§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [5th April], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
And which Amendment was,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, being of opinion that the Bill, if it should become Law, will tend to increase disorder in Ireland, and to endanger the Union between that Country and the other parts of the Empire, declines to proceed further with the said Bill,"—[Sir Bernhard Samuelson,)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I confess I join the debate on this measure with very considerable repugnance. There are some wrongs that do not invite discussion. There are some insults which, if one cannot practically and effectually repel, it is better, perhaps, in self-respect, that they should endure in silence. This Bill is such a wrong, and it is such an insult to the people of Ireland, and as one of their Representatives, sprung from them, feeling with them, and hoping with them, I feel it to be, in a personal sense, a wrong and an insult to myself. This Bill, put forward by the self-styled promoters of the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland, is a Bill is to repeal in a sinister sense the Act of Legislative Union. The Union provided one Parliament for these two countries with the view that the Irish Members should have their share of influencing the councils of the Empire, and certainly with the view not less that they should have their full and legitimate share in the course of legislation in this House intended for their country. But this, Sir, is a Bill which ignores the Irish cause here—this is a Bill which reduces to a cipher the re- 1130 presentation of Ireland in this House. After this Bill has passed into law you will no longer have a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, but you will have a Kingdom of Great Britain and a Slave Settlement of Ireland. The measure, Sir, therefore, is one which I find it exceedingly difficult to discuss with the requisite patience and self-control. I also bear in mind that the Division to be taken in this House will not be a Division upon the merits of this Bill. The managers of the Liberal Unionist vote, the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), who had run away from this Division, whose hard crust and. self-conceit is probably pierced by the resolution of the "Birmingham Two Thousand," condemning the policy of the Government—these managers of the swivel vote which swings from one side of the House to the other, declared again and again that they will give no vote to drive the present Government out of Office—that they will give no vote the effect of which will be to admit the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) to power. The rejection of this Bill would drive the Government from power and admit the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian to Office; and, therefore, the Bill must be adopted, no matter how little cause there may be for its enactment, no matter what injury, confusion, what peril, and what crime it may cause among the Irish people. It is adopted, because in the opinion of two Gentlemen who control certain votes in this House, the rejection of the Bill would lead to the fall of one statesman from power and to the admission of another. A debate upon the Bill, which was not to be decided upon its own merits, but upon a different issue, is not likely to be an earnest and sincere debate. Moreover, we have to bear in mind that a large majority of the Members of this House were returned at the late Election upon pledges of "No coercion for Ireland." [Cries of " No, no!"] The hon. Member who objects is one of the Members who is precisely in that position, and if every man in this House who promised his constituents that he would not vote to impose coercive laws on the Irish people 1131 were to keep his word in the Lobby, this Bill would be rejected by a majority of 100. I wish to give the House, before I pass on further, an example of what I mean. I am sorry not to see in his place at this moment the noble Lord the Member for the Frome Division of Somersetshire (Viscount Weymouth). He initiated his canvass at the late Election by issuing a placard to the electors of Somersetshire. I shall read the terms of the placard—"Do you want justice to Ireland and no coercion? Then mark your ballot paper thus—" And the name of the Liberal candidate, Mr. Samuelson, appears in modest type opposite a blank square, and the name of the Tory candidate, Viscount Weymouth, appears in imposing characters with a large black cross against it. This was the way In which the noble Lord the Member for the Frome Division of Somersetshire obtained his seat in this House. This was the device by which he turned the majority of 700 against him at the Election of 1885 into a majority of 700 for him at the Election of last year. The noble Lord does not trouble himself about justice to Ireland now. He will vote for coercion to-night. [Cries of "No!"] I hope not. But while I express the hope, and trust that the noble Lord in any other walk in life would be sorry and ashamed to reap any personal advantage by such a trick as this, yet, at the same time, I am bound to say that when the majority in this House is largely composed of Gentlemen who give pledges like that to their constituents at the last Election, I feel that it is idle for me to attempt to argue with them. But, Sir, I am bound to remember that the Irish Members here stand no longer alone in their opposition to coercion. They are aided, Sir, by a statesman whose vast experience and profound political insight leave him without a rival. We are helped by the Liberal Party, or at least by every man of them who has retained the confidence of those who sent him here. We are cheered in our struggle daily more and more by the enthusiastic support of vast and increasing multitudes of the general people of Great Britain; and in view of that condition of facts, which is altogether new, we are bound to smother our own feelings, which would, I think, in many cases lead us to treat this Bill with silent contempt; and we are bound 1132 out of respect for that illustrious Leader, out of regard for that public-spirited Party, out of gratitude to the generous people who are supporting us throughout Great Britain—we are bound to rise in this debate and vindicate the stand we are obliged to make for the rights and liberties of our people. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) addressed the House on Friday night in a speech which, in one respect, was extremely acceptable to me. The hon. and gallant Member is the spokesman of a lost cause. He knows, he feels that it is a lost cause already, and he resorts to the very loud, the very vulgar, and the very shallow policy—when the merits of the cause opposed to him are too strong—to assail and vilify its advocates. His speech in this House on Friday night was a specimen of the tactics of despair. I wish to ask this simple question. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh acts always with a view to obtaining some political advantage. I ask the House what political advantage the hon. and gallant Member hopes to gain by passing over the merits of the question, whether crime prevails in Ireland, whether witnesses are intimidated, whether juries are afraid to convict— by passing over all the questions fundamental and essential in this case, and fastening himself upon a series of personal charges against the Irish Members? Suppose we, the Irish Members here, were driven by calumny and by insult in respect of which we could find no protection—suppose we were driven to resign our seats in this House—a contingency which is not impossible— the men who pretended to doubt that our presence here is the result of the last Election are the very men who are best aware of the fact that our places here, to the precise number of 85, would be taken in a week or two by men as deeply devoted as we are to the liberty of our country and as resolute in their assertion of it. If that were to come to pass, if we allowed ourselves to be replaced—Parliament having become the arena of calumny and insult—we should deem it to be our duty to go through this country from place to place, from town to town, from shire to shire—we should deem it to be our duty to come face to face with the British people, and ask 1133 them, as men to men, whether they credit the calumnies that are levelled and launched against us, and we should ask our accusers and calumniators if they dare to follow and meet us before the British people; and, Sir, when we had expounded before the people of this country the true state of the Irish case, and when we had made those generous people feel the infamous character of the tactics employed against us, when the next General Election was at hand the question of the propriety of the course taken by the hon. and gallant Member for Armagh is one which we would be willing to leave to their discretion and determination. The hon. and gallant Member, in the course of his speech, thought it decent to sneer at the courage of the Irish people. I hope if any Irishman puts his own courage to the test the quality would be strong enough. The courage of the Irish people stands on record in the words of the most illustrious of your generals—the courage of the Irish people is proved by the history of your Empire, and by the history of many a military state. It would take more than a Militia critic to cast doubt upon it. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, who is always more gallant in the absence of those when he attacks, was pleased to say of my hon. Friend beside me, the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), that he said in this House to the people of Ireland—"Unless you follow me to battle, I am off." What did the hon. and gallant Member say to his dupes in Belfast? He did not say— "Unless you follow me to battle, I am off;" but he said—"I am off anyhow, and you had better go to battle."
§ MR. SEXTON
That is as accurate> version of the conduct and speech of the hon. and gallant Member in Belfast as was his of my Friend the hon. Member for Mayo. The fact remains in proof that the hon. and gallant Gentleman, in company with the noble Lord beside him (Lord Randolph Churchill) last year excited the people of Belfast to enter into conflict with the armed forces of the Crown. The hon. and gallant Member has seen in this House no reason to deny it; and having done that he left the place and left the country. [An Irish MEMBER: Ran away.] And 1134 in the whole movement of the Land League, extending over years, a movement characterized on one side by heartless extortions and by cruel evictions to the number of many thousands, a movement characterized on the other side by utter desperation and despair, and that movement, which the hon. and gallant Gentleman is so fond of stigmatizing, cost far fewer people's lives in the whole of those years than were lost in throe months in Belfast by the bullets of the assassins among the dupes of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, whom, after he had excited to mad and criminal conflicts, he had the moral courage to leave to their fate. Sir, the hon. and gallant Member ought to avoid the subject of blood, and he ought to be very slow to talk of courage. On Friday night he made certain charges against Irish Members here; and, Sir, I must say that the qualification of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, his fitness for the post, is proved by his grotesque statement that he is sympathized with by 2,000,000 of Irishmen. There are only about 1,000,000 of men in Ireland; and if he is sympathized with by all the Irishmen in Ireland and 1,000,000 out of it, I fail to understand for one moment how a Coercion Bill can be required for the protection of himself and his friends. Now, let me say this of the Members who have been attacked by the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh. Every one of them is a man who has been engaged for several years in the struggle of public life. During those years we have incessantly maintained our public policy here, and continued our movements in Ireland without pause. During three of those years and more the most drastic Crimes Act ever passed was in absolute force in Ireland. During all those years, certainly during several of them, our letters were opened and read by the Government officials in their transmission through the post, our telegrams were scanned by official eyes before they were delivered to us, our steps were dogged from town to town and from county to county by detectives. On any day within the course of that whole three years any Irish Member, or any other Irishman, might have been summoned before a magistrate in his private room in Dublin or anywhere else in Ireland; he might have been interrogated upon oath; he might have 1135 been questioned as to any act or word of his life, or any man whom he had ever met, or any man who had ever met him might have been questioned in his regard; and, Sir, with what decency does the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh come forward to make these charges when it is a fact that every Irish Member maintained his place in Ireland during the three years of the Crimes Act, and when private inquiries were held to probe to the uttermost any question of criminality or criminal knowledge existing in the country, not a single Irish Member was either summoned, or as far as I have heard, interrogated by a magistrate? The Government had a very ready way of dealing with cases of suspicion. If they had had a particle of evidence against any Member of this House, they might have put him forward for trial, not before a jury of his own countrymen, but with three Judges for a jury. And after that time of stress and trial had ended, and when Lord Spencer came to England, he, the administrator, the most bold, the most able, and most persistent England has sent in modern times to Ireland—when he returned to England—the man who had the secret springs of administration in his hands, who knew the innermost secrets that all the investigations could give—he returned to England disgusted, as he was, and as he must have been, at the base and wanton calumnies for public ends flung against us in the public Press of this country. By his own motion and of his own accord Lord Spencer came forward and made two public speeches, in which he declared from his official and the unrivalled fulness of his experience that it was absurd and false to charge the Irish Members here, or any Irish Member, with criminality or criminal knowledge. Lord Spencer on Saturday last repeated his testimony. He was exceedingly glad, he said, the matter had come about in the House, as he had himself declared, from official experience, that it was absolutely untrue any Irish Representatives were the associates of murderers. Sir, I would add one other remarkable piece of testimony, that of the one member living who, next to Lord Spencer, is entitled to speak with authority and be heard with respect on any question involving the investigation of criminality 1136 or criminal knowledge in Ireland—Sir George Otto Trevelyan, and Sir George Trevelyan explains what he calls the success of the Crimes Act of 1882 by the fact that Lord Spencer laid down two principles, from which during the years of his administration he never swerved. The first of these was to draw a deep and clear line between politics and crime; to punish housebreakers, Moonlighters, murderers, and criminals, and to leave politics alone; and he adds, "over and over again we refused to do what was called, 'putting down the National League.'" Well, Sir, you will not leave the politicians alone. The present Government will not leave them alone. The present Government will induce criminals to run rioting, but they will put politicians down; and, Sir, I wondered on Friday night if the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh when he was referring to me making charges which amounted to nothing less than direct complicity with crime, if he knew at the beginning of the year this Viceroy appointed, by his Government conveyed to me the Queen's appointment of High Sheriff of the City of Dublin. My hon. Friend reminds me that the hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) was also referred to, and that he had been selected to serve upon a Royal Commission. These facts show that in serious, sane, and sensible minds no weight whatever is attached to the charges which have been made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman against the Irish Representatives. His first charge, Sir, referred to the executive of the Land League, and I shall quote his words—Among these seven shining lights is the hon. Member for Cork himself, the hon. Member for West Belfast, and later on, the Member for East Donegal. Then there were—and he asked the special attention of the House to this—Mr. Patrick Egan, Mr. T. Brennan, Mr. Michael Boyton, Mr. P. J. Sheridan. If hon. Members had a piece of paper and wrote opposite the names 'M' for murderer and 'T' for treason, they would understand the character of these associates of the hon. Member for Cork on the Executive Council.["Hear, hear!"] Yes, I am about to deal with the accusation—He did not accuse the hon. Member for Cork and his Friends who sat opposite in that House, with over having embrued their hands with blood, but he did accuse them with having associated with men whom they knew to be murderers.Now, Sir, in the first place, I shall take 1137 the allegations which are false, or if that be an un-Parliamentary expression, I shall take the allegations which are untrue, in the order in which they are made. It is asserted that Mr. Michael Boyton was a member of the Executive Council of the Land League. He never was a member of the Executive Council. Mr. Michael Boyton was merely for a short time one of the numerous staff of agents for the League, and I am at a loss to understand why the name of Mr. Boyton has been mentioned. You, Sir, informed the hon. and gallant Member that this was a matter of debate, and in debate we might reply to it; and you pointed out to the hon. and gallant Member that his duty was to try and substantiate his charges, and I am hero to say and prove that not only did he fail to substantiate those charges, but he made no rational effort to substantiate them. After the reference to Mr. Boyton in his speech, the hon. and gallant Member never again made mention of his name. Why did he not proceed to make grave charges against Mr. Boyton? I have seen Mr. Boyton within the precincts of this House up to within a year ago, up to the time I know he lived in London still, a constant visitor to the House, and for all I know he may be living in London still. [Cries of "He is."] I am told he is a householder in London still, and I must say if I was the householder, I would make it very unpleasant for the hon. and gallant Gentleman. Mr. Boyton is actually on the ground at the present moment, and after three years of private inquiry in Ireland since the evictions alluded to by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, Mr. Boyton is ready to answer any charge against him, and no charge has been made or hinted, as I understand, until the hon. and gallant Gentleman spoke in the House. How will he make good to Mr. Boyton the grievous wrong and injury he has done him? I pass from the case of Mr. Boyton, and not a word—not a syllable—has passed from the lips of the hon. and gallant Gentleman to make good these horrible accusations. I come to the case of Mr. P. J. Sheridan. The allegation of the hon. and gallant Member against that gentleman is the second falsehood with which I have to deal. Mr. P. J. Sheridan was never a member of the Executive Council of the 1138 League. He was for a time one of the numerous staff of agents of the League; but why did the hon. and gallant Gentleman mention the name of Mr. P. J. Sheridan? Did the hon. and gallant Member in mentioning Mr. Sheridan's name intend to include as the associate of murderers the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel King-Harman) who had managed to defeat him in the struggle for the post of Under Secretary for Ireland, because Mr. Sheridan had been the political associate of that hon. and gallant Gentleman. Mr. P. J. Sheridan canvassed for the present Under Secretary for Ireland. [Cries of "When!"] You will hear when by-and-bye. What does "when" matter? The principle of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh is this, that if you ever at any time associate with a man for any public purpose you are responsible for everything that man may say or do up to the moment of his death. I think it is ample enough to be responsible for anything a man may do with your knowledge and consent while you are in association wish him; and I think, Sir, if the principle is to be laid down that you are responsible for what a man did before your association with him, that it would be a principle against which the present Government would protest, because it would be extremely unpleasant for them to be responsible at the present time for the chequered career of the Under Secretary for Ireland. Mr. P. J. Sheridan was at one time a political agent of the present Under Secretary, and I am assured, on what I consider excellent authority, that the Under Secretary and Sheridan canvassed a western constituency together, and were evidently the best of friends. [Cries of "When?"]
§ MR. SEXTON
I hope that "When" is quite satisfactory. Now, Sir, I have named two falsehoods. I have shown, and shall be able to prove at any moment, that Mr. Boyton and Mr. Sheridan were never members of the Executive Council of the League. In point of fact, when I, at the request of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, after the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) had been imprisoned under the Crimes Act, when I went to Dublin, at the beginning of May, 1882, to 1139 take charge of the Land League, my memory is that Sheridan and Boyton had been put in prison before that time. [Cries of "Yes, yes!"] They were the first arrested under the secret Act of Mr. Forster, therefore the connection of these gentlemen with the active working of the League ceases at an early date. Next I come to Thomas Brennan and Patrick Egan. Thomas Brennan and Patrick Egan were secretary and treasurer of the League and were members of the Executive Council. With respect to Egan, let me say he was not only a political associate, but an intimate friend of the new Under Secretary for Ireland (Colonel King-Harman). Before I pass from the came of Mr. P. J. Sheridan, let me say with regard to political association that the first time I ever saw him was at a public meeting in Sligo in 1879, when he endeavoured to prevent me addressing an audience. The next time I saw him was accompanying a deputation of electors at the town of Sligo to endeavour to induce me to retire from my candidature, and I declined to do it and was elected. And the third fact I have to state in connection with him is that when I was returned his house was the only house in the town of Tubbercurry which was not illuminated. My hon. Friend reminds me that the present Under Secretary for Ireland was my opponent on that occasion. Of course, Sir, I am not in a position to say whether any old affection, due to long association, was the cause of the abstention of Sheridan from joining in the manifestations which were made at my return. Mr. Sheridan was a man of fairly good education—he was a man who was educated for the Church—he had a good social position in the County Sligo, and it would have been rather difficult for a man to have taken part in public life in the West of Ireland without meeting Mr. Sheridan. With regard to Mr. Egan, he was known and esteemed for many years as one of the most respectable citizens of Dublin. He was known to be a man of exemplary character in every relation of life, and he took so active and energetic a part in the affairs of the country as even to take part in public affairs, and not to know him would be as easy as to hold a seat in the Corporation without knowing the Lord Mayor. Mr. Egan and the new Under 1140 Secretary for Ireland were fellow-members of the council of the Home Rule League. [Cries of "Where is he?"] Oh, he is engaged in the discharge of his Departmental duties. This was at the time when the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Under Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant was one of the hon. secretaries of the Home Rule League. Patrick Egan and he fought together in many a political enterprise. Mr. Egan was his confidential financial agent in one of his numerous elections. Mr. Egan was the gentleman who wrote for him his political addresses to the electors, and Mr. Egan is a gentleman who can testify with respect to a certain election that the present Under Secretary contributed a considerable sum of money to the funds of a secret society which supplied physical force for the hon. and gallant Member at his election, and which distinguished itself at the same time in various other ways which would form ample material for a diatribe from the Bench by Mr. Justice Lawson. Now I ask the question of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh which side of the House is deepest in this association with Mr. Patrick Egan—the Government or ourselves? The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Saunderson) states that a committee of the Land League was formed in Dublin, of which certain gentlemen whose names he has mentioned were the chief officers, and that P. J. Sheridan, a notorious murderer, was the intimate associate of the hon. Member for West Belfast, and the hon. Member for Cork was at the head of the operations of that committee. The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh then added they ought to have known that he was a murderer. It was made pretty plain subsequently, for a true bill was found against him for complicity in the Phœnix Park murders, and he had to fly for his life. Mr. Egan was the treasurer of the Land League after that; the hon. Member for Cork was put in gaol, and the Land League was suppressed. Now I will convict the hon. and. gallant Gentleman of an act which I shall find it hard to characterize. He conveyed to the House in the extract which I have read that the finding of the true bill against P. J. Sheridan and his leaving the country were previous to the suppression of the Land League. Sir, the Land League was suppressed by 1141 the Proclamation of the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Cowper, in October, 1881. My hon. Friends on either side of me (Mr. Parnell and Mr. Dillon), myself, and many others were imprisoned a few days before the Land League ceased to exist, and with it ceased the Executive Council of the Land League. The Phoenix Park murder, which as I understand was solely a question in the speech of the hon. and gallant Member, occurred in the month of May, 1882—eight months after the suppression of the Land League. The true bill against P. J. Sheridan was found in the year 1883; and, whilst I do not purpose for the moment to say how far the finding of the Grand Jury, after hearing only one side of the case against a man who had been an active political opponent, can be relied on as any satisfactory evidence of guilt, I would wish to point out the grotesque absurdity of the position of the hon. and gallant Gentleman in blaming the Executive Council of the Land League, which ceased to exist in October, 1881, for not having known that a man was a murderer in respect of a crime committed in May, 1882, and in respect of which a true bill was found in 1883.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
Perhaps I may be allowed to explain. I blamed certain members of the committee. I did not blame the committee at large, and I pointed out that the hon. Member was associated with Patrick Egan in America afterwards.
§ MR. SEXTON
Yes, certainly. I have not up to the present moment ascertained any fact entitling me to change the opinion I have always held of Mr. Egan, or leading me to regret that I was associated with him. The hon. and gallant Gentleman held members of The Council responsible for sitting with a man who never was a member of the Council and for associating with him months and years before the committal of the crime, and the finding by the Grand Jury of a true bill. I altogether object to the theory that men in public life, whose associates are imposed very often by circumstances and not as the result of choice, and who are bound to associate with tens and hundreds, and thousands, and tens of thousands of men 1142 —I object altogether to the theory that they are to beheld responsible for whatever any of these persons might say or do at any time without their knowledge, their cognizance, or their consent. It was said by the hon. and gallant Gentleman that Mr. Egan and Mr. Brennan were associates of The Phœsnix Park murderers. By what authority has that statement been made? You, Sir, have very rightly pointed out the duty of the hon. and gallant Member. You have pointed out that he was permitted to introduce those topics into the debate upon the condition that he substantiated his charge. He made no attempt to do so. He said nothing to prove that either Brennan or Egan was implicated in that lamented crime. The hon. and gallant Member said that Sheridan was a murderer, that a true bill was found against him, and that he had to fly for his life. The inference was that Mr. Sheridan fled after a true bill was found. Mr. Sheridan, I had always understood, had left the country and gone to America long before. The hon. and gallant Gentleman labours under a lamentable natural incapacity to make an accurate statement on any matter of fact. [Colonel KING - HARMAN here entered the House and took his seat on the Treasury Bench.] I am sorry that The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Under Secretary should have been absent and not heard texts from the biographies of some of his old and valued friends. I pass to the next statement of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh—That the hon. Member for West Belfast himself went over to America, and had the pleasure of seeing Patrick Egan, the former President of The American National League, elected President of the Clan-na-Gael, a murder association of America.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I withdrew that statement. When the hon. Member interrupted me on Friday and said it was not the case, I admitted that I had made a mistake.
§ MR. SEXTON
It may be convenient that I should inform the House what did happen in America. I went, at the request of the Irish Party, to attend as their delegate The Convention of the National League at Boston, held at the Faneuil Hall, a very famous hall—the hall in which the Americans resolved to throw tea into Boston Harbour. The 1143 Convention was attended by representative Irishmen from the Dominion of Canada, and from every State and Territory of the Union. There were several hundred delegates, including Judges, barristers, men in high commercial and professional positions, and clergy. The whole of those proceedings were open to the public, every word was reported in the Press, and at that Convention, in my presence, Mr. Egan was elected, by an unanimous vote, President of the National League of America. Was that the occurrence which the hon. and gallant Member grotesquely converted into the presidency of a murder association? The hon. and gallant Gentleman himself must see that he has lost all ground for the serious accusations which he has made. I believe the Clan-na-Gael is one of the Irish associations in America; but my knowledge of it is limited to what I have learnt from the public Press, and whether Egan was ever connected with it is more than I can say. But I do deny, and I believe it to be absolutely false, that any single association of Irishmen would be guilty of any act or of any word which could by the most frantic distortion bear any such interpretation as to justify its being called a murder association. So far, then, the denials of the hon. and gallant Member appear to have come to nothing. The hon. and gallant Gentleman then referred to another incident. He spoke of a supper which he alleged to have taken place in 1884, I can only repeat what I stated on Friday—that I never heard of such a supper. I do not believe that such a supper was ever given; I do not believe that Mr. Egan ever attended it; and whatever may have been the character of the occurrence— if it ever took place—I say that the incident is not relevant to the charges which have been made. As an instance of the absurd animus of the hon. and gallant Member I may notice that, having first spoken of the supper, he said—"After that it was decided to present Mr. Egan with a service of plate," and he gave the names of the Chairman and Vice Chairman, and of the hon. Member for East Mayo, and others, as having subscribed to that service of plate. Sir, that service of plate was the result of a public movement in Ireland at the time when Mr. Egan made up his mind to transfer his home 1144 to America. [Ministerial laughter.] Well, Sir, I think there was nothing questionable in the choice he made, because at that time the Crimes Act was in force in Ireland, and the man had held a leading position in a Constitutional movement in regard to which he might have been worried and interrupted and imprisoned, and his business ruined and his health endangered; in these circumstances I think common prudence dictated his removal. The testimonial was presented at that time, but it was subscribed for two years before the date of the alleged supper. There we have an instance of the mean and cowardly tactics that are resorted to by the Party of the hon. and gallant Member mixing up dates, and by placing incidents in apparently consecutive order with incidents that had occurred some time previously. I ask the House does a rag of the case made by the hon. and gallant Member remain? Has he in a single case substantiated his charges—that with regard to two of these gentlemen they had been members of the Executive of the League, and with regard to the other two that there was any evidence that they had been engaged in crime? Sir, the whole contention is absurd. I know that since I came into Parliament, six years ago, it has been the practice, on the part of a section of the Press of England, to attack and calumniate the Irish Party. I have paid no attention to these calumnies; I have never troubled myself even to read them. I know they are disseminated for base political ends, without any regard for truth; and whether these calumnies in the Press take the shape of a deliberate lie, or the later shape of a base, manifest, clumsy, and malicious forgery —an act of moral murder worthy of capital punishment—whatever shape these calumnies in the Press may have taken, my personal part has been never to pay any attention to them. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] I am speaking now of my personal part—I am speaking for no one but myself; and I have never paid any attention to them, because there are only two ways open to meet them. It having been held that the Members of this House have no remedy in the House for aspersions on their character, there are two ways to meet calumniators—you can only argue with a horsewhip or by an action at law. I do not think it 1145 worth while to take the former course; and in regard to the latter, I will leave it to unprejudiced minds in this House to say whether, in the present state of political feeling in England in reference to the Irish Question any Member here. [Interruptions and Cries of "Oh!"] Yes; one dissentient juror would do; and do you not think the Primrose League would be able to provide him. The Sheriff of the Old Bailey could call a jury at his own discretion. Put it to any rational man whether an Irish Member who, in a time of profound political excitement like this, brought an action for libel before an English jury. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] I have no doubt in the world that if the hon. Member who says "Oh" were on the jury he would supply the dissentient juror. I say that any Irish Member who did that would be voluntarily lending himself to an elaborate farce, which could, of course, have only one result; but here it is a different thing. Charges of complicity in crime are made in this House in our presence. I have replied to-day to the charges that were made. I shall never do so again while I continue to be a Member of this House. Never shall I stoop to analyze in detail any such further charges; but, Sir, if it be a fact that the law of this House allows charges of personal crime and complicity with crime between Member and Member to be made matter of debate; if it be a fact that language can be employed on the floor of this House between Member and Member which in any other country in the world, among men of any social grade, would lead to a deadly breach of the peace—if it is consonant with the law of this House that such language may be employed, and that it turns out, as it turned out to-day, that the responsibility of the Member making these unfounded charges is but an empty form, then I say for myself that I doom it to be the duty of any Member so attacked to see whether, in some manner or some form, his responsibility cannot be made real. Now, Sir, I have dealt, so far as I could go, with the charges of the hon. and gallant Member, and I pass to the consideration of the Bill. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has been inconveniently frank in reference to the object of the Bill. We have heard of the prevalence of crime; we have heard of the intimidation of 1146 witnesses; we have heard of the timidity of juries in returning just verdicts according to their oaths. Did the hon. and gallant Member attribute the Bill to any of these causes? No. To him the be-all and end-all of the Bill is that it will put down the National League. Does the hon. and gallant Member deny that he is not a more competent critic of Irish affairs than Sir George Trevelyan?
§ MR. SEXTON
Then, he does more credit to his modesty than his good judgment. Sir George Trevelyan attributes the success of the Crimes Bill of 1882 to the fact that by it a broad line was drawn between criminals and politicians, and that the Government did not interfere with the operations of the National League. The National League is not the only association in Ireland. Sir George Trevelyan, in his public letter, refers to another society that is in existence in that country. He refers to the Orange Society. The hon. and gallant Member opposite (Colonel Saunderson) is an ornament to the Orange Society. That society three generations since was baptized in blood, and has thriven on outrage. For three generations in Ulster that society has pursued a course of outrage with impunity, hedged round with Orange magistrates on the bench, by Orange juries in the box, by Orange partizans bearing the wand of the Sheriff and wearing the ermine of the Judge. Hear the language of Sir George Trevelyan in reference to the Orange Society—In the autumn and winter of 1883 the Orange Association raised disturbances of such a serious nature that law and order could he maintained only by armies of 1,200 or 1,400 soldiers and police. There is not the slightest doubt that if such a condition of things were to occur under those sections, all Orangemen, however eminent, who had taken part in transporting to the scene of action bodies of armed men would be liable, and, if there is any fair play in the world, ought to be liable, to be punished as common criminals. But the Government have effectually provided against the contingency by proposing to enact that The House of Lords may veto the action of the Lord Lieutenant.Yes, Sir, Ireland is to be made the happy hunting ground of the Orange Party. The Irish people are to be given over into the hands of two of the Order —one sitting on the Treasury Bench in this House and the other sitting in 1147 Dublin Castle. Sir George Trevelyan goes on to say—In one case 3,500 Orangemen wore brought from a distance by train, and there would have been something little short of a massacre of the people of the neighbourhood who had walked in to attend a perfectly legal meeting, if the commanding officers of the very large force of Her Majesty's troops and constabulary had not behaved with exemplary skill and decision.That, Sir, was The occasion when the Orangemen displayed their courage by dropping sackfuls of revolvers in their flight. Sir George Trevelyan goes on to say—The Attorney General for Ireland and The recently nominated Under Secretary for Ireland (Colonel King-Harman) took a prominent part in defence of these unwarrantable proceedings by which it was attempted, at any risk to The public peace and to human life, to defeat The resolution of securing fair play all round which Her Majesty's representatives had adopted. I have no ill-will, and much the opposite, towards Colonel King-Harman; but I cannot refrain from saying in the most emphatic terms which I can command that he and the Attorney General for Ireland are not the proper men to be councillers of The Lord Lieutenant, and to have themselves an amount of power over The liberties of their countrymen which far exceeds anything that can be imagined or believed by those who have not been behind the scenes of Irish administration.That, Sir, is the verdict passed publicly on the policy of the Government by one of the ablest public servants of the day—by the ex-Minister, who, next to Lord Spencer, knows most of the subject with which he deals. Ireland is to be given over to the hands of a blood-stained and unscrupulous faction, and you are about to put down the National League. What is the National League? Some of you are pleased to call it a criminal conspiracy. The National League, Sir, is the soul and strength of the struggling Irish people. It has the aid and the council of the prelates of the Church of the people—[Laughter from Mr. DE LISLE]—a church which I boldly say— although the only Catholic opposite laughs—there is no Gentleman in The House who derides the compliment I am about to pay the Catholic Church but the only Catholic opposite.
§ MR. DE LISLE (Leicestershire, Mid)
I rise to Order, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Gentleman says I have derided the compliment about to be paid to the Catholic Church, and I think I should be in Order in saying that the section of the Catholic Church—[Loud cries of "Order!" and "Question!"]
§ MR. SEXTON
I hope the hon. Gentleman's perceptions of theology are more just than his perceptions of Order. I again say that the National League has been aided and counselled by the Prelates of the Catholic Church in Ireland, and was about to add that the Catholic Church has, in various countries and under different forms of life, incessantly struggled to maintain the moral law and the stability of just Governments. The priests of the Catholic Church are the presidents and vice presidents of the branches of the League. The committees in towns are members of Municipal Bodies, and in the country districts Poor Law Guardians, the only elective positions your system of rule allows the Irish people. There are 1,500 branches of the League scattered, not in Connaught and Munster alone, but in Leinster and Munster as well, and I should think that the membership contains 500,000 men, while among its sympathizers are included the mass of the Irish people; and it is this great public organization, which is practically synonymous with the people of the nation, whose constitution is an open record and as public a document as any Statute of the Realm—it is this organization that you endeavour to stigmatize as a criminal conspiracy, maintained and counselled by traitors, murderers, dynamitards, and criminals. The League is maintained by the mass of the American people. I know that when I was in America myself, and addressed a public meeting in the Boston Institute, and the Chairman was the Governor of the State of Massachusetts—the Governor of a State with a population as large as that of Ireland—the Mayor spoke there, and the other speakers included Senators, Congressmen, and a number of the most distinguished public men of the district. Do you count as nothing the resolutions passed by the State Legislatures? And if you are determined to think little of the United States, have you no regard for the opinion and appeal of men of your own blood in Canada? We are mainly supported by murderers and dynamitards. Well, I should be 1149 sorry to hold the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh responsible not merely for the acts of the Orange Society, but for the acts of his own family. I should be sorry to hold him responsible for the acts of his own first cousin, who is president of a National League in America.
§ MR. SEXTON
Then if he is not a first cousin he is a second cousin. He is a cousin of some sort, because I have received indisputable authority, which I shall be happy to transfer to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, that this relative is a most prominent and irrepressible National Leaguer in America. I believe that every adult member of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's family, except himself, is a Nationalist. Sir, it is a contention so absurd that it will no longer gull even the most credulous of the English people that a League which has the sympathy and support of the great mass of two races—English and Irish—of the English-speaking people, is a criminal conspiracy supported by dynamitards. Sir Redvers Buller told you the truth about the National League. He told you that the people of Ireland assumed the National League to be their sole salvation, and you now propose to take that salvation away, and to throw the Irish people naked into the hands of their enemies. Sir Redvers Buller told you that the law in Ireland was the rich man's law, and until The League arose the people had no friend. Yet you propose to take away the people's only law and make the landlord's law supreme. There were 300 witnesses examined by the Cowper Commission, and of these only seven were police witnesses, four of them were magistrates, and three officers of police. I went carefully through the evidence of these seven men, and the impression their evidence left on me is this—the general current of their testimony is that the League in Ireland, so far from having instigated crime of any kind, was aiming to put down crime. One of the Commissioners, a gentleman who was irrepressible in his way, Lord Milltown, suggested it was the game of the National League to put down crime in Ireland. It is if you like the game of the League to put down crime in Ireland, 1150 but it is the game of the Government now to create crime. If you pass this Bill the Lord Lieutenant may proclaim as a dangerous society any society formed for the purpose of committing crime, the crime being anything punishable by the Act. A speech at a public meeting may be a crime. The Lord Lieutenant may proclaim any society that incites to intimidation. Now, what is intimidation? It is to put anyone in fear of injury to himself or to any one of his family, or anyone in his employment, or to put him in fear of any loss of income. If a society of tenants meet and demand abatements in their usual rents the Lord Lieutenant can proclaim that society, for any action they might take would undoubtedly put the landlord in fear of a loss of income. No society can exist for the purpose of relieving any grievance between class and class; no public speeches can be made for the purpose of exposing the grievances of any individual or a class; no paper can receive any advertisement or report calling attention to grievances or hardships without falling under The law of the Lord Lieutenant. Sir, the Bill takes away at one fell stroke all the cherished rights of the Constitution. It takes away the right of association. It takes away the right of personal freedom. It takes away the right of freedom of speech. It takes away The right of public meeting. It takes away the right of trial by jury. For what becomes of trial by jury under this Act? The Irish Law Officer of the Crown (the Attorney General) now walking down the floor of the House, that distinguished and learned Gentleman can take a man charged with any offence in any part of Ireland before 12 of his political enemies. The Bill retains the form of trial by jury, but it is rotten in substance. The two provisions of the Bill which I regard as mere dead cargo to be thrown overboard when we get into the stormy waters of Committee, are the provisions for the permanency of the Bill, and for the change of venue to England. In November of last year the Chief Secretary for Ireland described the condition of Ireland. The crime in December was not more than one-half of that in September. The facts were before the then Chief Secretary, when he declared that the state of Ireland left nothing to be desired. Moreover, is it not a fact that crime for the first quarter of the present 1151 year is less than the average for the last quarter of last year? If, then, the state of Ireland is satisfactory, I ask how can the Government initiate a policy of coercion in face of the diminishing bill of crime? You can not rely upon any change that has occurred between November and February, and you can not reasonably make a Coercion Bill permanent. The perpetual clause of the Bill cannot stand, and it will disappear in Committee. The provision for the change of venue will also disappear. Even if the provision with reference to the change of venue were retained the Government would never bring a man to London, because to do so would not be to place him on his trial but to convict him. [Ministerial cries of"No!"] Yes, to convict him. The change of venue would be a distinct intimation to an English jury to the following effect:—"I think this man ought to be convicted; I am unable to obtain a verdict in Ireland "—which was of course what the Crown desired—"and I depend upon you to give a verdict of guilty." This proposal to bring Irishmen to trial in England revives many bitter memories which most men ought to be glad to let die. In Scotchmen it revives the memory of Sir William Wallace, and of the insurgents of 1715 and 1745, who were torn from their native land and handed over to be hanged by the neck till dead under the form of trial by jury. In Irishmen it renewed the memory of the sainted Oliver Plunket, Archbishop of Armagh. The Irish Law Officer of the Crown of that day saw he could not get a conviction in Ireland, so he brought the Archbishop to London for trial, and the Archbishop pathetically appealed to Judges who knew nothing of him not to declare him guilty until they were aware of his antecedents. He pleaded for delay until his witnesses and records could be produced; but he pleaded and appealed in vain. He was cheerfully and willingly found guilty by a British jury, and was hanged at Tyburn.
§ MR. SEXTON
On the evidence, Sir, of two unfrocked and disgraced friars who bore the same relation towards the priests of the Irish Church as some Catholics to-day bear to its laity. The 1152 great Archbishop of Armagh was taken to Tyburn after the verdict of the English jury and was hanged. He was cut down alive, was disembowelled before death, was beheaded, was drawn and quartered. This was the result of the last trial of an Irishman taken away from Ireland to be tried before an English jury. I do not say I think the same may happen now. I think you would have to pack a jury, and I think you would do it. I am certain that you would pack a jury; I am certain that if you took the trouble to bring a man from Ireland, and pay the expenses of his witnesses and counsel, you would carefully pack a jury for a conviction. Packing juries is a very seductive art. Let the Law Officers commence to pack English juries for the conviction of Irishmen, and the conviction of Englishmen by packed juries in England is certain and sure to follow. There are great political movements looming up in England, there are privileged classes trembling for their position, and if Englishmen once allow the authorities to arrange for the commonest and the poorest of Irishmen an artistic jury at the Old Bailey, they will have allowed the insertion of the wedge that would rive the oak of their own liberty. I believe that Englishmen can see that this would be the result of your proposal. I am sure of nothing more than this—that the provision for the change of venue to England was introduced for the purpose of a display when we get into the stormy waters of Committee, for then we will have some public-spirited Liberal Unionist, like the hon. and learned Member for Inverness (Mr. Finlay), rising on this side of the House and protesting against the provision, and the Government gracefully giving way with a great parade of concession. I have said that this Bill is not due to anything in the current state of Ireland. It is not due to any prevalence of crime, for the Government have gone so far as to say that if even the amount of crime had gone down, the condition of the country might be worse. And I find that the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) has come to the logical conclusion that if crime disappeared in Ireland, the condition of the country may then be the most dangerous of all. The Bill is not due to Boycotting, for the Prime Minister 1153 has admitted that Boycotting could not be put down by law. My belief is that Boycotting, in its minor or major forms, is an irrepressible growth of public opinion engaged in defence of the public interest against an oppressive law. I have read in the evidence before the Commission that a man at a fair in Ireland refused to make a purchase because some individual winked at him. How can you indict a wink? That is a question for the Home Secretary to ponder over. We have heard that when a certain person entered a church that the congregation left to the last man. How can you prevent that by law? The hon. and learned Member for Inverness inquired in a former speech how the congregation became unanimous. He seems to find it difficult to understand unanimity on any question, considering that although he had Lord Lovat's carriages and a staff at his disposal, he was returned by a majority of only about 200 for his own constituency. I will state a fact which to a person of his distinguished attainments does not appear plain. It is a fact that persons in Ireland who facilitate evictions, who take evicted farms, who enable the landlords to raise the standard of rent, and stand in the way of poor men earning an honest living—it is a fact that on these there is a political unanimity of condemnation. I think the Home Secretary, as a Catholic himself, would find it difficult to persuade a congregation to remain at mass. These are typical cases that arise. The only way to deal with Boycotting is to obtain for the law the sympathy of the people, and when you do that then Boycotting of itself will die a natural death. I maintain, also, that there is nothing in regard to the conduct of juries entitling the Government to introduce this Bill. I ask the House to notice one or two remarkable facts in the Returns. I find that in the year 1881, when the ordinary law was in force, the convictions for agrarian offences in Ireland were only 1 in every 21 crimes committed. In the year 1882 the Crimes Act came into force. It was in force for half the year, and the convictions obtained from juries were only 1 in 24. I come to the last year under the ordinary law, and I find there was I conviction in every 16 crimes committed. Thus the ordinary law in regard to verdicts proved one-third more effi- 1154 cacious than the coercion law in getting verdicts from juries. That, I contend, is a final and conclusive fact. The object of this Bill, I repeat, is not to put down crime; but it is well expressed in a sentence which slipped inadvertently from the mouth of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said—We wish to pass this Bill in order to frustrate designs which would render nugatory our measure of land legislation.This is not a Bill in view of crime done in the past. It is not a Bill in view of intimidation or failure of justice in the present. It is a Bill of anticipation. It is a Bill for the condemnation of the people in advance. The Government have taken the leaf out of the book of certain Judges in Ireland, who, if the jury returned a verdict that displeased them, adjourned the whole of the Assizes for fear the rest of the cases might have an equally unsatisfactory result. The Government apprehend the policy of making a man bankrupt to save him from ruin. They apprehend the Irish people will not receive with gratitude a Land Purchase Bill to sell lands at a landlord's price. They want to secure in advance that there shall be no condemnation or united action, and that each individual tenant shall be placed at the mercy of each individual landlord. It would have been wiser had they tried their remedial legislation first—to have offered the Irish people such remedies as they were able to give, and then, if the difficulty arose in regard to law and order, to have resorted to coercion. I tell the Government the cruel and hypocritical policy of this Bill will fail. The Irish people will not move one inch from their present position. They are too firm now to be bullied, and too intelligent to be cajoled. If the National League is put down, they will combine in one form or another, owing to the necessity of the case. They will combine for reasons, stated by your own Commission, and cited by Sir Redvers Buller in his report, that the rents in Ireland are rents, that cannot be paid. When that is the case, it is necessary for the people to combine against them, and the day will come before long when you will discover the fatuity of the policy which condemned you to strike the Irish people, before you that came to their assistance. The majority in this House will, per- 1155 haps, be able to pass this Bill. [Ministerial cheers.] If hon. Members holloa now, they do so too soon. It is well not to holloa until you are out of the wood, and perhaps you are not out of it yet. If you pass this Bill you will pass it in defiance of your own speeches, in violation of your own pledges, in defiance of notorious facts, in opposition to the evidence of your own official witnesses, in face of the plea of urgency for the relief of the Irish people put before you by the Cowper Commission, against the will of the Members for Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and the body of the Liberal Members for England who retain the confidence of the people; you will pass it in the face of the unmistakable demonstration of hostility on the part of the British people themselves. The day that witnesses your fall from power will see this wretched Act fall dead beside you; and it is in that belief, in the belief that the Government have made certain their own ruin, that I say whatever may be the result of the Division to be taken to-night, that the eventual result of this Bill will be to make more firm the resistance of the Irish people to oppression; and the day of the fall of this Government will be the earliest day when the English people, in the exercise of their Constitutional power, will be able to avenge your treachery to them and to punish your tyranny to Ireland.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON (Lancashire, Rossendale)
Mr. Speaker, I am glad that, in response to what he has described as "the generous and spirited Party" which now supports a certain policy with regard to Ireland, the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) who has just sat down has been induced to break the silence which he says he would have preferred to maintain throughout this debate. It is somewhat remarkable that what the hon. Member now describes as "the great and generous and spirited Liberal Party" was described but a very short time ago in a document to which, I believe, he affixed his own name as "the most perfidious, the most venal, and the most contemptible Party" which had ever existed in this country or that ever governed the nation. I do not know whether the character which is now given to it by the hon. Member will be of any great value to Gentlemen composing that Party, when it appears that 1156 an entire change in the opinion of the hon. Member and his Friends can be won by a change of policy on the part of the Party in regard to a particular measure. I do not suppose the hon. Member and his Friends deny that when my right hon. Friend who sits near me (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) was governing Ireland under coercion, they thought they were doing their duty as conscientiously by that country as they do now when advocating measures of concession. But that consideration has no effect whatever on the minds of the hon. Gentleman and his Friends, and it comes to this, that when we are doing what they dislike they describe us as "venal and contemptible," and when we are doing what they like we are a "generous and spirited" Party. Now, Sir, I am glad that the hon. Member's deference to this "generous and spirited" Party has induced him to break silence, because we have heard to-night the defence which the hon. Member thinks necessary and sufficient to the charges which have been made against him and his Friends in this House, and we have also observed what is the attitude the hon. Member and his Friends think it necessary and becoming to take in regard to charges which have been made—not in this House. The House will remember the passionate indignation with which some charges were repudiated by the hon. Member and his Friends the other night. Well, Sir, denials, bare denials, of statements are not very infrequent among hon. Members who follow the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell). Last year I made a statement in a speech in the country with regard to the connection between the hon. Member for Cork and certain Fenian societies in America. The hon. Member, on the next day, through the public Press, contradicted the statement which I then made, and said that it was absolutely false. Parliament met almost immediately afterwards, and I anticipated that the hon. Member would have taken some opportunity of calling attention to the statement which I made, and which he described as absolutely false, and would have shown on what grounds he denied it, when I should have been prepared to state the grounds on which I made it. I thought I had the terms of the denial of the hon. Member with me; but, to the best of my recollection, it 1157 was to this effect. I stated that, through the Land League and through the National League, there had existed, and I believe did exist, a connection—I could not say how close or how intimate, but a connection and communication—between the Irish Parliamentary Party and the Fenian organization in America. That was the statement.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
The hon. Member denied, and still denies, what I had stated. Whatever else may be the effect of statements that have recently been made, whatever other importance may be attached to them by hon. Members of this House, the statements that have lately appeared in The Times newspaper, which have been widely circulated, absolutely and to the letter justify every syllable which I then stated, and which has been denied by the hon. Member. The hon. Member said, in the same contradiction, that, except through the public Press, he knew nothing about who were the Fenian leaders in America. Well, Sir, I do not know whether, through the public Press or otherwise, the hon. Member knows any more on that subject than he did last July. I believe—I have reason to believe—that men such as Ford, and Egan, and Finnerty, and John Devoy, and Brennan, and Alexander Sullivan, and General Kerwin, and others who are mentioned, are Fenian leaders; and I say that the statements that have recently been published in The Times do prove conclusively that there are means of communication between the hon. Member and his Friends and the men whose names I have just read.
§ MR. PARNELL
Will the noble Marquess give the reasons he has for supposing that those gentlemen whose names he has mentioned are leaders of the Fenian organization in America, for I do not know them to be such, and I do not believe that they are such?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I believe them to be leaders of the Fenian organization from knowledge which I had when I was last in Office. I believe them to be leaders of the Fenian organization because it has been repeatedly and distinctly stated in newspapers of every description that they are so; and so far as I know with- 1158 out contradiction. I do not know whether the hon. Member is prepared to deny that Mr. Alexander Sullivan—to mention one name—is, or has been a leader of the Clan-na-Gael Association. I do not know whether the hon. Member calls that a Fenian association, but the Clan-na-Gael Society is what I intended and meant when I spoke of the Fenian association in America, and I believe it is an undoubted fact, which cannot be denied, that Mr. Alexander Sullivan— whose name I have mentioned—is, or has been, president of that society. Well, Sir, it is very easy to use strong language in contradiction in this House, but charges just as strong and just as offensive have been made out of this House; they have been reiterated over and over again openly and ostentatiously, and in a manner designed to expose those who make them to an action for criminal libel, and up to the present time no notice has ever been taken of them. The House has heard an explanation from the hon. Member for West Belfast as to the reason why he and his Friends have not resorted to that course. It seems to me that the opinions he expresses about the possibility of getting a fair verdict from an English jury do not harmonize very well with the profession of confidence in the British people which we have heard.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
What I said was, that the Sheriffs of Middlesex and a branch of the Primrose League might be able to send one dissentient.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
The hon. Member to-night has told British jurors and the British people that he believes that if an action were brought by him and his Friends of criminal libel against The Times newspaper for making a series of the most offensive and most libellous—[An hon. MEMBER: Most lying.]—yes, most lying charges if they are not true—he tells the British people and British jurors that he will not trust them to give a verdict according to the evidence and to their oath, but takes it for granted that there will be at least one who will perjure himself against them. It appears that the hon. Member has no confidence whatever in the effect on the mind of the British people which a conclusive demonstration of the untruth of these accusations would have, even if he did get a disagreement in the jury. Does the hon. Member 1159 attach no importance to having the opportunity afforded him in a court of law and upon oath to disprove these most damaging assertions which have been made? I think, as I have said before, that the excuse which is given by the hon. Member is not one that will be satisfactory to the people of this country, and it contains a very grave imputation upon their character. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Sir "William Harcourt) the other day described these charges which have been made as rubbish. A little later, some of them were repeated in this House, and by the passionate denials they excited it appeared that some hon. Members below the Gangway did not consider them to be rubbish. I must again point out that the denial of the charges is not disproof. Let them disprove those charges on oath if they are able to do so. Let me point out one or two of those charges that are made. I say nothing of their truth myself. I will only point out what has been alleged —and I am not pledging myself to the veracity, to the truth or the untruth, of those assertions. The hon. Member has dealt at considerable length with one of them. The hon. Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) may not have stated his case with absolute accuracy, but the assertion made in The Times article has not been disproved or even denied by the hon. Member.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
The allegation in the article in The Times was that the hon. Member for Cork, the hon. Member for West Belfast, and the hon. Member for East Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) had been members with Egan, Brennan, Boyton, and Sheridan of the Executive Committee of the Land League. The hon. Member has denied that Boyton and Sheridan were members of that Committee. He says they were agents. Will he deny that they were—as they are described in The Times article—the chief organizers of the Land League?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
The assertion made in The Times was, that of these men I have mentioned some have in speeches advocated assassination, and that others have been implicated in conspiracies to murder as well.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I was the chief organizer of The Land League, and these gentlemen acted under me during all the time they were agents of that association, under my direction, and I wish to ask the noble Marquess when they made such speeches?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
The speeches referred to were, to the best of my belief, made in 1880 and 1881.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I maintain that they were. The quotations are given in those articles as from speeches made in March, 1881, by Mr. Brennan, and by Mr. Boyton in May, 1880; on the 18th of August, the 20th of June, and the 24th of October—all, I believe, in 1880 and 1881. I am not making myself responsible for these statements; but I say that these are allegations made, the truth of which is not disproved, and the untruth of which it is open to the hon. Member to prove if he thinks it is worth while to do so, or if he thinks it possible. But that is not all that has been alleged. There is a further accusation to which the hon. Member made no reference. It is alleged that the Land League and the National League have received large sums of money collected in America through the agency of the Irish World. It is alleged that during the same period the Irish World has been openly advocating the use of dynamite and assassination. It is alleged further that the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), so late as September, 1883, was in association with Mr. Ford, the editor of the Irish World; and it is alleged further that the American Land League was founded in July, 1882; that among its promoters were Egan, Brennan, Sheridan, Boyton, and John Walsh— 1161 against whom a true bill for murder had been found—and Sullivan, whom I have mentioned as president of the Clan-na-Gael. It is further alleged that the hon. Member for Cork sent to this Committee or Convention a telegram acknowledging it ''as the most representative expression of Irish-American opinion that had ever been assembled." It is alleged that in 1884 the hon. Member for West Belfast, and either the hon. Member for North Wexford (Mr. J. E. Redmond) or the hon. Member for North Fermanagh (Mr. W. H. K. Redmond), attended the meeting of that association, of which Mr. Egan was president.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
The American Land League, some of the names of the promoters of which I have just read. It is alleged that in 1886 the hon. Member for North Wexford and the hon. Member for East Mayo, with Mr. W. O'Brien, attended another meeting of the American Land League; that there they met Mr. Davitt, Mr. Ford, the editor of the Irish World, and Mr. Egan, to whom refer-once has already been made. It is stated that on that occasion Mr. Finnerty, whom, I believe—though I do not know any more than the hon. Member for Cork does—to be one of the leaders of the American Fenian Association, openly praised the "sword of the rebel and the poignard of the assassin." These are some of the allegations which have been made in the articles to which I refer.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I rise to Order. The noble Marquess has made allusion to charges made against me, among others, in The Times. I wish to ask him why he does not make the charge which is made against me in those articles that I was present in 1883 at the Convention of Chicago, and that I sat there between O'Donovan Rossa and Ford, and by my silence approved of the new campaign of arson and murder in England?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Does the hon. Member ask me why I do not make that charge? It is because I read in The Times this morning that it was a different man.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I ask the noble Marquess, as he took some charges from The Times, and gave its 1162 authority for the charges against me, why he was not honourable enough and honest enough to state, without any suggestion or interrogation from me, that The Times acknowledged it had lied in a most abominable way in a most important matter?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
The Times has corrected one part of the statement made with reference to the hon. Member.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I am not making the allegations. What The Times has alleged, and what is not denied, is that in 1883 the hon. Member was in communication with Mr. Ford, the editor of the dynamite organ, the Irish World. All I have done is to point out that allegations have been made in the most public manner—in the most offensive manner—and in a manner which must expose the writers to a criminal action, and I say that it is for the hon. Members themselves to consider whether these statements are worth disproving, and whether they are capable of disproof. It may be said that these things are somewhat irrelevant to the subject we are discussing. When one of the imputations made against legislation of this kind is that it is aimed against the National League, that it will have a tendency to injure it, and may possibly even tend to its suppression, it appears to me that it is relevant to the question before us to learn what is the nature of the relations the leaders of the National League have with the leaders of other associations in America, the objects of which are certainly not legal and certainly not peaceable. An attempt is now being made to condemn this Bill on account of its excessive stringency; and particular clauses are pointed to as being more stringent than were ever introduced in any Coercion Bill. As I have said on a former occasion, I altogether object to the methods now being pursued of anticipating the discussion of every stage of the Bill. We discussed the introduction of this Bill on the Address; we discussed it again on the Motion for Urgency; we discussed the second reading on the Motion to introduce it, and now we are discussing the Committee stage on the Motion for the second reading. Let me refer to one or two points that have been 1163 mentioned. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby says that if the Government had introduced their remedial legislation first, and at the same time clauses representing intimidation, he would not have opposed it. Well, it seems to me that my right hon. Friend and those who act with him have somewhat spoiled their case by the vehement opposition they offered to the introduction of the Bill before they knew any of the provisions which it contained. Certainly, if I understood the drift of the speech of my right hon. Friend on the Motion for Urgency, he was absolutely opposed to any exceptional legislation whatever, because he thought the real remedy for anything that was remiss in the state of Ireland at present was to be found in the Home Rule proposals, and nothing in the nature of repressive legislation of any kind. But a great deal was said by my right hon. Friend the other night as to the provision respecting criminal conspiracy which is contained in the 1st sub-section of the second clause. Now, I understand his legal definition of the effect of that sub-section was denied by the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Plunket). Further, the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works undertook to say, on the part of the Government, that if it should be found, in discussion in Committee, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby's interpretation of the legal effect of that clause was the correct one, the Government were prepared to consider the adoption of other words not liable to the objections of the right hon. Gentleman. But, Sir, I want to ask my right hon. Friend whether the subsection respecting criminal conspiracy makes any change in the law or creates any new offence whatever? As far as I understand it, it creates no new offences at all. All the Bill does is to transfer the jurisdiction from Judge and jury to a Court of summary jurisdiction, and if the abominable Judge-made law which my right hon. Friend described is of the nature which he described, then it seems to me that the real remedy would be to propose an alteration of this law, which at present affects not Ireland only, but England also, and to introduce into the law of criminal conspiracy, which he says is a Judge-made law, some equit- 1164 as have been made in the law of criminal conspiracy affecting trade unions. Then, again, with respect to the infamous Whiteboy Acts to which my right hon. Friend referred. One would suppose, reading from his speech, that the White-boy Acts were being incorporated by this Bill for the first time in the legal system of Ireland. I do not believe that to be the case. I believe that the Whiteboy Acts are part of the law of the land. All that the Bill does is to transfer the jurisdiction from the Judge and jury to a Court of summary jurisdiction; and when these Acts are described as infamous and abominable, I ask my right hon. Friend whether he has read the Paper which has been laid on the Table of the House. I conceive that where the Whiteboy Acts wore infamous and abominable was in the severity of the penalties. I do not find that there is anything in the definition of the offences themselves which can be properly described as infamous and abominable; and if there is, I ask the right hon. Gentleman how it is they have been maintained as a part of our system of law for so many years, during which he has been a Member of the Government, and responsible for the law prevailing in the country. Sir George Trevelyan has also spoken of the new and extreme powers which are contained in the 6th and 7th clauses of this Bill. I do not think it necessary to enter into complete detail on that point; but if hon. Members will examine the provisions contained in the Crimes Act of 1882, in regard to unlawful associations, and the penalties attendant on wilfully and knowingly belonging to an unlawful association, I think they will find that the distinction between the present proposals of the Government and those adopted in 1882 are not so wide as Sir George Trevelyan seems to suppose. Now, Sir, to look for a moment to the case for the Bill. It seems to me that all the references of my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby to the speeches of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), and the conduct of the late Conservative Government in 1885, are absolutely irrelevant to this case. They would be perfectly relevant if the abandonment of the Crimes Act and the return to the ordinary law had been suc- 1165 on both, sides—that the return to the ordinary law was not successful, it seems to me that those references are absolutely irrelevant. What did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) say in introducing the Home Rule Bill last year? he said—"The return to the ordinary law cannot, I am afraid, be said to have succeeded." But the figures which my right hon. Friend quoted, if they tell against the late Conservative Government—if they serve to found a charge of inconsistency against the late Conservative Government—tell just as much against himself. What do those figures show? They show that in 1885 the record of crime in Ireland was a falling one. The number of agrarian offences was diminishing. But, notwithstanding this fact, the Government of which my right hon. Friend was a Member had decided in 1885 to propose the renewal of some of the clauses of the Crimes Act. Therefore, Sir, the figures which the right hon. Gentleman quoted the other night for the purpose of convicting the Government of inconsistency in this matter are equally efficacious to prove inconsistency on the part of my right hon. Friend himself. Sir, I charge no inconsistency against my right hon. Friend and his Colleagues. They appear to me in this matter to have one sufficient excuse; and I do not see why they should think it necessary, having one good excuse, to fall back on a great many other excuses which are not good at all. I do not see why it is necessary for them to fall back on such an excuse as that they were not aware of the opinion of the Irish people on this matter as shown by the Irish Representatives of this House. The one valid excuse for their change of front in this matter, since the time they were parties to repressive legislation, is that they have become converted to the question of a domestic Legislature for Ireland. Lord Spencer on Saturday acknowledged it frankly—he repeated the opinion of my right hon. Friend the Member for the Stirling Burghs (Mr. Campbell-Banner-man)—that since he was responsible for the government of Ireland, he had been converted and had found salvation. They have discovered that the true method to govern Ireland is not to arm the law or to arm the Judges with powers for contending against the in- 1166 timidation practised by the National League, but to make such changes in the government of Ireland as will place the Judges and the law practically in the hands and under the control of the National League. Having been converted to those doctrines, of course, it is perfectly reasonable and rational that my hon. Friends should now be opposed to anything in the shape of exceptional or repressive legislation. That is sufficient excuse for them; but it is not a sufficient reason for us, who have not yet been converted, and that is not a sufficient reason for the majority of the House, or for the majority of the people of this country, who, at the last General Election, unequivocally declared that they were not prepared to assent to changes in the government of Ireland which would have had the consequences which I have described. My right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian relies very much in this matter on precedent. Notwithstanding his conversion to Home Rule, I understood my right hon. Friend to say that if a case had been made out—if a sufficient number of outrages could have been proved to exist—if a case similar to previous cases had been made for the introduction of similar Bills which had been brought forward, then, notwithstanding his conversion, he would not have opposed the introduction of this Bill.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I understood his words to be that there was a difference in the case made for the introduction of this Bill and that made by former Governments for the introduction of similar Bills. I infer from his line of argument that, if a similar case could have been made in respect to the number of agrarian outrages, my right hon. Friend would have been disposed to have regarded this Bill in a different way from what he has done. Stress has been laid upon the absence of ordinary crime in Ireland. My right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), I think, referred to that subject. The hon. and learned Member for South Hackney (Sir Charles Russell) referred to the absence of ordinary crime in Ireland, but my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian has on former occasions—in 1881—dealt 1167 fully with that part of the question; and he has pointed out that any comparison between agrarian and ordinary crime is absolutely fallacious and misleading. My right hon. Friend said—But what is the case with agrarian crime? We must carefully sever this class of crime from ordinary crime. It is fatal to all true investigation of the case if we allow ourselves to mix them. What is ordinary crime? Ordinary crime is due sometimes to momentary passion; often to weakness and inability to resist temptation, and sometimes to hardened depravity, But in all cases where it occurs it is at once recognized as the foe of society, and society arms itself by a natural instinct to discountenance it and to put it down. An ordinary crime means the thing that it is, and means nothing more; but when you come to agrarian crime how different it is! Agrarian crime is the expression of the will, tendency, and determination not of one, hut of many. It is not only a single occurrence; it is a symbol, and a reproduction of that occurrence in every similar case where a similar provocation exists, and that provocation may consist either in the exercise of private rights or in the discharge of private duties. Agrarian crime is, above all things, important in its character as a Symbol; in its character as a menace, and in the indications that it gives, and, unhappily, in the support that it receives."—(3 Hansard,  1698–9.)The observations of the right hon. Gentleman seem to me to show that the existence of agrarian crime is a matter which is to be taken into account in considering legislation such as this which is proposed, irrespective of the amount, number, and character of the agrarian crime. If in any part of the country agrarian crime exists to any considerable extent, then I maintain the observations I have quoted from my right hon. Friend hold good, and that he must consider it not only from the point of view of their amount, but from the point of view of that of which they are the symbol and which they represent. My right hon. Friend said that the proportion of convictions to agrarian crimes was one in 33; that when 33 persons were tried, one was brought to punishment, and 32 walked away with impunity. The hon. Member for Sligo pointed out that there was not a larger number of agrarian crimes than formerly existed, but if any hon. Member will look at the Returns on the Table of the House, he will see that in the Province of Munster the number of convictions in proportion to offences is not one in 33, but one in 35; so that the very indication which my right hon. Friend behind me pointed to as one of the reasons which made repressive legis- 1168 lation in 1881 necessary holds good in the Province of Munster at the present moment. But this is a question which cannot be decided by precedents; it is not a question which we can. decide by what has been done on former occasions by one Party or another. It is a question we must look at for ourselves. The question we have to look at, and what we have to decide, is this— Does there exist in Ireland, or in a considerable portion of Ireland, a condition of illegality, a condition of things under which the law of the land does not prevail? What is the system, what is the code, what are the judges, and what are the laws, which have superseded the ordinary law of the land? A further question has, however, been raised. It being granted that there exists in Ireland a condition, of illegality, it has been asserted that the operation of the law in Ireland is so unjust that resistance, passive or even overt, is morally justified. We have heard in the course of this debate incitements, or what may be termed incitements, to insurrection and crime. The hon. Member for East Mayo said that if the people were willing to follow he would be prepared to lead them to insurrection; and the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) suggested that before the Government pass this Bill the people ought to fight in the streets. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, in language more measured and deliberate, appears to have gone even beyond these hon. Gentlemen. In the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman there exists not a contingent but an immediate case for resistance. He says he disapproves of the Plan of Campaign as irregular and improper; but he has spoken of the Plan of Campaign in reference to other proceedings which were also illegal, such as the refusal of Hampden to pay ship-money, the landing of William III. at Torbay, and the throwing of the tea into Boston Harbour. He has compared the Plan of Campaign with events which many of us—the majority of us—believe to have been revolutionary yet morally justified. Therefore it seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman, by his reference to these past events, is practically justifying forcible and revolutionary resistance to the law which exists in Ireland. It is extremely difficult for us 1169 in this House to argue calmly with our opponents who avow that there is a moral justification for defiance of the law. I believe we are here in these Houses of Parliament to amend the law if necessary, but to support the Government in the enforcement of the law. We are not here for the purpose of preaching or condoning resistance to the law, either passive or overt. What are the circumstances which, in the opinion of my right hon. Friend, justify such resistance to the law? The laws which prevail in Ireland are the same laws which prevail in England, with the exception of the agrarian laws, which have in recent years been rendered far more favourable to the interests of the tenant than in any other part of the United Kingdom. What are these agrarian laws which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby considers and describes morally justify rebellion, and which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. John Morley) has described as inflicting more evils and causing more injury upon Ireland than the penal laws of the last century? These very laws are the work of a Government of which my right hon. Friends sitting on this Bench were Members. My right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian is very fond of appealing to the judgment of the civilized world. What is the case upon which they are going to the civilized world to justify open or passive resistance to the law? the case for which they are going to the civilized world is this. Five years ago we passed what was described as a great and beneficent Act; it was passed by the greatest statesman of the age; it was passed with his assurance that walking in the light of justice we could not err. It is now asserted, on the authority of the Royal Commission, that the grants fixed under this beneficent Act are 16 or 17 per cent. too high. The wicked Conservative Government, supported by the still more wicked Liberal Unionists, refuse summarily to disturb and alter this beneficent settlement of five years ago, and immediately, according to the contention of my right hon. Friends who sit near me, a case has arisen, not merely for the alteration of the law, but for rebellion, for armed resistance and defiance of the law. I do not think that this is a case with which my hon. and right hon. 1170 Friends will be very successful when they go to the civilized world. I deny that it has been conclusively proved that the Act of 1881 has not given protection, and adequate protection, to tenants; but if it has not, I contend that it has not had a fair trial, not from the action of the Government or landlords of Ireland, but from the action of the National League. The rent-fixing clauses of the Land Act of 1881 wore not the whole of the Act. Of equal, I think of quite equal, importance—as Lord Lansdowne has pointed out in a paper he laid before the Royal Commission—are the clauses regarding free sale, and if free sale had been allowed, free sale would have been a test of the equity of the decisions of the Land Court of the conditions as to rent. But free sale was expected to do a great deal more. It would have afforded the means of a peaceful settlement of the vast majority of cases between landlords and tenants, and have afforded the means by which the extreme penalty of evictions would have been avoided. What has been the action of the National League with regard to free sale? It has been precisely what might have been anticipated from men whose object was not the protection of the tenant, but the destruction and ruin of landlords, who desired not to protect the tenant, but to deprive the landlord of all his interest in the land of Ireland, and get rid of landlords because the landlords were the obstacle to the desires of the National League for the self-government of Ireland. It has been asserted by the Royal Commission, and abundantly proved by evidence taken before it, that, generally speaking, in all cases where free sale has been attempted to be resorted to for the purpose of accomplishing an arrangement between landlords and tenants, it had been put a stop to, and limited by, the action of the National League. It is said that the case for this Bill has not been, made out. I say, in my judgment, that the case which justifies resistance to the law has not been made out. Then the question only remains, does a state of illegality prevail in Ireland? The charges of the Judges which have been quoted—and they have been quoted on former occasions by Gentlemen on this side of the House for precisely the same purpose—the evidence taken before the Royal Commission, and the resolu- 1171 tions of the National League which have recently been published, amply prove, in my judgment, that a condition of illegality does prevail in Ireland. What is proved is the existence of the influence and domination, not of a voluntary organization for the protection of the tenants' interests, as it has sometimes been represented to be, but of an illegal combination that acts by violent means, making its own laws, setting up its own tribunals, and enforcing its decrees by means of intimidation and violence. This association arrogates to itself the right of deciding whether a man shall pay his rent, and how much of it he shall pay. It also undertakes to decide on the conditions on which a man may take, or may not take, a farm; on the conditions on which a man may give or may take employment, or from whom he may take it; on the conditions on which, a man may deal or may not deal with, another; on the conditions on which a man may speak to another or is bound to avoid another; on the conditions under which, he may exercise the right of voting; and also on the relations which he is to hold with the priest of his own religion. It may be said that these are mere expressions of public opinion—mere warnings that a particular course of conduct will bring reprobation on the offender. It may be said that the only sanction by which these conditions are enforced is the threat of expulsion from the National League, and that the League, being a voluntary body, it is perfectly competent for them to say who is and who is not to remain a member of that body. But the evidence that we have before us shows that these resolutions are something more than this. It shows that they are not mere warnings that the transgressor will be held up to public reprobation; they are sentences which are passed on individuals—sentences of excommunication enforced by penalties of a like description on all who work for him, all who deal with him, all who provide him even, with necessaries, all who speak to him in the market-place or on the road. Sometimes an attempt is made to compare the intimidation practised by the National League with, the form of exclusive dealing practised in this country by trade unions, or with the forms of political intimidation which, are said to be common in some parts of this 1172 country. I maintain that no comparison whatever can be made between these forms of exclusive dealing or political intimidation and the intimidation of the-National League. It is one thing, and I think it very objectionable, that a political partizan should deal with his own political friends only, rather than with his opponents also; but it is altogether a different thing to place under a sentence of excommunication every individual who refuses to do the same. It is a very objectionable thing that a man should be removed from his farm, or from his employment, simply for political reasons; but it is a very different thing if the man so excluded is placed under the ban of social excommunication, and under such penalties as that by the National League he should be prohibited from taking a farm, or, if a labourer, should be deprived of employment. It cannot for a moment be maintained that intimidation or exclusive dealing is ever in this country carried to an extent in the slightest degree comparable to that which is abundantly proved to exist in Ireland. Sometimes we hear it said that intimidation is practised by the Primrose League; but if you could conceive of such an association laying down edicts that a man who came under its discipline should be incapable of taking; a farm, incapable of being employed, incapable of being dealt with, incapable of being spoken to, I think we know what the feeling of the country would be. If public opinion was not strong enough to put intimidation of that kind down—if the existing law was not strong enough, there would be an immediate demand on the part of the country and of Parliament to strengthen the law to whatever extent might be necessary to put an end to intimidation of that character. It may be said that, bad as all this is—bad as is all this intimidation—it is better than the practices which have been resorted to formerly, and which may be resorted to again, by secret societies carrying on intimidation by means of violence, crime, and murder. I do not deny that it is possible that at first, when the power of the National League may find itself resisted, we may again have some of these secret societies resorting to violent crime and outrage. But I believe that the Crimes Act of 1882, although, it was not found sufficient to cope with intimidation, 1173 was found sufficiently effective in regard to the more violent forms of crime and outrage. I believe that this Bill will be found equally effective for that purpose. I do not believe that the Government of this country, resting, as it does, on the confidence of a Parliament freely elected by the people, is going to be permanently paralyzed by the machinations of any secret societies practising violence, intimidation, and outrage. But, Sir, if it be otherwise—if we are so weak, so powerless—if we are fallen so low that we are going to be reduced to submission by the existence and by the proceedings of secret societies resorting to violent forms of outrage, well, then, Sir, nothing in my opinion remains for us but to confess our helplessness and impotence. It would be only adding hypocrisy to cowardice if we were to refrain from opposing these secret societies under the plea that they represent the real opinion of, and are necessary for the protection of the Irish people. Sir, in my opinion the question that we are to decide on the second reading of this Bill is one of the greatest gravity. I believe that if anything was clearly established at the late General Election it was that Ireland was to be governed by the law, the ordinary law, and the law of Parliament, and was not to be governed by the law of the National League. If there was anything clearly expressed by the people of the country at the last Election it was that it was not prepared to trust the control of the Government of Ireland to the men who control the proceedings of the National League. If that was, as I believe, the decision of the country at the last Election, then it appears to me still more clear that the country which was not willing to trust the leaders of the National League with those powers, coupled with responsibility, would be still less willing to allow them to retain those powers when unaccompanied by any responsibility whatever. For these reasons, Sir, I shall vote against the Amendment.
§ MR. ASHER (Elgin, & c.)
said, he did not propose to deal with the general questions involved in the debate, but rather to discuss one particular ground on which the Bill had been justified— namely, that the greater part of its provisions had been borrowed from the Scottish law. Perhaps the most conspicuous instances of such statements 1174 were to be found in the recent speeches of his right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain) and his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Inverness (Mr. Finlay), in the course of the pilgrimage they had pursued in Scotland last week for the purpose of converting the Scottish people. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham, speaking at Ayr, said he had been assured by those who knew something of the Scotch law, that there was very little in that measure which was not contained in the Law of Scotland; and the hon. and learned Member for Inverness, speaking in Glasgow, said that the provisions of that Bill as to criminal procedure were largely drawn from the existing law in Scotland; and, addressing that House the other day, his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Scotland (Mr. J. P. B. Robertson) also spoke in a similar sense, although in much more guarded terms. He (Mr. Asher) hoped, however, to satisfy the House that, in reality, there was very little resemblance between the provisions of the present Bill and the provisions of the Criminal Law in Scotland. The system which, at present, prevailed in Scotland was, in many respects, an admirable system. On the one hand, it protected the Constitutional rights and liberties of the people; and, on the other hand, it secured the conviction of crime. It was not the creation of any particular statutes, but was the product of time and circumstances. It had grown up very much like the British Constitution. Accordingly, it had been adapted from time to time to the changing conditions of society and the varying necessities of social wants. It had, however, many anomalies, which, if it were proposed to import the system wholesale into another country, it would be extremely difficult to justify. But the foundation upon which the system rested, without which its successful operation could not possibly be maintained, was that it commanded the confidence and approval of the Scottish people. the central feature of the system was, that there was vested in the Lord Advocate, as Public Prosecutor, the power of instituting, regulating, and controlling criminal prosecutions. That power was not exclusive, but belonged also to private individuals, and, probably, no better tribute could be paid 1175 to the manner in which the system was administered than the fact that though it was competent for a private citizen to prosecute, such a thing was practically unknown in recent times. The holder of the Office of Lord Advocate had always been an eminent lawyer—a public officer amenable to public opinion; and it was notorious that the duties of the Office had invariably been discharged with a moderation and impartiality that had secured the general confidence of the people. If those qualities and that confidence were absent from the administration of the Office, then it was impossible that the present system could be maintained. Had they the slightest hope or expectation that when this Bill passed, its administration in Ireland would inspire anything in the nature of the confidence which he had described? His hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Scotland (Mr. J. P. B. Robertson) had told them that the Bill, in substance, meant to say—"one of us two must rule, the other must obey, and we mean to rule." He agreed with his hon. and learned Friend that that was the message of defiance to the Irish people which was to be found in the Bill. His hon. and learned Friend would, no doubt, some day, become himself chiefly responsible for the administration of the Criminal Law in Scotland; and he (Mr. Asher) was sure that every Scotsman who heard him would agree that if the Criminal Law of Scotland were administered by his hon. and learned Friend in the spirit of the message to which he had referred—which, he believed, it would never be—the system would crumble to pieces in his hands. The particular points of supposed resemblance between the proposals of the Bill and the system of Scottish law were the power of preliminary examination on oath when no one was under charge, the power of summary jurisdiction to be conferred on the magistrates, and the power of changing the place of trial. A statement of that description was one of those half truths which was highly calculated to be misleading, unless the circumstances were thoroughly and fully understood. With regard to the first of these points, the power of preliminary examination on oath, it was true that, according to the letter of the Scotch law, such a power existed, and could be exercised by the Procurator Fiscal, in con- 1176 junction with the Sheriff of the county, subject to the direction of the Lord Advocate. His hon. and learned Friend referred to the commentaries of Baron Hume, a work, no doubt, of high authority, as the foundation of Scottish Criminal Jurisprudence; but it was none the less true that many things were stated by that learned writer which were of common occurrence at the time the commentaries were written, but which, under the changes of time, of manners, and of ideas, had ceased to have any material application to the present day. The power of preliminary examination on oath was practically in abeyance, and during his professional experience, in so far as he remembered, it had never been put into operation. The uniform practice in Scotland was, for the Procurator Fiscal, on behalf of the Crown, to collect the evidence in regard to any crime which had been committed, by receiving and noting down the statements of the witnesses voluntarily made. During the period when his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Clackmannan (Mr. J. B. Balfour) and himself were Law Officers for Scotland, they never thought of putting into operation this relic of the past. Even historically, the Scotch practice, with regard to this matter, was not analogous to the proposal in the present Bill. It was a proceeding which never had been used except on rare and exceptional occasions, and then only with reference to special and isolated cases of grave and serious crimes. Further, the examination was conducted before the Sheriff, who was a trained lawyer and experienced Judge, and whose duty it was to prevent in the course of the examination any invasion of what was a first principle of Scottish law—that no man was bound on oath to criminate himself. Between the Scottish procedure and the procedure that the Bill would create there was, in fact, hardly any analogy, and it never entered into his imagination that the Scotch criminal system could be relied upon as a justification for this Bill. Indeed, the suggestion that this part of the Bill found a parallel in the Scottish system was misleading as to be utterly unjustifiable as a weapon to use in that debate. Under the Bill it was proposed to make the power of preliminary examination on oath applicable not only to any felony or misdemeanour, but to 1177 anything and everything which was declared to be an offence against the Act. Were the Government going to use this power of preliminary investigation upon oath for the purpose of discovering what members of the Irish nation were implicated in Boycotting? If they were, they were asking a power to establish a Court of Inquisition, through which masses of the Irish people would be compelled to pass, and undergo examination on oath, for the purpose of extracting from them statements to aid the Executive to convict them of offences against the act. He declared that a Bill of that character would, in his judgment, be a serious invasion of the rights and liberties of a free people. With regard to summary jurisdiction, it was true they had that in Scotland; but it was a very different thing from the proposal in the Bill. It was applicable only to cases of the nature of petty police offences, such as small thefts and simple assaults, or breaches of the peace; cases belonging to well-defined and familiar classes of crime, the disposal of which did not involve any questions of serious difficulty. Besides, in Scotland the summary jurisdiction was exercised by the Sheriffs, who were properly trained and qualified Judges, whose duties were not limited to their criminal jurisdiction, and who were daily engaged in hearing and deciding civil suits, which might, and often did, involve interests of great value. Even as exercised by a Judge in that position, the limit of punishment, on conviction by summary trial, was imprisonment for 60 days. He maintained that a system of that nature was wholly different from that proposed to be established by the Bill. Under it two Resident Magistrates would have power, in a proclaimed district, to try in a summary form any offence punishable under the Act. Many of these offences were of the most shadowy and delicate description. His hon. and learned Friend opposite had challenged any lawyer to say that there was any new crime under the Bill. Speaking as a Scottish lawyer, he was of opinion that many of the offences punishable under the Act were not crimes by the Law of Scotland. He would take one illustration. He was glad to see the two Law Officers for Scotland in their places. Were they of opinion that it would be a relevant statement of a 1178 crime by the Law of Scotland to say that A and B had criminally conspired to induce C not to hire a piece of land or not to deal with a particular tradesman? He was glad to find that his hon. and learned Friends opposite agreed with him that it would not. But by the 2nd clause of the Bill that would be an offence against the Act. His answer, therefore, to the challenge of his hon. and learned Friend was that under that clause, if the Law of England and Scotland were the same, there was a new crime. A conspiracy was in itself merely an agreement. It did not become a crime by the mere prefix of the adjective "criminal," but by the quality of the acts which the persons conspired or agreed to do. But under this Bill a conspiracy was declared to be criminal, although the quality of the acts which formed the subject of conspiracy was not such as to give it a criminal character. He would not detain the House with further illustrations. But who was to decide the delicate and difficult questions which would arise under the Conspiracy and Intimidation Clauses? The magisirates in Ireland, they had been told, were largely selected from among half-pay officers of the Army. Did they seriously propose to leave it to a half-pay officer to decide whether an act not criminal in itself would, if done by two persons, become criminal in respect of the circumstances under which it was done. Was that a safe power to put into the hands of any magistrates, especially such as were to be found in Ireland, especially when combined with a power of imprisonment for six months. The only appropriate tribunal for such cases would be a jury and a trained Judge. He would again repeat that there was no similarity between the Bill which conferred those powers and the legal system of Scotland, for an infinite variety of offences were being set up by the Bill of a novel and anomalous character altogether unsuitable for being disposed of by summary jurisdiction. The third point on which it was sought to justify the Bill by the Scottish system, was the change of venue—a valuable part of the Scottish law; but the circumstances of Scotland were very different from those which prevailed in Ireland. In Scotland, happily, they were free from the personal, political, and religious animosities 1179 which were associated in Ireland with particular localities; and he could well imagine how the change of venue, combined with the power of limiting the panel to special jurors, and what he must call the startling practice of the Crown to make jurors stand aside in such numbers as practically to select the panel—should create a measure of apprehension on the part of many people in Ireland. But all these proposals to which he had referred sank into insignificance compared with that providing for the transfer of accused persons from Ireland over to England for trial. In that there was no similarity to the Law of Scotland; for, in the Scottish law, there was no power in any way analagous to that most anomalous and startling proposal. He could not conceive anything more calculated to shock the sentiment and national feeling of the people. The hon. and learned Member for Inverness, who was a warm supporter of the Bill, was especially delighted with the provision which made it applicable to Ireland for ever; but he had not sufficient boldness to attempt to justify before a Scottish audience the proposal to change the place of trial to England. His hon. and learned Friend stood pledged to the Scottish people by his recent speech at Glasgow to oppose the Bill unless that clause was omitted. As his hon. and learned Friend represented the Dissentient Liberals, he (Mr. Asher) would be curious to see whether, before voting for the second reading, his hon. and learned Friend would exact a pledge from the Government to that effect; or was the Government, in order to secure the Liberal Unionist support, going to give up what the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes) described as a portion of the Bill which was essential to secure a fair trial for offences of a grave character. But his objections to the Bill were not limited to the details to which he had referred. If the Bill were, in all respects, a reproduction of the Scotch criminal system, he should think it a bad Bill; because he agreed with the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) that it mattered little whether the demand was for small or great powers, when those powers came under the name of coercion—exceptional and peculiar legislation. It was not only a message of defiance to 1180 the Irish people, but a message of political defiance. If it passed, it would be by the united forces of the Tory and Dissentient Liberal Party, and against the united voice of the Liberal Party. There was one objection to the Bill which, in his opinion, was fatal. It aimed at accomplishing the impossible. By an alteration in the Criminal Law, the Government was going to endeavour to govern the Irish people, according to the principles of representative government, against the wishes of five-sixths of the people, as expressed through their Constitutionally-elected Representatives. That was a policy which could not succeed. The effect of the present measure, if it failed, as it was certain to do, would not be merely negative; it would aggravate instead of curing the evils. Did the Government imagine that such a Bill could ever bring the people of Ireland into sympathy with the law, or establish proper relations between Ireland and this country? He yielded to no one in his opinion of the necessity for the maintenance of the Union; but he believed the Bill would be one of the most deadly blows at the Union delivered in modern times. It was because he wished to see the Union maintained, and made a real, substantial, brotherly union, that he offered his strenuous resistance to the passing of the Bill.
§ CAPTAIN COLOMB (Tower Hamlets, Bow)
said, he had been placed in a position which rendered it impossible for him to give a silent vote, owing to the right hon. Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne (Mr. John Morley), on the 6th instant, speaking at the Victoria Hall, having singled him out as an example of a Member who had deceived—that, at least, was the implication—his constituents. The right hon. Member used these words—A gentleman wrote to me yesterday from Bromley-by-Bow, and he said—'I have just passed a placard that still remains on a beerhouse opposite my office to this effect—Vote for Colomb and No Coercion.'That statement had furnished the peroration for more than one speech in the House, and a heading for 10 or 12 leading articles, which he (Captain Colomb) had in his possession, and treated with deserved contempt. He was, of course, responsible for his acts to his constituents, and was not in the least afraid that any observations from the right 1181 hon. Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne would persuade them that, in voting for the Bill, he (Captain Colomb) was voting in any way different from what he had plainly and distinctly promised. ["Oh, oh!"] He had never expressed any other opinion than that criminals must be coerced; and in voting for the second reading, he would vote according to his conscience, and according to that which he had uttered before his constituents. He did not speak of Ireland from book knowledge, or from information acquired through the newspapers; but he claimed to have as good a knowledge of, at least a part of Ireland as anyone in that House. Whatever an enthusiastic supporter might have done printing and posting placards, no man was ever returned because of a placard; but, because of his own speeches, the answers given to questions, and the opportunities which the constituency had of understanding his real opinions. He referred hon. Members to various passages from his Election addresses and speeches both in 1885 and 1886 which went to show that he was perfectly consistent throughout, and he would add that it was perfectly notorious that he had never, on any single occasion expressed any other opinion than that we must coerce criminals and criminal conspiracies in Ireland. No hon. Gentlemen, therefore, could say that he was inconsistent in voting for this Bill tonight. So much for his position, a position which he was proud to hold; because, in voting for this Bill, he was voting according to his conscience and to the statements he had made to his constituents. He would not follow the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Asher) into the intricacies of Scottish jurisprudence; but in one part of his speech he said the Scottish law had been a process of developments, and had been built up by improvements and amendments; but, in his opinion, that was simply an argument in favour of doing what they were now proposing to do—amend the law of Ireland. He deprecated the practice of right hon. Gentlemen who had once held Office, of speaking of the Bill, not by its proper name, but by a nickname. With his knowledge of Ireland, and holding a middle place between landlord and tenant, he honestly believed the Bill was not a Coercion Bill; but if it were to be spoken of by a nickname, he 1182 should prefer to describe it as a Coercion by Foreign Conspiracy (Ireland) Relief Bill. He was going to vote for the Bill because he believed it to be necessary for the prosperity and peace of Ireland, and because he believed it would break the power of the National League by bringing criminals to justice. He knew the case of a man with a wife and young family who, between intemperance and neglect of his business, had run heavily into debt. The rent of his farm was £30 a-year, but he had incurred shop debts to the amount of more than £200, and had borrowed from an adjoining tenant—an industrious, hard-working man—£100 on the security of his land, having agreed to give him grazing for the money. When the man owed five and a-half years' rent he was evicted; but he re-entered into possession, and the unfortunate man who had advanced him the £ 100 was out of his money, could not graze the land, and dared not take it. As he said—For the sake of my £100, my wife and family, I ought to have my cattle on the land. I never have been paid, because the National League would not allow it. I do not want to die a violent death, and I must wait until the power of the League is broken.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
asked whether the National League had taken any action whatever with regard to the farm; and whether it was not true that the Protestant rector of the hon. and gallant Member's own parish was not a Member of the National League?
§ MR. SPEAKER,
interposing, said: These repeated interruptions are both un-Parliamentary and disorderly.
§ CAPTAIN COLOMB
said, he was not speaking of the parish to which he belonged, but of a parish elsewhere. He contended that there was plenty of evidence, which it was not possible to get into a Parliamentary Paper, to justify the Government in asking the House to pass this Bill. That evidence had induced him to say before his constituents not "No Coercion," but "coerce criminals and criminal conspiracies." In voting for the Bill he was not 1183 voting in favour of an attack on any purely political organization, but rather for a measure which would bring criminals to justice. When hon. Members of that House spoke of the disgraceful state of Kerry it should be remembered that it was only North Kerry, and not the whole county, that was in such a deplorable condition. In North Kerry the land was good; but in the South, where he (Captain Colomb) lived, there was a wild and mountainous district, with a large population struggling to live on patches of land and in great difficulties. North Kerry was disturbed; it was in a state of anarchy. But he was happy to say that South Kerry was the quietest part of Ireland. [Mr. EDWARD HARRINGTON: No evictions?] There had been evictions there; but none of the big guns of the National League had visited the district. What Ireland wanted most was a cultivated soil, encouragement of her industries, and to look more to herself and less to politics. In his conscience he believed that the National League and the Nationalist Party in Ireland were very glad that the Bill had been introduced, and that their opposition against what was called coercion was fictitious, and was got up for dramatic and political purposes. The Land League had raised the devil, and the National League could not lay it. They had proclaimed their satisfaction at having forced the Government to rely upon coercion. The position of the peasantry of Ireland at the present moment was that of partridges with a hawk hovering over them, inasmuch as they were afraid of giving information when they had been subjected to outrage. The Bill had for its object the abolition of illegal coercion, and was a Coercion Bill only in the sense applied by General Garfield, when he said that every man must be either a coercionist or a traitor. One of the most melancholy results of the confusion at present existing in Ireland was that the Irish Members could not be regarded as representing the best qualities of the Irish race, and he must candidly confess he should like to see the Irish Representative Body in that House very much improved. The right hon. Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne had objected to the expression that a conspiracy existed on a foreign soil; but he should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether 1184 he regarded P. J. Sheridan, Patrick Ford, Brennan, and Egan as being conspirators or not? The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) had said that when he was in America a gentleman had given him 25 dollars at the railway station, with the remark—"There are 5 dollars for bread and 20 dollars for lead." Was the man who gave those 25 dollars a conspirator in the eyes of the right hon. Member or not? From whence did the Irish Nationalist movement obtain its funds? The hon. Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin had asserted that, "since its establishment the National League had not got, and had not used, £4,000 of American money."
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
said, he wished to explain that what he had said was—that, since its inception down to the time at which he had been speaking, the National League had only used £4,000 of American money. He believed that since that time they had received an additional £5,000 from America.
§ CAPTAIN COLOMB
said, that he was quoting from the report of the hon. Member's observations which had appeared in The Times newspaper. Seeing that there was a considerable difference of opinion as to the amount of American money which had been received by the National League, he thought the matter had better be cleared up. The amounts which had been acknowledged in the Nationalist organs as having been received from America were—from 1879 to 1882, £147,553; in the year 1883, £10,822; 1884, £4,081; from January to June, 1885, £2,000; from July to December, 1885, £20,948; from January to June, 1886, £36,938; and from June to September, 1886, £32,555; making a total received from America, from 1883 to the end of 1886,of £107,345. Thus, the Land League and the National League had received between them, from America, since 1879, a sum of more than £250,000. But, on the other hand, the Nationalist Party largely bled the Irish people for personal rewards and assistance. The following were the details of subscriptions received from Ireland for special funds as distinguished from central funds:—The Relief of Distress Fund, 1879–80, £942; Fair Trial Fund, 1879, £1,024; Parnell Defence Fund, 1880–1, £19,129; Dr. Kenny and 1185 Father Sheehy Testimonials, 1882–3, £2,500; Evicted Tenants Fund, 1882–3, £8,500; and Parnell Testimonial, 1883, £33,808. To Mr. Gray's Indemnity Fund there was subscribed £500; Mr. W. O'Brien's Fund, £6,200; Testimonials to Messrs. Lalor, A. O'Connor, O'Kelly, Sexton, Harrington, and others, to defray their expenses in Parliament, 1882–5, £5,363; Expenses of Meetings, Law Costs from October, 1882, to June, 1886, another £80,000; Loss on Dublin Exhibition, £25,000; Irish Parliamentary Fund to September last, £6,592. With these and other sums it came to this—that there was not £10,000 spent on the relief of distress or evicted tenants, while £260,000 was dragged out of the pockets of the Irish people as refreshers for patriots; and that out of £324,151 received from America, not £60,000 went for the relief of tenants or distress. ["Hear, hear!" from the Home Rule Members.] These were very remarkable figures—[Ironical cheers]—and he was glad to find they were so amply corroborated by those cheers from below the Gangway. When they spoke of the Irish in America they must not forget the nature of the Oath of Allegiance which they had taken in becoming citizens of the States. So-and-so—Declares on oath absolutely and entirety to renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to every Foreign Prince, Potentate, State, and Sovereignty whatever, and particularly Queen Victoria, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.That was a factor in this question. The Irish in America had taken that oath, and the agitators among them were in the minority, yet they must regard them not as under the dominion of, or friendly to, this Parliament, but as its sworn enemies. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle had quoted certain evidence taken before the Commission, showing the great improvement that had taken place in the last 30 or 40 years in the material comfort and prosperity of the Irish people; but the facts so quoted only proved the marvellous progress that had been made since the Union, which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) now wished to disturb. He could only say, in conclusion, that he was for the Bill; because he believed it to be necessary, in 1186 order, in the words of William Penn, to give justice its impartial course, and the law free passage.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
Mr. Speaker, I confess that there were some parts of the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down (Captain Colomb) which I did not find particularly intelligible. On the whole, I thought it exhibited an edifying example of the manner in which, without the slightest form of scruple, Gentlemen can pursue in this House a course with respect to a measure of this importance in diametrical contradiction to what all the world understood to be their professions at the General Election. The hon. Gentleman is very much astonished, and apparently delighted, on finding that within a certain course of years, which he stated, the contributions from America to the national cause of Ireland have reached £250,000. The future, however, is likely to find for him a still greater store of satisfaction when, if this controversy should unhappily be continued for another course of years, the contributions of America will far and far exceed that sum, and for this reason —that, if I rightly understand the facts of the case, on this occasion, for the first time, their political contributions—I do not speak of the humane contributions which reflect so splendid a light upon previous efforts in America. [Laughter from the Ministerial Benches.] Well, Sir, I am ashamed—I am shocked to hear hon. Gentlemen opposite laugh, seeing that America contributes to our famines, and contributes to the rents of our landlords. Hon. Gentlemen scoff at the reference to these facts. Painful enough they are, because they bring to our minds the need which calls forth such contributions, but which are honourable and glorious. This is the first occasion on which, so far as political contributions are concerned, the movement in America has assumed a national character. That is an undoubted fact. Gentlemen have only to acquaint themselves with the communications that come from America, and they will not only find that people assemble in those enormous meetings, which are the customary expressions of national sentiment in that country, but that those meetings are gathered together under the auspices and the presidency of the most distinguished men in 1187 that country, who hold responsible offices from one end of the land to another. Sir, I quit the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and I wish to say something on a subject which has been repeatedly handled in the course of this debate without, I think, being exhausted, and that is the subject of the supposed inconsistency in which I, myself, or others who may think or act in the same sense, are involved—I mean the supporters of Coercion Bills on former occasions. Now, Sir, some hon. Gentlemen opposite take a great delight in pointing out that the majority of Coercion Bills have been proposed by Liberal Governments. But Liberal Governments have been in Office for a much longer period during the last century than Governments formed by the Party opposite, and that may go some way towards accounting for the fact. But I do not look at that multitude of Bills— all of them, more or less, involving a deviation from the ordinary law—which may have been placed on the Statute Book. I look at what may be called the great Coercion Bills. The great Coercion Bills, in my opinion, are five—the Bill of 1833, the Bill of 1846, the Bill of 1881, the Bill of 1882, and the Bill of 1887. Three of those Bills were proposed by Liberal Governments; two of them were the product of Tory Governments. I do not know, therefore, that there is anything in that proportion on which hon. Gentlemen opposite can plume themselves. But I have a better test than the number of Bills proposed; because those Bills, when they have been proposed, have been invariably, until the present year, founded upon an exceptional state of crime, and, therefore, upon circumstances not directly connected, as is presumable, with the particular proceedings of one Government or another. But what has been the feeling displayed in this House upon an occasion when a Coercion Bill was allowed to lapse and the Government of the day were unwilling to renew it? There was a case of that kind in 1885, when the Tory Government was reluctant to renew even a portion of the Crimes Act, but their decision received a genial and kindly welcome from the Liberal Party in this House. In 1880, on the contrary, a Coercion Bill of a milder character, but still a Coercion Bill, had lapsed at the time when the 1188 Tory Government left Office. The Liberal Government coming into Office declined to renew the Bill. Hon. Gentlemen opposite recollect with what vituperation and with what invectives they were loaded because they declined to renew it. Now we are told that the Bill of 1882 was a Bill of excessive severity. Aye, and does the House recollect an. important incident in the Committee on that Bill? There was a most important and stringent clause—I think the clause referring to searches at night—with respect to which Lord Spencer, acting in the strictly conscientious manner which governed all his proceedings, had announced that it might be dispensed with. The Government proposed to strike that clause out of the Bill. The Tory Opposition would not hear of it, and by their votes, aided, I admit, by an insignificant handful of, perhaps, 20 or 30 Liberals, the clause was retained in the Bill. Well, Sir, what sort of indication does such an occurrence give of the view taken of coercion by a great political Party? Who are the persons responsible for proposing a Bill? The Executive Government. What is the duty of the House of Commons with respect to such a Bill? To examine it jealously, to refuse it if they can, to cut it down if they can, but to take care that in no circumstance it goes beyond the necessity of the case, which necessity of the case they take from the mouth of the Executive Government. There was an instance—I believe unexampled in our history—when the Executive Government, desiring to make an important remission of the demands which they had made for coercion upon a further consideration of the circumstances, were prevented by the Tory Party from making that remission; and part of the Coercion Bill of 1882 was the work of the Tory Opposition, contrary to the wishes of the Executive. I am not ready to admit so much as some may, perhaps, be disposed to allow with regard to the inconsistency of our proceedings. I am not now speaking of the whole of the proceedings with regard to coercion. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury (Sir Henry James), in a recent speech, censured the Bill of 1881 for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. I am not at all disposed to find fault with him for that sentiment. I am not speaking 1189 of the details of coercion, but I want to know what other course was open to us in the state of things that then existed? The Act of Union—brought about by means I will not now describe, but which was a stain upon the history and the good name of this country— the Act of Union, however gross the error in policy which was committed by its enactment, was a vast Constitutional settlement, and introduced a vast Constitutional change; and when that change had been made it was impossible, in my opinion—it was not warrantable, at any rate—to dream of disturbing it except upon two conditions—first of all, that the change proposed could be safely effected; and, secondly, that it was Constitutionally demanded by the voice of Ireland. Neither of those conditions was fulfilled at the time when Lord Grey and Lord Althorp and others of the Liberal Party declared against the repeal of the Union. In that state of facts, when there was an exceptional state of crime, when it was flagrant in the country, and the public peace was generally disturbed, I did not, and even now I do not see, what opening there was for a Government like that of Sir Robert Peel, or like that of Lord Grey, but to propose a stringent measure. Therefore, Sir, I do not accept all the censure, nor do I feel all the shame, nor do I feel the great regret which some may think I ought to experience on account of my share in those proceedings. But, Sir, we have not refused the lessons of experience. I believe—and apparently the Tories of 1885 believe—that the Government of Lord Spencer and the Crimes Act of 1882 had tried out to the very last the experiment of coercion. But that stringent Bill, administered with a kind and firm hand, had done all that a Coercion Bill could do. What did it do? It reduced the number of crimes, but it left behind a state of things in which the determination of the people to combine, and in which the estrangement of the people from law were wider spread and more rooted than ever. That is the price you must be prepared to pay for any measure of coercion. Having found that no permanent results could be reached in that course, we should be more consistent in looking to another course, just as a physician, having 1190 failed in some particular method, or having insufficiently succeeded in treating a particular disease, varies the means he uses, having always the same end in view. I must observe that on every one of those occasions the voice of the majority of the Representatives of Ireland was in favour of coercive measures. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) has, in this debate, with the advantage of adequate reflection, replied to a speech of mine, and opened upon me his ponderous artillery. The right hon. Gentleman made an appeal to me; he desires me, as an honest man, to admit that the case for the Coercion Bill now before us resembles essentially—is identical essentially with—that of the Bill of 1882.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The right hon. Gentleman could not have chosen a more unfortunate basis for his appeal. If he had appealed to me as an incorrigible blockhead, it would not possibly be more easy or more practicable for me to make the admission he desires— that a set of circumstances, in all respects opposed, are substantially identical.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Did the right hon. Gentleman quote words of mine stating that the cases of 1882 and 1887 were identical?
§ MR. CHAPLIN
What I said was this—these are the words of the right hon. Gentleman—that the announcement made by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) amounted to this, that they were themselves to substitute an arbitrary standard for the standard as regards rents which they had themselves individually agreed to. As I stated, in making that assertion, the right hon. Gentleman had exactly and literally described what the advocates of the Plan of Campaign recommended.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
That statement referred simply to rent; but rent is not a ground for a Coercion Bill —rent and non-payment of rent—unless there is a breaking up of all society. 1191 What I am now going to quote is, I admit, a matter of opinion, and, therefore, I do not ask the acceptance of this statement from hon. Gentlemen opposite; but I give it as my opinion. Hon. Gentlemen are very fond now of talking about their mandate. In my opinion, the majority of hon. Gentlemen in this House had a mandate at the last Election opposed to coercion. We have heard two cases produced to-night of what, to the common sense of mankind, is a most glaring contradiction between the votes intended to be given and the promises made at the Election. In another case I heard, a night or two ago, a Gentleman rise and say that he had never pledged himself against coercion, and he proved his case by reading from his address the promise he had made that Ireland should be governed, not only by just, but by equal laws. Therefore, I believe this is a House of Commons which, according to expectation and to the opinions which are entertained on this side of the House, is totally different from the Parliament of 1882 in having opinions adverse to the enactment of coercive legislation. There is another very important difference indeed on which I must say a word. In the Parliament of 1880, acting in 1881, about this, at all events, there was no doubt. We had, on the one hand, a Bill of coercion, no doubt, to propose; but we had also a measure of relief. The two stood upon the same footing. Is that the case now? [Cries of "Yes!"] I ask whether the measure of relief is a reality or an imposture? [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR dissented.] I will withdraw that word—an illusion. The right hon. Gentleman said that he would use his best efforts to carry the Irish Land Bill. I have said the same thing myself five, 10, or 20 times over, with perfect sincerity of intention, but with grave doubts in my mind as to the power of giving effect to that intention. [Cries of "Oh!"] Certainly with respect to measures of secondary consequence; never with respect to a measure of this nature or consequence. It is useless to talk of this mere intention to pass a Bill. Does the Government intend to stand or fall by the Bill? We are told that there are large numbers of hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House—my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale (the Mar- 1192 quess of Hartington), my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury, my right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain), and others—who have made it an absolute condition of supporting coercion that there should also be relief. Therefore, I want to know whether coercion and relief stand on the same footing now as they stood in 1881; and before we go to a Division this night, I hope and expect that the Government will give us a clear, unequivocal, and unmistakable answer to that question. In 1881 Parliament was nearly a unanimous Parliament, and all those who opposed coercion—I speak, now, in the presence of many of those who opposed it—opposed it, not only as a small minority in this House, but as a decided minority of Irish Members. That, I apprehend, is a most important difference. I come to rent; and the case of rent, in my opinion, is totally different. We have before us the evidence taken before the Commission on Land, and the evidence proves that the demand now made is a demand for moderate abatements. Was that the demand in 1882— according to our view of the case—I will not say now whether we were right or wrong? That is totally irrelevant. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lincolnshire is challenging me to acknowledge the identity of the circumstance. I must take the circumstances as we measured and received them; and we did believe, and stated in 1881, that the movement, in our opinion, was a movement against rent, against contracts, against debts altogether, and threatened to break up society.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The interruption of the right hon. Gentleman is totally irrelevant. He desires me, as an honest man, to acknowledge the identity of the circumstances, and my answer is that I could only acknowledge it as an incorrigible blockhead. The circumstances, as we measured them, were totally different in 1882 from what they are in 1887.
§ MR. CHAPLIN,
rising amid cries of "Order!" said: I wish to make an explanation which the right hon. Gentleman allows me to make. The right hon. Gentleman is speaking under a 1193 total misapprehension as to what I said in debate on this question. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that there was a fundamental distinction between the circumstances of 1881 and now on this ground— that now there is a movement only against unjust rents, whereas then there was a movement against all rents. I showed, in the course of my observations, that the movement against all rent occurred only after the imprisonment of the hon. Member for Cork, and I quoted the words of the right hon. Gentleman to show that precisely the same thing was done now by the advocates of the Plan of Campaign as that for which he imprisoned the hon. Member for Cork and his friends.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
What are we told now? We have now the universal admission that the combinations in Ireland, which have for their object the reduction of rent and the allowance of reasonable abatements, do not, so to speak, blossom into crime, and that the reason they do not issue into crime is because the organization is so perfect; but the fact stands that they do not issue into crime. Was that the case in 1881? No, Sir; our strong contention was that wherever the Land League went, in our opinion, an increase of crime—a flagrant increase of crime—was the consequence. It is impossible to conceive anything more diametrically opposed to the whole circumstances on which this Bill is framed than that I now come to— namely, the greatest circumstance of all, the condition of Ireland. It has been held that the duty of every Government in these times of proposing Coercion Bills to which reference has been made—it has been the acknowledged duty of every Government to show the state of flagrant crime in Ireland. I will quote an authority on that subject which I think states the case very well. Coercion was defined to mean—The repression by exceptional means of exceptional crime and outrage, and if there were no exceptional crime and outrage there would he no exceptional repressive legislation.That is the definition which every 1194 Government have adhered to down to the present time, when the whole circumstances, under the countenance of my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury, are reversed; and the mere fact that a demand is made for coercion seems to carry its own attestation and its own warrant, and astonishment is felt that having adopted the principle of Home Rule we can offer opposition to coercion. My opinion was that for us the choice was made between coercion and Home Rule; but I have known many Gentlemen, and one at any rate—Sir George Trevelyan —has expressed himself with the greatest clearness and ability to this effect—that it is not an option between coercion and Home Rule; we may reject your dangerous or exceptional proposal, and yet we may be the opponents of coercion. We stood on that generally admitted, never contested principle that there must be exceptional crime and outrage to justify coercion, and that if there were no exceptional crime and outrage then there would be no exceptional repressive legislation. I have quoted this definition, and whose definition is it? The definition is contained in a speech made by the most experienced Member of the present Government—the noble Lord the Member for East Leicestershire (Lord John Manners), in the course of a speech delivered in Juno, 1886, at Hatfield Park. I quote it from The Scotsman. The noble Lord laid it down as an essential preliminary condition to exceptional legislation of this kind that there should be an exceptional state of crime. Is it asserted that there is an exceptional state of crime in Ireland at the present time. [Cries of "Yes!"] It is asserted that there is an exceptional state of crime. [Cries of "Yes!"] I am very sorry to hear that, because I must point out to the House that there is nothing of the kind. Nothing was more transparent than the failure of the efforts of the Government to establish this point. We have, indeed, good ground for complaining that the Government have on this point withheld information from the House. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes) and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home 1195 Department (Mr. Matthews) have availed themselves of their official position to obtain every little rag of information that could possibly tell in favour of their views; but they have not laid upon the Table of the House the documents from which they quoted; they put the statistics in their speeches, but withheld them from the House. [Cries of "Oh!"] The document from which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland quoted is not on the Table. The Returns of crime quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary are not in our hands. It is growing into a system for Members of the Government to make use of information unchecked by public criticism, and withhold it until we have given a decisive vote on a question such as this of momentous importance. The noble Lord the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord John Manners) yawns. I envy the noble Lord his state of mind; but I was in hopes that my citation from his speech might have prevented him from doing so, and would have secured for him a minute or two of wakefulness. What is the state of the case as far as we know it? What are the facts before us? How does the case stand with regard to crime in 1885 and crime in 1886? It is alleged that there has been an increase of crime. There has been no increase. There is an increase of some 60 to 100—I do not recollect the exact number—upon the total number of cases reported; but this increase is due, not to an increase in the number of crimes, but to the increase of the number of threatening letters. As to the crimes, they stood in 1885 at 512, and in 1886 at 518. Are threatening letters to be regarded as outrages? [Cries of "Yes!"] Then all I can say is, that I myself have been a severe sufferer from hundreds of outrages. The outrages perpetrated on me have all proceeded from those who are sometimes known as the loyal and sometimes as the law-abiding Party. I can go one step further, and say that these outrages on me have proceeded from the quintessence of the law-abiding Party, because they have proceeded from some of the most pious persons in the country. The occasion on which I received more threatening letters than during the whole of my long life, before or since, was during the time of the legisla- 1196 tion for the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. The select part of the law-abiding Party—the highly devout and religious Party—adopted this method and sent me all these threatening letters either for the purpose of amusing themselves or endeavouring to frighten me. Well, leaving out of account the threatening letters, it appears that there were in 1885 512 offences, and in 1886 518, which, for purposes of comparison, I state to be identical. But there is a fact which ought to be observed— namely, that it might be said that in 1885 crime was greatly reduced, because for eight months of that year the Crimes Act was in force. In 1886 there was no Crimes Act or any special legislation whatever, and yet the amount of crime did not increase, and this under circumstances of pressure caused by agricultural distress so extreme as would not have warranted or excused, but would have accounted for, some not inconsiderable amount of increase of crime. Therefore, I say that the case of the Government has entirely broken down, and that we are now called upon to establish a new principle in regard to coercive legislation. My noble Friend the Member for Rossendale estimated that he gathered that if circumstances were different I might not have objected to this Bill. I have neither said that I would or that I would not. It is not wise to lay down abstract propositions on such subjects; but what I will say is that he, who is the most important supporter of this Bill—for I cannot compare any single Gentleman on the Government Bench in importance with my noble Friend—is going to establish a new principle, a retrogressive principle, with regard to Irish repressive legislation—namely, that we may introduce into the House of Commons and pass such a measure in defiance of the precedents of half-a-century, and without the prevalence of that exceptional crime which the noble Lord opposite declares to be essential in order to justify it. The condition of Ireland is, no doubt, a matter which it is our business to look to when we are discussing a Coercion Bill. In regard to crime, we find that there has not been an increase; but there are some other subjects upon which it is important to obtain information, and which ought to attract our attention. And, first, in regard to the death-rate 1197 as it affects the people. In England and in Scotland we have had a happy state of things with regard to the death-rate. Comparing the years 1861 to 1870 with the years 1881 to 1885, England shows a diminution of about 15 per cent in the death-rate; Scotland shows a. diminution of about 13 per cent; and there is a gain of British lives in that period of 82,000. What is the case of Ireland, which was to have the full benefits of equal legislation? In Ireland the death-rate has increased by 8 per cent; and while 82,000 British lives have been saved 8,000 Irish lives have been lost in consequence of the increase of the death-rate. I say that such facts as these bearing on the general condition of Ireland cannot be excluded from the view of the House of Commons, when it is called upon to meet a case of this kind without any justification whatever for the increase of crime; and it is well for us to ask how we have succeeded in the stewardship that we undertook at the Union, and what credit the great cardinal facts of the case reflect on the statesmanship of England and on the conduct of the United Parliament, I will quote two or three lines from a very useful volume produced by a distinguished statistician—Mr. Mulhall—and recently published. Proceeding to treat of the state of Ireland, he says at page 114 that—The present Reign has been the most disastrous since that of Queen Elizabeth. The following statistics show:—Died from famine in the Reign of which we are now celebrating the Jubilee—died from famine in Ireland, 1,225,000 persons; evicted in Ireland, 3,668,000 persons; number of emigrants from Ireland, 4,186,000 persons.The great bulk of these emigrants, of course, have gone to America, and then people are astonished to find that there is sympathy in America for Ireland. The distinguished writer of the book goes on to compute—of course, it is only a computation—that these 4,186,000 emigrants have produced, since they quitted Irish shores, for the benefit of the country to which they went, wealth to the amount of about £665,000,000. That is a very sad and mournful retrospect, which appears to afford some apology for those who have thought it was time to review our position, and consider whether the character of England, as much as the happiness of Ireland, did not absolutely require that we should 1198 endeavour to escape from the groove within which we have been confined in order to find some bettor method of fulfilling the high duties we undertook, and which we undertook in defiance of the national wish of Ireland, and which we are, therefore, bound more sacredly and more affectionately to perform. Now, Sir, I come to the contents of the Bill. I pass over almost all of them with great rapidity. It is a complex Bill. It is impossible but that there should be many points, being those of difficulty and of some obscurity, which must make some demand on the time and patience of the House to discuss them properly. [Cries of "No!"] Oh! I quite understand. The fact that this is a Coercion Bill is a sufficient reason, apparently, in some hon. Gentlemen's opinion, for waiving discussion and passing it without examination. As such a measure would never be asked for unless it was necessary, although it is asked for in contempt of what has been invariably considered an essential preliminary condition to the necessity of any such demand, these are what I may call the minor provisions of the Bill; and even with respect to these, especially after the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the late Solicitor General for Scotland (Mr. Asher), some reserves must be made, and I am not at all prepared to make that admission, without further consideration, as to the 1st clause which, undoubtedly, I should have been prepared to make with less instruction on the subject. That, I think, must stand for further consideration. We have a great advantage on this occasion, because we have the Bill in our hands. The verbal accounts we received of the Bill gave no idea whatever of its contents, which were kept back, so that we were left absolutely in the dark on points that were really of importance. I noticed in a former speech two points— which I may call salient points—in the Bill—namely, the provision for the removal of the issue from Ireland to Great Britain, and the provision for the perpetuity of the Bill As to the provision for the removal of the trial from Ireland to Great Britain, it is not worth opening a fresh discussion; and, therefore, I now pass it by. I do not believe it to be of the essence of the Bill, nor do I believe the perpetuity of the measure to be of its essence, al- 1199 though both of them are subjects of great importance, on which we have much to say, and to both of which it will be my duty to offer a firm and resolute opposition. I do not enter into their merits now, because I do not wish unnecessarily to detain the House, upon whose patience I have already trespassed at considerable length. Then comes the question of the Whiteboy Acts. Now, what we contend for is that the provisions of the Whiteboy Acts, which it is intended to bring within the scope of the Bill, shall be printed and set out in the Bill itself, and be made the subject of enactment. I do not believe that the House has the smallest idea of what they are. To tell me that they are now part of the law is to toll me nothing at all. They are a part of the law if, unhappily, that fact has escaped the vigilence of those whose duty it might be to notice it—they are a part of the law subject, at any rate, to the knowledge of the Judge and the justice of the jury, and here the accused has a defence. But what are we to say with regard to the proposal to place under the jurisdiction of two Resident Magistrates the power of imposing six months' hard labour for posting, circulating, or forwarding in any way any document which directs or requires any person to do or refrain from doing any act? That is one of the provisions under which two Resident Magistrates are to be empowered to inflict six months' hard labour. I say it is our duty to ask, and we must ask and press for having these enactments set out in the Bill that we may know what we are doing. As to the right of public meeting, I believe it is to be virtually suppressed by the Bill. It is to be an offence to meet in any way to the terror of Her Majesty's subjects. Well and good. And who is to judge of the terror? Two Resident Magistrates? The "terror of Her Majesty's subjects" is, then, an arbitrary and indefinite expression to be interpreted by prejudice and ignorance, for nobody can say that prejudice and ignorance are never to be found upon the Bench of Resident Magistrates in Ireland. But even that I do not believe to be the essence of the Bill. We come nearer to its heart when we come to the clause empowering the Lord Lieutenant to put down associations. It is perfectly plain that the Lord Lieutenant, if he agrees— 1200 as I presume he does— with the present Government and their supporters, must of course and at once put down what is called the National League, and not only the National League, but every association which promotes among the Irish people those combinations for procuring a reduction of rent which Sir Redvers Buller declares to have been the means through which rent reductions have been effected, and without which they would not have been effected. I think it is a moderate proposition to say that it is not right that under a proclamation of this kind men who are connected with an association like the National League should be deprived of the protection of a Judge and jury, and brought before Resident Magistrates, empowered to pass sentence of six months' imprisonment with hard labour. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) has stated, the real essence of the Bill lies in Clause 2. I have already objected to this Bill as a Crimes Bill, and I utterly repel and refuse and repudiate it as a Crimes Bill. This is not a Bill the real object of which is to deal with crimes that are known to exist and known to the law. You may leave out of the Bill everything relating to crimes that are known, and yet it will continue to retain the bulk and pith and heart which makes us so determinedly oppose it—that is, the creation of new crimes. This Parliament, elected for the first time by a fully enfranchised people, is not only asked to pass a Crimes Act, without the fulfilment of the elementary conditions hitherto always attached to such a demand, but it is asked also to pass a Bill extending the category of crimes, and to make things crimes which were never crimes before. What is the heading of the 2nd clause? "Extension of the Summary Jurisdiction." That is a misnomer. There is something more important than the extension of summary jurisdiction in the clause, and that is the creation of new crimes. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby pointed out the other night that the phrase "criminal conspiracy" in the Bill was a phrase of which it was difficult to speak with respect, that the word "criminal" was surplusage, and that the expression was nonsense. [Sir RICHARD WEBSTER dissented.] The hon. and learned Gentleman the 1201 Attorney General shakes his head. Would he like to hear a man speak of "criminal burglary" or "criminal murder?" No; he would not, for he does not now shake his head. I have consulted law dictionaries and other law books to see what the ground was under my feet, and I find that conspiracy is a misdemeanour, is in itself an offence and crime, and no answer has been made to the protest of my right hon. Friend against the introduction of this word "criminal," which gives a phrase which may fairly be called nonsense. However, what shall we do by passing this clause? In the first place, we shall enact that anybody may be found guilty under the clause who induces anyone else to a non-fulfilment of legal obligations. Now, let me take the case of a man who induces another not to pay his rent. I suppose myself a joint tenant, and I believe myself to be over-rented— that is to say, to be entitled to a reduction of rent in the present depressed state of agriculture. I know what Sir Redvers Buller has said in his evidence; I know what the Commission has recommended; and I know that that Commission was appointed by the Government to bring the matter to an issue. Well, in these circumstances, is it a great offence if I persuade or argue with my brother joint tenants that they ought to decline to pay their rents, and if they agree with me? [Mr. MATTHEWS assented.] The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, I am glad to see, gives a benevolent nod. All the same I make that observation; and certainly when I look at the Land Bill it appears to me that that nod is out of place, because that measure has compassion or compunction for no person under a judicial rent except on one condition, and that is the condition that he shall refuse to pay the rent. If he refuses to pay the rent there immediately come into view all manner of benefits. Sir Robert Walpole once said that the way to the Temple of Honour lay through the Temple of Virtue; and I think the reader of the Government Land Bill may say that the way to Paradise leads through bankruptcy. Under this Bill a man is to be allowed to present a petition to make himself a bankrupt. By going into Court he may procure the benefit of a reduction of rent, provided only that he is made a bankrupt first. He may take the bene- 1202 fit of the arrangement for as long as it lasts, and before it expires he may go into Court and be made bankrupt again, procure renewed benefits, and so toties quoties. I will not undertake to define what lawyers are somewhat puzzled about, as I understand—that is, the precise amount and limitation of these benefits. All I know is that they are exceedingly attractive, and that they may very well induce a man—a joint tenant—in Ireland to persuade another joint tenant not to pay rent. But suppose he does that; suppose he gets all the benefits of these provisions in bankruptcy, and suppose at the same time that he is brought before the Resident Magistrates for having conspired, having induced the other joint tenants to conspire, for the non-fulfilment of his legal obligation, while he gets the benefits of bankruptcy by going into Court, he at the same time gets the benefit of six months' hard labour for refusing the fulfilment of his obligation. I mention this as a matter that throws my mind into much difficulty, perplexity, and uncertainty; but I come to a case which is a great deal clearer. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby referred to that which I conceive to be the central proposition of the Bill—namely, this—that any man who practises exclusive dealing and induces anybody else to practise it may be visited with six months' hard labour. Is there any doubt about that?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Then-has anybody got the Bill? [the Bill was handed to the right hon. Gentleman]— "any person who shall take part in any criminal conspiracy"—that is, in any conspiracy, for a conspiracy is criminal—I leave out the words immaterial to my purpose—To induce any person or persona not to let, hire, use, or occupy any land, or not to deal with, work for, or hire any person or persons in the ordinary course of trade, business, or occupation.Is there any doubt about the meaning of those words? Is there any doubt that they render a person liable to be brought before the magistrates and punished with six months' hard labour for the 1203 practice of exclusive dealing, and for inducing other persons to practise it? Is there any doubt about that?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Oh, nonsense. "It turns upon the words criminal conspiracy." It is admitted, then, that if a conspiracy is criminal, it is to induce any person to practise by a criminal conspiracy exclusive dealing, and they will be liable to six months with hard labour. Then I refer, Sir, to the argument of my right hem. Friend, to which no person on the Treasury Bench or elsewhere has attempted the slightest answer; and I ask again—Is not every conspiracy criminal? Is not every conspiracy an offence, a crime, and a misdemeanour? I expect a reply to that from anyone on the Treasury Bench; I shall be glad of a reply from any one of the legal authorities. Now I say that this is an extension of the category of crime. It makes the Bill not a Bill against crime, but against combination. What is combination? Combination in Ireland is now detached from crime. It is because it is detached generally from crime that you are going to strike at it as combination. Combination, Sir, is the weapon by means of which—and by means of which alone— the Irish people, in their weakness and in their poverty, have been able to make head against the wealthy and the strong. If you could put down combination— aye, and combination for exclusive dealing, not combination with intimidation, which is a totally different matter—you would deprive the Irish people of that which Sir Redvers Buller tells you has been their only available weapon. What, then, is the first proposition that comes out about this Bill? It is a Bill aimed at the Irish people. It is idle to talk of criminals; it is idle to talk of guilty persons hero and there. It is a Bill aimed at the nation—[Cries of "No!" —a taking away from the nation. [Cries of "No!"] Is that not true? [Cries of "No!"] Without interruptions of that kind, is it not lawful for me 1204 to state my opinion? Does the noble Lord and others who sit near him really think that kind of cry of "No" upon a matter of argument carries with. it demonstrative conclusion? It is totally contrary to all the usages and practice of this House, and absolutely at variance with them. I know that it cannot be suppressed effectively from the Chair; but I only wish to observe that no object is gained by it. In my opinion, the first thing is that this is a Bill evidently aimed against the people of Ireland. Do not let it be supposed for a moment that I look with indifference on exclusive dealing. I think my noble Friend the Member for Rossendale described it very fairly tonight as a very great evil—a gross evil, which, in England, a good many among the wealthy classes use. But that which is here done from wantonness is done in Ireland from necessity. That is upon the evidence of your witnesses. If this is a Bill against the people of Ireland, the next effect of the Bill will be that which appears to me as the effect of the whole policy of the Government, and of my noble Friend the Member for Eossendale—namely, what is called to play into the hands of the hon. Member for Cork and his Friends. The more Bills of this kind you have the more you mark your policy with this character— the more you strengthen the influence which is exercised by these hon. Gentlemen. I do not mean at this time to go into any questions connected with the hon. Gentleman and his Friends further than this—to say that I, at least, have never, in this House or elsewhere, since the year 1881—never, upon any single occasion, seen in his words or acts a disposition unfavourable to law and order, or to the fulfilment of legal obligations. He has never used a word to that effect; but I say this, on the other hand—and I should think I probably understand what I say—that I long for the time to come when the people of Ireland shall come into more natural relations with those who are their superiors in wealth and station; when the upper classes, the leisured classes of the country, who are now in the main separated, unhappily—many excellent men there are among them, men who, trying their very best to do their duty in different circumstances, but being, as a body, separated from the people—I long for the day when they shall become 1205 competitors with the hon. Member for Cork in the exercise of the natural, genuine, and legitimate influence which I believe, undoubtedly, in all circumstances, to be essential to the healthy condition of the body politic. I object, therefore, to this Bill, because, whereas we are told that Home Rule is to give power to the hon. Gentleman and his Friends, I say that Home Rule is opening the door to others to make it desirable for others to enter it in competition with him for the favours and the love of the Irish people. Well, Sir, if this is a Bill to put down combination, through the medium of its enactment, against exclusive dealing, and, in some degree, combinations against the performance of legal obligations, it is a Bill for the increase, and not the diminution, of crime. I ought to say this to remind you of the inequality with respect to the fulfilment of legal obligations you are now going to introduce into the law of Ireland. You are going to make all combination against a legal obligation, although it be one which you are giving every encouragement to people to set aside, illegal, and to make it punishable with six months' hard labour. But in your own Trade Union Act you have enabled the members of trade unions to work against legal obligations, because, by the Act of August 11, 1875, you have enacted that an agreement or combination of two or more persons to do or promise to have done any act in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute between employers and workmen shall not be indictable as a conspiracy if such an act, committed by one person only, would not be an offence. Trade disputes, as a whole, are about the non-fulfilment of contracts. Now, Sir, is it or is it not true that, if this Bill produces an important effect against known combinations, it will lead to an increase of crime? I hold, beyond doubt, that it will lead to an increase of crime, through the increase of secret societies. My noble Friend the Member for Rossendale, with the candour which I must say never deserts him even under great pressure, admitted that it was possible that there might be an increase of secret societies under a Bill of this sort. Now, Sir, here is a document which expresses the sentiments of the Bishops and clergy of one of the Roman Catholic dioceses. 1206 They state the case thus; and, though there are one or two epithets stronger than I should use, the statement is, nevertheless, substantially most just—The folly of imposing coercion," says the Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, "on a people among whom public crime of any magnitude is comparatively rare, is only equalled by it a wickedness. It offers excuses to designing men to lead our youths into secret societies; and such societies, under the pretext of resisting the unjust oppression of coercion, will soon produce a deadly harvest of crime. Therefore, in the interests of social order, as well as because eternal interests will be jeopardized, we raise our warning voices, declaring before God and man that the authors and projectors of the proposed legislation will be responsible for the evils which will follow if they are carried into effect.These are strong epithets, which I do not adopt—excusable, perhaps, under the circumstances; but every other word I entirely and cordially accept. Sir, depend upon it legislation against a nation is vain and futile. Combination in Ireland cannot be put down. For 30 years after the Union Ireland practically had hardly a voice in Parliament. So limited was the popular power, that its first manifestation was when O'Connell was elected against Vesey Fitzgerald. In granting the been of Catholic emancipation in 1829, almost everything that savoured of popular representation in the former law was put down by the Duke of Wellington and Sir Robert Peel in the new law with respect to the 40s. freeholder. For a long time the franchise in Ireland was limited, and the representation was consequently less effective. But we have now extended it, and put it upon a basis of real and genuine equality with Great Britain; and the consequence is that you have a national declaration of such strength and firmness, and evidently destined to such permanence of existence, that it is idle to suppose you can pass it by as if it did not exist. Combination cannot be put down. If it is driven beneath the surface it will work by secret societies. The question is by whom it is desirable that combination should be guided. I say that it is desirable that it should be guided by those who are responsible to this House, who appear among us, against whom accusations can be made, whose language and acts can be questioned. It is of immense public importance that combination should not be carried on by secret agents, shielded 1207 by popular sympathy, and withdrawn altogether from our view and our control. That is the alternative. We say that combination, if it cannot be avoided in the present unhappy circumstances of Ireland, ought to be guided by responsible persons in public positions. The Bill says—"Let it be guided by secret societies." But in promoting the action of secret societies you go further; you go most unwittingly in contravention of all the wishes of the people; you give encouragement even to the extremest forms of crime. I hear of combination and correspondence between hon. Gentlemen in this House and gentlemen who have contemplated methods of violence. In my opinion, those who contemplate acts of violence—those to whom the ideas of the dagger and dynamite are familiar—will look with satisfaction on the proceedings of the Government. Happily, the people of Ireland—as we see from the enormous reduction of the crime of that country—the people of Ireland have become weaned in a wonderful degree from the use of, or from the countenance of, violence. This has not been the consequence of coercive legislation; it has been the consequence of attempts—sincere, well-meant, and in a degree successful—to give them justice. This Bill tends to drive them back into the arms of those who would incite them to crime; it tends again to produce that temporary indulgence in crime which is the necessary accompaniment of indulgence in oppression. The Bill, Sir, In my view, is a cup of poison. I will have no part in presenting this cup to the lips of Ireland. It must be offered to her by other hands than mine. To me, it will be honour and happiness enough should I be permitted the smallest share in dashing it to the ground.
§ THE OHIEF SEOEETAEY FOE IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
Sir, I am sorry to stand between the hon. Member opposite and the House; but the House will have perceived that after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and which was from end to end a condemnation of the policy of Her Majesty's 1208 Government, it is absolutely necessary that someone responsible for that policy should forthwith make a reply. I will make that reply as short as I can. I confess that when I first knew it would be my lot to speak for the fourth time on this subject, and that I should have to follow the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, I felt I had a heavy task before me; but, now that I have heard the right hon. Gentleman's speech, I confess that my terrors are entirely dissipated. Now, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman's speech was remarkable for much that it said, and it was remarkable also for something that it left unsaid. The debate on Friday night and in the early part of this evening's discussion has become extremely hot—too hot, I fear, for the proper conduct of our proceedings—and a subject has been raised, for the first time, of great importance in connection with this Bill. I do not, however, propose to do more than touch upon it— the right hon. Gentleman did not touch upon it at all. He contented himself with passing a eulogium upon the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell). I must, in reply to the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton), tell him that the subject on which he touched, and which was touched upon by the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson), is entirely relevant to the subject-matter of this Bill, because it deals with the leaders who have had the management, first of the Land League, and then of the National League; and the character of those leaders cannot be a matter of indifference when we are discussing the character of this organization, which we believe to be in no small degree responsible for the existing state of terrorism in Ireland. The hon. Member tells us that the editor of The Times deserves to be hanged. Well, the law of this country will not permit it.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Well, the forger, or the proprietor. [Interruption.] I hope the House will hear me out. The hon. Member for West Belfast can bring on the owner and editor as serious a punishment as ever he could desire through a Court of Law. The hon. Member said he would go from end to end of England and refute the calumnious assertions that have been made. I 1209 will suggest to him a better way. Let him bring his case into Court; let him have it tried where it can be tried fairly.
§ MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
Will the right hon. Gentleman change the venue, and let the trial take place in Ireland?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
If the hon. Gentleman and his Friends refrain from that course, and betake themselves to platform oratory, I give them this warning—that the people of this country will form the inevitable conclusion that they prefer to stand on a platform where they can make any assertion they like without fear of contradiction, rather than appear in a witness-box in a Court of Law where they would have to pass through the ordeal of cross-examination. I leave that point, however, which I have never regarded as material to my case, and I pass on to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. That speech divided itself into two parts—the part in which he dealt with the provisions of the Bill, and that in which he dealt with the evidence for crime on which we base our policy. I will take them in that order. The right hon. Gentleman insinuated, and more than insinuated, that Resident Magistrates are not the proper judges to whom summary jurisdiction should be entrusted. But a similar jurisdiction was given to Resident Magistrates by the right hon. Gentleman's Bill in 1882, and under the Bill of 1870 summary jurisdiction was not only given to Resident Magistrates, but also to ordinary magistrates, who might be, and probably were, landlords. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to give his view of that section of the Bill which deals with criminal conspiracy. The right hon. Gentleman must, I think, have taken his law from the right hon. Member for Derby. That right hon. Gentleman has long discarded the epithet "learned;" and his legal observations in this House appear now to be confused by some faint and half-forgotten reminiscences of the studies of his youth. I am not an authority on legal matters, but I am informed that the whole version of the Law of Conspiracy given by the right hon. Member for Derby, and repeated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, is erroneous. Both right hon. Gentlemen agree that the word "criminal," as applied to "conspiracy," is 1210 superfluous. I am informed that that view is incorrect. The whole of the clause is governed by the fact that the conspiracy is a criminal conspiracy—that is to say, that it aims at unlawful ends by lawful means, or at lawful ends by unlawful moans. There may be a perfectly innocent combination—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
So I am told. I do not know whether the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian is giving us his own law. I can assure the House that I am not giving it my own law. I am advised that a conspiracy need not be criminal; and, therefore, the case of two tenants guilty of a conspiracy because they agree not to take a farm, or not to pay a certain rent, is purely imaginary and wholly impossible. Under the Bill, one man may induce another not to pay rent, or not to deal with A B, by lawful means, without being liable to punishment. But if he combines with another by criminal means to do either of these things, no doubt he will be liable for criminal conspiracy, and would come under the provisions of the Bill. What, then, becomes of the criticism of the right hon. Gentleman? It vanishes altogether in smoke. I now come to the main point of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, in which he treated of the evidence on which the Bill is framed. I do not dwell on the subject touched on by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian—namely, the American support given to hon. Gentlemen opposite. The right hon. Gentleman has heard of the Irish vote in America. Does he recollect that in a certain speech in a certain critical stage of a contest he himself seemed very conscious that the virtue of a Party might be strained to the breaking point in order to get the Irish vote even in England? [An hon. MEMBER: How about Canada?] There is an Irish vote even in Canada. It is a cosmopolitan evil which cannot be avoided. Does he doubt that the same temptation may have influenced gentlemen on the other side of the Atlantic who may not have the same motives as we have for wishing to see the law obeyed? If the right hon. Gentleman has heard of the Irish vote, may I not take that into account, and make some abatement from the value which he gives to the American criticism of English politics 1211 Leaving this topic, the right hon. Gentleman then went on to ask us whether we were committed to our Land Bill. I do not think I ever heard a more extraordinary question addressed to the Government of the country by the responsible Opposition. Of course, the Government are committed to every Bill of the first class which they bring in. Does the right hon. Gentleman suppose that it is a sham, an imposture, an illusion? If so, what possible grounds has he for that supposition? I confess, when I see the reception which that Bill has met with both from hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway and right hon. Gentlemen above, the Government have very little inducement to go on with it; because, for purposes which we may guess, but into which it is not my business to enter, they appear to have entered into an "innocent conspiracy" to denounce a measure which I believe will do more to prevent anything harsh in the operation of the Land Laws in Ireland than any other measure ever proposed by the Government of this country. Then the right hon. Gentleman complains bitterly, and not for the first time, of the manner in which the Government has withheld statistical information from the House. We have given to the House as much information as any of our Predecessors. The right hon. Gentleman's memory deceives him. He goes back to August, 1881; and it is undoubtedly true that the late Mr. Forster gave to the House exceptional statistical and other information. But, at that time, the system of criminal statistics was begun which has been continued down to the present time, By that system it has always been supposed that the House has been kept adequately informed of the condition of crime in Ireland. It was supposed to be sufficient in 1882, when the Government brought in their Crimes Bill, and the present Government have followed the precedent, and have given similar statistics. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne accused us of having withheld information which it was customary to give to Parliament. We have done nothing of the kind. Every single bit of information which it has been customary to give we have given, and the Returns which I gave to right hon. Gentlemen opposite were given in addition to the customary information. 1212 But I am bound to say that the temptation to give statistics to right hon. Gentlemen opposite is not increased by the manner in which they use them. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has again reiterated the assertion that, excluding threatening letters from the statistics of crime, the number of offences in 1886 only exceeds by six those of 1885. The right hon. Gentleman has not taken the trouble to look at the statistics which we gave him. Excluding threatening letters, crime in 1886 stood to crime in 1885 as 632 to 506, so that instead of exceeding by six it exceeded it by over 120. The right hon. Gentleman has been already corrected once in this matter; but, wholly undeterred, he repeats the original error, and I have no doubt that, in spite of this second contradiction, hon. Gentlemen opposite will go about the country and will announce that crime in 1886 was the same as in 1885; or that if it differed at all, it differed only from it by six cases. Now, I confess that I do not think that the case which he has made against us is a very formidable one; but I suppose his excuse will be that the work is already done, and that he has nothing to add to the speech made some days ago by the hon. Member for Cork. Both the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby rely, and rely solely, as far as I can understand it, upon the speech made by the hon. Member for Cork last week in support of their case. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has informed us that the hon. Member for Cork has torn my case, I think he said, to tatters, and I suppose he has not thought it necessary to repeat the operation to-night. I confess that when I heard the speech of the hon. Member for Cork, which I listened to with admiration as a great Parliamentary effort, extremely interesting and extremely eloquent, the one part of it which I thought neither very important nor very interesting was that in which he dealt with our statistical case. But I bow to the superior judgment of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, and will accept the hon. Member for Cork's speech as the authorized exposition of the case for the Opposition. I proceed, then, to deal with his criticisms in detail. I will not go into the case of Mr. Crosby. The hon. Mem- 1213 ber for Cork gave a long and eloquent account of the wrongs of this Mr. Crosby and the action taken by the late Mr. Forster in 1881, under circumstances which the hon. Member said indicated great tyranny. It is not ray business to defend the late Mr. Forster, or the arbitrary acts, if they were arbitrary, of the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his Government. I believe the version given by the hon. Member for Cork was entirely incorrect; and if the right hon. Gentleman desires to refute the hon. Member for Cork I will supply him with materials; but, in the meanwhile, I do not think it will be good taste to interfere in this lovers' quarrel. The next question which the hon. Gentleman dealt with was that of the Judges' charges, and there he was followed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby. I confess that to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, who since the alliance which he has contracted with the Party below the Gangway has adopted not only their friendship but their weapons; who has held high office once, and may hold it again—to hear him attacking the Irish and English Judges, and giving the House to understand that everything of an arbitrary character which has ever taken place in the administration of the Irish and English law was due to the Judges was a thing profoundly to be deplored. Upon that point I can only say that all my Predecessors, who like myself have had to perform the painful task of presenting Coercion Bills to the House, have, like myself, relied upon the charges of the the Judges. The hon. Member for Cork, with whose speech I am still dealing, went on to quote some figures relating to crime in Ireland which he asserts I stated in the course of my remarks, and from which he professed to draw the conclusion that there were after all only 755 crimes committed in the course of the year 1886. Here, again, however, the hon. Member has misquoted me. What I said—and I am quoting from the report of my speech in The Times— was that the figures related not to the crime of the year, but to that of the interval between the Summer and Winter Assizes, and that they further related only to the more grave offences. Therefore, the hon. Member for Cork appears to be as unfortunate in quoting my 1214 figures as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has been in quoting the figures which have been laid upon the Table of the House. Then the hon. Member for Cork proceeded to deal with the subject of the intimidation of witnesses, and a more important subject than that it is impossible to imagine. It lies at the root of the whole Irish Question. The hon. Member says that the injured persons who suffered outrages and who refused to come forward as witnesses had been hurt in faction fights, in which case it was regarded as a point of honour not to give information to the police. There are two answers to be given to that statement—in the first place, that in cases where persons were injured in faction fights in Ireland last year information was given to the police and the guilty persons were punished; and, in the second place, that in the months I have referred to not a single faction fight occurred in the district in question.
§ MR. PARNELL
I said there were also disputes arising out of drunkenness ill returning home from fairs. That applies to the figures which the right hon. Gentleman quoted. As a matter of fact, there were plenty of faction fights during the period referred to by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Upon the latter point the hon. Member is mistaken. I have the police reports as my authority, and the hon. Gentleman's usual complaint is, that the police reports do no under-state, but over-state crime. With regard to the point that evidence is not given of those crimes, I may refer to the case of the Curtin family. In the early days of this debate all hon. Member opposite said that that case occurred two years ago. That is true; but the Curtin family have been subjected to the most monstrous treatment down to the very moment at which I am speaking. I received only a few days ago an account of the misery to which they had been subjected. The facts are these —In 1885 John Curtin was assaulted in his house by a band of Moonlighters—ruffians, armed and disguised, and he was shot. One of his daughters pulled off the mask from one of the criminals and identified him, and eventually two of these scoundrels were convicted, and were sentenced to 14 years' penal servitude. Ever since that time, and down to this day, the widow and her family 1215 have been persecuted with a relentless ferocity which only fiends incarnate could invent. She and her family have not been allowed to attend Mass on Sunday. They have been rigidly Boycotted, labourers have refused to work on their farm, and notices threatening them with death have been posted on their door during the night. Mrs. Curtin advertised her interest in the farm to be sold by auction; but no bidder came forward, because notices had been posted threatening the purchaser with the same death that Curtin had met with. So much for tenant right in that district. Mrs. Curtin determined to sell her dairy cattle and buy dry stock; but the man who promised to care for the cattle was visited by night and threatened with death. Consequently the widow and her six orphan children have been left helpless. This is a perfectly authentic statement of the most recent phase of this horrible case. Can you wonder that after that those who are the victims of outrage do not willingly come forward in a Court of Law to give evidence? One more case I will cite. A man named Mullins, in County Clare, was the principal witness in a case of Moonlighting which occurred in December last; and he was not only the principal witness, but the principal victim. His house was entered by a disguised party, who knocked him down, beat him, kicked him, and fired at him. He fully identified his assailants, who were, however, acquitted at the last Ennis Assizes. The Police Authorities report that his life is now in great danger; and if he were to remain in the county he would require constant protection. The family of Mullins consists of his wife, aged upwards of 60, in delicate health, and his niece, a young girl. He has recently stated that he had no desire to leave his home in Ireland; but that he was willing to go to England, America, or anywhere, as he was starving and would have to go to the workhouse. Yet his only crime was that of going into a Court of Law and swearing to the identity of the men who so brutally outraged him. Is it a matter of surprise after that to have this extraordinary number of persons injured refusing to come forward as witnesses in your Courts? Having dealt with the question of the intimidation of witnesses, the hon. Member for Cork went on to deal with the question of jurors, and he com- 1216 plained of me because the four cases of failure of justice that I chose were not selected from the counties where crime was worst. Why did I not select them from the counties where crime was worst? It was because I wanted to show that, even where crime was not worst, the state of the country was such that justice could not be got in the Courts of Law. There was no difficulty in finding such cases in Clare, Cork, Kerry, and the West and South-West of Ireland. They abounded. In no less than four counties—in Kerry, Limerick, Clare, and Galway, not only was there a failure of juries to convict, but the jurors were so obviously wanting in the power or the wish to do their duty that the Judge had to postpone cases to the next Assizes. So much for that complaint against me that I had avoided dealing with the counties where crime was worst. Yes, Sir; and then the hon. Gentleman began to criticize specific cases I had brought forward of a failure of justice. I brought forward four cases. The hon. Gentleman criticized two of them—only two— and of one of them he gave two versions, which were inconsistent with each other. He gave them both as true, although they could not both be true; but he pledged himself to prove the truth of them before a Committee of this House. Well, not only was one of them untrue, but, as it happens, both were untrue. The hon. Gentleman challenged the Under Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant to appeal to the Crown Solicitor. I appealed to the Crown Solicitor, and he gives an entirely different version to that of the hon. Member for Cork. What does the Crown Solicitor say? [A VOICE: Mr. Bolton.] Mr. Bolton—yes. Yes, Sir; it was at the instance of the hon. Member for Cork that the appeal was made to Mr. Bolton to ascertain the truth of the case. I have appealed to Mr. Bolton, and he distinctly contradicts the version of the hon. Member; but I have not contented myself with appealing to Mr. Bolton; I have appealed also to the Crown Counsel, and what the Crown Counsel says is this—[An hon. MEMBER: Who is the Crown Counsel?] Mr. B. Ryan, Q.C.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
It was Clark's case. I beg pardon; it was my fault; I should have explained before that it 1217 was Clark's case. Crown Counsel inform me that the evidence was of a very conclusive kind, and if there had been DO disturbing elements they would have had a conviction. [An hon. MEMBER: That is no contradiction.]
§ MR. PARNELL
Will the right hon. Gentleman do me the justice to remember that, in this case of Clark's, my informant admitted that there should have been a conviction, and pointed out that it was owing to the difficult nature of the case that some of the juries failed to agree. In the statement that the right hon. Gentleman has given, there is no contradiction of the statement of my informant that only two jurymen dissented from the verdict of guilty.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman says there is no disagreement at all. Mr. Ryan says that there is no foundation for that statement; the case was an extremely simple one, and the prisoner had been convicted of the same kind of fraud before.
§ MR. PARNELL
Mr. Ryan gives no opinion of his own about the division of the jury. He says, he was informed that the jury were divided.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Now I pass from the case of Clark, with regard to which the hon. Member for Cork gave two inconsistent versions.
§ MR. PARNELL
The only inconsistency of the two versions I gave is, that one informant stated that two jurors held out, and the other said that only one had done so.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I confess I thought from the interruption of the hon. Member that he thought that the question of the precise number of jurymen who held out was extremely important. Now, I come to the case of the man Hogan, which, the House will remember, was one of a brutal outrage on a girl. There again I appealed to the Crown Solicitor and to the Crown Counsel; they both agreed that the case was an extremely strong one, and the Crown Counsel said that he must do Irish jurors the justice to acknowledge their readiness to convict in such cases; but he feared that in this case there was something more than the evidence operating upon their minds. After that, the hon. Member will admit that in the only two cases which the hon. Member criticized out of the four I mentioned, I have ample evidence from the best 1218 sources that my statements were absolutely correct.
§ MR. PARNELL
I referred to the Assistant Secretary of the right hon. Gentleman, or to the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel King-Harman)—who has since become his assistant—and to the Crown Counsel, with regard to the question of how the jurors were divided, and in no other respect.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
the Crown Counsel says—Upon the general question, I regret I have been forced to the conclusion that in Tipperary, in cases of crimes of an agrarian character, it is impossible to get jurors to convict, no matter how clear the evidence may be.The Crown Counsel goes on to say that he knew beforehand what the result of a trial would be; that they set aside jurors coming from the immediate neighbourhood of where the offence had been committed, for fear of intimidation; but that the course was adopted of putting forward a witness for the prisoner, not because he could bring forward any evidence bearing on the case, but to show that the prisoner possessed the sympathy of a certain powerful organization, and this had its effect even upon jurors who lived at a distance from the scene of the outrage. So much for the particular cases I have brought forward, and the general proposition that jurors will not convict. Then the hon. Member for Cork went on to deal with Boycotting. Now, with regard to Boycotting, there is no case to be made by hon. Members opposite; they have practically given it up. Everybody knows that Boycotting prevails over certain districts of Ireland, and makes life perfectly intolerable. Everyone knows that every branch of the National League uses Boycotting as the means of carrying out its decrees.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON (Dublin, Harbour)
I have more than once stated distinctly in this House that for the conduct of the branches of the National League, as well as for its organization in general, I took the entire responsibility, and I say that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman is altogether inconsistent with the facts.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not think that anyone else but the hon. Member doubts what I say. But though the hon. Member for Cork did not dare to traverse the general proposition, he 1219 did assert one thing—that pressure was never put on persons to join the League. I think that the most audacious statement I over heard. I have a good many cases of such occurrences here, which prove that it is done all over Ireland. One instance is from Mayo, and it is reported in United, Ireland. In this case a branch of the League passed a resolution that no tradesmen shall work for any person who cannot produce his card of membership of the League. The hon. Member for Cork stated that any branch of the League that put such pressure on would be immediately dissolved.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
Yes; and I called for the resignation of the Committee; and as a testimony of the capacity of my countrymen for Home Rule, I beg to state that my recommendation was adopted.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Was the Ardagh branch dissolved? A resolution was passed that the names of farmers who did not join the branch were to be hung up on the wall of the office and placarded in the neighbourhood.
§ MR. T. C. HARRINGTON
My attention was drawn to this; and on my advice that such a resolution was against the rules, it was not hung up.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The resolution I read is on March 26, 1887. That has really completed the case against us with one exception. The hon. Gentleman uttered an elaborate eulogy on the attack which the right hon. Gentleman made on our statistics. Observe the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian answers for the attack of the hon. Member for Cork, and how the hon. Member for Cork, in his turn, guarantees the attack of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian. Unfortunately, as I have shown, the right hon. Gentleman's figures are entirely wrong, and, as I have also shown, in one case, the hon. Member for Cork has misquoted 1220 them, and though each of this two distinguished politicians are thus prepared to back each other's Bills, I do not think they add materially to the security. I have very little more to say. So much for the hon. Member for Cork's case against the Government. I do not pretend to have torn it to rags and tatters; but I lay claim to have given a plain and business-like statement to the House. If the right hon. Gentleman, on looking through the speech of the hon. Member for Cork, can find any fragments I have left un-torn, he is at liberty to use thorn, and I will take no further trouble to contradict them. I turn now to the case made against us by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has actually given us to understand that, in asking the House to pass a Coercion Bill on the figures of crime we have, we are doing something wholly without precedent. Well, I am astonished at the right hon. Gentleman. No man in this House has a larger experience of Coercion Bills than he. As far as I can calculate, since the great Reform Bill was passed, there have been 45 Coercion Bills passed for Ireland. A long and a melancholy tale! Of those Bills, 21 have been passed by Governments of which the right hon. Gentleman was a member. They began when he was tottering in his official long clothes; when he was a Lord of the Treasury; when the Conservative Government of that date renewed Lord Grey's great Coercion Bill, and the painful list goes on until 1882. And, Sir, does the House notice that the right hon. Gentleman has never alluded to any Coercion Bill at all except those of 1881 and 1882. He has a long experience before those dates. Has he thought of the Coercion Bill of 1866, or of the Coercion Bill of 1870? The Coercion Bill of 1866 was the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. [Mr. SEXTON: Against Fenianism.] Very well. The point of the right hon. Gentleman is that you ought never to pass any exceptional criminal legislation for Ireland, unless crime is at a certain level. I say that, in 1866, the then Liberal Government, of which the right hon. Gentleman was a Member, passed the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act, which is a far greater violation of the liberties of the subject 1221 than anything we purpose—the liberties of the subject as they have always been understood in this country. In 1865 crime was not only lower than it is now, but lower than it has ever been. Agrarian crime fell in 1866 to the astonishingly low level of 86 or thereabouts, and that was the year in which the right hon. Gentleman suspended the Habeas Corpus Act. [Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE: There were other causes.] My point is, that there may be causes outside criminal statistics, and how is that met? By telling me of a particular cause which, in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, justified the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. However, if the right hon. Gentleman objects to me citing the Coercion Act of 1866, I will go on to the case of the Coercion Act of 1870. Now, Sir, I have looked at the evidence in favour of it, and I have looked at the Act itself; and I boldly say that that Act was a far greater violation of public liberty than anything we propose. It contained "Curfew" clauses; it contained clauses by which the Lord Lieutenant, on his own Motion, might confiscate the whole plant of a newspaper and destroy it; it contained clauses by which a single magistrate, an ordinary magistrate, probably a landlord, might put in prison and keep there practically, indefinitely, any stranger to the neighbourhood, about whose conduct he himself, in his own judgment, was dissatisfied. I say those three provisions by themselves differentiate the Bill of 1870 from this Bill, and make the former a Coercion Bill instead of being a Criminal Law Amendment Bill. They make it really a Bill for coercion, instead of a Bill which does not increase crime, but merely improves the machinery by which crime shall be detected and punished. What were the statistics of crime on which the Bill of 1870 was founded? I will give them to the House. In 1869, the year before the Bill passed, there were 10 murders; this year there were 10 murders. I am now comparing 1869 with 1886. Firing at the person, 16 offences in both years; other offences against the person, 26 in 1869; 48 in 1886; total of offences against the person, 52 in 1869, 74 in 1886; killing or maiming of cattle, 11 in 1869, 73 in 1886; firing into dwellings, 6 in 1869, 43 in 1886; total of agrarian offences, exclud- 1222 ing threatening letters and notices, 370 in 1869, as against 632 in 1886. So that, if you exclude threatening letters, about which the right hon. Gentleman made so light to-night, but which on previous occasions I think I have hoard him explain to the House, mean something very different in Ireland than in England —if you exclude threatening letters, the total of the more serious offences I have enumerated in 1886 was very nearly double what it was in 1869, and that is my answer to the right hon. Gentleman who appears to think, that in view of the state of crime in Ireland, we are acting in a monstrous and unprecedented manner. We bring in a Bill which, whatever else may be said of it, is not open to the charge that it interferes with personal liberty, or with the freedom of the Press, to the same extent as the Act which the right hon. Gentleman passed in 1870 did. It is impossible to lay down a hard-and-fast rule of the precise amount of crime in any year to justify a Coercion Bill; but, at all events, we can point to the precedent set by the right hon. Gentleman himself; we can say that at a time when Ireland was far less disorganized, when intimidation did not prevail to the same extent, when law ran its course with far greater certainty, and when crime was far less than it is now, he and his Government passed a Bill compared with which this, in my opinion, is but a small interference with the rights of the people. Well, Sir, I have abbreviated as much as I can the remarks I have to make, but I think I have shown, firstly, that the case of the hon. Member for Cork has broken down absolutely; and, secondly, that the right hon. Gentleman is incorrect when he says we are acting without precedent in this matter. Now, does anyone deny—does any one who has seriously and impartially looked into the facts deny—that at this moment in Ireland extensive demoralization prevails; that in certain districts, in Clare, for instance, rates are unpaid, which, I believe, is a wholly unprecedented state of things in any other district; that damages by malicious injuries have reached a level never before known in Irish history—at any rate, that they are far greater than they were in 1881, 1882, and 1883; that juries fail to do their duty—that is admitted by the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce); that tenant right, as 1223 well as landlord right, is interfered with; that there is a stronger case, on mere statistics, that has been thought sufficient in previous years, by previous Governments for previous Coercion Bills; that, apart from crime and outrage, there is now a stronger case for coercion than there has ever been before from the general demoralization and intimidation which prevails from one end of the country to the other; and that, lastly, and the worst of all, so great is the intimidation and outrage that the victims themselves are afraid to complain lest worse things befall them. We are told that Coercion Bills have failed. If we appeal to experience— such experience as the history of the last 50 years gives us—I confess I am inclined to say it is not Coercion Bills that fail, but remedial measures. In 1829 you passed the greatest reform that has ever been made in Ireland—namely, Catholic Emancipation. Three or four years afterwards—as soon as England had got out of the great crisis upon the Reform Bill—you had to pass the greatest measure of coercion this country has ever passed for Ireland. You abolished the Irish Church in 1869. In 1870 you brought in a Coercion Bill, the tremendous provisions of which I have explained to the House. You passed a Land Bill in 1881; and in 1882 you brought in a Bill only second in its severity to Lord Grey's Bill of 1833. The result is discouraging, I admit; but that is no reason why you should give up the effort to legislate for Ireland. You have failed, because your remedial legislation has been absurd; it has been founded upon utterly false principles; and, being founded upon those principles, it has borne with its natural fruits. But another reason why you have failed is that your criminal legislation has always been so spasmodic. Had you been content, in earlier days, to pass a Bill of the kind which we propose, which, at the will of Parliament, could be restricted in as small limits as you please, which could practically be suspended by the action of Parliament—I exaggerate—which could be suspended by the action of the House of Commons alone, because upon this House the existence of a ministry depends; if you had passed a Bill which depended upon the will of the House of Commons; if you had kept the Bill in sus- 1224 pension in terrorem over the heads of criminals, with out requiring this tremendous Parliamentary apparatus to be invoked before the Government could deal with the state of crime in Ireland; if you had thereby avoided the shock you have constantly been obliged to give to the Parliamentary and Constitutional system of the country, I believe you could have avoided many of the evils you have been subjected to; and it is in the hope that we may partly succeed in avoiding these evils in the future that we have refused to put in our Bill any limitation of time, whilst we have given the fullest and completest power to the House of Commons to restrict the operation of the Bill to the minutest limits which may seem to them to be good. Hon. Gentlemen talk, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian has talked to-night, of the necessity of having equality between England and Ireland. I desire equality as much as any man. I join in the aspiration of the right hon. Gentleman—I also desire equality between England and Ireland. I desire that the inhabitants of the two countries should be treated precisely and exactly alike. But, Sir, the equality which is first of all the equality to be desired, is the equality in the condition of innocent and law-abiding subjects. What we want are equal results of laws, rather than equal laws. What we want is that every man who does not belong to the criminal classes shall have the same rights in Ireland and in England of having his property protected and his liberty preserved, and we regard that equality as the necessary foundation of every other good which this House may give to Ireland. Unless you build upon that foundation, it is perfectly vain that you erect any structure, however ingenious, however elaborate. Anything that you may build on the shifting sands of Irish lawlessness is foredoomed to destruction. It will fall whenever a political flood beats upon it, and great will be the fall of it. I have nothing more to say to the House. I thank the House for having listened to me so patiently now, not for the first time upon this subject. I do not doubt what the result of the Division we are about to take will be; but I will venture to remind those who hear me that the numbers by which the second reading of this Bill is carried are all important. Let the 1225 House show to-night by its support of this Bill, that it is resolutely determined that the state of things which now exists in Ireland shall be put an end to. I believe such Division by itself, even without the operation of the provisions of the Bill which will follow it, will do more good in Ireland than many people imagine.
§ MR. PARNELL (Cork)
The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour) refrained from, answering the speech which I delivered on the first reading of this Bill, and the Government refused to allow the adjournment of the debate, in order that some other Member of the Government should have an opportunity of answering it the next day; and, now, upon the second reading of this Bill, he goes back to the speech, and he attempts an answer to it at a time of the night when he knows perfectly well that no reply can be made to him; and, with characteristic fairness—an unfairness which I suppose we may expect to be continued in the future—he has refused to me the 10 or 12 minutes that I should have craved to refer to a villainous and barefaced forgery which appeared in The Times of this morning, obviously for the purpose of influencing the Division, and for no other purpose. I got up when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) sat down. I had not intended to have made a speech at all upon the second reading stage of this Bill. I should not have said more than a very few words in reference to this forgery; but I think I was entitled to have had from the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity of exposing this deliberate attempt to blacken my character at some time when there would have been some chance of what I stated reaching the outside world. I say there is no such chance now. I cannot suppose the right hon. Gentleman, in refusing me the 10 minutes which I crave, had not in his eye the design of practically preventing my denial of this unblushing calumny having that effect upon public opinion which it would otherwise have had if it had been spoken at a reasonable hour of the night. It appears that, in addition to the passage of this Coercion Act, the dice are to be loaded—that your great organs of public opinion in this country are to be permitted to pay miserable 1226 creatures for the purpose of producing these calumnies. Who will be safe in such circumstances and under such conditions? I do not envy the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland this first commencement of suppression of defence—this first commencement of calumny and of forgery which has been made by his supporters. We have heard of the misdeeds of Mr. Ford, the editor of The Irish World; but Mr. Ford never did anything half so bad as this.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not wish to interrupt the hon. Member; but as he makes these accusations, I should like to explain that I intervened between the hon. Gentleman and the House simply because I understood that it had been arranged that I should follow the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, and that the hon. Member would follow me. No hint reached me that he was going to confine himself to an explanation of, or deal at all with, the accusation in The Times, to which he has referred. ["Oh, oh!"] No hint of that kind reached me, and I conceive that the hon. Member might have risen, bad he wished, at any time earlier in the evening.
§ MR. PARNELL
I was asked officially, at an early hour in the evening, whether I would speak after the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, and I replied that I would, and that I only intended to say a few words in reference to this calumny. I think I ought to have been given the opportunity which I desired. Now, Sir, when I first heard of this precious concoction—I heard of it before I saw it, because I do not take in or even read. The Times usually—when I heard that a letter of this description, bearing my signature, had been published in The Times I supposed that some autograph of mine had fallen into the hands of some person for whom it had not been intended, and that it had been made use of in this way. I supposed that some bank sheet containing my signature, such as many Members who are asked for their signature frequently send—I supposed that such a blank sheet had fallen into hands for which it had not been intended, and that it had been misused in this fashion, or that something of that kind had happened. But when I saw what purported to be my signature, I saw plainly that it was an audacious and unblushing 1227 fabrication. Why, Sir, many Members of this House have seen my signature, and if they will compare it with what purports to be my signature in The Times of this morning, they will see that there are only two letters in the whole name which bear any resemblance to letters in my own signature as I write it. I cannot understand how the conductors of a responsible, and what used to be a respectable, journal could have been so hoodwinked, so hoaxed, so bamboozled, and that is the most charitable interpretation which I can place on it, as to publish such a production as that as my signature. My writing—its whole character—is entirely different. I unfortunately write a very cramped hand; my letters huddle into each other, and I write with very great difficulty and slowness. It is, in fact, a labour and a toil to me to write anything at all. But the signature in question is written by a ready penman, who has evidently covered as many leagues of letter paper in his life as I have yards. Of course, this is not the time, as I have said, to enter into full details and minutiæ as to comparisons of handwriting; but if the House could see my signature and the forged fabricated signature, they would see that, except as regards two letters, the whole signature bears no resemblance to mine. The same remark applies to the letter. The letter does not purport to be in my handwriting. We are not informed who has written it. It is not alleged even that it was written by anyone who was ever associated with me. The name of this anonymous letter writer is not mentioned. I do not know who he can be. The writing is strange to me. I think I should insult myself if I said—I think, however, that I perhaps ought to say it in order that my denial may be full and complete—that I certainly never heard of the letter. I never directed such a letter to be written. I never saw such a letter before I saw it in The Times this morning. The subject-matter of the letter is preposterous on the surface. The phraseology of it is absurd—as absurd as any phraseology that could be attributed to me could possibly be. In every part of it it bears absolute and irrefutable evidence of want of genuineness and want of authenticity. Politics are come to a pretty pass in this country when a Leader of a Party of 86 Members has to 1228 stand up, at ten minutes past one, in the House of Commons in order to defend himself from an anonymous fabrication, such as that which is contained in The Times of this morning. I have always held, with regard to the late Mr. Forster, that his treatment of his political prisoners was a humane treatment, and a fair treatment, and I think for that reason alone, if for no other, he should have been shielded from such an attempt as was made on his life by the Invincible Association. I never had the slightest notion in the world that the life of the late Mr. Forster was in danger, or that any conspiracy was on foot against him, or any other official in Ireland or elsewhere. I had no more notion than an unborn child that there was such a conspiracy as that of the Invincibles in existence, and no one was more surprised, more thunderstruck, and more astonished than I was when that bolt from the blue fell upon us in the Phoenix Park murders. I knew not in what direction to look for this calamity. It is no exaggeration to say that if I had been in the Park that day, I would gladly have stood between Lord Frederick Cavendish and the daggers of the assassins, and for the matter of that between their daggers and Mr. Burke too. Now, Sir, I leave this subject. I have suffered more than any other man from that terrible deed in the Phoenix Park, and the Irish nation has suffered more than any other nation through it. I go for a moment to the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington). The noble Marquess made a rather curious complaint of me. He said that, having denied point-blank a charge that had been made by him against me and the National League during the General Election last year, he was rather surprised that I did not again refer to the matter in the House of Commons. Well, I was rather surprised that the noble Marquess did not refer to it in the House of Commons; because the noble Marquess made a charge which he advanced without a particle of proof. He advanced that charge again to-night without a particle of proof, and I deny that charge as I denied it before, in point-blank terms. I said it was absolutely untrue to say that the Irish National League or the Parliamentary 1229 Party had over had any communication whatever, direct or indirect with a Fenian organization in America or this country. I further said that I did not know who the leaders of the Fenian organization in this country or America were. I say that still. But the noble Marquess says he knows who they are, at least he tells us that Mr. Alexander Sullivan—I believe that was the name mentioned—was president of the Clan-na-Gael or Fenian organization. When I asked him how he obtained his knowledge, he said that he obtained it from information he received as a Member of Her Majesty's Government. That may be. But I am not in possession of the information with regard to the Clan-na-Gael which is possessed by the Members of the present, or the late Government. The Clan-na-Gael is a secret organization; it is an oath-bound organization; it gives no information with regard to its members to persons who are not members. I presume that the Government, if they obtained this information with regard to Alexander Sullivan, obtained it through their secret agents in America, through means which are not open to me in any capacity as a private person, or a public politician. It is no answer to me to say that because the noble Marquess a Member of the late Government, with all the information obtainable by the wealth and resources of that Government at his disposal, believes Alexander Sullivan was a member and the leader of the Clan-na-Gael, or any secret organization in America. I have never had any dealings with him, or anyone else, either in Ireland or America, in respect to the doings or proceedings of any secret society whatsoever. All my goings on and sayings and doings in Irish public life have been open and above board, and they have stood the test of the searching investigation of the three years' administration of the Crimes Act by Lord Spencer, who has left it on record that neither any of my Colleagues nor myself were in any way connected with the commission of, or approving of the commission of, any crime. Here are Lord Spencer's words spoken at Newcastle on 21st of April, 1886—Foremost among the many objections are these—it is said that you are going to hand over the government of Ireland to men who have en- 1230 couraged—nay, some I have hoard say even have directed—outrage and crime in Ireland. That is a very grave accusation. Now, I have been in a position in my official capacity to see and know nearly all the evidence that has been given in Ireland in regard to the murders and conspiracies to murder that took place in 1881 and 1882, and I can say, without doubt or hesitation, that I have neither heard nor seen any evidence of complicity with those crimes against any of the Irish Representatives. It is right that I should clearly and distinctly express my condemnation of many of the methods by which they carried on their agitation. They often used language and arguments that were as unjustifiable as they were unfounded. They sometimes, perhaps from financial grounds, were silent when words would have been golden, when words might have had a great influence on the state of the country. They might even have employed men for their own legitimate purposes who had been employed in illegal acts by others; this, I must say, but, on the other hand, I believe those men to have an affection for and a real interest in the welfare of their country. Their ability has been shown and acknowledged in the House of Commons by all Parties. I believe that with full responsibility upon them they will know that the only true way of obtaining the happiness and contentment of Ireland is for the Government to maintain law and order, and defend the rights and privileges of every class and of every man in the country.I cordially re-echo those words. I believe that that expresses the only real way of maintaining law and order in any country—that you must obtain from the majority of the people of the country sympathy towards the law, without which the maintenance of the law is impossible; that you must show the majority of the community that the law is not only made, but that it is also administered for their benefit and fairly and justly to all classes. In this way, and in this way only, can you ever obtain respect and sympathy for law and order in Ireland, or anywhere else. The present Bill may put down crime, or it may increase crime. If it puts it down, it will not put it down by instilling in the minds of the people a sympathy for law and order. Crime will die out only as the effect of sullen submission. You will be no farther, after you have been administering your Crimes Act, in the direction of the real maintenance of law and order than you were at the beginning; nay, not nearly so far. You are crushing by this iron Coercion Bill those beneficial symptoms in Ireland which a Government of wise statesmen and wise administrators would cherish and foster. You are preventing that budding of friendship between the two 1231 countries which this generation would never have witnessed is Ireland had it not been for the great exertions of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian. Who could have predicted, who would have ventured to predict, that the heat, the passion, the political antipathies engendered by the working of the Protection Act of 1881 and the Crimes Act of 1882 would have all disappeared in three or four short months, and that you would have had the English and the Irish people regarding each other as they did during that happy, that blessed interval, and all this to be put an end to by the mad, the fatuous conduct of the present Government. You are going to plunge everything back into the seething cauldron of disaffection. You cannot see what the results of all this may be. We can only point to the experience of what has happened in past times. We anticipate nothing beneficial from this Bill, either to your country or to ours; and we should not be honest men if we did not warn you, with all the little force at our command, of the terrible dangers that may be before you. I trust that before this Bill goes into Committee, or, at all events, before it leaves Committee, the great English people will make their voices heard, and impress upon their Representatives that they must not go on any further with this coercive legislation. If this House and its majority have not sense enough to see this the great heart of this country will see it, for I believe it is a great and generous heart that can sympathize even when a question is concerned in reference to which there have been so many political antipathies. I am convinced, by what I have seen of the great meetings which have been held over the length and breadth of England and Scotland, that the heart of your nation has been reached—that it has been touched, and though our opponents may be in a majority to-day, that the real force of public opinion is not at their back. A Bill which is supported by men many of whom are looking over their shoulders and behind them, like the soldiers of an army which a panic is beginning to reach, to see which is their readiest mode of retreat, is not likely to get through the difficult times before it emerges from Committee. The result will be modifications of the provisions 1232 of the most drastic of the Coercion Acts ever introduced against Ireland since 1833. Do not talk to me of comparing the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act with the present Bill. We have suffered from both. We have suffered from some of the provisions of the present Bill as well as from the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act, and we are able to compare the one with the other; and I tell you that the provisions of the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act were as child's play in contrast with the provisions of this Bill. The Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act empowered you to arrest and detain in prison those whom you suspected; but it guaranteed them humane treatment, which did much to soften the asperities that otherwise would have been bred between the two nations by that Act. Your prisoners under the Habeas Corpus Act were not starved and tortured as they will be under this. Your political prisoners were not put upon a plank bed, and fed on 16 ounces of bread and water per day, and compelled to pick oakum, and perform hard labour, as they will be under this Bill. The Bill will be a means by which you will be enabled to subject your political prisoners to treatment in your gaols which you reserve in England for the worst of criminals, and it is idle to talk about comparison between the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, under which your prisoners were humanely and properly treated— although imprisonment is hard to boar under the best circumstances—but in the position in which this Bill will place them, your political prisoners will be deliberately starved with hunger and clammed with cold in your gaols. I trust in God, Sir, that this nation and this House may be saved from the degradation and the peril that the mistake of passing this Bill puts them in.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 370; Noes 269: Majority 101.1237
|Addison, J. E. W.||Ashmead-Bartlett, E.|
|Agg-Gardner, J. T.||Atkinson, H. J.|
|Ainslie, W. G.||Baden-Powell, G. S.|
|Allsopp, hon. G.||Baggallay, E.|
|Ambrose, W.||Bailey, Sir J. R.|
|Amherst, W. A. T.||Baird, J. G. A.|
|Anstruther, Colonel R. H. L.||Balfour, Rt. hon. A. J.|
|Balfour, G. W.|
|Anstruther, H. T.||Banes, Major G. E.|
|Baring, Viscount||Dalrymple, C.|
|Barnes, A.||Davenport, H. T.|
|Barry, A. H. Smith.||Davenport, W. B.|
|Barney, G. C. T.||Dawnay, Colonel hon. L. P.|
|Barttelet, Sir W. B.|
|Bass, H.||De Cobain, E. S. W.|
|Bates, Sir E.||De Lisle, E. J. L. M. P.|
|Baumann, A. A.||De Worms, Baron H.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Dickson, Major A. G.|
|Beadel, W. J.||Dimsdale, Baron R.|
|Beaumont, H. F.||Dixon, G.|
|Beckett, E. W.||Dixon-Hartland, F. D.|
|Beckett, W.||Donkin, R. S.|
|Bective, Earl of||Dorington, Sir J. E.|
|Bentinck, Lord H. C.||Dugdale, J. S.|
|Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C.||Duncan, Colonel F.|
|Bentinck, W. G. C.||Duncombe, A.|
|Beresford, Lord C. W. de la Poer||Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W. H.|
|Eaton, H. W.|
|Bethell, Commander G. R.||Ebrington, Viscount|
|Edwards-Moss, T. C.|
|Bickford-Smith, W.||Egerton, hon. A. J. F.|
|Biddulph, M.||Egerton, hon. A. de T.|
|Bigwood, J.||Elcho, Lord|
|Birkbeck, Sir E.||Elliot, hon. A. R. D.|
|Blundell, Colonel H. B. H.||Elliot, hon. H. F. H.|
|Elliot, Sir G.|
|Bond, G. H.||Elliot, G. W.|
|Bonsor, H. C. O.||Ellis, Sir J. W.|
|Boord, T. W.||Elton, C. I.|
|Borthwick, Sir A.||Evelyn, W. J.|
|Bridgeman, Col. hon. F. C.||Ewart, W.|
|Ewing, Sir A. O.|
|Bright, right hon. J.||Eyre, Colonel H.|
|Bristowe, T. L.||Farquharson, H. R.|
|Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.||Feilden, Lt.-Gen. R. J.|
|Fellowes, W. H.|
|Brookfield, Col. A. M.||Fergusson, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Brooks, Sir W. C.||Field, Admiral E.|
|Brown, A. H.||Fielden, T.|
|Bruce, Lord H.||Finch, G. H.|
|Burghley, Lord||Finch-Hatton, hon. M. E. G.|
|Caine, W. S.|
|Caldwell, J.||Finlay, R. B.|
|Campbell, Sir A.||Fisher, W. H.|
|Campbell, J. A.||Fitzgerald, R. U. P.|
|Campbell, R. F. F.||Fitzwilliam, hon. W. J. W.|
|Chaplin, right hon. H.||Fitz-Wygram, Gen. Sir F. W.|
|Churchill, rt. hn. Lord R. H. S.||Fletcher, Sir H.|
|Folkestone, right hon. Viscount|
|Clarke, Sir E. G.|
|Cochrane-Baillie, hon. C. W. A. N.||Forwood, A. B.|
|Fowler, Sir R. N.|
|Coddington, W.||Fraser, General C. C.|
|Coghill, D. H.||Fry, L.|
|Colomb, Capt. J. C. R.||Fulton, J. F.|
|Commerell, Adml. Sir J. E.||Gardner, E. Richardson.|
|Compton, F.||Gathorne-Hardy, hon. A. E.|
|Cooke, C. W. R.|
|Corbett, A. C.||Gathorne-Hardy, hon. J. S.|
|Corry, Sir J. P.||Gedge, S.|
|Cotton, Capt. E. T. D.||Gent-Davis. R.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Giles, A.|
|Cross, H. S.||Gilliat, J. S.|
|Crossley, Sir S. B.||Godson, A. F.|
|Crossman, Gen. Sir W.||Goldsmid, Sir J.|
|Cubitt, right hon. G.||Goldsworthy, Major General W. T.|
|Curzon, hon. G. N.||Gorst, Sir J. E.|
|Goschen, rt. hn. G. J.||Kenyon, hon. G. T.|
|Gray, C. W.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W.|
|Green, Sir E.|
|Greenall, Sir G.||Ker, R. W. B.|
|Greene, E.||Kerans, F. H.|
|Grimston, Viscount||Kimber, H.|
|Grotrian, F. B.||King, H. S.|
|Grove, Sir T. F.||King-Harman, Colonel E. R.|
|Gunter, Colonel R.|
|Gurdon, R. T.||Knatchbull-Hugessen, H. T.|
|Hall, A. W.|
|Hall, C.||Knightley, Sir R.|
|Halsey, T. F.||Knowles, L.|
|Hambro, Col. C. J. T.||Kynoch, G.|
|Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.||Lafone, A.|
|Laurie, Colonel R. P.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J.||Lawrance, J. C.|
|Hamilton, Lord E.||Lawrence, Sir J. J. T.|
|Hamilton, Col. C. E.||Lawrence, W. F.|
|Hamley, General Sir E. B.||Lea, T.|
|Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.|
|Hanbury, R. W.|
|Hankey, F. A.||Lees, E.|
|Hardcastle, E.||Legh, T. W.|
|Hardcastle, F.||Leighton, S.|
|Hartington, Marq. of||Lethbridge, Sir R.|
|Hastings, G. W.||Lewis, Sir C. E.|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir H. M.||Lewisham, right hon. Viscount|
|Heath, A. R.||Llewellyn, E. H.|
|Heathcote, Capt. J. H. Edwards.||Long, W. H.|
|Heaton, J. H.||Lowther, hon. W.|
|Heneage, right hon. E.||Lowther, J. W.|
|Herbert, hon. S.||Lubbock, Sir J.|
|Hermon-Hodge, R. T.||Lymington, Viscount|
|Hervey, Lord F.||Macartney, W. G. E.|
|Hill, right hon. Lord A. W.||Macdonald, right hon. J. H. A.|
|Hill, Colonel E. S.||Maclean, F. W.|
|Hill, A. S.||Maclean, J. M.|
|Hingley, B.||Maclure, J. W.|
|Hoare, S.||M'Calmont, Captain J.|
|Hobhouse, H.||M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J.|
|Holland, right hon. Sir H. T.||Makins, Colonel W. T.|
|Malcolm, Col. J. W.|
|Holloway, G.||Mallock, R.|
|Holmes, rt. hon. H.||Manners, rt. hon. Lord J. J. R.|
|Hornby, W. H.|
|Houldsworth, W. H.||March, Earl of|
|Howard, J.||Marriott, rt. hn. W. T.|
|Howard, J. M.||Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story.|
|Howorth, H. H.|
|Hozier, J. H. C.||Matthews, rt. hn. H.|
|Hubbard, rt. hn. J. G.||Maxwell, Sir H. E.|
|Hubbard, E.||Mayne, Admiral R. C.|
|Hughes, Colonel E.||Mildmay, F. B.|
|Hughes-Hallett, Col. F. C.||Mills, hon. C. W.|
|Hulse, E. H.||More, R. J.|
|Hunt, F. S.||Morgan, hon. F.|
|Hunter, Sir W. G.||Morrison, W.|
|Isaacs, L. H.||Mount, W. G.|
|Isaacson, F. W.||Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R.|
|Jackson, W. L.|
|James, rt, hon. Sir H.||Mowbray, R. G. C.|
|Jardine, Sir R.||Mulholland, H. L.|
|Jarvis, A. W.||Muncaster, Lord|
|Jennings, L. J.||Muntz, P. A.|
|Johnston, W.||Murdoch, C. T.|
|Kelly, J. R.||Newark, Viscount|
|Kennaway, Sir J. H.||Noble, W.|
|Kenrick, W.||Norris, E. S.|
|Northcote, hon. H. S.||Smith, rt. hn. W. H.|
|Norton, R.||Smith, A.|
|O'Neill, hon. R. T.||Spencer, J. E.|
|Paget, Sir R. H.||Stanhope, rt. hon. E.|
|Parker, hon. F.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Pearce, W.||Stewart, M.|
|Pelly, Sir L.||Sutherland, T.|
|Penton, Captain F. T.||Swetenham, E.|
|Pitt-Lewis, G.||Sykes, C.|
|Plunket, right hon. D. R.||Talbot, J. G.|
|Tapling, T. K.|
|Plunkett, hon. J. W.||Taylor, F.|
|Pomfret, W. P.||Temple, Sir R.|
|Powell, F. S.||Theobald, J.|
|Price, Captain G. E.||Thorburn, W.|
|Puleston, J. H.||Tollemache, H. J.|
|Quitter, W. C.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.||Tottenham, A. L.|
|Rankin, J.||Townsend, F.|
|Rasch, Major F. C.||Trotter, H. J.|
|Reed, H. B.||Tyler, Sir H. W.|
|Richardson, T.||Verdin, R.|
|Ridley, Sir M. W.||Vincent, C. E. H.|
|Ritchie, rt. hn. C. T.||Walsh, hon. A. H. J.|
|Robertson, J. P. B.||Waring, Colonel T.|
|Robertson, W. T.||Watkin, Sir E. W.|
|Robinson, B.||Watson, J.|
|Rollit, Sir A. K.||Webster, Sir R. E.|
|Ross, A. H.||Webster, R. G.|
|Rothschild, Baron F. J. de||West, Colonel W. C.|
|Round, J.||Wharton, J. L.|
|Royden, T. B.||White, J. B.|
|Russell, Sir G.||Whitley, E.|
|Russell, T. W.||Whitmore, C. A.|
|St. Aubyn, Sir J.||Wiggin, H.|
|Salt, T.||Williams, J. Powell.|
|Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. M.||Wilson, Sir S.|
|Winn, hon. R.|
|Saunderson, Col. E. J.||Wodehouse, E. R.|
|Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Sellar, A. C.||Wortley, C. B. Stuart.|
|Selwin- Ibbetson, rt. hon. Sir H. J.||Wright, H. S.|
|Selwyn, Captain C. W.||Yerburgh, R. A.|
|Seton-Karr, H.||Young, C. E. B.|
|Shaw-Stewart, M. H.|
|Sidebotham, J. W.||TELLERS.|
|Sidebottom, T. H.||Douglas, A. Akers.|
|Sidebottom, W.||Walrond, Col. W. H.|
|Sinclair, W. P.|
|Abraham, W. (Glam.)||Blake, T.|
|Abraham, W. (Limerick, W.)||Blane, A.|
|Bolton, J. C.|
|Acland, A. H. D.||Bolton, T. D.|
|Acland, C. T. D.||Borlase, W. C.|
|Allison, R. A.||Bradlaugh, C.|
|Anderson, C. H.||Bright, Jacob|
|Asher, A.||Bright, W. L.|
|Asquith, H. H.||Broadhurst, H.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Brown, A. L.|
|Austin, J.||Bruce, hon. R. P.|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Bryce, J.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. J. B.||Burt, T.|
|Barbour, W. B.||Buxton, S. C.|
|Barran, J.||Byrne, G. M.|
|Barry, J.||Cameron, C.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Cameron, J. M.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Campbell, Sir G.|
|Blake, J. A.||Campbell, H.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, right hon. H.||Harrington, T. C.|
|Carew, J. L.||Hayden, L. P.|
|Chance, P. A.||Hayne, C. Seale.|
|Channing, F. A.||Healy, M.|
|Childers, right hon. H. C. E.||Holden, I.|
|Clancy, J. J.||Howell, G.|
|Clark, Dr. G. B.||Hoyle, I.|
|Cobb, H. P.||Hunter, W. A.|
|Cohen, A.||Illingworth, A.|
|Coleridge, hon. B.||Jacoby, J. A.|
|Colman, J. J.||James, hon. W. H.|
|Commins, A.||James, C. H.|
|Condon, T. J.||Joicey, J.|
|Connolly, L.||Jordan, J.|
|Conway, M.||Kay-Shuttleworth, rt. hon. Sir U. J.|
|Conybeare, C. A. V.|
|Corbet, W. J.||Kennedy, E. J.|
|Cossham, H.||Kenny, C. S.|
|Cox, J. R.||Kenny, J. E.|
|Cozens-Hardy, H. H.||Kenny, M. J.|
|Craig, J.||Kilcoursie, right hon. Viscount|
|Crawford, W.||Labouchere, H.|
|Cremer, W. R.||Lacaita, C. C.|
|Crilly, D.||Lalor, R.|
|Crossley, E.||Lane, W. J.|
|Davies, W.||Lawson, H. L. W.|
|Deasy, J.||Leahy, J.|
|Dillon, J.||Leake, R.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Lefevre, rt. hn. G. J. S.|
|Dodds, J.||Lewis, T. P.|
|Duff, R. W.||Lockwood, F.|
|Ellis, J.||Lyell, L.|
|Ellis, J. E.||Macdonald, W. A.|
|Ellis, T. E.||MacInnes, M.|
|Esmonde, Sir T. H. G.||Mac Neill, J. G. S.|
|Esslemont, P.||M'Arthur, A.|
|Evershed, S.||M'Cartan, M.|
|Farquharson, Dr. R.||M'Carthy, J.|
|Fenwick, C.||M'Carthy, J. H.|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro.||M'Donald, P.|
|Finucane, J.||M'Donald, Dr. R.|
|Flower, C.||M'Ewan, W.|
|Flynn, J. C.||M'Kenna, Sir J. N.|
|Foley, P. J.||M'Laren, W. S. B.|
|Foljambe, C. G. S.||Mahony, P.|
|Forster, Sir C.||Maitland, W. F.|
|Forster, Sir W. B.||Mappin, Sir F. T.|
|Fowler, rt. hon. H. H.||Marum, E. M.|
|Fox, Dr. J. F.||Mason, S.|
|Fry, T.||Mayne, T.|
|Fuller, G. P.||Menzies, R. S.|
|Gane, J. L.||Molloy, B. C.|
|Gardner, H.||Montagu, S.|
|Gaskell, C. G. Milnes.||Morgan, rt. hon. G. O.|
|Gilhooly, J.||Morgan, O. V.|
|Gill, H. J.||Morley, rt. hon. J.|
|Gill, T. P.||Mundella, rt. hn. A. J.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Murphy, W. M.|
|Gladstone, H. J.||Neville, R.|
|Gourley, E. T.||Newnes, G.|
|Graham, R. C.||Nolan, Colonel J. P.|
|Gray, E. D.||Nolan, J.|
|Grey, Sir E.||O'Brien, J. F. X.|
|Gully, W. C.||O'Brien, P.|
|Haldane, R. B.||O'Brien, P. J.|
|Hanbury-Tracy, hon. F.S. A.||O'Connor, A.|
|O'Connor, J. (Kerry)|
|Harcourt, rt. hn. Sir W. G. V. V.||O'Connor, J. (Tippry.)|
|O'Connor, T. P.|
|Harrington, E.||O'Doherty, J. E.|
|O'Hanlon, T.||Sheehan, J. D.|
|O'Hea, P.||Sheehy, D.|
|O'Kelly, J.||Sheil, E.|
|Palmer, Sir C. M.||Shirley, W. S.|
|Parker, C. S.||Smith, S.|
|Parnell, C. S.||Spencer, hon. C. R.|
|Paulton, J. M.||Stack, J.|
|Peacock, R.||Stanhope, hon. P. J.|
|Pease, Sir J. W.||Stansfeld, right hon. J.|
|Pease, A. E.|
|Pease, H. F.||Stepney-Cowell, Sir A. K.|
|Pickersgill, E. H.||Stevenson, F. S.|
|Picton, J. A.||Stevenson, J. C.|
|Pinkerton, J.||Storey, S.|
|Playfair, rt. hon. Sir L.||Stuart, J.|
|Plowden, Sir W. C.||Sullivan, T. D.|
|Portman, hon. E. B.||Summers, W.|
|Potter, T. B.||Sutherland, A.|
|Powell, W.R. H.||Swinburne, Sir J.|
|Power, P. J.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Power, R.||Tanner, C. K.|
|Price, T. P.||Thomas, A.|
|Priestley, B.||Tuite, J.|
|Provand, A. D.||Vivian, Sir H. H.|
|Pugh, D.||Waddy, S. D.|
|Pyne, J. D.||Wallace, R.|
|Rathbone, W.||Wardle, H.|
|Redmond, J. E.||Warmington, C. M.|
|Redmond, W. H. K.||Watt, H.|
|Reed, Sir E. J.||Wayman, T.|
|Reid, R. T.||Whitbread, S.|
|Rendel, S.||Will, J. S.|
|Reynolds, W. J.||Williams, A. J.|
|Roberts, J.||Williamson, J.|
|Roberts, J. B.||Williamson, S.|
|Robertson, E.||Wilson, C. H.|
|Robinson, T.||Wilson, H. J.|
|Roe, T.||Wilson, I.|
|Roscoe, Sir H. E.||Winterbotham, A. B.|
|Rowlands, J.||Woodall, W.|
|Rowlands, W. B.||Woodhead, J.|
|Rowntree, J.||Wright, C.|
|Russell, Sir C.||Yeo, F. A.|
|Russell, E. R.|
|Samuelson, Sir B.||TELLERS.|
|Schwann, C. E.||Marjoribanks, rt. hon. E.|
|Shaw, T.||Morley, A.|
Bill read a second time, and committed for Thursday.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.