HL Deb 27 January 1887 vol 310 cc10-53



(who wore the uniform of a Lord Lieutenant), in rising to move an Address in reply to Her Majesty's Gracious Speech from the Throne, said: I have, in the first place, to bespeak at your Lordships' bauds that consideration and forbearance which your Lordships invariably extend to those who labour under the disability of addressing you for the first time.

My Lords, it is impossible not to feel that we meet to-day under the shadow of a great loss. It would be presumptuous in mo, speaking in the presence of so many of his late Colleagues in the Cabinet, as well as of those who have been so long associated with him, either as allies or opponents in public life, to dwell upon the eminent services rendered to his Party, his country, and his Queen by the late Lord Iddesleigh. But having served under him in an official, though subordinate, position in the House of Commons for eight Sessions, during which time I was brought into daily—I may say hourly—intercourse with him, I may, perhaps, be permitted to say this—that I never knew anyone who possessed in such an unusual degree the power of attracting to himself, not only the admiration and esteem, but the warm personal affection, of all those with whom he was brought into contact. The secret of this power lay in that absolute unselfishness end that rare consideration for the feelings and the wishes of others which were the chief characteristics of his nature. I, for one, can never forget the numberless acts of kindness I received at his hands during the period of my official connection with him. My Lords, his gentle and unselfish spirit has been taken from us, and the nation is the poorer for his loss; but Ms memory remains a bright example to us and to future generations of all that an English statesman, an English patriot, and an English gentleman should be.

My Lords, this Session, whatever surprises the future may have in store for us, is, in all probability, destined to be memorable as the one which will witness the 50th anniversary of the accession to the Throne of Her Gracious Majesty. This reign has already exceeded in length, with, I believe, but two exceptions, those of all its Predecessors: it has exceeded them all immeasurably in the marvellous strides made in prosperity and in the arts of civilization by the people of this country. Not a little of this progress is due to the noble example set by the Queen, and the tender solicitude invariably exhibited by her for the welfare of her people; and I feel sure that your Lordships will, when the time arrives, join heartily in tendering your congratulations to Her Majesty on the auspicious anniversary, and in prayers for the prolongation of her long and glorious reign.

The opening paragraph of the Speech from the Throne deals, as is customary, with Foreign Affairs, and we are informed that the relations between this country and Foreign Powers continue to be on a friendly footing, and that, in spite of all the disquieting rumours which we have heard of late about the state of Europe, no disturbance of the peace is anticipated from the unsettled state of affairs in its South-Eastern regions. While yielding to none in admiration of the heroism exhibited by Prince Alexander of Bulgaria, in recognition of his devotion to the interests of his adopted country, and in condemnation of the cruel and cowardly outrages which accompanied his dethronement, your Lordships will hardly expect that this country will embark in any Quixotic enterprize for his restoration; but you will doubtless await with patience the time when we shall be called upon, in common with the other Powers of Europe, to give our assent to the election of his Successor in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty of Berlin.

The condition of Egypt has been for a long time the source of much anxiety. We have heard of late with satisfaction that it has been considered safe to materially reduce the number of British troops in that country; and I think we may now fairly look forward to the time when, owing to the restoration of internal tranquillity and financial stability, it will be possible for us to withdraw altogether, and to leave that country to develop of itself those resources with which Nature has so abundantly furnished her.

Your Lordships will be glad to hear that the operations in Burmah, which, as I may recall with pride, were initiated and are being brought to a conclusion by two eminent Irishmen, are progressing satisfactorily. Operations of this nature, small though they may appear, cannot fail to be a drain on the resources of the country which conducts them; but I believe that this drain will be more than compensated for by the stability which the pacification of Burmah will confer upon the frontiers of our Indian Empire adjacent to it.

Passing by the subject of the Commercial Treaties with Greece and Roumania, which, I have no doubt, will realize the benefits anticipated from them. I must now turn to a less agreeable topic, but one which, nevertheless, monopolizes the greatest share of public attention at the present time. The state of Ireland for many years—though at times there have been gleams of sunshine and glimpses of improvement—has not been an agreeable subject for one like myself to dwell upon—one who was born there, who has lived among the people, and who hopes to be permitted to spend the remainder of his life amongst them; but I believe that I should be unworthy of the trust which has been committed to me, were I to fail to speak out what I believe to be the truth on this subject, however painful it may be to me to do so.

My Lords, to rightly appreciate the state of affairs now existing in Ireland it is necessary to go back to what happened at the last General Election. At that time the constituencies of this country, constituencies but recently established upon the broadest and most democratic basis, declared by an unmistakable majority—a majority which, I fully believe, but for the magic of one great name, would have been largely increased—that the Union as heretofore existing between Great Britain and Ireland should be preserved. Charged with this mandate the present Government came into power, and, indeed, the maintenance of the Union may be said to be the reason of their existence; and for a time it seemed as if the Irish people as a whole had accepted the verdict of the nation, and that a new era of peace and prosperity was about to dawn. Crime diminished; rents began to be paid with greater punctuality; and the tenant farmers began to avail themselves of the facilities for acquiring the fee simple of their holdings provided by the Land Purchase Act of my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor of Ireland (Lord Ashbourne). But this state of things did not suit the Irish agitators, or their allies on this side of the water. A peaceful and a prosperous Ireland would mean, for them, their occupation gone, and their sources of wealth from the other side of the Atlantic dried up. They also saw that as long as the alliance between the two sections of the Unionist Party remained intact their chances of attaining the object of their desires—the Repeal of the Union—was nil. They therefore invented the notorious Plan of Campaign, with the deliberate object of driving a wedge into the ranks of the Unionist Party, in the hope that by raising the agrarian cry they might detach from it those of its Members whose views upon questions of land were more advanced than the rest. My Lords, if there is any country in the civilized world in which the raising of an agrarian agitation is utterly unjustifiable, that country is Ireland. The Irish tenant holds an unique position among occupiers of the soil, and enjoys advantages conferred upon him at the expense of the landlord which tenants elsewhere may well envy. Not only is he secured against his rent being raised on account of improvements executed by himself or his predecessors in title—though a distinguished Member of the Government which passed the last Land Act, recently writing in a periodical, seems to be ignorant of the fact—not only can he sell these improvements, together with the goodwill of his holding, to the highest bidder, but if he considers his rent excessive he can go into Court and have it fixed by a tribunal specially appointed for the purpose. With tenants thus situated, the authors of the Plan of Campaign step in and deliberately supersede the law. They tell them that they are not to pay a rent agreed upon between themselves and their landlords, or fixed by a judicial tribunal, as the case may be, but only so much of it as they choose or are advised to offer; and if the landlord has a spark of spirit in him, and refuses to be dictated to, he may go without his money. I ask, was there ever such an audacious and impudent travesty and mockery of right and justice? My Lords, I feel that it is unnecessary for me to enter at length into a denunciation of these tactics; they have been declared to be an illegal and criminal conspiracy by the highest tribunal in the land, the Court of Queen's Bench—they have been condemned as immoral by the preponderance of public opinion in this country. My Lords, on an occasion like this, I should wish, as far as possible, to avoid any observations of a recriminatory character; but I cannot help saying that I hope that during the course of the debate on the Address in this or the other House of Parliament we shall be favoured with a more explicit and emphatic condemnation of the Plan of Campaign by the responsible Leaders of the Opposition than has been hitherto vouchsafed to us.

My Lords, Her Majesty's Government have been blamed for not having acted with more vigour and promptitude in grappling with this movement, and I think even their strongest opponents will admit that they have strained the virtues of patience and forbearance to bursting point; but it must be always borne in mind that there is one great initial difficulty that every Government in Ireland, armed only with the ordinary powers conferred by law, has to face; and it is this—that the public mind has been so debauched and demoralized by a long series of pernicious and immoral agitation that resistance to the law and repudiation of debts has come to be looked upon in large portions of the country not only as not a crime, but as something laudable and praiseworthy, and that the class of men from whom common jurors are drawn have been either so taught to disregard the solemn obligations of an oath, or so intimidated, if they are suspected of a disposition to pay heed to it, that in cases of an agrarian or political character, trial by jury, in all but a few favoured spots, has become nothing short of a farce.

I remember last year that my noble Friend the noble Duke (the Duke of Abercorn), who on that occasion performed the task now allotted to me, gave your Lordships a very graphic description of the terrible state to which the unfortunate people were reduced who came under the operation of what is known as the system of "Boycotting," and dwelt with considerable force upon the horrors of that system. My Lords, I will not travel over the same ground again; but I can assure your Lordships that that system still continues in full force in many parts of the country, though so complete is the reign of terror that has been established that its victims bow to its decrees without resistance, and we consequently do not hear so much of it as we otherwise would. My Lords, I do not, of course, pretend to know what the proposals with regard to the changes in the form of legal procedure alluded to in this paragraph may be; but I hope they may be found to give more summary powers in dealing with "Boycotting," and also that they will provide for some alteration in the mode of trial by jury, whether by change of venue, the empannelling of special juries, and, in extreme cases, the abolition of trial by jury altogether, and the substitution for it of trial by Judges. But advantageous as these changes, if carried out, will be, I cannot conceal my opinion that no real good will be effected till the National League has been declared to be an illegal organization, and suppressed as such, in the same way that the late lamented Mr. Forster crushed its prototype and predecessor, the Land League.

My Lords, in carrying out the task which they have imposed upon themselves, Her Majesty's Government will receive the support of all the best elements of society in Ireland. Though a Member of your Lordships' House, I can speak in a representative capacity: I can speak as the elected head of a large and powerful body of men, long distinguished for their enthusiastic loyalty and their devoted attachment to the cause of the Union. But, above and beyond these, I can speak for the whole body of Irish Loyalists, the English "Garrison," as they have been contemptuously called, whether Catholic or Protestant, Whig or Tory, landlord or merchant, farmer or shopkeeper, la- bourer or artizan. My Lords, I venture to say that this community has given, in proportion to its numbers, more soldiers and statesmen, who have contributed to build up and maintain the greatness of the Empire, than any community which that Empire contains. On these grounds, if on no other, they have a claim to appeal to this country for assistance and protection; but on far wider and far higher grounds—on grounds of truth, and right, and justice—I appeal to your Lordships, on their behalf, to assist the Government in putting an end to a state of things which is a scandal to civilization and a danger to the Empire, and I am confident I shall not appeal in vain.

The next paragraph of the Speech refers to the Commissions which were appointed last autumn to inquire into matters relating to the development of the resources of Ireland; and we are told that the Report of that Commission, to which the question of Land Purchase was specially referred, will shortly be laid before us. I hope we may have early legislation in the direction of the extension of the Land Purchase Act of 1885. There is no use in denying the fact that whatever may have been the advantages conferred upon the tenants by recent Land Acts, the relations between them and their landlords have been thereby brought into a state of hopeless muddle and confusion; and it is impossible that the resources of the land can be properly developed till the dual ownership now existing is abolished, and the land reverts again into single hands. I believe your Lordships will agree that in the extension of the provisions of this Act the only solution—if a solution be practicable—of the land difficulty in Ireland is to be found. But of this I must warn the Government—that such is the demoralization now prevailing in Ireland, that I know for a fact that many tenants who have purchased their holdings under my noble and learned Friend's Act are openly proclaiming their intention of repudiating the repayment of the instalments of the purchase money, and that unless the law be enforced and the fulfilment of contracts made obligatory there will be the same difficulty in collecting their instalments as there now is in collecting rents; and in that case I should advise your Lordships, in the interests of the taxpayers, to have nothing to do with Land Purchase.

I shall touch but briefly on the remaining topics mentioned in the Speech. I am deeply sensible of the kindness your Lordships have extended to me—a kindness which I feel all the more, as I cannot but be aware that some of the observations I have felt it my duty to make cannot have been very palatable to all of your Lordships, and I am anxious not to abuse your forbearance; but I may, perhaps, be permitted to notice with satisfaction that the subject of Local Government occupies a prominent place in the Queen's Speech. I believe it will be admitted on all hands that the time has arrived—if, indeed, it had not arrived long ago—when the elective element may be safely entrusted with the management of local affairs in counties in England and Wales; at the same time, I hope that place may still be found for that body which has hitherto controlled them with so much credit to themselves and advantage to the community. I observe in this paragraph, what I may call a pious aspiration, that it may be possible to deal with Local Government in Ireland and Scotland also; but from my experience of Business in the other House of Parliament I fear I should be exciting false hopes in your Lordships' breasts were I to hold out an expectation that effective legislation in that quarter were possible, for this Session at all events.

My Lords, the success which has attended the operations of what is known as Lord Cairns's Act shows that questions of Land Transfer and Allotments are such as can be dealt with advantageously by the Conservative Party; and I believe that changes in this direction will be found to strengthen the tenure of that kind of property in which your Lordships are chiefly interested. But, my Lords, I believe the country has no great inclination at the present time to attend to those and to other minor details of legislation. Two things are principally expected of Her Majesty's Government: that they should maintain the honour and interests of the Empire abroad and its unity and integrity at home; and in the full belief and expectation that in carrying out this policy they will be supported by a large majority of your Lordships' House, as I am sure they will be by the majority of the people of the country, I have now the honour to move the adoption of the humble Address in answer to the Gracious Speech from the Throne.


(who was attired in the uniform of an officer of the Rifle Brigade), in rising to second the Motion, said: My Lords, I crave your indulgence for a brief period, while I venture to draw your attention to some important points dwelt upon in Her Most Gracious Majesty's Speech.

My noble Friend who has just so eloquently addressed your Lordships has dealt so fully with the Irish Question that I scarcely like to trespass upon your time while I add my testimony, based on many years' official experience on the Staff in Ireland, to the anarchic state of that unfortunate country. Ireland continues to groan under a cruel, tyrannical, and inhuman despotism exercised by the National League, rendering insecure the lives, liberties, and property of the law-abiding, and crushing out from among the people of that unhappy island even the very vestiges of civilization. The Irish, though impulsive, and easily led astray by unscrupulous agitators, practising chiefly on their cupidity, can be converted into peaceable and orderly citizens by firm and consistent government; and it is this course which I rejoice to see Her Majesty's Government are determined unflinchingly to follow. My Lords, the recent attack on the citadel of the Constitution has failed through the laudable and patriotic co-operation of the Liberal Unionists; and it only needs now the strict and continuous administration of the law, equally in all parts of the Kingdom, to enable us to maintain intact the existing Union, which has added so much in the past to the greatness, prosperity, and even the security of both countries.

This desire to maintain the existing Union naturally causes our thoughts to turn to the hope of Imperial Federation, which would bind together the Mother Country and her Colonies and Dependencies in the enduring bonds of mutual protection and advancement, and retain them in the paths of peace and prosperity. It is the hope of many, and, indeed, the belief, that this result will be surely, although gradually, brought about. The realization of this hope will, no doubt, be materially aided by the beneficent action of the Imperial Institute.

My Lords, when we regard foreign affairs, it is gratifying to note that the survey of the situation is pacific and reassuring. But, as practical people, we cannot banish from our minds the deplorable and perilous tension under which the Continental Powers are kept through their colossal armaments—ready at a moment's notice to take the field. Our policy is based on a desire for peace and the loyal fulfilment of the stipulations of existing Treaties; but, in order to realize these aims, we must take care that our Army and Navy are kept in the most efficient condition to meet all possible contingencies, our motto being that of our Volunteers, "Defence, not Defiance."

The preposterous rumour that anyone in authority in this country contemplated interfering in the election of a Ruler for the Bulgarian Principality has been most emphatically disclaimed; and it is scarcely necessary for me to add that, where British interests are not primarily and immediately involved, the initiative is no part of our duty.

Egypt would make rapid progress, both moral and material, if all those who profess to be interested in her welfare were to co-operate loyally in England's self-denying policy.

My gallant Friend (Sir Frederick Roberts), with that force of character and those high military qualities of the possession of which he has shown so many signal proofs, aided by the valour and endurance of our troops, both Native and European, and assisted by incomparable Administrations drawn from the Civil Service of India, will, ere long, bring about the pacification and settlement of Upper Burmah, and, by bestowing upon its people the blessings of civilized government, render them as contented and prosperous as their kinsmen in the neighbouring Province.

I feel convinced, my Lords, that the country is thoroughly in accord with Her Majesty's Government as to the propriety of the course they propose to pursue with regard to the various matters of domestic legislation mentioned in the Speech; and I venture to think that from no quarter in the House will serious exception be taken to the measures to be brought before your Lordships.

My Lords, before resuming my seat, I will, with your permission, touch on an absorbing topic. The nation is to be congratulated that not only we in the United Kingdom, but those our fellow-subjects throughout the wide Dominions of this Empire, are permitted by God's Providence to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our beloved Queen's most happy reign. Our hearts beat in unison, and the prayer "God bless her" is offered up through the length and breadth of her glorious Empire by a loyal and affectionate people. My Lords, in conclusion I beg to second the Address moved by my noble Friend (the Earl of Erne).


My Lords, I have listened with interest and pleasure to the speeches made by the noble Earl the Mover of the Address and the distinguished officer who seconded the Motion; and I congratulate the noble Marquess on his having been able this year, unlike last year, to find two independent and unsalaried Peers who would consent to do the work so well. The noble Earl, I know, is an old Parliamentary hand, and I am not entitled to pay a compliment to him; but I must say that I was very much struck by what he said, even when I differed from him. My second-hand information about Ireland does not agree with his; but all the same, and making allowance for what he may have been prompted to say as the head of the Orange Party, I must say the general tone of his speech was good, and, I thought, an appropriate opening to this debate. Then his remarks with respect to the late Earl of Iddesleigh were especially touching. Both the noble Lords in their speeches supplied an omission in the Royal Speech, which contains no allusion whatever to the coming interesting Jubilee of Her Majesty's long reign. My Lords, the opening of Parliament exemplifies to a great degree the glorious, though sometimes lamentable, uncertainty of political affairs. None of your Lordships could have imagined two weeks ago the position in which the Government present themselves to Parliament to-day. The noble Earl has said that we require a strong Government, and I quite agree that that is the case, particularly with reference to the position of foreign affairs and the condition of Ireland. I have heard it stated quite lately, not only that the Government is strong, but that it is stronger than before the resignation of the late Leader of the House of Commons and Chancellor of the Exchequer. I admit that it has one very great element of strength, that of being able, with the assistance of a Liberal minority, to command, for the present at any rate, the support of a large majority in the House of Commons. I also admit that the accession to the Government of a man of the high character and ability possessed by Mr. Goschen is a further element of strength. On all sides there seems to be an agreement that it is good for the country, good for himself, and good for us whom he has left, that he should have joined the Government. I very much agree with that. In some points Mr. Goschen is more Liberal than those whom he joins. He has himself said that he differs from the Conservative Party on four out of five questions; but I am of opinion—and I do not think I am wrong—that on some of the best points of Conservatism he is a sounder Conservative than many of the Leaders of the great Conservative Party itself. There is one point on which he may have some difficulty. No one has described so well that the present Government is a Government on sufferance. He stated emphatically at Willis's Rooms that the Ministers had the Offices, but Lord Hartington had the whole power. Now, if any difference arises—and differences will arise among the best of friends—what will Mr. Goschen have to do? Will he side with the man who has the Office, or with him who has the power? Now, my Lords, beyond the two points I have mentioned I fail to see how the strength of Her Majesty's Government has been greatly increased. We were told up to a recent period that Lord Randolph Churchill was the second most important—that he was the most brilliant and popular Member of the Government. He left the Government upon a difference, or differences, as to which we shall be fully informed this evening by his statements, and by those of the noble Marquess and of Mr. Smith. I cannot tell how far these statements will justify the assurance we used to receive of the united harmony of the Government. The step the noble Marquess at once took showed his own sense of the great loss he sus- tained. He approached Lord Hartington again. Discounting as much as you like what the instinct of self-preservation and political tenacity of life may do, there is no doubt that the subordination of all personal claims to his wish to strengthen the Government was highly creditable to him; but it was, to a certain degree, an acknowledgment of the weakness of the Conservative Party, and we have heard rumours that it was felt as such by some of them. Lord Hartington refused. Although, he might like the flag with a motto on it which seemed to us to be delusive, he did not wish to put on the uniform, or the livery, as the case may be. His refusal cannot be said to have strengthened the Government. It was then almost ostentatiously announced that an offer had been made to a noble Earl, a Friend and late Colleague of mine, and that a Transatlantic message had been sent to Lord Lansdowne to the same effect. These were very judicious offers; but on what grounds it was thought that they were likely to accept after Lord Hartington's refusal is not clear. Then, as to the lamented death of Lord Iddesleigh. We all know ourselves, and it is impossible, after the touching testimony the noble Marquess gave of his value as a Colleague, not to feel that his loss is anything but a gain to Her Majesty's Government. There is another point connected with the reconstruction of the Government to which some attention has been directed. I remember alluding to it some 15 months ago, and I regret that I did not then bring it to the full consideration of your Lordships' House—I mean the transfer, with salary, of the sinecure Office of First Lord of the Treasury to another Minister—a proceeding which is a fine example of the Tory Democratic contempt for all tradition, and especially when, in addition to this, there is a combination of the Offices of Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary. Now, I believe that this combination is bad for the country, bad for the Sovereign, bad for the Cabinet, and most unfair to the noble Marquess himself. I have had some opportunities of observing the work of the Prime Minister. It is true that at some moments it is not overwhelming. But there are periods when, almost every hour of the day, the Prime Minister is required to advise the Queen, to maintain harmony in the Cabinet, to regulate the action of the Departments, to superintend the preparation of legislation, to watch over the Parliamentary proceedings of both Houses. When I first entered the Foreign Office, in a subordinate capacity, the despatches were some 17,000 in the year. When I succeeded Lord Palmerston for two months, in 1851 and 1852, they had risen to 34,000. In 1870 I believe they were 70,000, and—the noble Marquess will correct me—I am informed they have now risen to more than 90,000. Lord Palmerston told us that the routine work took him eight hours a-day, and this exclusive of diplomatic conversations, Parliamentary attendance, and the performance of all Court and social duties. Now, of all the Offices I have ever known the Foreign Office is the one in which it is least possible for the Secretary of State to remain ignorant of the general work of the Office. He would be found out in a week. It is not possible for a man to have the mental and physical strength to carry on the two Offices in their full operation. My Lords, I should have thought that the ablest man would have felt the great advantage of having a competent statesman with whom to advise on all important questions. It frequently happens that the mere suggestion of the omission of a sentence, or even of a word, of a despatch prevents great and complicated evils from arising. With regard to the Sovereign, I think it is wrong that the authority upon which His or Her Majesty place their commands should be limited in this way to one person. I am sure it is bad for the country that one man should unite so much unchecked power in his hands. My noble Friends who have been in Office know that when Parliament is not sitting and when the Cabinet is dispersed the noble Marquess is in almost absolute command. It is perfectly impossible that one man can bear that great responsibility. I know the noble Marquess's ability—his intellectual activity. That only makes it more certain that he will soon break down. I never meet a well-known blue brougham but I say—"See, he has not time to walk even from Arlington Street to Downing Street." There is another remark which I cannot help making. I saw it recorded during the autumn that Foreign Ministers and Ambassadors used to visit the Prime Minister immediately after seeing the Foreign Minister. Lord Aberdeen, Lord Palmerston, Lord John Russell, and Mr. Gladstone always set their faces against this practice except on special occasions. It is quite clear that the foreign Representatives like it very much, as it gives them two strings to their bow, and enables them to write much longer and more interesting despatches. But this way of doing business is unfair to the Secretary of State, and is certainly not favourable to the Public Service. I am old-fashioned enough to think that the really good system is for the Foreign Minister to do the work of the Foreign Office, subject to the general superintendence of the Prime Minister. The reconstruction of the Government is a matter of great importance. We are, however, imperfectly informed as to the future proceedings of the Government until we near the noble Marquess's statement. At the beginning of October we had a remarkable speech from the then Leader of the House of Commons at Dartford, in which he described the future policy of the Government. That speech was praised by the Conservative Press, and was joyfully accepted by the Liberals as an indication that the Government were adopting a Liberal, almost a Radical, policy. As far as I remember, the noble Lord promised greatly to reduce expenditure and taxation. He promised a reversal of Lord Palmerston's foreign policy in the East, as no longer suitable for this country; he promised a Local Government Bill, which should not be tampered with; he promised that the House of Commons should be enabled by the Government to fulfil their pledges to the agricultural labourers on the lines of Mr. Jesse Collings's proposals; and with regard to Ireland he promised that this Session the Government would lay the foundation of measures of local government, which no Government and no Party could shirk. My Lords, it maybe said that it is hardly fair to quote a noble Lord who has, unfortunately, been since shown to have decided differences from his Colleagues. If I remember rightly, the noble Lord at the end of October made a speech at Bradford in which he entirely confirmed what he had previously said, and which, he said, was merely a repetition of the Prime Minis- ter's speech made a year ago. Sir Michael Hicks-Beach in his Bristol speech made no objection, and said that the Government would fulfil all the pledges which they had given to the Radical constituencies. But another Member of the Government was still more explicit, no less a person than the present Leader of the House of Commons, whose word is respected by all. He spoke after both of Lord Randolph's two speeches. Did he repudiate on behalf of the Government what the noble Lord had said? You shall hear— I cannot undertake to tell you what is the whole policy of Her Majesty's Government upon every possible question, still less to repeat to you all that has been said with such infinite skill, power, and completeness by my noble Colleague and Leader in the House of Commons, Lord Randolph Churchill. The noble Lord has told you what are the views of Her Majesty's Government upon most of the important questions of the day, and it will not surprise you to hear that Her Majesty's Government are agreed one with another. When Lord Randolph Churchill speaks, he speaks with the full assent, knowledge, and consent of all his Colleagues in the Cabinet. Then comes a little cut at poor us— Without drawing invidious distinctions, this has not always been the case with recent Governments. We are a united Government, and we are determined to serve the country as a united Government as long as we can do so. When we can be no longer united, we will go and shall cease to be a Government. Though this latter threat has not been carried out, the whole extract proves conclusively that on the last day of October the policy of the Government on finance, on foreign policy, on cows and acres, and on local government, both in England and Ireland, was such as I have quoted from Lord Randolph's speeches. Now, judging by the light of later events, it does not seem probable that this policy will be carried out. It is quite true that there is a promise of a Local Government Bill; but there is no indication whether it is to be Lord Randolph Churchill's Bill or Mr. Long's, or that which was shadowed forth by Mr. Balfour. There is nothing, moreover, in the Queen's Speech which indicates whether there is to be a complete reversal of the spirited foreign policy of which we have heard so much. As to the great reduction promised by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer and the present Leader of the House of Commons in expenditure and taxation, we have now nothing but a vague and unmeaning phrase about efficiency and economy. I have only a word to say on the Colonies, which are entirely omitted from the Speech, though there are Colonial matters of urgent importance. I should be glad to know what progress has been made with the questions concerning the Samoa Islands, the New Hebrides, and the claims of Germans and Portuguese in the centre of Africa. There are also the two old festering questions of a triangular character with the United States and with France as to the North American fisheries. I had hoped that before this we should have been informed of some advance which does not brook much delay. A Conference has been announced of an intercolonial character. There may be some doubt as to immediate practical results; but such communications, under the Presidency of men of judgment and tact like Mr. Stanhope or Sir Henry Holland, cannot but be useful. I do not wish to say much upon foreign affairs. I desire to press for no information beyond what the noble Marquess thinks it is right to afford, as he must be fully aware of our anxiety to hear all that can properly be told. The great military nations of the Continent have certainly pushed the principle of the due preparation for war, being the best preservative of peace, almost to the bending point. I look with great hope to the noble Marquess being able to give some soothing assurances on this point. In Egypt measures originated during Mr. Gladstone's last Administration but one seem to be making some, though slow, progress. We have always rejoiced that circumstances have brought the Government into general agreement with the doctrines we have always held as to the Balkan Peninsula. I cannot speak with the same satisfaction of a speech made by the noble Marquess on this subject at the Guildhall. It was much cheered in the City, and it was praised by his supporters; but the result of it on the Continent seems to have been that Russia felt herself deeply insulted; that Germany, the most powerful factor in the matter, thought herself ignored; and that Austria believed she had been told that she was mistress of the situation, and was sure, in whatever course she took, to be blindly followed by us. Your Lordships will, perhaps, bear with me, if I make a few observations as to the state of Ireland. The Speech deplores the present relations between landlords and tenants, but states that great crimes are scarcer in Ireland than during "the preceding year." I believe that instead of the preceding year "the preceding five or six years" might have been used. The noble Earl (the Earl of Erne) attributed this to the vigour of the Government; but I have been informed, by persons who have been close and watchful observers, that absence of severe crime is much more owing to the encouragement which Ireland has received by the sympathy of a large number of persons in England and Scotland, that has induced them to believe that it is not necessary to have recourse to violence. The Irish should know that anything in the nature of violence or outrage, if I may be allowed to use a cynical quotation, "is not merely a crime, but a blunder." There is no course which could more absolutely alienate the sympathy of this country than any resort to such lamentable courses. The noble Lord attacked his political opponents by saying that they had not been sufficiently active in denouncing the Plan of Campaign. I do not think that we shall hear this attack from the Front Bench, for two reasons—first, that when noble Lords on the other side were themselves in Opposition, they absolutely refused to give the slightest repudiation of the inducements which were undoubtedly offered to the Orangemen, to do that which was contrary to the law, and when in Office they remained perfectly quiescent for two months in the face of the Plan of Campaign, waiting for others to denounce that which they themselves believed to be illegal and immoral. I do not myself think that Her Majesty's Government can be acquitted of all responsibility in connection with the Plan of Campaign and with eviction. The noble Marquess will remember that last year he alluded to the statement that it was said that prices had fallen so low as to make payment of rent impossible; and he said he entirely refused to admit that statement in its full extent. But in the other House of Parliament Her Majesty's Government strenuously opposed Mr. Parnell's Bill of last Session, which, whe- ther it was right or was wrong, would certainly have prevented many evictions from taking place. They utterly denied that the fall of prices made it difficult for the tenants to pay their rents, although that denial was perfectly inconsistent with their own action in appointing a Commission of Inquiry into the subject; and they added that there was no danger of evictions, because the Government would be able to deal with the question after the Commission had reported and before evictions could practically take place. In supporting the second reading of Mr. Parnell's Bill, Mr. Gladstone carefully stated that he did not agree with all its details; but he said that he thought, the Government having admitted the principle of the Bill by appointing the Commission of Inquiry into the facts, it was undesirable that evictions should, in the meantime, take place in the case of persons who were utterly unable to pay their rent. Her Majesty's Government now propose, as far as I can make out, to meet the present lamentable state of affairs by a measure for improving the procedure of the Criminal Law. It is a grave matter for a Government to apply for increased powers, and an equal responsibility rests with the Opposition how to deal with such a demand. Now, this Bill may be a great or a small matter; it may be good or bad; it may be inefficient, or it may affect the liberties of the subject; it may be exceptional, applied to Ireland alone, or it may apply to England and Scotland as well. Your Lordships will approve of my not anticipating the proper moment for such a discussion. But I must remind your Lordships that the Government, in "another place," more than once during the last Session, distinctly pledged themselves to simultaneous action as to any legislation regarding the local government of England, Scotland, and Ireland. By the Speech we are promised a measure at a very early period dealing with England and Scotland; but as the question of a Bill for local government in Ireland is relegated, not, indeed, to the end of 20 years of resolute administration, but to a perfectly vague and shadowy future, it is sad to consider the relations which now exist between the landlords and tenants of Ireland. I do not think you will do me the injustice of doubting that we all feel the deepest sympathy with the large majority of landlords, of whom so great a number of the best are in this House, and who have done so much, by moderation and forbearance, to meet the circumstances of the case. I am afraid that if I were to appeal to them whether they think Mr. Gladstone and his political Friends understand Ireland and know how to govern it, they would give an unfavourable answer. ["Hear, hear!"] I thought so. But I put to them exactly the same question with regard to Her Majesty's present Government. I would ask them whether there is any independent unofficial Irish Peer in this House who will get up in his place and state that he can honestly and sincerely declare that, in his opinion, Her Majesty's present Government know how to deal with the government of Ireland, and have shown that they have that knowledge by the way that they have administered the affairs of Ireland, either during the late or the present Administration? If no Peer is chivalrous enough to respond, I would put to them the logical inference. If they believe that neither of the two great Parties of English public men are able or willing to govern Ireland as it properly should be governed, would it not be desirable to consider whether they themselves, in conjunction with our Irish fellow-subjects, should not attempt the task?


It is my pleasant duty to express the gratification and admiration with which I am sure we all listened to the speeches of the noble Lords behind us (the Earl of Erne and Viscount Torrington). The speech of the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) has been more addressed to the condition of the Government than to the contents of Her Majesty's Gracious Speech, and I will try, as far as I can, to ease his mind on some points in respect to which the present condition of Her Majesty's Government moves his disinterested concern; and, in doing so, I am bound to say that though he exercised his duty as an opponent in attacking all our weaknesses in places where he thought we were weak, he did so in a kindly spirit to myself, which I, of course, acknowledge. But I am afraid he is too much in the habit of believing all that the reads in he newspapers. He seems to imagine that we sent an ostentatious offer to one noble Lord, and a sensational kind of telegram to another noble Lord, and he proceeded to make a charge against Her Majesty's Government that we were anxious to advertise our doings. I can assure him that if we had been anxious and able to hide our light under a bushel on that occasion we should have been very glad to do so. In the same way the noble Earl has found somewhere or other, in some strange place, an assertion that the present Government are considerably stronger because they have lost the services of a very distinguished orator who was the Leader of the House of Commons when it last met. I can assure him such an idea has never entered into the mind of the Government. We fully recognize the great loss we have suffered. We believe that though the cause of difference which separates us is deep, it is not likely to grow more extensive. My noble Friend (Lord Randolph Churchill) undoubtedly was deeply impressed, in the Office of Chancellor of the Exchequer—which, from all that reaches me, he filled with remarkable ability and skill—with that which must have impressed most men who have long taken an interest in public affairs—namely, the rapid and most injurious rise in the public expenditure. There is no one who has given his attention to the subject who has not felt a desire to find some way by which that expenditure might be lowered. We did not differ from my noble Friend in that; but he resigned upon this point—that he desired to give expression to his most patriotic and laudable wish for economy by a process which seemed to us to be so rough and so indiscriminate that it would not attain the end of economy, but, on the other hand, would have a very injurious effect on the efficiency of the Public Service. We were not prepared to cut off a considerable lump sum from the Estimates which my right hon. Friends at the head of the Admiralty (Lord George Hamilton) and the War Office (Mr. W. H. Smith) declared to be necessary for the defence of the country; and our feeling of the necessity, at whatever sacrifice, of holding to that view was and is stimulated by the aspect of affairs all over the world, and by the evidence, to which no one could shut his eyes, that a time of a critical character might be before us. But I assure the noble Earl he is entirely wrong in thinking that we came to that resolution without the deepest sense of the loss that we were incurring; and I venture to hope that the difference of opinion that separates us is not one of a permanent description, and that the Conservative Party in the future will have the advantage of the services of my noble Friend. But the criticisms of the noble Earl on the condition of the Government did not stay there. He made many pokes in his own playful fashion into the sides of his Friend Mr. Goschen. Mr. Goschen knows the noble Earl's mode of warfare, and he is competent to defend himself; but with respect to Mr. Goschen, I will honestly confess that, after the great loss we have suffered, I conceive it to be a matter of the most extreme importance to obtain his assistance, and I should have been glad if I could have obtained the assistance of more of those who hold the opinions we do on the subject of the Union with Ireland. I feel it to be of great importance, not only that we should bring into the service of the Government Mr. Goschen's unequalled powers as a financier—and I must say that during a long period of Opposition I have never uttered a word, as far as I know, to the detriment of those powers—but also that we should mark before the public eye, and establish in the warfare of the House of Commons, the fact that, for the moment, the guardianship of the Union supersedes every other subject of political interest, and that in the presence of that one great necessity all conflicts over past differences, all minor subjects of controversy, must be silent. The noble Earl seems to think that it was a sign of great weakness, and something of humiliation, that I addressed myself to noble Lords who were not in the Government, asking them to join us. Has he never been in a Government which has asked those outside to join them?


Yes; but it did not strengthen us.


Of course, the noble Earl is an authority on that point. I remember that one of those he applied to was Mr. Gladstone, and I quite admit the comment he has just made—that it did not strengthen them. It is a common effort on the part of those who have the charge of recommending Advisers to Her Majesty—it is their duty—to bring in as many as can agree upon the main, burning questions of the day; and if you will consider it you will see that our system of dividing politicians into two Parties cannot be worked at all, unless you allow that those two Parties shall be arranged according to their opinions on the main subjects which divide men at the moment. You cannot expect to divide the political world into two halves, and that each half on all possible subjects shall think the same. It would be an ideal and impossible state of things. But if you look into the history of this country since Parliamentary Government began you will find that Parties range themselves, not according to their opinions on 20 smaller subjects which might occupy a portion of their time, but on some one great issue by which men's minds were turned. First, it was a dynastic issue; later on you had the American War; then you had the French Revolution; then you had the great question of Reform; next, the great question of Protection; now we have the great question of Ireland. So it has been from the first. The great question of the day has been accepted as the dividing line which is to separate the Ministry from the Opposition, and men have joined together, by reason of their agreement on that great question, without regard to the other subsidiary questions on which they are divided. I do not recognize the accuracy of the quotation in which the noble Earl said that Mr. Goschen and we differed in four questions out of five. Even if that had been true, and that fifth had been the Union with Ireland, I should have said he did right to join us. Then the noble Earl proceeds to criticize the Ministerial arrangements which were necessary in consequence of that junction. When you have a great object to pursue you must arrange your Offices in order to attain it. Mr. Goschen, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, under the circumstances, could hardly have been Leader of the House of Commons. It was necessary to provide an Office for the Leader of the House of Commons, and the only Office available was that which I filled—the First Lord of the Treasury—and therefore it was necessary that I should take another. The noble Earl seems to think that Mr. Smith will have a sinecure. My impression is that the Leadership of the House of Commons is no sinecure for anyone who undertakes it. He will have plenty of work for one man, and will earn his salary. But with respect to myself, I am grateful to the noble Earl for the care he has shown in regard to my health, and I will try to avoid the various pitfalls he has pointed out to me; but I cannot help thinking that his description of what goes on at the Foreign Office was drawn from recollections a little more remote than the present day. I am aware he was at the Foreign Office at a recent period; but he has formed his ideas of the Office a little earlier. The work has been diminished since Lord Palmerston's day by the fact of two Under Secretaries having been appointed, and the use of the telegraph has very much diminished the number of important despatches. That same circumstance takes away a disadvantage to which the noble Earl pointed, which I should be the first to recognize—namely, that there is only one mind, in a case where the Prime Minister is also Foreign Secretary, addressed to the determination of the various burning questions which come up for decision. Of course, when you only used despatches those despatches did not reach the other Members of the Cabinet for some considerable time, and the check on the Foreign Minister, except in regard to the widest principles of policy, was not very active or efficient. But that is all changed now. The practical business of the Office is now nearly all done by the telegraph; and the telegrams are seen, as the noble Earl knows, by all the Members of the Cabinet about as fast as they arrive. The knowledge of what is done is prompt and intimate to all the Members of the Cabinet, and the Foreign Minister is 20 times more under the control of his Colleagues than he was in the time of Lord Palmerston. Lord Palmerston was practically supreme, and the control over the Prime Minister was a very imaginary control indeed. The control which Lord John Russell, during the Ministry of 1847–1852, exercised over Lord Palmerston until the very last hour was, I imagine, as slight as any control could be. But in the present day, from the entire change which has been brought about by the telegraph, I do not think that the apprehensions of the noble Earl have any foundation, and I believe that my Colleagues have the fullest opportunity of controlling everything that I can do. I think it right to make these observations—though we do not usually discuss what goes on in the Foreign Office—because it would be a very unfortunate doctrine to go abroad that the Foreign Minister was without check in exercising his very important functions. The noble Lord then turned to matters in the Gracious Speech from the Throne. He did not give much of his attention to them, and the observations that he made do not call for any very particular reply from me. In respect to Ireland, I confess I deeply regret that we did not have from the noble Earl any kind of condemnation of the Plan of Campaign. I think, considering the sanction that it has received from persons in high ecclesiastical positions from whom we should have expected a very different doctrine—considering how it has received the support of the whole of that Irish Party which has been accepted by the Opposition as their strongest support and surest alliance, considering how it is supplanted in that very doctrine of Home Rule which noble Lords opposite accepted as a panacea for Ireland—I think we had a right to expect some opinion from them, and to know whether the inheritors of some of the proudest traditions of English statesmen did or did not falter in their denunciation of a scheme of deliberate robbery. I am told that the change that has taken place, or that took place for a time, in the rate of crime in Ireland was due to no Government action of ours, but was due to the promises of concessions of the noble Earl opposite. Well, it is perfectly true that if you give to a man whom you meet upon the highway all that he demands he will probably abstain from any breach of the Eighth, or, at least, of the Sixth Commandment. It is perfectly true that if you yield to outrage all that outrage is destined to obtain, it is probable that outrage will cease, or sensibly diminish. The racoon in the American story, who, when he saw a sportsman coming to him, said, "Do not shoot, for I will come down," might have claimed, on the same ground, that he had put a stop to the murderous instincts of the American sportsman. I do not think that the pursuit of that mode of pacifying Ireland will conduce much to the restoration of law and order, or to the security of the loyal people whose aspirations and wishes, necessities and conditions, the noble Earl entirely passes by. He tells us that his Government is accused of having failed to govern Ireland. He challenges some independent Peer to say whether we have succeeded in governing Ireland. I think that challenge will come more suitably when Parliament has granted us the powers for which we ask. We do not profess to be able to repress crime with a law that is too feeble for the purpose, or a law which contains so many delays and pitfalls that it is not practically useful for the purpose of repressing offences which did not exist when it was originally enacted. But when the noble Earl goes on to draw from that comparison of the two Governments the inference that no Government that England can furnish is competent to govern Ireland, and that, therefore, as he puts it, the Irish Peers and others should undertake to govern Ireland, he shows a wilful blindness to the social conditions of that country at this moment. Is it the Irish Peers, the Irish proprietors, is it any portion of the classes who have a stake in the country with whom the Government of Ireland will rest if Ireland was abandoned to herself? We have two duties before us; we have the duty of maintaining law and order for the sake, not only of the loyal population, but also for the population which breaks it, and we have the duty of securing the loyal population from such a change in the Constitution of the country as shall place their dearest interests in peril. It is idle to talk of leaving the Irish people to govern themselves. You know very well that they will not govern themselves, but that the majority will govern the minority in a way utterly inconsistent with its rights, and in a manner utterly fatal to all its industrial and commercial hopes. My Lords, I join with the noble Earl in thinking that it is wiser to abstain from discussing the measures which we shall submit to Parliament until those measures are before it; but we earnestly beg you to remember that the enemy we have to meet is not the same enemy that had to be met by the generations that have gone before; that the organization of crime, of outrage, and of dishonesty has reached a pitch which it never reached before; and that you must have law, at all events, more sure and rapid in its process if you wish that the present evils should be suppressed and put down. Until we have obtained those powers, and with those powers have failed to produce that state of society which you have a right to expect—until that has taken place you cannot say that our efforts to fulfil our pledges in respect to Ireland have failed. The noble Earl very rightly abstained from any lengthened remarks on foreign policy at this time. I shall follow his example. But before I sit down I just wish to make a few observations. One is with reference to what the noble Earl said in respect to a speech of mine at the Mansion House. He seemed to infer that some alienation of this country from Germany was the result of that speech. Certainly, as far as my knowledge goes, there is not the slightest foundation for any such apprehension, and I do not think that anything in the speech justifies the construction that the noble Earl has put upon it. The other thing I wish to say is not due to any language used by the noble Earl, but refers to apprehensions that have been recently and publicly expressed both with respect to our policy in the South-East of Europe and to the prospects of European peace being broken. It has been imputed to us that we have been pursuing a policy having for its end the restoration of Prince Alexander to the Throne of Bulgaria. I cannot understand from what circumstance that utterly groundless idea has taken its rise. We regretted his fall, because we saw how well he was fitted to give that cohesion to the Christian communities which they so greatly want; but since his fall we have fully recognized that his re-election is not within the domain of practical politics, and, as far as I know, it has been contemplated by no Foreign Office in Europe, and certainly it has never been contemplated by ours. Our desire in reference to the condition of things in the South-East of Europe is, in the first place, to perform our duties as signatories of the Treaty of Berlin; and, in the second place, we wish—it is the traditional policy of this country—to strengthen and to uphold the freedom of those Christian communities which, in proportion as they maintain their freedom and cohesion, will be the greatest security against any possible overflow of military power into that distracted part of Europe. To them, properly organized and fully developed, we must look for the future guardianship of those countries. We do not desire to establish any special influence of our own; we should have no use to make of it if we possessed it. We do not desire to deny to Russia any legitimate object she may have in view; on the contrary, subject to the conditions which I have already stated, we shall be glad that her legitimate wishes should be fulfilled. But we feel, above all things, that the influence which she may claim in consequence of race, or faith, or history, must not be expanded into domination. Any attempt of that kind will not only destroy that influence, but it will be fatal to the interests of Europe, to whom the independence of those Christian communities is necessarily dear. The other matter, as to which I shall speak with caution, is the apprehension that has been recently felt lest there should be an outbreak of war among the Great Powers of the Continent. It is impossible to be blind to the danger which is caused to the public peace by the vast armaments, growing larger and larger, which threaten each other from opposite sides of a frontier. Those who are near and within reach of those armaments are constantly in the position of men standing in the path of an avalanche which they see above them, and which any accident may detach and bring down upon them. Vigilance is the duty of all men under these circumstances; but vigilance may generate suspicion, and suspicion may end in collision. It is impossible to be blind to these dangers; but, at the same time, I am bound to say that during the last few weeks—certainly during the time I have been at the Foreign Office—nothing whatever has occurred to give us the impression that the danger is more acute than it was; and, in the judgment of the experienced Ambassadors which we have both at Berlin and at Paris, the prospects are not warlike, but peaceful. I earnestly hope that their anticipations may prove correct, and that Europe may be spared the great calamity of a conflict between the most civilized nations in the world.


My Lords, it has been usual for your Lordships not to have a prolonged debate on ordinary occasions upon the Address, nor should I have broken through this custom on any ordinary occasion. But, my Lords, this is not an ordinary occasion. It is, I venture to think, as serious and as critical a time as has existed within the memory of any of your Lordships, if not in the history of this country; and I believe I may be pardoned if I make some observations which the reference to Ireland in Her Majesty's Speech appears to call for from some independent Member of the House. This is not an occasion for entering into the proposals which the late Government made to Parliament for the future government of Ireland, which the late Parliament rejected, and of which the constituencies of the country have solemnly ratified the rejection. An opportunity will probably come for entering into that large question, and I have no doubt that when it does come there are many of your Lordships who will desire to take part in that discussion. What I desire to address myself to is the matter of the present state of Ireland. Now, the first part of the paragraph relating to Ireland speaks of the improvement with regard to crime and outrage, which cannot but be highly gratifying to your Lordships. It speaks also of the signs of improvement which were exhibited in the early part of the autumn with respect to the relations between the owners and occupiers of land. It speaks of something which has happened to interrupt that prospect. Now, I believe from the bottom of my heart that a very great part—I am willing to believe the greater part—of the people of Ireland are in their own disposition and desires peaceable, would perform their duties, and would honestly abide by their obligations, and would prefer the maintenance of law and order to the maintenance of anarchy and disorder. No one who has seen the people, and is able to judge of them, can fail to be deeply impressed with the many fine and noble qualities of that people. They have many virtues, and they have great natural gifts; and I am firmly persuaded that if there were not a tyranny over them, the honesty and integrity and good faith between man and man in Ireland are such that we should have no need of extraordinary legislation. What, then, is it that has happened to prevent that? It is the establishment of a tyranny in Ireland, of an organized despotism, of a conspiracy against morality and law; and it is that which has interrupted the favourable prospect that offered itself in the autumn. The noble Earl on the Front Opposition Bench (Earl Granville) said that with regard to the diminution of crime and outrage he doubted whether the credit could be claimed by the present Government for the effective measures they had taken—that the diminution which undoubtedly has taken place should rather he ascribed to the offers holdout by the late Government. To whom? To those who held the springs of crime and outrage? We have often been told that the National League controls the politics of the majority in Ireland at the present day, and it is to them that it was proposed practically to hand over the government of Ireland. We are told that they are not the persons responsible for crime and outrage; that there are two movements, which are to be separated from each other—the political movement, and something else behind it. If that is so, the argument of the noble Earl is a very remarkable one. Well, I do not pursue that topic. I will now pass on to the next point. What interrupted the improvement in the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland? It was a remarkable renewal, in an altered form, of the old declaration against the payment of rent. We know that the old declaration was that no rent was to be paid unless political Parties permitted it to be done. This was simply to enable them to dictate with regard to the ownership and enjoyment of property and the political relations between Ireland and the United Kingdom, and to dictate their terms to the Government of England. Most people thought that a remarkable departure, not only from the duties of a citizen, but from the fundamental principles of morality, and opposed to all possible government. After the proposals of the late Government, and simultaneously with the effect it is suggested that they had on the frequency of crime in Ireland, you have a new declaration—the Plan of Campaign. The name, in itself, is significant of the nature of the thing. The tenants are now not to pay their landlords; they are to pay one-half, or as much as they please, to other people—to the agitators—to be spent by them in continuing their agitation. That is a remarkable development, coming at a remarkable time. But that is not all. The law is invoked; the law is clear on the subject; and when these proceedings have taken place, and security has been given according to law by the leading men who have instigated them, the moment they are out of Court they go on again in full defiance of the law, and prosecute the same policy of doing all they can by intimidation and influence to prevent the fulfilment of their legal obligations by men who would otherwise be willing to perform them. With regard to what has been said about evictions, no man with a heart in his body can read of evictions, under certain circumstances, without feeling that those who are really answerable for them have upon them a most deep responsibility. Who are those persons? Did we not hear lately of landlords who had so long delayed coming to extremes that the last legal opportunity of claiming their property would have expired if they had abandoned legal remedies? They have acted with the approval of the people on the spot, and with the advice of the priests and clergy—for I am happy to say that there are many signs that the priests wish their flocks to be honest. In cases in which the landlord is most unwilling to evict, in which he is willing, possibly after some pressure, to accept what the tenant can pay, and just as the tenants are on the eve of paying, with the approval of their clergy, certain Members of Parliament step in—I am ashamed to say not Irish Members only—between the landlord and his tenants, between men and their duty, between other men and their rights, and force on these evictions. This is a piece of unscrupulous cruelty which, if committed by landlords, we should hear strongly denounced. These things have been done after the offers of the late Prime Minister and his Government have, we are told, been powerful enough to diminish crime and outrage. These offers have not been able to prevent these things, which are very like crime and outrage. The late Prime Minister has, in 1881 and in 1886, used language which shows how utterly opposed to his ideas of the manner in which political reform should be sought these proceedings are. At Leeds, in 1881, when the No Rent Manifesto came out, he used this language, which I am not aware that he has ever retracted. He said— This is the first time in the history of Christendom that a body of men has arisen who are not ashamed to preach in Ireland the doctrine of public plunder. Then he named Mr. Parnell as the Representative of the opinions which he denounced; and he continued, after paying a tribute to Mr. Parnell's abilities— But his doctrines are not such as require any very considerable ability to recommend them. If you go forth on a mission to demoralize people by teaching them to make the property of their neighbours the object of their covetous desires, it does not require any superhuman gifts to procure a number of adherents to a doctrine like that. That is what the late Prime Minister said in 1881; and if it is forgotten, his followers can scarcely have forgotten what he said last August, just before the Plan of Campaign was produced. In his pamphlet he spoke of the Constitutional and peaceful action, and of the purely moral forces with which England and Scotland had secured their political triumphs; and then, recommending the same course to Ireland, he said— It is the potent spell of legality which has done all this, or enabled it to be done. The evil spirit of illegality and violence has thus far— and this was in August last— had no part or lot in the political action of Ireland, since by the Act of 1885 she came into that inheritance of adequate representation from which she had before been barred. Since then the Plan of Campaign—another form of the No Rent Manifesto—has been issued; and yet neither from the late Prime Minister, nor from my noble Friend (Earl Granville) to-night, have we heard any denunciations of it. Why is this? It is not because the right hon. Gentleman and the noble Earl do not detest and abominate this plan. Is it because those who ought to lead have not the courage of their opinions in this matter, and because they find that they cannot maintain their alliances if they denounce public demoralization? There is another Member of the late Government whom I always greatly admired and respected. I am very sorry that his views on this subject should be different from mine; but nothing will make me forget his public services. He (Earl Spencer), in the course of one of his speeches, used these words, which I think did him high honour— We have to see that law and order are maintained, and we cannot allow anarchy in that country; And he proceeded to point out how inextricably entwined were English and Irish interests. He was right. Public demoralization is catching and apt to spread. Why, then, have these things not been denounced? Why do not the late Prime Minister and his Colleagues declare—"If these things are done, we will have nothing to do with people who do such things?" This attitude is the more necessary, because some Members of Parliament, who are not, perhaps, entirely without importance as supporters of the late Government's policy, have defended the legitimacy of this Plan of Campaign. I think it is high time we should know where we are. So long as this denunciation is not forthcoming the inference I draw is that your Lordships and everyone in the country who thinks that government is necessary, that there cannot be government without the maintenance of law, nor government if persons can impose their own wills against the law of the land upon their fellow-countrymen—those who think this, whether in this House or in the other House, or in the country, must feel it their duty to support this Government, or any Government who will perform the primary duty of Government, and oppose any Government that will not. If the choice lay between declaring the Imperial Parliament powerless to enforce the first duties of government in Ireland, powerless to maintain the law against those who avowedly set it at defiance, powerless to protect loyal citizens who wish to pay their debts and do their duty against the intimidation that would prevent them—if the choice lay between this and granting the demands of the Separatists, I, for my part, would far rather not give Ireland what is called Home Rule, handing her over to the domination of those who seek to accomplish their ends by the means which we condemn. I would far rather give her complete inde- pendence, when, at least, we should be free from the responsibilities of government. To pretend to maintain the Imperial connection, while renouncing the performance of the first duty of a Government—the protection of the liberty and property of the loyal—and abandoning the loyal to the tender mercies of those who set law at defiance and trample upon liberty, would, in my opinion, be a worse thing than total separation.


My Lords, it was not my intention to take part in this debate; but after what has been said by the noble and learned Earl I feel compelled to make a few remarks. I had considered this question of the Plan of Campaign, and whether it was desirable that it should be made a subject of debate in your Lordships' House, and I had come to the conclusion that this was not the proper time for discussing the matter fully. Several Members of Parliament in Ireland are going to be put upon their trial in connection with this matter; I therefore do not think it proper or decent that it should be gone into fully, lest, while this important trial is pending, the parties should be prejudiced. I shall not shrink at the proper time from giving my opinion on this or any other subject; but at the present moment I will content myself with denying that Mr. Gladstone and his Colleagues are bound to agree with all the views taken by Irish Members who may have supported the late Government. We are not responsible for all the actions and declarations of those who may at different times have supported our policy; and I shall not think it necessary, on every occasion when an Irish Member makes a violent speech or perhaps supports some illegal action, to get up and repudiate that speech or that action, merely because on a former occasion this same Member supported the Government to which I belonged. My noble and learned Friend has referred to something which I once said about anarchy. Well, I maintain still that no Government can be tolerated which allows anarchy to prevail in this country, whether it appears in the form of crime and outrage or in that of illegal conspiracy. I denounce all illegal conspiracies, and I believe that no Government can continue to control the affairs of Ireland for any time which neglects its fundamental duty—that of protecting the property, rights, and liberties of Her Majesty's subjects. This is not the proper time for a defence of the Irish policy of the late Government; but I may perhaps, be permitted to say a word or two with respect to the way in which the present Government have administered Irish affairs. The noble Marquess says—"You must not judge us before we have obtained the powers which we require for the government of Ireland." That is a confession that without extra powers they are unable to maintain the law, and that confession has a special significance when we recollect the important and unusual statement in this House by the noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon), who announced that it was the deliberate intention of the Cabinet to which he belonged not to propose exceptional legislation for Ireland. Everyone must have read with great interest and some pain the important judgment delivered some time ago by that distinguished Irish Judge, the Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer. Referring to some evictions in Galway, he pointed out that the Sheriff's officers who attended to execute the writs were prevented for some days from fulfilling their duty, although accompanied by several Resident Magistrates and 250 policemen. And he showed how the police stood aside, and did not protect the Sheriff's officers. Now, the police should not interfere actively themselves in the execution of writs; but their business is to prevent breaches of the peace, and it is extraordinary that the law should have been violated, in their presence, as it was at these evictions. Whenever the Government are compelled to support the law it is important that they should not allow their officers to be defeated. When such a defeat is permitted it is taken as a sign of weakness, and it leads to outrages in other parts of the country. And another question to which constant reference has been made is the interference of the Irish Government between landlord and tenant. I know nothing which so much tends to crime and outrage as unfriendly relations between landlord and tenant. When the Land Commission was appointed a marked improvement was shown whenever the Sub-Commissioners sat in any district. I therefore fully appreciate the importance of having these disputes between landlord and tenant settled. I have also known it necessary on occasion for the Government to endeavour to bring landlord and. tenant to an agreement, though the cases were very rare. Now we are told that the Government have been constantly intervening between landlord and tenant, and have brought pressure to bear on the landlords in order to induce them to come to terms with their tenants. We all know that the Government have the power of bringing an enormous pressure to bear even when acting within the law, but which may be of an improper kind. It may take the form of their saying that they will withdraw police protection, or make the landlords pay for police protection. I want to know how far the Government have gone, and what has been the pressure exercised by the Chief Secretary? We have read the correspondence in The Times of yesterday with regard to the Glenbeigh evictions. I confess that I think the general tone of the correspondence between General Buller and the different agents reflects the highest credit upon the humanity and discretion of that distinguished man. I lament immensely that he was not successful. But is it possible for the Government to be carried on if the energy and skill of its officers are to be employed in settling disputes between landlord and tenant? These questions are very grave, and I should like to have some explanation from the Government. They say it is difficult to carry on the Government under the ordinary law. Then recourse is had to exceptional or repressive legislation. Such legislation is not the less exceptional, even if you make it the law of the whole Kingdom. But such legislation will only accentuate the ill-feeling prevalent in Ireland, and until you make the Irish people support the law you are doing no good and gaining no ground in Ireland. My noble and learned Friend referred to the intimidation which exists by large bodies of agitators over the minds of the people, and said that if that were removed all the good qualities of the Irish would come to the front and make government easy in that country. I have had a long experience of Ireland—eight years is a long time—and though I was for a long time misled by that delusion, I have come gradually and sadly to the conclusion that, in many parts of Ireland, the people are not unwilling sufferers under intimidation, but are in thorough sympathy with all the principles of the Nationalists. I fear that this delusion has been going on too long. I despair of effecting an improvement by what is called resolute government, for that will not only exasperate the Irish, but will prevent the removal of those difficulties in the government of Ireland which have so long baffled the statesmen of this country.


My Lords, I think the whole House is under a great obligation to the noble and learned Earl opposite (the Earl of Selborne), who has made a last appeal, and given a last chance to the late Advisers of Her Majesty to show whether, even cow, they can pluck up their courage to denounce what every honest man in the country has denounced as a scandal. My Lords, there is no responsible public man, outside the narrow class to which I have referred, who has not given a frank and manly opinion upon a state of facts upon which a child could express an unhesitating opinion on the plain difference between right and wrong. The noble Earl opposite (Earl Spencer) says he did not intend to make a speech, but that he had considered the Plan of Campaign, and had deliberately arrived at the conclusion that this was not the proper occasion for entering into the whole merits of the Plan of Campaign; and then he said that he was not bound to denounce it merely because it was illegal. The noble Earl has had the opinion of two most able Judges in Ireland that it is illegal, and also that of one of the greatest legal authorities in this country (the Earl of Selborne); and yet, in face of all that, the noble Earl refrained from making up his mind. The noble and learned Earl described the Plan of Campaign as an organized despotism against morality and law. But the noble Earl opposite said that Ireland should be encouraged to have respect for law. Yet his contribution to the promotion of that respect for law is to deliberately shrink from denouncing what these great authorities have stated to be both illegal and immoral. Lord Hartington, who has had great experience of Ireland, and was one of the most powerful Colleagues of the noble Earl in several Administrations, spoke very plainly last December, and expressed the view of impartial public opinion that this Plan of Campaign was a subversion of every principle upon which hitherto social order has been maintained. Mr. Chamberlain, too, who holds strong and extreme views on some subjects, said that it was the moat immoral and dishonest conspiracy which had ever been devised in a civilized country. It has been described in public by my noble Friend the Prime Minister as organized embezzlement and as public robbery; and on a former occasion, as we are reminded by the noble and learned Earl, Mr. Gladstone described a similar organization and similar methods as a policy of public plunder. Yet it has been reserved to the Leader of the Opposition in this House to-night, after making some criticism of a general character, to sit down without expressing a single syllable as to the morality of the Plan of Campaign; and the late Viceroy, who used the word "despair" more than once, did not rise till he was compelled by the speech of the noble and learned Earl (the Earl of Selborne) and the moral pressure of the House, and his only contribution was that he deliberately refrained on the present occasion, which he did not think was a proper one for entering into the whole merits of the Plan of Campaign. The noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition said that the smallness of the number of grave crimes and outrages in Ireland were to be ascribed to the sympathy with the people of Ireland shown by their friends in England and Scotland. If the noble Earl thinks that a conviction in the minds of people in Ireland that the sympathy of their English and Scotch allies would not go with them if they commit crime and outrage tends to prevent such crime and outrage, why, then, does not the noble Earl say that he will withhold his sympathy from the Plan of Campaign, and see what will be the effect of that course in Ireland? I have referred to Lord Hartington. Perhaps Mr. Gladstone may speak "elsewhere" for himself and his Colleagues on this subject; but in The Times of January 5 in the present year there appeared an extraordinary letter from the late Prime Minister, who was asked by the secretary of a Liberal Association what was his opinion on the Plan of Campaign. What was the answer of the late Prime Minister to that question? He wrote— Sir,—I do not intend to discuss, upon partial or fragmentary evidence, what is now going on in Ireland. It is not my business to govern that country, or to pass judgment upon those who govern it, until I hear in my place what is to he said for and against them. Well, I think the public opinion of this country has a right to complain of the way in which this question has been left in this discussion. When it goes forth to Ireland that your Lordships have sitting among you those who represent the views of Mr. Gladstone, and that when challenged they refuse to say a solitary syllable in condemnation of the Plan of Campaign, will it not be very easy then to persuade ignorant people in Ireland, who are very credulous and very easy to persuade, that it is because they themselves either indirectly sympathize with the Plan of Campaign, or that they have not the manliness to say that they condemn it? The occurrences at Woodford have been referred to. In that case the house was blockaded; it took a considerable time to get appliances to reach the inside of the house, and then the Resident Magistrate and the police acted with courage, vigour, and success. The noble Earl (Earl Spencer) has alluded to pressure put upon landlords. I suppose your Lordships have, many of you, heard speeches delivered in reference to the conduct of the landlords, and the moral influence which anyone has a right to exercise upon them with a view to advise them to show forbearance. But if it is put as a suggestion, or as an innuendo, that the Government has acted with any unworthy or undue pressure, or has exerted any power of the State to prevent the proper enforcement of the law, I emphatically repudiate and deny any such insinuation. That is a thing to which I, for one, would never be a party, which I entirely disapprove, and which, to my knowledge, has never taken place in any single case in Ireland. All that has been done is to give friendly advice, and, of course, it is open, and in the power of anyone, to give that. Reference has also been made to the Glenbeigh correspondence, which appeared yesterday in The Times. I have read the correspondence which appeared in the newspapers yesterday, and I do not find that General Sir Redvers Buller used a single word suggesting that any such unworthy interference or pressure should be exercised to prevent the enforcement of the law. All that was remarked to-night on the subject was that it was wonderful that he should have found time to act as he had done in those matters. The noble Earl the Leader of the Opposition referred to the evictions in Ireland, and said they would have been stopped if Mr. Parnell's Bill had been passed.


Some of them.


That amounts to a suggestion that if the advice of Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Parnell had been taken there would have been a diminution in the number of evictions carried out. Now, what are the facts? Why, the actual figures show that the number of those who were really evicted, and their families—that is to say, who were neither re-admitted as tenants nor as caretakers—was, in 1882, 2,672, and in 1884, 2,205, whereas in 1886 it was 1,535, or about 700 families less than it was two years before. Those facts prove that the Irish landlords as a class and in the mass have shown great consideration and forbearance towards their tenants, and have done their duty wisely and well. Many of them, under very great difficulties as to how to maintain themselves and their families, have to the full met the advice given them to exercise their legal rights with moderation, kindness, and forbearance. The administration of the law in Ireland is always a matter of grave responsibility; but I myself regard the condition of Ireland with no exaggerated hope on the one hand, and with no exaggerated despondency on the other. I have never, either in this or in the other House, used any such language; but I do believe that with firmness, with a steady determination to administer justice and an equally steady determination not to permit injustice, we may expect that the ways of peace will be found again in that country; and I can assure your Lordships' House that the Government are fully alive to their responsibilities, and will endeavour by every possible means to fulfil them so as to bring about that result.


My Lords, I entirely agree with my noble and learned Friend (Lord Ashbourne) as to the gravity of the condition of things which exists in Ireland, and I unite with him in feeling that it is impossible for anyone to Utter a word in relation to the condition of that country without incurring a very heavy responsibility unless he weighs carefully every word that he uses. But I cannot agree that my noble and learned Friend was following the injunction which he himself laid down, when he tried to induce the belief that those sitting on this—the Front Opposition—Bench entertain sympathy with any sort or kind of illegality. My noble Friend (Earl Spencer) distinctly said— The 'Plan of Campaign' has been pronounced by two distinguished Judges in Ireland to be illegal, and I condemn every form of illegality in Ireland. What can be clearer or more emphatic than that statement? Surely the greater includes the less. I certainly take a different view as to the proper course to be adopted from the noble and learned Lord. I admit that if there is a condition of things existing in Ireland, or elsewhere, it is perfectly open to persons to express their opinion upon it; but when you have certain individuals waiting their trial for a particular offence, it is entirely out of the ordinary course—it would never be done in regard to England; nobody would ever dream of suggesting it in regard to England—that those who occupy a responsible position should get up and express any opinion with reference to the particular offence with which they are charged, and on which they are entitled to have a fair trial. Therefore, why should such a course be adopted as regards Ireland? The whole question will turn on what is the nature of the acts that have been committed; because all that I know of them is what has appeared in the newspapers; but I understand that it is denied in the strongest possible way that the acts done were really of the kind that has been described. I am afraid of entering into the question, because the inference might be drawn that I justified what they admit they have done. The noble and learned Earl said the Plan of Campaign consisted in bringing intimidation to bear on tenants who were willing and able to pay their rent in order to make them not pay. [The Earl of SELBORNE made a remark which was inaudible.] That brings us at once to a discussion of the facts which are in dispute. But I understand that the accused entirely deny that this pressure was brought to bear to induce those who were willing and able to pay not to pay. Of course, the noble and learned Lord will not admit that to be the case; but I say that that is stated on behalf of those who are charged with the offence. Now, whatever form of illegality may be committed, whether in this form or in any other, I condemn it; and I am so far from having any sympathy with it, and so far from approving it, that I regard it with abhorrence and reprobation. But I decline to discuss the particular acts of the men about to be tried. It is not a question like murder; but one in which the very acts these men did is the question in dispute, and which is going to be tried in the Courts of Law. The less that is said about this question at this time the better; because it is not only important that the administration of justice should be fair and just, but that it should seem to be just. I think nothing would be more calamitous than that anything should take place in this House which should even give the semblance of a ground for complaint that there had been an attempt to prejudice the cause of men about to take their trial. On this point I am very sensitive, and on that account I desire to deal in generalities, and not with the particulars of the case. Now, I said that I make no limitation, no exception; but I confess, after all, that I doubt very much whether we do much good by denunciations at particular times of crime. It is one of the terrible misfortunes of the social condition of Ireland that men, who in other matters would be honest and would deal fairly, should very often conceal the dishonest nature of the acts they are doing with a cloak of patriotism with which they completely deceive themselves. One has seen it not only in Ireland, but, elsewhere; and I fear that, without looking at their situation and position, violent denunciations of the acts the people are doing will not cause these acts to cease, nor alter the opinion of the people with respect to them. They will not think the less of those who give them the advice. I doubt very much the usefulness of denunciation; but, at the same time, I agree that it would be mischievous if it were thought that those who had held responsible positions in this country, whatever their sympathies might be—either with agrarian improvement by legislation or some change in the Government of Ireland—I say it would be a sad thing if it were thought that they had any sympathy with the recourse to any mode of illegality whatever with the view of attaining its ends. I can assure noble Lords, speaking for myself as well as my Colleagues, that we have no such sympathy, and have no desire to shrink from declaring a want of sympathy with any proceedings of this description. We cannot too emphatically repeat that we condemn illegality, whatever form it may assume; and, so far from having any sympathy with it, we regard it with the greatest horror and detestation. I deprecate, however, any attempt now to discuss the action of those being charged with criminal offences which will shortly be coming before the Courts of Law. No useful object whatever can be served by doing so; and we should be careful not to lay ourselves open to the charge of influencing tribunals.


said, they had been told by the Front Opposition Bench that this was not a convenient occasion on which to discuss this question; but he contended that the Plan of Campaign should have been denounced by the Opposition speakers in public long ago. Not only that, but he thought even now that a distinction was attempted to be drawn between the illegality and the immorality of the Plan of Campaign. Seeing that there were certain persons on their trial with respect to the illegality of the movement, he did not think it reasonable to express any opinion on the point. On the other aspect of the question it was different; and what he and others desired to know was—was the Plan a moral one or not? He contended that it was a conspiracy against the main business of Ireland, which chiefly consisted in owning and occupying land. If a witness were needful on this point he should call Mr. Dillon himself, who had told them what the object of the Plan of Campaign was. The hon. Gentleman said that if Mr. Roe wished for occupation of that sort, let him go with him to Mayo, and I he would show him men who would not pay, not because they were unable to pay, but because he had told them to accept the Plan of Campaign, and not to pay. That was an immoral doctrine, which it was the duty of everyone to denounce. If the noble Earl or any of his Colleagues had denounced that doctrine on a public platform, and had said that they would have nothing to do with Mr. Dillon or Mr. Parnell if they prosecuted that Plan, he was certain they would have gained a good deal. Indeed, if Mr. Gladstone would denounce it at once some good results might ensue.


said, that he denounced the conduct of any person who induced tenants not to pay rents who were able to do so.


said, he thought that that was the information which they had been endeavouring to obtain for the last two months, and showed that the debate had done a great deal of good. It had conveyed a great deal of information to the country which had been vainly sought for during the past two months. He was glad to hear noble Lords had denounced the Plan of Campaign; and he hoped they would take opportunities, both in Parliament and on public platforms, to declare that they would have nothing to do with persons who were connected with such immoral doctrines and such immoral practices.

Address agreed to, nemine dissentiente, and ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.