§ MR. TUITE (Westmeath, N.)
said he represented a county in which the Plan of Campaign was adopted in only two cases; but that was no evidence that the people over the rest of the county had been able either during the past season or preceding seasons to make the rent out of the land. To his own certain knowledge a large number of tenants in the County Westmeath had been obliged to draw upon their capital for the purpose of paying their rent. That capital was being reduced every year, and next year the people who had paid freely hitherto would not be able to pay one shilling, and would be obliged to seek salvation in the Plan offered to them. He claimed to belong to a county in which the first victory for the 1005 Plan of Campaign was won—on the estate of Captain Dawson, in Westmeath. It had been stated in the House that the Plan was not willingly adopted by the tenants, but was forced upon them by Members of the Irish Party. Well, in the case to which he alluded, the adoption of the Plan was entirely due to the people themselves. The people went to the priest, represented to him the state of things on the estate, and asked him to accept the rents in trust to the landlord. He did so, and with what result? The landlord, who had previously refused any abatement, wrote to say that he would give the 20 per cent demanded by the tenants, and in some cases he gave as much as 30 and even 50 per cent. The other case in the County Westmeath in which the Plan of Campaign was adopted was on the estate of Lady Nugent. That lady had no voice at all on the estate, it being mortgaged up to the chin, and it was the mortgagees who had to be consulted—mortgagees whose desire, of course, was to extract the heaviest interest. The tenants now paid their rents hoping for better times and better legislation, but he feared very little better legislation was to be looked for from the present Ministry. They talked of the Commission which had been appointed. But the Irish people had had enough of Commissions. They had had the Devon Commission, which sat 40 years ago, and though they reported that the state of things in Ireland was a disgrace to civilization, no legislation on the subject followed for 30 years. It was now said that the Irish people were to be treated to further coercive legislation. In Westmeath they had had special gifts of that kind from that House. A particularly stringent Act was passed, but had it made the people more law-abiding or fond of English institutions, or had it brought about better feeling between landlord and tenant? Quite the contrary. During the sitting of the Select Committee on the State of Westmeath it was sworn that the landlords leagued themselves with the Riband Society—an excrescence which had grown out of the exterminations—in order to carry out those great clearances for which that county had been so celebrated. The people had gained sense since then, and that murderous conspiracy had disappeared, not on account of any coercive 1006 legislation, but on account of the teaching of the Nationalist Party, and of the spread of the National sentiment, which had led them to trust in Constitutional Reform. The first victim of the last coercive measure was the hon. Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin (Mr. T. Harrington), who was charged with inciting farmers against labourers. The Tory Party claimed credit to themselves for having reduced the number of outrages; but if evictions were permitted to take place in considerable numbers under their rule, they would soon find that their claim had no foundation in fact. The published statistics showed that in 1879, when the number of evictions was 4,515, the number of outrages was 870; in 1880, when the number of evictions was 10,667, the number of outrages was 2,590; and in 1881, when the Government had more than 1,000 of the most respectable men in Ireland, including Members of Parliament, town councillors, and clergymen in gaol, what was the result? The evictions swelled to 17,341, and the outrages to 4,439. Therefore, if the Tory Party thought that they would stop outrages by means of coercion they would soon find out their mistake. The statistics of outrages before and after the adoption of the Plan of Campaign were most instructive. The number of outrages in the quarter ending September 30 last, before the adoption of the Plan of Campaign, was 306, of which 107 assumed the mild form of threatening letters; while in the quarter ending December 31 last, after the adoption of the Plan of Campaign, that number dwindled down to 166; abundantly showing that the people of Ireland preferred to rely upon Constitutional agitation for a redress of their grievances, rather than upon the wild justice of revenge or other rough-and-ready measure. Why had not the same amount of outrage followed the rejection last year of the Bill of the hon. Member for Cork which had followed the rejection of the Compensation for Disturbance Bill? Simply because the Irish people were convinced that the policy of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian would yet be carried successfully through that House. The Irish people knew that behind the Irish Party in that House was a strong Liberal Party ready and willing to follow them into the Lobby when any measures of justice to Ireland 1007 were to be carried. That was the reason that there was so little crime in Ireland at the present moment. Therefore, the Tory Party need not congratulate themselves upon having restored law and order in Ireland. Do not let the Tory Party imagine that the Irish Members dreaded coercion. It would fail for the 87th time. Irish Members had gone to prison before and they were ready to go there again, with the result that they would be more than ever endeared to the people of Ireland, while the present rulers of the country would be hurled from power, and they would have restored to them the only Prime Minister who had given a gleam of hope to the Irish people.
§ VISCOUNT EBRINGTON (Devon, Tavistock)
said, the defenders of the Plan of Campaign had argued that the end justified the means; but he failed to see how poverty could be held to justify dishonesty, and he could not see in what point of principle the Plan differed from the No Rent manifesto, which had been so greatly condemned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) and suppressed by his Government. In a question of this kind, the end could not justify the means which such an eminent authority as the late Lord Chancellor (Lord Herschell) had pronounced to be manifestly illegal. Indeed, both that noble Lord and the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir Henry James), who had been the law advisers of the Government which prosecuted the authors of the No Rent Manifesto, were of opinion that the principles of the two movements were identical. He (Viscount Ebrington) fully admitted that there were some bad landlords in Ireland; but only five years ago the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian had declared that the result of a full and careful inquiry into the question was to show that the general body of Irish landlords were not guilty of the offences that had been imputed to them. It had been shown before the Commission that was then held, that in many of the cases where it had been alleged that the landlords had turned the tenants out of their homes, while the tenants had built the houses, the landlords had supplied the materials. There was no question that the tenants had reclaimed a considerable quantity of land; but, whatever the rea- 1008 son might be, the land was not cultivated well or scientifically, and the falling off in the crops must be largely attributed to the deterioration of the soil. Indeed, many landlords would be glad to have their virgin soil back again. If the rents charged in past years had been so large and outrageous as they had been represented, it would necessarily follow that the arrears would have been considerable in the greater number of cases; but it was admitted by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) that it was only in exceptional cases that the arrears had been considerable. He (Viscount Ebrington) believed that there was no country in the world in which the fact that an occupier built a house gave him an interest in the house superior to that of the owner of the land. He never heard of any contract to that effect in this or any other country. If the law in that respect were wrong, let it be altered; but while it was what it was, irresponsible individuals should not be allowed to put themselves above it. Nobody could have failed to be struck, by the speech of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), pointing out that the real difficulty of the Irish Question lay in the fact of some districts being over-populated and some under-populated. Yet the hon. Member went on to say that emigration, or migration, if conducted under the British Government, would be regarded by the Irish people as extermination. But, if the difficulty could not be solved by that means, how on earth could it be met? The hon. Member said the people, if they were left to themselves, would soon re-settle themselves on the richer lands; but was it to be done in the way that had been suggested in some speeches? The suggestion was that the land should be appropriated at three, five, or 10 years' purchase. If emigration and migration were to be resisted as a policy of extermination, there was little hope for improvement. There seemed to him to be a split among the Home Rulers. One section appeared to seek Home Rule in order to obtain a settlement of the Land Question; the other wished the Land Question to be kept alive in order to promote the cause of Home Rule. While these two sections worked together, and while Home Rule bore the interpretation put on it by hon. Members both in this House and elsewhere, he despaired of much going done.
1009 There were very few Members of the House who would not be glad of the co-operation of the Home Rule Members in settling the Land Question, and in giving such a re-arrangement of the system of local government as would enable the people to have a fair voice in their own affairs. Indeed, they would heartily promote a settlement such as would enable them to remedy the undoubted grievances under which they suffered. But their desire to do that was checked and hampered by the knowledge that if hon. Members meant half of what they said, they would use any improvement that might be made in the government of Ireland for the sole purpose of promoting the attainment of an object to which the Unionists could not give their consent. Mr. Davitt, on returning to Dublin from America, expressed his pleasure at being back again to co-operate with the hon. Member for Cork in the struggle for a free land and national independence. ["Hear, hear!"] The idea was promptly cheered; but unless the hon. Members who cheered would give up the idea of national independence it was difficult for others to co-operate with them. Could the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian justify giving them greater freedom in their own country to work for the realization of that idea? But if they abandoned it the constituencies which elected them would have reason to complain. As long as Irish Members talked as they did they put difficulty in the way, not only of Members of that House who desired reforms in Ireland, but also of voters outside of it, who, though sick and ashamed of the state of things in that country, hesitated to support men who had been described by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian as marching through rapine to the disintegration of the Empire. ["Oh, oh!"] Well, that was the description given of the hon. Member for Cork and his Colleagues by their best Friend in this House. The description was accepted and applauded at the time; and had anything been done since then to falsify it? If anything had been so done the case would be different; but, as matters stood, he had no hesitation in voting against the Amendment.
§ CAPTAIN COLOMB (Tower Hamlets, Bow, &c.)
said, that though he represented a Metropolitan constituency, he had been closely connected with Ireland; 1010 and for the last 17 years—since he left the public service—he had chiefly resided in Kerry, and yielded nothing to hon. Members from Ireland in his deep interest in, and in his desire for, the happiness and prosperity of the Irish people. They had heard, once more, the threadbare argument that Ireland was governed by 30,000 bayonets; but the presence of troops there was rather to the advantage of Ireland and to the disadvantage of Great Britain. At all events, the distribution of our troops was simply in accordance with the principles on which our system of national defence was based. He believed that, on a numerical calculation, about 90,000 troops ought always to be available for service in the United Kingdom, not for purposes of law and order, but for external defence. If the programme of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) were carried out—if the 30,000 troops whose presence in Ireland was complained of were withdrawn, the only result would be the establishment of another Irish grievance. Directly troops were removed from a district there was an outcry against it. The Nationalist Corporation of Limerick, on the withdrawal of a regiment, had petitioned for its return, and their request was acceded to. The presence of troops increased the trade and business of the districts where they were quartered. The late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. John Morley) last night had passed strictures on the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), and denied that emigration was the panacea for the woes of Ireland; but the noble Marquess had only said it was one of the remedies, and that had been admitted even by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) himself, who had expressed his willingness to accept Government assistance in the way of providing, not only passage money, but money to start the emigrants with in their new homes. His (Captain Colomb's) experience entirely confirmed the noble Marquess's recommendation of Government assistance in co-operation with local authorities. The district in which he (Captain Colomb) resided was congested; and when the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Morley) cavilled at the idea of emigration, he must say that he knew little of the recent history of Ireland. Towards the end of 1882 1011 he (Captain Colomb) was a member of a Board of Guardians at Kenmare, and upon that Board were Nationalists whom he respected, and who, he hoped, respected him—for he always managed to get on very comfortably with his Nationalist colleagues—and they provided a plan by which they enabled 1,050 poor people, in two years, to emigrate, and, so far as they knew, those persons were pleased and thankful for having gone to that country. The results had been very satisfactory, and not more than 2 per cent of the emigrants returned. One man, who, he thought, ought never to have gone out, was sent back by the American Government; but he was a man of 40, who could never be happy because he was an orphan. In another case, a family returned because the wife did not like to be confined in Canada. The Canadian Government had kindly afforded every facility for the emigrants, and encouraged the priests to go with their people. Letters had been received from emigrants thanking the guardians for the new start which they had given them, and exhorting their friends at home not to listen to political agitators. He (Captain Colomb) did not think that the priests and some local gentlemen liked the people being sent away. Well, who did? But there was no difficulty in getting families to go; but there was in providing the means of sending them out. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Morley) should not take one passage from Mr. Tuke's report, and then say that the system would not work. Mr. Tuke worked his own system, and it may have failed; but what the guardians had—through the kindness of the Canadian Government and the Steam Shipping Company—done had not. One of the priests went out afterwards to visit those persons, and he had no complaint to make when he came home. If assistance could be afforded by the State to the local authorities, it would be one of the most judicious remedies for the improvement of the people of Ireland. Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway objected to emigration to the Colonies; but he (Captain Colomb) could not approve the plan of the late Liberal Government, which encouraged emigration to the United States. He objected to the aid of this country being given to men to cease to be British subjects and take the 1012 oath of allegiance to a Government which had established a hostile tariff against this country, and with which we might, some day, be on unfriendly terms. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. John Morley) had said that the Colonies would reject the Irish people; but he had evidently, forgotten the despatch from the Government of Canada to the Imperial Government, March, 1881; and, further, there was a letter in The Times of today of Sir George Stephen, who knew more about Canada than any man, which flatly contradicted the statement which had often been made that the Canadians were not disposed to welcome Irish emigrants. But schemes of emigration ought not to be confined to Ireland. The congested districts of England and Scotland ought also to be relieved of their surplus population by a large-hearted system of State-aided colonization, and he trusted that those in the United Kingdom who approached this question would not limit any system to Ireland, so that those who wished to better their position might be able to do so. He believed that some Members of the Nationalist Party were doing their best to stir up strife between the Colonies and this country. But the attempts in this direction of Mr. William O'Brien and others—who had threatened that the present Governor General should be boycotted and hunted out of Canada—would not be countenanced in Canada, where one-fourth of the people were of Irish origin, and of whom Lord Dufferin some time ago stated that none were more loyal subjects of the British Crown than the Irish of Canada; and if Mr. O'Brien went there and acted upon his programme he would be conducted out of the colony to a country where agitators were treated in a short and summary way. But Canada would be more likely to welcome a system which should not be applied to Ireland alone but should extend also to England and Scotland. The main difficulty in Ireland, as had so often been pointed out, was the economic difficulty. She had suffered in common with the rest of the United Kingdom and other countries from the depreciation in prices of agricultural produce. Providence had denied coal and iron to Ireland, and the people could not compete in manufactures with England and Scotland. The Irish people, who were clever and quick-witted, were not 1013 suited to agricultural pursuits, which demanded a steady-going and plodding temperament. The people there necessarily must be agricultural, and to be successful and prosperous they must face the difficulties of competition of produce from other countries, and adopt the best methods of cultivation. It was exceedingly difficult for a purely agricultural population to thrive when it could buy more cheaply than produce. The difficulty was deep-seated, and could not be solved by one Parliament or in a single Session, or in one, two, or three years; it would be a long process. What Ireland wanted more than anything else was an improved system of practical education, in which the children should be taught practically the pursuits by which they would have to gain their livelihood. National School Teachers should not be left, as now, at the mercy of private hands, but should be thoroughly organized by, and be entirely under the control of, the State. The result of improved methods of education would be that in 25 years, when the present coming generation should have grown up, national aspiration would be, not in the direction of separation, but in that of a closer union with Great Britain.
§ MR. T. P. GILL (Louth, S.)
said, he would not follow the hon. and gallant Member in his schemes for the regeneration of Ireland, especially as, on the hon. and gallant Member's own showing, those schemes would take so long to produce any effect. The matter to which he wished to draw the attention of the House was, he might say, of momentous and startling importance. His hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) referred to the action of the Queen's Bench in the case of his hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon); and the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes), replying to his observations on that head, made the statement to which he (Mr. Gill) wished to direct the attention of the House. The Attorney General for Ireland defended the action of the Court of Queen's Bench, or rather endeavoured to account for it by saying that the Crown had invoked the inherent jurisdiction of that Court; and what he (Mr. Gill) wished to say, and he hoped to prove, was that the action of the Queen's Bench in invoking that jurisdiction amounted to an usurpation 1014 which had no precedent in English history since the Star Chamber was abolished, and for which, if it had occurred in England, everyone concerned in the transaction would have been impeached. What Judge O'Brien and Judge Johnson had done in the Court of Queen's Bench in Ireland was simply to revive the Court of Star Chamber. That was not a figure of speech. He said deliberately that these Judges had actually revived the self-same infamous Court, the records of which were amongst the darkest pages of English history, for the use of which a King lost his head, and which this House, 200 years ago, solemnly abolished amidst the execrations of the English people. The Judges of the Queen's Bench described the power which they used, and the source from which they derived it; and that power was nothing more nor less than the power which Henry VII. claimed to be inherent in the King and Council, and under which he abrogated trial by jury. The Judges of the Queen's Bench in Dublin, by their action, had suspended the Habeas Corpus Act, and in so doing smashed a breach through the most cherished portion of the English Constitution. In the case of the hon. Member for Mayo, who had been cited to show cause why he should not give bail to be of good behaviour, or be imprisoned for having uttered certain speeches, the Judge went out of his way to denounce the Plan of Campaign as part of an illegal conspiracy. The Judge, he held, had no right to make that declaration, which was simply an obiter dictum, or, to use the definition of an old writer, a mere "judicial impertinence." Acting upon it, however, the Government immediately issued a Proclamation declaring the Plan of Campaign to be illegal, and then and there caused the arrest of several gentlemen who were engaged in the execution of the Plan. The connection between the Judge's declaration in the Court of Queen's Bench, the Proclamation, and the prosecution for conspiracy was very significant. If there was any conspiracy in the matter it was a conspiracy between Her Majesty's Judges and Her Majesty's Privy Council, which were tantamount to the same thing in Ireland. It was generally believed in Ireland that the Court of Queen's Bench in condemning the hon. Member for East Mayo to find 1015 bail were acting in virtue of powers conferred by a statute of Charles I. This statute was unearthed by Law Adviser Naish, recently Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and now one of the Lords Justices of Appeal; and it was announced publicly that this was the statute under which the Crown were acting in the cases of Miss Reynolds, of the Ladies' Land League, and Father Feehan, and also in the cases of Messrs. Davitt, Healy, and Quinn, who, like the hon. Member for East Mayo, had been cited before the Queen's Bench. But it appears the public had been under a misapprehension; and this was the point. In the case of the hon. Member for East Mayo, the Judges of the Queen's Bench expressly waived that statute of Charles, and put every statute out of the question altogether. They waived, in fact, every statute passed by Parliament—they waived Parliament itself out of the way; and going behind Parliament went back to the old Royal Prerogative—the right Divine of absolute monarchy, to that right as delegated to—according to Judge Johnson's phrase—and inherent in, the Court of the King's or Queen's Presence, otherwise the Court of King's or Queen's Bench. Judge Johnson expressly declared that the defendant was under a misapprehension with regard to the jurisdiction of the Court; that it was not derived from any law, but from the old right which the Court possessed when it used to follow the King or Queen about the Realm for the purpose of aiding in the preservation of the peace. He said—The King's or Queen's Majesty is the conservator of the peace in this country. The Court was held originally coram rege and, by law, whether the King was present or not, it took place in his presence. The authority was delegated to the Judges of Queen's Bench.In this view Judge O'Brien concurred, adding that they did not proceedBy the lines of forgotten statutes, but by the inherent authority of the Court as the Court of Chief Magistracy of the Kingdom charged with maintaining social and public peace.It was clear, therefore, that the power claimed by the Judges of Queen's Bench was the identical power which was abolished by Parliament when King Charles I. was executed, and which, until now, had never been claimed by any Court in the Realm. The hon. Member for Mayo had asked to be tried by a jury of 1016 his countrymen, but he was refused, as John Hampden was refused, and for the very same reason—because the Crown knew that no honestly chosen jury of his countrymen would find him guilty of evil conduct. That the jurisdiction now claimed by the Irish Court of Queen's Bench was nothing less than that exercised by the Star Chamber, could easily be proved from the writings of such authorities on constitutional questions as Coke, Hallam, Clarendon, Blackstone, and Green. Coke described its constitution as a court held coram rege; and Hallam claimed that its authority was simply that of the ancient concilium regis, whose encroachments so many statutes had endeavoured to repress; and this was exactly the authority invoked by Judge O'Brien and Judge Johnson. The part played by the Privy Council in the constitution of the Star Chamber was most significant, for in the Court of Queen's Bench in Ireland they had not only the suppositious presence of the Queen, but they had also the virtual presence of the Privy Council. Most of the Judges were Privy Councillors, and what generally happened in an Irish State prosecution was this—that a couple of Judges would attend the Council in Dublin Castle—where they had it their own way most of the time—and command as Privy Councillors the prosecution of certain individuals, and would then walk down to the Four Courts and as Judges try the individuals, they themselves had caused to be prosecuted. This had happened over and over again in Ireland. Indeed, it had happened in this very case of the hon. Member for East Mayo. Another thing they would do: as Privy Councillors they would frame a proclamation, and then subsequently as Judges they would try the people charged with disregarding the proclamation. If that was not Star Chamber procedure to a "T" he did not know what to call it. In Dublin they had out-Star-Chambered the Star Chamber, for in Clarendon's day those who issued proclamations from the Council table were usually different persons from those who sat in judgment on offenders against the proclamations in another room; whereas in Ireland it was mostly managed that those who proclaimed, those who prosecuted, and those who tried, were one and the same individuals. And against what class of men 1017 were these powers being used? Against the same class as were struck at by the Star Chamber, when the Kings and their corrupt Governments could not get juries to convict them—against the noblest and best of their citizens. He thought he might say, even in that House, for his hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo, that however opinions might differ as to the wisdom of his policy, all parties agreed in testifying to the transparent purity, to the devotedness and chivalry of his character. Even the Judges who tried him were forced to acknowledge that. They stopped at requiring his hon. Friend to enter into sureties for his good behaviour, or in default to go to gaol. Let us grant that this was very mild. But what was to prevent them, should the situation develop, and the occasion arise, exercising a far greater degree of severity? The limits of their power were not defined. There was nothing defined about it at all. Judge Johnson said their inherent right was derived from, and consequently limited by no law. It was aboriginal and absolute. It was the old right Divine "delegated" from the King to the Court, which was held in the presence of the King, coram rege. What was to prevent this Court emulating its predecessor, and summarily sentencing men to fine and imprisonment? What was to prevent it Inquisitionizing the accused? What was to prevent it, in virtue of this inherent right, from even sentencing men to be hanged? Nothing whatever. All these encroachments began very innocently. Henry VII.'s Court was first intended merely for those stiff-necked barons who insisted on keeping up their armies of liveried retainers. The Dublin Castle lawyers under Mr. Trevelyan began by thinking it necessary to hold up a Statute as their authority, but now the Castle lawyers had grown so bold that they dispensed with statutes altogether. It was important to consider this statute of Charles which was said to invoke the inherent power of the Queen's Bench, because if the Judges now go back of their words and say that their power was not the Royal Prerogative, but was derivable from a statute, as they certainly did when Law Adviser Naish dug up the statute of Charles for the prosecution of Miss Reynolds and Father Feehan, it was well 1018 to know what that statute was. And as to this habit of Crown lawyers going back to dark ages for obsolete statutes, surely nothing could be more subversive of English ideas of Constitutional Government. There was an Attorney General in the reign to which this statute belonged, and he did exactly the same kind of thing that Attorney General Holmes and Law Adviser Naish had done in those days. Hallam said of Attorney General Noy—The name of Noy has acquired an unhappy celebrity. Shaking off the dust of ages from parchments in the town, this man of venal diligence and prostituted learning discovered that the seaports had in early times been sometimes called upon to furnish ships for the public service.This was the origin of the infamous ship-money, for that tax sprung from Noy's discovery, as Hallam says—According to the invariable course of encroachments which those who have once bent the laws to their will ever pursue.He (Mr. Gill) thought that to invoke an obsolete statute—a statute that grew so absurdly offensive that it was not worth while to repeal it—was often worse and more dangerous than to invent new powers. The author of this old statute was Strafford; the object of it was to extend the arbitrary powers of that form of the Star Chamber, which was known as the Council of the North, over which Strafford presided; and it was for his use of this statute that Strafford was impeached and sent to the scaffold. Yet an Irish Attorney General comes down to this House and tells them it was this statute they were invoking today in Ireland. It was well for his devoted head he was not living in the days of Cromwell and Pym. He (Mr. Gill) asked where would we be if every statute that was invoked in the days of Charles were to be invoked today? This was what they were permitting to be done in the nineteenth century under the sanction of English law by Dublin Castle and its myrmidons—the re-erection of the Star Chamber; the restoration of the insolent Royal Prerogative that it cost them a revolution to destroy, the abrogation of the most sacred privilege conferred by Magna Charta; the right of every British subject to be tried by a jury of his peers. This was the havoc they were allowing to be played by the hands of Irish Crown lawyers 1019 upon the Constitution built up by the genius of their ancestors and cemented with their blood. He really thought it must be a retribution for the long and woeful misgovernment of Ireland. It would be poetic justice indeed. What an anti-climax to the efforts of Hampden, to the patriotism of the juries that acquitted the seven Bishops, and the cause to which the most glorious efforts of this House had for centuries been consecrated—a brace of Dublin Castle judges, a brace of peasants from the County Cork, coming down from Cork Hill to the Four Courts and restoring the Prerogative of the Stuarts! What would the English democracy, who were neither the Tory Government nor the Liberal Government, but the rude commonalty out of doors who were the real upholders of the Constitution, who overturned a throne when their privileges were infringed too far—what would they have to say to this? He answered the Government that if they did not look out, their Irish Judges would lead them into a pass they little bargained for. What were they going to do about it? Would they impeach Judge O'Brien and Judge Johnson, Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar, the Chief Secretary, and the Lord Lieutenant? That was what they would certainly do had this thing been perpetrated in England.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. LONG) (Wilts, Devizes)
said, it was not his intention to follow the speech to which the House had just listened—a speech which had been delivered with considerable eloquence—and which showed that the hon. Member had bestowed considerable time and trouble to the study of English history, and of the laws of this country. A subject so abstruse as that should, he (Mr. Long) thought, be left to those who were better versed in it than he was. He would address himself to the consideration of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), from the point of view of an Englishman. And he could not help regretting that even on a Wednesday afternoon, when attendance in the House was no doubt irksome, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), who occupied so prominent a position in the late Administration, had not 1020 found it convenient or in his power to be in his place, because that right hon. Gentleman—speaking as the ex-Chief Secretary for Ireland, on the previous evening—delivered a very important and serious speech. The right hon. Gentleman, in that speech, started by asserting that the condition of Ireland was one of unredressed wrongs; and that it was to the existence of that feeling in the minds of the Irish people that there had grown up a a feeling of bitterness and resentment in Ireland, which had led to the commission of many of those unfortunate acts which had taken place in the sister country, and which they all united in lamenting. Now, if that was the case—and coming from so high an authority, he was not prepared to deny that there was something in it—if Ireland was suffering from unredressed wrongs, of which bitterness and resentment were the outcome, he asked on whose shoulders rested the greater part of the responsibility—on whose head descended the greater part of the blame for that deplorable state of things? Who, during the last 50 years, had held the greatest share of power and authority in regard to the legislation and administration of this country? Was it not the right hon. Gentleman the late Prime Minister (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) who, during that period, had a more prominent and influential position in the Imperial Legislature than any other man on either side of that House, and who had at his disposal all the powers of the Government? He should have preferred to make his remarks on the speech of the right hon. Member for Newcastle in his presence, because he remembered once hearing an hon. Member of that House being accused of "striking another hon. Member in his absence." That, he confessed, seemed to him an almost impossible feat, although in these days of progress there was no saying what they might not yet be able to achieve. Before dealing further, however, with the right hon. Member for Newcastle, he wished to say that he had listened with great attention to the speech of the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) delivered a few nights ago, and which would have made a greater impression on his mind but for the statement with which it was prefaced—namely, that the hon. Gentleman's experiences and knowledge 1021 of Ireland were chiefly drawn from the harvest men, who came over to do harvesting work for him. That was an argument which would carry little or no weight at all. If the hon. Member for Preston's speech had been one condemning the action of hon. Members opposite, and supporting the Government, his extraordinary confession as to the sources of his knowledge and experience of Ireland would have been received with ridicule by hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, who were never tired of charging hon. Members on the Ministerial side of speaking in utter ignorance of Ireland and the Irish people. But, returning to the right hon. Member for Newcastle, that right hon. Gentleman was extremely angry and indignant with Members of the Government for asking him and his Party to condemn the Plan of Campaign. He said it was ridiculous to ask such a question, and to ask them because the Liberal Party, as represented by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), were in favour of Home Rule, to express an opinion on anything that the Irish Members did. That might be a very useful doctrine; but it was not one which would commend itself to the judgment or the common sense of most men. It reminded him of an incident in the criminal annals of this country. Not very long ago, there was a gentleman who distinguished himself by the commission of more or greater crimes than any man that had been heard of for a considerable time past—he meant the late Mr. Peace, who was a very remarkable man; for he not only contrived to commit burglaries of an extraordinary nature at night, but, it was said, whether truly or not, that he attended evening parties, where he delighted ladies by playing on the violin, and, in addition to that, acted as churchwarden, and carried the bag on Sundays. According to the argument of the right hon. Member for Newcastle, those people who attended the evening parties at which Mr. Peace played the violin, or who acted with him when, as churchwarden, he carried the bag, would be justified in saying that it was absurd to call on them to pronounce any opinion whatever upon that gentleman's burglaries. The right hon. Gentleman, however, complained that he and his Friends should be asked to express a 1022 decided opinion on the Plan of Campaign. The right hon. Gentleman said if the Government was not wrong in not condemning the action of hon. Members from the North of Ireland, they were not wrong in not condemning the action of the hon. Member for Cork and his Friends. Two wrongs, however, did not make a right. It had been pronounced from the Irish Bench to be an illegal combination. It had, to the best of his belief, been so pronounced by the highest legal authority. [Cries of "No, no!"] He would leave those who expressed dissent to fight out the point with the Irish Executive. The Plan of Campaign, as he understood it, as a layman, and not a lawyer, meant a deliberate attempt to interfere between landlord and tenant, and to take money which belonged unquestionably to the landlord; and to take it, as he believed, contrary to the wishes of the Irish people. [Cries of "No, no!"] Hon. Members below the opposite Gangway claimed to represent the Irish people, and no doubt they represented them as they themselves had schooled and educated them; but if the people were allowed to be guided by their own feelings and inclinations, they would not be represented faithfully by hon. Members below the Gangway. Referring to the Land Act of 1881, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle stated that the tenants did not jump at that Act and take advantage of its provisions. No, the tenants did not; but why did they not do so? Was it because those provisions were not favourable enough to the tenants? No; it was because it would not suit hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway that they should do so; a settlement of that sort would deprive them of their political daily bread. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle was also very indignant with his right hon. Friend the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes) in connection with the jury panels, and said that "a man of independent mind" meant a man on whom the Government could rely to convict. That was a very grave imputation. That statement was made by a Privy Councillor, and who, up to a short time ago, was a Minister of the Crown. That statement could only have two meanings. One was, that the Crown deliberately challenged those jurymen, and placed in 1023 their stead men who could be trusted to give a conviction when they knew the prisoner was not guilty. If this was the construction, no action of the Executive in Ireland could justify any man, and especially a man occupying the position of Privy Councillor, in making a statement of that kind in the House of Commons. There was only one other meaning, and that was, that the sympathies of certain jurors would prevent their convicting. [Cheers.] He could not believe, notwithstanding the cheers of Gentlemen below the Gangway, that that was the interpretation that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle intended should be placed upon his words. It was the duty of the Government to see that crime in Ireland did not go unpunished, and to see that by all fair means the law was vindicated. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, who he sincerely regretted was not in his place, said that there was no prospect from the Government of legislation for Ireland, and that the atmosphere was leaden. To say that the Government were not sincere in their proposals, and their desire to legislate—was a remark which was not justified by anything, except the leaden atmosphere of which the right hon. Gentleman had spoken, which he showed a marvellous power of appreciating, and which had filled him on that occasion with gas of a very disagreeable and unworthy odour. It rested very much with hon. Gentlemen opposite as to what the course of legislation would be; and if the expressions of opinion with which the right hon. Gentleman had favoured them were well founded, the Government might expect great difficulties ahead in carrying their legislation. As to coercion, the House had been told, what many Members had forgotten, that the powers referred to already existed in Scotland, and were not resisted by the Scotch people. Speaking for himself, as an English Member of the Government, and as one connected by family ties with Ireland, while especially regretting that any necessity should arise on the part of the Government for restricting the liberty of the subject, or altering the administration of the law, he would support coercion if it meant protecting women and children, the weak against the 1024 strong, and allowing men to do their business in their own way and at their own time, free and undisturbed. If it meant putting an end to the crimes that had stained the country, and to the detestable crime of boycotting—if that was coercion, what upright and courageous man could refuse to support it? and he did not think the House would decline to support a proposal to that effect. He was perfectly certain no one wished to apply harsh laws to Ireland. The hon. Members opposite claimed a monopoly of the milk of human kindness; but hon. Members on his side of the House had as much sympathy as those opposite had for those suffering from oppression. They sympathized with those who were oppressed by boycotting; but not with those who defied the law. He (Mr. Long) denied that the Irish landlords did not show indulgence to their tenants; and while having no sympathy whatever with bad landlords, he was far from saying that because they did not do their duty therefore they were to be denied the protection of the law. With regard to the depreciation of prices, he admitted that there had been a considerable fall in the 10 years; but the reduction was far more marked in England than in Ireland. He should oppose the Amendment, because it was directed to the legislative independence of Ireland; and because behind this demand for Home Rule there were looming further demands which would lead to complete independence. It was because the Government felt this and believed it that they resisted this Amendment, and it was because the House felt this, and believed it, that he believed it would reject the Amendment. The present condition of things among Parties in the country, consequent upon the Bill for Home Rule introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, brought forcibly to his mind the speech of the right hon. Gentleman—a speech familiar to hon. Members—and which could not be read without feelings of pleasure and admiration, when he described his position on leaving the Conservative and joining the Liberal Party, in the words of Dido describing her reception of Æneas—Ejectum littore, egentem Excepi;1025 and then added that he hoped the time would never come when they would give utterance to the following line—Et regni demens in parte locavi.He was afraid the time had come when many good Liberals, with much bitterness of heart, must have felt the application of those last words. Because the Amendment, if carried, would mean Home Rule, because it would be a heavy blow at the Union, for which they fought and won so lately a great battle, the Government would resist, and the House would, he was confident, by a substantial majority, reject the proposal of the hon. Member for Cork.
§ MR. B. COLERIDGE (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
said, the House had listened with great attention to the speech of the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Long), and they who sat below the Opposition Gangway noticed with pleasure the absence from the speech of the unworthy attacks that were so often made from the Ministerial side of the House upon the motives and conduct of the Irish Members. It seemed to him that the arguments which had been addressed to the House by the hon. Member opposite against the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) ranked themselves under two heads. Hon. Members said, first of all, that the Amendment should be rejected, because the House was fully capable of dealing with all questions which concerned the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; and they said, secondly, that because it was the duty of the Government, therefore they were determined to enforce the law. So far as the political aspect of the case was concerned, the speech which they had listened to last night from the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) sufficiently answered the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland. There was, however, some opening for a few words on the legal aspect of the case, as it was presented by the speech of that hon. and learned Gentleman; and with regard to the first argument—namely, that the House of Commons was fully capable of dealing with all the manifold interests of the United Kingdom, hon. Gentlemen opposite, by their 1026 conduct last Session, had completely answered the arguments advanced by the Opposition. It would be in the recollection of all that, in last Session, there was a demand made for passing certain legislation dealing with Irish matters. The hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland appeared to complain that it should be supposed that the foresight of hon. Gentlemen representing Ireland who sat below the Gangway was superior to that of the Government. It was not the first time, and he (Mr. Coleridge) did not think it would be the last time, while Ireland was not allowed to govern itself in its own way, that a great deal of foresight would be the possession of the Irish, and not the possession of the Government of the day. The existence of the superior prescience on the Opposition side of the House was an argument that, somehow or other, the Government of the day was not in touch with the people over whom they were set to rule. There was a demand made by the all but unanimous vote of the Irish nation, and what was demanded was put forward in a Bill presented to the House in a moderate, statesmanlike, and conciliatory speech by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). The facts upon which that speech had been founded and upon which that Bill had been introduced, he (Mr. Coleridge) ventured to say were never seriously contested by hon. Gentlemen opposite. They had had, then, a demand made by the all but united voice of Ireland for a change by way of remedial legislation—a demand based upon intimate knowledge of the country acquired by the Irish Members. There was thus afforded an opportunity, not likely to occur again, of exhibiting to the Sister Country how possible it was for the House of Commons to pass laws presented in a moderate and statesmanlike manner by her own Representatives. How did the House treat the proposal of the hon. Member for Cork? It rejected it with contumely, and almost without discussion. He (Mr. Coleridge) imagined that hon. Gentlemen went away, after the decision upon the Tenants' Relief Bill, under the impression that they had struck a very formidable blow for the preservation of the Union; but it seemed to him that, if the argu- 1027 ments advanced on that occasion by the Liberal Members failed in showing that the House could not deal with Irish affairs according to Irish views, and in accordance with the feelings of justice, hon Gentlemen opposite had supplied that defect. He recollected being immensely struck with the speech of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), delivered in the debate upon the Tenants' Relief Bill. It was a speech marked by every feeling of earnestness, and with the single-minded view of benefiting the people whom he represented. He told the House in tones of warning what would be the result of the rejection of that Bill. He told the House, with candour and with truth, that the result of the rejection of that Bill by the House would be to send him back to the Irish people to try to follow his duty, and to try to effect, by means which were beside the law, that which the law had denied him the power of doing by legal powers. He gave the House a short description of what he would feel it his duty to do. Now, the result of the rejection of the Tenants' Relief Bill was, that the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Mayo, and others, found themselves face to face with the fact that there were many poor people in Ireland who, owing to the fall in prices, could not pay their rents, and in order to meet the difficulty the Plan of Campaign was introduced, a plan which, in the cases in which it had been applied, he (Mr. Coleridge) thought had commended itself to the moral sense of the best majority of the English people. For his own part, he emphatically endorsed and approved of the Plan of Campaign. He approved of it, with the one qualification which its authors had laid down—namely, that it should not be adopted except where, in the words of Mr. O'Brien, "the tenants have a just, and moderate, and unimpeachable case." He thought it would be well if hon. Gentlemen opposite, instead of condemning the Irish Leaders and all their works—it would be well if the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), instead of saying that the Irish Members preferred politics to humanity—it would be well if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), instead of declaring that the Plan of Campaign 1028 was the most immoral and dishonest conspiracy which had ever been devised in a civilized country, and instead of stigmatizing the Irish Members who sat below the Gangway as self-constituted Leaders, as "well-paid patriots dividing in secret the proceeds of American subscriptions"—it would be well if these hon. Gentlemen would come forward to disprove the facts which had been published, and proved by evidence in Courts of Law, and tacitly admitted by the conduct of the Executive in Ireland. They would then know whether or not the Plan of Campaign had, in any particular instance, been put in force where the tenants had not "a just, moderate, and unimpeachable case." He, and others who held similar views, were told that they were sentimentalists, and they were not upholding the law; that they were not showing that tenacity which was exhibited in the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite. It would be as well if all those who maintained that they must, in all cases, and under all circumstances, put the law, as it existed, into legal effect and operation, were to read the history of their country, and to study the history of the times in which they lived. It was not very long ago that it was the law that men should be hanged for the smallest crimes, for petty thefts and larceny. What happened? The law was felt to be harsh and unjust, and it offended the moral sense of the people. Did the Leaders at that time, in every case and under all circumstances, carry into effect that which was part of the Common Law of the land? No; when prisoners came to be tried for these miserable crimes, Judges, counsel, witnesses, jurors—all combined together in what was, in effect, a conspiracy to defeat the operation of that which was felt to be a harsh and unjust law. Then, why should not the same principle be applied to the action of the Irish people? Was it to be said that the jurors were false to their oaths, or that the Judges were engaging in a conspiracy against the common weal? No; the principle was in operation in England at the present time with regard to laws which were condemned by the moral sense of the community, and those laws, by general consent, were left inoperative. The right hon. Gentleman the Member 1029 for West Birmingham said, a short time since, that, even if Church rates were legal, he would not pay them—not, of course, because he was unable to do so, but because he regarded them as unjust, and he would not obey an unjust law. He (Mr. Coleridge) admired the position the right hon. Gentleman took on that point; but he left him to apply, in common fairness, the same principle to the Irish tenant. The law declared that people must be vaccinated, and that if they were not, they should be subjected to certain pains and penalties. Hon. Members who sat on the Treasury Bench were charged with carrying the compulsory Vaccination Law into effect, but, at the present day, there were thousands of people in Leicester who refused to be vaccinated. He expressed no opinion as to whether the people were justified or not in resisting compulsory vaccination; but he maintained that if they were not right, and if they were not justified in the course they were pursuing, all the more was it the duty of hon. Gentlemen opposite to see that the law was carried into effect. Furthermore, it was a common thing to hear of School Board summonses being held in abeyance. The law declared that every child should be sent to school, and that all parents who did not send their children to school should be subjected to certain pains and penalties. It was, however, a matter of common notoriety throughout the country that where the sending of children would work hardship and injustice upon the parents, the law remained inoperative. The Statute Law of this country declared that every tenant who "holds over" was liable to be charged by the landlord double rent, or double value. That law a landlord had a right to demand that the Executive should put into execution. What was the fact? When a landlord came into Court making such a demand, the Judge smiled, and said to the man—"You really cannot be serious in demanding this double rent or double value;" and, if the matter were pressed, the Judge held over the landlord in terrorem the question of costs, and thus practically defeated the law. Again, they read constantly of cases where money-lenders came into County Courts demanding exorbitant interest. The law said the principal and interest 1030 should be paid; but very often County Court Judges made orders for the payment of a shilling a month, so that the debt should not be repaid for years; and that was a practical setting aside of the law, because the enforcement of the law would be contrary to the moral sense of the community. On this question, he thought that they ought to get rid of what he would call legal cant—that if there were tenants in Ireland who could not pay their rents, and there were landlords who were ready to evict them, whether they could pay or not, it was their duty to look at the substantial justice of the case. The hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House (Mr. Long) said that, although he disapproved of the Plan of Campaign in the abstract, he had no great reason to complain of it in the concrete. The hon. Member added that he was connected with Irish land and Irish landlords; but the Earl of Cork, with whom the hon. Gentleman was connected, had not had, and probably never would have, the Plan of Campaign put into operation against him, because he had been generous, and wise, and moderate in his demands from his tenants. What was the moral to be drawn from the present state of affairs? It was that the House of Commons really did not understand, and were not in a position to understand, Irish grievances and their remedies. How could he, or any other English Member, obtain a personal knowledge with regard to each case in which the Plan of Campaign was put in force? He repeated that to be operative and respected, either in England or Ireland the law must be approved by the moral sense of the community at large. That was not the case, however, with the law in Ireland; and it was opposed and rendered inoperative there, because it was harshly and roughly applied against the sense of justice of the Irish people. He had heard throughout the debate numerous threats as to what might be in store for Ireland. It seemed to him there was one weapon, and one only, the Government had in their hands, and that was to return to coercive legislation. There might be something to be said about coercive legislation, if hon. Gentlemen were prepared, in the words of Lord Salisbury, to pursue it resolutely for 20 years. But he thought hon. Gen- 1031 tlemen opposite had not the tenacity which they displayed in their speeches when they came to put in practice coercive legislation. But, even if they had resolute government for 20 years, what would be the result? In his opinion, they would create a nation of slaves, a nation of slaves which they would rightly and properly despise for being what they had created them. Coercion ought to be rejected as unworthy of a great nation like England. There was only one other sound alternative, and that was to grant to Ireland, freely and generously, that which she demanded by the voice of her Representatives—an Irish Parliament with an Irish Executive. That must be the end of all these debates. Everything pointed to it. The attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite pointed to it. The stern logic of events, which hon. Gentlemen could not control, pointed to it, and he, for one, welcomed these debates, because he believed that the longer the Irish Question was debated before the public gaze, the more necessary would it appear to grant to Ireland that which would meet with the national aspirations of her people. He intended most heartily to give his vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. MURDOCH (Reading)
said, he knew Kerry at a time when the relations between landlord and tenant were most satisfactory. The House heard now only of the interests of one class—the tenants; those of the landlords, the peasants, or the commercial classes they heard little or nothing about. They heard a great deal also of denunciations of landlords in Ireland. He regarded the Plan of Campaign as one more step towards separation between England and Ireland. [Home Rule laughter.] Though at present Irish Members treated that opinion with scorn there could be no doubt that separation was the real object they had in view, and some of them had the honesty to acknowledge it. In a considerable portion of Ireland the people were destitute; the tenants were too many and the holdings too small. At the same time, many of these tenants should not be tenants at all, but should be mere agricultural labourers; and if farming in Ireland was conducted with the enlightenment of the present day and with the necessary capital, the position of the labourer would be far better 1032 than that of the small tenant. One effect of the Plan of Campaign undoubtedly was that it increased the fear which existed in Great Britain that capital could not be safely invested in Ireland, and therefore cultivation in that country must go from bad to worse. It seemed to be acknowledged that the population of Ireland had outgrown the means of subsistence; and though he understood the feeling of those who were unwilling to leave their country, yet he thought some well-defined scheme of emigration which would be thorough and complete—and such a scheme had never yet been tried—might be successful. Another reason why the population had outgrown the means of subsistence was that there were no manufactories in the greater part of Ireland. He would call on those who were Leaders of the Irish Party to pause before continuing on a course which must lead ultimately to the ruin of their country. Many Gentleman opposite, men of brilliant ability, and whose eloquent words rang through the House, could devote their talents to far better purpose than trying to persuade tenants to adopt the Plan of Campaign. That Plan did not meet with the support of the whole of the Irish Party. There were indications, especially from the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), that it did not meet with his approval in its entirety. It might be that the want of unanimity was only the beginning of a rift in the Irish Party itself; and if the Government carried on with set purpose the administration of Ireland in a true and just manner it might be found that the rift would extend, and in a short time the Irish Party would be broken up. With respect to the 20 years of firm government of which the Marquess of Salisbury had spoken, it might be read in this light—that 20 years of proper administration of the law might be necessary to restore Ireland to prosperity and to enable confidence to return.
§ MR. M'LAREN (Cheshire, Crewe)
said, they had heard from the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Murdoch) that he discerned signs of a rift in the National Party, because he fancied they did not all approve of the Plan of Campaign. But if the hon. Member carefully considered the matter, he would find there were more signs of a rift in the Unionist Party, and that it 1033 was more likely to come to pieces than the National Party. The hon. Member and the hon. and gallant Member for the Tower Hamlets (Captain Colomb)—both of whom knew Kerry well—had pointed out the advantages of emigration; but they had overlooked the fact that, in spite of Kerry being considerably depopulated, it was the most disturbed county in Ireland. If the Conservative Members agreed that colonization or emigration was the best remedy for the Irish difficulty, why did they not persuade the Government to carry it out? They had no promise from the Government of any great scheme of emigration. On the contrary, the Marquess of Salisbury distinctly threw cold water on the scheme the other day, when he said they should have to emigrate about 1,000,000 of persons, and that he would be a bold man who would ask the House of Commons to vote £100,000,000 for the purpose. If the House last year was unwilling to vote £50,000,000 for the purchase of Irish land, with, at least, a moderate security, still more would they be unwilling to vote £100,000,000 for a scheme which offered very little. He should certainly like to see the House able to address itself to English questions; but when they were asked to thank Her Majesty for informing them that the condition of Ireland still required their anxious attention, he felt it was true; but he did not see any prospect of a different state of things so long as the present Government remained in Office. When the Queen put her name to such a statement She must have felt like the old woman at Chester, who exhorted the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone), on setting out on one of his journeys, "not to forget Old Ireland." He should like that House to be able to forget Ireland in the sense that they forgot Australia and their other large Colonies—that was to say, that she would not be ever present to their minds, and that would never come to pass until they allowed the Irish people to govern themselves. The Secretary to the Local Government Board (Mr. Long) had said that the object of a new Coercion Bill for Ireland would be to protect the weak from oppression by the strong, and if the Home Rule Liberals could be brought to believe that, they might become coercionists themselves. But they knew perfectly 1034 well that whatever might be the wishes and interests of the Secretary to the Local Government Board, he was not the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and had nothing to do with the Government of Ireland; and he was afraid that if the measure of coercion foreshadowed by the Government was passed by the House, it would be administered in the way that had been pointed out by the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. T. P. Gill). It would be administered with all the rigours of the old Star Chamber. Statutes perfectly obsolete would be raked up—statutes passed by Strafford, and for the putting in operation of which he was arraigned and executed. It had been said that the Plan of Campaign was being carried out by irresponsible persons; but he denied that the members of the National League were irresponsible persons; on the contrary, they had incurred great responsibilities, to the extent of which they were fully alive, seeing that they constituted the de facto Government of Ireland. As regarded the Amendment, he thought Members who heard the speeches of the hon. Members for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) and East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) must have been convinced that the Government had acted in Ireland in an unusual and irregular, if not actually illegal, manner. Chief Baron Palles called it illegal, and suggested that the Members of the Government ought to be brought before his Court for punishment. Not being a lawyer, he (Mr. M'Laren) did not condemn them. Referring to the Glenbeigh evictions, the hon. Gentleman cited a leading article which appeared in The Standard in the end of January. That newspaper, which was the organ of the Conservative Party, had no hesitation in advising the Government to use what was called a dispensing power. That invitation the Government had very properly accepted, and they had very readily endeavoured to put an end to the horror of these evictions. He supposed the barbarous eviction spectacles were all perfectly legal; the action of the undeserving landlords, which The Standard denounced, was perfectly legal; and that it was perfectly legal for a man to burn down cottages on his estate if he chose to do so. There was a similar case of this kind in Scotland. An agent carried out an eviction by burning down a 1035 cottage; but what did the landlord do? He instituted a prosecution against his agent for having destroyed his property. Clearly the Irish Government and The Standard newspaper held that law was not to be the test of right and wrong; and if the Government might adopt a slight deviation from the regular course of strict law in a case of emergency, why might not the National League do the same? It was very doubtful how far the Plan of Campaign was illegal; it was very doubtful whether anyone could lay his finger on the particular statute which made it illegal. Though it was called robbery, it was at its worst only a temporary collection of the rents of the landlord. It was only a technical violation, at most, of a doubtful conspiracy law, and he wanted to know whether it was really to be held that we were bound to obey the law at all hazards? This was not the first occasion on which the law had been openly violated with the approval of the people. The law had been constantly violated in regard to vaccination. The Government tried to put it into operation in the town of Keighley, with which he was connected in business; and they put the Board of Guardians in prison, and the result was that far fewer persons were vaccinated in Keighley than before. That would always be the case where the Government tried to put a law in operation to which the public opinion of the place was opposed. The religious community with which he was connected (the Society of Friends) was at once the most peaceloving and the most law-breaking that had ever existed in this country. In their form of marriage ceremony they had persistently for about 100 years broken the law, even at the sacrifice of their children being illegitimate, until at length the law was altered so as to legalize marriages celebrated in accordance with the customs of that Society. The same thing had happened with regard to their objections to taking an oath, and taking off hats; and at one time, 11,000 Quakers were in prison for various offences. Those who prosecuted them were now admitted to have been wrong. The Quakers had been impelled by conscience. The Government had not said to them—"Cease breaking the law, and we shall then alter it." No; the law had been altered because it had been persistently broken. For his part 1036 he thought, with regard to the Plan of Campaign, that it was a matter of conscience with the poor tenant farmers of Ireland whether they should not persist in violating the law in order that they might carry out their marriage vows and their parental duties by protecting their wives and children. He rejoiced very much that the Plan of Campaign had been put into operation, because he was convinced that it had saved many families from ruin, and probably some persons of delicate health or great age from death. He thought it not impossible that it might have saved some landlords from death as well; and even if that were not the case, still it was enough to know that owing to that Plan, and owing to the pressure that the Government had put upon landlords, Ireland had been in a much more peaceable condition during the whole of this winter than they had had any reason to expect. The plan of Campaign had been a valuable aid to the Government, and they ought to have connived at it as they connived at breaches of the Vaccination Laws. But they intended to suppress it, and they asked for powers to enable them to do so. The shape in which they asked for those powers was called a reform of Criminal Procedure. The ordinary way of strengthening the administration of the Criminal Law was by a suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, or a Coercion Bill, like the late Mr. Forster's. He supposed they would not bring in such strong measures as those, but it was clear that the new Bill should be called—"A Bill to facilitate the imprisonment of certain Members of Parliament and others who have conspired, independently of the Government, to obtain a reduction of rents in Ireland." He hoped, if they had the Closure, that strong repressive measures, such as that proposed, would be excluded from its operation. He thought that coercive or repressive legislation was not the way to put down agitation. When the Reform Act of 1832 was passed the Government did not say—"We will put down the riots first, and then we will amend the law." The proper way to check agitation, as history showed, was to remove the grievance which was the cause of that agitation. The Standard had said that the Government were exercising a sound discretion in applying the intended coercion to 1037 all parts of the Kingdom; but he did not think that English or Scotch Members would be any more ready to support a Coercion Bill which they might think was necessary in Ireland because it applied to England and Scotland, where it was not wanted. A promise was made last Session by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) that a measure of Local Government would be brought forward which, as regarded the three countries of the United Kingdom, was to have similarity and simultaneity. As to the former, the only similarity they were promised was coercion, and as to simultaneity, it was gone altogether. That was not the only pledge given by the noble Lord which had been broken by Her Majesty's Government. Speaking on September 15, he had said that the functions of the Board of Works and the Local Government Board in Ireland would be developed as far as possible in accordance with the views of the Irish Representatives, and that it was the intention of the Government to put proposals before Parliament with the view of putting those matters in the hands of the Irish people; and if the Government failed to satisfy the Irish Members they would be justified in carrying on what was, in short, obstruction. Those pledges had gone to the wind; those Bills were not promised in the Queen's Speech. The Government would, therefore, have themselves to blame if the Irish Representatives remembered the second part of the noble Lord's speech, and continued to bring forward their grievances "with incessant repetition and in immense detail." It was far more important to have an Irish Local Government Bill pressed on than English and Scotch Bills; and although such a Bill would not satisfy the aspirations of the Irish Nationalists or the English Radicals, he would welcome it as a contribution towards the self-government of Ireland. He represented a constituency that had few Unionist Liberals in it, and had very few Irish voters. It was a purely English constituency in the heart of what used to be that most Conservative county, Cheshire, and there the Liberals were as strongly in favour of local self-government for Ireland as the Irish Members themselves. The electors were well trained under the late Mr. George 1038 William Latham to know the benefits of self-government. If they could conciliate the Unionists by giving up subordinate details, they would do well to try to conciliate them; but rather than sacrifice the main principle that was embodied in this Amendment he would go on struggling for it in Opposition for an indefinite number of years. They should do nothing to let it be thought for a moment that they were wavering from the principle of satisfying the needs and aspirations of the Irish people.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir EDWARD CLARKE) (Plymouth)
I think it most desirable that a protest should at once be made against the most dangerous doctrines which were contained in the early part of the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down. In making that protest, I believe I shall make it, not only on behalf of those who sit upon this Bench, or who are supporting Her Majesty's Government, but I shall make it also on behalf of a large majority of hon. Members on that side of the House, who must be amazed at hearing the doctrines which have been laid down by the hon. Member for Cheshire (Mr. M'Laren). There is some excuse, perhaps, to be made for some of those doctrines, for we heard earlier in the afternoon a speech in which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Coleridge), dismissing what he, as a lawyer, called legal cant, gave his sanction—and he is the first lawyer who has done so—to the illegal conspiracy known as the Plan of Campaign. The hon. Member for Cheshire may have been misled by a too ready acquiescence in the fanciful history of law which has been given by the hon. Member for South Louth (Mr. T. P. Gill). But, however misled or excused, I do not believe that the hon. Member himself will, on reflection, regard what he has said this afternoon with any satisfaction. The hon. Member has distinctly stated that obedience to the law is a matter of personal judgment, and that any person, responsible or irresponsible, has a right to disobey any law which he thinks has been improperly enacted or laid down. That is a doctrine far graver than any question raised in the discussions with regard to the immediate Amendment before the House. It is a doctrine so disastrous in its application to a law-abiding people, 1039 that I think the hon. Member will really, on reflection, feel that he has said much in that speech to weaken the authority which any other suggestion of his might have had with the House. The hon. Member quoted certain instances in support of his proposition. He told us that for three generations the Quakers disobeyed the law by not being married in a church, and that 11,000 of them were in prison at one time for disobedience to the law of the country. I take leave to doubt the absolute historical correctness of the statement. The hon. Member alleges that it is one of the chief glories of the Society of Friends that all their grandfathers and grandmothers were illegitimate. [Cries of "Oh, oh!" from the Opposition.] Well, I am quoting the hon. Member's own words. I think the Society of Friends have little to thank their advocate for. They have a greater glory than any which has been attributed to them by the hon. Member. While, for conscience sake, they did disregard and refuse to obey certain laws which they believed to be inconsistent with the Divine Law—[Cheers from the Home Rulers]—and I am glad to hear a recognition of Divine Law which I did not expect—while they obeyed the Divine Law which they felt to be deeper and stronger in its hold and its authority over them than any law made by any human society, they never asserted disobedience to the law with objects of a personal kind. They never for the sake of money, or from enmity to a particular class, associated themselves together in conscious disobedience to the law. That is the distinction between the case which the hon. Member has put and the Plan of Campaign, which I venture to say is an illegal conspiracy, and which has been acknowledged to be an illegal conspiracy by every lawyer of repute and authority who has ever spoken upon the subject; and I cannot believe that even my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Coleridge)—and I deeply regret that one bearing his name should in this House have made such a speech as he delivered this afternoon—I cannot believe that he could have understood what the Plan of Campaign is when he gave his hearty acquiescence to it, and when he quoted the instances which he gave in support of his approval. The Plan of Campaign is a conspiracy between 1040 tenants who can pay and tenants who cannot pay to coerce the landlord into abandoning his legal rights to some extent against all of them, whether they can pay or whether they cannot pay. It is a conspiracy by which they agree to sell the stock, so that there shall be nothing for the landlord to seize, and they make a rule with regard to there being no eviction from any farm on the estate as a condition of allowing the landlord to get any of the rent to which he is entitled. That is a mere illegal conspiracy. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield has doubted and, indeed, denied this; but I prefer the authority of Lord Herschell and Lord Selborne.
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE
I am extremely glad to have elicited that statement, but I am quite sure from the enthusiastic way in which those who were sitting near him rewarded the expression of opinion by the hon. and learned Member by their cheers that they quite understood it was of great moment that at last an English lawyer, bearing an honoured name and representing a great English constituency, had given his acquiescence and authority and sanction to their Plan of Campaign. I am exceedingly happy to say now that there is no lawyer, not even my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield—
§ MR. COLERIDGE
I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman does not wish to misrepresent me. I did not express any opinion as to whether the Plan of Campaign was illegal or not, but I said in certain cases it had my moral sanction.
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE
I am bound to say that my hon. and learned Friend goes beyond me there. He was arguing a question of law, and was illustrating it by questions of law. Did he say it was illegal? Let me put it both ways. My hon. and learned Friend said he did not pronounce an opinion as to whether the Plan of Campaign was legal or illegal, but that, whether it was legal or illegal, it has his moral sanction. I do not think that is a position which is quite worthy of my hon. and learned Friend, or that it is one which, being a lawyer, he is entitled to take when speaking in this House on a matter of 1041 very serious importance. My hon. and learned Friend has stated that many years ago death used to be inflicted for small offences, and he said that so strongly was the moral sense of the people hostile to the cruel law that, when a case was brought into Court that involved the punishment of death, Judges, jurors, counsel, and witnesses joined in an illegal conspiracy to defeat the law which was then in existence. Now, I beg to give that statement a most unqualified denial. There is no foundation for it at all. The Judges at that time, though not in sympathy with the law, administered it as it was, and not as they thought it ought to be, exercising indulgence only in cases of doubt. A Judge at the present time, in a capital case, exercises the most careful scrutiny of the evidence, in order that the sentence of death may not be carried out on a person who may be innocent. To describe such action as conspiracy is to represent a state of things which has never existed in this country. The hon. and learned Member also cited disobedience to the Vaccination Law as an example; but that is not analogous to the Plan of Campaign, and involves no violation of a contract between two persons or the enforcement of legal rights. Again, as to School Board summonses, I contend that this example which has been cited by the hon. and learned Member is, also, not parallel. I have not heard of any magistrate who, when a case was clearly proved before him, refused to convict, however small the fine might be which the justice of the case required. And now, Sir, I must refer again to the speech of the hon. Member for South Louth (Mr. T. P. Gill). The hon. Member has, with praise worthy diligence, endeavoured to acquaint himself with the history of the law. But his studies have not been carried far enough, otherwise he would have known that the Statute of Charles I., to which reference has been made by the hon. Member, and which is said to be so odious, was really passed in the 10th year of Charles for the protection of the subject, and it was simply an application to Ireland of a Statute passed for England in the Reign of James I. He has stated that in Ireland the Judges who, as Privy Councillors, order a prosecution, walk down to the Courts to try the men whom they have ordered to be prosecuted. There 1042 is no foundation for that statement at all; and I venture to say that the right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. John Morley), if he were in his place, would confirm me in that denial. It has been further stated by the hon. Member for Cheshire (Mr. M'Laren) that it is the intention of the Government to bring in a Bill which properly ought to be called a "Bill for imprisoning certain Irish Members." Whence did he get his power of prophecy? He is not a Member of the Cabinet, or a Gentleman whom the Government would be likely to consult. I happen, from my position, to know something more with regard to the proposals of the Government, and I can assure him that there is no foundation whatever for his description of the measure. The description is certainly not one which can be applied to the Bill which Her Majesty's Government may introduce for the amendment of the Criminal Law. It has been said that this debate has wasted a good deal of valuable time. I do not entirely agree with that, for the reason that I think it was very desirable, in view of what has taken place in Ireland, that there should be, at the very earliest moment, a full and formal impeachment of the conduct of the Government. It was eminently desirable that some accredited spokesman of the Irish Nationalist Party should formally attack the policy of the Government; and I believe that it has been a source of great satisfaction to Members on both sides of the House to hear the speech in which the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) made a really serious attack upon the Government. The attack made by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) was very cautious, and he did not desire to go into much detail. But when the hon. Member for East Mayo, the trusted and accredited spokesman of the Irish Members, speaks on such a subject as the present Amendment, the House knows that it has heard the whole of the case. The hon. Member for East Mayo is the trusted and accredited spokesman of hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, and they are always content when he has stated their case to the House. Now, what does his case amount to on this occasion? Where is the imputation of cruelty on the part of the landlords? It is in connection 1043 with the Glenbeigh evictions alone that the hon. Member has made any serious accusation of cruelty against the landlord. We were told that these atrocities were to be exposed at public meetings, that the whole nation was to be roused by the recital of the wrongs of the tenants at Glenbeigh. Why is it that this cry has died down? Why is it that this threatened agitation is collapsing? [An hon. MEMBER: It is only beginning.] How is it that it has rapidly declined during the last three days? It is perfectly clear that the cause of the visible dying down of this excitement and agitation is that it has become quite plain to the House and the country that the Glenbeigh tenantry have been made the instruments of the agitators, who would not allow them even to accept the benefits of the indulgent terms held out to them by the landlords. They refused to allow them to entertain those terms, because they knew that it would destroy the last vestige of the suggestion that the tenants had been unfairly and cruelly dealt with. It is a good thing that we have heard this case stated fully, because the conscience of the country is now set at ease, and the people see that, however much those accusations may form the staple of violent and inflammatory speech elsewhere, when they are brought before this House and examined they practically disappear. There is another, and, perhaps, still more important, question to be considered. What is to be the attitude of the Liberal Party, headed by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone)—what is to be the attitude of the Representatives of the late Government towards this Amendment? An Amendment to the Address is a rather serious matter. It used to be the custom of this House that an Amendment should not be formally moved unless it was intended to raise definitely some serious question of policy. This Amendment meets that requirement and is perfectly legitimate. It contains two elements—a censure and a demand. If right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite are going to vote for this Amendment, they mean to censure the Government for the "novel, doubtful, and unconstitutional measures" which have recently been taken by the Government in Ireland. Now what are those measures? The hon. Member for 1044 the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), who has alone ventured to define them, mentioned two besides the question as to juries, to which I will advert later on. It is interesting to observe that the right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), in addressing the House on Tuesday, was careful to avoid casting any blame on the Government; but, on the contrary, in various passages expressed his approval of the course they had taken. The two measures which the hon. Member for Cork mentioned were the action against the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), calling upon him to find bail, and the proclamation of the Sligo meeting. Now, Sir, the right hon. Member for Newcastle was not very long a Member of the late Liberal Government; but I see in his place the late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir William Harcourt), who was in the Cabinet during the administration of Irish affairs by Mr. Forster and Sir George Trevelyan. What is that right hon. Gentleman going to say as to the "novel" and "doubtful" and "unconstitutional" courses denounced by the hon. Member for Cork? The action against the hon. Member for East Mayo, calling upon him to find bail to be of good behaviour, was exactly the same as was brought by the late Government against Mr. Davitt and an hon. Member who has just been returned to this House. The two actions were brought in the same way; the same jurisdiction was appealed to, and the grounds were in each case substantially the same. That measure, therefore, was certainly not novel. If it be doubtful, the right hon. Gentleman opposite will, of course, be ready to defend it. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman, as one of a Cabinet who authorized precisely similar action, will not for a moment listen to the proposition that it was unconstitutional. Now, as to the proclamation of the Sligo meeting. The proclamation was issued because the meeting was called for the avowed purpose of influencing and intimidating jurors; and, whether it was right or wrong, it certainly was neither novel nor unconstitutional, for it was drawn up in the terms of a Proclamation issued by Lord Cowper when he was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer being at the time a Member of the Cabinet. Surely right hon. Gentlemen who were 1045 Members of the late Cabinet will not denounce as novel and unconstitutional measures which were exactly copied from those which they took themselves? I come next to the subject of juries, which I will not now discuss in detail, as it is to be raised hereafter. No one can be more anxious than I am about questions affecting the institution of trial by jury, in which I have the strongest possible belief. Where you have a fair and impartial jury, dealing with matters which do not concern them personally, I am satisfied it is the best tribunal for the decision of disputed matters of fact. There have been but very few cases in my own experience in which, six days after a trial, I have thought that the verdict of the jury was wrong. Now, who are those who complain of jury-packing, and what do they want? Do they want to secure the trial of cases by fair and impartial juries? Then, why do they use all the influence and power in their possession to prevent that result? From the day when Mr. Field was stabbed almost to death in the streets of Dublin, the position of jurors in cases such as those to which we are referring today has been one, not only of great responsibility, but of serious danger. In speeches, in placards issued in the country, in the articles in the paper from which my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Gibson) quoted last evening, there have appeared incitements to the people to "watch jurymen." Every juror now is under the apprehension—an apprehension deliberately and intentionally caused by hon. Members below the Gangway opposite—that if a verdict is given against what is called the "public cause," he will become a mark for the indignation of the people, and be subjected to the punishment which they may be able to inflict upon him. The right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), in his speech yesterday, said nothing which could justify the censure of the Government. In fact, he went a little the other way. Referring to my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), he said—The course taken by the right hon. Gentleman is such as will commend itself to everyone as a good and sound policy of administration.But, if that is his view, to support a 1046 Motion of Censure upon the Government to which the Chief Secretary belongs is the oddest way of showing his appreciation of the conduct of that right hon. Gentleman. But the right hon. Member for Newcastle not only points out that there has been this sound and excellent conduct on the part of the Chief Secretary; he shows, also, how satisfactory have been the results of that conduct. If the Government needed any justification in this House for the way in which they have conducted Irish affairs during the past six months, they would readily find it in the right hon. Gentleman's recognition of the beneficial results of their action. Describing the present state of Ireland, he says—Over the greater portion of Ireland rents have been very fairly paid, and legal obligations very fairly and honourably acknowledged and met.The right hon. Gentleman also more than once described the disturbances in Ireland as of a slight character. But if the right hon. Baronet has behaved so well as the right hon. Gentleman has indicated—if the result is that rents have been paid and legal liabilities met, and if we find a diminution of crime and disturbance, one begins to wonder how much further the eulogy will go. The right hon. Gentleman went a step further—he went on to deal with the question of land in Ireland, and spoke of it as inextricably associated with the great problem of the government of Ireland; but, at the same time, he spoke of it as the most important question with regard to Ireland. He said—I cannot, for my part, imagine any terms being invented more favourable to the Irish tenant if he is inclined to purchase than those of Lord Ashbourne's Act.And he adds—With a temptation so enormous as that, apparently so irresistible, the Irish tenant has not shown any very great anxiety to become the purchaser of his holding.That takes the eulogy of the Ministry a great deal further. It is acknowledged by the right hon. Gentleman that the present Lord Chancellor of Ireland (Lord Ashbourne) has been the author of a scheme for the purchase of land by the Irish tenants as favourable in its terms as any which the right hon. Gentleman himself could imagine. Surely, Sir, the question must occur to Members of this House, after these 1047 acknowledgments have been made, and this eulogy has been spoken, with what object is this Vote of Censure brought against the Government, and how is it that the right hon. Gentleman is going to lend himself to an attack upon Her Majesty's Government? I am afraid it is with the object of intercepting and defeating the efforts which Her Majesty's Government are making on behalf of the people of Ireland. That intention was admitted and avowed some time ago. The statement came from a man on whose lips it appeared to be strangely out of place. It came from the lips of Lord Spencer. On the 25th of November last he made a speech at Leicester, at a meeting to which he was accompanied by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler), and in that speech Lord Spencer used some very remarkable words. He said that there were two modes of government, and he then proceeded to an exposition of the mode of government of the Tory Party, which I, as a Member of that Party, at once accept. He said—There is the mode of the Tory Government and their supporters, then there is the mode of Mr. Gladstone and his Party. Now, what is the mode of our Conservative friends? They say they wish to redress grievances and improve the country by carrying out great public works. They wish to maintain law and order if possible by the ordinary law, but, if not, by exceptional legislation; and, if they persevere long enough, they will defeat and rout the Nationalists and bring contentment to Ireland.I do not understand that to be the prophecy of Lord Spencer. But I understand it to be Lord Spencer's quotation of the views of the Tory Party. Sir, that statement is literally accurate; but, in addition to that, we do mean, as long as we have the responsibility of dealing with Irish affairs, to maintain law and order by some law or other. If it can be maintained by the ordinary law it will be, and no pains will be spared to carry out that plan. But if the ordinary law fails to secure to Ireland the existence of law and order, which are essential to the welfare and prosperity of her people, Parliament will be asked to improve that law, and if it refuses, it must leave to other hands the administration of Ireland. Lord Spencer described the measure brought in by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, and went on to recite on 1048 what conditions alone he would grant to the Irish people that measure of Home Rule and legislative independence which they were asking. He said—We have to secure the unity of the Empire, the supremacy of Parliament. We have to satisfy the financial relations between the two countries—we have to see that law and order is maintained, and we cannot tolerate anarchy in that country—we are too much bound up with them and we have too many interests in that country. We ought also to see that minorities are properly represented. All these matters were carried out in the policy and in the measures proposed by Mr. Gladstone. We do not adhere to the details of these measures, but we maintain rigidly and uprightly the main principles. One thing further I consider necessary, and that is whatever change is made to meet the reasonable aspirations of the Irish people must prevent them making use of any concession made for fresh agitation against the English people.Sir, it is rather a striking commentary on this requirement that the hon. Member for "Wexford (Mr. J. E. Redmond) in America denounced the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian as "cramped and deformed by humiliating safeguards and unnecessary limitations."
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Fermanagh, N.)
said that, as his hon. Relative was not in his place, he wished to correct the hon. and learned Gentleman's statement. The speech alluded to referred in the highest terms to the Government of Ireland Bill, and to the attempt made in it to solve the Irish Question. That speech had been quoted several times by hon. Members, who had always avoided mentioning the fact that at that meeting of the extreme Nationalist Party in America the Bill was referred to, amid cordial cheers, as a settlement of the Irish Question.
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE
The hon. Member has had a full opportunity of justifying his relative; but the House will observe that he has not contradicted, and cannot contradict, my statement. But, Sir, to turn back to Lord Spencer's speech. He says—The Government have offered to them the policy of four-fifths of the Irish people, and the remainder is all that they have behind them to support their policy. The alternative policy—the policy of Mr. Gladstone—must not be allowed to remain in a pigeon-hole until the present Government have a majority of the Irish people at their back to support their policy.There is the sum of the whole matter— 1049 the Government is being a great deal too successful. Lord Spencer was afraid that if the Government were allowed to continue their administration they would rout the Nationalists and win the confidence of the Irish people. Why, that is the meaning of the Amendment to the Address; that is the meaning of the action of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, who praised the action of the Administration and recognized the advantage that it had given to Ireland; that is the meaning of his pledging himself to support the Amendment, which is a Vote of Censure on Her Majesty's Government. There is no foundation whatever for the suggestion that Her Majesty's Government have no intention to carry out any real or serious legislation. Such a taunt as that carries no weight whatever with Her Majesty's Government. I do not believe there is one Department of the State in which a Member of the Government is not ready and anxious to bring forward some proposal of real and substantial good for the country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle closed his speech by talking of the leaden atmosphere amid which they approached Irish questions. He, no doubt, correctly represented the manner in which his side of the House did so, or, at all events, he is the best judge about that; but, speaking for the Government side, I maintain that that is not by any means the feeling with which we approach those subjects. We know perfectly well that if, when this debate is over, the House of Commons can persuade itself to make an effort, it can be free and make itself fit to do the work which is given it to do; if it will arrange its Procedure so as to afford fair opportunity to individual contribution to the debates, and at the same time to secure to the House as a whole the power to do Public Business—if it will do this I am quite sure the Conservative Government will go forward with projects of legislation which cannot be assailed as matters of mere Party interest, but deal with questions which concern all Parties and interests, and seek to remove grievances which have long been complained of. While this debate has had the advantage to the House of making public every accusation against the Government, while it has had the incidental and unexpected 1050 advantage of extorting from the keenest opponents and most watchful critics of that Government an acknowledgment that they have done well and have been successful, I hope that when this debate has come to an end, and the House has succeeded in thus freeing itself from the trammels which its own Procedure now imposes on its powers, it will then go forward diligently and with success with those measures which will make its proceedings memorable, and conduce greatly to the welfare of the people.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
said, it was not necessary to go into the legality or otherwise of the Plan of Campaign, for that would be speedily settled; but what the House had a right to know was what Her Majesty's Government were going to do to remedy the evils which had made the Plan of Campaign necessary in the minds of its authors? For his own part, he had every belief in the efficacy of a comprehensive system of emigration from the congested districts. Some years ago he was associated with Mr. Tuke in his emigration scheme, and he could bear testimony that that scheme had been carried out in such a way that it was an advantage to the people who left the country as well as to those who remained behind. He took exception to a remark which fell from his right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) the previous evening as to "pauper emigration," and "persuading the people to emigrate." The description of pauper emigrants certainly did not apply to those persons and families sent out by Mr. Tuke. Out of the 9,000 or 10,000 persons emigrated by Mr. Tuke only about 150 individuals had come back to Ireland, and of this number many came back from motives personal to themselves; while, as far as they could judge, the others were doing well in the places to which they had been sent. But, however well-intentioned might have been the objects of those who undertook that emigration work, unfortunately the proceedings of the Emigration Committee were not found to be in sympathy with the wishes and the desires of the people of Ireland who were specially interested in the matter. Having had considerable opportunities of coming into contact with Irishmen of all classes and all degrees while engaged in this work, he had been converted to the belief that Home Rule 1051 was the only solution of the Irish Question a year or two before it became so popular as it was now. But what ought to be done in this matter of emigration? He believed, everyone admitted, that there were certain congested districts in Ireland in which at the present time, in consequence of the poorness of the soil, the population dependent on the land was too large, and where economic rent did not exist. The case of those districts was hopeless unless something were done by means of migration or emigration to reduce the population in those districts. Two plans had been suggested—the plan of the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington), and the plan of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley). As he understood the noble Lord's plan, he proposed that emigration should be carried out through a grant from Parliament, and with the co-operation and sympathy of the local bodies in Ireland. But while it was difficult two or three years ago to obtain support and co-operation, would it not be absolutely impossible now to obtain that sympathy or support in any scheme of State-aided emigration carried through by the English Parliament? He believed that any scheme carried through by the English Parliament must be done without local support. Any proposal of the English Government in the present state of opinion asking for large sums of money for emigration or migration would meet with the strenuous opposition of hon. Gentlemen from Ireland, and he believed that in the present state of public opinion it would be infinitely better to leave those congested districts in the state in which they were now than to ride roughshod over public opinion in Ireland, as such a proposal would do. The other alternative was that the Irish themselves should be allowed to carry out a scheme of migration or emigration such as they believed would be successful in its object. He thought such a scheme as that could only be carried out by means of an Irish Parliament. An Irish Parliament, acting in sympathy with the people, in the interests of the people, would be able to arrange this most delicate matter of removing persons from their holdings to other parts of the country, or to other countries, in 1052 a way quite impossible for any individual or Government to do so long as the Irish people were opposed to that policy. He was afraid, therefore, they were brought to this position—that, while admitting that the state of certain parts of Ireland was serious and dangerous, the only way in which a solution of that difficulty could be found was by allowing the Irish to carry out that policy themselves by a central body in Dublin. They heard a good deal from Unionist Members that if the Land Question were settled on a satisfactory basis, then Home Rule would be dropped. He thought that those who had any acquaintance with the feelings of the Irish people themselves must admit that there was a most intense feeling in favour of nationality entirely apart from the Land Question. He believed, in the first place, that it was not possible for the English Parliament to settle the Irish Land Question on a satisfactory basis, and that the only way in which it could be satisfactorily settled was by allowing the Irish to settle it for themselves. But, even if the Land Question could be and were settled, he did not believe that that fact would at all weaken the craving for Home Rule which now existed. In his opinion, everything which Parliament had done in recent years to place the Irish tenants in a better position than they were before had not weakened, but on the contrary, had done much to strengthen, the desire for Home Rule.
§ CAPTAIN M'CALMONT (Antrim, E.)
said, he would, at the outset, ask hon. Members not to allow themselves to be led astray by the sensational statements which were being continually made by hon. Members opposite who sat below the Gangway. It was necessary that the House should be very careful in ascertaining the facts upon which they were asked to decide, as they were face to face with an unscrupulous and dangerous conspiracy, half Irish and half American, aided and abetted by the following of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) and by a plentiful supply of American dollars, and which was at open war with the Government of the Queen. The promoters of that conspiracy considered it necessary that something should be done to carry out the Chicago programme. Parliament having 1053 adjourned, and Ireland being very quiet last autumn, the heads of the conspiracy thought they had better try to make things a bit lively, and so they hit upon the Plan of Campaign. There was no doubt that, in some cases, reproach and opprobrium had been brought upon landlords, and that a great cry had been got up against Irish landlordism, calculated to destroy, in the eyes of the English people, all respect for Irish landlords as a body; but he ventured to say that, when the facts were examined into, it would be found that the Irish landlords who acted in a reprehensible manner were not those who sat on that side of the House, nor those whom they represented, but that they were supporters of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell). Allusions had been made to evictions having taken place, and harrowing pictures drawn of the turning out of poor families on the roadside, and the burning or overturning of their houses; but he could cite them an instance of an hon. and gallant Member, who was a supporter of the hon. Member for Cork, and who, being anxious to sell a certain property of his—some townland—had an offer from a shopkeeper, who insisted as one condition of purchase that all the existing tenants and squatters should be cleared off the land before he paid his money. Well, the hon. and gallant Member for North Galway (Colonel Nolan)—for that was the Member to whom he referred—closed with the bargain and turned all the tenants and squatters out upon the roadside, or into the workhouse, for no other reason than that he wanted to sell the property.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I rise to Order. I think it is very curious conduct to attack my hon. and gallant Friend in his absence, and not to state that all the tenants were re-instated by my hon. and gallant Friend.
§ CAPTAIN M'CALMONT
said, the hon. Member interrupted him too soon, because there was more to tell of the story. The result of the hon. and gallant Member's conduct was, that he was brought before a private Court, which consisted of the late Sir John Gray, Cardinal Cullen, and the late Mr. A. M. Sullivan, who examined into the whole matter, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman was cast by that Court in the sum of £6,000. Whether that money 1054 ever found its way into the pockets of those unfortunate people who were driven out into the roadside he was unable to say, but he defied the hon Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) to contradict any item of the statement that he had just made to the House. He merely made it with the view of showing what kind of landlordism there was amongst the supporters of the hon. Member for Cork. There was in his own constituency, he was thankful to say, but one landlord who professed Nationalist principles. Some years ago that gentleman became possessed of a property in East Antrim, and in 1878, he raised the rents over 35 per cent, and forced the tenants to take fee farm grants under very severe conditions as to notice to quit, and the only reduction which the tenants had received was 10 per cent on one half-year. No matter how bad their circumstances, they got no compassion from this gentleman, who was undoubtedly a supporter of the hon. Member for Cork, because he proposed a candidate named Williamson as the opponent of his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Saunderson) in North Armagh. Since then the candidate in question had become more qualified to be a supporter of the hon. Member for Cork, inasmuch as he had been a week in gaol; and, doubtless, when he in turn arrived at the House of Commons, the Parnellites would give a hearty welcome to another gaolbird. But he would not pursue that line of argument further. If it were necessary, he could support his contention by other proofs that it was supporters of the hon. Member for Cork who brought Irish landlordism into disrepute. Passing on to another point, he would remind the House that, when speaking the other night, the hon. Member for East Mayo alleged that the Plan of Campaign had only been put into operation upon estates whose landlords had refused to deal fairly with their tenants. [Mr. DILLON: Hear, hear!] Passing by the question of who was to be the judge of fair dealing between landlord and tenant, he denied altogether the correctness of the hon. Member's allegations. Was it fair dealing between man and man, when a landlord's agent went to meet the tenants and collect the rents, that he should be waited on by a deputation consisting of 1055 several Members of Parliament whom he had never seen before, and by two or three priests, and that they should tell the agent that, unless he gave 40 per cent reduction, no rent would be paid? That happened on the property of Mr. Brooke, in the County of Wexford. Could it be said that the hon. Member for East Mayo or Mr. W. O'Brien were professional valuers of rent, and competent to decide, at five minutes' notice, that 200 tenants had a right to demand a reduction of 40 per cent? Now, the evidence as to Mr. Brooke was all on one side. Mr. Brooke, in all his dealings with his tenants, had been careful that they should be conducted with the greatest kindness and generosity. He was an exceptionally good and indulgent landlord. The parish priest wrote a letter, which was published in The Freeman's Journal two years ago, which was headed "A Good Landlord," and thanked Mr. Brooke, in very eulogistic words, for the valuable services which he rendered to education and his generous treatment of his tenants, and concluded by saying that it was no wonder Mr. Brooke should be held, as he was, in honour and esteem. Now, since that time, Mr. Brooke had expended 30 per cent of the rent of the estate upon the property, and had done everything possible for the welfare and comfort of the tenants. Yet that was the man who received an intimation that unless he reduced his rent 40 per cent all round he should receive no rent at all. The hon. Member for East Mayo, in addressing a meeting of the tenants on a Sunday afternoon, said, "They ought to remember this man against whom they were struggling as the representative of ascendancy and bad landlordism." He (Captain M'Calmont) contended that a stop should be put to this vilification. Mr. Brooke was a good representative of the landlords of Ireland who had been reviled before the English public, and that was the treatment which such men got, because it was said they were representatives of the English garrison in Ireland. Unfortunately, it was not the agitators who interfered and caused ill-feeling between landlord and tenant who suffered, but the poor tenants who were the dupes of the agitators; and in the case which he had cited, he was afraid the tenants would be very great sufferers, because Mr. 1056 Brooke would fight the matter out to the bitter end, and when the law asserted his rights the agitators would be able to go scot-free. They had heard a great deal about the unfortunate people of Glenbeigh who had been turned out on the roadside; but did those people who supported the policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian ever consider the misery which was brought upon the people of Ireland by the machinations of the National League? He also denied that the Plan was only used to protect tenants who were unable to pay; indeed, a tenant who had come under its operation had frankly admitted to him that last year was the most profitable year he ever had, and he was almost ashamed to accept a 20 per cent reduction. He knew of many ladies, holding property in Ireland, who had been reduced to the most deplorable state of misery. One lady—he would call her Mrs. A. [Cries of "Name!"] Knowing the state of Ireland, he would decline to give any names; he was too familiar with the working of the National League to fall into that trap; but he knew that this lady, having been reduced to a position of want through the non-payment of her just rent, had been compelled to support herself in Cork by needlework. Another lady, Mrs. B., from the same cause, was driven to pawn her watch and chain, and, he might add, that the gates upon her estate and the very doors of her house, had been carried away. He wished that some of those hon. Members who went over to Ireland for a fortnight, in order to get up horrors for retail in this country, would give a little time to making inquiries as to the terrible evils which the machinations of the Land League legislators were bringing on the country. He regretted to say that it was the custom of many hon. Members opposite to go into the country and hold meetings for the purpose of condemning the law, and doing all they could to bring it into ridicule. The hon. Member for West Cavan (Mr. Biggar) was one of those Gentlemen. The hon. Member, some time ago, spoke at one of those meetings something in the "Don't-put-him-under-the-pump" style in reference to a land agent who had made himself obnoxious. "Look here, boys," said the hon. Member, "whatever you do don't shoot him; for if you do, a 1057 partizan Judge and a packed jury will be sure to convict you." That was the sort of language which led these poor people to consider that, even if they saw murder committed before their eyes, they must not convict. The hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) last night declared that England had deprived Ireland of her industries. He (Captain M'Calmont) denied the statement altogether. The reason manufactures did not flourish in Ireland was owing to the policy of hon. Members opposite. They who lived in the North of Ireland knew the value of the connection of Ireland with this great country. That connection gave them confidence, and hence their industries flourished. In the division he represented there were 25 manufacturers in one branch of manufacture alone; and, though they were not now so flourishing as they should like, still they went on increasing and multiplying. He might also say that some Lancashire men, who were putting up a paper factory in the town of Larne a short time ago, said things would go on all right if the Bill of the hon. Member for Mid Lothian did not become law; and that was the secret of the whole matter. If hon. Members opposite would only devote some of their energies to the endeavour to promote industries in the other parts of Ireland as the Loyalists did in the North, it would be very much better for the country than spending their time in political agitation. In conclusion, he wished to say that the Loyalist Party had every confidence in Her Majesty's Government, and fully appreciated the difficulties with which they were beset. He hoped that, in any remedial legislation which they might undertake, they would take means to put down the frightful and barbarous practice of Boycotting, which was a disgrace to any civilized community. There was nobody who would rejoice more in seeing industries flourish throughout Ireland than he should; and he hoped sincerely that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who had made so many sacrifices for Ireland, would be rewarded soon by seeing Ireland prosperous, contented, and happy.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. William Redmond.)1058
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till Tomorrow.