§ "That a sum, not exceeding £19,095,000, be granted to His Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the charges for the following Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1903, viz.:—
|Chief Secretary for Ireland||16,000|
|Royal Palaces and Marlborough House||35,000|
|Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens||50,000|
|Houses of Parliament Buildings||16,000|
|Miscellaneous Legal Buildings, Great Britain||22,000|
|Art and Science Buildings, Great Britain||16,000|
|Diplomatic and Consular Buildings||12,000|
|Public Buildings, Great Britain||190,000|
|Surveys of the United Kingdom||90,000|
|Harbours under the Board of Trade||7,000|
|Rates on Government Property||250,000|
|Public Works and Buildings, Ireland||110,000|
|United Kingdom and England:—|
|House of Lords, Offices||£3,000|
|House of Commons, Offices||12,000|
|Treasury and Subordinate Departments||39,000|
|Privy Council Office, &c.||5,000|
|Privy Seal Office||1,000|
|Board of Trade||70,000|
|Mercantile Marine Services||30,000|
|Bankruptcy Department of the Board of Trade||3|
|Board of Agriculture||70,000|
|Civil Service Commission||18,000|
|Exchequer and Audit Department||26,000|
|Friendly Societies Registry||3,000|
|Local Government Board||85,000|
|Mint (including Coinage)||5|
|National Debt Office||6,000|
|Public Record Office||10,000|
|Public Works Loan Commission||5|
|Registrar General's Office||25,000|
|Stationery and Printing||350,000|
|Woods, Forests, &c., Office of||8,000|
|Works and Public Buildings, Office of||23,000|
|Secretary for Scotland||25,500|
|Registrar General's Office||3,000|
|Local Government Board||5,000|
|Lord Lieutenant's Household||2,000|
|Department of Agriculture||70,000|
|Charitable Donations and Bequests Office||1,000|
|Local Government Board||26,000|
|Public Record Office||2,000|
|Public Works Office||16,000|
|Registrar General's Office||9,000|
|Valuation and Boundary Survey||6,000|
|United Kingdom and England:—|
|Miscellaneous Legal Expenses||27,000|
|Supreme Court of Judicature||140,000|
|Police, England and Wales||20,000|
|Prisons, England and the Colonies||320,000|
|Reformatory and Industrial Schools, Great Britain||140,000|
|Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum||14,000|
|Law Charges and Courts of Law||30,000|
|Register House, Edinburgh||15,000|
|Law Charges and Criminal Prosecutions||£35,000|
|Supreme Court of Judicature, and other Legal Departments||45,000|
|County Court Officers, &c.||46,000|
|Dublin Metropolitan Police||40,000|
|Royal Irish Constabulary||600,000|
|Reformatory and Industrial Schools||55,000|
|Dundrum Criminal Lunatic Asylum||3,000|
|United Kingdom and England:—|
|Board of Education||4,500,000|
|National Portrait Gallery||3,000|
|Scientific Investigation, &c., United Kingdom||31,000|
|Universities and Colleges, Great Britain, and Intermediate Education, Wales||43,000|
|Endowed Schools Commissioners||400|
|Diplomatic and Consular Services||250,000|
|Uganda, Central and East Africa Protectorates, and Uganda Railway||320,000|
|Cyprus, Grant in Aid||29,000|
|Telegraph Subsidies and Pacific Cable||50,000|
|Cretan Loan||— —|
|Superannuation and Retired Allowances||280,000|
|Merchant Seamen's Fund Pensions, &c.||2,500|
|Miscellaneous Charitable and other Allowances||1,000|
|Hospitals and Charities, Ireland||17,000|
|Coronation of His Majesty||— —|
|Repayments to the Local Loans Fund||— —|
|Total for Civil Services—||£12,105,000|
|Post Office Packet Service||210,000|
|Post Office Telegraphs||1,800,000|
|Total for Revenue Departments||£6,990,000|
§ Resolution read a second time.
§ (5.0.) MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
When the Vote on Account was in Committee, there was considerable discussion on the salary of the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, and on the policy of the Irish Executive. The object of the discussion in Committee was to endeavour to elicit from the Irish Government some explanation of the policy they intended to pursue in the near future in Ireland. But the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant—the man really responsible for the Government of Ireland in this House—was unfortunately absent. We regretted his absence for public reasons, because his absence rendered the debate futile and quite ineffectual; and we regretted his absence for personal reasons, because, whatever our views of the action of the right hon. Gentleman in the Government of Ireland may be, we were all sincerely sorry that he was ill, and we are all very glad to see him back in the House again. Now, this matter would not have been raised again for discussion by myself were it not that, in my opinion, questions of very grave importance may arise in regard to the future of Ireland; and it is expedient that the right hon. Gentleman should have the opportunity tonight of explaining exactly where he stands in this matter. In my opinion, the immediate prospects in Ireland are exceedingly grave; not because there has been any recrudescence of crime, but because the Government have entered upon a fatal path—a path in which it is almost impossible for them to stop, a path, which will inevitably lead them, as it has led every Government which preceded them, to disaster and to crime. The Chief Secretary has, as it seems to me, allowed himself to be bullied on to this path by a section of the people in Ireland who have always been false guides to the English Government, and, having succeeded in getting him on to that path, they are making a resolute effort to force 1299 him on the downward course. Anyone reading the English papers, and especially the London papers, for some little time past, would be of opinion that Ireland today was in a state of universal lawlessness, crime, and outrage. Every newspaper, every morning, now contains a sensational heading about lawlessness in Ireland, with incitement to the Government to put in force the provisions of the Crimes Act. I charge that there is a deliberate conspiracy on foot to mislead and infuriate public opinion in this country on the Irish question, and to force the Chief Secretary, in my opinion, against his own judgment, to put in operation all the provisions of the existing Crimes Act.
Now, that being so, and this conspiracy being composed of influential men, being led by influential men, and being able to obtain the space that it does in the English newspapers, makes it of the utmost importance that this question should be fully discussed in the House of Commons on this Vote. Speaking of Ireland as a whole—I do not speak of particular localities for the moment, although it is not because I am going to shirk that—I say that for 100 years, since the Union was passed, the country has never been so absolutely free of crime. So far as ordinary crime is concerned, it may with truth be said that there is practically none. The Spring Assizes are on now, and the judges are going from county to county, making a gaol delivery and trying all the prisoners awaiting trial, and I venture to assert that if all the criminals brought to trial in all the Assizes, in all the counties of Ireland, were added together, the sum total would not be so great as the calendar of any one of the Sessions of the City of London. I was reading the day before yesterday a paragraph with reference to the Recorder's Court of London, which does not have before it all the criminals in London. This is only one Court. I do not know how often are the Sessions; but I have here the calendar for March, from which I gather that the Sessions are held very frequently—and I find that that calendar consists of eighty-six criminal offences. There were two cases of arson, three of agent conversion of property, one of fraudulent bankruptcy, two of bigamy, three of burglary, six of conspiracy, two of counterfeit coin uttering, six of forgery, seven of housebreaking, twenty of larceny, two of stealing letters, 1300 three of libel, four of manslaughter, nine of misdeameanour, one of murder, one of attempted murder, one of perjury, three classed as outrages—it does not say what, four of receiving stolen goods, one of robbery with violence, five of wounding—making a total of eighty-six; and the Recorder, in charging the Grand Jury, said that the crimes in the calendar were merely of the usual character. My hon. and learned friend sitting near me tells me what I had thought myself before—that the Sessions are roughly held once a month, and held only for one specified portion of the population of London. You find, therefore, that in one session, comprising the criminals for one month, in one district of London, there are on the calendar more serious offences than were tried in all the Assize Courts, in all the County Courts of Ireland, and at the Spring Assizes now going on.
I feel that it is unnecessary to labour this question of ordinary crime; but it is well to recall the fact that Ireland is crimeless as regards ordinary crime. The conspiracy set on foot in the English newspapers to urge the Government to use the exceptional powers under the Crimes Act in Ireland, however, tries to make out a case that there is much agrarian crime. They say, "Admitted that Ireland is free from those crimes of violence which are so frequent in England and Scotland, Ireland is disgraced by a large amount of agrarian crime," and they include in that agrarian crime the charge of boycotting. I call as a witness to this the man who is responsible for the peace and good order of Ireland. What does he say? On the 23rd January of this year the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in the course of a speech in which he dealt with this question—not of ordinary, but of agrarian crime, said—I do not think the agitation very alarming. On taking office, I fonnd less agrarian crime than in any previous year. At this moment (23rd January) there are thirty-five cases in the whole of Ireland, and 211 persons boycotted; and only in the case of twenty-seven persons can it be attributed to what is called the influence of the League.There were only twenty-seven persons out of this 211 in whose case boycotting could be attributed to what was called the influence of the League. The right hon. Gentleman gave some figures of an interesting character. He quoted the figures of agrarian crime. As the House is aware, 1301 from time to time Returns are made to the House of agrarian crime in Ireland, and included under this head are threatening letters. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that the threatening letters, as a rule, form the largest item in the Returns. The right hon. Gentleman said that in the forty-five months—he took a large view—up to the 31st of January, 1898, which was the date of the first dawning of the League, as he called it, there were 956 agrarian outrages in Ireland; in the forty-five months up to the end of last October, while the League was in existence and in operation, the number was 950; and he went on to say that of those 190 only could be attributed in any degree to the influence, as he called it, of this organisation. He further admitted that the bulk of the agrarian outrages, such as they were, were not to be attributed to the League.
Therefore you have, first, the fact that there is no ordinary crime in Ireland; secondly, that agrarian crime is at a lower ebb than ever before in the history of Ireland; and thirdly, you have the testimony of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that of all the agrarian crime only a very small proportion indeed can be attributed to the influence of the organisation of the people. That was on the 23rd of January. What has happened since, Mr. Speaker, to give any cause or excuse for this outcry that has been raised in the English newspapers as to the state of lawlessness and disturbance in Ireland? A more criminal campaign has never been set up than this which has been started to force the Government into enforcing the Coercion Act in the way it is desired to enforce it, which would only be to break up this state of peace and lead again to the outbreak of crime. What has happened since last February? Some four or five grand juries in certain parts of Ireland have passed resolutions calling on the Government to put into force the whole of the Coercion Acts. It is worth while for a moment to recall to the House exactly what these grand juries are. I do not understand the present existence of these bodies at all. Up to the passing of the Local Government Act for Ireland, these were the bodies which had all the responsibility of administering the local business of the country. All that has been taken from them, and they have no business now of 1302 any sort or kind except that of finding true bills for the protection of prisoners, though, in my opinion, it is a proceeding which affords no protection at all, and which might as well be abolished. I see no use in the continued existence of these bodies. They are composed solely of landlords and the representatives of landlords in Ireland; and when you come to speak of the state of the country and the state of land agitation in Ireland, it cannot be expected that they would give impartial testimony. Yet the resolutions of five or six of these bodies are trotted out in England as a demand for making coercion more rigorous. But if we have to consider resolutions of that kind, I want to know why we should not consider resolutions passed by the County Councils of Ireland. While these grand juries have been passing resolutions on the one side, the County Councils, elected by the people and representing the people, composed of all classes, all creeds, and all politics in Ireland, have been passing resolutions in the exactly opposite direction. The newspapers of England, with that fairness which characterises their treatment of Ireland, have been parading the resolutions of these one or two grand juries, but not a single paper in London has published any of the resolutions passed by the County Councils. But it is not only on those resolutions that this demand is founded. We have seen quoted, and most of us have seen with regret, the Charges of certain judges from the Bench in Ireland. I think, Sir, I understand the full limits to which I can go in touching on a matter of this kind. I cannot discuss the propriety or impropriety of what the judge has said, and I do not propose to do so. I propose to deal with a practice known in Ireland, a practice which I believe is entirely unknown here, of supplying to the judge private documents supplied by the police of Ireland, which documents form the foundation for the declaration of the judge from the Bench.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member would be in order in commenting on the action of the police in supplying the reports, but he would not be in order in going into the use that was made of the reports by the Judges on the Bench.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
I understand that, and I intend to be guided exactly 1303 by that line of argument. The practice is unknown in this country. I do not think the practice I speak of—of supplying to the judge, not merely information with reference to the case before him, but private secret information by the police as to what they think are the prospects of the maintenance of peace and order for the future—exists in England, and the proof is that there are never any such declarations as come from the Bench in Ireland. Sir, we have had what seems to me to be the most absurd position created in many of our Assize Courts. We have had judges with no criminals to judge, and congratulating the people on the fact that there was no crime, and yet we have the same judge saying, from private documents supplied to him from the police, that the country is in such a condition and so bad that the Coercion Act ought to be renewed. This is a wrong and ridiculous practice, and I want to know, if these private reports are furnished to the judges of Ireland, why they are not laid on the Table of this House. It is a monstrous state of things; although there are no criminals to be tried in a county, that county is to be told that it is in such a serious condition that the Coercion Act ought to be renewed. These are the means that are being used by this conspiracy to endeavour to work up a panic here in England with regard to the state of lawlessness and disorder in Ireland at the present moment. A more flimsy pretext has never been put forward, and a more criminal campaign never entered into.
Now, let me ask the Chief Secretary what are the real facts with regard to Ireland at this moment. I have first shown that there is no ordinary crime in Ireland, and that there is less agrarian crime than there ever was before; but there is intense political discontent all over Ireland and intense agrarian discontent all over Ireland, and in our portion of the country this agrarian discontent is of so intense a character as to cause great local excitement, and to threaten peace and order in the future, and there have undoubtedly been certain cases of boycotting. Now, I want to ask in this House, how have the Government met this state of things, and how are they meeting it now? They have met the general political discontent throughout the country by suppressing free speech. In a place where 1304 there is not only no ordinary crime and no agrarian crime, but no political excitement whatever, the Government have wantonly gone and suppressed a public meeting. I dwelt at the commencement of the session on some of these incidents, but the right hon. Gentleman had many other weighty matters to consider, and he made no answer. Again, the other night, the Attorney General omitted to say a single word, and I do not know whether tonight it will be possible for the Chief Secretary, in the course of his remarks this evening, to give some attention to this. I cannot weary the House with these cases over and over again, but I will just indicate in a sentence what I mean. Almost immediately after the right hon. Gentleman arrived in Ireland, a meeting, at which I was present, was suppressed. It was held in a perfectly peaceful county, in the beautiful county of Wicklow; the meeting was broken up by force; the people were dispersed with violence, and, of course, a great deal of bad blood remained behind. That was early in the administration of the right hon. Gentleman. He put down this meeting without rhyme or reason, and in this way, by suppressing public meetings, he has been dealing with this political discontent. Take the case the other day, at Kilmaine. There the meeting was not proclaimed, and the police did not try to stop it. The Member for East Clare had made a speech, and when he finished, another Member, the Member for the district, came forward, and immediately the policeman started up and said "You cannot speak," and when he attempted to persist in speaking the meeting was immediately dispersed by force. I want to know what is the meaning of this policy of interfering with the right of free speech, where there is no crime or danger of any sort.
Then, let us consider how the Government are meeting the case of agrarian discontent in Ireland. They are meeting it by opposing an absolute non possumus to the moderate, and what I claim as the Conservative, demand put forward by the Irish people for the settlement of the Irish Land question, and by postponing indefinitely all attempts to remedy an admitted grievance. We do not yet know when the right hon. Gentleman is to introduce his Land Bill, but we know the Government have no intention of dealing in a 1305 thorough way with this Irish Land question; and we will find that this Bill is once more a measure tinkering with a system proved to be absolutely incapable of settling this question in Ireland. And how does the right hon. Gentleman deal with the agrarian question in the West? This is a very serious matter. This agrarian trouble which has arisen in the West springs directly out of the action of the Government, and it could be stopped tomorrow if the Government simply gave a hope to those people that in the near future they would obtain the concession of their demand, which even the Attorney General the other night admitted was the natural demand for them to make. The hon. Member for East Mayo, in a speech made earlier in the session, I think, impressed the House very deeply. He said that he knew the responsibility of encouraging a struggle of this kind; that he knew the suffering and the trials it would entail on the people, and that he himself would go to Roscommon, and advise the people to come to an arrangement with the landlord if only the Government would hold out any hope whatever that they would deal in a sympathetic manner with this question. That appeal apparently fell on deaf ears. The only answer to it has been—what? The renewal of the Coercion Act in that district; the application of the Coercion Act in such a way as to exasperate and irritate the people all round the district, by the imprisonment of all their most trusted local leaders. Public meeting has been suppressed. Through the length and breadth of that district no man is allowed to speak, no meeting can be held. The only meetings which are held are held surreptitiously by evading the police. No public meeting of any sort or kind is allowed; the country is studded with what might be called blockhouses; there is a perfect army of police in possession of the district, and on every occasion when an attempt is made to hold a meeting the people are dragooned and batoned by those policemen. In fact, an absolute state of terror exists; wholesale prosecutions have been set on foot, and the Government are at present engaged in sending to gaol as a criminal every single man in the district who has the confidence and trust of these tenants. They say they are doing this in order to put down boycotting.
1306 Let me say a word on this question of boycotting. There are two perfectly distinct kinds of boycotting. There is a kind of boycotting which is contemptible, unjust, and mean, which springs from personal or petty or trade motives, or other motives of that sort. Boycotting of that kind has always been denounced by every Nationalist organisation of the past, and is quite foreign to our objects and views at this moment in Ireland. But there is another kind of boycotting. There is that boycotting which is simply the expression of the unanimous will of a community to refuse to have dealings with a man who is regarded by them as a pest and an enemy to the well-being and safety of the community. Take the case of a land-grabber. What is a land-grabber? Anyone who has read the history of Ireland knows what evictions have done in Ireland. They know also what has been the curse of Ireland—that greed for land, that land-hunger which has induced the Irish peasants to bid one against another, and give ruinous prices for small patches of land. Then when a man has been unjustly evicted—that is to say, evicted from his farm for the non-payment of an impossible and unjustrent—another man comes in and takes that farm. He is an enemy to the whole class of tenants in Ireland; he is encouraging the exaction of an exorbitant rent; he is breaking down the trade union of the tenant farmers; and I say that, in my judgment, it is just as justifiable to boycott him as it is in England to boycott the blackleg and the scab. The point I desire to make is this: if you cannot put down that kind of boycotting under the ordinary law, you cannot put it down at all. You cannot put down that kind of boycotting simply by re-enacting any clauses of any Coercion Act, and my anxiety is due to the fact that your coercion proceedings in the West of Ireland, while they will not put down boycotting or fulfil the object you have in view, will gravely imperil the peace and the order of the entire district. I say that boycotting such as I have described cannot be put down by your coercion.
Let me quote a great authority on this question—I mean Lord Salisbury. Speaking in 1885 on the attempts to put down boycotting by Coercion Acts, Lord Salisbury said—The effect of the Crimes Act has been very much exaggerated. The provisions in the 1307 Crimes Act against boycotting are of very little effect. Boycotting has grown up under the Act, because it is a crime that legislation has very great difficulty in reaching. Boycotting was the act of persons purporting to do things which in themselves were legal, and were only illegal because of the intention with which they were done. I will give you an instance of boycotting, and I will leave it for you to tell me whether the Crimes Act will affect it. Not long ago a boycotted man went into a Roman Catholic Church, and everyone left the Church instead of sitting still until the service was over. The priest said, I will go on with the service and finish it for you alone, but I would recommend you to go away. Now, what is the use of an Act against a system of that kind? You cannot indict people because they go to church or leave church. It is more like an excommunication or an interdict of the Middle Ages than anything I know. The truth about boycotting is that it depends on the passing humour of the population. I do not believe, for my part, that in any community it has ever endured; I doubt whether in any community the law has ever been able to provide a remedy.Sir, I say that your coercion, while it will inflame public opinion, endanger peace, and work untold mischief and suffering on individuals, will not put down boycotting. It is impossible for you to put down boycotting of the character I have named. You have never succeeded in doing it; and when people believe, rightly or wrongly, there is adequate cause, you never will succeed in putting it down by your Coercion Acts. When men break the law, deal with them; when any man goes out and incites others to do a criminal act, deal with him according to the law, but, I beg of you, do not, under a mistaken belief that by renewing coercion you will stop boycotting, set about this wretched campaign in Ireland for the suppression of free speech, and putting into prison every man who is engaged in a political campaign opposed to you. What the right hon. Gentleman is doing in Ireland is shutting the safety-valve. Politically speaking, I am free to confess that I would welcome the coercion of the Government. The stronger and more powerful the Government, the more powerful the example. Every exhibition the Government makes of its inability to govern Ireland except by abrogating the British constitution, except by laws that do not exist in England, Scotland, or Wales, or in any freely governed part of the Empire, every such exhibition simply proves the case we have come to this House to make for Home Rule. It 1308 arouses and unites the Irish people at home, and the right hon. Gentleman knows enough about Irish polities to be quite well aware of the effect which it has upon our movement in America. Only this afternoon I received a cablegram. I am sorry I gave it away, so I cannot read it, but it was from Philadelphia, telling me that last night there was held the greatest meeting (as it said in the cablegram) ever seen in Philadelphia, presided over by the Governor of the State, and that a large sum of money, amounting to many thousand dollars, was subscribed as a protest against what they thought was the decision of the Cabinet the other day to renew the Coercion Act. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that politically—looking at this matter simply as a politician—his action is welcome to us, and is likely to strengthen our hands. But anybody who has any sense of responsibility must admit that there is an over-riding consideration. I was in public life through the Land League agitation, and I saw what was the consequence of a coercion campaign in those days. What happened then? The leaders of the movement were in prison. I do not mean only the leaders of the movement in this House—they were in prison as a matter of fact—but, in addition, the leaders of the movement all through Ireland were in prison. Thousands of men, all the local leaders, all the men who possessed the confidence and trust of the people, and who had the power of restraint on their neighbours and friends—all those men were arrested and thrown into prison. The open public organisation of the people was shattered, and what happened? Then the moonlighter and the assassin came upon the scene. I want, if I can, to save Ireland from a renewal of scenes and proceedings such as occurred in that year. I do not hesitate to say that I dread the recurrence of such, scenes, and I sincerely hope that whatever the Government does—whether it draws back from adopting this fatal power or allows itself to be driven on to disorder and crime—I trust that the Irish people, and especially those living in the West of Ireland, who are most tried, will listen to our voice when we tell them, as we have been telling them, and as we tell them now, and as I tell them—and I wish my voice 1309 could reach every cabin in Connaught—that the one thing they will ruin their movement with will be to stain their hands with crime, and that their greatest hope for the future is to maintain an attitude well within the attitude of the United Irish League organisation, which denounces crime, which has up to the present suppressed crime, and which will continue to suppress it so long as it is allowed to exercise a restraining influence upon the people.
It is astonishing how history repeats itself upon this Irish question. I was reading only the other day a report of a discussion in this House on a Coercion Bill in the year 1833. Then it was a Motion by Lord Althorpe for the introduction of a Coercion Act, which was one of the eighty-seven Coercion Acts which had been passed since the Union. In reading the debate upon that occasion I came across a passage spoken by an eminent English Conservative statesman, which might very well be addressed to the Government at this moment. Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, on the 7th of February, 1833, said—We take the time for exercising new coercions at the very moment when, by our new experiment of conciliation, we have virtually declared that seven centuries of coercion have been unavailing. I am sure that no people on the face of the earth can be governed by the system His Majesty's Ministers propose. Today Concession; tomorrow Coercion. This system, at once feeble and exasperating, of allowing the justice of complaint, and yet of stifling its voice, of holding out hopes and fears, terror and conciliation, all in a breath, is a system that would make the most credulous people distrustful, and the mildest people ferocious. Do what you will, if you pass these laws I warn you that it will be in vain. You can never counterbalance, in the opinion of the Irish people, this attack upon the vitals of their freedom. No individual reforms, however salutary, can pacify or content a nation that you rob of its constitution. You flatter yourselves that under shelter of those laws you will be able, with effect, to apply your remedial measures; it is just the reverse. They will blight all your remedies, and throw their own withering shadow over all your concessions.There is a voice from the year 1833, and might not every word of it be spoken in the year 1902. Irish Governments learn nothing by the lapse of centuries.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
Yes; the Act of 1833 abolished trial by jury in Ireland, and it set up a special tribunal of servants and agents—paid agents—of the Government to try offences which in England could only be tried by jury. That is what that Act did. And so the history has been the same all through the century; and is it not a miserable state of things for English statesmen to have to consider the using of that power again in 1902? And you are still at the old policy, the policy of giving a Land Act with one hand and administering the whip of coercion with the other. You have no consistency, and you have no sense in your policy. Why do not you abolish the forms of the constitution altogether in Ireland and abolish Local Government? What an absurdity it is to create Local Government in Ireland and give County Councils, freely elected by the people, and then to pass a Coercion Act to send the chairman and the leading members of those Councils to prison without trial. What an absurdity it was to send Members of Parliament from Ireland to this House to be always overborne by British majorities, and then have the forms of the Constitution abolished year by year in eighty-seven Coercion Acts!
Sir, the system is absurd. I say that in the West of Ireland the Government cannot with impunity refuse to redress this grievance, the justice of which they have practically admitted, and thus stifle the voice of complaint and imprison the leaders of the people. The Chief Secretary, in my view, has arrived at the parting of the ways, although he has not absolutely and definitely finally taken the wrong turn. I know the difficulties of his position—at any rate, I think I do—not from any communication with him at all, but I think that I know exactly the difficulties of his position; and I really think I know to a great extent his own judgment upon this matter. I am quite convinced he is being driven along this path against his will, and I ask him tonight to resist in his own interest. I am sure he will not, in a grave matter of this kind, think of his own interest, although it would be his interest to avoid coercion; but in the interest of Ireland, the interest of the country he is sent to govern, I ask him to resist this influence, and to retrace quietly, but as speedily as he can, the initial false steps he has already taken. Sir, the faction which is drawing 1311 the right hon. Gentleman on is the faction which has always done wrong at every crisis in the history of Ireland. This is the faction which has ever opposed the removal of grievances in Ireland. They have uniformly opposed every concession, whether it came from the Conservative Party or the Liberal Party, and in my opinion they have been responsible for most of the blood and misery which has stained the history of the relations of this country and Ireland for the last hundred years. I remember the phrase Mr. John Bright used in this House in reference to this action. He said, speaking of them—These are the men who stood in the way of improvement of the franchise in the church and of the land. They thought they purchased Protestant ascendency when the price they paid for it was the ruin and degradation of their country.These, are the men who are attempting to press the right hon. Gentleman along his path today. We know perfectly well that some of them are in the Cabinet. So far as Ireland is concerned, we know who they are—Lord Londonderry and Lord Ardilaun, two men who in the whole of their careers never contributed one useful word towards the settlement of any grievance, large or small. [Mr. WYNDHAM: Really!] The Chief Secretary misunderstands my reference to Lord Ardilaun. I admit his public generosity, but I say, as a politician, he is a man who has never, either in Parliament or out of it, contributed one sensible or useful word to the settlement of any question, large or small; and it would be a pitiful thing if the right hon. Gentleman allowed himself, by a faction led by these men, to be drawn into a course of action which I am convinced his own better judgment does not warrant.
Sir, I say to the right hon. Gentleman, let him retrace his steps; let him deal with this Land question in a thorough and broad spirit; let him open the safety-valve he has shut in Ireland; let him withdraw once and for all his policy of suppressing free speech; and let him cease to imprison the local leaders. Let him, for example, allow men like John Fitzgibbon of Castlerea—a man universally loved and esteemed by all classes and creeds in County Roscommon; a man who today possesses the confidence and trust of the people, and a man whose influence has always been used in restraining 1312 the passions of the people—let him allow men of that character to do some useful work outside of prison instead of sending them in as criminals into the gaols of Ireland; and if he does that, I believe he will find that the result will be that the state of immunity from crime in Ireland which exists will continue to. But, on the other hand, if he rejects the advice given to him by the representatives of the Irish people in this House, if he follows the invariable rule and practice of all English Governments almost without exception, and if he allows himself to be guided by this unresponsible juncta of Irish landlords, I warn him he will fail in his policy; he will fail to put down boycotting; he will fail in his policy in the West of Ireland; and he will inevitably bring great disorder upon the country. The Chief Secretary has great power, and no one recognises that more than I do. He has not much power for good, but he has sure influence in his position of governing Ireland from Dublin Castle; but he has enormous power of infamy and of evil. He may recreate agrarian crime, not only in the West but all over Ireland. He may be able to present to Parliament this day twelve months a really disturbed Ireland which he received, on his own admission, free from crime when he took up office. He may weaken, he may perhaps destroy, the power of men who desire to restrain political passion, and to guide it into channels of open peaceful and constitutional agitation. He may add enormously to the power of other men of extreme views and more violent methods; but, Sir, there is a limit to his power. Whichever course he pursues, there is a limit to his power. He cannot by any repressive legislation make his policy a success, or by any repressive measures he may adopt, or by any dragooning of the people, or by wholesale imprisonment of the people, he cannot succeed in making the English Government in Ireland one whit more successful or one bit less hated than it is at the present moment.
To leave out '£19,095,000.' and insert '£19,094,900.' "—Mr. John Redmond.)
§ Question proposed, "That'£19,095,000' stand part of the Resolution."1313
§ (6.0.) THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND(Mr. WYNDHAM,) Dover
, rising after a pause, said: I gave an opportunity, as I thought it my duty to do, to hon. Members who might wish to take part in the debate; but it appears that hon. Members in all parts of the House are prepared to hear what I have to say in reply to the speech which has just been made, and also, in a lesser degree. to the attacks which have previously been made on the Government, and notably the criticism passed on the Government during the Committee stage of this Vote, when I was unfortunately absent. Let to before I say anything else, express to the hon. Member who opened the debate my appreciation of his reference to the cause of my absence. He was good enough to say that he regretted it on public grounds, but he added that he regretted it also on personal grounds. I thank him for that. We are sharply divided on many questions relating to Ireland, and though I agree with a very little of what fell from the hon. Member, I cannot accept his account of the history of the relations of the two countries during the last hundred years; and when he asks us where is our consistency and our sense, those are the very words in which I have put a similar question to the hon. Member, and in which a similar question has been put to almost every Irish leader who has preceded him—Where is the consistency in deliberately inviting coercion and then stating that coercion prevents any good fruit from being born? Where is the consistency in declaring that agitation, and agitation alone, produces remedial measures? It is a matter of history that more legislation has been passed for Ireland during the lulls in this bitter controversy than at moments of crisis and panic. The hon. Member says that I am being driven by a section of the Press into a course of which I disapprove. I have already stated that, in so far as I am responsible for the Irish Government, I shall defend it in this House; and I must respectfully repudiate any speculation as to my private views on any matters relating to Ireland. I am the Minister responsible to the House of Commons for the policy of the Irish Government and for the action or inaction of the Irish Executive, 1314 and so long as I hold that position I shall defend what I think capable of defence; and I am to be held personally, as well as politically, responsible for all that I defend, whether in the matter of action or of inaction.
Now, Sir, the hon. Member declared that the situation in Ireland was grave, and he went on to say that it was not grave because of any prevalence of crime. I do not say the hon. Member quibbles with this matter, for I wish to avoid any offensive language; but is it not an unhappy play on words for one set of men in this House to use the word "crime" in one sense, knowing perfectly well that it is used by every one else in another sense? What is it we call boycotting? If it is indeed your view that it is no crime to overbear the will of people in the poorest circumstances, to hamper them in the pursuit of their lawful avocations, to cloud their horizon with apprehension, to fill their lives with bitterness, and to bring them within measurable distance of absolute ruin—if it is the opinion of hon. Members from Ireland that that is not a crime, let us fight openly on that issue. What is a crime? A crime is an action against which a charge can be brought in a Court of Law. It is not a question of words, it is a question of fact. If under the law of the country such action is illegal, and if evidence is forthcoming, persons guilty of such action can be convicted, not only in Ireland, but in England also. Therefore I deprecate any quarrelling over the use of words. Let us come to the facts. Are these things done in Ireland, and are they legal? I say they are done in Ireland and I say they are illegal. The hon. Member quoted a portion only of the speech I made in the debate on the Address. I have always endeavoured to be perfectly candid in everything I have said about Ireland since I became Chief Secretary. I have never tried to improve my case or the case of the Government. I think there is too much misconception already about affairs in Ireland to make it morally right for anyone who has a special know ledge of the facts not to state the facts as accurately as he can. Therefore I have always held it to be my duty to say that of violent crime against the person or against property in Ireland, there is less now than in any period of which we have 1315 record. I have said that because it is true, and the more truth we can import into the discussion of Irish affairs the sooner we shall arrive at just and accurate results. But, speaking on the Address, I did pick out two sets of facts which I then described as grave. I picked out the revival of a state of things in the De Freyne and Murphy estates, which, in my opinion, was indistinguishable from the plan of campaign, and I picked out another set of facts, namely, that one or two or more speakers had often come together, apparently deliberately, in order to hold up to public execration some individual. I stated then quite clearly that in my opinion a Government would be unworthy of the support of this House if it neglected to adopt any proper course likely to succeed in order to protect such people from such annoyance, which is often far more than annoyance, and attended with graver circumstances. I stated those views then, and I adhere to those views now. The hon. Member's speech, after all, if he will allow me to say so, shaded off into the repetition of a great many speeches with which we have been familiar in this House. The echoes of 1887, 1888, 1889, and 1890 rang again in my ears. In those years such speeches were very familiar. I remember occasions when I have stood on the platform with the hon. Member for South Tyrone, and heard him denounce this boycotting.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
I beg to say that when this matter was before the Committee the other night I made a strenuous protest against boycotting, and declared that I would support the Government in almost anything to put it down.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
I am glad to find that in the hon. Member's opinion there are now in Ireland persons whose cases do demand the zealous care and protection of the Government. That care and that protection shall be extended to them. I was saying that many of the speeches delivered the other night seemed to me to be mere echoes of others. There is a new 1316 generation of Members in this House.—[A NATIONALIST MEMBER: And with the same thick heads]—but I may tell them that the charges now preferred against the Irish Government are conventional charges. Action is deliberately taken in Ireland, as I said a moment ago, in order to oblige the Government to send extra police into a district. The hon. Member for Cork City has said that the best way in which you can hamper the Government and render their task difficult is to force them to send down a number of police in order to protect persons in certain districts in Ireland. So that is the way in which the police are brought upon the scene. It is a deliberate mechanical contrivance in order to force this question on the public attention. The police, being on the scene, are charged with brutality. The first conventional charge is the brutality of the police. The next, which has not been urged tonight, but has been urged, and will be urged again, is the servility of the resident magistrates to the Government. The third conventional charge is that the Government is forced to resort to exceptional legislation, and by so doing provokes further exasperation. Now these are the three notes in the chords of this old tune with which we are so familiar, but I shall not inflict on the House a detailed reply to the particular incidents which have been urged in their support, at any rate, not at great length.
Let me take the first conventional charge—that the police are brutal. It was said that not long ago, at Lough-glynn, they drew their batons and charged the crowd in a perfectly unnecessary manner. Whenever such charges are made the Irish Government of the day at once makes a most careful investigation [Nationalist laughter], and is informed from official sources that nothing of the kind took place.[Renewed Nationalist laughter.] I almost courted that repudiation. It almost invariably comes, prompted by the very same motives which lead hon. Members to prefer the charge. Therefore the Government is not content to rely only on official information. They generally refer to some perfectly impartial witness, and what they want is almost always to be found in the Nationalist newspaper published in the locality. In this particular case I looked the incident up in a Nationalist newspaper which is edited by an hon. Gentleman belonging 1317 to the Nationalist Party, whose impartiality is proved by the fact that he is now under sentence of imprisonment, and I found it there stated that on this occasion the police did not draw their batons at all. The charge is always made and the official defence is scouted, and then we bring in the testimony of an impartial witness. I pass now to the charge of the servility of the resident magistrates. The hon. Member for South Tyrone argued that everybody who took a part in platform defence during the years I have mentioned was familiar with this conventional charge, and with the hackneyed but adequate answer. During the whole of the five years from 1887 to 1891, when coercion was in full swing all over Ireland, the percentage of acquittals by resident magistrates was higher than the percentage of acquittals by juries. They may be right or they may be wrong, but when they convicted and when they did not it was quite clear they were not the mere puppets of the Irish Executive, who dictated to them the verdicts they were to give. That is the old charge and the old argument. It will always be preferred. I will take a particular case dwelt upon the other evening, to which I must ask the hon. Member to allow me to refer, although he has not brought it up again—the case of the prosecution of the woman Normoyle. I must refer to that case, because I gather from the report, and I have also been informed by those who were present, that it was handled in such an ingenious manner by the hon. Member for East Mayo as to cause a great deal of derision, even on the part of persons who would be the last, I am sure, to wish that anyone oppressed in Ireland should not find a remedy in a Court of Law; and I read in a newspaper, which is urging the Government to be very firm and resolute, that they must also be particularly careful in the cases which they select, and not bring themselves or resident magistrates in Ireland within the reach of such ridicule.
In the Normoyle case, one of the resident magistrates was not a member of the Protestant Ascendency Party, nominated in order to domineer over a people of another race and another religion. He is an Irish Nationalist, Mr. Kelly, appointed by the right hon. Member for Montrose Burghs when he was Chief Secretary for Ireland. The person who had been subjected to oppression was a woman named 1318 Mrs. Normoyle, who earned a livelihood by selling milk. She was not directly or indirectly concerned with any political or agrarian issue. She is a common country woman, making her own living in an honest way. She is subjected to gross oppression, and she informs the police. She makes a statement which she signs. Her son also makes a statement, which he signs, to the same effect. The persons who, in my opinion, were responsible for the oppression from which that woman and her son suffered were prosecuted under the Crimes Act for unlawful assembly. Both the aggrieved parties go back on the statements they have made. Why? Well, the Judge, Mr. Justice Gibson—who held that the magistrates had been technically wrong in holding these people to bail—said that, in his opinion, that could only be due to the intimidation which had been practised upon them. The Judge expressed his opinion upon the point of law with great diffidence, and his colleagues on the Bench differed from him. The majority of the Court held that the persons who had been accused, but could not be convicted of that charge owing to the aggrieved parties having gone back on their evidence, could properly be bound over to keep the peace and to be of good behaviour. Why not? If the Court was satisfied that they had been acting in this manner, and that the evidence had broken down because they or others had persisted in the same reprehensible conduct, why should not the Court of Magistrates have given directions for binding over the parties accused to keep the peace and be of good behaviour? I think I have said enough to satisfy a good many hon. Members in this House that the case is not so transparent a travesty of justice as some of them were perhaps led to believe the other night.
§ MR. MACVEAGH (Down, S.)
Is it a fact that the magistrates decided that these men were innocent, and that the men have now had three months in gaol?
§ MR. WYNDHAM
The hon. Gentleman has given a different version from mine. It means the same thing if you really look into it. Where the Court finds there is no evidence against the men 1319 accused, they are discharged, but they are then bound over in their own recognisances, and I believe that that is a practice for which a parallel can easily be found in this country. If a person is found in this country under suspicious circumstances, and there is reason to believe he intended to commit some crime against other persons, he is arrested, and if he is unable to give any satisfactory account of his conduct he is frequently bound over to keep the peace.
Now I come to the third conventional charge, namely, that the Government has had a wanton and unnecessary recourse to exceptional powers. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford, who opened this debate, made a point that we had interfered with the right of public meeting; that at Kilmaine and other places the police had interfered with the right of public meeting. I think that is a serious charge, which ought to be met. I will quote the words of Chief Baron Palles—There is a constitutional right for people in this country to meet in a peaceful and lawful manner in a place where the occupier consents to such meeting for the purpose of stating what are, or what they may deem to be, their grievances, to ask the Legislature to provide remedies for their grievances, and to suggest to the Legislature such remedies as they may think right, even remedies which others may think wrong and revoluti nary.The Chief Baron went on—But the right of public meeting is but a small portion of our law. Many rights exist of a wholly different nature—first, the great right that the peace shall be kept, or, in the language of the old common law, that the King's subjects shall live in the King's peace. Another right, as well as that of public meeting, is the right of personal liberty.And he cited another great authority, Lord Bramwell. In 1867, when dealing with disturbances in some of our manufacturing districts of a somewhat aggravated character with a state of affairs not utterly unlike the state of affairs which occurs in parts of Ireland, Lord Bramwell used these words—There is no right in our country so sacred as the right of personal liberty. But that liberty is not the liberty of the body only, it is the liberty of the mind and will. That liberty of a man's mind and will to say how he should bestow himself, his means, his talent, and his industry—is as much the subject of the law's protection as is that of his body.When a body of men is gathered together to interfere with the liberty of some individual, if these persons so 1320 gathered together deliberately advise a course which will interfere with his liberty and with his means of subsistence, that undoubtedly in point of law constitutes such a meeting an unlawful assembly. Well, then, the police, if they reasonably hold that such is the case—[Interruption.] May I resume my argument? It is somewhat a technical argument, but I take up that argument. We are often accused of directing the police to do this or that beforehand. That is not so. An officer in charge of a police force is bound to form a reasonable view as to whether such a meeting is an unlawful assembly; and if in the course of such a meeting any act is performed, or words spoken, which convinces a man of reasonable intelligence and firm mind that such courses are being advocated that the meeting becomes an unlawful assembly, it is the duty of any police officer to stop a crime being committed. Now I will take the Kilmaine case.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
You will find the whole of that, if not explicitly, at all events implicitly, conveyed in the judgment of Chief Baron Palles. I have gone carefully into this question. There are many lawyers in this House, and I do not know whether they will support me; but we have been advised, and I myself believe, that an assembly becomes illegal if persons go to attend it for the purpose of recommending a crime. Do not let us go back to the question we have already dismissed—whether boycotting is a crime or not.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
What I asked the right hon. Gentleman was whether he has any authority for the proposition that the tribunal to decide on the question is a police officer.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
He does not deside the question of guilt at all. He 1321 does it at his peril. But if he, as a reasonable man, believes that a crime is about to be committed and that the assembly is unlawful, then it is his duty to disperse it. If anybody supposes he is quite wrong they can bring an action to prove it. Now, I would ask the House to consider what are the facts and considerations a man of reasonable intelligence and firm mind ought to take into account. I hold that if in a part of Ireland where actual intimidation has been practiced, where some individual has been constantly held up to public execration, a mob of people suddenly collects in close proximity to his house, and if a speaker advances to address that mob who has notoriously on two or three occasions deliberately held up that same individual to public execration, and recommended that he should be boycotted, then if I were a police officer in charge of a force I should come to the conclusion that that assembly was an unlawful assembly.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
I think the right hon. Gentleman must be confusing it with another case. The meeting was allowed by the police, and a certain number of speakers made speeches. For instance, the hon. Member for East Clare made a long speech. But immediately the hon. Member for the Division, Mr. John O'Donnell, was called upon by the Chairman to address the meeting, and before he had opened his lips, the police constable said, "No, no! You will not be allowed to speak," and the meeting was broken up.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
At Kilmaine there resides a person I shall not name him who has been held up to public execration in that district, and held up to public execration on two preceding occasions by the hon. Member to whom the hon. and learned Member refers. There was no proclamation of the meeting, because it was a surprise meeting. The occasion of a fair was chosen, when there were about 5,000 people congregated in the town. That was the moment seized upon by two or three persons seeking to raise an agitation, to collect a crowd of 500 and to 1322 begin to make speeches. I say that created a dangerous situation, with which the police on the spot were bound to deal. When the hon. Member for East Clare got up to speak there was no reason to suppose that he was going to make an attack on this individual whose house was in close proximity to the meeting, and therefore he was allowed to speak; so careful are the police in Ireland not to interfere with the right of public meeting. Then the hon. Member who, on two previous Sundays, had also surreptitiously held surprise meetings on almost the same spot, gets up to go through the same performance a third time: and the police properly tell him that he must not turn the meeting into an unlawful assembly. I accept the whole responsibility for their action, and think that the police showed a very wise discrimination in this case.
Now as to surprise meetings. The new generation in this House who did not hear the old debates are not familiar with these things, which in the old days were done more openly. There used to be great green placards posted by those who wished to stir up agitation, clearly stating that the object of the meeting was to denounce some individual. In that case the Government countered with their proclamation, to inform His Majesty's faithful lieges that the meeting would in all probability turn out to be an unlawful assembly. But now we have to deal with surprise meetings, when the word is passed round over night through the public-houses.[Nationalist cries of "Oh!" and interruption.] Surely hon. Members did not mean to say that the public houses are not places where many people are to be found in the evening? I do not wish to insinuate anything. If you like I will say the private houses. As a matter of fact, the word is passed round where the people are found to congregate together. Next day some local agitator, who has on previous occasions held unlawful assemblies and denounced people by name, starts in one direction with his car, and after going a certain number of miles whips round and goes in the opposite direction. Perhaps two or three others do that, and effect a concentration. That is a surprise meeting; and I urge upon the House that the very fact that these proceedings are surreptitious enhances the presumption of their illegality. There is 1323 no sacred right inherent in the individual to behave in such a way as to arouse a legitimate suspicion that he intends to cause an infraction of the rights of other people. If he does so, it is at his own peril, and the police have a right to interfere with him. In this country they march him to the police station, and if he can give a good account of himself he is discharged; and if not he is bound over to keep the peace.
I hope that I have now justified some of the measures of preventive justice which the Executive take—the dispersal of unlawful assemblies and the binding over to keep the peace of persons from whom some security may be demanded that they do not mean to go on oppressing their neighbours. Now I go on to the Crimes Act. There are times when the use of exceptional law is necessary, where, for example, owing to the deliberately surreptitious character of these unlawful assemblies, the police are outwitted, and where there are so many persons assembled that it may be imprudent or criminal on their part to disperse the meeting. Then they must take evidence of what has occurred; and if that evidence proves that the assembly was, in fact, an unlawful assembly, then it is the duty of the Government to prosecute the persons there for unlawful assembly; and if the Government believe honestly that no conviction could be obtained before a jury, then they would show great want of courage if they did not prosecute under section 2(3a) of the Criminal Law Amendment Act. That is why in many cases we have proceeded under that Act. Again, when repeated attempts on the part of one agitator have proved that he has a deliberate design to go on with his malpractices, then, also, instead of moving on the meeting. I feel that the Government have acted quite rightly in instituting a prosecution under section 2(3a) of the Crimes Act. I do not claim any merit from any quarter of the House because we have, as a rule, used that section of the Crimes Act and not others. We use it because it is effective. It strikes immediately at the very root of the evil—at the assembly which advocates injurious courses and advises 1324 the people to enter into a criminal conspiracy. Are you to wait until the people have been drawn into a criminal conspiracy, and then to institute a lengthy and doubtful process of law to prove it?
A great many people talk about the Crimes Act without troubling to look into it, and without examining the results which followed from the use made of the Act between 1887 and 1892. By far the greatest number of convictions obtained during those years under the Crimes Act were obtained under Section 2 3a) for unlawful assembly. They were 42 per cent. The convictions under Section 2 (3a) for intimidation were only 12 per cent., for conspiracy only 10 per cent., and under the section which authorises prosecution of persons for belonging to a dangerous association only 2 per cent. Therefore I am not entitled to any laudation from any quarter for defending the use of Section 2 (3a). We use it because we think it effective and adequate for the purpose we wish to achieve. If you look into the results under the Coercion Act in old days, you will see all the features of Irish agitation reflected. It shows what happened, because the bulk of the convictions were obtained for resisting bailiffs and obtaining forcible possession. The fact is that agitation, after some months of vague talking, like the moaning of the wind before the storm, always bursts upon some particular spot in Ireland, and the fight, as it is called—though I do not think the word can be properly applied to what reflects so little dignity on any one concerned—rages round one estate or one holding, which rapidly becomes historical, because the person's name becomes known from one end of the country to the other. The whole trouble is wrought there, and it is there that the Government find that exceptional law can be used with effect. The offenders who bring this state of things to pass are brought to justice, but the devastation which they have wrought remains. It is a poor satisfaction to those who study Ireland, and who wish to see an end of these fights that thirty or forty persons have been put into gaol for starting a plan of campaign if they know that 2,000 or 3,000 1325 persons have been turned out of their holdings and left for years unprovided for.
In passing from the accusation that we have wantonly taken up coercion, I have a word to say. In view of certain statements published a short time ago, I wish to say that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland has cordially co-operated with me in the desire to strengthen the arm of the law wherever and whenever that is necessary. Since my noble friend is precluded from making his position known, I feel it desirable to bear witness to that fact. I would ask my hon. friends also to believe—though I do not suppose they doubt it—that I am as sincere and earnest as any man can be in my determination to protect the liberties of our fellow subjects in Ireland. So long as they are prepared to support me, I shall advise, explain, and defend in this House the course which, month after mouth, the Government may think desirable to effect that object on which all our hearts are set. It may be, and it sometimes is, that their opinion, formed on the information which reaches them—and some of which I beg them to believe is inaccurate—will differ from the opinion formed on the fuller information which reaches the Irish Government. I shall regret any such difference of opinion, but as long as I retain their confidence I shall do my best to secure the full and rapid realisation of the object which we all have at heart. In the light of a study of Irish facts on my part, which I know to be careful, and which I hope to be accurate, I pass to an atmosphere of misrepresentation, or, at any rate, of misconception, which clouds all our discussions of Irish lawlessness and grievance.
It is always asserted that if we would attend to the material grievances of Ireland, there would be no agitation and no disturbance. The hon. Member for East Mayo put that statement forward in the most explicit manner. He persuades himself, by a process of reasoning which I cannot follow, that the agitation in Ireland is due to some remissness on the part of the Government. The hon. Member for Waterford said that if the Government had brought in another Land Bill, or had brought it in sooner, or had announced an intention of dealing with the De Freyne estate, all this misery would have been spared. But even in Ireland the effect does not precede the cause; and 1326 I can prove to the House that the order of events is not what was suggested. I suppose that Ireland was never more peaceful than in the years 1895 and 1896. Was the Government remiss on that account? There was the Land Act of 1896, which conferred great powers on the Congested Districts Board. The Local Government Act passed in 1898 was, in my opinion, by far the most important measure passed for Ireland in the last fifty years. It amounted to a social revolution. It took the power in local affairs out of the hands of one class and put it in the hands of another class. There is no revolution, even a peaceful revolution, which does not bring some evil in its train, and I deplore that Ireland has for the time lost the services of many brave, wise, and public-spirited men who were prepared to give their services to the country. But that was a great measure, passed in a time of profound peace, and so was the institution of the new Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction. At any rate, that rule of agitation in Ireland is not due to our callous disregard of grievances. In 1895 the hon. Member for the city of Cork, who was responsible for starting a great deal of this trouble, pointed out that there was not a mouse stirring from one end of the country to the other.
I come now to the particular charge that the Congested Districts Board had done practically nothing until the agitation began. It has been said that the Congested Districts Board were instituted in 1891, but did nothing until the agitation began. Why, their power to do anything of practical utility was not conferred upon them until the Land Act of 1896, and as soon as they got that power they used it—two years before this agitation was heard of. And then again, to prove my case, I come down to the De Freyne estate, which has always been mentioned, and was mentioned again by the hon. Member for South Tyrone the other night. It has been said that if the Government had held out some hope to the people on the De Freyne estate, there would have been no agitation. No man can charge the present Government, or, indeed, the preceding Administration of Lord Salisbury, that they shut their eyes to the economic evils in the West of Ireland. It is said that we have held out no hope. We have done more than talk; we have acted. Did we hold out no hope in the 1327 debate on the last Address, when I went out of my way to deal with the economic situation on the estate, and to express my sympathy with the tenants, and to indicate that, in my opinion, it was the duty of a Government to do what they could to remedy these economic blemishes? That was not all. During last year we passed two Land Acts, one which doubled the credit available for the purpose of remedying these blots in Ireland, and another Act conferring on the Congested Districts Board powers mechanically necessary for the carrying out of further operations. We are charged with creating this trouble because we bought the Dillon estate and did not buy the De Freyne or some other estate. The purchase of the Dillon estate exceeded the credit available for the purpose in the county of Mayo, but what did I do? I got an Act which doubled it last year, before this agitation on the De Freyne estate was heard of. On the Dillon estate we found by experience that you could not better the position of the people unless you had more powers. How could we have taken up another estate when our hands were paralysed because we had not the necessary powers? As I say, those two steps were taken last year. We brought in last year, in a session in which it was not easy to pass legislation, a measure involving a more extensive use of Imperial credit at a time when the borrowing powers of the Treasury were less than in any previous period for a long time past. That was the action of the Unionist Government last summer, and when there was not a whisper of agitation on the De Freyne estate. You do not hear anything suggested until the month of September. Then the hon. Member for Cork City threw out a suggestion—not that the De Freyne tenants should strike for a rent equal to the purchase instalments on the Dillon estate, but apparently that the tenants throughout Ireland should strike for a reduction equal to the purchase instalments, a policy which I look upon as insane. This has done more than anything else to paralyse the Government's intention to expand purchase and to arouse hostility against the system of voluntary purchase. Men who are writing on Irish affairs, who were then in favour of this policy, now declare that the purchase scheme of the Leader of the House and the successive action in a similar direction are, in view 1328 of these disturbances, a little doubtful in their wisdom. I am wedded, and have always been wedded, to that policy; and I have proved that the trouble on the De Freyne estate was gratuitously and unreasonably provoked, not because the Government had refused to do anything, but months after the Government had taken the necessary steps. The policy of the Government in the matter of land purchase, and more particularly in the matter of weaning the West of Ireland from these grave economical blemishes, is arrested by agitation.
I wish that hon. Members from Ireland would try to realise how inconsequent their action appears to us in this matter. Surely they must feel that when a Minister brought in two Acts last year, and is pledged to bring in another Act immediately, it is unreasonable to condone in any way an agitation on the De Freyne estate, which can only arrest that policy and paralyse the power of the Executive. When this question comes up, we are told, it is not unnatural that agitation should be raised against the representatives of the old Protestant ascendancy party and against men who have cleared their estates. But who is the landlord selected in this instance? He is a Roman Catholic gentleman, who has lived among his tenants, who, like those who came before him, has been kind and indulgent, who has never cleared his property; and because someone else does not please the local agitator, forsooth such a one is to be hounded down and subjected to financial ruin. I will protect any landlord in that position to the best of my ability, and I will leave no stone unturned to see that no injustice is perpetrated. I regret the passion sometimes imported into a consideration of this question. It is quite grave enough. Take the migratory labourers; that is a grave matter. But there are only 20,000 of them, and 12,000 live in Mayo. I have always held, and I hold now, that we ought to attack these worst spots in Ireland; and, instead of doctoring the whole country with our physic, we want a surgical operation applied to the part which most needs it. That has been my view, and it is the sound Tory view; but how unreasonable it is to say that 1329 we shall not conduct these operations unless we can conduct them all at the same time. We shall proceed with our work as rapidly as we can proceed with it. I trust that we shall not be hampered by the continuance of agitation; but that work must be postponed for a time on any estate where agitation has brought illegitimate pressure to bear either on the landlord or the Government. These cases, with which we are quite as ready to deal as any other, are taken out of our hands by the action of such an agitation, and they must be left to the healing of time. We shall see justice done to the landlords, we will defend the just rights of owners of such estates, and bring to justice those persons who have misled and coerced the unfortunate peasantry on these estates; but we shall deplore the misery to which the peasantry on those estates have been condemned, while hoping that they will be relieved at no distant date. Such estates must go to the bottom of the list. The credit of this Empire is vast, but it is limited for the prosecution of any service, however important. Therefore, it is a matter not only of justice, but, in my opinion, of true kindness to the peasants of the West of Ireland to lend the assistance of the State, first to those who have abandoned a barren warfare and seek to regulate their dealings on principles of common sense, holding to that which they can offer and which the other party can afford to accept. If that can be done, I shall, so long as I retain my present office, devote myself to the twofold task of repressing lawlessness and removing grievances. It is to be hoped that all men who have been misled will see the futility of their error, so that they may again be placed in the category of those who can be assisted by the State without injury to the community.
§ (6.55.) SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)
The right hon. Gentleman was particularly asked by the hon. Member for Waterford as to whether he himself approved of the renewal of the application of the whole Coercion Act to Ireland, in view of the present situation, and I was much struck by the manner in which he met that question. He said he accepted the full 1330 responsibility for whatever was done, by the Irish Government so long as he was Chief Secretary, but he did not say whether he approved or disapproved of the extension of this baneful and dangerous system to Ireland in the condition of things in which Ireland is at the present time. He left us in complete uncertainty with regard to the present intentions of the Government in the matter, and in even greater uncertainty as to his own views upon the subject. I hope it is to be, at all events, accepted that the right hon. Gentleman is aware that he is playing with fire in his attempt to enforce coercion on that country.
Now, I wish to make a few observations as to the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the charges made. He spoke of them as being conventional charges; he passed lightly by cases of police brutality, as though it were enough to say it was one of the conventional charges made against the Irish Government in regard to that particular matter. I have been present at all the debates this session to which he alluded, in which particulars were given of brutality and unprovoked violence—particulars given by hon. Gentlemen who said that they had seen it. In one particular case, the hon. Member for East Clare, who is a perfectly straightforward man, said he was one of the witnessers of a scene of brutality which he could only describe as sickening, on the part of the police. The right hon. Gentleman referred to one case, and said that in that case the police repudiated all responsibility. Of course they did. And there he left it, without further reference—a case where specific allegations were made of brutal conduct in batoning the crowd without any provocation at all. I do not think that is the proper way in which specific charges ought to be met by the Irish Government, and the only conclusion I can draw is that the right hon. Gentleman has not the proof necessary to make a more satisfactory explanation. The right hon. Gentleman also said another conventional charge was made of the autocratic conduct of the resident magistrates.
§ MR. WYNDHAM
Of the servility of the resident magistrates. The charge was that they gave verdicts at the bidding of the Government.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that there is no advantage in having independence in our judges. He forgets that in this country, and I believe also in Ireland, the independence of the judge and the Court which has to try these cases is safeguarded by Statute, by which they are placed in that position of absolute independence which is one of the greatest triumphs of those who framed our constitution. But whenever these Coercion Acts are put into force in Ireland, we have placed upon the Bench to try these cases gentlemen, some of whom do not pretend to have any legal training or experience, who are sometimes military and naval officers, and others without any judicial experience or training whatever. Gentlemen who, it is well known, are dependent on the Government for their promotion and for obtaining their positions, are put up to try cases which, according to ordinary law, should be tried by a judge and jury. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks he can dismiss so grave a matter as that by speaking of it as one of the conventional charges against the Government, he misconceives altogether the seriousness of the state of things.
With regard to the specific cases to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, one was the Normoyle case, in which two people were supposed to be aggrieved; those who had boycotted them were brought before the resident magistrates; the stat ements made by the aggrieved persons to the police were not those which they ma le in court. In court they refused to prove their case, and they gave no evidence at all that they had been in any way ill-treated. The consequence was that there was no evidence against the accused—the right hon. Gentleman himself said there was no evidence against the accused; and they were acquitted. Now, two things happened after that. The first was that the people complaining, who had probably been forced to come to the court by the police, were themselves committed for some period of time, I believe a short period; and the second and more serious thing was that after these poor persons, the accused, 1332 had been acquitted, the resident magistrates demanded that they should give bail for good conduct, and in default of that bail being given, these persons were sent, by the tribunal which had been forced to acquit them, to prison, where they now are. The right hon. Gentleman said that that was constantly occurring in England. I say that no person can bring a case of that kind before us at any time, and say that it happened in this country. It is a caricature of justice. It is absolutely absurd to say that such a case could take place in a country governed decently and according to law, as I am happy to say England is.
Let me now pass to the Kilmaine case. The facts are that two Members of Parliament went to address a meeting at a place which seemed to be in rather a sulphurous condition; the meeting was perfectly quiet and orderly—that was a fact the right hon. Gentleman was not prepared to deny; one Member of Parliament got up and made a speech, to which no exception was taken, and then up got the other Member of Parliament, who happened to be the Member for the Division, but before he could say a word the police tried to stop him. He tried to speak, and it is not suggested that he said anything of an inflammatory nature, but the police forcibly prevented him, and dispersed the crowd, and followed them down the road, batonning them in a manner described by the hon. Member for East Clare as sickening. What had happened previously? On two previous occasions the Member for that Division had advocated the boycotting of a person in the village, a most improper and unlawful thing to do, and on this occasion, before he could speak, the police, with the intuition which they possess in Ireland, said he was going to do the same thing again, and they, not content with dispersing the meeting, followed the people down the street, treating them in this brutal manner. These facts have been stated before, and the Chief Secretary has not attempted to answer them or put forward any excuse which could justify the violence used towards the people who attended at the that meeting. The fact is, when one follows these Irish debates—as I did from 1886 to 1892—one cannot help feeling that there is a different sense in the police of Ireland to what there is in England; they consider they are at liberty to disperse meetings on their own authority 1333 without their being made responsible. The administration of the police in Ireland is entirely different to what it is in this country. Does the policeman who is present at a meeting, and who thinks it is going to be converted into an unlawful assembly, and breaks it up, know that a policeman has no more right than a private individual to break up that meeting?
§ SIR ROBERT REID
And if it is true that a policeman can do it. anybody can do it. The right hon. Gentleman's law upon this, if seriously applied, is likely to lead to trouble. But this is really no serious answer in point of law. The truth is that the practice has been prevalent in Ireland for many years, and the police think they are entitled to do anything they like, and they feel confident that they will be supported by the authorities at Dublin Castle, no matter what violence they may be guilty of. Those are the only cases the right hon. Gentleman thought proper to deal with. He said a little about the land laws, and a little about the case of the De Freyne estate and the Dillon estate, and I want to put one question to him. Never mind what his powers were, I agree if he obtained powers he was quite right in using them. What he did was to buy the Dillon estate, and thereby turn a one sovereign rent into a 13s. 8d. rent. Now, if the credit which belongs to the whole country is employed in that way for the purpose of reducing the rent on one estate, and all the neighbours round see that though that rent is reduced in that way they have no prospect themselves of getting their own rents reduced, it is perfectly natural, and the Attorney General for Ireland admitted it the other night, that they would be discontented. I do not pretend to be a great authority on the Irish land question, although I have sat for many days on a Committee upstairs dealing with the subject; it is a terribly complicated and difficult question. Nor do I pretend to have been throughout a friend of this land purchase system; in fact, I have on occasions voted against it. But, having gone so far, it seems to me absolutely necessary that we must go farther. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to have 1334 peace in Ireland and to keep Ireland crimeless, his best method is to put aside the idea of coercion, to prevent his police attacking the people or taking upon themselves to interfere with so-called unlawful assemblies, to dismiss his resident magistrates, and to bring in remedial legislation. That would, I believe, afford us a real chance of maintaining peace, although for my part, I am of opinion that we shall never have permanent peace in Ireland under the system of Government which at present exists.
§ *(7.14.) MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The Chief Secretary for Ireland has stated that he felt it his duty to make a study of Irish facts. That, I presume, is the duty of every Chief Secretary who goes to Ireland But other people have been engaged in that operation also. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the speech of the hon. and learned gentleman the Member for Waterford was practically the same old tune. Ah! but that is the pity of the whole thing. If the Chief Secretary could only see it, it is the most painful part of the whole business. It is because the old mischief is there, notwithstanding everything that has been done, that we are here tonight discussing the Question afresh. But where did the Chief Secretary learn that the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, was wrong when he stated that remedial legislation had always followed agitation in Ireland? What history has he read? It is not necessary to go behind the Act of Union. Commence with Catholic emancipation was that passed without agitation, or without a tremendous struggle? Catholic emancipation was passed thirty years after it was promised, and probably it would not have been passed for another thirty years had it not been for O'Connell's determined agitation. Take what followed a few years afterwards, when the tithe system was practically abolished. The tithe system was not abolished until the soil of Ireland had been reddened with blood. Take the Church Act. The Church of Ireland was not disestablished until there had been a fierce agitation, not only in Ireland, but in England. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell me if the Land Bills would have passed this House without agitation—aye, and agitation of an illegal kind? What produced the Land Act of 1870? The Fenian movement. The Act of 1881? 1335 The Land League. The Act of 1887? The Plan of Campaign. I want to know where the Chief Secretary has obtained his facts, and what history he has been reading. Then he talks about the Local Government Act having been passed in a time of lull. Yes, it was passed in a time of Home Rule lull, but it was born in a time of storm. If it had not been for the agitation demanding a great deal more than local government, this House would never have come within sight of the Local Government Bill. I say that if the Chief Secretary reads history truly he will find that there is far too much truth in the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman that this House has always been too slow to move, and that reform has always followed agitation, and, very often, illegal agitation, in Ireland. But I rose mainly for the purpose of dealing with the position taken up by the right hon. Gentleman in regard to the De Freyne estate. That is the pivot on which the whole case turns, and the House ought to make up its mind definitely one way or the other, upon the merits of that case. The Chief Secretary has stated plainly and clearly that there is no crime of the ordinary character in Ireland. I think he put it quite clearly, or rather, he admitted the position taken up by the hon. and learned gentleman the Member for Water-ford. He admits also that of the old class of Agrarian crime there is comparatively little. But he says that boycotting prevails, and he is right. I stopped him there, because I thought he was going to pin me down as supporting boycotting. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman nothing would be further from my mind than doing that. (Ironical laughter.)
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The right hon. gentleman sneers, but to what does he owe his position in the House? I, at all events, have never been paid to put down boycotting, and he never did anything against it that he had not been briefed to do. I have fought boycotting, and I have seen more of it than most Members of this House, but Lord Salisbury told the real truth when he said it was impossible to put down boycotting by legislation. Of course, it has to be remembered that at that time Lord Salisbury's party was 1336 angling for the Irish vote. [Ministerial cries of "No!"] I know it for a fact, because I was a Liberal candidate at the time, and felt the full weight of Lord Salisbury's action.
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I think the paid hireling of the Government ought to allow me to proceed without interruption. Cries of ["Withdraw."]
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
I was carried away—["Withdraw."] I am coming to that. I was carried away by the action of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and I hope he will cease from hurling these personal remarks at me. ["Withdraw."] I withdraw unreservedly.
§ * MR T. W. RUSSELL
Whether the right hon. Gentleman wishes it or not, I know my duty to the House, and I do it. I withdraw unreservedly, and I desire to express my unfeigned regret that, in the heat of debate, I was tempted into using an expression which I ought not to have used.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL
The real point is this. You can deal, as I said, with incitement to boycotting, and you are dealing with that. You can deal with conspiracy to boycot if you can get the evidence, and you are trying to get that evidence and are dealing with it. But you cannot, as Lord Salisbury said, deal with the act of boycotting itself. it is beyond the power of the law. If you get something like a general consent of the community, it is impossible to deal with it. It is because it has been proved in the past that I repeat it here tonight.
Now let me come to this question of the De Freyne estate. My difficulty in agreeing with the Chief Secretary is this, he has stated that if they are to have this 1337 terrorism, the Congested Districts Board cannot proceed with their work, and he has distinctly declared that where this terrorism exists the work of the Board will cease. I think I am not exaggerating the position he has taken up. What is the real position? The Congested Districts Board, with a very small capital to work upon, has been going on for years purchasing small estates, enlarging the holdings of small occupiers, and conferring immense benefits upon a suffering people. They have turned Clare Island into something like a small paradise, and in other cases they have done a great deal of good. Owing to the very success they had achieved, they were tempted into the gigantic operation of purchasing the Dillon estate with something like 4,000 occupiers. This was not a case of Lord Dillon selling his estate to his tenants. If it had been that, an ordinary case under the Land Purchase Acts, nobody would have had a right to say a word. But the Government bought the estate from Lord Dillon, and re-sold it to the tenants; it therefore became an act of State policy. It is all very well to talk in this House, but what were these unlettered peasants to think of this transaction? How did it present itself to them? Here were 4,000 tenants who had had £20,000 of arrears wiped out; landlord, agent, office, and so on, had all disappeared; they were to pay to the State in the future a terminable annuity of13S. 4d. in the pound, where they had previously £1 paid as an everlasting rent. Can it be a matter for surprise that the tenants on the neighbouring estate, men of the very same class, enduring the very same hardships, should demand the same terms? It is not a matter of surprise to me. The Attorney General stated the other night that he could not deny that it was natural. If it was natural, then it could have been foreseen. Here was the Government taking a step which was perfectly certain to produce trouble; the feeling it would arouse was, according to their own law officer, natural, and therefore it should have been foreseen and provided against.
There is no answer to that, and I would like to tell the right hon. Gentleman that this feeling is not confined to these Western tenants. Not a bit of it. This is the feeling which is at the root of the whole demand in Ulster for compulsory sale. I sometimes wonder 1338 whether the statesman who passed the Land Purchase Act of 1885 ever looked ahead. No doubt it was passed under pressure from hon. Members opposite; that was in 1885, and the Irish Vote in Great Britain had to be secured, and that was one of the terms. Did the statesmen of that day ever look forward and ask what would come about when 100,000 occupying owners had been created with these enormous privileges and advantages. We have come very near to that now. They are paying 30 per cent. less than judicial tenants are paying, with a freehold a few years in advance, whereas the judicial tenants have no chance of a freehold whatever. Can those statesmen have imagined that such a state of affairs would be tolerable—that these two classes could exist together in the same country? The inevitable result of such a line of policy is that what is seen on the De Freyne estate. That feeling is as rampant in Ulster as it is in Connaught. The demand is simply this: If equal rights for all white men is an excellent policy for South Africa, it is an excellent policy for Ireland as well. That is the real position of affairs today. You have set up this object lesson in the very heart of the province of Connaught, in the midst of a poor unlettered peasantry; they cannot judge as we judge here the difference between the judicial rent and a terminable annuity. That is what you have done, and you expect peace, and you are sending men to gaol—if they break the law, I am in favour of them being sent to gaol—but they are telling the tenants that this thing has to be fought out, just what the agitator has told the Irish people all through the history of the last century. They are pointing out now, just as previous agitators pointed out, that the British Government never yielded anything except under the pressure of agitation.
§ * MR T. W. RUSSELL
Yes, I believe it myself, and why? Simply because I am not able to resist the facts of Irish history, and the facts that have come within my own knowledge since I entered this House. I have been conspiring to pass Land Bills ever since I have been a 1339 Member of Parliament. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks he can carry on these two systems side by side, and at the same time maintain peace in Ireland, I believe he is mistaken. I do not object, and I have never objected, to the punishment of offences against the law of the land. But I say at the same time, whilst you must be prepared to deal with these offences, whilst you must maintain the peace of the country, there is a more excellent way, and that is to remove the cause of the trouble. Could you have a more excellent illustration of what is taking place than that afforded by the Dillonestate case? An excellent illustration is offered by the condition of things on the Dillon estate. The tenants on the estate in the olden days gave all the trouble and were the first to give way when the pinch of want appeared, and that was the real danger point in Connaught and has been ever since I knew the Irish Land Question. But it is quiet now, there is no trouble there, and no boycotting, and you have not to keep any police magistrates there. Everything is now quiet on that estate and why? Simply because you have removed the cause of the trouble. If the removal of the cause of the trouble on the Dillon estate and Clare Island produces this result, am I not right in saying that this is a more excellent way? I think you should go to the root of the matter and give equal rights to all those tenants, and get away from the policy of giving rights to one and denying them to another. Until this is done you cannot reasonably expect peace in that country, which has never known peace since you have had the government of Ireland in your hands.
§ *(7.34.) MR. BLAKE (Longford, S.)
said he had listened at first with amazement, and afterwards with despair, to passages in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. They all knew the ability and diligence of the right hon. Gentleman, but nevertheless of the commonplaces of Irish history for the last 100 years the right hon. Gentleman had shown himself absolutely ignorant that night. The open mind was wanting. It was utterly absurd to suppose that anybody could study that history with an open mind without recognising the melancholy, regrettable, and, for Parliament, the humiliating fact that Irish wrongs had not received effective attention until that attention 1340 had been stimulated and some remedy provoked by means deplorable, but for which not the Irish people, but those Englishmen who refused to listen to the representatives of the country which they governed, were responsible. That had been the state of the case in the past, and it was because they wished that it should not be the case in the future that they were endeavouring to the best of their poor ability to impress once again upon the majority of this Parliament the real condition of the Irish nation as illustrated by the land agitation and the administration of the laws. He asked hon. Members from this Island what, after all, in the ordinary affairs of life, they most prized. It was, he supposed, the supremacy of the law. They rejoiced that they were able to boast that they lived under the reign of law, and they had absolute confidence in the administration of justice. And consequently they were willing assenters to and supporters of the administration and execution of their laws. That was a, happy position. He congratulated them upon having attained to it, and upon being able truthfully to assert it. Now there were certain main securities for the liberties of the people which obtained in time of peace, but they were, perhaps, disposed of late years to be a little less regardful of them here than he himself approved, and this just because they had become so absolutely identified with the laws under which they lived, and they had attained such a long settled and secure confidence in the justice and fairness and equal administration of those laws.
He wished to remind the House what those main securities were for the subject in the administration of the law. They were these. First of all, that in any question which involved a serious penalty there should be precision and clearness in the charge formulated against the prisoner in the indictment. The next security was that the case should be tried as to the fact by a fairly empannelled jury of the land. The last was that the trial should take place under the direction, and so far as questions of law were concerned, according to the judgement of a high and independent judiciary, independent of the Crown and independent of the people, holding office during good behaviour with a secured salary; of persons thoroughly versed in the law and acting in the 1341 light of day and under the general responsibility that they had accepted to the people at large. Those were the main features of the administrative system, and they were features to which they were so accustomed in this country that they did not, perhaps, always realise their vital importance. But what was it, after all, that was more necessary than all this to the maintenance of that happy state of things of which they boasted with reference to the law? What was the root and foundation of all; what was that from which the system derived its stability and strength? It lay in the making of the laws whose administration he had sketched. It was that those laws which were administered under those securities and by those methods were laws which they themselves had passed. They were laws framed by the representatives of the people, who had been elected by the people, and they represented practically and substantially the commonsense and general assent of the realm; they were the people's laws made by themselves for themselves. That was the main foundation of the law in this country. It was upon that basis that the reign of law justly rested there.
But hon. Members must remember that when they came to deal with the case of Ireland the whole situation was reversed. The very foundation of the whole system—first as to the creation, next, and consequentially, as to the administration of the laws as applicable to this country—was reversed in Ireland. Across the channel everything was topsyturvy. In Ireland generally, and specially with regard to this tremendous land question, the laws were framed not with the assent of the Irish people, but contrary to their will; and the laws they asked for and insisted upon, the laws which they believed necessary to the life of the nation, and which were demanded by four-fifths of the Irish representatives in Parliament, were demanded in vain and were repeatedly refused by this Parliament. Therefore, in Ireland it was not the reign of law such as the English law was for Englishmen, but it was a reign of law imposed by Englishmen upon Ireland, to which forsooth Englishmen complained that Irishmen did not give that same willing assent and cheerful support which was given by Englishmen to the laws which they framed to suit themselves. If happily 1342 that state of things could be considered and borne in mind, a little more tolerance, a little more justice, and a little more disposition to recognise the real condition of Ireland, might be evinced by the majority in this House.
He had referred to the ordinary securities for the administration of the law in England, and he now wished to apply his statement to that class of transaction which was going on now in Ireland under the general clause of the Crimes Act, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred as the most effective clause, because it was applied by that Act all over Ireland without a proclamation. That clause had thus been made—God help them! —the common law of Ireland as to unlawful assemblies. Now, the question of unlawful assembly was a difficult and complicated question, which demanded for its solution large legal knowledge, a practical acquaintance with affairs, and the exercise of sagacity and judgment. The decision whether any particular assembly as a whole was unlawful generally involved one or more of numerous, delicate, and difficult points—the shadowy line between political and seditious action—the subtle point of intent—that of overt acts as evidence of intent the application of former speeches at other places—the doubtful result of such a general change of intent during a meeting as should convert a lawful into an unlawful assembly by creating a participation of the mass of the assembly in the unlawful intent of a few of their number. There was a question as to the evidence by which the result was to be ascertained. It had been said that this was to be accomplished by proof of one speech made by one man in the meeting. Statements of law had been made and repeated in the House in regard to unlawful assembly which he altogether repudiated. It was suggested the other day, and had been repeated that night, that an assembly which was lawful up to a particular moment became unlawful when one speaker had spoken, or even when he was supposed to be about to speak, something which would be an unlawful speech. That proposition he utterly denied. A meeting must be composed of a certain number of persons. It was certainly true (and that was one of the complications which showed the necessity of securing a proper independent and competent forum for the administration of the law) that you might 1343 find an absolutely lawful assembly made unlawful in its progress. But not simply by the words, still less by the thoughts of one or another of the number. It might turn out that ten or fifteen men might come to a perfectly lawful meeting with intent to promote something unlawful. If so, those ten or fifteen were of themselves an unlawful assembly gathered within the mass of the lawful assembly. But surely that did not turn into criminals the lawful men assembled for lawful purposes. It did not turn those men who came to a meeting upon their lawful business, in pursuance of their rights as supposed free citizens of a free country, into criminals because enough men to constitute of themselves an unlawful assembly had come into their meeting for an unlawful purpose. He denied altogether that one man rising in a lawful assembly and uttering unlawful sentiments turned that meeting into an unlawful assembly. That was a monstrous assertion. To produce any such result it must be made to appear that an unlawful intent, not before existent, had been created in the mass by the speech.
Now consider the difficulty and delicacy of the questions of fact and law involved. It could hardly be overstated. And yet this was the sort of business which it was said ought in common justice to be disposed of by the special jurisdiction made possible by the Crimes Act. There could be very little doubt that in the particular case of which a return had been laid with the securities under the ordinary course of common law by indictment, the information would have been held bad. The procedure in the case was held to be objectionable by every judge; but it was held by the majority of the judges not to be so objectionable as to be void and fatally defective; and this just because it was a summary proceeding. The parties had thus not the security which the common law gave. Next there was no jury to find the facts. That was the second result of the summary proceeding. Lastly, instead of having two independent judges to deal with questions of fact and law, there were two resident magistrates. Resident magistrates were drawn in largest proportion from the ranks of the police. As to the rest, they were largely drawn from the naval and military ranks, the 1344 only calling which was very sparsely represented being the profession of the law. They were thus mainly drawn from sources which rendered them in that unhappy country suspected of the people. They were engaged almost entirely in hearing cases supported by police evidence, given mayhap by their former comrades. They were practically chosen by the Executive for the performance of the special work in hand. They were in close and confidential relations with the Executive. They were dependent on the Executive, having no permanent tenure of office or of salary; fearful of removal, eager to earn promotion, they thus felt that they ought to pay, and, feeling that they ought, they did pay altogether undue deference to the Executive. He asked what English Members would think if one of the judges of this country, dealing with a case involving to a large extent the liberty, fame and fortunes of an individual, and creating great public excitement, were to defer to the judgment which was expressed as to the law of the case by the Attorney General, or the political officer in charge of the case. And they must remember that Irish law officers were not as English law officers. Would they not consider that it was the duty of the judge to decide for himself what was the law, and not to defer to the views of the Attorney General in the matter? Would they not be shocked at the suggestion that the opinions of the prosecuting Counsel should be deferred too. But that was in melancholy truth, the position which these inferior and dependent persons occupied in relation to the Attorney General of Ireland. He would prove that by referring the House to the view expressed by the Chief Baron with reference to this very point. The Chief Baron said—I wish to say, that even if my view of the law were the one that was to prevail, I think that, having regard to the circumstances of the case, it is impossible to say that it was not fairly open to the justices to adopt the course they did. They had there a learned counsel representing the Attorney General, who is to be taken as acting under his immediate direction. He insisted, with all the weight of the position of the high official he represented, that the justices had jurisdiction. They yielded to his insistence, not absolutely, but subject to the safeguard to which the defendants were entitled—and which, of course, it was eminently part of their duty to afford them—of stating a case for this Court.1345 That was what the learned judge said was the proper relation of those ex-officers and ex-policemen to the Attorney General. What stronger proof can be asked of their superiority and their in-competency? But, in the opinion of the learned judge, even the reflected light the transfused wisdom of the Attorney General descending through the learned counsel who represented him, and who was taken to be acting under his immediate direction, was to be adequate, and his insistence was to be deferred to by the justices who tried the case. In a word the conditions insisted on in England for the impartial administration of justice were frequently violated in Ireland. That was the way in which the law was administered in Ireland.
And let the House mark that within certain limits there was no right of appeal, while there was no obligation to state a case. If the justices limited the penalty to within a month, there was no appeal, and of course they need not state a case; they were not only the first judges, but the last. What were the excuses? It was said that a jury was not of much consequence, and that two ex-constables were adequate to try and condemn a man, because the maximum penalty was so short; they could not give a higher sentence than six months. Try six months in the second class in an Irish goal and you will think it long enough! But a device not merely existed, but was being generally practised, which enabled them, substantially without appeal, to turn even one month into six months or nine or twelve months, or possibly even more—the device, namely, of holding to bail for good behaviour. Not merely was this occasionally the case, but it had now become a general rule, so far as he could see from the late prosecutions, that whether they were obliged to acquit, or found it possible to convict, they added what was practically a further penalty under the provisions for holding to bail for good behaviour. The Chief Secretary, indeed, had stated that the percentage of acquittals by resident magistrates was higher than the percentage of acquittals by juries when coercion was formerly in full swing. But this was a very shallow thing. It should be remembered that these were not English juries chosen according to the law of this land. These were packed juries, or arranged of one completion. The Executive packed the 1346 juries, and got more convictions out of them than out of the packed resident magistrates. And this is the defence of the Resident Magistrates! Now the practice of holding to bail was under ancient law lawful, but a great many things were lawful which were the height of injustice. It was said that this step was not punitive, but only to prevent possible or apprehended breaches of the law. That was the legal view, and he was not going to discuss it. They were told that therefore it was not to be regarded as punishment; but if that was the legal view, it was one of those things which common sense said was not the practical or real view at all. And let them observe how injustice intensifies itself. It was held that, since this is not a punitive step, no charge is needed, no defence allowable and, of course, there is practically no recourse. All this revolts one. Dealing with this particular branch of jurisdiction in the case of the late Dr. Tanner, Chief Baron Palles said—Although in my own opinion holding to bail for good behaviour is punishment—grave and serious punishment—the law [that was this old law made statutory by Edward III., brought into active life in Ireland today] does not regard it as such. It has never been regarded as such since the time of Edward III.; and if you want it to be regarded as punishment, to make that which every man of common sense knows is punishment dealt with as punishment by our law, you must do it by an act of Parliament.But the Parliament of Edward VII. has no time or inclination to redress this judicially condemned injustice. Again the Chief Baron say—I regret extremely that the law is so. I regretted being obliged in Harken's case to hold that that was not punishment in the view of the law which I knew and felt was punishment, and would operate as punishment; but I repeat what I have already said so often, that I find such is the law; and if this, which I venture to say is an anomaly of our law, is to cease to exist, it must be by the act of legislature, and not by the act of this court.There was the verdict of a great judge on the real nature of this sentence. Not even by ordinary tribunals with ordinary securities for indifference, but that was the sort of punishment which was being exercised day by day in Ireland by the removable magistrates, who were dealing with questions of "unlawful assembly," and who were tagging on sentences more or less severe by holding to bail for good behaviour without charge or evidence for the defence. They were 1347 practically, instead of leaving in disuse, using this engine of oppression more vigorously than ever. He maintained that if these two men, sitting under the special jurisdiction conferred by the Crimes Act, were to be permitted, nay, to be encouraged, by the Attorney General, to whom they had to defer, and by the Chief Secretary, under whom they were to proceed in that way, then they were really extending the Coercion Act and inflicting a penalty beyond that which the Act prescribed. They gave a man a month under the Crimes Act—No appeal! and more months under the bail law—No appeal! If there was to be any inspiration to those who were to administer the law, if there was any suggestion to be made to the "removables," he should like the suggestion to be made, not secretly from the Castle to the men on the Bench, but made publicly and openly in the House of Commons, to the effect that in exercising their special jurisdiction they were to keep within the limits of the Act, and to do no more than the Act prescribed. The questions of holding to bail for good behaviour should be decided by another Bench, and under the ordinary law of the land, and should not be touched under the special jurisdiction.
Now again who could doubt that these questions merged largely into questions of politics, and that it was frequently impossible to draw the line? Who could doubt that these antiquated laws and this arbitrary jurisdiction were often really directed today against political action? There was a period when that was the case in this country. It was impossible to say that there was not violent and law-breaking agitation in this country before there was a real representation of the people. But it had ceased since the Reform Act of 1832. Before the passing of that Act, payment of taxes was refused, and men assembled in Birmingham by hundreds and thousands to march on London. The Reform Act was passed under a pressure which in Ireland would be considered so unlawful that ten Coercion Acts would be necessary to put it down. It was not put down for long. It soon prevailed. Further agitation became unnecessary here, because effect had been given to the people's will, and 1348 since then the people of this country had really governed themselves. But the same state of things did not exist in Ireland. What was happening there today? It was said, forsooth, that it was the right, and even the duty of a constable the moment he fancied, from looking at a speaker, or from having read a report of something he had said some other where and at some other time, to give him no room for repentance—he must not assume that the orator would ever become more moderate—that it was the constable's duty at once to hail the speaker from the platform, drag him away, and refuse him liberty of speech. And this view was acted on at Kilmaine and against the member who wanted to speak to his people! But more—though this be bad enough—far more! The circumstance that the Member tried to speak, even though through unlawful force he had failed to address the assembly was of itself sufficient to turn the meeting into an unlawful assembly to be broken up by brutal violence. Was ever in the world a more outrageous travesty of justice suggested? He declared that it was hardly credible even of Ireland. And more must be heard of the Kilmaine case. Rules of police conduct were laid down that night. If the police were not in sufficient force to break up a meeting, they were to assume an attitude of observation, to take notes, and afterwards prosecute for unlawful assembly. If they were in force, their duty was to use the baton and break up the meeting. The right hon. Gentleman said that a constable who did this was liable to an action, but how was the offender to be fixed upon for the purposes of an action? How was the man knocked down and kicked on the ground by four brutes from whom he was trying to escape to identify them? And if, in the circumstances of Kilmaine stated by his hon. friend the Member for Clare, these unhappy peasants found their man, the representatives of the Attorney General would come down from Dublin to defend the officers. Such was the state of Ireland.
What was the general result of all this? How did it affect this House? He agreed that things were sometimes said against the law and were reprehensible, but what was the general result on the administration of justice and on the whole country? They saw hon. Members committed to 1349 gaol for attempting to address their own constituents, and given sentences which kept them in their cells for twenty-two out of twenty-four hours, which allowed them practically no visits and no right to letters or books. They saw these men leave this House with the regard and regrets of their comrades, and when they came back, they sat in the House on equal terms with all other Members; for all knew that they had no stigma of real crime upon them. They suffered no degradation. Dare anyone propose the expulsion of these convicted criminals? But there was degradation elsewhere. The degradation was to be found in the fact that the Government and Parliament did not realize their responsibilities, and redress the terrible evils which existed in Ireland, and from which all those outrages flowed. It was to be found in the fact that the House of Commons allowed itself to be made an instrument and an accomplice of tyranny, by allowing the abuse, by not assisting on the disuse and abrogation of the laws from which these evils sprung, by adopting force instead of redress as its Irish policy. But the House had at any rate the grace not to estrange or boycot or expel the men who had been gaoled for asserting rights for which in days of need English members had themselves been proud to suffer. As a man who had lived his life in an atmosphere saturated with the doctrines of English freedom, he felt all the more strongly the degradation involved in those proceedings in Ireland. Even in England he had seen in late days an impairment of the right of free speech deeply to be deplored. There were sometimes things said in Ireland which he might regret, but that was no reason why the main foundation of the British liberties should be cut away. Free speech was a jewel, and he held that the circumstances of Ireland were such as ought to make this country very tolerant and very lenient as to language employed by a long-suffering people, very careful before exceptional laws were brought into force. If English Members could only realise the dreadful conditions in which the poorer classes in Ireland lived, they would be amazed—not at the occasional agitation and breaches of the law, but at the extraordinary patience and endurance of the people, and he was sure they would not be so inhuman as to refuse amendment of their most unhappy lot. 1350 What he had felt for a long time was that Englishmen, responsible for the government of Ireland, must find it very difficult to reconcile to their consciences their indifference to the real grievances of the Irish people. How many English statesmen apart from those actually for the moment Irish Ministers, but yet responsible for the government of Ireland had ever visited it in any real sense? He could not acquit those who undertook that responsibility of gross neglect of duty. They saw the main features of the history of the hundred years; they saw the country seething with wrong; they saw the frightful, unprecedented and almost unexampled fact of half the population, besides all the natural increase, despite all its national aspirations, despite its passionate love of home and country disappearing; and yet, although living within a paltry sixty miles of the country, they did not make it the main study of their lives to find out what the conditions were which produced those results, and to remove them. No man was an Imperial Statesman who did not put and keep in the very first place the study and redress of the Irish situation. Was it in human nature that there should be a constant condition of disaffection and disloyalty among any people who had a tolerable existence, a tolerable opportunity of attending to their own affairs, a tolerable condition of prosperity, and some hope for the future of the management of their own country.
It was the general condition of humanity that they paid too little attention to their political affairs. There was too great a disposition to devote oneself exclusively and selfishly to one's own affairs and too little to public affairs. England would be infinitely better off, and better governed, if the great opportunity which her happy economical and social state afforded to all classes to promote their own interests did not dull, instead of intensifying zeal and interest in public affairs. When they found a condition of disaffection and disloyalty, such as existed in Ireland for a long time, all history and experience showed that that condition must have a great and substantial cause. Now was it not the greatest interest of those whom he addressed, of those who insisted on maintaining a particular form of Government in Ireland to which the people objected, who refused to have the 1351 right self-government, and who were applying remedies which the Irish Members thought were mere palliatives at best, was it not their greatest interest and their double duty to remedy those grievances? It was a melancholy circumstance, that even if the Government set about reformation and redress at once, and worked diligently at it for a long time, their progress must be slow at best. They could not change the face of those watched congested districts and other like places by Act of Parliament in a day. They had left the people without hope; they had given them no opportunities for thrift; they had taught them no lessons of providence; because the people had nothing to accumulate, and, therefore, they would have to learn by slow degrees the virtues of thrift and providence. Their means were narrower and their lives baser than could be well conceived. They could not be said to live; still less had they a chance to save. Even if land were bought for them and their holdings were enlarged, unless their power of alienation were at first restrained, being without the training of thrift or providence, the same evils which at present existed might be reproduced within a generation. What a fatal stain such a state of things inflict on the reputation of the great and prosperous controlling Power! What was the position in England? The people there had learned largely thrift and providence. They were not afraid to encourage a man to buy, because they knew he would not throw away his purchase improvidently. In Ireland those unhappy people of the congested districts might have to be treated in their new capacity of owners more or less as minors, because their condition had been so wretched that they had had no opportunity of learning thrift or nourishing even the idea of accumulation, unless by hard work at English harvests to save up a few pence to pay the landlord or the shop debt. He saw the Chief Secretary assenting; but did not he perceive that his assent meant two things; first, the condemnation of that past English rule which had suffered the creation of such a condition, and next the condemnation of that present English rule which did not at once and heroically set itself to the business of those measures of redress whose operation must at best 1352 be far too slow. The longer they would take to cure, the more imperative the duty to begin.
With every desire to be just, he could not acquit the Government of appalling responsibility. On the contrary, with the most earnest desire to be fair he there acknowledged that disaffection existed in Ireland; he realised the justice and reason of it; he was utterly unable to say that it ought not to exist, until the causes which created it were removed. He was there as one poor and humble, but most sincere and earnest witness to the necessity of removing the causes of that disaffection and of so promoting the blessed day of reconciliation. He believed that all the courses lately pursued by the Government were courses which tended to intensify their difficulties in Ireland. He would suggest to the Government that they should take other ground. They, who said non possumus as to self-government for Ireland, had an enormously added responsibility with reference to the condition of the people whom they insisted on governing. As he had said, the history of the century contained hardly an instance of even a serious visit from English responsible Statesmen, save the officials of the Irish Government itself, and yet the country was through the century seething with discontent. It had often occurred to him that the lines of Tennyson were very applicable to those who were responsible:—They live and lie reclinedOn the hills like gods together, careless of ma kind,For they lie beside their nectar—But they smile, they find a music centred in a doleful song,Steaming up, a lamentation and an ancient tale or wrong,Like a tale of little meaning, though the words are strong;Chaunted from an ill-used race of men that, creave the soil,Sow the seed and reap the harvest with enduring toil,Till they perish.Aye, God help them, till they perish!Myriads by famine and its diseases, myriads more perish at any rate from Irish soil, but rising again in the great Republic, the standing obstacle to your dream of cordial friendship, implacable till you render justice to the old land. God grant that the ears of Members might at length be opened, and that their eyes might perceive 1353 the enormous weight of their responsibility. If they would not let the people govern themselves, which was the only radical and effective remedy, they ought, at any rate, to do something to redress the calamities under which those poor creatures groaned. But he agreed with his hon. friend the Member for South Tyrone that by the experience of a hundred years the people had been taught the fateful lesson that the only way to open those eyes and to quicken those ears was to agitate and make English Government difficult in Ireland. [8.30.]
§ (8.58.) MR. J. P. FARRELL (Longford, N.)
said he found it difficult to follow the eloquent speech of his hon. and learned colleague in the representation of Longford, but he ventured to intervene in order to give what might be called the parochial view of the situation, so far as it affected the national organisation of Ireland, and the view of the people with whom resident Members of Parliament like himself came into contact. Knowing intimately the facts connected with events in Roscommon, Leitrim, Longford, Sligo, and West Meath, he felt it his duty to ask the Government whether there was the slightest shadow of justification for the imposition of the Crimes Act on the people of that large district. What had the charges of the judges at the recent Spring Assizes exhibited above all else? The comparative crimelessness of those counties. The Attorney General shook his head; it was very hard to convince him of the truth of anything. Those counties were in a state of absolute crimelessness. With regard to cases of alleged boycotting, and so far as serious crime was concerned, there was not a shadow of justification for assizes being held, for the cases were so small and paltry that they could have been dealt with by the Chairman of quarter sessions, and thus expense would have been saved. Throughout the whole of Ireland there was not one prisoner for execution, whereas in this country at a recent assizes in one county alone there were four prisoners under sentence of death. The Chief Secretary for Ireland knew perfectly well that there was no comparison between the trivial crimes committed in Ireland and the horrible crimes which had to be investigated in this country.
1354 What was the pretence for and the cause of this outcry for coercion? What was the case for sending down two paid removable magistrates? What was the ease which was set up? Simply that an agitation was going on to endeavour to compel the Government to redeem their pledges by the settlement of the Irish Land question. The one essential feature of the United League was that it was a crimeless organisation. From its central offices, on its platforms, and through its branches the people were being warned and told that the great doctrine of O'Connell against committing illegal offences should be observed. That section of the Cabinet which was dominated by the evil influences of the Castle-reagh family had been at work to compel the right hon. Gentleman to resort to the Crimes Act of 1887. Supposing that there was some justification for the statement that boycotting did exist, and that people were subjected to social isolation because they had broken the rules of an organisation whose object was to obtain a redress of the grievances of the people living on the land, would the right hon. Gentleman contend that after all the political privileges which had been conferred upon the people of this country, and after all the efforts which had been made to teach the people to ventilate their grievances in a moderate and constitutional manner, that the people of Ireland were not entitled to combine and treat as a social blackleg the man who broke the rules of their organisation? The Member for South Tyrone had identified himself with the land reform movement, and they were told that he had been struck off the list of those who received the whips of the Tory Party.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to state that I have voted for the principle of compulsory purchase every time it was before this House. I desire also to say that I never asked to introduce Mr. Woods, and I never promised to do so.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL
said that whether the hon. Member made the promise or not was quite a matter of indifference to him.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT
Does the hon. Member not accept my statement? The hon. Member states that it is a matter of 1355 indifference whether I made the promise or not. I distinctly state that I made no such promise.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL
said he had accepted the hon. Member's explanation. There was no justification whatever for the Government to impose coercion upon the Irish people. Those people who were urging coercion had always opposed everything that was suggested for the progress and advancement for the people of Ireland. Whether it was a measure for improving the conditions of labour, or for giving facilities for the purchase of Irish land, they always found the small reactionary gang constantly at the head of those who always opposed such proposals. He was very sorry to hear the concluding words of the Chief Secretary's speech, for he appeared to have been driven from the path he had hitherto taken up in regard to land purchase, in consequence of the agitation got up by the landlord ring. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the estate upon which there was any trouble in future would be put at the bottom of the list. The Chief Secretary, with all his abilities and all his learning, did not seem to have applied himself thoroughly to the study of this Irish Land question. Had he done so, he would know that the Irish people had made up their mind to fight for the land in a constitutional manner, and they were prepared to take the risk of the suppression of public meetings, and their leaders and Members of Parliament were prepared to take the risk of being sent to prison. So long as the people of Ireland were quiescent, and took to their bosoms those landlord representatives who misrepresented them so long in the British Parliament nothing was ever given to Ireland by this Parliament. In regard to the Irish Land question, hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen opposite and others occupying official positions in Ireland used the word "never," and they had threatened to put back the settlement of the land question because of disturbances in Ireland; and yet the party opposite, after promising remedial measures, threatened to coerce Ireland for twenty years, and to drive Irish discontent beneath the surface. The party opposite introduced this policy of land purchase, which had been applied through the operation of the Congested Districts Board, and indirectly this had produced the state of 1356 things which was now complained of. The threats of the Chief Secretary from time to time that the Government would never deal with this question, had been falsified by themselves. Just as the Government had been forced by the onward progress of agitation and organisation in Ireland to relinquish the rusty old method of coercion, so the Nationalists hoped today that the Government would be compelled, by the force of circumstances in that country, to change the tactics on which they had now entered, and to substitute another policy for that of coercion and intimidation. He warned the Government that the more they imprisoned Members of Parliament, clergy, and local leaders, the more they used the weapons of coercion and repression, the more determined would the people of Ireland be to bring this fight for the land to a successful conclusion.
§ (9.17.) MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
My right hon. friend the Chief Secretary has, I think, given a very conclusive and effective reply to the attacks which have been levelled against the administration in Ireland during the last few months. So far as I am concerned, that reply would have been more convincing as to eventual results if my right hon. friend had been able to point out that his policy had resulted, in any portion of the disturbed districts, in a relaxation of intimidation and in the restoration of the natural rights, as subjects of the Crown, of which they have been deprived for so many months. My right hon. friend; however, abstained—I do not know whether intentionally or unintentionally—from giving any statistics to the House which would have reassured us as to the results of this policy. I confess to being somewhat an unbeliever in that policy—[A NATIONALIST MEMBER: "Hear, hear!"] but from very different motives from those of hon. Members opposite—the policy which is founded on the supposition that the common law of the land is sufficient to cope with the circumstances of the case in these special areas. It is admitted, I think, on all sides of the House that this agitation is restricted to certain districts in Ireland. The question we have to consider is whether those 1357 districts are as restricted as they were a year ago, or as they were six, or even three, months ago, and whether in those districts the policy my right hon. friend has adopted, and which is the policy of the Irish Government up to the present moment, has been effectual in restoring liberty of contract and of action to individuals.
My right hon. friend is such an admirable master of the arts of oratory that when one listens to him he is almost driven to believe that we are living in the best of all worlds, and no doubt tonight many hon. friends of mine sitting on both sides of the House were not only convinced that he had made a very adequate defence to the charges brought against the administration, but also that in all probability his administration was being successful in carrying out that which I believe to be the intention of the majority of this House, that the law should be obeyed and respected, and that the liberty of the individual should be as untrammeled in those districts of Ireland as in any other part of the United Kingdom. I am not going this evening to urge again what I have often urged in this House, but I feel bound to point out what is the position in those districts at the present moment, and what has been the effect so far as I can ascertain it, not from information only in my possession, but from more or less official information which has been published. It will be in the recollection of the House that, in the month of June, last year, my right hon. friend said that this agitation was restricted or confined to small areas which he said could be easily managed In January this year he stated it to be his belief that the United Irish League, if it pursues the present course, would arouse against itself the labourer, the shopkeeper, the professional man, the man of culture, and the man of business, from one end of Ireland to another. The question now is to ascertain how far that belief has been realised, and how far the policy of the administration in Ireland by the common law has realised the prophecy of my right hon. friend. In the first place, I think it is beyond dispute that the area which was somewhat restricted in the month of June last year, and was still restricted in the month of January, has been considerably enlarged. [Nationalist cheers]. I will leave out the 1358 adjective and say that it has been enlarged. There can be no doubt of that, because at the recent assizes Mr. Justice Madden pointed out that in the North Riding of Tipperary there exists what he callsWidespread intimidation," and "an organised system of violence and intimidation directed against those who were exercising one of the most ordinary rights of citizenship—the right of freedom of contract.[A NATIONALIST MEMBER: "Who told him that?"] The hon. gentleman asks who told him that. The Judge founded this opinion on the Returns which were presented to him by the head of the constabulary in the county and those who were responsible for the peace of the North Riding. The view which he took of the condition of affairs in the North Riding of Tipperary is the view that has been expressed by every one of the Judges who have gone on assize in the districts which in the month of June last were in a disturbed condition. They have all pointed out that in the counties of Leitrim, Roscommon, Clare, and Mayo, the condition of affairs has not improved, and that there has been no diminution in the League intimidation from which the subjects of His Majesty are suffering in those districts.
It may be possible that later on tonight my right hon. and learned friend the Attorney General for Ireland will be able to point to some conclusive evidence to prove that the policy of the Government with respect to Ireland has realised the hopes which the Chief Secretary indulged in last year. I shall be only too glad to hear that he is able to point out that in those districts there were persons boycotted last year who are no longer boycotted, and that there wore persons under police protection who are no longer under police protection, that the League is dying out, and that its branches in those various districts are not so numerous as they once were. So far as I have been able to form any opinion from comparing the statistics my right hon. friend gave to the House last year with those of this year, the reverse is the case. I take the condition of the League. The Chief Secretary, in January last, said that, upon further consideration and with a better knowledge of what was going on in Ireland, he was of the opinion that there were only seventy effective branches of the United Irish League. But when I 1359 turn to the statistics which have been laid before the Judges of Assize, I find that in those two counties where matters were especially grave and menacing—the counties of Leitrim and Sligo—the Judges declare, upon official reports presented to them, that there are no less than eighty active branches of the United Irish League. [Cries from NATIONALIST MEMBERS: "Why not?" and "It is not illegal yet."] Let us contrast these figures which the Chief Secretary gave in January as to Leitrim, where he said there were only seven branches, with the statements made by the Judge of Assize in March. He stated, on the authority of the Constabulary, that there are thirty-three active branches in that county. In January the Chief Secretary said that, according to his information, there were only eight active branches of the League in the county of Sligo, but, according to the going Judge of Assize in March, there are no less than forty-seven active branches of the League. According to the same authority, it is to these branches of the League that intimidation, boycotting, and the necessity for police protection are entirely due.
Let me take another test of the policy which has been pursued by the Irish Government. In June last year my right hon. friend said that there were only twenty-five cases of boycotting in the whole of Ireland, but according to him the number had grown in January this year to thirty-five. In January he told us that a close examination of all the cases of persons in Ireland who were then boycotted, showed that only twenty-seven could be attributed to the direct influence of the United Irish League. Whether that was a statement which could be received with absolute credence or not, he would not now argue, but in Sligo the Judge of Assize represented that there were no less than forty-seven persons whose condition was entirely attributable to the direct action of the United Irish League. In county Clare the Judge pointed out with great regret that while last year there were no cases of boycotting, on the present occasion he had to deal with reports of four. According to the same authority, it was to these branches of the League that intimidation, boycotting, and the necessity for police protection were due. I will further test the policy of the Irish Government by statements from the charges of Judges at assizes in Clare and 1360 Fermanagh, indicating that the sporadic action of the League is increasing.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The right hon. Gentleman refers to the charges of the Judges on Assize evidently with approval. Will it be in order, Mr. Speaker, to refer to them on this side of the House with disapproval, or to contradict the statements of the Judges?
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Citing the statements of Judges as evidence is in order, but it would not be in accordance with rule to criticise the conduct of Judges on the Bench in a hostile manner and attribute animus to them.
§ MR. MACARTNEY
said he was expressing no opinion at all in regard to the charges of the Judges. He was simply extracting from these charges certain facts, which had been placed before them by those who were bound by law to do so, relating to the condition of the counties in which they were holding Assize. One of the arguments of his hon. friend was that there had been no crime in Ireland. He had never contested that point, and he was quite willing to agree with the hon. and learned Member for the City of Waterford that the United Irish League would put down, and probably prevent, crime. It might do so so long as they were allowed to intimidate the whole of Ireland. At the present moment there is no crime. No crime was necessary, because the mere fact that any one of the branches of the League spotted a man was sufficient to induce that man, and a great many other people, to give up all opposition to the law of the League, and to relinquish all their rights and privileges as subjects of the Crown. That was his case. The cases of boycotting in Tipperary would have been undoubtedly much larger but for the fact, as Mr. Justice Madden said—
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Justice Madden said that he distrusted the statistics placed before him?
§ MR. MACARTNEY
said he had not seen any report of the charge which supported the hon. Gentleman. What Mr. Justice Madden said was that everybody in the North Riding who declined to obey 1361 the injunction of the League to give up farms in which they had been in possession for twenty years would be boycotted. Therefore on that reading, the number of cases of boycotting were much lower than if these people had been protected from the action of the League. He at once admitted that, so far as the police court was concerned, his right hon. friend had done everything he could to enforce the law and to give protection to everyone. But the "Police Court policy" of his right hon. friend was not invulnerable. There was the case of Lynan who was prosecuted at Limerick for using intimidating language. On the first occasion the Court was attended by two members of the United Irish League, and the Court, being divided, the case broke down. On the second trial the accused was heard to say "I see my friends on the bench, and I feel certain that I will not be convicted." That case was abandoned.
§ MR. CONOR O'KELLY (Mayo, N.)
I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give his authority for the statement he has made.
§ MR. MACARTNEY
said that the words he had quoted from a paper were that "the defendant said he saw his friends on the Bench, and he felt certain that he would not be convicted," and the case was adjourned. He asked his right hon. friend what course the Government intended to take in cases in which the jurisdiction of the Police Court had broken down? There was also the question of the jurisdiction of the Court of Assize. His right hon. friend admitted that there were eight cases in which there was a failure to convict, and another case in which there was a verdict of acquittal. Was the Crown going to persist in attempts to try these men when they had conspicuously failed to obtain convictions for offences in which the Agrarian Question arose? Or were they going to avail themselves of the provisions of the Crimes Act to change the venue? This was an illustration of the truth of the opinion of the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland more than a year ago that, in a very considerable area of Ireland, it was hopeless to obtain a verdict in any case in which Agrarian animosity or disturbance came into the facts of the case. Up to the present moment, they have not heard from the 1362 Chief Secretary any facts that should satisfy the House of Commons that the policy to which the Irish Government were adhering had been successful, or that there had been anything to justify the belief that in the last six months the condition of these five or six districts of Ireland was any better than it had been. On the contrary, the conviction must be borne into the mind of everybody who read the statements of the Judges that the condition of things was far from improving; that it was far worse than it was in June last, and that this policy of relying entirely on the resources of the Common Law had been a failure, and must prove a failure in the future. Sooner or later his right hon. friend the Chief Secretary would be driven, after additional misery and suffering had fallen on the loyal inhabitants of those districts, to adopt the only remedy at all equal to coping with the difficulties of the situation—namely the resources of the Crimes Act.
§ (9.45.) MR. T. M. HEALY
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has made a very able speech indeed—a speech so able that I really cannot understand why he should have been excluded from the Admiralty in favour of the hon. Member for West Belfast My recollection is that the hon. Member for West Belfast used to make his Conservative speeches as out of a book. The right hon. Gentleman makes his out of his head, and so far as the Government is concerned, it seems to have got out of the smoke into the smother. This debate has taken a very curious turn indeed. The Chief Secretary for Ireland came back apparently very tired. He did not weary the House, but he seemed to be very tired of himself, and, so far as I understood his speech, he really seemed to say to the House that with regard to all this business of Ireland, "We have heard it all before; there is no use at all in Irishmen coming here to make statements. I heard all this in substance when I was Private Secretary to Mr. Balfour in 1887; there is a conventional charge made, and I have to make a conventional reply. I have no functions to discharge. It has been going on since the days of Henry II., and it will go on, in all probability, to the days of 1363 Edward XIX. All you Irishmen are really able to do nothing, and I am unable to make any reply." It really reminds me of the story of the Norwegian girl who sought service in New York. She was asked what she could do. Could she cook? No. Could she bake? No. Could she brew? No. Well, then, what could she do? and she said, well, she could milk reindeer! And it appears to me that the functions of the Irish Members in this House should be confined to that domestic art. We have no business to attack the Government, because twenty years ago Irish Members attacked the Government. We are to have no reply from the Chief Secretary, because he wrote a letter for the Chief Secretary in 1887, when he replied to the whole of the arguments in advance. The real wonder to me is that the right hon. Gentleman accepted his office. It was such a "conventional" office that, of course, a "conventional" salary was attached to it, and a "conventional" seat in a "conventional" Cabinet, all being, as we know, absolute and dreary humbug. That is the attitude the right hon. Gentleman has taken up with regard to this Irish question, and, in that light and graceful way which he always adopts, he manages to leave the House under the impression that there is no burning passionate question remaining in Ireland; no underground volcano; that there is nothing that really requires the serious attention of the Government. And so confident is the right hon. Gentleman—I have in my experience in this House seen twelve confident Chief Secretaries—so confident is the right hon. Gentleman of the way to proceed in this question, that if we would only let him alone and cease from worrying him, the whole question, by some extraordinary magic which the right hon. Gentlemen possesses, would be solved by a certain statute which he is about to pass. But, Sir, what are we here for?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
What is the hon. Member for South Belfast here for? Without him the British constitution and the purity of our noble system of Protestantism would be lost.
Well, Sir, I wish to put to the right hon. Gentleman a few questions 1364 in reference to the speech he has made to-night. According to him, the Irish Government, and apparently the Irish policemen under that Government, have acquired a measure of infection unknown in this country; and apparently his view is that there is something inherent in the Irish character which leads them to carry crime in a given direction without cause. It is admitted and claimed by the Government that in all domestic relations, and in all contractual relations, except that as regards landlord and tenant, in regard to the ordinary decency and purity of life there is no danger to property, either public or private, that there is no danger to honour either public or private, and that crime is non-existent in the country. Now, if that be so, ought not it to be a greater reproach to the right hon. Gentleman that people who have none of the temptation to ordinary crime, who do not rob, and who do not steal, who do not commit those outrages which stain the noble English character, should have this trend and tendency to what is called breaking the law? Why is this man whom you call a land-grabber hated and detested? Why is what Lord Salisbury called the ban of excommunication passed upon him? What is the common sentiment as regards the land-grabber? It is this—that he is a receiver of stolen goods. In a country from which your laws have, practically speaking, banished every other industry than that of the land, a man can be put out of house and home—the house that he has built, and the fields that he has reclaimed—and he is entitled to nothing, except some such compensation as your Mr. O'Connor Morrises will award. To that man's house, built by the labour of his hands or those of his forefathers, and to the fields reclaimed by his sweat, a stranger, who never put one stone on top of another, who neither ploughed, nor sowed, nor reaped in the fields, is to come in, under British law, because of the non-payment of an exorbitant rent, and he is to have the whole of the improvements, and the whole of the property that that man has hitherto had. Such a man is, by the common sentiment of the district, detested. It needs no organisation. You do not detest a man by organisation. You detest him naturally, the same as you hate rats. There is no rat-catcher's organisation in the country. But, forsooth, because the 1365 whole population regard that man as a man who has broken into his neighbour's property and is selling his neighbour's goods, you declare that the people who avoid and detest him are lawbreakers. I ask, on the other hand, why do you cherish that man? Why do the British Government in Ireland put forth all their energies for his protection? Because he is the arch on which landlordism is built. Because you well know that if men refused to take land from which tenants have been evicted for the non-payment of exorbitant rents, no landlord in Ireland could exact those rents. That is why the British Government has put forth all their energies in order to support and sustain this man. That is called supporting contract! I would like some of these land-grabbers to be brought to the Bar of this House, and be heard in their own defence. I should like to see them—[A Voice from the Strangers' Gallery: "Go to Whitechapel."] In Whitechapel the people do not build their own houses; the landlord builds them. But be that as it may, I say that so far as the general body of these men are concerned, they are the most degraded and contemptible of mankind. Take this sentence from a speech of the right hon. Gentleman; it represents accurately and exactly the views of the Irish people towards the land-grabber, and I hope the Irish people will take to heart the words of the right hon. Gentleman in a different subject and apply them to the land-grabber. He said that until 1896 the Congested Districts Board had not power to deal with cranks, because, he said, one crankin a congested district, unless we can apply coercive powers to him, is able to destroy all the beneficent efforts of the Board over an entire estate.I hope in future it may be possible in some districts to drop the name "land-grabbers" and call these people "cranks," and to drop the term "boycotting" and substitute "coercive powers." But the right hon. Gentleman who claims, in his superior British beneficence, to be entitled to apply coercive powers to cranks by the authority of Dublin Castle, denies those powers to the entire population locally resident in a district, who, I think, ought rather to know what is good for them than even the gentlemen in Dublin Castle. I am always sorry that these Irish questions are made to turn on the Chief Secretary's 1366 salary, on some question of coercive law, or of the police, or some limited matter of the kind. There are much larger and wider issues, but as these have been raised, we have to debate them. I would take one example from the defence put forward by the right hon. Gentleman tonight. He was asked how he could defend the law, as enforced by the police, with regard to illegal assemblies, He defended the case of the Kilmaine meeting on these grounds—that one hon. Gentleman was allowed to speak because he was a stranger to the police.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I am with the memory of the House, but I may perhaps put it this way. Another gentleman was disallowed from speaking because he was well known to the police. Will the right hon. Gentleman accept this reason?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Therefore the question of free speech and lawful assembly in Ireland comes to this—that if a policeman knows you, you will not be heard; but if you come in a mask, or as a stranger you may perhaps get a hearing. I would put this to the Government. They are dealing, as we are very often told, with an excitable population. But the police are drawn from that excitable population. The moment, however, a policeman puts on his jacket, he is supposed to have on a coat of infallibility. But, after all, he is only a peasant in uniform. Therefore the question of free speech in any district may depend on whether or not a policeman had a glass of whisky before he went to the meeting. If his mind has been opened by John Jameson, he may take a large and liberal view of the situation, but if it is not after dinner the baton-play may be very severe indeed. Actually in this free country, the right of free speech and of public meeting has been made by the Gentleman who is the ruler of Ireland to depend on the idiosyncrasy of the policeman at a given moment. The right hon. Gentleman was closely connected with South African politics at one time, and I presume he read what the Colonial Secretary said about the rights of free speech in Johannesburg. But in the 1367 whole of the South African business there is nothing to equal the position taken up tonight by a British Minister—that the legality or illegality of an assembly is to depend upon the folly or peculiarity of an individual policeman. If it be true what is the need of your summary jurisdiction? You have a super-summary jurisdiction! What do you want "removables" for? Why, the policeman tries you on the spot. All trouble is saved. You need employ no lawyer in your defence, and the Court need not spend the money of the Treasury in sending down a representative of the Attorney General, while, of course, the baton does very fairly as a substitute for hard labour So little does the right hon. Gentleman consider these matters, that, instead of saying the police made a mistake—he might have invented a hundred tales suitable to the occasion—instead of saying there was disorder amongst the crowd, that excitement prevailed, or that the officer lost his head, he has absolutely invented this new jurisdiction—that any common clown of a policeman, recruited, it may be, yesterday, is, as regards men who have the right to sit in this House and debate your constitution, to decide issues of peace and war. You, Mr. Speaker, would not stop us in a free debate, but in Ireland your place is taken by the commonest police constable. We have heard of the new rules of procedure, but this is a new rule of common law!
The right hon. Gentleman was challenged as to that by one who also represented the majesty of the law in his time—the late Attorney General—and the difficulties were pointed out to him; but the right hon. Gentleman adhered rigidly to the position that in any part of Ireland, while he remains Chief Secretary, our rights are to be dependent upon the views of a common policeman. If that be the law, I ask where has it been laid down? In what police regulation is it to be found? In what statute can it be pointed out? It is to be found nowhere. The real truth, therefore, comes to this, and this is the whole point of the arraignment. It is a confession that you are unable to govern the country. What were these men to discuss? Why, their own affairs, the miserable question of their land. This day the debate is devoted to the discussion of the Chief Secretary's salary; those meetings were devoted to the discussion of their rents. 1368 It was all a question of £ s. d. Because these poor men came out into the open to discuss their own affairs, any village constable has the right to use his discretion. I denounce that proposition as illegal. It is not sanctioned by the common law, and it is not to be found in the Coercion Act, nor in any of the hundred Coercion Acts which this House has vomited forth for Ireland. I myself do not necessarily hold with everything that has been said or done, and I am not called upon to do so. I take an independent stand in this matter. I judge matters from my own point of view, and I say that no support, either in law or in the decision of the judges or in the Acts of former administrations, can be found of the position occupied by the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Member for South Antrim, who, I believe, is soon to become a candidate for South Dublin—the North seems to be getting very warm—referred to the case of Mr. Lynan, who is a gentleman who was employed to go from one end of my constituency to the other, organising the people against me, describing me as an enemy of the human race, and using all those epithets which are usually used just before election times. Accordingly, I can speak with a detached mind in connection with this case. The right hon. Gentleman challenged the Government to state whether Mr. Lynan had not been brought up and tried by three petty sessions at Courts where he had "tipped the wink" to the majority on the Bench, and said—I see my friends on the Bench.—I do not believe that he said anything of the kind—and, therefore, I have no need to say much in defence.The prosecutions against Mr. Lynan having become abortive, what is the Attorney General going to do? If the right hon. Gentleman were present, I should charge him with being in arrangement. What are the facts? The right hon. Gentleman is apparently supplied with a brief of everything that takes place, and he knows that the Government, having failed to convict this man before three Benches of petty sessions, took a course which is condemned by Blackstone and Coke, and hauled this man before the King's Bench Division in Dublin, and tried to get His 1369 Majesty's Judge in Dublin to pass against this man a sentence which they failed to obtain in his own county. In other words it means they are not only to be taken out of your venue for jury cases, but for the commonest alleged offences in any district, be it as distant as Kerry or Donegal; and the King's subject may be put to the expense of being brought up for matters which ought to be within the jurisdiction of petty sessions to Dublin Superior Court, and the King's Bench Division of Dublin is to be degraded into the position of removable magistrates. Thank God that has proved to be an outrage which was too much for the King's Bench Division—and the Lord Chief Justice has stated that he will not allow his Court to be degraded into a petty sessions. I charge it here tonight that to effect a conviction in a case which was sub judice, and well known to be so, the right hon. Gentleman was in arrangement with the Attorney General. [Cries of "No, no."]
§ * THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. ATKINSON,) Londonderry, N.
That statement is not only offensive, but absolutely unfounded. I have had no communication whatever with the right hon. Gentleman, either with regard to this or any other case. [Ministerial cries of "Withdraw, withdraw."]
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Any statement which the right hon. Gentleman makes I accept, and I regret making the suggestion. I freely accept his denial.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE
As my colleague was obliged to leave the House, will the hon. and learned Member allow me to say on his behalf that there is not a word of truth in his charge?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Of course, my withdrawal of the statement that the Attorney General was in arrangement with the Member for South Antrim conveys also the fact that the Member for South Antrim cannot have been in arrangement with the Attorney General. I think that deals with the hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE
The hon. and learned Gentleman, at an earlier stage in his speech, said that my colleague was about to leave South 1370 Antrim for South Dublin. I wish to say that I am aware that that is not the case.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I do not think it is an offence to the right hon. Gentleman to suggest that he could have been successful where Mr. Horace Plunkett failed. At all events, it shows how large his sphere of missionary labour in the constitutional cause has been, despite the scurvy manner in which he has been treated by the Government. I understand that there is an understanding that this debate must close at an early hour, so I will bring my remarks to a conclusion with this observation. The right hon. Member for South Antrim knew whether Lynan's case was sub judice or not. He is a man well apprised and informed of everything that goes on in Ireland, and I say it is monstrous in connection with the charge against this poor man, living in the right hon. Gentleman's own county somewhere in the centre of Ireland, that his case should be represented to the House of Commons as being so peculiarly criminal that it deserved the weighty and careful attention of the Attorney General. I know that the members of the King's Bench Division were incapable of being led away by such an attack, but I say it is a monstrous thing, and I denounce the right hon. Member as I denounce the action of the Government of haling up humble men in their own country and bringing them before the magistrates for no reason whatever. I would have liked to say many things upon other matters, but it is impossible. The right hon. Gentleman opposite is, I agree, in a position of impossibility. We are continually hearing of sailing on an even keel. Has anybody ever seen an even keel? We have continually been hearing of this art of navigation for the last twenty years. The whole question of Ireland, so far as the land is concerned, is a narrow and limited one, and it can be settled by statesmanship. The question of nationality will remain when you have settled it. I would rather have stood up and advocated the national aspect, but the debate has turned in a different groove. Even from a Conservative point of view, there are ways, and means, and remedies, which can be applied to Ireland without affecting in any way that equilibrium which you pretend it is your glory to maintain. But instead of doing that, 1371 without cause, without justice, without necessity, your course is to endeavour to maintain a narrow and embittered faction against the masses of the people of Ireland.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
I do not desire to traverse the field already traversed by my right hon. friend, nor to follow the hon. Member for South Tyrone through all his argument, but I may say that I think the advocacy of my hon. friend the Member for South Tyrone was unfortunate, because, while he condemned the violence and the crime to which certain people resorted, the only conclusion to be drawn from his argument was a justification of these. The hon. Gentleman is a Unionist.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
It was no justification for treason or sedition of which men like Wolfe Tone and others were guilty, that they desired to repeal the Union. Their treason was not redeemed by this object, even if that object were good.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
It was no justification that they thought and desired that independence should be granted to Ireland. If they found that treason had been committed, surely the hon. Member would not condone it?
§ * MR. T. W. RUSSELL
Why should the right hon. Gentleman try to misrepresent my opinions? Have I not stated in these debates over and over again that I am against all crime and in favour of a more excellent way—not by repealing the Union, but by amending the law with regard to the land?
§ * MR. ATKINSON
said the only difference between them was that so long as the law of the land was what it was it was the duty of the Government to see that every person obeyed it. [Cheers.]
§ MR. ATKINSON
The hon. Member for North Louth has described the land-grabber as a contemptible and detestable individual, who almost deserves, as I understand, to be boycotted, a crime which is, in its extreme operation, the most cowardly and cruel crime a man can commit. It means in many cases social and financial ruin. What is the meaning of telling a farmer in Ireland that nobody shall buy from him, that nobody shall sell to him, that nobody shall work for him? It means financial ruin. I may refer to one of the iniquitous cases mentioned more than once tonight—that of the Normoyles. In 1884 an ex-policeman named M'Gharry gave up some land. That land lay idle for ten years. In 1894 four acres of it were taken by this wretched man Normoyle upon an arrangement, I believe, satisfactory to the outgoing tenant. Normoyle went into possession, and with his wife and son endeavoured to carry on some petty industry. In 1897 the step-son of M'Gharry, who had died, came forward before the League, and said he had been unjustly treated. He came before the League on January 5th, and his case was adjourned till January 19th. Normoyle made a long statement in writing to the police, and signed it, describing the terror he was in, and what was done to him when he went before the League. But when the case came on in Court he got up and denied on oath, as also did his relatives, in the most abject terror, everything he had stated to the police. There were, however, two documents in the case which spoke more strongly than either the evidence of the police or the even more convincing perjury of the Normoyles. Here is a letter received by Mrs. Normoyle in reply to a letter written by her to her landlord in the interval between the 5th and 19th of January—
§ J. A. Studdart
§ Mrs. Normoyle.
§ "In reply to your letter re the position of land taken by and formerly held by Sergeant McSherry, the facts are as follows:—Sergeant McSherry surrendered the holding in May, 1887, in consequence of being compelled to put back the wall of the road leading through 1373 same, which he had previously removed out, and not for an abatement of rent. He afterwards refused to take back the holding and never made any objection to its being taken by anybody, nor did he ever mention the matter to me since you became tenant in November, 1894, and I understood from you at the time that he had given you his consent and 'goodwill,' and I have no doubt that such was the case."
§ So that these wretched Normoyles were writing to the landlord for a certificate that they had taken the farm fairly, and that they came in with the goodwill of the outgoing tenant. But that is not all.
AN HON. MEMBER
Is the Mr. Studdart the right hon. Gentleman mentions the same person as figured in the remount scandal?
§ * MR. ATKINSON
That is utterly irrelevant. Then we have also the letter written by John Normoyle, the son, to Mr. Brady, R.M.—17/1/02.SIR,—I want your honour to grant me a gun licence for protection, as I am at present in great trouble through the taking of some land. Some threats have been passed to me from very violent parties.I have been advised by Sergeant Cole to forward you this application for the use of a double barrelled breechloader gun. I hope your honour will grant it to me.I am, etc.To A. M. Brady, R.M.[Nationalist cheers.] Hon. Members apparently are very proud of this achievement. [A NATIONALIST MEMBER: "We know how these things are done."] The magistrates bound the accused over to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. There is abundant evidence in these letters to show that they put the Normoyles in terror; and what could have been more right than that the defendants in the case should have been bound over by the Bench to keep the peace? The hon. and learned Member for Dumfries has made the extraordinary statement that where a person is acquitted on trial he cannot be bound over to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.
§ * MR. LAWSON WALTON (Leeds, S.)
When a man is acquitted of a breach of the peace, does the right hon. Gentleman say that he can be bound over to keep the peace?
§ * MR. ATKINSON
Not only do I say that that is so, but much greater authorities than myself have said it, namely, Lord Chief Baron Pallas, Lord Chief Justice Cockburn and Lord Blackburn, and others. These judges have laid down the law on this point.
§ * MR. LAWSON WALTON
That is where the evidence establishes a breach of the peace, but where it does not establish a breach of the peace; commit tedor threatened, I cannot understand the defendant being bound over to keep the peace.
§ * MR. ATKINSON
I will give the hon. and learned Member the case. It is the case of "Ex parte Davis." (21 L.T., p. 547). That was a case in which a man was charged with assault and battery. The justices dismissed the information against him, and gave him a certificate barring all future criminal proceedings, but they also ordered him, in respect of the charge, to enter into his own recognizances to keep the peace for six months. On appeal their action was upheld. The case came before Lord Blackburn.The counsel said, 'There was no informamation calling upon the defendant to enter into recognizances to keep the peace.' Lord Blackburn replied, 'I am not aware that any such information is necessary when the party is before Justices.' Counsel said 'No threats were proved to have been uttered by the Defendant.' Lord Chief Justice Cockburn said, 'Its often occurs that the Justices say no assault has been proved, but there has been such violent conduct shown that we shall require recognizances to keep the peace.' Judge Mellor adds, The conduct of the party may have fallen short of an actual assault, but it may nevertheless have been sufficient to justify his being hound over to keep the peace; he may have used violent language, which though not an assault may have shown an intention to commit one.' Counsel said, 'The certificate would be a bar to all other proceedings founded upon the same course though in a different shape.' Lord Blackburn replied, 'Yes, to an action or any proceedings by way of punishment, but this is only a precautionary proceeding to prevent a breach of the peace.' The Lord Chief Baron in ex-parte Harken (judgments of Superior Courts, p. 317) refers to this case and several others. He says 'It is clear that magistrates upon a hearing for an offence (over which they have summary jurisdiction) even where they acquit of that offence, and acting solely upon the evidence upon which they so acquit, and without a written information, may require the defendant to find sureties to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.'This is a jurisdiction which is exercised every day. In this case there 1375 was abundant evidence to show that this man had been put in terror by the accused, and what could have been more reasonable and right than that the men who put them in terror should have been bound to keep the peace and to be of good behaviour? I do not propose to go into all that has been said about unlawful assembly. I wonder at the readiness with which the hon. Member for the Scotland Division has disowned his own offspring. Any person who came into this House tonight and heard the hon. Member's speech would have fancied that the provision under which these men have been tried was some wicked device of a Conservative Government. What is its history? It was the hon. Member for North Donegal who proposed it as Amendment at the time the Crimes Act was passing through this House, and he said—This is an extension of the Crimes Act all over Ireland, and it exempts the Government.
§ * Mr. ATKINSON
said he was quoting from the speech of the mover of the Motion which the hon. Member seconded. He did not wish to further trespass on the House or to further defend the action of the magistrates, and he certainly submitted that the charge against them had broken down.
§ *(10.40.) MR. LAWSON WALTON (Leeds, S.)
said that the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland seemed to have failed to grasp the case which had been made against the administration of the law in Ireland. He had no sympathy with lawlessness, either in Ireland or in any other portion of the United Kingdom, but he had the strongest sympathy with the orderly and efficient administration of the system of law which was common to both England and Ireland. The case which had been successfully made against the Irish Office was that they had strained the legal machinery in order to cure a political mischief. The evil was political. The people were out of sympathy with the system of law and its administration. The proper remedy, as had been pointed out, for a political mischief was political in its character; and if they found that our legal system could only be applied 1376 by straining its methods, then it was obvious that it was only by legislation that the political mischief sought to be remedied could be effectively cured. To endeavour to deal with it by the administration of the law could end only in bringing the legal system into hatred and derision. He had listened to the debate with a perfectly unbiased mind. [Ministerial cries of "Oh, oh."] Well, he did not know that he could be accused of bias. At all events he thought he was as free from any tendency in that direction as hon. Members opposite.
What was the weight of the case which hon. Members from Ireland had been submitting to the House? There were two chief points of the indictment against the Irish administration, these were the suppression of meetings by the police and the Normoyle trial. What was the case in regard to the meetings? There was no right to suppress a meeting greater in Ireland than in this country. If the meeting was, in itself, unlawful, and if it incited to a breach of the law, it was the duty of every loyal citizen, whether he wore the uniform of a policeman or not, to do everything in his power to break up that meeting. But under the system of law which had been carried on in Ireland, what happened? A meeting was held, speeches were allowed to be made, then when a certain person rose to speak, although absolutely no illegality had taken place—although no words tending to encourage a breach of the law had been spoken—the police, with the ordinary rights of an ordinary citizen, took upon themselves the responsibility of dispersing that gathering and arresting the person who was about to make a speech. He appealed to hon. Members opposite if such an occurrence took place in Cheshire or Lancashire what would be the opinion of the people of this country? It was said that the meeting was unlawful because it was supposed that speeches would be delivered inciting to a general breach of contract to pay rent. He agreed that that was an illegal object, but until there was some evidence of the illegal character of the meeting, what right was there under the English system of law, which was the same as that in Ireland, to disperse the meeting, to silence the speakers, and to scatter the crowd as they were leaving the place? That was the first point in the indictment which 1377 hon. Members were preferring against the administration of the law in Ireland.
The Normoyle case was a travesty of justice. Our English system assumed that public opinion would support the law. It assumed that there would be co-operation between the public among whom the law was being enforced and the judicial officers who were charged with its enforcement. If that co-operation did not exist, and if the machinery would not work, then the mischief was political, and could be dealt with only by political means. What was the first principle at the root of the administration of criminal justice? It was that the aggrieved person should make a complaint; that a summons should be taken out voluntarily by some person seeking the protection of the law who had a right to initiate criminal proceedings. If there was not a voluntary initiation of these proceedings, then the first step that could be taken towards the administration of the law in this country or Ireland was wanting. What happened here? A summons was taken out in the name of Mrs. Normoyle. She was the complainant; her summons alleged that she had been interfered with by a conspiracy to injure her in her trade, and that as a consequence she had been prevented from the profitable selling of milk, which was the industry she pursued. The charge made against the defendants was that they had intimidated this woman. She was called as the first witness for the prosecution, and she commenced her statement by saying that she had suffered no intimidation, and that there had been no interference with her in the carrying on of her business. She gave a negative to the very charges which it was alleged in the summons she had made. He was not saying whether that was true or not, but what he did say was that the jurisdiction of the Court depended alone, according to our system of law, on the sworn testimony of the complainant in the box, and if that sworn testimony was not given, then the magistrates were as powerless to deal with the case as any stranger passing in the street.
§ * MR. LAWSON WALTON
said he was dealing with the case as the right hon. 1378 Gentleman left it. He heard the narrative given with the greatest detail by the hon. Member for East Mayo, and he had heard it referred to by other hon. Members from Ireland. He listened with interest to hear any correction which might fall from the Attorney General. Although the complainant stated that she was not aggrieved and required no relief, the magistrates proceeded to give themselves jurisdiction to deal with the case. It was said—he did not know on what ground—that she had made previous statements to certain policemen.
§ * MR. LAWSON WALTON
said he supposed, then, that she was cross-examined by the counsel for the prosecution. If that was so, the person seeking relief was treated as a hostile witness in her own case, which was the first instance of the kind of which he had ever heard.
§ * MR. LAWSON WALTON
said he would ask, then, whether it was the police who had been boycotted. The administration of the law in Ireland was really so at variance with everyday experience in this country that he could not say what it was.
§ SIR EDWARD CARSON
I can tell the hon. and learned Gentleman; it is exactly the same in England and in Ireland.
§ * MR. LAWSON WALTON
said he had always been led to suppose that that was so. But here was a woman who took out a summons—
§ * MR. LAWSON WALTON
said at all events it was taken out by the police in her name, and she was the prosecutor, the person who sought protection. Yet it turned out that she required no protection, and had no ground of complaint according to her own statement. He quite understood the case of the right hon. Gentleman. He said that the woman had been induced by pressure to abandon the charge, and that she was 1379 brought before the Court unwillingly. Assuming that to be so, this woman was in a most unfortunate dilemma. She could not give evidence that she was being intimidated without inviting the social obloquy which attached to any member of the community who placed herself in opposition to public sentiment. That was one horn of the dilemma. Then if she did not prove the case of the police she was in conflict with the Court, and was committed for contempt. This wretched woman was transfixed on these two horns of a dilemma, and she chose to be committed for contempt of Court. There was no evidence on which the defendants could be convicted, and they were acquitted. But the wretched defendants were also in a similar difficulty. To change the metaphor, it appeared that if they got away from Scylla they had to encounter Charybdis. Although they escaped from the Scylla charged in the summons they fell into Charybdis —still more terrible—for in Ireland it depended on the adjudication of the Court, without evidence, whether or not a man had been guilty of some breach of the peace. He maintained that no tribunal had a right to bind a man over to keep the peace unless there was some evidence that his conduct involved or menaced some breach of the peace.
§ * MR. LAWSON WALTON
said he should only be too glad to be corrected. What he said was that no tribunal had a right to bind a man over to keep the peace unless there was some evidence that his conduct had involved or menaced a breach of the peace. He was waiting for the right hon. Gentleman to tell the House what was the ground on which these magistrates convicted the defendants and sentenced them to three months imprisonment, which he understood they were at this moment serving. Were the Government justified in straining their judicial machinery and in bringing their judicial system into contempt by seeking means such as had been described to deal with these public evils? If they could not apply the law in Ireland, then 1380 they must cure the evil which led to lawlessness, or change their machinery. They had had a short time ago a debate on jury, packing in Ireland, and whether jury packing was proved or not, it was evident that the jury system could not work unless the jury placed in the box was in sympathy with the law.
§ * SIR JOHN COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
said that the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down had said that he knew nothing about Ireland, and the speech that he had made had shown that he did not. Where was the difference between what was called removable magistrates in Ireland and the police Magistrates in London? (Cries of "Divide.") The hon. and learned Member did not seem to know or understand the genesis of Irish opinion. An eminent Irish scholar informed him that in the Irish language there were no words that expressed property and no word that expressed gratitude. The hon. and learned Gentleman failed to grapple with the real issue. What they had got to do was to maintain the law as it was.
§ * SIR JOHN COLOMB
, who spoke amid loud cries of "Divide," said that the hon. and learned Member seemed to argue that the people who did not want to obey the existing law ought to prevail against those who obey the law.
§ (11.13.) Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 215; Noes 125. (Division List No. 77.)1251
|Arrol, Sir William||Forster, Henry William||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Gardner, Ernest||Mowbrav, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Garfit, William||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Gr'h'm (Bute|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Gordon, Hn.J. E. (Elgin&Nairn||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn.Gld. W. (Leeds||Greene, Sir E. W. (B'yS. Edm'ds||Pemberton, John S. G.|
|Bignold, Arthur||Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||Perpont, Robert|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Bond, Edward||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Hamilton, Rt. Hn. L'dG.(Mid'x||Price, Robert John|
|Brand, Hon. Arthur G.||Hanbury, Rt. Hon.Robert Wm.||Purvis, Robert|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn.J. A. (Gl'sg w||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Rattigan, Sir William Henry|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (D'rbyshire||Holland, William Henry||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Howard, John (Kent, Fav'rsh'm||Ridley, Hon. M.W. (Stalyb'dge|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm.||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen(Worc.)||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Jones, DavidBrynmor(Sw'nsea||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Chapman, Edward||Kenyon, Hon.Geo.T. (Denbigh||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Charrington, Spencer||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop)||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Lawson, John Grant||Seely, Maj.J.E.B.(Isle of Wig't|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Crossley, Sir Savile||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Long, Col. Charles W.(Evesh'm||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Dairymple, Sir Charles||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Bistol S.||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Lloyd, Archie Kirkman||Sturt, Hon. Humphrey Napier|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Macdona, John Cumming||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.)||M'Crae, George||Thomas, David Alfred(Merthyr|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Maxwell, W.J.H.(Dumfries-sh||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Mitchell, William||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Tuke, Sir John Batty||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R.(Bath|
|Webb, Col. William George||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson||Sir James Fergusson and Mr. Groves.|
|Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Williams, Rt Hn J P'w'll-(Birm|
|Abraham, William(Cork, N.E.)||Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Goulding, Edward Alfred||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex F.||Grant, Corrie||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Greville, Hon. Roland||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Hain, Edward||O'Dowd, John|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Hammond, John||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Allen, Chas.P. (Glouc., Stroud)||Hardie, J. Keir(MerthyrTydvil||O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.|
|Allhusen, Augustus Hy. Eden||Hay, Hon. Claude George||O'Mara, James|
|Ambrose, Robert||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Shee, James John|
|Austin, Sir John||Healy, Timothy Michael||Parker, Gilbert|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Heath, James, (Staffords, N.W.||Partington, Oswald|
|Balcarres, Lord||Heaton, John Henniker||Pease, Herb. Pike (Darlingtom|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.||Pearcy, Earl|
|Banes, Major George Edward||Hogg, Lindsay||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brig'ts'de)||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward.|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Horner, Frederick William||Rea, Russell|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Houston, Robert Paterson||Reddy, M.|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Hozier, Hon. James Hy. Cecil||Redmond, John E. (Waterford|
|Blake, Edward||Jacoby, James Alfred||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Boland, John||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Brigg, John||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Joicey, Sir James||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Robinson, Brooke|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Jordan, Jeremiah||Roche, John|
|Burns, John||Joyce, Michael||Russell, T. W.|
|Caine, William Sproston||Kennedy, Patrick James||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Caldwell, James||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Cameron, Robert||Labouchere, Henry||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Lambert, George||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Carew, James Laurence||Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Spencer, Rt.HnC R (Northants|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Leveson-Gower, Fredk. N.S.||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Levy, Maurice||Stanley, Ed. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Lough, Thomas||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Lowe, Francis William||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Lowther, Rt. Hon. James(Kent||Sullivan, Donal|
|Crean, Eugene||Lucas, Col. Francis(Lowestoft)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsm'th)||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.|
|Cullinan, J.||Lundon, W.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Macartney, Rt. Hn W. G. Ellis'n||Wallace, Robert|
|Davies, M.Vaughan-(Cardigan||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|Dilke, Right Hon. Sir Charles||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Dixon-Hartland, SirFr'dDixon||M'Govern, T.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||White, Luke (York, E. R)|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Kean, John||White, Patrick (Meath, North|
|Dunn, Sir William||M'Kenna, Reginald||Whiteley, George (York, W.R.|
|Edwards, Frank||Markham, Arthur Basil||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Mooney, John J.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Wilson, John (Durham,Mid)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||More, R. Jasper (Shropshire)||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Fenwick, Charles||Morrison, James Archibald||Young, Samuel|
|Ffrench, Peter||Murphy, John||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Flower, Ernest||Nicol, Donald Ninian||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)|
|Foster, PhilipS. (W'rw'k, S. W.)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Mr. Galloway and Mr. James Reid.|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Gilhooly, James||O'Brien, Kendal(TipperayrMid|
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
|Acland-Hood, Cap. SirAlex. F.||Galloway, William Johnson||Mount, William Arthur|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Gardner, Ernest||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Allhusen, Augustus Hy. Eden||Garfit, William||Murray, Rt. HnA. Graham (Bute|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Gibbs, Hn.A.G.H. (City of Lon.||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Gibbs, Hon. Vieary (St. Albans)||Myers, William Henry|
|Arrol, Sir William||Gordon, Hn.J.E.(Elgin & Nairn||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Austin, Sir John||Gore, Hon.S.F. Ormsby- (Line.)||O'Neill, Hon. Robt. Torrens|
|Bagot, Gapt. Josceline FitzRoy||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Parker, Gilbert|
|Balcarres, Lord||Green, Walford D. (Wednebury||Parkes, Eberrezer|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r)||Greene, Sir E. W. (B'ryS. Edm'ds||Penn, John|
|Balfour, Rt HnGerald W. (Leeds||Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||Percy, Earl|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Grenfell, William Henry||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Groves, James Grimble||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Beach, RtHonSirMichael Hicks||Guthrie, Walter Murray||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Bignold, Arthur||Hall, Edward Marshall||Purvis, Robert|
|Bigwood, James||Hamilton, Rt.HnLordG.(Mid'x||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Bill, Charles||Hamilton, Marq.of L'nd'nderry||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Hanbury, Rt.Hon.Robert Wm.||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Bond, Edward||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Renwick, George|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Ridley, Hon. M. W. (Stalybridge|
|Brassey, Albert||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Ridley, S.Forde(Bethnal Green)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. Thomson|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Heath, James (Staffords, N.W.||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Bull, William James||Helder, Augustus||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Henderson, Alexander||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Butcher, John George||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Russell, T. W.|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Hope, J.F.(Sheffield, Brightside||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Howard, John(Kent, Faversh'm||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Seely, Maj.J.E.B. (Isle of Wight|
|Chamberlain, Rt.Hon.J. (Birm.||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wore'r||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Chapman, Edward||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Kennaway, Rt.Hon.Sir John H.||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Kenyon, Hon.Geo.T. (Denbigh)||Smith, H. C. (North'mb. Tynes'e)|
|Give, Captain Percy A.||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop.)||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Keswick, William||Smith, Hon.W.F.D. (Strand)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Knowles, Lees||Stanley, Hon.Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Law, Andrew Bonar||Stanley, EdwardJas. (Somerset)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth)||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)|
|Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Lawson, John Grant||Stewart, Sir Mark J.M'Taggart|
|Colston, Chas. Ed. H. Athole||Lecky, Rt. Hon. William Ed. H.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Stroyan, John|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N.S.||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Lockwood, Lt.Col. A. R.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Crossley, Sir Saville||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Thornton Percy M.|
|Cust, Henry John C.||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)||Tomlirrson, Wm. Ed. Murray|
|Dairymple, Sir Charles||Long, Rt. Hon. Walt. (Bristol, S)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Davenport, William Bromley-||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Davies, Sir Horatio D. (Chatham||Lowe, Francis William||Valentia, Viscount|
|Denny, Colonel||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Dewar, T. R. (T'rH'mlets, S.Geo.||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth)||Welby, Lt. Col. A. C. E. (Taunton|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts.)|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Macdona, John Cumming||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Williams, RtHnJ Powell(Birm.|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Majendie, James A. H.||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William Hart||Manners, Lord Cecil||Wilson, A.Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.)||Maxwell, W. J. H. (Dumfriessh'e||Wilson, J. W.(Worcestersh.N.)|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Fergusson, Rt.Hon.SirJ.(Man'r||Mitchell, William||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn.E. R. (Bath)|
|Fielden, Edward Broeklehurst||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Finch, George H.||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B.Stuart|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Wylie, Alexander|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Morgan, David J. (Walthamst'w|
|Flower, Ernest||Morrell, George Herbert||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Hayes Fisher.|
|Forster, Henry William||Morrison, James Archibald|
|Foster, PhilipS. (Warw'k, S. W.||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford)|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||O'Kelly, James(Roscommon, N.|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Hammond, John||O'Malley, William|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Hardie, J.Keir(Merthyr Tydvil||O'Mara, James|
|Allen, CharlesP. (Glouc. Stroud)||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Shee, James John|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale||Partington, John|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Healy, Timothy Michael||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Blake, Edward||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Price, Robert John|
|Boland, John||Jones, David Brynmor(Swansea||Priestly, Arthur|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Rea, Russell|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Jordon, Jeremiah||Reddy, M.|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Joyce, Michael||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Burns, John||Kennedy, Patrick James||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Caldwell, James||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs)|
|Cameron, Robert||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Levy, Maurice||Roche, John|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Lewis, John Herbert||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.),|
|Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Lough, Thomas||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Lundon, W.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Channing, Francis Allston||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Cogan, Denis J.||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Spencer, Rt Hn. C. R. (Northants|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Sullivan, Donal|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||M'Crae, George||Thomas, David Alfred(Merthyr)|
|Crean, Eugene||M'Govern, T.||Tomkinson, James|
|Cremer, William Randal||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Cullinan, J.||M'Kean, John||Walton, JohnLawson(Leeds, S.)|
|Delany, William||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Dewar, John A.(Invernessshire)||Markham, Arthur Basil||Watson, Eugene(Clackmannan)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Mooney, John J.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Murphy, John||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Nannetti, Joseph P.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Edwards, Frank||Nolan. Col. John P. (Galway, N.)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Elibank, Master of||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Whiteley, George (York, W.R.)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||O'Brien, James F.X. (Cork)||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Ffrench, Peter||O'Brien, Kendal (TipperaryMid||Wilson, Henry J.(York, W. R.)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||O'Connor, James(Wicklow, W.)||Young, Samuel|
|Gilhooly, James||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Gladstone, Rt.Hon. Herbert J'n||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Dowd, John||Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.|
|Grant, Corrie||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
§ (11.18.) *SIR EDWARD STRACHEY (Somersetshire, S.)
I desire, on this the earliest opportunity on which I can, to call the attention of the House and the Government, and last, but not least, of the President of the Board of Agriculture, to the recommendation of the Committee appointed to recommend regulations under Section A of the Food and Drugs Act with respect to the proportion of water to be permitted in butter. The recommendation is that there should be a limit of 16 per cent. of water allowed in butter. But, unfortunately, the recommendation went on to say that a larger proportion of water could be added if disclosure were made to the purchaser. That is to say, that if a retailer of butter displayed anywhere in his shop a notice that he sold butter containing a greater percentage of water, he could not be prosecuted. That recommendation of a Committee appointed to secure that there should be 1384 pure butter and high quality has had a directly contrary effect, and has been received with great consternation by agriculturists and grocers throughout the length and breadth of Great Britain and Ireland. The Councils of the Royal Agricultural Association, the Central Chamber of Agriculture and the Dairy Farmers' Association have declared against the recommendation, so far as it suggests that butter containing more than 16 per cent. of water can be sold as butter if a sufficient disclosure is made. Circulars have been issued throughout the country drawing attention to the recommendation of the Committee, and stating that it is perfectly safe to offer for sale butter containing a large percentage of water, and I am credibly informed that butter containing 25 per cent. and up to 35 per cent. of water is being sold. The result is that the consumer is prejudiced 1385 to the extent that in a pound of butter he only gets twelve ounces of genuine butter and four ounces of water. This state of things is very serious, and it is necessary that the President of the Board of Agriculture should be able to assure the consumer, as well as the producer, that he has no sympathy with this part of the recommendation. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give the House an assurance that if this question cannot be dealt with except by legislation, the Government will be prepared to introduce a Bill, and that at once.
§ * THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. HANBURY,) Preston
I cannot blame the hon. Gentleman for bringing forward this subject now, as I quite understand its importance to dairy farmers. At the same time, I am speaking at some disadvantage, because it would be very wrong for me to express any opinion until I have had an opportunity of reading the evidence on which the Report is based. That evidence has not yet been published, and I am afraid it will not be published for another week, and, as I have said, until it is published it would be wrong for me to express a definite opinion on the recommendation contained in the Report. Of course, we have the Report before us, and, prima facie, the recommendation as to sixteen per cent. of water seems to be a fair and reasonable one. But the hon. Gentleman has called attention to another part of the Report, with which I confess at once I am not entirely in agreement; and I think it is going a little outside the terms of reference. Of course, if a suggestion of that kind were carried into effect, it might have the result of defeating the standard altogether. If the Board of Agriculture fixes a standard, it must be maintained and not evaded. It is quite possible that steps might be taken to evade the standard, and, by giving due notice to the consumer, to allow the sale of butter having a larger proportion of water. I do not now express any definite opinion. We know, at any rate, that butter has been treated as an article entitled to separate legislation, and really I do not myself see, since legislation has been already adopted with reference to margarine and to prevent butter being unfairly treated, why something should not be done also to meet 1386 this new attempt to sell as butter what is really not butter. At the present moment the manufacture of that kind of article is going on to a very large extent, and I do think that the farmer is entitled to protection. Until I have read the whole of the evidence, I am, not however, to be taken as expressing an opinion, but, prima facie at any rate, I am in agreement with what the hon. gentleman has said.
§ Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution," put, and agreed to.