HC Deb 15 June 1852 vol 122 cc773-90

rose to move for leave to bring in a Bill to continue an Act of the 11th and 12th of Her present Majesty, for the better Prevention of Crime and Outrage in Ireland. He said that, as it had been clearly intimated that this Bill was to be opposed on every stage, he thought the best course for him to pursue was to state at once the objects and circumstances which in the eyes of the Government justified the measure which he now asked for leave to bring in. He must first, however, express the hope that the angry observations which had been made that morning with regard to Ireland would not lead the House to enter on this subject in an im- proper temper, and that those discussions would not ensue which so often were irrelevantly drawn in on Irish questions; but that they would confine themselves to the merits of the Bill, and on which he was free to admit much might be observed on either side. He grounded his claim for the necessity of this Bill on indisputable facts, which he would endeavour to submit with simplicity and in a proper tone of temper. He should ask the House to consider the Bill which the Government proposed should be continued for a limited period of time. It was an Act passed by the present Parliament for a limited period. It was renewed under the late Government for a further limited period, and he thought the inquiries of the House should be directed on the present occasion to the circumstances under which that Act was passed and renewed for a further period, and whether they were substantially so similar to the present as to prove the necessity of continuing the Act. He thought it important to call the attention of the House to the exact character of that Act. It was easy to get up a number of phrases of coercion and gagging policy to go through the country influencing persons who did not examine the Bill, but who took their views of its character from those phrases; but let the House see what the character of that Act really was, and whether the circumstances of the country did not demand its continuance for a limited period. The Act he proposed to renew was originally passed in December, 1847, immediately after the present Parliament assembled. It was passed within a short period after a general election, when there had been a great deal of excitement in the country, and when the lists of crime had been in consequence aggravated. That was a circumstance which ought not to be disregarded at the present moment. They were now on the eve of another general election, and they ought not to leave Ireland unprotected during the whole period of Parliamentary agitation by those special powers in the hands of the Executive of that country for the protection of the peaceable and orderly portion of the population. This law was not intended to punish but to prevent crime. It was a wise and salutary law. It was passed with reference to a particular class of crimes which then prevailed, and it provided the Executive Government, on the advice of the Privy Council, which was not a fluctuating body, with the power, under special circumstances, of proclaiming any particular district, and, if necessary, to send down to it an additional force of police; and in particular instances where crimes were committed in a particular district, and when the ordinary powers of the Government were useless, it gave the Lord Lieutenant power of reverting to the sound principle of the old Saxon law, of making the constabulary so sent down a charge on the whole district. He thought there was nothing coercive or severe in that. The next particular portion of the Act was, that it provided that the Whiteboy code should come into force in those districts which were proclaimed. That code applied to districts in an insurrectionary state, but it could not be put in force without the continuance of this Act. The Whiteboy code also contained a very important clause, introduced by the hon. and learned Member for Hull (Mr. Baines), which made persons who screened or harboured offenders amenable to justice. A most important conviction had taken place under that provision. The Act also had a provision with regard to arms, by which the Lord Lieutenant could call upon persons in particular districts to surrender their arms. No arms excepting those which were licensed were allowed to be retained by private persons. This provided a security against lawless persons having arms, to which circumstance was to be attributed a great portion of that loss of life which had taken place from time to time in parts of Ireland. There had been various Acts of this and of a severer character with regard to Ireland. There was the Act of 1816, and the Coercion Act of 1834, which suspended trial by jury and other constitutional privileges of the subject. The present Bill was not at all analogous to those Bills, nor would he then raise any question of the details of the clauses of those Bills. But he must say when murders were taking place, and the rights of property outraged in the open day, it was indispensable that the law should be made efficient for the purpose of preventing crime and outrage. He begged to call the attention of the House to the circumstances of Ireland when the Bill became law. It was passed in December, 1847, for a limited period, and had reference particularly to agrarian outrages, with respect to which it was difficult to enforce the law of the land. It was intended to come in aid of the ordinary law, to punish outrages, and to protect life and property in those districts in which the Whiteboy confederacy existed. If this law was not continued, they would renounce the only proper law which Parliament had passed for the purpose of preventing crime and outrage in Ireland. In the year 1847, when the Act was first passed, he found that the number of agrarian outrages in the whole of Ireland was 620. He wished to rest his case on plain facts and figures, as a matter of simplicity and truth. In 1849, the year before the Act was renewed, the number of outrages was 957, and in 1851 it was 1,013, or nearly double the number when the Act passed, and one-third more than it was when the Act was renewed. Those were the agrarian outrages; and, he found, on looking over the list in another column, that in Armagh, 92, in Monaghan, 24, and in the county of Down, 65, were for threatening notices. By the late Government, proclamations had been enforced under this Act affecting twenty-one counties. In 1847, there were nine, in 1848, seven; in 1849, two, in 1850, two; and in 1851, two. Since 1850, six counties had been taken off, that was to say, the proclamations had been withdrawn. In 1851, portions of Monaghan and Armagh were proclaimed. At present seven whole counties were proclaimed, and parts of twenty-one others. If the Act were allowed to expire, which it would at the end of the present Session, all those proclamations would at once fall to the ground, and all the offences which had been committed and were punishable, all the prosecutions for threatening notices for which the writers now in jail were awaiting their trial at the next assizes, would at once fall to the ground. A case of this kind had occurred when the late Government were prosecuting Mr. O'Connell, under a temporary Act; that Act expired during the prosecution, and it immediately became nugatory. If such a result were permitted now, they would have, in fact, an effectual jail delivery in Ireland. He remembered in 1850, when the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord John Russell) was asking for the renewal of this Bill, that he did so chiefly on the ground that the Government could not take upon themselves the responsibility of allowing the licences for bearing arms to expire; and it was with a deep sense of the responsibility that he now asked the House to renew the powers of the Lord Lieutenant for maintaining the proclamations now in force. The Act was founded on the assumption that the ordinary law was not sufficient to repress crime, and experience had proved its necessity and utility. In the county of Louth alone, out of seventeen murders within the last two years, there had not been a single conviction. In the county of Monaghan, out of numerous crimes there had been only one conviction. That single conviction was a most valuable and important one, hut it took place entirely under this Act. The case was a singular one. During the time that the Judges were sitting under the Special Commission, information was given to the police of two men being about to commit a murder. The police prevailed on the man whom it was intended to murder to go along the road, while they went themselves along the fields on each side of the road, and they found two men concealed in a ditch, armed with loaded blunderbusses. These men could not be indicted for a conspiracy to murder, because such was the reign of terror which prevailed that evidence could not be procured; hut under the Act of Parliament now in force, which made it unlawful to be in possession of arms, the police proved the possession, and he believed that the conviction for that offence under the Special Commission was a most valuable and important one. The men were imprisoned for two years, and the result proved most valuable to the locality. At the last assizes, a man was convicted for having in his possession ammunition; and in the county of Limerick, at the last assizes, there was a conviction under the Act, respecting which he had the authority of Sir Matthew Barrington, the public prosecutor in the south, for stating that it was the means of quieting the county. The Government having been charged with the duty of maintaining the law in Ireland, he must say that he thought Parliament was bound to assist them in their efforts. He hoped the House would consent to the continuance of the law for a limited period, in order that the proclamations made under it by the late Government might not fail to produce a lasting effect, in order that offenders might not escape from jail, and in order that desperate criminals might not be able to effect their purposes during the period when Parliament would not be sitting. The House would take upon itself a fearful responsibility by refusing such a moderate request. The Government could not he responsible for the peace of Ireland if the Bill were not passed. He might be asked how it was that there was such an apparent calm in Ireland, that the Judges could go the circuits without any danger? Why, there were parts of that country in which he could walk with as little concern as in Westminster, although the confederacy existed in the locality. Persons were shot down now and then, here and there, from behind a ditch; there was no general disturbance; the confederacy was of so peculiar a character that Englishmen could form no idea of it. In the county of Louth, from the 1st of April, 1849, to the 1st of February, 1852, there were twenty-three cases connected with crimes growing out of this confederacy, and in seventeen of those cases, including several murders, not one of the parties were brought to justice. Yet that county was otherwise very peaceable and quiet. It was not the number of crimes that was so much to be regarded, as the peculiar character of them. There prevailed a regular organisation of this confederacy against life and property, not only over all Ireland, but its ramifications extended to Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, and other places. But the Government had not only to grapple with this huge confederacy against property, life, and law, but they had to encounter the effects of intimidation on the minds of jurors, by whom alone the law could be administered. The sheriff of the county of Louth had stated that if the protection of the constabulary, and of the law which forbade the people to carry arms, were taken away from the persons who acted as jurors, the law could never be carried into effect. To what a position would these men he exposed, who, by their oaths, were called upon to give a verdict according to the evidence, if the Legislature permitted the members of this confederacy to go about with arms in their hands! The only protection, therefore, for all the peaceable portion of Ireland was to continue the powers now vested in the Lord Lieutenant for the suppression of crime and outrage. It was not just or fair to call this a coercion law. He believed that many who were obliged to succumb to this confederacy would be glad to have the law renewed. A magistrate who had gone about the country said that in one house he saw a list of subscriptions; and on examining it he found the names of many persons who he knew would not have subscribed one halfpenny but for terror. A pound was contributed by a farmer who held only twenty acres of land. Even Dr. Cullen, the Roman Catholic Pri- mate of Ireland, had on two occasions) been led to denounce the confederacy, particularly in a pastoral letter published in January, 1851. He would ask the House this question—if the late Government were warranted in issuing these proclamations, would the present Government be warranted in revoking them where crime had increased? He had received a letter on this subject from Sir Matthew Barrington, the Crown prosecutor for the southern circuit, who said— As Crown solicitor for the largest and most important circuit in Ireland, I wish to impress upon you the necessity of continuing the Crime and Outrage Act. It has been of great use, and may be required again. We had a Whiteboy prosecution of the utmost importance to the peace of the country at the last Limerick Assizes, in which it was necessary to prove the proclamation under that Act, and for which several persons were convicted. More remain to be tried for the same offence at the next assizes. What is to become of this, and similar cases, if the Act is allowed to expire? The knowledge that the Act is in force has, I have no doubt, prevented many an outrage, and I hope Parliament will not be dissolved without renewing it. With regard to the usefulness of the law, he would observe that the evidence of Mr. Kerr showed that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) acted wisely in adopting the old Saxon principle of making the locality responsible for the crimes committed in it. The collection of the police rates had in many cases had the effect of arresting crime; and one person who was examined declared that he had seen parties previously belonging to the confederacy become themselves conservators of the public peace. As regarded the effect of proclamations, he would mention the following facts. In the county of Armagh the number of offences committed in the three months before the proclamation was issued was twenty-seven; in the three months afterwards, fifty. In Louth the number was eight before, and seventeen after; in Monaghan eleven before, and twenty-eight after; but in Clare it was 178 before, and fourteen after; and in Limerick 262 before, and thirty-nine after. Where the proclamation had been issued early it had gradually got to be effectual, but where it was only recently issued, it had not been attended with the same success. He also had a letter to the same effect as the one from Sir Matthew Barring-ton from the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, than whom there could be no higher authority. They all agreed that there must be some special power, and he (Mr. Napier) was not aware of a more mild, more mo- derate, or more constitutional one than was provided by this Act. It came then simply to this, whether they would renew this Act, or leave Ireland without that protection which her condition required. If by any change of the ordinary law it could be so administered as to render this special power unnecessary, no one would be more delighted than himself. He had a deep sense of the responsibility in asking the House to continue this Act for a limited period, until time had been given to accomplish that policy which he hoped would render it unnecessary; but under the present pressing circumstances he must ask Parliament again to assent to its extension, though he should be quite content to limit that extension to the 31st December next, and then until the next Session of Parliament.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That leave be given to bring in a Bill to continue an Act of the eleventh year of Her present Majesty, for the better prevention of Crime and Outrage in certain parts of Ireland.


said, some years ago there were tithe riots through the south and west of Ireland, and stringent measures were submitted to that House for their suppression. But those measures were accompanied by remedial measures, and ultimately the causes of complaint were removed. The Attorney General for Ireland some time ago said, he had quite prepared, and would soon produce, a Bill on Tenant Right. He would ask, was this Tenant Right? The right hon. and learned Gentleman had mentioned that there were several persons, in a proscribed list, and sentenced, and from what he had stated it might be supposed their execution was imminent. He thought that statement should not have been made unless the right hon. and learned Gentleman was prepared to substantiate it. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had also alluded to Ribband conspiracies; but he contended that the Ribband associations were originated for the purpose of protection against the outrages committed by the armed members of the Orange associations. Under the Government of Lord Clarendon he should have opposed the giving these extra powers to the Executive in Ireland; and from the tone and feeling displayed by the present Government he saw no reason why they should be more trustworthy. He thought that a party engine of this nature was dangerous if left in the hands of those now exercising power in Ireland, and that Irish Members were bound to use every endeavour to prevent the Bill being passed. Unaccompanied as it was by any ameliorative measures, he would do his utmost to defeat it, and he should certainly divide the House upon the question.


said, he would support the hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. Lawless) in his opposition to this measure. He thought it unfair of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Napier) to bring an exparte statement before the House, framed upon the evidence taken before the Committee on Crime and Outrages in Ireland, when that evidence was not yet in the hands of Members. He (Mr. Scully) was a member of that Committee, and he knew the evidence extended to upwards of 6,000 questions. Until that evidence was thoroughly understood and thoroughly sifted, how could the House fairly decide upon continuing the system of coercion commenced in 1847? It was all very well for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to say this was not an invasion of the rights of individuals—that it was not a suspension of the Constitution; but he wanted to know whether the making a man liable to two years' hard labour for having arms in his house was not an infringement of the constitutional rights of the subject. Was such the state of the law in England or in Scotland? Another objectionable feature was the saddling upon proclaimed districts the expense of a police force, for the parties who were compelled to pay it were often entirely innocent. The Lord Lieutenant would have the arbitrary power to send 300 or 500 policemen to any part of Ireland. That might be very useful on the occasion which was just approaching, to keep the country quiet, that the candidates might have the support of the Government at the next election; but it was not the less unjust to make innocent districts pay the penalty for crimes of which other districts had been guilty. Another very severe clause, which did not exist in England or Scotland, was that by which constables, when a crime was committed, might call upon all individuals to follow the perpetrators of it, and if they refused, they were made guilty of a misdemeanour, Reverting to the subject of the Crime and Outrage Bill, he must complain that the witnesses proposed by those who agreed with him in opinion, had been almost unanimously rejected. The House would be surprised when he stated, that the first re- solution proposed by the Attorney General for Ireland, in the Committee of which he was the Chairman, was in substance for the continuance of this Act for a limited period; and that after discussion the Committee rejected the resolution. The evidence given before the Committee was very important; that of the assistant barrister for the county of Monaghan showed that Acts of this nature were totally useless and unnecessary. Another witness stated that there had been no evidence of crime resulting from conspiracy since the late Special Commission. Why, then, in the face of such evidence, require this Bill? It had been stated that the prime movers of this Ribband conspiracy consisted only of some ten or twelve persons, and those of the lowest class and well known to the magistracy and to the Government. He contended, that in justice to the people who were assailed by this Bill, namely, the members of the Ribband societies—the members of other societies should be dealt with in a similar manner. They were all secret societies, and if they put down Ribbandism they ought to put down those societies with which Ribbandism had always been in a state of antagonism. The whole case appeared to him to be entirely a party measure. It was clearly proved before the Committee that these crimes arose principally from the disorder in the relations between landlord and tenant; and when the Bill was first introduced in 1847, they were promised remedial measures. Five years had elapsed, and he wanted to know what had become of the remedial measures which both the late and the present Government had promised? In the absence of those measures he thought it unfair and unjust to ask the House to give their assent to the renewal of the Bill. He could not see why the Act should extend to twenty-one counties in Ireland. He thought no cause had been shown for its continuance in many of those counties. The criminal returns proved a general decrease in the numbers of offenders and outrages. In Ulster, in 1849, the number of committals was 6,370; in 1850, 5,260, or showing a decrease 17"66 less per cent. In Munster, in 1849, the number of committals was 17,179; in l850, 12,773, showing a decrease of 25 per cent. In Leinster, in 1849, the number of committals was 11,636, and in 1850, 9,198, showing a decrease of 20 per cent. In Connaught, in 1849, the number of com- mittals was 6,784; in 1850, 4,095, showing a decrease of 39.7 per cent. The particulars of crimes gave the same result. The cases of murder in Ireland were in 1847, 117; in 1848, 195; in 1849, 170; and in 1850 they had fallen to 113. The same was the result in assaults, and in all those crimes which arose from the disorder in the relations between landlord and tenant, with very few exceptions. He would take the opportunity of asking why the annual returns of crime in Ireland for 1851 were not yet delivered, when the returns for the year previous were dated in April? He presumed it was because it bore out what he had stated, that crime had greatly decreased; and in proof of that statement he could appeal to the charges of the Judges, who, through the grand juries, congratulated the country upon its improved condition. He maintained that Orange societies ought to be put down as well as Ribband associations, and that this was an entirely party measure. He regretted that the land question, which was admitted to be at the bottom of all the crime in Ireland, had been left untouched by the present Government, though they had objected, not to the principle, but to the details, of the Bill brought in by the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. W. S. Crawford). It was not just to continue coercive measures under such circumstances, and he, for one, would give every opposition in his power to the Bill.


said, he had opposed every proposition that had been made for coercive measures in Ireland, upon the ground that they had not been accompanied by remedial measures. He did not impugn the sincerity of the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite in promising remedial measures for Ireland, but many difficulties might arise in the meantime, and his Government might not be in existence when he was ready to bring them forward. The people of Ireland, therefore, might be disappointed. He should, therefore, oppose this Bill.


said, he considered that no case had been made out to justify the House passing this measure. It would not touch Ribbandism; if they wished to put that down they must grant remedial measures. Such Bills as these took all responsibility away from the Government. The Lord Lieutenant had sufficient power to suppress the crimes to which this Bill related, but the Government shrunk from the responsibility. Such a law as this was wholly ineffectual for its purpose. Good men would not require it, and bad men would resist it. [Cries of "Divide!"] He knew the object of those cries. Ministers wanted another "count out." He would sit down upon condition that they were not to be forced to a condition—


said, he objected to a Bill of this kind, as being an isolated measure, without any regard to the social wants of the people of Ireland. The Bill gave the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland the power to send any amount of constabulary force to a proclaimed disturbed district, and thus to make the innocent pay for the offences of the guilty. The Bill also gave power to any common constable to search the person of any of Her Majesty's subjects for arms in a proclaimed district, and this was an unconstitutional power which he could not consent to give. Another reason why he would oppose the Bill was, that the Government had not given notice of their intention to introduce it, until after the evidence given before the Crime and Outrage Committee had been closed. He denied that the Government was in possession of any materials to warrant them in asking for extraordinary powers. He had been taunted for taking a different course on this occasion to that which he did on a similar measure when formerly introduced. But he felt he was perfectly consistent in supporting a measure under special circumstances when he believed that a case was made out for it; and in opposing a similar one under other circumstances when no case had been made out to justify its being enacted as a law. In 1846, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, when speaking in the debate on the Coercion Bill introduced by the late Sir Robert Peel, said— For my own part, I should be, under any circumstances, loth to join in passing a Coercion Bill for Ireland. If I saw such a Bill recommended by a majority of the Members for Ireland, on whatever side of the House they may sit, I should certainly come to its consideration with feelings very different to those with which I entertain this measure; which all the Irish Members opposite oppose as tyrannical, and which most of the Members for Ireland behind me denounce as futile. But, Sir, I cannot forget that this is not the first Coercion Bill which Ireland has been supposed to require, which we have passed, and which have been so ineffectual that there have been repeated appeals to us for novel powers."—[3 Hansard, lxxxvii. 518.] But there then followed some very remarkable words from the right hon. Gentleman, not as demonstrating any inconsistency in his conduct, but as showing that men might take a different course of action under different circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman said— I, for one, am not prepared, under any circumstances, to support a Coercion Bill which shall stand isolated, and be taken into consideration without reference to the social state of Ireland generally."—[Ibid.] Those were the words of the right hon. Gentleman in 1846, and now, in 1852, he was supporting this Bill. It had been stated that Government had been most anxious to deal liberally with the people of Ireland, and in the address of the right hon. Gentleman to his constituents the other day, he used these remarkable words, "The claim of Ireland to the consideration of Parliament is irresistible." Had not the Members for Ireland, then, a right to complain that a Government who made such declarations as these should not introduce any Bill for Ireland except this one Bill, which had been properly characterised as a measure of coercion? The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland had put the facts in an exaggerated form. He (Mr. Keogh) had in his hand a comparative statement of crime and outrage in Ireland for the years 1849, 1850, and 1851. The numbers of persons arrested for such crimes in 1849 was 203; in 1850, was 139; and in 1851, was 157. The number arrested for offences against the person in 1849 was 98; in 1850 was 66; and in 1851 was 50, showing a decrease of 50 per cent. It was proved that these crimes were limited to a particular district in Ireland of about eight or nine miles in diameter; and was it for those crimes that Parliament was to inflict a Bill of this description on the whole people of Ireland? The evidence of Mr. Major, the assistant barrister of Monaghan, who was a most distinguished member of the Irish bar, and had been engaged in administering justice for twenty years in the very county where these crimes were alleged to have occurred,—the evidence of that gentleman had not been referred to by the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland. In answer to a question, Mr. Major said— There was an Act of Parliament which enabled the Lord Lieutenant to proclaim counties, and it was put in force in the particular district to which he referred, but it had been perfectly abortive. As far as his experience went, he was not aware of any good resulting from it. He was then asked, "What was the effect of proclaiming a county?" to which he replied— There were two proclamations—the first proclamation prohibited persons in that district from exhibiting arms, and the second required them to bring in their arms. The effect of that, as far as he had any information, was, that all the persons who were well-disposed and were possessed probably of arms for the protection of their properties and families, would obey the law of the land and bring in their arms. Persons who had arms for protection brought them in or took their licences; but persons who were disposed to keep their arms for other purposes than those of protection, retained and concealed them. Arms might be sought for; but, as for finding them, he believed there was no instance of any large number being found. As far as his experience of that law went, he should say it was perfectly abortive. That was rather a poser to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, who had actually summoned that witness before the Committee. And yet the right hon. and learned Gentleman now asked Parliament to continue that Act in force. But there was a still higher authority in England, for the Earl of Derby, speaking of this measure in 1847, said— He could not avoid stating his opinion that he would be astonished if it were found sufficient; he thought the Bill was wholly insufficient, and not at all calculated to cope with the principal part of the evil. If that were so, he did not think the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland would change that opinion, when he (Mr. Keogh) stated in 1847, before the Act, the crimes were 620; that in 1849, after the Act, they rose to 957; and in 1850 they reached 1,013—clearly showing that the very existence of the Bill was perfectly consistent with the existence of crime. How the hon. Gentleman he then saw opposite to him could reconcile the passing of this Bill after what had been both written and spoken within the last fourteen days, he was at a loss to understand. But of this he was perfectly certain—no matter how eloquent in expression his statement might be—that he who out of that House made one set of statements and avowed one description of principles, but who in that House made contrary statements, however well he might succeed for the purposes of a general election, would never be able to convince a people of quick capacity and discernment in the detection of deceit and fraud, that such a man cared one farthing for them, or that all his ideas were not concentrated in self-seeking and the love of power.


Sir, I quite agree that the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just addressed the House is not hound as to the vote he may now give by any vote he may have given on a similar measure some years ago. The hon. and learned Gentleman, of course, has a right to form a judgment from the circumstances which are placed before him; and if he should think the circumstances under which the present Bill is recommended for adoption, are different from those which were adduced for his consideration on a former occasion, undoubtedly the hon. and learned Gentleman would be perfectly justified in the course which he is now pursuing. The hon. and learned Gentleman has done me the honour of referring to some expressions which I used in the year 1846; but I do not for a moment recognise any similarity between the present measure and the one which I at that time opposed.


Your words were, that you would under any circumstances be loth to join in passing a Coercion Bill for Ireland.


Yes; but I do not think this is a Coercion Bill. It is not a measure of coercion; it is a measure of police. The Bill which was passed in 1846 contained a clause, enacting that no man should he out of his house after sunset, and the stringency of that clause led to its being called "the curfew clause." That was a provision which I could not sanction. I need not, I think, say more upon that subject. I should not be prepared to sanction any measure, even like the present, speaking totally irrespective of what occurred in 1846, if a clause of that kind were included in it; especially if it were unaccompanied by any measure of a remedial character. I am not aware that the present Government have shown any disposition to evade the sentiments which were expressed by me on that occasion. It is not, and has not been, as the hon. and learned Gentleman must be well aware, in our power to introduce any measure in the present Session having reference to the social condition of Ireland. My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland has at this mo- ment three measures actually prepared relating to Ireland, one of them concerning the much-agitated question of landlord and tenant; but I may ask whether it has been in our power to introduce any of those measures to Parliament? I ask whether there is any person taking a candid view of the position of Her Majesty's Ministers, and of the temper which has been shown by the House of Commons generally as to the transaction of public business, who is of opinion that it has been in our power to introduce those measures? Under what circumstances, then, do we find ourselves placed? We find that this law has all but expired. We find at this moment that there are many persons in the gaols in Ireland awaiting their trial for grave offences under this law, who, if the law be not continued, will be at once discharged from those gaols. Now, what, I ask, would be the effect on public opinion in Ireland if such a thing should be allowed to take place? How much should we weaken the authority of the law, and how far should we encourage that state of tranquillity and order which we wish to foster, if we allowed the present Session to close in a state of circumstances which would give, as it were, a triumph to those who had violated not only the laws of the country, hut also those principles upon which the civilisation of Ireland and of every other country in the world alone depends? The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Keogh) denounces this as a coercive and tyrannical law, and he then turns round and says that he has unimpeachable authority to prove that it is a Bill which will be utterly futile in its operation; and the evidence on which he depends is that of Mr. Major, the assistant barrister of Monaghan, who, in his examination before the Committee, certainly did not speak of this law in terms of great panegyric; but, at the same time, the evidence of Mr. Major was not in favour of a law of a less restrictive power. I will just state what the system is which Mr. Major would wish to see established in Ireland. Mr. Major, on being asked whether he had not stated that certain other measures might be adopted which might supersede the necessity of any law of this nature, said—"Yes; and that in places where the necessity existed, such as in some particular parts of the county of Monaghan, he should give extended powers for domiciliary visits to the houses.' This is the great authority to which the hon. and learned Gentleman has referred. In support of his opposition to this coercive measure he adduces evidence which declares that the measure is much too mild. The policy recommended by Mr. Major (the highest authority in Ireland, according to the hon. and learned Member for Athlone) is not that mild and conciliatory legislation which we are recommending, but a legislation which would give extensive powers of domiciliary visits to houses. But this is not the only measure recommended by Mr. Major, and upon whose credit the hon. and learned Gentleman pins his faith. Mr. Major says, "There was an Act in Ireland which had expired for many years, called the Insurrection Act; he should not be disposed to re-enact that Act; it was one of great power, and had been very efficiently and very effectively used." These were the words of this high authority referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman; and how did he conclude? "He was not exactly prepared to propose an Insurrection Act." But, encouraged by the panegyrics of the hon. and learned Gentleman, I do not know but that Mr. Major may yet be bold enough even for that. He says that the Insurrection Act had had the effect of perfectly quieting the districts wherever it was applied; but that the powers given by the Act were so very unconstitutional, that he should be very slow to avail himself of such a law, or to recommend the re-enactment of it. He was, however, of opinion that some provision was desirable in particular cases, so long as dangerous conspiracies existed, that would be capable of suppressing those conspiracies, and that the Government of Ireland ought not to be altogether left to apply to Parliament to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act when such cases occurred; but that some provisional Act, the nature of which he was not then prepared to suggest, should be passed, by which the Executive should be armed with a power to apply a prompt and immediate remedy to such a state of circumstances as were existing in a part of the county of Monaghan. This is the description of evidence to which the hon. and learned Gentleman has referred. He was a distinguished member of the important Committee on Crime and Outrage; he has adduced testimony to warrant the policy he recommends, and to prove that this Bill is a coercive and tyrannical Bill; and that evidence recommends a course of policy which, if put into the shape of an Act of Parliament, would in- deed be a Coercion Act of the greatest severity. Circumstanced as Government are with respect to this law, how do they act? Have they shown any desire to avail themselves of Parliamentary aid to continue in the possession of any extraordinary powers, or to evade the responsibility which attaches to the Government to maintain the peace and good order of society by the ordinary laws of the country? Certainly not. But, at the same time, let the House consider that we cannot incur the responsibility of letting this law suddenly cease, when great criminals, who to-morrow would then be free, would be allowed to ravage society with impunity. And what, therefore, is the proposition we have made? We have asked that this law shall only continue until the 31st of December next, and to the termination of the then ensuing Session of Parliament. So that the question must necessarily be considered in the next Session of Parliament, or in the course of the next year, when the hon. and learned Gentleman and his friends might, indeed, attack the then existing Government who should propose the continuance of a coercive measure, if they did not accompany that proposition with the introduction of those remedial measures which I believe are necessary and practicable. The hon. and learned Gentleman has also referred to some expressions of mine which I used in an address to my constituents—expressions which I admit were well weighed, and not idly written. Those expressions conveyed accurately to the country what is the disposition of the Government on this important subject. Our feelings towards Ireland are those which we have uniformly expressed while in Opposition; and our policy with regard to Ireland will be the policy which we have always deemed essential to its welfare, namely, the development of the industrial resources of the sister island. But as yet we have had no chance of accomplishing any of these objects; in the meantime we address ourselves to the House to aid us in securing the tranquillity of the country, and in vindicating the majesty of the law.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 140; Noes 19; Majority 121.

List of the AYES.
Adair, R. A. S. Bailey, J.
Adderley, C. B. Baillie, H. J.
Alcock, T. Baldock, E. H.
Archdall, Capt. M. Bankes, rt. hon. G.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F.T. Herries, rt. hon. J. C.
Barrow, W. H. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Beckett, W. Hill, Lord E.
Beresford, rt. hon. W. Hope, Sir J.
Best, J. Johnstone, J.
Blair, S. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Bowles, Adm. Jones, Capt.
Bridges, Sir B. W. Jones, D.
Brisco, M. Knox, hon. W. S.
Bruce, C. L. C. Lacy, H. C.
Buck, L. W. Leslie, C. P.
Burghley, Lord Lockhart, W.
Carew, W. H. P. Long, W.
Chandos, Marq. of Lowther, hon. Col.
Clive, hon. R. H. Macnaghten, Sir E.
Cochrane, A.D.R.W.B. Mandeville, Visct.
Codrington, Sir W. Manners, Lord C. S.
Colvile, C. R. Manners, Lord J.
Conolly. T. Matheson, Col.
Corry, rt. hon H. L. Meux, Sir H.
Cotton, hon. W. H. S. Mullings, J. R.
Cubitt, M. Ald. Mure, Col.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Naas, Lord
Davies, D. A. S. Napier, rt. hon. J.
Deedes, W. Neeld,J.
Denison, E. Noel, hon. G. J.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. O'Brien, Sir L.
Drumlanrig, Visct. Packe, C. W.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Pakington, rt.hon.Sir J.
Duncan, G. Patten, J. W.
Duncombe, hon. A. Pennant, hon. Col.
Duncombe, hon. O. Pigot, Sir R.
Dunne, Col. Powlett, Lord W.
East, Sir J. B. Pugh, D.
Edwards, H. Repton, G. W. J.
Egerton, W. T. Russell, Lord J.
Evans, W. Sandars, G.
Farnham, E. B. Scott, hon. F.
Fellowes, E. Seymour, Lord
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Floyer, J. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Forbes, W. Spooner, R.
Forester, rt. hon. Col. Stafford, A.
Fox, S. W. L. Stanley, Lord
Freestun, Col. Stephenson, R.
Freshfield, J. W. Stuart, H.
Fuller, A. E. Tennent, Sir J. E.
Gallwey, Sir W. P. Thesiger, Sir F.
Galway, Visct. Thompson, Col.
Gaskell, J. M. Thornley, T.
Gilpin, Col. Trollope, rt. hon. Sir J.
Glyn, G. C. Verner, Sir W.
Gooch, Sir E. S. Vesey, hon. T.
Gordon, Adm. Villiers, hon. F. W. C.
Gore, W. O. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Granby, Marq. of Welby, G. E.
Gwyn, H. Wellesley, Lord C.
Halford, Sir H. Whiteside, J.
Hamilton, G. A. Whitmore, T. C.
Hamilton, J. H. Williamson, Sir H.
Hamilton, Lord C. Willoughby, Sir H.
Harris, hon. Capt. Wodehouse, E.
Harris, R. Young, Sir J.
Hayes, Sir E.
Heneage, G. H. W. TELLERS.
Henley, rt. hon. J. W. Mackenzie, W. F.
Herbert, H. A. Bateson, T.
List of the NOES.
Anstey, T. C. Cogan, W. H. F.
Butler, P. S. Collins, W.
Crawford, W. S. Scully, F.
Devereux, J. T. Scully, V.
Fox, W. J. Somers, J. P.
Higgins, G. G. O. Stuart, Lord D.
Humphery, Ald. Williams, J.
M 'Cullagh, W. T. Williams, W.
Magan, W. H. TELLERS.
O'Brien, Sir T. Keogh, W.
Pilkington, J. Lawless, C. J.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Attorney General for Ireland, Lord Naas, and Mr. Solicitor General for Ireland.

Bill read 1o.