commons that the Bill should be passed, and no serious opposition to it was threatened from any quarter. On the other hand, the Corrupt Practices Bill was threatened with most serious and bitter opposition; and if the Agricultural Holdings Bill were not to be proceeded with until it had been passed through that House, the latter measure would be placed in a position of great danger. Unless the Government held out some fair and reasonable hope with reference to the Agricultural Holdings Bill he should certainly take a division on the present Motion for resuming the consideration of the Corrupt Practices Bill in Committee.
Sir, I do not wish to waste public time further by going in detail into the proceedings which have taken place with regard to these two Bills, because, if I were to take that course, I should merely be delaying the consideration of both the Bills to which the hon. Member refers. In accordance with the pledge which I gave the other day, Her Majesty's Government have taken measures to ascertain what was the general feeling with regard to the precedence which should be given to these two Bills, and having ascertained what that general feeling is, they have determined upon their own responsibility to persevere in the line of action which I indicated on Friday last, because they believed that by doing so they will best meet the judgment of the House. The Government is responsible for the exercise of its discretion in the management of its Business, but it is very unusual for that discretion to be questioned. The House gives the Go- 839 vernment power to arrange the order in which not all Bills, but their own Bills, shall be taken, and the Government have arranged to take certain of their Bills in a certain order. The hon. Member now proposes to take the power into his own hands of arranging the Government Business in his own manner. I am very sorry to hear the hon. Member say that his hopes of seeing the Agricultural Holdings Bill passed this Session have fallen 90 per cent, because it has never entered into my mind that this Bill will not be passed during the present Session if it is approved by the House.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, he wished to point out that the right hon. Gentleman had omitted to note the main point of the contention of his hon. Friend, which was that the Government had failed to carry out their original intention with regard to proceeding with the Agricultural Holdings Bill. The announcement of that intention was received with approval on both sides of the House, and their departure from it had caused very general disappointment, and would not, he feared, tend to promote the despatch of Public Business.
said, that, on the part of several Members on the Liberal side of the House, who would have preferred precedence being given to the Agricultural Holdings Bill, while supporting the Government in their decision, he desired to repudiate the insinuation that they did not desire the progress and passing of that measure. Ho was not inclined to believe that the Agricultural Holdings Bill would be in danger from the course that had been adopted.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, the difficulties of agriculture were threatening to break up the time-honoured relations between landlord and tenant, and he hoped the Government would consider it incumbent upon them to afford a remedy for the state of things in the agricultural districts.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, he must protest against the postponement of the Agricultural Holdings Bill on the ground that, while the Corrupt Practices Bill did not concern the House of Lords, the special interest and knowledge possessed by Members of the Upper House in all matters relating to land rendered it most important that ample time for the discussion of the 840 Tenants' Bill should be given the House of Lords. The prospect of the Compensation Bill being sent up late in July, or early in August, would be a great injustice to the agricultural community.
§ MR. DUCKHAM
said, that he would be very greatly disappointed if the Agricultural Holdings Bill were not passed this Session. He should like to see the Motion withdrawn under an assurance from the Government that they would name some early date when the Bill would be brought forward. The measure was anxiously looked for by the farmers throughout the Kingdom, and he would prefer to see an Autumn Session rather than the Bill should be dropped.
§ MR. DILLWYN
said, he was one of those who had declared in favour of the Corrupt Practices Bill, because there was probably no doubt about the Agricultural Holdings Bill being passed; but there was considerable doubt about the fate of the Corrupt Practices Bill if the other got precedence.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, that, in the absence of any promise from the Government that the Agricultural Holdings Bill would he proceeded with before the end of the Session, he had no alternative but to divide the House.
said, he must deny that he had given no promise of any kind. Those who listened to his earlier remarks would be aware that he had given as much promise as it was in the power of any man to give with respect to matters of future contingencies. He considered it part of his absolute duty to persevere in this measure, and to take the judgment of the House upon it this Session.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
asked if he was to understand the promise to be that if the Committee on the Corrupt Practices Bill were not concluded before a certain time, the Prime Minister would proceed with the other?
It has no reference to the Corrupt Practices Bill.
§ MR. F. J. FOLJAMBE
said, he was greatly disappointed at the Agricultural Holdings Bill not being proceeded with at once; but, at the same time, he felt he would be assisting the process of both measures by now voting with the Government.
§ Motion by leave, withdrawn.841
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into the said Committee."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 105; Noes 51: Majority 54.—(Div. List, No. 140.)
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Corrupt Practices.
§ Clause 2 (What is corrupt practice).
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir HENRY JAMES)
said, with the permission of the Committee, he would remind hon. Members of the position in which they stood with relation to that portion of the clause which the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) sought to amend by substituting certain specific words in lieu of the general words of the clause dealing with undue influence. In drawing this Bill no attempt was made to interfere in any way with the definition of undue influence in the former Act; but the definition of that offence which existed in the Act of 1854 was incorporated in this Bill, and the offence as so defined made one of the corrupt practices to be dealt with. On Thursday last the hon. Member moved an Amendment of which he had given Notice, the object of which was to incorporate certain words in the definition contained in the clause. The hon. Member was, of course, quite within his right in endeavouring to make that alteration, although, in doing so, he thought he had not suceeded in carrying out his views in a very clear or efficient manner. The hon. Member, in framing his Amendment, had apparently been attracted by a sentence in a Judgment of Mr. Justice Willes, in which the learned Judge was not defining the offence of undue influence, but making an explanatory statement. This, however, the hon. Member had adopted, and moved as a definition of undue influence. When the matter was discussed on Thursday last, the Government not having been able to accept that Amendment the hon. Member very judiciously re-arranged it in a manner which carried out the view which he had not expressed so clearly in the former Amendment. The proposal of the hon. Member was substantially to strike out from the existing definition the words "or in any other manner practices intimidation," together with the subsequent 842 words "or otherwise to interfere with." To this Her Majesty's Government could not agree, because it seemed to them that the general words in question were the only words which dealt with undue clerical influence. When the Act of 1854 was passing through the House, Mr. Whiteside asked the question," What words have you dealing with this undue spiritual influence?" To which Mr. Walpole replied, that undue spiritual influence was dealt with in the words "or in any other manner practices intimidation;" and he added that this was the opinion of Sir Alexander Cockburn and Sir Fitzroy Kelly. Under those circumstances, the Government could not accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, which would have the effect of striking out the words he had cited. But on Friday last the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) stated distinctly that undue spiritual influence should be provided for, but not in general words, and his view was supported by the hon. Member for the City of Cork.
§ MR. PARNELL
I did not say it was absolutely a desirable policy; but I agreed, seeing that the Government had taken their stand upon it, that the alteration should be made. We did not yield our contention on the subject.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir HENRY JAMES)
The hon. Member said he should not object to the clause dealing with undue spiritual influence, so long as it was not dealt with in undefined, vague, and general words. That was the first time an opportunity presented itself of arriving at an agreement on this subject with the hon. Member and his supporters, and he had promised to do his best to carry out the view which had been expressed. Accordingly, he had prepared an Amendment, which omitted the words "or in any other manner practices intimidation," but by which it was proposed to insert before the word "injury" the words "temporal or spiritual." It seemed to him that those words would not prevent a clergyman from using proper persuasion, but that they would prevent the refusal of religious rites to a man, and afford sufficient protection against every kind of denunciation or intimidation. He had an argument to bring forward, which he was inclined to hope would have weight with his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Launceston (Sir 843 Hardinge Giffard) and influence his vote in favour of the Amendment. When the subject of undue influence was before the Committee in 1854 this very question arose; and inasmuch as it was stated that the general words which he now asked leave to strike out would cover undue spiritual influence, some Members of the Conservative Party took a different view, and it was moved by Mr. Malins, and seconded by Mr. Spooner, to insert the very words, "temporal or spiritual," which he now proposed to substitute. That being the case, he was inclined to hope that a proposal which was satisfactory to Mr. Spooner would recommend itself to hon. Members opposite. He had been asked to do more in the way of definition than he had done; but to this he could not assent, because if they wore to say that a crime could only be committed by certains means, other means would be discovered by which it could be committed. The Committee would recollect the recent trial at which certain persons were charged with levying war against the Queen; and he would remind them that had the Act of 1848, under which the charge was made, defined the means of levying war, a conviction would not have been obtained. The definition he now proposed, therefore, expressed the length beyond which the Government could not go. He believed that under the Amendment he now proposed he had fulfilled the promise he had made. In framing that Amendment he had adopted the middle course, and he hoped it would prove acceptable to the Committee.
In page 2, at the end, to add the words,— "Every person who shall directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person on his behalf, make use of or threaten to make use of any force, violence, or restraint, or inflict or threaten to inflict, by himself or by any other person, any temporal or spiritual injury, damage, harm, or loss upon or against any person in order to induce or compel such person to vote or refrain from voting, or on account of such person having voted or refrained from voting at any election, or who shall, by abduction, duress, or any fraudulent device or contrivance impede or prevent the free exercise of the franchise of any elector, or shall thereby compel, induce, or prevail upon any elector either to give or to refrain from giving his vote at any election, shall be guilty of undue influence."—(Mr. Attorney General.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."844
§ SIR HARDINGE GIFFARD
said, he thought the country would learn with some degree of astonishment the concession which the Attorney General had made. The hon. and learned Gentleman proposed to give up that which, upon his own statement, had been the law for 30 years, and which, so far as he (Sir Hardinge Giffard) was aware, had never been objected to. He would remind the Committee that upon the words proposed to be struck out a certain judicial decision had been given in Ireland. Hon. Members below the Gangway asked that those words should he struck out, on the ground that they were general in their character, and that a partial and political Judge in Ireland might give them a meaning which they did not desire to be attached to them; and in answer to that appeal Her Majesty's Government had agreed to give up words which for 30 years had been on the Statute Book. But the matter did not rest there. The bon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) very plainly raised an important issue when he said—" Do you mean to say that the passage of the Judgment of the learned Judge is to remain the law, in which he said that whoever told an elector that if he voted for a particular man ho committed a sin was guilty of undue influence?" He had listened with some anxiety to hear what the Attorney General would say to this; but the hon. and learned Gentleman had not replied on the subject, and he would therefore ask whether that was the law now? The Committee were entitled to know what the Attorney General himself thought about the matter. Hon. Members below the Gangway desired that it should be competent to a priest to tell a man that in voting for a certain candidate he was committing a sin. All he desired was that the Committee should understand the position. A most learned Judge, in a Judgment which, so far its reasoning was concerned, few would be found to quarrel with, had decided that to do a certain thing was against the law by reason of the existence in the Act of Parliament of these words which the Attorney General now consented to strike out. It appeared to him that in the latter part of his observations the hon. and learned Gentleman was arguing against himself, because he said" If you define a certain number of things, you except by your definition. 845 everything you do not define." Well, in order to get rid of that sort of legislation, Parliament enacted that if a person intimidated, "or in any other manner practiced intimidation," he should be guilty of the offence of undue influence, and it was by those words that the learned Judge was able to put down that which many persons regarded as undue spiritual influence. He thought the Committee ought to know, and that the country ought to know, what it was that the Government were conceding. Were the Government aiming at encouraging those who desired to get rid of that check upon spiritual influence, or were they not? With all respect, he thought the proposed words nonsensical. What was the meaning of "inflicting or threatening to inflict spiritual damage, harm, injury, or loss?" He thought the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold) had gone to the root of the matter when he said that the actual infliction of spiritual harm or loss was an impossible thing. The Attorney General avoided the use of that which had given the Irish Judge the power to check spiritual intimidation, and he proposed to substitute for it that which was absolutely nonsensical. It was all very well to compliment the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) and the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) on being able to accommodate this matter with them; but, before they gave their sanction to that arrangement, the Committee had a right to know whether they all meant the same thing. Would the Judgment referred to have been the same had the words in question not been in the Act of 1854? He should be glad to hear the reply of the hon. and learned Gentleman to that question; because if the Amendment proposed really meant a change of the existing law, he thought it well that the country should be made aware of the fact.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, the hon. and learned Member fur Launceston had shown conclusively that the Attorney General had not materially improved the position of the Committee with reference to this matter. On Friday last the difficulty before the Committee was the vagueness of the words inserted in this definition, and hon. Members opposite were then successful in obtain- 846 ing the consent of the Government to drop them. But it appeared to him that the Government bad inserted in the definition words which were still more vague. He need not dwell on the word "temporal," because it was only used by way of contrast to the word "spiritual." With regard to the view taken by Mr. Spooner, which had been cited by the Attorney General, he would mention that having had the acquaintance of that Gentleman he was able to say that he was not one whom he should be disposed to follow in a matter of this important character. He, however, humbly followed the hon. and learned Member for Launceston as to the difficulty of interpreting the words proposed by the Attorney General—if the hon. and learned Gentleman found their interpretation difficult, it was impossible to him. He, therefore, proposed to leave out the words "spiritual or temporal," and the Amendment would then run—Any person who by himself or any other person threatens any damage, injury, harm, or loss.The words he proposed to leave out were not needed, because if a priest were to threaten a man with any actual injury, such as the loss of Church membership, he would certainly be brought in as exercising undue spiritual influence. He hoped the Committee would, therefore, be of opinion that they might safely dispense with the words in question, the omission of which he begged to move.
§ Amendment proposed, in line 4, to the proposed Amendment, to leave out the words "temporal or spiritual."—(Mr. Arthur Arnold.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
remarked, that his late Colleague, Mr. Spooner, thoroughly understood this subject, and was well informed as to ecclesiastical history. It was at his suggestion that the words were inserted, and he submitted that the House acted rightly in accepting those words, "Temporary and spiritually," which the Government adopted. The insertion of those words had already received the sanction of the House; and it must be borne in mind that they were 847 accepted by a Liberal Government—not by Tories or Orangemen—but that they were inserted in the Act in accordance with the deliberate judgment of a Liberal House of Commons, and they were also assented to by the House of Lords. He, therefore, thought the Attorney General had ample ground for inserting the words now, and he would certainly vote with him if any question was raised as to their insertion. He would, however, venture to make one suggestion —namely, that after the word "spiritual," and before the word "injury," the word "privation" should he inserted, because one of the principal means by which the Church of Rome exercised the terror on which her discipline depended was the privation of the rites of Confession and of the Sacraments. "Privation" was the word recognized by that Church in her ecclesiastical censure. He would, therefore, recommend the Attorney General, after the word "spiritual," to insert the word "privation." He believed, at the same time, that it would be of very great importance to exclude the words "any other means." The ingenuity of a distinct body, generally unseen, of the Church of Rome, but which exercised great influence even over the Papacy itself, and had almost usurped its jurisdiction, was notorious, and especially in regard to the use or abuse of language. He therefore held that in dealing with so skilful a body it was far better for them to rely on general words, which must be interpreted according to the definition given them by the Common Law, which would give a security for effecting their purpose, which he did not think they would otherwise obtain.
§ MR. P. MARTIN
differed from the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) as to the kind of language that ought to be used in framing Acts of Parliament. He thought they ought to use words precise and free from ambiguity in creating an offence of this description. Was that done by the Amendment? He had listened to the Attorney General with some anxiety to know what meaning he attributed to "spiritual injury, danger, harm, or loss." Where was there in any Act of Parliament a meaning given to the word "spiritual," to guide the Judge, and where was there any analogy to be found in an Act 848 dealing with crime that inflicted spiritual loss? He thought the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold) was perfectly correct in the apt illustration which he had supplied to the Committee. Telling a man to go to a certain unmentionable place constituted to that man a spiritual loss if he was to go there; but was the man against whom such language was used subjected in reality to any spiritual loss? Was the use of over strong language against a man for voting in a certain manner and telling him he was likely by the vote he gave to prejudice his chances hereafter, to be held as a threat of the infliction of spiritual harm or loss within the meaning of the words used in the sub-section? The Attorney General had admitted it was perfectly right for a clergyman, in the strongest and most forcible terms, to say a man would commit a sin in voting for a particular candidate. He had stated ho dissented from the dictum to that effect of Lord Fitzgerald in the Longford case. Yet the words now used would permit a Judge to adopt that dictum as the true interpretation of the offence of undue influence. It appeared to him that the Attorney General had not given effect to the promise he made at their last Sitting. The present words constituted but a very slight, if any, improvement on those used in the Act of 1854. There should be apt words to define what they meant by "undue influence." Let them have words to guide the Judge in coming to a conclusion as to the facts; but do not let them have expressions used which would leave an Atheist Judge to come to one conclusion, a Catholic Judge to come to another conclusion, and a Presbyterian Judge to another. As the clause stood, the Judges of different denominations would come to different conclusions, and the Attorney General had failed to carry out what he said he would do—namely, define what he meant by "undue influence." What he (Mr. Martin) contended was, that it had been the understanding and do-sire of the Committee that uniformity of decision should be secured by apt and clear words defining what Parliament intended. Let the Judge, when ho came to pronounce his Judgment and find a man guilty of crime, have before him in express terms what it was that the Act of Parliament intended to 849 prohibit. Could any hon. Member who read the Amendment say that that had been done? Notwithstanding the acute intelligence of the hon. and learned Member for Launceston (Sir Hardinge Giffard), that hon. and learned Member said he could not understand what legal meaning ought to be given to the words used in this proposed sub-section. When the Attorney General thus failed to express, as all the Members who bad spoken up to the present asserted, what the precise legal meaning of this subsection was, how could he, in fairness, ask the Committee to accept what was unintelligible? Ho (Mr. Martin) thought, under the circumstances, the proper course was to adopt the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold). Under the protection of the Ballot Act, the voter now went up in secrecy to record his vote according to his own free will and conscience. Some such words as those of the Amendment would be required if the Committee contemplated the exclusion from the operation of the sub-section of that which the Attorney General had admitted to be justifiable—namely, fair spiritual influence in the way of exhortation. It was right for him to say there was, in his judgment, considerable misconception in the statements that had been made as to the true meaning and extent of what Lord Fitzgerald had laid down in his Judgment in the Longford case. That eminent Judge had not laid down, or intended to declare, that if a clergyman said to the members of his flock that they would commit a sin by voting a certain way he was guilty of "undue influence." He would take the ordinary case of a man who wished to disinherit his son, and the clergyman said—"It is a sin to do that." Was that a crime, or the exercise of undue influence? If a man intended to do that which a clergyman, be he a Catholic or a Presbyterian, bonâ fide believed to be wrong or improper, why should the clergyman be prohibited from pointing out, from his standpoint, the moral consequences of his act to a voter? The question was not one which affected the Catholic clergy alone—for the Presbyterian clergy spoke quite as strongly at elections as the Catholic clergy. Then, why should they be denied the use of free opinion and of strong language, when it was right and proper to 850 use free opinion and strong language? They all knew that no election took place in England without the Press, and more especially the local Press, making use of strong language when the candidate appeared. In election times, whether it was right or wrong that it should be so, all would admit expressions not unfrequently were used of a character which, if used by a clergyman, would clearly come within the meaning of the prohibition created by the words of the sub-section. Then, if writers for the Press were allowed to make such remarks, why forbid the same right to the clergy? Why were Roman Catholic clergymen alone to be the objects of penal legislation in this case? Had the House reflected on the grave consequences of what they were about to do under] this Act? Suppose a case like the Bradlaugh question were to arise; was the Attorney General prepared, because a clergyman pointed out that ho considered it in his conscience a sin to vote for an Atheist, and for the admission of an Atheist into the House of Commons, to declare that it was the duty of the Election Judge to send that clergyman for 12 months to gaol? If not, then the Committee ought not to allow the sub-section to pass. In Ireland, in many of their greatest polical strugges, as those for Catholic Emancipation and the right of free education, it had plainly been the duty of the Catholic clergy to use words of remonstrance and warning to their co-religionists as to the mode in which they intended to exercise their rights when voting. Would the Attorney General be prepared to say that clergymen, who thus expressed their conscientious convictions, were to be made liable to prosecution and imprisonment? A Liberal Government was in power. Let them legislate, then, in a liberal spirit. The great triumphs which had been won for England had been won by free legislation. Let them not attempt to coerce one class more than another. They had wisely permitted the free use of strong, vehement—nay, even denunciatory and threatening—language by the Press and public speakers on political subjects. That licence had worked well. Then, why should they seek to legislate for the Catholic priesthood of Ireland, or the Presbyterian clergy, in a different spirit from that in which they wore prepared to legislate for the Press and public speakers?
§ MR. MARUM
said, he was disposed to agree entirely with the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold), that they should leave out the words "temporal or spiritual," because he believed that the omission would render the matter more intelligible. It was scarcely intelligible at present. As the hon. and learned Member for Launceston (Sir Hardinge Giffard) said, the words were nonsensical as they now stood. Mr. Austin, in his Province of Jurisprudence, pointed out the difference between the positive law and the moral law, and the difficulty of endeavouring by positive law to control a person from doing that which he thought himself bound to do under the moral law. Mr. Austin was Professor of Law in the University of London, and he said—The simple and obvious conditions to which I have now adverted are often overlooked by legislators. If they fancy the practice pernicious, or hate it they know not why, they proceed, without further thought, to forbid it by positive law. They forget the positive law may be superfluous or impotent, and therefore may lead to nothing but purely gratuitous vexation. They forget that the moral or the religious sentiments of the community may suppress the practice as completely as it can be suppressed; or that if the practice is favoured by those moral or religious sentiments, the strongest possible fear which legal pains can inspire may be mastered by a stronger fear of other conflicting functions.There was only one other passage with which he would trouble the Committee—In consequence of the frequent coincidence of positive law and morality, and of positive law and the law of God, the true nature and foundation of positive law were often absurdly mistaken by writers upon jurisprudence. Where positive law has been fashioned on positive morality, or where positive law has been fashioned on the law of God, they forget that the law is the creature of the Sovereign, and impute it to the author of the model.That was exactly what was done here, and he thought the passage he had read was a complete authority for the proposition brought forward by the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold), and alluded to in the course of the debate. It was asserted by the Attorney General that clergymen of the Roman Catholic Church had no right to direct a voter. Now, he (Mr. Marum) held that clergymen had no right to direct a voter upon matters of fact, or upon anything concerning matters of fact; but that questions of that nature must be left freely 852 and entirely to the voter himself. But in matters of religion and morality, he held that a clergyman had a perfect right to direct the voter, and it was not "undue influence" for a priest to advise and direct him upon such questions. He would not object to a clergyman being subjected to pains and penalties if he were to put a voter in fear on account of matters of fact; but he would ask the Committee to consider the collision which would take place when they endeavoured to legislate for two laws that were concurrently running. It was impossible for the Committee to control the moral law by any mere ephemeral legislation in regard to positive law. He regretted that the Attorney General seemed to be determined to press forward this clause without the omission of the words "temporal or spiritual." In the event of the Attorney General persevering, he proposed to add a Proviso, in order to guard a clergyman against being caught by the meshes of the clause. Ho should propose at the end of the clause to add these words—Provided that the exercise of any ordinary jurisdiction in the performance of his duties or the fulfilment of his functions as a minister of religion by any clergyman of any religious belief shall not be deemed undue influence within the meaning of this Act.He protested against the Amendment being pushed to its legitimate issue against the Catholic clergy, and he should do all in his power to prevent it. The words of the Attorney General's proposals were these—Every person who shall directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person on his behalf, make use of or threaten to make use of any force, violence, or restraint, or inflict or threaten to inflict, by himself or by any other person, any temporal or spiritual injury, damage, harm, or loss upon or against any person in order to induce or compel such person to vote or refrain from voting, or on account of such person having voted or refrained from voting at any election, or who shall, by abduction, duress, or any fraudulent device or contrivance, impede or prevent the free exercise of the franchise of any elector, or shall thereby compel, induce, or prevail upon any elector either to give or to refrain from giving his vote at any election, shall be guilty of undue influence.Those words certainly did not appear to him to be very intelligible as they stood; and if they were adopted by the Committee he should certainly endeavour to control them by the Amendment he had 853 indicated, and which he should propose subsequently.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
said, he thought if they would ask themselves, first, what the Attorney General had conceded, and, next, what he proposed to do, they would be able to come to a better understanding of the position in which the matter stood, without the necessity for beginning, as he was afraid some hon. Members had begun, de novo, as if the question had never been before the House at all. He was sorry the hon. and learned Member for Launceston (Sir Hardinge Giffard) was not present; but the idea that any communication had passed between the Attorney General and himself (Mr. Fowler) was entirely incorrect. He had never seen the clause until he saw it in print that afternoon; and he could only say that he thanked the Attorney General for the time, attention, and ability he had devoted to the matter in endeavouring to meet the wishes of the Committee. Now, what was it that the Attorney General had conceded? On Thursday and Friday it was contended that under the existing law the words in the Act of Parliament, "or in any other manner practices intimidation," whether rightly or wrongly, had been held by the Irish Judges to apply to the legitimate influence of the clergy with their flock; and it had been further held that the legitimate exercise of spirital influence by the Irish priests amounted to undue influence. It was all very well for the hon. and learned Member below him (Mr. Martin) to say that the Irish Judges had decided wrongly. He understood the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) to object to words that opened so wide an area as the words "or in any other manner practices intimidation." It was contended that they might be held by the Irish Judges, wisely or unwisely, to extend to acts of political as well as religious influence that were not interfered with in this country, and in reference to the exercise of which there would be no objection in this country. The great fight on Thursday and Friday was to strike out these very words. The section, as drawn, covered every other species of intimidation which could be defined, and every other species of intimidation that ought to be defined. The Attorney General said the words were intended, not to extend to political intimidation, but to the undue exercise 854 of spiritual influence. As the case was put on Friday afternoon by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, it was not intended to apply to such legitimate and proper influence as that exercised in Birmingham by so distinguished and able a man as Dr. Dale. The right hon. Gentleman put that case on the one hand, and on the other he put the case of excited and angry persons denouncing a candidate by name from the altar, and threatening those who voted for such candidate with the most severe spiritual consequences. Of course, his right hon. Friend was too clever a rhetorician not to know that nothing was more taking than to put the minimum of one class and contrast it with the maximum of another. But the view he (Mr. Fowler) took was that there was a vast area of ground to traverse between the moderate influence the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade put as taking place in Birmingham and the extreme case which he put as one which might possibly take place elsewhere. He also contended in favour of that legitimate influence which any religious and moral teacher necessarily had, and which he was bound to exercise in the case of what he considered to be morally right, proper, and religious. He was of opinion that they ought not to leave any words in the Statute which might possibly affect such a case. His right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), when it was proposed to go to war with the Northern States of America on behalf of the Southern States, denounced the stupendous guilt of such a national crime. Now, if the country had been called upon to go to war with the Northern States of America for the purpose of upholding slavery in the South, he believed, with his right hon. Friend, that it would have been the duty of every man who believed in the Bible to denounce such a war on every platform in England as a great national crime, and to use all the influence in his power to prevent a man from voting in favour of what, in his judgment, and that of most Christian men, would be a great national sin. That was the influence he desired to protect, and the Attorney General said he had protected it, while, at the same time, endeavouring to aim at something far beyond. He asked the Committee to remember what the Attorney 855 General had conceded—namely, what they had really objected to—vague, undetermined, and wide words. And what had the hon. and learned Gentleman inserted in their place? He was sorry to say his hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold) had not quoted them correctly. The hon. and learned Gentleman had not said—"Inflict or threaten any temporal or spiritual injury;" but the words were—Inflict, or threaten to inflict, by himself or by any other person, any temporal or spiritual injury.That meant something a man was to do by himself, or by somebody else. The hon. and learned Member for Launceston (Sir Hardinge Giffard) said he could attach no meaning to those words. The only meaning he (Mr. Fowler) attached to them was that they were words to give effect to the objection and meaning of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) and the lion. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) in the debate on Friday. He understood those hon. Members not to object to words condemnatory of undue influence, and those words only referred to the injury which any man could inflict by himself, or by any other person, by the refusal of some religious rite. He did not understand the Irish Members to object to the conduct of a priest who should threaten to deprive a man of the Sacraments for voting in a particular way, as being undue influence. It appeared to him that all the hon. Gentleman was aiming at was—Shall inflict, by himself or any other person, any temporal or spiritual injury,such as refusing the rites of the Church and the Sacraments for a political act. He understood that the Roman Catholic clergy were not adverse to legislation in that direction; and, if that were so, it seemed to him that every other case was provided for. The case which the hon. and learned Member for Launceston (Sir Hardinge Giffard) had put, of denouncing a man by saying that he was guilty of sin, could not be punished under the clause, unless it could be shown that the clergyman had inflicted upon the voter any real, temporal, or spiritual injury. The wide words of the Statute of 1854 did allow of that, and the Irish Judges had so laid it down. Under these circumstances, he fully appreciated the 856 concession which the Attorney General had made, and he thought that it was a very considerable concession. If they were taking the old question de novo, he thought they might have omitted all reference to the matter. But they must remember what the law had been for the last 30 years. He advised the Committee to accept the Amendment in the words which the Attorney General had proposed.
§ MR. PARNELL
agreed with the hon. Member who had just spoken, that the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for England did amount to a concession, and a concession of some value; and he regretted that, owing to the juxtaposition in which he had put the words "spiritual and temporal," he (Mr. Parnell) found it impossible to accept the Amendment fully and cordially, and that he was obliged to ask for further modification in the shape of an Amendment, which he himself proposed to move later on. He admitted that the hon. and learned Gentleman had displayed a desire to meet the views of the Committee, and also the views of hon. Members sitting on those Benches; and, therefore, it was the more to be regretted that the hon. and learned Gentleman had not framed the Amendment in such a way that the Committee could cordially accept it, with the knowledge that the law, as it was to stand in future, could not be used injuriously to any Church in Ireland, or to the religious scruples of any section of the community in Ireland. He agreed that, so far as temporal undue influence went, the omission of the paragraph in the middle of the old definition in the Act of 1854 did do away considerably with the vagueness and wideness of which they complained, and took away their objection to the spiritual aspect of the question. But he felt sure that the clergy, and more especially the Catholic clergy of Ireland, if the Committee were to agree to this Amendment, without pointing out the mischievous effect of the portion he referred to, would feel that they had been unfairly treated, and the Committee would be neglecting their duty if they allowed the slur to be cast on them, which this Amendment appeared to cast on them, in selecting them in this invidious manner as likely to inflict injury, harm, or loss, by the exercise of their spiritual functions. He 857 and his hon. Friends, consistently maintaining their ground throughout, disagreed altogether ab initio with the policy of introducing the question of spiritual influence; and he believed, as he had over and over again stated, that if there was likely to be undue spiritual influence in Ireland, which he denied and did not at all think likely, it could not be checked by this or any other amendment of the law they were likely to insert in an Act of Parliament. If an Irish priest chose to exercise undue spiritual influence, and an Irish elector chose to permit it, all the law they could enact would not prevent it, because there were ways and means open to the Catholic clergy of exercising undue spiritual influence of such a character that it was utterly impossible for the law to guard against it or prevent it. He therefore thought it would be far better for the House to rely upon that general spirit and feeling which was increasing rapidly in Ireland, that there was a wide line of distinction to be drawn between religious duty—that was to say, duty to the Church—and civil duty, which was duty to the State. He regretted exceedingly that, owing to the vagueness of the definition contained in the Act of 1854, this question had been raised in a manner in which it had been found necessary to raise it. What was the meaning of the expression, "spiritual injury, damage, harm, or loss? "How was the law going to define it? As several hon. and learned Gentlemen had already pointed out, it was not a term that had been, so far, known to the law, and they were about to introduce it for the first time in the Statute Book. On Friday they expressed themselves willing to agree to that definition of "undue spiritual influence" which the Irish Judges had pointed out, from time to time, as being contrary to the law. The decision of Mr. Justice Fitzgerald had been quoted by the right hon. Baronet the President of the Local Government Board, and he (Mr. Parnell) and his hon. Friends had also quoted that definition as being one they were willing to accept. For instance, Mr. Justice Fitzgerald, in the Longford case, said—He must not threaten to excommunicate, or to withhold the sacraments, or to expose a person to any religious disability, or to denounce the voting for any particular candidate as a sin entailing punishment here or hereafter.858 Some of his hon. Friends said they did not agree with the last definition, but they agreed with the two first and the most important ones, and they were both contained in the Amendment he proposed to move. He asked them to consider, if they adopted the Amendment of the Attorney General, and provided that the infliction of any spiritual injury, damage, harm, or less, or threat to inflict it, directly or indirectly, on any person might void the election, what would be the position of a priest who went upon a platform and told the electors that their duty to their country and their religion required them to vote for a certain candidate. There were electors in Ireland who fancied that they would commit a sin if they voted for a certain candidate contrary to the wishes of the priest. He regretted that it should be so; but if an elector was so ignorant—he would not say many of them, but if some of them were so ignorant—that the simple fact of a request from the priest to vote for a particular candidate, or a speech delivered by a priest advising them to vote for a particular candidate and be true to their religion and their country, would bring about such a state of things and induce certain voters in Ireland to believe they were committing a sin if they voted in a direction contrary to that desired by the priest, he did not see how it was to be guarded against by an Act of Parliament. Under such circumstances, the Election Judge would step in and take advantage of the elasticity and vagueness of the definition contained in the Act. He would quote a paragraph from a particular speech, and would say—" There are electors in this constituency who must have thought they were running a risk of having spiritual damage and loss inflicted upon them if they recorded their votes contrary to the priest's wishes, because such a passage happened to be contained in the speech delivered by some gentleman upon a platform; "and, although the great bulk of the constituency might have exercised the vote with perfect freeness, as far as the exhortations of the priest wore concerned, the Election Judge would void the election. He (Mr. Parnell) submitted that they ought not to be called upon to legislate so as to provide for imaginary evils and superstitions, which might exercise influence upon the minds of a few of 859 the electors in the Irish constituencies, so long as the course of events proved that the great bulk of the electors in the Irish constituencies were free from these superstitious fears and imaginations, and refused to allow the influence of the priest from a religious point of view to put away their notions of political duty upon political questions. Then, he contended that that was a proof that this vague and wide definition was not required, and that the freedom of election and the rights of the constituencies would be imperiled by its adoption. It was a curious thing that the Election Judges—Mr. Justice Keogh, for instance—had adopted the definition which he (Mr. Parnell) proposed to move further on. Mr. Justice Keogh, in delivering Judgment in the second County of Galway Election Petition, in the case of Captain Nolan, said, referring to the Judgment he had previously delivered in the Galway Town case —" I further declare "—to these words he (Mr. Parnell) wished especially to direct the attention of his hon. and learned Friends—I further declare that if a single elector, even the most miserable criminal in this town, had been refused the rites of the Church in order to compel him to vote, or because ho had voted, or because a member of his family had voted in a particular way, I would have voided this election without the slightest hesitation.It was in reference to that passage that he and his hon. Friends had said— "Introduce a definition into the Bill, and we will agree to it; but we disagree from the policy of referring to spiritual intimidation at all. If, however, you insist upon it, then, to save the time of the Committee, we will agree to, and we will not oppose, the insertion of such a definition." Then, again, in the case of Lord St. Lawrence and Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, Mr. Justice Keogh refused to void the election, on the ground that there had been no such undue spiritual influence as the refusal of the Sacraments, and so forth. In the Mayo case, in 1857, Colonel Higgins was the unsuccessful candidate, and it was proved that the Catholic priest told the people from the altar that—The curse of God would come down upon anyone who voted for Colonel Higgins;and that—If they were dying he would not give them the rites of the Church if they voted fox Higgins.860 Upon that evidence the election was held to be void—If, in the present case, it had been proved that in a single instance the rites of the Church had been refused in order to influence voters, I would have voided the election; but that has not been proved. It has, however, been proved that in various churches the celebration of the Mass was suspended after the first Gospel in order to lecture the people upon the conflicting claims of the different candidates. I recognize the full right of the Catholic clergy to address their congregations, and I would not hold a hard-and-fast line as to the language which, in excited times, may be used by Catholic ecclesiastics or civilians, provided they did not surpass the bounds of legitimate influence.He (Mr. Parnell) took his stand on the objectionable exercise of influence which the Irish Justices had pointed out, and he asked the Committee to insert those grounds in the Statute Book as proving that the necessities of the case need go no further.
MR. HINDE PALMER
said, that what took place on Friday would be in the recollection of the Committee. The Attorney General brought forward the clause, and the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) introduced an Amendment very similar to the one now before the Committee, in which he attempted to introduce the definition from the Act of 1854, instead of leaving the Bill in the general terms in which it stood. But, in proposing that Amendment, the hon. Member omitted from it everything that would at all reach spiritual intimidation, and the effect was that it became absolutely necessary to introduce words to make the matter clear. The words used in the Bill were amply sufficient to meet the description of undue influence which they all sought to prevent, and therefore the object they had in view was attained by them. They had now arrived at a point when all that was necessary for the Attorney General to do was to introduce words which should sufficiently define what it was the Committee understood by "undue spiritual influence," as distinguished from what might be called legitimate spiritual influence. What was introduced here was really all that was necessary to meet the evil of spiritual intimidation. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) had told them that spiritualism went further than that, and that there was a class of people in Ireland who were so illiterate that they were influenced by almost any 861 denunciation or threat that any priest might indulge in. If they set themselves to the task of defining every variety of spiritual influence which the hon. Member said was brought to bear on the unintelligent in Ireland, they would utterly fail. It would be utterly impossible to lay down, in an Act of Parliament, anything to thoroughly cope with the evil. The worst possible legislation was legislation which defined what a crime was by setting forth the method in which it could be committed. Legislation of that kind was most mischievous. The words which were here used seemed to him to be sufficient to put a stop to all undue intimidation in the exercise of all improper spiritual influence. Some hon. Gentlemen seemed to think that these words did not go far enough; but they could not reach all the undue influence they desired to prevent. He had no doubt that all the undue influence which had been referred to would be made criminal. He did not feel a shadow of a doubt that any Judge, including Lord Fitzgerald, would hold that such undue influence as they sought to prevent would come within the meaning of these words, and that was all they wanted to get at. As a matter of fact, the Amendment would do that which on Friday night they all agreed it was most desirable to do—namely, prevent that sort of intimidation by threats of spiritual injury—for these were the words of the Amendment—about which so much complaint was made. The words would not hurt the feelings of any sect or denomiation, if clergymen thought it right to exert their influence in election matters; but it would effectually put a stop to that which, all were agreed, it was most desirable to prevent. The hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold) said this was the first time such a thing as spiritual influence had ever been introduced into an Act of Parliament; but the Committee should bear in mind that the law of this country was not altogether made up of Acts of Parliament, but that it consisted largely in the interpretation of law by the Judges, and "spiritual influence" was an expression well known in Courts of Law, especially in the Chancery Division. He was quite aware that many hon. Gentlemen opposite, who belonged to the Irish Party, had an objection to Judge-made law, and so had he himself; but when they came to that 862 which was unquestionably a spiritual injury, whether it was laid down in an Act of Parliament or not, it was an offence, and they had bettor do what they could to prevent it. He agreed that the hon. and learned Attorney General had very fairly endeavoured to meet the difficulty they all felt themselves to be in on Friday night, and he, therefore, very cordially supported the proposal.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he wished to put questions to the Attorney General, the answers to which he thought would very materially shorten the debate. When they parted on Friday night the Attorney General stated that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) had put a very plain question to him, and he (Sir R. Assheton Cross) would now repeat as plain a one. He wished to ask this—Whether, if a minister of religion got up in his pulpit —he did not care whether it was a Roman Catholic priest, or a Church of England clergyman, or a Nonconformist minister—and said to his congregation, "If you vote for A or B, who holds such and such opinions, you commit a sin," such minister was guilty of undue influence? That was the question he wished to have answered; and unless they knew exactly what the meaning of the clause was to be it would be impossible for them to vote upon it. He wished also to put another question to the Attorney General. In the Act of 1854 they had a definition of undue influence, and that definition had guided them for many years; and though it might be quite true that when this Act of Parliament was first passed there might have been doubts among the Judges as to how it was to be interpreted, they were now going to propose a new definition, and he very much feared that when that new definition was made there would be very grave doubts as to how the Judges would determine it. Before they went to that, therefore, he should like to know exactly what was the difference between the one definition and the other? [A laugh.] The Attorney General smiled at that, and he was glad to see that smile, for the point he was referring to was the one they had to discuss. It was quite true, and everyone knew it, that statements of Ministers in the House of Commons had nothing in the world to do with the decisions of 863 Judges afterwards; and what he wanted to know was what the Government wished to express? If the Government would only say what it was they wanted to express, probably some Members in the Committee would be able to help them to put their view into proper language. Before, however, they could do anything, it was necessary that the Committee should know the exact difference between the definition in the Act of 1854 and that now proposed. The Attorney General was proposing to change the law of 1859 for something new, and they wished to know distinctly from him what that change was to be? That was a distinct question, and he wished to have a distinct answer. [The ATTORNEY GENERAL here conferred with Mr. GLADSTONE.] He was in no hurry. He had always, however, been brought up to think that a person could not do two things at once, and it seemed hardly possibly that the hon. and learned Gentleman (the Attorney General) could listen to a speech from the Prime Minister and his (Sir R. Assheton Cross's) argument at the same time. He did not wish to make a captious objection; but he had every desire to assist the Attorney General on this subject. He did not in the least know what the meaning of the clause was; it was a great puzzle to him, and he was sure it would also be a great puzzle to the Judges. The clause mentioned "spiritual harm." Well, a minister might warn a man that if he committed a particular act it would be a sin, and the Supreme Being would punish that sin; but that could not be called inflicting spiritual harm, it was merely giving a warning. He could understand a Roman Catholic priest, who unquestionably had more power over his flock than any other minister of religion, saying—" If you do not vote for A, B, C, or D, I will excommunicate you, or refuse you the Sacraments." That, no doubt, would he inflicting spiritual harm. This would not affect Nonconformists, because no spiritual harm of that kind could be inflicted upon them; and all their minister could say would be—" If you vote for such and such a person I believe you will suffer hereafter," and that would not be inflicting any spiritual harm. He did not understand the meaning of these words, and the questions he wished to ask were these—[" Oh, 864 oh! "] He knew Nonconformists did not like this question—.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir HENRY JAMES)
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had asked his questions very distinctly, and he (the Attorney General) would endeavour to answer them as clearly as he could. As to the first, whether it would be undue influence for a clergyman to say—" It would be a sin to vote for such and such a person "—[Sir R. ASSHETON CROSS: From the pulpit.] Yes; from the pulpit. In his opinion, it would not. If a clergyman said to his congregation—"It will be sinful for you to vote for Mr. Brad-laugh," he should not for a moment contend that that clergyman would be guilty of undue influence. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Launceston (Sir Hardinge Giffard) had put a similar question. Let him (the Attorney General) ask the hon. and learned Gentleman whether he would like that rule to be applied to clergymen of the Church of England? If Lord Fitzgerald, in the Judgment to which attention had been drawn, had meant to say—as he (the Attorney General) did not believe he did—that an exhortation on the part of a clergyman to his flock, without any threat, simply not to vote for a particular candidate, was undue influence, he did not agree with him. They could not apply Lord Fitzgerald's words in the abstract, but must take them as referring to absolute denunciation and refusal of the Sacraments—[" No, no ! "] Well, he did not go into the exact words of Lord Fitzgerald; but he would say that if that sentence stood by itself—namely, that a clergyman said it was a sin for a person to vote for such or such a candidate—to his mind it would not amount to an undue influence. His argument would not apply any more to a clergyman than to a layman. He would not put a penalty on a clergyman merely because he was a clergyman, although he quite recognized the fact that it might be more the duty of a clergyman than anybody else to point out any conscientious objection that might be taken to the support of the candidature of a certain 865 individual. The clause did not draw any distinction between clergymen and laymen, and did not put any special prohibition upon a minister of religion. With regard to the second question asked by the right hon. Gentleman opposite — namely, the difference which would be effected in the law by the proposed Amendment, if the right hon. Gentleman meant to put a hard-and-fast construction upon the words of Lord Fitzgerald in the Judgment referred to, no doubt there might be some question as to whether a statement to vote for a certain candidate was a sin that might be looked upon as a corrupt influence; but, apart from that, it appeared to him that the Amendment made no alteration whatever in the law.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman was referring to his observation with regard to Lord Fitzgerald's Judgment; but the definition in that Judgment he (Mr. Parnell) had only repeated so far as he recollected it from memory.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir HENRY JAMES)
said, that if the hon. Member for the City of Cork took Lord Fitzgerald's definition he would be worse off than he was at present. When the Act of 1854 was passing through Committee, a Member had asked how a voter was to be protected against the exercise of undue spiritual influence; and Mr. Walpole had said that that point was covered by the words "in any other manner," and he added that that view was entertained by Sir Fitzroy Kelly. Several hon. Members of the Conservative Party were of opinion that those general words would not suffice; and Vice Chanceller Malins had proposed these very words on behalf of the Party —namely, "spiritual or temporal loss or damage; "he had proposed them because they were more certain than the general phrase. These words were believed to be more specific for the purpose of controlling spiritual intimidation than the general words. No doubt, the spiritual less which was meant to be covered in that way was such a thing as the refusal of communion, or the refusal to baptize a child—things which obviously did not entail a money loss, but were yet a deprivation of advantages to which a voter might consider himself entitled. The words ought to be taken in that sense, and should not be taken as con- 866 demning the practice of bringing men's minds under the influence of religion. Anyone had a perfect right to endeavour, by fair argument, to influence a man's action, whether as an elector or otherwise; but it was a loss to a man, and a spiritual injury, to deny him the Sacraments of his Church; and such denial, therefore, would come under the Amendment. Certain Members of the Committee had contended that this was an invidious attack upon the clergymen of the Church of Rome; but where, he would ask, was there a single word in the Amendment or the clause about the clergymen of the Church of Rome? There was no word in either the Amendment or the clause relating to the clergymen of any Church. Why did hon. Members assume that this was an attack on the Church of Rome?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir HENRY JAMES)
said, that the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny charged the Government with making an attack upon the Church of Rome; and the hon. Member for the City of Cork said that if the Irish Members did not protest against this attack, it would be said that they had not protected. the interests of their Church. In reply to that, he could only say that the proposal was not directed against the Church of Rome. It was intended to make it applicable to every Church, and to every clergyman, and to every layman.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
asked whether he was to understand that no threat of punishment in a future world, in consequence of a certain line of action at an election, was to come within this new law as undue influence? The words "intimidation" and "undue influence" were well known to the law. Hon. Gentlemen would remember the discussion which had taken place upon the word "intimidation" upon the Masters' and Servants' Bill some eight years ago. The words "violence" and "intimidation" had then been used; and the whole argument had turned, not upon the question of the threats a person might use, but upon the question of the effect they might have upon the mind of the per- 867 son to whom they were addressed. In that case they were discussing the effect intimidation would have upon the mind of the working man, and intimidation was eventually put into the Statute under conspiracy, yet the thing was well known to the law. Let them take the case of a Roman Catholic priest, or a clergyman in the Church of England—for he wished to make no distinction between the ministers of different religions—and suppose either of these used his position to bring spiritual influence upon a voter, his action could not for a moment be compared to that of a layman. A clergyman might say—" I use my spiritual power over you. I exert my influence as your spiritual adviser, and I say to you that if you vote for that man I will excommunicate you from the altar." [An. hon. MEMBER: No clergyman could do that.] That is what the Roman Catholic priest could do. [Mr. LEAMY: No, no !] At any rate, it was what a Roman Catholic priest was supposed to be able to do. If the clergyman or minister of religion was a Catholic, he could say that; and if he was a Nonconformist, he might use other words, and adopt another course which might, practically, have the same effect upon the mind of the voter. What he (Sir R. Assheton Cross) wished to know was simply this —whether or not a threat of punishment in a future state, in consequence of a vote, would be held, under the Amendment, to be undue influence?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir HENRY JAMES)
said, the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be somewhat casuistical and metaphysical. It was difficult to draw a distinction between a threat and a warning; but his view was that while a clergyman might say—" If you vote for a particular man that is a sin," it would be a breach of the clause to say—" If you vote for him I will excommunicate you."
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, he thought the Attorney General had got himself into an awkward dilemma by introducing these words. The more he listened to the discussion the more he saw that the hon. and learned Gentleman, instead of keeping within the region of practical law-making, had wandered away and lost himself in the region of metaphysics; and ho was inclined to doubt whether the Committee 868 was in a condition to discuss this question. The hon. and learned Gentleman was in such stress that he was driven to resort to a question which, coming from any other man, he would have considered disingenuous. He had asked where was there a word in the clause about clergymen? That was a most extraordinary question. The whole difficulty in the clause arose from the fact that clergymen of the Church of Rome did, and very rightly, exorcise a power far greater in regard to voters during Parliamentary Elections than clergymen of the Church of England or Nonconformists. It was their duty to do so, and that question of the Attorney General's proved what au extraordinary difficulty he was in. The whole thing turned on the clergymen of the Church of Rome, and what they could do and had to do. He would ask the Committee to follow the Attorney General in the argument he had endeavoured to put forward. The hon. and learned Gentleman said it was not an exercise of undue influence for a clergyman to say from the pulpit—" If you vote for such and such a man you will commit a sin; "and the inference, therefore, followed that if a clergyman told a parishioner that his vote would bring upon him punishment in a future world, that, according to the Attorney General, would not be" undue influence. "That theory might be enlarged upon by an eloquent clergyman. The Attorney General said a clergyman might do that; but he must not threaten to excommunicate the man, or refuse him the Sacrament. An English Churchman, like the Attorney General, of course, (lid not recognize excommunication; but in the Church of Rome it was not an uncommon thing, and the refusal of the Sacrament was a very common thing among the Irish people. One of the strongest holds they had over their fellow-parishioners was the power of refusing the Sacrament. The expression "being in a state of sin" was very common in the Roman Catholic Church; and if a priest told a man that if he voted so and so, was he bound not to give the man warning that if he continued in that state of sin he would be deprived of the rites of the Church? A letter had recently come from the See of Rome denouncing, in the strongest language, a certain political Party in Ireland; and that 869 letter must exercise a strong effect upon a moiety or two-thirds of the Roman Catholic clergy. There were two schools of Roman Catholic clergy in Ireland; one headed by Archbishop Croke; the other headed by Archbishop M'Cabe. This matter was likely to become a burning question; and suppose Archbishop M'Cabe wrote a letter to the priests in his diocese tolling them to warn their congregations, in the strongest manner in their power, against voting for any Member of the Irish Party, and, if necessary, to refuse the rites of the Church to any who did so vote, the Archbishop would be acting strictly on a letter with which the Government were not altogether unconnected. See what a difficulty the Archbishop would be in. He would be justified in telling the priests to warn their flocks from the pulpit that they would be committing a sin if they voted for Mr. Parnell, and would be refused the Sacrament. On the other hand, Archbishop Croke might issue a Circular to the opposite effect, warning every voter by post that if he voted for the National Party he would be in a state of sin, and, therefore, would have no right to the Sacrament. He did not think the Attorney General could get out of that desperate dilemma—a dilemma which, if these words were put in the Bill, would hopelessly perplex the minds of the Irish Judges; and if the hon. and learned Gentleman had any regard for the peace of mind of candidates he would not adhere to the words.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, all these fine definitions raised by hon. Members showed that the best course would be to leave these words out of the clause. Ho should not follow hon. Gentlemen who had preceded him in the field of metaphysics, nor the noble Lord in the religious feelings he had displayed; but he would simply point out this. The Attorney General had stated that, if Church membership or the Sacrament was refused, the person refusing it would come under this clause. What would be the effect of refusing the Sacrament? As he understood, it would be a temporal injury. If it were a spiritual injury, the refusal would come under this clause. There was a certain vagueness in the definition of the Attorney General. The words were—Every person who shall directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person on 870 his behalf, make use of or threaten to make use of any force, violence, or restrain, or inflict or threaten to inflict, by himself or by any other person, any temporal or spiritual injury,and so on. Could the hon. and learned Attorney General say what indirect spiritual injury was? No doubt, he would say he could not define everything, and that they must leave everything to the Judges; but ho objected to that when there were certain penalties to be inflicted. He wanted things made clear and distinct; and if the hon. and learned Gentleman brought in a Bill, and said the words were such that he could not define them, and must leave them to the Judges, that was the wrong way to legislate. The Attorney General would attack superstition; but he did not think they ought to attack superstition by legislation. They ought to leave that to improved education and other means. The hon. and learned Gentleman had alluded to the borough of Northampton. In that borough, as he understood the hon. and learned Gentleman, if anyone said it was a sin to vote for A or B he would not come under the clause; but that if ho accompanied that statement with a denunciation he would come under the clause. That being so, the Attorney General, who was there to explain the law, should say specifically what would bring a person under the clause, and what would not.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he wished to ask the President of the Local Government Board (Sir Charles W. Dilke) a question. On Friday last the Attorney General and the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), the Solicitor General, and the President of the Local Government gave their opinions upon this question. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether his opinion was the same now as it was then; and, if so, how he could reconcile it with the Attorney General's? The right hon. Gentleman quoted Mr. Justice Fitzgerald, and what he said was that—A priest might counsel, advise, or recommend and entreat, and explain why one candidate should be preferred to another, and if he thought fit might throw the whole weight of his character into the scale.That was reasonable; but he added—But he may not appeal to the fears or terrors of superstition to the person whom he is addressing.871 That was an important point.He must not hold out hope of reward here or hereafter, or use throats of temporal injury, or disadvantage, or punishment hereafter. He must not, for instance, threaten excommunication, or the refusal of the Sacrament; nor must he denounce a vote given for a particular candidate.Hon. Members would see that all through the decision of Mr. Justice Fitzgerald, and all through the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, a distinction was clearly drawn between temporal advantage or disadvantage, and threats of advantage or disadvantage hereafter in another world. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that, in his opinion, it was impossible to lay down more clearly what the law ought to be; and he now wanted to ask the Attorney General whether his new clause did lay down the law more clearly, and the right hon. Gentleman whether he had changed his mind?
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, he had not changed his mind. The Attorney General had distinctly stated just now that the effect of the Amendment would be to carry out the principles of the Judgment referred to, with the one exception of the word "sin." Ho had answered the right hon. Gentleman by anticipation, and stated that upon that word ho did not agree with Mr. Justice Fitzgerald.
§ SIR R ASSHETON CROSS
said, the whole question was as to punishment hereafter; and what he and his hon. Friends wanted to know, and were determined to ascertain, was whether a threat of punishment or a promise of a reward in the world to come would come under this clause? "Yes" or "No."
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he would invite hon. Members to reconsider their intention to support the action of the Attorney General by the light of the declarations now made by the hon. and learned Gentleman. The reasons why the Irish Members were pressing the Government upon this clause were, first, that there was no instance of an election being voided in England or Scotland on the ground of undue spiritual influence; and he did not think the Attorney General was dealing candidly with the Committee when ho said the clause contained no words with regard to clergymen of the Roman Catholic Church. Everybody know that this clause was mainly, if not entirely, directed against them —at all events, the clause would, in 872 practice, operate solely against the Roman Catholic clergy. The second reason why they had a particular claim on this matter was this—whenever an election took place in Ireland, or during the course of an election, there was a meeting of the clergy of the constituency, especially in the case of a county election. They passed before them the names of particular candidates, and selected one; and the candidate they selected was usually on the popular side. There were exceptions; but the popular candidate and the clerical candidate were usually the same. Under the Law of Agency, as laid down by the Judges, every one of those clergymen would become an agent of the candidate selected. Nearly every clergyman took an active part in an election; and under this law the candidate would become responsible for every speech and word of every clergyman, on the platform or in the pulpit, during the contest. Therefore, wore hon. Members not justified in hedging round a clause of this kind in every possible way? Ho invited the attention of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) to this. On Friday he said that the point at issue between himself and the Attorney General was this—he did not mean that a clergyman should be prevented from using general spiritual influence; but they parted company in this way —he said spiritual general influence was legitimate; but the remust not be that influence accompanied by any immediate and definite punishment in the shape of deprivation of the Sacrament. The hon. Member would not object to a priest being allowed to say—" If you vote for such and such a candidate you will be committing personal and national and political sin; "but when a clergyman said a voter would commit sin by taking such and such a course, he implied that the voter would thereby imperil his prospects for ever in the world to come. That was a corollary. If fire hon. and learned Member was consistent with his own proposal, a clergyman should be allowed not only to declare that such a vote would be sin, but that such a sin would be followed by consequences. But the Attorney General did not take that view; but that the priest should be permitted to say that such and such a course would be a sin. [The ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir Henry James): I did not 873 say that.] The hon. and learned Gentleman said the law remained as it was, except as to this question of sin and the punishment of sin. If that was so, then the law stood as it was when Mr. Justice Keogh gave his Galway Judgment. Mr. Justice Keogh cited Sir Samuel Romilly, to the effect that undue influence would be used if ecclesiastics made use of their power to excite superstitious fears or pious hopes; if they sought to alarm consciences by the horrors of eternal misery, or supported drooping spirits by unfolding a prospect of happiness which was never to end. He submitted that what the Attorney General said would be lawful would be unlawful if Sir Samuel Romilly was correct. Sir Samuel Romilly's dictum was adopted by Mr. Justice Keogh, and that was now part of the law of the land. For these reasons, he held that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton was bound to join the Irish Members.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he wished to ask the Prime Minister whether threats of a spiritual adviser, of punishment or promises of reward in a future world, in consequence of a vote given at an election, was to be deemed undue influence or not?
said, he would gladly have left the discussion of this question in the hands of those who were much more competent than himself to deal with it; but he had to thank the right hon. Gentleman for saying he pressed this question upon him because he recognized him as an authority. He should be willing to answer the right hon. Gentleman's question, if he did not think the matter had been explained by the Attorney General. The Attorney General was asked what he wished and desired; and he would answer in the exact sense of his hon. and learned Friend, and in a sense which he hoped would be perfectly clear. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said it must remain free to every clergyman and every minister of religion, as to every layman, with the authority which his office gave him, to point out to a member of his flock that if he took such and such a course under given circumstances that would be a sin. He agreed with his hon. Friend behind him as to the general rule of prudence and propriety against introducing this clause; but that was not the question. The question was 874 not what was prudent and proper, but what would come within the law. Again, the right hon. Gentleman asked—"What is to be the case if a clergyman carries his views to the other world, and speaks of the after reward? "The hon. Gentleman the Member for Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had provided a perfectly distinct answer to this question. It was quite impossible to say to the clergyman —" You may point out to your flock the proper action to take, and yet not be able to tell them the penalties. or to point out the consequences of sin." It was quite manifest, therefore, that, so far, this Act per se could not bring a clergyman within the scope of the Act. What would happen if violence and denunciatory language were used would be quite in another province, and he would not enter upon it. He accepted in full the statement of the hon. Member for Galway that they could not possibly forbid a clergyman to point out that such and such was a sin, without ipso facto allowing him to point out the consequences of the sin.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, that on the last occasion that this matter was under the notice of the Committee it was stated, in the clearest possible way, by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Sir Charles W. Dilke), that the Government rested their case in reference to the construction of the doctrine of undue influence upon a passage of the Judgment of Mr. Justice Fitzgerald in the Galway case. That passage was of the broadest possible character, and it recommended itself very forcibly to the Government—at least, the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Charles W. Dilke), in a very short and logical speech, so represented that view to the House. The Attorney General follewed, and stated that although he would place, if he could, on the Notice Paper of today a definition of undue influence which would cover spiritual influence, he did not recede in the slightest degree from the principle which, in substance, he had previously laid down, and he did not intend to effect the slightest alteration in the law as laid down by Mr. Justice Fitzgerald. If the right hon. Gentleman questioned what he (Mr. Gibson) was saying, he would make way for him; but he was speaking from his recollection. His hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General spoke at 875 the close of the debate on Friday, after the speech of the President of the Local Government Board; and the Attorney General stated that although he would apply himself to the difficult task of defining spiritual undue influence, ho wished it to be distinctly understood he had made no change in the substance of his opinion, and he did not intend to alter or to change the law. Well, more recently—within the last 10 months—the attention of the Government had been challenged to the passage in Judge Fitzgerald's speech in which those words occurred, in which it was set forth that it would be wrong for a clergyman to appeal to the fears, terrors, and the superstitions of his audience. Now, he begged the Committee to dwell for a moment upon these words; and he asked if it was intended to seek to qualify the word "superstition," and to use the Prime Minister's expression—sin, and the consequences of that particular sin? Was it intended also to qualify the clear words of Mr. Justice Fitzgerald—that it would be undue influence for a clergyman or for anyone to appeal to the fears, or the terrors, or the superstitions of an audience? Now, that was a clear question. That was one of the most marked passages of Mr. Justice Fitzgerald's Judgment. If he was told that it was intended to retain these words, he would then ask—how was it possible to retain such words, and, at the same time, give a grammatical and logical construction to the statement just now made by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister that the pointing out of the consequences of sin would not in itself constitute undue influence, because it might be that if they told a man he sinned, and pointed out the consequences of his sin, they would appeal to his fears, his terrors, and his superstitions, and they would come within the Judgment delivered by Mr. Justice Fitzgerald, which had been described as a broad and statesmanlike judgment. He would like to know, with something like precision, exactly how much of the Judgment of Mr. Justice Fitzgerald was now adhered to by the Government? Did they seek to strike out any word except sin; and did they still adhere to as much of the Judgment which he had particularly called attention to—namely, the appealing to the fears, terrors, and superstitions of an audience?
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir FARRER HERSCHELL)
said, they had had a good many questions directed to them, all of which they had endeavoured to answer. He thought now they had a right to ask the Opposition what they desired the law to be? His right hon. Friend the Prime Minister had distinctly pointed out what he considered would come within the clause now drawn. Supposing a clergyman of the Church of England said to one of his congregation, or to his congregation as a whole, that he honestly believed that if a member of his congregation voted for a particular individual he would be guilty of a sin. Let them take the case, for instance, of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), because one could easily see that there were some clergymen who would regard it as a sin to vote for that hon. Gentleman. They would say—" It is a sin; and for that sin you will have to suffer, as for all your sins." Did hon. Members mean that that ought to be made an offence? He (the Solicitor General) admitted, if it ought to be made an offence, they were not making it an offence by this clause. Personally, he did not consider that it ought to be made an offence.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
wanted to know why they (the Government) brought in their Bill? Why did they bring their Bill in last year, and state that after considering all the Amendments they were satisfied with it? They had had two years to consider their Bill, and now they were arguing against it, and not against any Amendment. The Prime Minister had now said that unless they inflicted some temporal injury upon a clergyman, that clergyman might denounce a man from the altar. All he (Sir R. Assheton Cross) could say was that, if they were going to alter their Bill in this way, it would be a long time before it passed into law.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir FARRER HERSCHELL)
said, when he rose a few minutes ago he reminded the Committee that the Government had answered a great many questions, and he put one question to the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir H. Assheton Cross). The right hon. Gentleman, however, did not get up and answer the question; but he rose and put another.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
asserted that he answered the question distinctly, 877 for he had argued that they ought to leave their own definition of the clause alone.
§ MR. EDWARD CLARKE
said, he did not want to trespass long upon the time of the Committee, because he was anxious to go to a division, and to vote in favour of the proposal of the Attorney General. It seemed to him that the discussion had a good deal wandered from the real question, which was, whether the words "temporal or spiritual injury" were to be included? If they were not, the whole matter was left at large. Personally, he was of opinion that some reference to spiritual injury should be put in the clause. He thought it was necessary to put it in, for the purpose of covering the refusal of the Sacraments of the Church, or a refusal of the advantages connected with membership which would be a threat, which a great many Judges would properly hold not to be a threat of temporal injury. A great difficulty was imported into this discussion, in consequence of the unfortunate Judgments of Mr. Justice Fitzgerald and Mr. Justice Keogh. He (Mr. Clarke) confessed that he did not think that these Judgments were strictly in accordance with law; and he considered that a great deal of difficulty had occurred here, in consequence of those Judgments being taken as part of the law. He was entirely agreed on this matter with his hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. Fowler), and with what he thought was the intention of the Prime Minister. It was perfectly idle to say that a minister of religion should not be able to tell his flock that it would be a sin to vote for a particular candidate. If a clergyman thought it was a sin to vote for a particular candidate, it was not only his right, but it was his duty to tell them so, inasmuch as he was responsible for the spiritual welfare of his flock. It was equally idle to say that a clergyman might tell his flock it was a sin to vote for a particular candidate, and yet not be allowed to tell them what were the penalties which, in his judgment, would follow. At the same time, if a clergyman exercised his own personal authority in the Church to which he belonged, so as to expose the person who disobeyed his will to the public stigma of being excluded from the advantages of the Church, then he would 878 be using pressure which could be reached by the law. On the other hand, he had sufficient belief in the beneficent influence of the Churches upon the minds, consciences, and actions of men, to prefer to leave undisturbed by any legislation the appeal which any clergyman of any denomination might make to what were termed the terrors, fears, and superstitions of men, but what were really the highest principles known as a guide of human conduct. Under the circumstances, he hoped the words "temporal or spiritual" would be retained. If they were omitted it would appear to him to be casting away all reverence for authority on spiritual matters. He should be sorry to see that authority disregarded; for he believed it to be for the general welfare of the world that the Church, in its spiritual sphere, should exercise the fullest authority over the minds and consciences of men.
MR. JOSEPH COWEN
asked the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General if he would define what he meant by indirect spiritual influence? Personally, he considered it absolutely impossible to define it. They did not legislate against superstition, but they tried to eradicate superstition by education; and if the Attorney General would define what he meant by indirect spiritual influence, then they would understand the matter. If he did not provide that definition, he left the question in the same state of uncertainty in which it now existed.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
said, there were two classes of spiritual influence used in this country—namely, the Nonconformist spiritual influence and the Roman Catholic spiritual influence. They, of course, all knew that spiritual influence in the Church of England was never exercised at all. He understood that this Bill was intended to strike a blow at the Roman Catholic spiritual influence, while it was intended to maintain Nonconformist spiritual influence; because the latter was the spiritual influence which always acted in favour of the Government, while the Roman Catholic spiritual influence was, as a rule, used against the Liberal Government. The Attorney General had pointed to the refusal of the Sacraments, to excommunication, and to other matters as specimens of undue influence. What about Churches which had no Sacra- 879 ments, and Churches which did not excommunicate? They would not be touched. It was a well-known fact that Nonconformists used their chapels for political purposes; but the Attorney General argued that preaching against any candidate was a fair and due exercise of spiritual influence. But he failed to see that there was any real difference in principle between cursing from the altar and cursing the pulpit. He (Mr. Stanley Leighton) could not regard this Bill otherwise than as a flagrant attempt of the Government to forward their own particular ends and aims.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, the Attorney General had placed them in a difficult position; and the position was shortly this—they had based their case all along upon the desirability of inquiring the definition of undue spiritual influence. The Attorney General appeared to meet them on that point, and said he would place in the Notice Paper an Amendment defining undue spiritual influence to-day. They saw that Amendment on the Paper; and he (Mr. Parnell) was informed by his hon. and learned Friends that the question of undue spiritual influence was left by the Amendment very much where it was before. The hon. and learned Attorney General, in the course of that evening, had admitted that the law with regard to undue spiritual influence would not be altered by the Amendment; and yet he absolutely appeared to represent, or to wish the Committee to believe, that it was offering them a concession to widen the definition, when, as a matter of fact, it was practically leaving the law exactly as it now stood. But when they pointed to the definitions of Sir Samuel Romilly Mr. Justice Fitzgerald, who were quoted with approval by hon. Gentlemen on the Government Benches, when they pointed out those definitions, and asked the Government whether, in view of those definitions, the Amendment would coincide with them, and with the Judgment of Mr. Justice Keogh, they were told by the Prime Minister and by the learned Solicitor General that it was not so. It was argued that a question of undue influence should not be complicated by any reference to sermons or speeches made by clergymen, in which they would hold out the perils of the future state, or use religious influence of this kind upon 880 their congregations. The Committee really wanted to know where they were? The Attorney General for England said the law was not altered by his Amendment, while the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister and the Solicitor General for England. maintained that the law would be altered, since the law would not be according to the Judgments already referred to. The Government, so far as the Prime Minister and. the Solicitor General went, agreed—that was to say, they agreed—with the Amendment which he (Mr. Parnell) should propose a little later on. If that substantial agreement had been arrived at, why should it not be placed upon the Statute Book, and so free the exercise of political rights and duties by clergymen of the Catholic Church in Ireland from the perils which surrounded it? He had. said that they did not adopt an unreasonable attitude in refusing to accept the concession of the Attorney General, which he admitted to be a concession with regard to undue influence from a temporal point of view; but which did. not affect the case from a spiritual point of view.
§ SIR HARDINGE GIFFARD
said, he wished to remind the Committee that it was distinctly understood that the Amendment of the Attorney General would be one of definition and not of alteration. Now, the two Law Officers of the Crown admitted that the law as expounded would be altered by this Amendment.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir HENRY JAMES)
said, he was sorry his hon. and learned Friend (Sir Hardinge Giffard) did. not give the Government credit for having endeavoured to make an improvement. The words complained of were "or in any other manner practises intimidation," and it was feared that injustice would be done in consequence of the vagueness of the words. It was now said. that the Government had stated that the law was not altered. If the words were to be construed strictly, it was not an offence to tell a person it was a sin to vote for a certain candidate. The exposition of the law was not the law; the law depended upon itself; they must look to the Statute itself, and see what the law was. The Government really believed they were adhering to the sub, stance of the law.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, that according to the view of the hon. and learned Gentleman it would not be an offence for a clergyman to state to an elector his opinion that voting for a candidate, under certain circumstances, would be a sin. But he went on to say that if the clergyman proceeded to denunciation the offence of undue influence would arise. But what was denunciation? The only answer they could get from the Attorney General was that it was what the Judge would consider to be denunciation. And there, again, they were referred back to the opinions of ex-Attorney Generals, whom Her Majesty's Government might, for Party purposes, raise to the Irish Bench. They were, therefore, in the same position of uncertainty as to the meaning of denunciation as they were before. The Committee ought also to remember that there were distinctions which should be borne in mind with reference to the interference of the Catholic clergy at elections. There were certain offences, certain sins, which by the law of the Catholic Church necessarily brought with them excommunication. For instance, a project of law confiscating Church trusts might, to its supporters, involve a sin of a charater which drew excommunication with it. Well, they had there a case in which advice to an elector on the part of a Catholic clergyman not to vote for a candidate who supported this project of law would be an offence of the kind. It would carry with it the penalty of undue spiritual influence, although the clergyman might make the declaration entirely without any collusion, and purely as a minister of the Church; but in that capacity he would disqualify the candidate for Parliamentary election, because it would be regarded undue influence in the mind of the Judge. Therefore, he said, that the whole difficulty with regard to spiritual influence remained; and he was afraid that if the Government persisted in refusing to accept any kind of Amendment to this part of the clause, Irish Members would be driven to the course of enacting greater guarantees in the case of the tribunals which would have to try these cases of undue influence. If the Government would not guard against the prejudiced actions of ex-Attorney Generals raised to the Bench in Ireland, why, then, at a later stage of the Bill, they 882 would have to oppose even more strongly the power to be conferred upon them; and they would have to insist that instead of a tribunal of two Attorney Generals raised to the Judgeship there should be a Court so constituted that the number of its members would afford greater guarantees for impartiality. Again, ministers of the various English Churches did not exercise, were not called upon by their religion to exercise, and were not empowered by their religion to exercise, the right which belonged to the Irish Catholic clergy; and, moreover, English Members of Parliament were not liable to be tried before a tribunal which was comparatively impartiality as compared with the tribunal before which Irish Members were to be tried; so that the scales on both these points were unfairly weighted as against Irish Members. Under the circumstances, it was obvious that the satisfaction which the Government denied to them in one part of the Bill must be sought at another. The words made use of by the Government, although apparently implying concession, would only lead to greater difficulties at the later stages of the Bill. For his own part, he considered that every enormity of the Keogh Judgment was just as possible under the Amendment as it was before. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) admitted that the term. "law" meant the interpretation of the law by the Judge; it meant, in other words, that the clause was open to any amount of interpretation and misreading by an Attorney General who had won his way to the Bench by violent partizanship.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, that the Amendment of the Attorney General had been framed in such a way as to include spiritual intimidation. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said, in reply to the hon. and learned Member for Launceston (Sir Hardinge Giffard)— "My Amendment adopts the words used in 1854 when the Corrupt Practices Bill was passing through the House." He (Mr. Leamy) was surprised to hear the challenge which came from the hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ DR. COMMINS
said, that the objection which his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork made to the clause was that undue influence was in- 883 terpreted in Ireland in a different way from that in which it was interpreted in England. He thought with regard to Ireland that he was right, after the admissions of the Attorney General and the Solicitor General, in saying that the Judgments of Judges Fitzgerald, Lawson, and Keogh were not only contrary to the intention of the Act, but contrary to common sense. If it was intended to create a new offence they were entitled to know what that offence was. Ho and his hon. Friends had pointed out, in the course of the discussion, that almost any declaration of opinion made by a priest in Ireland would be considered by the Irish Judges as undue influence. Now, the Attorney General had gone a good way to make a concession; he had eliminated one particular interpretation of the law which was objectionable—that laid down by Mr. Justice Fitzgerald. But he must say that the hon. and learned Gentleman had hardly made the matter any better, because he had retained the words "spiritual injury, harm, or loss." Would not the Judgment of Judge Fitzgerald in the Longford case, that of Judge Lawson in the Galway case, and of Justice Keogh in the other, all be appealed to as interpretations of spiritual injury. Every one of them could be so appealed to; and, therefore, all the difficulties which they were now trying to guard against would come up again under the interpretation of spiritual injury, harm, or loss. Undue spiritual influence, as interpreted by these Judges, was quite as objectionable as the definition of the offence they were now trying to get rid of. The Attorney General had promised something more definite; but up to that time Irish Members had obtained nothing of importance. He entirely dissented from the law as laid down by the Attorney General, who said that the Judgment of a Judge went for nothing in interpreting an Act of Parliament. He (Dr. Commins) thought it went for everything, and particularly in cases where there was no appeal. And he feared that, notwithstanding the concession which bad been made, the interpretation of the law as laid down by the Judges named would hold good. For these reasons they still proposed to get rid of this clause; and unless their point was conceded he feared that little further advance would be made.
§ M. CALLAN
said, he thought it was to be regretted that the question before the Committee, with respect to what was called spiritual intimidation, should be in the hands of the present Attorney General. It was most unfortunate, for the conduct of the question in an impartial spirit, that the Attorney General should have charge of this clause. On any other matter connected with the offences in the Bill—such as treating, bribery, and corruption—he should not have felt the same objection. With regard to spiritual influence, the hon. and learned Gentleman knew nothing except what he had learned from the Judgment of Mr. Justice Keogh. He referred the Committee to the speech made by the hon. and learned Gentleman on the 25th of July, 1872. on the Motion of the late hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) with regard to the Judgment of Mr. Justice Keogh. He found that the Attorney General then said—I charge the Roman Catholic clergy of the county of Galway that they, with plot and plan, with premeditation and consideration, determined to usurp and seize upon the representation of that county ….. and set at defiance the rules and ordinances of their own Church." —(3 Hansard,  1820–21.)A contest was now impending in Ireland, and to-morrow there was to be a meeting of priests at Monaghan, not as priests, but as electors, to consider the claims of the rival candidates. The Government had sent over the hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. T. A. Dickson) to secure the election of the Government candidate by means of this meeting of priests; and probably the Papal Envoy had furnished him with a number of Circulars for distribution at the same time. Now, what did the Attorney General say in 1872? He said—I complain, that men who are not electors should hold private meetings, from which the public are excluded, and at such meetings they, acting as clergymen and not as citizens, should combine to dictate to men who are electors how their votes should be given."—(Ibid. 1823.)And then the hon. and learned Gentleman went on to lay down that this was spiritual intimidation. Under the circumstances, he was not surprised to-day to hear that the Attorney General declined to give any definition of the term spiritual intimidation. But the Committee must judge of what his idea of the offence was by the speech to which 885 he was now referring. The hon. and learned Gentleman proceeded, in the course of his speech, eloquently to denounce spiritual intimidation at a meeting of what he called "this proud priesthood." He hoped the Monaghan priests would remember to-morrow what the Attorney General had said. He promised to pay great deference to the opinion of the hon. and learned Gentleman when they came to the question of bribery, treating, and corruption. But, with regard to the question immediately before the Committee, he again expressed his regret that it should have been placed in his hands.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 254; Noes 43: Majority 211.—(Div. List, No. 141.)
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he thought an Amendment he had to move would probably come in now before either that of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), or that of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Marum). The Amendment to which he referred was in the shape of a Proviso at the end of the section. He proposed to move the words—Provided, That spiritual injury, damage, harm or loss, under this section, shall mean excommunication, or withholding or refusing the rights or sacraments of any Church.
rose to Order. He wished to know whether it would not be proper for the words of the Attorney General to be first inserted in the clause? If that were done, the hon. Member would be in Order in moving his addition.
§ MR. RAIKES
said, he would ask the Chairman whether it was not the general practice of the Committee, when it was proposed to add words to an Amendment, to put the Question in this form" That these words be added to the Amendment? "It was competent for the Committee, if they liked, to consider such a proposal as a separate Amendment; but he wished to ask whether 886 it was not the general practice, when words were proposed as a rider or Proviso, to put them as a part of the Amendment?
I have not yet had the advantage of hearing the words; and, therefore, I am unable to decide the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he thought these words might be moved either as a Proviso or as a separate paragraph, as suggested by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Raikes). So far as he was concerned, he was perfectly ready to adopt whatever course was most convenient to the Committee.
§ MR. CALLAN
rose to Order. He wished to know whether, if the Committee accepted the Proviso, it would be competent for any hon. Member to move an Amendment after the words "temporal or spiritual" upon which they had just divided? Anyone who had an Amendment to move to the clause proposed by the Attorney General should direct attention to it before the addition of a Proviso was suggested. [Cries of "Yes!" and "Go on!"] Then he should wish to move, in line 7, to leave out the words "fraudulent device or contrivance," which was an extremely wide phrase. The Committee, so far, had received no explanation of what was meant by "fraudulent device or contrivance." He had known an invitation to be sent—in fact, he was free to confess that he had advised the sending of invitations—to parties at a distance to bring them out of the county in order that they might not vote, or be in the district in which the election was taking place at the time of the election. It was a hospitable device. In that way electors were taken upon a pleasure excursion. Some of them might have disease of the heart, and an excursion of that kind might save them from fatal consequences at an election. He wished to know what the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General meant by these words which he (Mr. Callan) proposed to leave out? The phrase, as he had said, was a very wide one, almost as wide as spiritual intimidation.
§ Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment, to leave out the words "fraudulent device or contrivance."— (Mr. Callan.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir HENRY JAMES)
said, that these words were in the Statute of 1854. They were in contradistinction to the use of absolute force. They were also in the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell).
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he should not so much object if these words were extended to the ordinary practices of life, or to many things that existed in that House. As hon. Members were aware, there were many things stated which were not the facts; and would they, he asked, penalize a candidate for telling an elector on the day of the election that his presence was required elsewhere —would they, for such a statement, penalize a candidate to the extent of never allowing him to sit for that constituency? He would put it to the Committee whether an offence of this kind was one deserving such heavy punishment? It would come to this—that they would incapacitate a man from sitting for a certain constituency merely for telling a lie. He should have no objection to the proposal if it were held that anyone sitting on the Treasury Bench who had ever told a lie should be incapacitated from sitting in that quarter of the House. To his mind, the offence of telling a lie on the part of an occupant of the Treasury Bench was far more serious than it would be in the case of a candidate; and it seemed to him that the Attorney General's explanation merely turned the Amendment into a farce. It was no use penalizing untruthfulness, which was an increasing sin everywhere. He did not know that that House was a striking exception to the rule. In public life, men holding official positions were held to be guiltless of personal untruthfulness if, in their official capacity, they stated that which, as honest gentlemen, they would not state in their private capacity; and yet for an untruth at an election a candidate was to be held incapable of ever representing a constituency again. It seemed to him that this clause should 888 be a warning to the occupants of the Treasury Bench.
§ MR. CALLAN
No; I shall have it negatived, because I consider these words an utter farce, unworthy of the common sense of the House.
Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he now begged to move to add these words—Provided, That spiritual injury, damage, harm or loss, under this section, shall mean excommunication, or withholding or refusing the rights or sacraments of any Church.It was stated some time ago by the Attorney General that in the view of some hon. Members these words applied to the Roman Catholic Church alone. That he (Mr. Parnell) denied. Refusing the rights or Sacraments of the Church of England was, he believed, an offence for which a person could sue for damages and recover them by law. It was an actionable offence, recognizable by the law of the land, and, therefore, was a case it would be proper to insert in the Bill. With regard to excommunication, that, of course, only applied to the Church of Rome; but the two provisions combined in themselves almost the entire Judgments of Lord Fitzgerald, Mr. Justice Keogh, and Sir Samuel Romilly; and, therefore, they were such as should recommend themselves to the Committee. They included all that the Government declared they had been contending for during the discussion on this clause—namely, that excommunication, withholding, or refusing the rights or Sacraments, or intimidation, or anything of that kind, should be punishable under the new Election Law. He hoped the Government would accede to these words, or some modification of them, and so close this discussion.
At the end of the proposed Amendment, to add the words, "Provided, That spiritual injury, damage, harm or loss, under this section, shall mean excommunication, or the withholding or refusing the rights or sacraments of any Church."—(Mr. Parnell.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be added to the proposed Amendment."
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir HENRY JAMES)
said, he had stated at an earlier period of the evening that he could not accept this Amendment. They 889 had avoided any definition of spiritual damage, harm, or loss, for the reason that by so doing they would be applying a different rule with regard to spiritual loss from that which they applied to temporal loss. Nothing could be more injurious, when they were defining a crime, than to state the means by which the crime could be committed. If they did define it some other means would be found for committing it, and thus the provision would be evaded. It seemed to him to be intended to apply to the case of the Roman Catholic Church. To his (the Attorney General's) mind, the words should be left in a general sense. The provision should apply to temporal and spiritual damage, harm or loss. He had made a concession to the hon. Member; and he, therefore, hoped the hon. Member would make a concession to him on this matter.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, he thought it was very right of the hon. Member for the City of Cork to propose some limitation of the words "spiritual intimidation." The Attorney General, on Friday, promised to bring up either a separate clause or a sub-section defining spiritual intimidation. He said that all other modes of intimidation were met by the Statutes in existence, and that he proposed to frame a definition of undue spiritual influence and bring it up in a new clause. Subsequently, the hon. and learned Gentleman promised to bring it up in a new sub-section; but he had neither done that nor brought up a new clause, but had proposed words as general and as vague as the general words of the Statute of 1854. What was the argument used by the Attorney General to carry his own clause? That by the general words he meant intimidation, harm, loss, and damage by withholding the Sacrament of the Church, or by excommunication; and he said that the Judgment of Mr. Justice Fitzgerald was, in his opinion, not the law, and that under the present clause as framed by him no Judge would decide the law in that fashion. He gave that as his opinion; but he said he would not be answerable for any Judge deciding in the same sense. If his general words spiritual intimidation, spiritual damage, harm, or loss were confined, according to his own construction, to excommunication or refusal of the Sacrament, why 890 did he refuse to explicitly add these words to his sub-section, in order to prevent Judges from giving decisions differing from the opinion he had expressed? He had induced the Committee to come to a particular conclusion by stating that his words were capable only of a particular construction; and now, when he was asked to put that particular construction at the end of the clause, he refused. Upon what argument? Because, he said, the temporal injury, loss, and harm were not defined, and, therefore, it was not right that the spiritual injury, loss, and harm should be defined; but he admitted that temporal injury was measurable, but spiritual injury was not measurable. And the hon. and learned Gentleman had himself proposed to measure it by the two cases he had said his words were only co-extensive with—refusal of the Sacrament or excommunication. What other loss was there? He said there was no other. Then, if there was no other, what analogy was there between temporal loss, which was measurable, and spiritual loss, which was not? It seemed to him that the argument was an argument against the Attorney General. Unless these words were added there would be injustice done, and the Committee would have been misled in coming to a particular decision upon the former Amendment; and he thought the Committee ought to insist upon the Attorney General's argument being inserted in positive and distinct words.
§ MR. KENNY
said, he thought it was desirable to insert some words in this clause to prevent its being left, as it would be left if there was no Amendment, to the Judges to decide what was or was not spiritual harm, damage, or loss. It was, he thought, almost impossible for any ordinary man to decide what was the amount of spiritual harm or loss. It might be interpreted by one Irish Judge that if a priest told his parishioners that certain consequences would follow upon the side they took in an election, that might mean spiritual harm or loss; so that, unless there was some clear definition of what was spiritual intimidation, there would probably be hopeless confusion in regard to deciding Election Petitions in Ireland. Decisions of Irish Judges had been raked up in that House. It had been stated that the decision of 891 Mr. Justice Fitzgerald in the Longford case was a statesmanlike decision; and, at the same time, the hon. and learned Member had said he disagreed with the decision of Mr. Justice Lawson in the Galway casa. But nearly all the decisions by Irish Judges had been personal decisions—decisions entirely prompted by personal feeling, and the circumstances which had surrounded their own cases. Mr. Justice Fitzgerald took care, in his decision, to point out that a priest possessed, and had a right to exercise, certain influence; but it should be borne in mind that that Gentleman, who was then a Judge, was at one time a candidate for a Parliamentary seat. He represented for a number of years the constituency which he (Mr. Kenny) now represented (Ennis), and he had secured his election by going round and offering a certain inducement to the then priest of Ennis. That inducement was certain and specific, and it was interesting, because it showed that even at that time he had an eye to business. He offered to the priest £500 to be given to the Church if he was elected without a contest, and £300 if there was a contest ! It was no wonder that that Gentleman, who secured his seat by gaining the influence of the local clergy, when he obtained a seat on the Bench—and mainly because he had secured that seat—
I must point out to the hon. Member that that is not the Question before the Committee.
§ MR. KENNY
said, he was pointing out that it was no wonder, when Mr. Justice Fitzgerald had secured his seat as he had, he should say that the priest had a right to exercise certain influence, knowing well that that sort of thing had been exercised in his own case. If that was the habit of Irish Judges of this class—men who had been elected to that House in nearly every instance, and who had been political partizans, and had derived benefit from the influence of priests —it was necessary to take precautions to protect the Irish priests against capricious decisions of such men. The three Irish Judges who had been appointed to consider Irish Election Petitions were Gentlemen who had been at one time strong politicians. One of them had sat in that House, and the other two had tried to get into the House, and were only beaten by the opposition of the 892 local clergy. He questioned very much whether those Gentlemen were the best judges of what constituted undue influence by the clergy, considering that they had been intimately mixed up in. political matters and struggles during some portion of their career. He would, therefore, urge on the Attorney General that if he wished to prevent repetitions of offences such as had occurred in Galway, and to prevent unfair arid unjust decisions which would cause dissatisfaction and heart-burning in Ireland, it would be necessary for him to accept an Amendment such as that proposed by the hon. Member for the City of Cork, which defined the offences for which clergymen of the Catholic Church, or any other denomination, would be liable to penalties.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he thought the speech of the Attorney General was strongly in favour of this Amendment. He had pointed out, first of all, from the lawyer's point view, that it was desirable to have the words as plain as possible, which meant that they should cover all sorts of undefined offences. That seemed to him to be a very strong reason why this Amendment should be agreed to; because, as this was a Bill of a very penal nature, and the provisions of this clause were of a very severe character, it was desirable that the offences should be very clearly defined. But the hon. and learned Gentleman had also said that there should be no distinction between temporal and spiritual injury. That seemed to be an exceedingly weak argument. As had been pointed out by the lion. Member for Limerick County (Mr. Synan), temporal injury could be easily proved to demonstration; but with regard to what was called spiritual injury, it was impossible to arrive at any decision. Therefore, unless something was clearly laid down, as proposed by the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, no one could possibly be safe under this particular clause. The most innocent words spoken by any clergyman of any Church might be held by some Judge, who was more or less prejudiced, to bring him within the clause. For these reasons he hoped the Committee would be guided by the dictates of common sense and reason with regard to this Amendment, and would not be carried away by prejudice or 893 Party feeling, but would decide according to the merits of the case.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 23; Noes 161: Majority 138.—(Div. List, No. 142.)
At the end of the proposed Amendment, to add the words, "Provided, That the exercise of any moral jurisdiction in the performance of any duty or in the fulfilment of any function as a minister of religion by any clergyman of any form of religion or religious belief shall not be deemed undue influence within the meaning of this Act."—(Mr. Marum.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be added to the proposed Amendment."
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Amendment put, and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again." — (Mr. Weirton.)
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir HENRY JAMES)
said, he felt himself very much in the hands of the Committee on this matter; but he would ask that they should be allowed to conclude the clause before Progress was reported. He would remind the Committee that they had not commenced on the Bill until half-past 8 o'clock.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
reminded the Committee that on Friday last the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) had moved to report Progress, and had intimated, in the course of a long speech on the subject, that the Amendment he had to propose was one which it would take some time to consider.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he hoped the Committee would not continue discussing the question whether or not they should go on.
§ MR. BIGGAR
complained of the course of proceeding adopted in regard to the Bill. Either Amendments were hurried through without discussion, or a squabble took place as to whether or not there should be an adjournment. To his mind, the proper course would be to adjourn without discussion. They should never go on with a Bill like this after 1 o'clock in the morning unless there was reason for it.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, he did not know whether it would meet the views of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire to do on with his Amendment to-night. If he did not intend to make a long speech upon it, perhaps it would be as well for the hon. Member to bring forward his Amendment as he was present.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that to ask him to enter into the subject-matter of his Amendment at that hour and in an exhausted House was scarcely reasonable. Many Members with whom he had spoken on this subject agreed that it was a matter well worth consideration. The fact was, he wished to prevent the decision of very great questions being virtually taken out of the hands of the House.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he hoped the Committee would endeavour to dispose of the clause. There was very little to be done upon it. The clause had occupied them now two days. [An hon. MEMBER NO; three days.] Yes; three days. The hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) was of opinion that the Government should always agree to an adjournment at 1 o'clock; but they might very well sit a little later now, seeing that the hon. Member seemed willing to go on with his Amendment.
§ MR. ONSLOW
said, that after the observations of the Home Secretary he hoped the Committee would refuse to go on with the Bill any longer to-night. The right hon. Gentleman said this clause had occupied three days. Well, whose fault was that? It was clearly the fault of hon. Members opposite, who had not known their own minds for two minutes together. They had given way to the hon. Member for the City of Cork against the wishes of Members who sat on the Conservative Benches; and now they wished the hon. Member for North Warwickshire to proceed with his Amendment on a subject that that hon. Member and many of his Friends took great in- 895 terest in. He (Mr. Onslow) hoped the hon. Member would do nothing of the kind.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he understood the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire was worthy of great consideration; and he (Sir R. Assheton Cross) would not go against him. As for three days having been occupied by the Amendment, what had fallen from the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow) was most true. If the Government had stood up for the clause as originally drawn it would have been passed long ago.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he saw the Committee was not inclined to attend to the subject he wished to bring before it; therefore, he would seek other opportunities during the discussion of the Bill to bring the matter forward.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he did not know whether the Committee was disposed to agree to the withdrawal or not; but he objected to the Home Secretary putting words into his mouth that he never used. His contention was that, unless there was some special reason to the contrary, a Motion for Adjournment should always be agreed to at 1 o'clock. In the present instance the Motion for Adjournment was made after 1 o'clock.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 41; Noes 97: Majority 56. — (Div. List, No. 143.)
§ MR. LEWIS
really thought the Government ought not to press them to go on further that night. There were several Amendments to be disposed of; and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Launceston (Sir Hardinge Giffard) had, he believed, something to propose with reference to the clause itself. He begged to move that the Chairman leave the Chair.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Lewis.)
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he was afraid that, under the circumstances, it would be no use prolonging this contest. He was in the hands of the Committee. He did not see in his place the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Assheton Cross). He had at first encouraged them to go on, he had then disappointed them by saying that they 896 should not press the hon. Member for Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) to go on with his Amendment, and now he had disappeared. By a majority of more than 2 to 1, the Committee had expressed a desire to go on; but as discussions of this kind were apt to breed ill-humour, and they were more likely to make progress if they did not persist in going on with the Bill at this moment, he, for one, must decline the contest. If the hon. Member (Mr. Lewis) withdrew his Motion probably the Committee would agree to report Progress.
expressed disappointment at the failure of their New Rules on, probably, the first occasion they might have been put into force with advantage. He thought their New Rules had been adopted to put a stop to Obstruction; and ho was, therefore, very sorry to hear the Home Secretary say, in the face of the majority just given for the Government, that it was quite impossible to go on with the clause.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.