§ (Lord Naas, Mr. Secretary Walpole, Mr. Attorney General for Ireland.)
§ [BILL 256.] SECOND READING.
§ Order for Second Reading read.
Sir, I can assure the House that a more unwelcome duty could not devolve upon any hon. Member than now devolves upon me in having to move the second reading of this Bill. I am fully sensible of the responsibility which the Government take upon themselves in recommending this measure to the House; 1911 and nothing but the absolute necessity which in their opinion exists for the continuance of the powers which were granted by Parliament early in this year could induce them at this period of the Session, or, indeed, at any period, to make such a proposition. When the Act which we now propose to continue was originally introduced into this House by the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir George Grey), he fully and accurately described the circumstances of the case as it then existed, and he showed to the House, and I think proved to it in great detail, the dangerous and treasonable nature of the Fenian conspiracy. The right hon. Gentleman then showed, not only by facts which were known to all, but by the information which was at the disposal of the Government, and also by papers which were proved at the trials that have taken place to have been in the possession of the Fenian prisoners, that this conspiracy was in no degree political, but that it was a conspiracy entirely of a rebellious character, whose only object was the annihilation of British power within the kingdom of Ireland, and the establishment of a Republic in that country. It is not necessary for me now to go over the ground which the right hon. Gentleman then traversed. There can be no doubt whatever in the mind of any man in this House as to the nature of that conspiracy, as to its design, or as to the means by which it was proposed by its members to carry it into execution. The facts were plain, they were admitted by all; and the House with readiness, at the invitation of the late Government, passed a Bill which suspended till the 1st of September next the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland. Sir, I believe that the power then intrusted by Parliament to the late Government was used by them with the greatest boldness and at the same time with the greatest prudence. I believe that every case was carefully inquired into by the late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland himself, and also, as far as he could, by my right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Chichester Fortescue). Numerous arrests were made, and persons who were known to be leaders of the movement were consigned to prison. But a better effect even than that caused by the consignment of these persons to prison was produced immediately after the passing of that measure; for a number of persons who were known to be engaged in these treason- 1912 able practices instantly left Ireland from the fear of coming under its operation; and I believe the great majority of them still remain out of the country. It is impossible to describe to the House the very great sense of security which these acts gave to all the loyal and well-disposed inhabitants of Ireland. It is impossible to overrate—and I can speak from personal experience—the very great sense of alarm which pervaded almost all classes in that country at the commencement of this year. I believe the immediate effect of the action of the Government was to restore confidence, and to induce many persons who, under a feeling of apprehension, had made arrangements for leaving Ireland, to remain in that country. Now, although the late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland cannot, I think, be said to have made any extravagant use of the powers intrusted to him by Parliament, still a great number of persons were arrested under the authority then given to him. We find that from the time when the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act came into operation, as many persons altogether as 756 have been arrested. Of that number there remained in custody on the 23rd of July last 339 persons. A few have been released since then; and I believe the number now in custody is something like 320. So that from the first passing of the Act until the 23rd of July 417 of these prisoners have been discharged from custody. A number of these persons were discharged upon the representations and applications of the United States Consul—as many, I think, as twenty-six. The condition invariably attached to the releases made at the instance of the Consul to the United States was that the persons so released should leave the country; and I believe that that condition has in every case been fulfilled, and that means have been taken to see that the parties thus promising to quit Ireland have really gone. That, Sir, is the present state of things. The Act which we ask the House to continue for some time longer will expire, as the House knows, on the 1st of September. But from every quarter I learn — from every authority whom I can trust in Ireland I learn—that it would be impossible, with any safety to the peace of the country, to liberate those 320 men all at once, and set them free in the unconditional manner which we would be obliged to adopt if the powers conferred by the Act were allowed to expire. It is perhaps well for the House 1913 to recollect who the persons remaining in custody under the provisions of this Act are. The mode of dealing with these persons in respect to their release, as practised by the late Government, has always been uniform. I believe that in every case a memorial has been presented, very careful inquiry has been made as to the circumstances of their arrest, as to the antecedents of the persons arrested, and also as to whether their release can be granted with safety; and that in every instance in which the Government were satisfied that those persons could be released without danger to the public peace, they in the most unhesitating manner restored them to freedom. But with regard to the 320 men now left in prison, many of them are men in favour of whom these strong representations have not been made. A great number of them are persons who, even if they have applied for their discharge, have not made any offer to leave Ireland, or have not been in a position to offer substantial bail for their good conduct should the Government see fit to discharge them. I am informed that numbers of these men still speak with confidence of the ultimate success of the conspiracy in which they have been engaged; that they profess to think that that conspiracy has been baffled only for a time, and that they make no secret of their intention to return, if possible, to those practices which have brought them into trouble. As the day for the expiration of the Act approaches, of course there is a greater disinclination shown by these persons to apply for their release. Therefore it is really a matter of the greatest importance that the Government should be armed with powers which should enable them to release these men upon taking security from them, as far as possible, that they will not use their liberty to resume those practices of which I am afraid they had for some time been guilty. And, Sir, one great reason for proposing the continuance of this Act is that the Government will have the power to release with safety a great number of men now in confinement; and I can assure the House that in dealing with these men it will be in no degree the desire of the Government to exercise any harshness towards them—on the contrary, the Government will be prepared to deal with them in the spirit of forgiveness. But, at the same time, we shall feel it our duty to take every security we can that they shall become no longer dangerous to the State. I hope the know- 1914 ledge that the Government have this power will make an impression on these persons, and that having seen the utter hopelessness of their design, and having, as many of them have done, endured a long imprisonment and undergone so much already, they will be inclined to offer to the Government—as many are able to do—a sufficient security to warrant us in allowing them to go free. That, I think, is one of the strongest arguments I could urge upon the House for the necessity of continuing these powers. But there is also another reason for continuing the Act which I cannot conceal from the House, and it is this—that this conspiracy, this movement does exist, I am sorry to say, in another country at this moment to a very great degree. If, Sir, this conspiracy existed solely in Ireland—if it were in no degree a plant of foreign growth—if it were entirely confined to the dominions of the Queen, it might then be a question whether, under present circumstances, it would be necessary to continue this Act in force, and we might have some hesitation in proposing its renewal. But the origin of the movement lies far away, within the confines of the great Republic at the other side of the Atlantic. In that Republic a great organization, numerous and wealthy, exists, making no secret of its objects, which are by all the means at its disposal to strive for the separation of Ireland from England. I need not remind the House that since the passing of this very Act the invasion of Canada has taken place — an act which shows how desperate are the designs of the members of this conspiracy, and to what lengths they are prepared to go. Had it not been for the magnificent behaviour of the Canadian people, for their loyalty and spirit, and for the manner in which they rose as one man to defend the colony from invasion, disastrous consequences might have ensued. There is one circumstance which the House must have witnessed with the greatest satisfaction—the conduct of the American Government on this trying occasion. Casting aside all other considerations, as soon as it was shown that any point of their territory was being used for attack on a friendly Power, the American Government acted in complete fulfilment of international obligations, and despatched generals and troops to stop by force the attempts of the invaders. The conduct of the United States Government in this transaction can never be recollected or referred to by the people of this country without grateful acknow- 1915 ledgment of the important service rendered, through which, in a great measure, the invasion of Canada became an utter and a miserable failure. But still, I am sorry to say, the organization goes on; and with such skill is it conducted, with such matchless audacity do the leaders put forward the most absurd statements, and announce the most atrocious designs, that they have succeeded in inducing great numbers of persons in America to believe that they are really in earnest, and that by their agency a great rising in Ireland will be effected, and a successful attempt made to separate Ireland from the British Crown. I believe there are at this moment thousands of persons in America who are persuaded of the truth of these assertions, and who have already subscribed and are prepared to subscribe further sums of money to carry those plans into effect. I should be sorry to attach undue importance to any statements made in America by the leaders of this movement; but it is right, in considering this subject, the House should know that meetings continue to be held, and to all appearance, and as far as we can judge, that there is no present chance of this movement in America subsiding. I read with some astonishment a speech delivered in the city of Boston as lately as the 10th of July last by the man Stephens, so well known in this country. I do not wish to create needless alarm by repeating his statements; but when one who has attained such great notoriety is able to collect a very large assemblage to listen to opinions such as he broadly and publicly put forward, the House, I think, will feel that the matter cannot be altogether passed over. Stephens said—We shall not give up the cause of Ireland until the power of Britain is broken on our soil; and it must be broken soon or never. 'Soon or never' is the motto of the men at home in Ireland, and this should be your motto—you of the Irish race here in America. There are thousands of true Irish patriots who are now living lives almost of outlaws on their native soil, who, spite of all their sufferings, are holding firmly together as a mass and power, equal to meet Britain on the battlefield, and to break British power in Ireland. [Cries of 'Give us a chance.'] My friends, you ask for a chance. I give you a chance; for here, to-night, in the name of the Irish people, I bind our race to action—to the final battle between England and Ireland, even on Irish soil this very year. And to prove to you how earnest I am in making that pledge, I solemnly declare to you, my friends and countrymen, here to-night, that sometime this year I myself shall be on Irish soil to meet whatever is before me. To-night, before this vast assembly of men, I solemnly bind myself, on my 1916 honour and the honour of the Irish people, to a struggle with England this year; but in making this pledge I trust, and, indeed, I am confident, that you here in America will not betray us.These sentiments were listened to and applauded by a large number of Irishmen in the great city of Boston. As long, therefore, as an organization such as this exists, even in a country so distant as the American Republic, it is necessary that the House should confer, and that the Government should hold the power of thwarting and stopping the designs and efforts of these men. Stephens does not state it as his intention to invade Ireland with numbers brought from the other side of the Atlantic. A proposal of that kind would be so absurd and Utopian that I cannot believe any man, even the most enthusiastic here or in America, could ever believe in the possibility of its being carried out. But in the latter part of his speech he does say that it is by Irishmen on their own soil he expects to be assisted. And he broadly states—what I believe to be entirely unfounded, but it shows the extent of the design and the objects of the conspiracy—that there are in Ireland a sufficient number of drilled men to enable him to carry out successfully a war with the full power and might of England. It is to guard against the mischief done by the constant transmission of information by agents from America that we ask the House to continue these powers. They have had the effect hitherto of scaring away a great many of these men, and I believe if this Act is continued it will succeed in preventing the arrival of emissaries whose only objects are disturbance and rebellion. If throughout the winter those persons in Ireland who sympathize with the movement—and I am afraid they are many in number—see that these American agents cease to arrive in the country, and hear no more of that which has been termed "The coming help" from the other side of the Atlantic, they will at last begin to recognize the folly and absurdity of the movement—to see that it is utterly and entirely hopeless. I am happy to say that in Ireland itself there are signs which we must all hail with delight—that the movement is to a great extent dying away; but still from time to time there are unmistakeable signs that it exists. I am sorry to say that in Dublin there is still a press which weekly transmits throughout the length and breadth of the land the most treasonable writings and the broadest sedition; a press unrivalled 1917 in the misrepresentations and falsehood of its productions, read by persons who scarcely read anything else. As long as that press continues to exist and to pour forth its seditious writings it is impossible that it should not be attended with pernicious effects. Drillings of men have also, I am sorry to say, occurred in particular districts. Shortly before Lord Kimberley left Ireland it was represented to the Government that drillings were taking place in the western part of the county of Cork. Means were taken to obtain information, and it was found that three men who were known to have left the country immediately on the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in the early part of this year had returned to the neighbourhood. Lord Kimberley very properly issued warrants for the arrest of those three men; and it is a remarkable fact that these drillings, which had been very constant in the neighbourhood for some weeks previously, immediately ceased, and no attempt whatever was made to renew them. This shows how valuable is the power conferred by this Act, and how immediate is its effect in stopping practices which are in themselves unlawful and which cause great alarm and uneasiness to all loyal and well-disposed persons in the country. I have no hesitation in Baying that, if Parliament does not continue in the hands of the Government the power given by this Act, very great alarm will be experienced in Ireland. The great mass of the loyal and well-disposed residents and holders of property in Ireland fully expect that Parliament will sanction the proposal of the Government. I think I have shown the necessity of the course, and I hope the House will feel no hesitation in adopting it. I believe I am accurate in stating that the late Government approve the course we propose to take. I am authorized to declare that the late Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Lawson) believed the continuance of this Act to be necessary, and the late Lord Lieutenant (Lord Wodehouse), I believe, will state in the other House of Parliament that, in his opinion, a necessity does exist for the course which we propose. I am aware of the responsibility devolving upon a Government that proposes such a measure, and of the responsibility attaching to those Members of the Government who have to carry the Act into execution. I sincerely hope the passing of this Act may, in operation, turn out to be nothing more than 1918 an act of precaution, and that it may place in the hands of the Government the power of releasing many now in prison, proper precautions being taken to prevent their engaging or continuing in treasonable practices. I believe that these powers, exercised as they were by the late Government, and exercised as they will be by the present Government, will in no degree interfere with any of the liberties or the rights of the great majority of Her Majesty's subjects. They will be exercised in a manner totally different from that in which they might be carried into effect under a despotic Government, for the Ministry will be responsible to that House and to Parliament for the course which under the provisions of the Bill they might take. The powers which the measure will give the Government will, I can assure the House, be exercised under a deep sense of that responsibility. The strictest inquiry will in every case be instituted before they are put in force, and persons will be deprived of their liberty only when after such inquiry it is manifest they cannot be allowed to continue at large without risk to the public safety. Before I sit down I wish to say a few words with respect to the Resolutions which the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) proposes to move, by way of Amendment, to the second reading of the Bill. The first of those Resolutions affirms—That the same state of things on which the late Government justified their application to Parliament to suspend the Constitution in Ireland no longer exists.I am happy to think that precisely the same state of things does not prevail now; but, then, it is only a question of degree, and I must remind the House, that so far as the statement contained in the second Resolution—to the effect that the supremacy of the law has been vindicated by the ordinary tribunals of the country—is concerned, when the Bill of the late Government was introduced the State trials were over, and that it was because the right hon. Gentleman the late Home Secretary found that the steps which had been taken were not sufficient to meet the emergency that he had invited the House to pass the measure. So far as relates to the administration of the law, therefore, it cannot be said that the state of things at present is different from that which existed when the Bill was first submitted to Parliament. With reference to the next two Resolutions, which relate to the di- 1919 minution of crime in Ireland, as disclosed at the present assizes, and the absence of political excitement, I could only say that I, in common with every Member of that House, must feel grateful for the existence of the state of things which they affirm. There was never, I believe, at any time a greater absence of ordinary crime in Ireland, or fewer symptoms of a disposition on the part of the great body of the people to have recourse to outrage or misconduct of any kind. To the Resolutions which embody that view, therefore, inasmuch as they merely declare that which is the truth, I can offer no objection, save in so far as they are proposed in the shape of an Amendment to the second reading of this Bill. The two last Resolutions, however, raise questions in connection with which there may be some difference of opinion. They seem to imply that the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) is under the impression that there is something in the legislation of Parliament for many years past which has promoted, and which may have been the cause, of the Fenian organization. In that view I cannot concur. I would be understood as speaking especially in reference to those who were directly engaged in the conspiracy; but the opinions, writings, and speeches of those men tend, I think, entirely to disprove the assumption that bad legislation has been in any degree the cause or provocation of the movement. They do not seek for improvements in the law — on the contrary, their object is to uproot all law. Their efforts are not directed to bringing about changes in our legislation — they demand revolution, plainly avowing it to be their intention, if possible, to destroy the authority of the Crown in Ireland, and upon its ruins to establish a republic. How is it possible, I would ask, that men entertaining such designs can be influenced by any legislative action on the part of this House? There is, therefore, in my opinion, in connection with the Fenian movement, nothing which shows that Parliament is in the slightest degree to blame for its development. Without wishing to introduce into the discussion any topic which would be likely to give rise to controversy, I may observe that there are two questions relating to Ireland which have been much debated of late years—the question of the Established Church in that country and the land question. Is it possible to suppose that any action 1920 which Parliament may have taken with regard to those two subjects can have in the slightest degree affected the Fenian movement? Can it be said that men who openly avow it to be their intention and determination to upset everything in Ireland, and who by their acts show their disobedience and contempt of the mandates even of their own clergy, can feel any interest in the maintenance of the Established Church? Is it possible to believe that men who distinctly declare that they will, if successful, confiscate and appropriate to their own use the whole of the property of the country, busy themselves for a moment about such questions as, whether compensation should or should not be given to a tenant for the improvements which he may have made on his farm? For my own part, I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that the leaders of the movement do not appear to be influenced by any considerations which could be brought to bear by means of any legislation to which Parliament could give its assent. I am, however, at the same time, very far from saying, that that is a good reason for maintaining that there is no necessity for further legislation with respect to that country. I feel myself obliged with great sorrow to admit that considerable discontent prevails in the South of Ireland. I should not, indeed, be performing my duty, if I attempted to conceal that which everybody knows. I entertain the honest conclusion, therefore, that while the Government are bound to use every legal means in their power to repress treason, and to protect the loyal and well-disposed subjects of the Queen, it is not less their duty to take into their earnest consideration, and to propose to Parliament any legislation which may appear calculated to promote improvement in the condition of the people. The whole course of legislation since the passing of the Emancipation Act has evinced the most earnest desire on the part of this House to benefit the people of Ireland, and I think no man can truly say that Parliament has been neglectful of the interests of that country. If any hon. Member will look back on what has been the course of legislation towards Ireland for the last thirty-five years; if he will reflect how, ever since the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, every question affecting her welfare has been repeatedly discussed, and how measures tending to benefit her population have been passed into law, he can scarcely, I 1921 think, stand up and say that Parliament had been neglectful of her interests. It would be idle to enter into a detailed account of the measures relating to Ireland, and having in view her advantage, which have within the period to which I refer received the sanction of the Legislature. Suffice it to say, that in the history of no country will it, I believe, be found that so many beneficial changes have within the same space of time been introduced. Every one of those changes was, I feel assured, made with an anxious determination on the part of the House to ameliorate the condition of the Irish people. Many of them, at the same time, have not proved so successful as could he desired in promoting the objects which their authors had in view. They, therefore, require revision and alteration, and I feel firmly convinced that their discussion will again be approached by the House in the same spirit in which they were originally brought forward. For myself, and the Government with which I am connected, I can only say that we are animated by the greatest desire to deal with Ireland in a liberal and generous spirit. I can only say, in conclusion, that should I, representing the Government in that House on Irish matters, be so fortunate as to propose and carry any measures which may have the effect of smoothing some of the ancient asperities, or healing any of the old sores which still exist in Ireland, I shall be fully satisfied with the course I have taken, and shall feel success to be an ample reward for the many years of anxious consideration I have given to every measure affecting that country.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Lord Naas.)
§ MR. MAGUIRE,
who had given notice on the second reading of the Habeas Corpus Suspension (Ireland) Act Continuance Bill to move the following Resolutions:—That the same state of things on which the late Government justified their application to Parliament to suspend the Constitution in Ireland no longer exists:That the supremacy of the Law has been sufficiently vindicated in the ordinary tribunals of the Country:That the Assizes just brought to a close have in all instances displayed a most extraordinary and gratifying diminution of crime, and, in many instances, a complete absence of serious offences, either against property or person:That there is likewise an utter absence of political excitement of any kind whatever:1922That measures of repression unaccompanied with measures of a remedial character tend rather to aggravate than lessen those evils in which perennial discontent and periodical disaffection have their origin in Ireland:And, that a wise, generous, and thoroughly liberal policy is that which is alone calculated to promote the material prosperity and contentment of the Irish people, while adding to the strength and enhancing the moral dignity of the Empire,said: Sir, I have listened with the greatest attention and deepest anxiety to the speech of the noble Lord who has just sat down, and I confess I have not been disappointed, for, in the course of my experience, I never heard so grave a demand made upon Parliament upon so futile and miserable a case, or supported by arguments so poor, inconclusive, and unsatisfactory. No doubt the noble Lord has done his best for his purpose; as if he were of opinion that a further suspension of the constitution in Ireland was necessary, it was his duty of course to make out the best case he could to induce Parliament to agree to his proposition. The noble Lord says the constitutional liberty of Ireland must still be suspended; that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the stipendiary magistrates, and the police are to rule that country with unlimited sway for the next six or eight months, be cause some 300 persons are pining in prison, some of whom are too poor to obtain legal assistance, some of whom have no friends, and some of whom are still so strong in their opinion that they will not ask for mercy of the Executive. If the noble Lord had entered into an analysis showing the number of prisoners who could not get bail, the number who were too poor to employ a professional man to assist them, and the number who would not make any appeal for mercy, I do not think fifty would be found among the prisoners who are not most anxious to escape from the terrible bondage to which they are now subjected. I may say that from my own knowledge I do not believe there are fifty men, out of the whole number now in custody, who would not be glad to get out, and who would not willingly enter into any guarantee which could be demanded of them never again to take part in the Fenian conspiracy, or in any illegal confederacy whatever. But while the noble Lord at one moment excites alarm he allays it the next. He is too truthful not to admit that Fenianisim has died out, or has nearly died out. There are, we know, old women in every country, in various gar- 1923 ments, and of both sexes, and there are a great many persons, no doubt, who are only too anxious to maintain those extraordinary powers in order to advance their own selfish interests or designs. Now, let us see what Earl Russell said in 1848, when, for the ninth time since the Union, a similar demand to the present was made. In 1848 Lord John Russell expressed the same sort of pain at being compelled to suspend the constitution in Ireland as the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland has done to-night, and he added—It appears to me that it is absolutely necessary that I should prove three things as the grounds of my proposition. One is, that the present state of things in Ireland is fraught with evil—that it threatens danger—and that we are on the eve of an outbreak if it is not timely prevented."—[3 Hansard, c. 697.]Now, I ask, where is the evil? The noble Lord does not venture to describe it. Where, I ask, is the danger? The noble Lord cannot find it. And what chance, I ask, is there of an outbreak in Ireland? As much as there is of rebellion in Downing Street. Why, Sir, there is no more chance of an outbreak in Ireland at present than there is that the present occupants of the Treasury will, without a hostile vote, give up their places to the Opposition. The noble Lord must admit that there is nothing in the present state of Ireland which calls for the suspension of the constitutional liberties of that portion of the Empire. The state of things which existed early in the present year was very different to that which prevails now. When in February last the late Government proposed the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, my hon. Friends and I did not deny then that a great crisis had arrived, and that the Government was justified in asking for extraordinary powers; but all we did, or intended to do, by the vote which we gave on that occasion, was to enter our protest against that system of dealing with Ireland, and the impolicy of withholding those measures, which in our consciences we believed necessary for the safety of the country. At that time there were some 500 or 600 American emissaries, or rather Irish Americans, going through every portion of Ireland, and carrying on their operations, as has been remarked, "under the very nose of the Government." There was intense excitement; there was sullen animosity; and there was a strong belief on the part of the people, certainly, in the South of Ireland, that help would come from Ame- 1924 rica. I think it is of great importance that English Members should carry these facts with reference to the state of Ireland and the causes of discontent in their minds, so that when we meet next year we may find the benefit of their thoughtful consideration in just and generous measures towards Ireland. I am aware that many Members of the American Government charged us during the Civil War in the United States with injustice towards them and towards the American people. Now, I have always proclaimed my belief, and I here repeat my deliberate expression of that belief, that the late Government acted fairly towards the belligerents; but that, unfortunately, was not the belief of the American people, or of the Irish in America. The latter thought they would avail themselves of the animosity which prevailed in America against England, and they believed the American Government would not molest the Irish in any attempt they might make to carry out their designs against England. At the risk of popularity—and every man wishes to be popular with the party to which he belongs—and in the face of every misconception, I endeavoured to expose the absurdity of the idea that the American Government would permit the violation of its Neutrality Laws, or allow an armed force to leave its territory to invade that of a friendly Power. The mass of the people of Ireland did not, however, understand the niceties of International Law. They believed not only in the exasperation of the American Government and people, but in the power of the Fenians to do what they liked; and they believed not only that there would be an outbreak, but that the time for the rising had been actually fixed. The noble Lord has spoken of the "magnificent conduct" of the people of Canada; and I hope the noble Lord will take to his heart the moral which that conduct implies. The Canadians, it should be remembered, are a well-governed people. They have religious equality, free institutions, and perfect security for the possession of their land. No man, from political motives, caprice, avarice, or cruelty, could turn them adrift as beggars on the world, as the Irish tenants have been. In fact, they have all that freemen could desire. I, too, admire the loyalty of the Canadians; but their loyalty was not a sentimental feeling of devotion to England, but a sincere affection for their own or their adopted country and the institutions under which 1925 they live and flourish. The noble Lord ought, I think, to have reserved his praise for the conduct of the American Government. The Canadians were worsted in the first conflict with the Fenians, and if it had not been for the material assistance rendered by the American Government, who sent their best generals and their best troops to the spot, and thus prevented a real struggle, the most serious consequences to Canada and England might have ensued. As the Government of a free people, it could do nothing so long as the Fenians confined themselves to words; but the moment the words were followed by deeds, and an overt act of invasion was attempted, the American Government put forth its strength on that occasion, and it was the American Government, rather than the Canadian Volunteers or the British troops, that defeated the Fenian movement in Canada. Now, I know how anxiously every day's tidings from America were watched in Ireland, and that it required a succession of vigorous acts on the part of the American Government—acts of treason to them, as the Fenians imagined—to obliterate from the minds of the Irish people the delusion under which they had so long laboured. But now, I venture to say that the great mass of the people of Ireland, however ignorant of the principles or niceties of International Law, know this, that the American Government will put down every similar movement, as it put down that which was directed against Canada. The noble Lord has given us, in justification of his policy, a statement made by a well-known gentleman, Mr. Stephens, to the effect that the Fenians of America are about resorting to still more desperate measures—that Ireland is now to be invaded instead of Canada. Whatever may have been the feeling in Ireland six months since, there is no more fear of a Fenian invasion there now, than there is that the Americans will declare war against England next week. And as to that alarming bombshell which the noble Lord has thrown on the table, it was calculated to make a painful impression on any one of weak nerves; but I could tell the noble Lord of something still more terrible. If I were to tell the noble Lord of things said by O'Mahony and Roberts—both of whom, if I mistake not, are County Cork men—I venture to say the noble Lord's hair would stand on end, and would not be got smooth again for a fortnight. But the fact is that not only have these men — Stephens, 1926 O'Mahony, and Roberts—had many disputes—fought as fiercely as the celebrated Kilkenny cats—but that the watchful eye of the American Government is upon their movements. Stephens is the only man of them capable of effecting anything worthy of serious attention, and it is evident that he can do nothing among his countrymen in America, or amongst the Americans themselves, in consequence alike of the action of the American Government, and the suspicion of his good faith, which is general amongst his countrymen in the States. I believe that Stephens is a sincere enthusiast, and not "a British spy," as it has been asserted he is; but amongst the great majority of Irish Americans—amongst a very great number of them—the general feeling is derogatory to his character; and certainly, there is in Ireland no thought or expectation of an invasion to be effected in a few months under his auspices. Now, I think I have shown that there is a different state of things at present existing in Ireland to what there was some time since. The organ of the Fenian movement has almost been obliterated from memory. The leaders of the Fenian movement in Ireland are suffering the most terrible punishment that, next to death itself, any Government could inflict on those who violate its law. The organization has utterly broken down—the conspiracy is shattered; and as to armed resistance in support of it, the idea of it does not exist in the country. The noble Lord endeavoured to alarm us by talking of recent drilling in the county of Cork. I have been in that county lately, and in frequent communication with all classes of persons there, and I declare that I never heard a word about such drilling, and I really think the story, however alarming it was intended to be, is not worth much consideration. The noble Lord will imagine, perhaps, when I come to speak of the absence of crime, that there is no connection between that and the absence of political excitement. The noble Lord, however, ought to feel pride as an Irishman at the absence of crime in his country. On this point, however, I feel it my duty to refer to the reports on the state of crime in Ireland which were made by the Irish Judges at the last Assizes, in order that I may place it on record that at a time when Ireland was entirely free from crime and all kinds of political agitation, and when a clause in an English Act which proposed to give a policeman some com- 1927 paratively trifling power was not allowed to proceed, the Government asked the House of Commons to agree to a Bill to suspend the constitution in Ireland. I will begin with the county of Tipperary, and there I think it has been shown that the ordinary law is sufficient of itself for the punishment of offenders. There was a Fenian case tried before the Judge in the South Riding of Tipperary, Two men were charged with having fired at a police. man and wounded him. One of these men was sentenced to twenty years, and the other to ten years penal servitude. In the North Riding another prisoner was charged with sheltering one of the two men so sentenced, and was acquitted. The other cases were few and simple. In Limerick there was a light calendar, which contained only one outrage connected with the Fenian movement. In Kerry there were only two offences, and one of a trivial character. I am speaking now from the public records of these assizes. In Waterford there were only three other cases, and the Judges congratulated the grand jury on the lightness of the calendar. In Wexford there were only two or three cases, and in Wicklow the Judges were presented with white gloves, the indication of a maiden assize. In Kilkenny Dr. Ball congratulated the grand jury on the peaceful condition of the county, only nine cases having to go before them for assaults, not one of them of an aggravated nature. At that assize there was not one of those agrarian offences, he remarked, that had convulsed the country in former times. That was the case in Kilkenny. In the Queen's county the Judges informed the grand jury that the cases to come before them would not exceed five. In Westmeath, too, there were only five, not one of which called for the observation of the Judges, who congratulated the grand jury on the general state of the county. In Fermanagh, the Judge congratulated the grand jury on the light state of the calendar, which he said he was also happy to find was a correct symptom of the state of the county. In Galway a similar state of things existed. In Drogheda the Judge received a pair of white gloves. In Down Judge Monahan said there were three or four cases for trial, and they were of a trivial character. In Donegal the Judge received white gloves; there was not one case for trial. In the King's County, Chief Justice Whiteside, who would have ornamented the Treasury Bench had he been present, 1928 and who deserved his elevation, on which I heartily congratulate him;—in the King's County, Chief Justice Whiteside said, "On looking at the calendar I observe a decided improvement—crime has very much decreased." In Antrim the cases were few and trivial, as also in Carlow. I now, Sir, come to the county of Cork, and the charge of Mr. Justice Fitzgerald to the grand jury, as it has a special bearing upon the question before us — whether there is really anything in the actual condition of Ireland to call for the suspension of its liberties. I also do it for the reason stated by the noble Lord, that there have been those recent drillings in that county with which he has so much startled us. Mr. Justice Fitzgerald having in the first instance congratulated the grand jury on the light state of the calendar, which contrasted so pleasingly with the state of things when he opened the Special Commission on the previous December, then dwelt on the necessity of arming the Executive with further powers to stamp out the embers of the rebellion or conspiracy which had then so painfully engaged the attention of the country; and he added—And I am induced, gentlemen, to make these observations because I find that, upon the calendar, so late as the 6th of May last, a very serious offence has been committed in the West Riding of the county. That is, gentlemen, that some persons were arrested, charged with being implicated in the Fenian conspiracy, that they were violently rescued from the police, and that a serious assault was made on the police in consequence. Gentlemen, that occurred on the 6th May last, in Macroom, in this county, and I cannot help calling it a very grave offence. We recollect well the conduct and deportment of the constabulary during a period of trial and difficulty, and possibly not unattended with danger; they are entitled to our entire support, and I think one will consider it as a very grave offence, a serious assault committed on the constabulary whilst in the performance of their duty, and especially if that assault has been committed with a view to frustrate the arrest of a person charged with so serious a crime as implication in the Fenian conspiracy.The court must have been crowded on this solemn occasion, while the grand jury were no doubt awe-struck at the gravity of the charge. The day for trial came, and one may imagine the excitement with which the awful revelations of this new Fenian case were awaited by a breathless audience. Nine young men were arraigned, a jury was empannelled, and the case proceeded; but, alas, for those who looked for a sensation case, the only reference to Fenianism made during the trial—the only 1929 piece of evidence in support of the terrible conspiracy—was, where a witness deposed that one of the prisoners wore a Fenian hat! This reminds me of another instance of quite as absurd a nature, which goes to show how a panic magnifies the most trifling piece of evidence into proof of something tremendous. A magistrate, whose name I do not like to mention, committed a man for no stronger reason that I could make out than that he had an American cent in his pocket—which circumstance he and the policeman regarded as very remarkable. But in the county of Cork case, notwithstanding the awful fact of the Fenian hat, eight out of the nine prisoners were acquitted, and but one was found guilty—of what? not of Fenianism, but of having, while drunk, resisted the police! Here was a labouring mountain bringing forth a ridiculous mouse with a vengeance. It is really important that the words of the Judge when summing-up should be given, as he relied upon this dangerous rescue of a Fenian as the reason why the present proposal of the Government to further suspend the Constitutional liberties of a people, should be assented to; and, moreover, as he represented the county and city of Cork as the most important centres of the Fenian organization. Here are his Lordships' words as reported—He said the case required their serious attention. The principal prisoner engaged in the transaction was Wiseman, to whose conduct the origin of the unfortunate row was due. He should say, however, that the row showed a very great want of discretion on the part of the policeman Coakley. That there was a breach of the peace there was no doubt, but it was also clear if there was more discretion and temper displayed on the part of the police there would not have been the very serious riot which had been. The better course for Coakley to adopt would have been, when he discovered Wiseman drunk, to send him home and summon him at the sessions, and there was no doubt that he would be properly dealt with; but instead of pursuing such a prudent course, Coakley, after asking Wiseman once to go home, and the latter seeming disinclined to obey him, Coakley put him under arrest, and hence the whole disturbance.I make the noble Lord a liberal present of that startling statement, and I am only sorry he did not fortify his speech with so tremendous a case. And now I come to the city of Cork, which, according to Mr. Justice Fitzgerald, was one of the great centres of the conspiracy; and we shall see how its condition justifies the unconstitutional demand of Her Majesty's Ministers. I must admit that a very griev- 1930 ous wrong was done to Baron Hughes by one of Her Majesty's defenders named John Knight, for had not that gallant hero taken it into his head to commit bigamy, that learned Judge would have received a pair of white gloves from the sheriff, there being no other case for trial. I shall read the words of the Judge. His Lordship, addressing the grand jury, said—Mr. Pike and gentlemen of the grand jury of the county of the city of Cork, I am happy to have to congratulate you upon the peace and tranquillity of your great city. The evidence of that is, not only the calendar, which presents only one case for trial at this assizes, but also the constabulary Inspector's report, in which the cases are very few, of the ordinary character, in such a population as your city contains, and nothing shown by that of a character to disturb the general peace and tranquillity of the country. Gentlemen of the grand jury, there is but one case for your consideration to-day. The charge is one of bigamy.Now, then, I think I have established two propositions—first, that the supremacy of the law has been vindicated in the ordinary tribunals of the country; and secondly, that the assizes have shown the most extraordinary and gratifying diminution of crime. But I make this statement also, that there is an utter absence of political excitement in the country. On that point I can bring an impartial witness into court—The Times' Correspondent, who is a well-informed gentleman, and, to my mind, in every way reliable. Writing from Dublin, July 28, he says—The excitement produced by Fenianism has completely subsided, and crime is at the lowest ebb. In several counties, during the assizes, the Judges have received white gloves, having had no criminal business brought before them. There has not, I believe, been in any of the counties a single case of agrarian outrage or combination of any kind.Here you have it distinctly stated that the excitement produced by Fenianism has completely subsided. But, I ask, could the excitement have subsided if there were any hope of assistance from connivance on the part of the American Government against this Government? Could it have subsided if there was any belief that Stephens, or Roberts, or O'Mahony was likely to succeed in his plans against Canada or Ireland? Now, I do not know that there is any other proposition which has been made by the noble Lord that I have to contend with. I believe the noble Lord must admit the main facts I assert, and I maintain that he has said nothing which proves it to be impossible to maintain the 1931 peace in Ireland except by a continuance of this Act. But the noble Lord goes farther, and ventures upon ground of the greatest gravity. In fact, I threw out a challenge to him, and the noble Lord has at least attempted to answer my Resolutions. One of my Resolutions condemns the use of repression, unaccompanied by remedial measures; and another insists upon the importance and advantage of adopting a liberal and generous policy towards Ireland. But, before I address myself to this part of the case, I may state some grounds of objection to the present proposal. One is as to the Ministers by whom it is made; the other is as to the time at which it is made. Many Gentlemen at this side of the House cannot give to hon. Gentlemen opposite the same confidence which they would have given to their predecessors in office, even though making the demand now made by the present Government. The reason as to time is, to my mind, one of much importance. When the late Government asked for this unconstitutional power Parliament was sitting. We had then the opportunity of controlling, or at least influencing, the acts of the Executive. I like to be candid and fair; and I must admit that the late Government did administer the law, as far as they could, temperately and mercifully. I believe that in no way did they overstrain their authority, and I have no terms but of admiration in which to speak of the conduct of the late Lord Lieutenant and his administration in Ireland. But the necessary operation of the law was cruel; and was it not stated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth, at that table, that actually some of those Fenian prisoners had to be taken from the county gaols because the authorities of those gaols would not yield to the suggestion or submit to the commands of the Executive? And what was the punishment? It was cruel and inhuman. Many, indeed the vast majority, of the prisoners were kept for twenty-two hours out of the twenty-four in solitary confinement. That in itself was a terrible punishment, and one full of danger to its victims; and but for two hours the prisoners—these untried prisoners—had a miserable excuse for exercise in exercise of a most irksome and painful nature. The Government had to interfere over and over again; but it was the exercise of their privilege by individual Members that called the attention of the Government to the facts, and induced the 1932 Government to interfere. Now, however, we cannot interfere with any such effect. Supposing the Government were to arrest 200 or 300 men in Ireland—I do not say they will, nor do I think they need, and I hope they will not—but suppose they did, what opportunity would there be of any Parliamentary action in favour of such unfortunate prisoners? Until this House meets in February the Government will be altogether independent of the wholesome control of Parliament, and no similar influence can be brought to bear upon their conduct. Then, again, I do not think that the policy enunciated by the noble Lord at the head of the Government in reference to Ireland is one that ought to inspire confidence in the House, and least of all in Irish Members, when he asks for these extraordinary powers. It is not one which ought to enlist the sympathy or obtain the approval of the Representatives of Ireland. While Mr. Whiteside sat in this House he was constantly declaiming against "Larcom and the police." What is now the meaning of the complaint made by the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby), that the country gentlemen, the magistrates of Ireland, have been kept too much in the background, while the police were intrusted with too much power? What is the meaning of the marked preference expressed by the noble Earl for magisterial as opposed to police responsibility? The noble Earl at the head of the Government has distinctly stated that, in his opinion, the gentry of Ireland have been too much neglected, and that they should now be taken more into the council of the Executive; that the late Government had been too fond of relying on the reports of the police, and that it was desirable to have reports supplied by the gentry. First, let me remark here what a dangerous thing it is to transfer power from the police to a body of men many of whom are carrying on a silent war against the peasantry as relentlessly as ever was waged in the days of Cromwell. In my opinion the policy is a dangerous one, and is more calculated to inflame discontent than to secure the public peace. As a proof of its danger I may mention a case which occurred the other day at Cork, where two respectable citizens, one of them the son of a Protestant clergyman, went into a billiard-room; whilst there at play they saw a gentleman looking at them through the window, and presently he came in followed by an inspector of police and four con- 1933 stables, and the inspector arrested both gentlemen. The charge against them was that one of them had said, "To h— with the Queen, and may the green flag wave over us!" The gentleman who had caused these young men to be arrested was the son of a magistrate. The charge turned out to be totally and entirely untrue. The magistrate's son endeavoured to evade the consequences of his folly; but an action being brought against him, he was mulcted in £75 before Master Burke. But though the charge so ended in the case of persons of good position, poor and helpless men would have languished in jail for many months to come. For my part I would trust to Larcom and the reports of the police rather than to the irresponsible power and reckless statements of men whose passions too often coloured what they saw. To my mind there is not much of promise in the policy of the new Government. In Ireland people were in the habit of regarding and describing the emigration as a great national calamity; but there is a division in the Cabinet already upon this subject. The Chief Secretary seems to think that the emigration was a scientific depletion, not a hæmorrhage, and that it was a necessary process for relieving the country of an increased population. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the other hand, thought it was a hæmorrhage—a wasting away of the powers of nature, and said that some styptic must be applied, and that in general measures some means should be found for arresting this outflow from a nation's life. In my view that emigration is a disgrace to this country and a calamity to Ireland; but I am not sanguine about the future under the new Government unless they bring in some comprehensive measure which will not practically turn into ridicule the tremendous description of the state of Ireland given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Now, the late Government did hold out some hope for Ireland. They introduced a Land Bill which was described on the opposite Benches as communistic and revolutionary. So far from its being so, it was a wise and thoughtful response to the earnest wishes of some thirty Irish Members, none of whom were either revolutionary or communistic in their ideas or principles, but who really sought to benefit Ireland substantially, and provide a practical remedy for her most serious grievance. That Bill has been described also as the result of a base bargain. It was no 1934 such thing. I have stood by the late Government during this Session because of their honest effort to deal fairly with a great and fundamental question—because of their yielding to the just and moderate demand of the representatives of the Irish people. In that spirit I stood by the Government through all the changing vicissitudes of a great political campaign; and were the same to take place over again, I would stand as loyally and faithfully by them as I did then. There was no base bargain; but when statesmen rose to the dignity of their position, and introduced measures which are really for the advantage of the country, they are entitled to the respect, the support, and the attachment of the people whom they desire to serve. Let the present Government now come forward with a just, generous, and liberal measure, and I should think myself unworthy to stand up in my place in Parliament if I did not give them also a loyal and generous support. The late Government acted in a fair spirit. They brought in their Bill, which was moderate in its character. The object of that Bill was to facilitate contracts, to enable the peasants of Ireland to improve their land without fear and without restriction; to give to the southern provinces of Ireland some faint shadow of that protection which has grown up under custom in the North of Ireland, and which no landlord anxious to maintain his character, or to preserve the peace of his county, would dare to violate for one moment. But the noble Lord the Chief Secretary, on the part of the Opposition, raised a clamour against that Bill which was incensate and mad. Volunteer whips went round requesting hon. Members to be in their places at a certain hour, if they did not wish to be "improved out of their property;" and in that way the Opposition were prepared to swamp the Government, and to deny the demand which was made by an almost despairing people. I wish I could believe that the Government are alive to the responsibility they have assumed, and will act up to the position in which they have placed themselves. The noble Lord has stated that land has nothing to do with emigration or discontent. I say that it is at the very root of it. If people are disaffected and discontented, ready to receive dangerous principles and to act upon them, I say it is because there is something radically wrong in the country. Even the beneficial measures brought in for this country have 1935 acted fearfully on the agricultural interests of Ireland. Ever since the famine time, war of class against class has been waged in Ireland, and on no field of battle have there ever been so many victims sacrificed as there have been in that country to the landlord power. Let me give the House one or two illustrations to show that the oppression practised by certain landlords was the origin of the emigration from Ireland, and that the cruel exercise of the irresponsible power possessed by their class has since given to it its enormous and dangerous development. In the year 1847 the famine came. But long before that the landlords, aware that they would have to bear a portion of the poor rate, had determined to anticipate the day that was coming by clearing their estates, and thus limiting their responsibility to the smallest possible extent. When the famine came a desperate impulse was given to the exercise of that fearful power. In four years 340,000 persons were evicted. In one year alone 200,000 were evicted. That was in 1849. But let me give the House one or two cases in point. The first case that I shall give came under my own personal knowledge. The same thing that was done in 1847 may be done at the present moment, and it is mainly upon that ground that we ask the Government to interfere by legislation which may afford some protection against injustice and oppression. I shall not mention names. Moreover, the gentleman of whom I am now about to speak is since dead. He possessed an estate in the county of Waterford. It was divided into lowland and upland, into valley and mountain. He had a number of tenantry on the lowland, and wishing to get possession of their farms, he said to them, "I will remove you from these farms, and I will give you mountain farms. If that will not satisfy you, you must go." They were tenants "from year to year." They had, therefore, no possible power of resistance, and were obliged to accept the alternative proposed to them by their landlord. They were sent to the mountain land. They reclaimed the land, and made it good. In course of time, through their hard labour, they became comfortable and prosperous, and regularly paid their rent; but the blight fell upon the land, and the result was that the moment these tenants who were driven to the mountain to till it, and who had reclaimed it, could not pay their rent, the word went forth that they should quit. I 1936 saw the ruined gables to which the people clung, and it is a fact that the landlord attended the relief committee, and literally closed the meal bag—would not allow a handful of meal to be given to those poor people until they and their children quitted the gables of their demolished houses. In 1849 Sir Robert Peel, standing at the table of the House of Commons, said that in the records of no country, civilized or savage, could there be found described a more awful picture of tyranny than that which he read from the accounts of Captain M'Kay of an eviction in Galway, and from Captain Kennedy of one in Kilrush. There were no less than 16,000 persons evicted in the union of Kilrush. Where did they go to? Many of them died by the ditch side, many sought shelter in the workhouse or withered away in a neighbouring town, and many were driven across the ocean. Here is the case of illegal eviction. The late Sir Robert Peel read this case at the table, and this was, amongst other things, the cause of legislation at the time, though of a trumpery character, absolutely necessary as affording a miserable relief to the victims of extermination. The inspector said it would appear from the evidence recorded that the forcible ejectments were illegal; that notices had not been served; that the ejectments were perpetrated under circumstances of great cruelty, the time chosen being, for the greater part, midnight, on the eve of the new year, the very hour when the Christian heart bows down in gratitude to God—the eve of the most solemn festival of the church—that the occupiers were forced out of their houses with their helpless children, and left exposed to the cold on a bleak western shore on a stormy night, that some of the children were sick, and that the parents implored that they might not be exposed, that their houses might be left standing till the morning; but that their prayers for mercy were vain, and that many of them had since died. Now, in the other case which Sir Robert Peel read, there was this awful spectacle to be seen in one cabin where the evicted had taken refuge:—the father was lying dead upon the floor; the mother was in the last stage of dysentery, and the two starving children were lying asleep across the body of their dead father. In another instance, Captain Kennedy described how a wretched man left the stones he was breaking and rushed across a wild moor to where a fire was blazing. The agents of the landlord were 1937 burning the hovel which that man had raised with his own hands after he had been driven out of his home, and this course was adopted "to get rid of him" for ever. But there were landlords who took other means to get rid of the people. I know that in one property in the county of Kerry £20,000 was spent for the purpose of deporting the people, and they were flung in such a state of abject and squalid misery upon the quays of New York, that the American Government, for self-protection, had to impose a tax upon Irish emigrants. Were the landlords, then, not the cause of the emigration? We were told the Incumbered Estates Court would give relief to Ireland. It gave relief only to a certain class; but it gave no relief whatever to the tenant occupiers of Ireland. They were handed over as the sheep, the horses, or the oxen, to the next proprietor, who had full power to deal with them as he thought fit, they having no possible security against removal. What happened a short time since? Last year a gentleman purchased in the Incumbered Estates Court a property situated in the county Tipperary. There were 200 human beings upon that property. They did not owe a farthing of rent, and they were willing to accept any rent which the landlord might choose to impose upon them; but the landlord said, "You must go—I do not want you here; I have power to get rid of you." They were got rid of, and they have gone to America, there to swell that discontent which will be a formidable danger to England in future time. It transpired at the spring assizes of last year at Tullamore, that a gentleman made a bargain with an incoming proprietor that he would clear every human being off his estate previously to his successor taking possession. These were improving tenants, men who would be respected in any other country in the world. Fortunately the exterminator blundered in his work, and thus came within the fangs of the law, and he was well punished for his stupidity. But if he had not blundered, he might have turned thousands of Her Majesty's subjects out upon the common highway, and there was no law to call him to account. That is the state of the law at the present moment. The mass of the people hold their farms at will — that is, at the wish or caprice of others. I could mention the name of an absentee proprietor who draws £30,000 a year from the country, and 1938 who has notice to quit served on his tenants every May — thus keeping them in a state of the most abject serfdom. No wonder, then, that if the farmers do not fly from the land, their children do. The farmer says to his son or his daughter" My child, I have no lease, no certainty, no security. You had better go to America, where you will be secure in your industry, and perhaps I will one day follow." That is the advice given and acted upon; and if many of the landlords were not as I describe them, you would not have that desperate rush that is now taking place from the country. I tell the Government that they need not despair of Ireland; but it is necessary, if they would realize the picture that was drawn by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that they should deal vigorously with the land laws. My opinion is that the state of the land laws is at the bottom of the whole mischief, and that you will and must have discontent in Ireland until those laws are improved. With respect to the discontent which exists, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Cloyne gave evidence last year, in which he stated, what must be known to every man acquainted with Ireland, that language could not describe the feeling of hatred and vindictiveness with which the people leave the shores of Ireland for America. It is time that the statesmen of England should see that the danger looming in America to this country shall not be increased by their persisting in following a foolish course — denying the existence of grave causes of discontent, or refusing to remove those causes by vigorous legislation. It is for the interest of this country that I call upon them to do something to make the people contented. Let them only do that, and they may defy the machinations of any number of enthusiasts in America. The Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to have found out that this was not an Irish but an American conspiracy. It is, however, idle to shrink from the fact that it is at least partly Irish. The materials to work upon are Irish, those to whom they appeal are Irish; the rank and file are Irish; the discontent is Irish. But I say, put the Irish people in the position of the Canadian people, and they will display the same loyalty to their country and institutions, the same "magnificent conduct," whenever an occasion may arise. Give a man something to fight for, and he will fight for it. Give the Irish people that 1939 something, which they may feel to be their own, and in a short time you will have a declaration from the Irish people in Ireland to their brethren in America to this effect, "In God's name, let us alone—we are now like our Canadian brethren, the laws fully protect us; we have freedom of conscience; and complete religious equality; we are secured in the fruits of our industry; we do not want your interference; it would be ruin to us." That is what I desire to have said on the part of the Irish people; and if justice is done to them, I do believe this is what they will say. The Government should rise to the dignity of their position, and deal with this question firmly and manfully. Irishmen have fought your battles; they have maintained your glory. There is not a battle-field in any part of the world or which your flag has been borne triumphantly, where you will not find amongst the list of the killed and wounded men boasting of Irish names, who had been remarkable for their gallantry. In her great wars this country would not, perhaps, have been so successful as she has been if she had not combined the dashing gallantry of the Irish with the bulldog endurance of the English. You ought, by your legislation for Ireland, make her people feel that they are the same people with yourselves, and to say, "In the name of God, it is time to take you into the bosom of the Empire; we will deal kindly and generously with you from henceforward." Let the Government do as the late Government have done, and act in a kindly and friendly spirit; but if they will not do that, and are determined to impose these laws without qualifying them by laws of another character, we, at least, will protest against the system which has been adopted up to the present time—namely, that of too many coercive and too few remedial measures.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the same state of things on which the late Government justified their application to Parliament to suspend the Constitution in Ireland no longer exists: that the supremacy of the Law has been sufficiently vindicated in the ordinary tribunals of the Country: that the Assizes just brought to a close have in all instances displayed a most extraordinary and gratifying diminution of crime, and, in many instances, a complete absence of serious offences, either against property or person: that there is likewise an utter absence of political
excitement of any kind whatever: that measures of repression unaccompanied with measures of a remedial character tend rather to aggravate than lessen those evils in which perennial discontent and periodical disaffection have their origin in Ireland: and, that a wise, generous, and thoroughly liberal policy is that which is alone calculated to promote the material prosperity and contentment of the Irish people, while adding to the strength and enhancing the moral dignity of the Empire,"—(Mr. Maguire,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
Sir, I think all who listen to my hon. Friend upon this and almost any occasion must acknowledge the eloquence he brings to the discussion of the state of his country, and the evident sincerity with which he speaks, as well as the impartiality with which he most properly declares he is ready to accord to any Government from whichever side of the House it may be chosen, a faithful and a loyal support, provided its policy be of the kind he believes to be required by the circumstances of Ireland. if this were the occasion upon which the vote of the House should be determined chiefly by the consideration of the policy to be pursued in Ireland, I should probably be found voting with my hon. Friend. In the general spirit of his remarks I cannot but concur. I share with him the conviction that questions relating to tenure of land in Ireland and the relations of landlord and tenant lie at the root of the condition of that country. I think it is impossible to over-estimate the importance of a just and liberal view of the question on the part of the Governments and Parliaments of this land. I do not think, however, it would be wise or expedient, at a time when Her Majesty's Ministers have but just assumed responsibility for the conduct of public affairs, to anticipate the course they may take on this or other subjects, if not of equal, yet of vast importance to the welfare and prosperity of Ireland. But of this I am confident—we speak justly when we say that, in asking the House for a renewal of the Act for the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus in Ireland, they do but enhance and deepen their own obligation to recognize and appreciate the true condition of Ireland, and the nature of the remedies which that condition requires; and in assenting to the proposal now made, if it be shown to be sufficiently supported by reason and justice, we do not weaken, 1941 but, on the contrary, we materially strengthen the pleas which the hon. Member for Cork has advanced for attention on the part of Parliament hereafter to the case of Ireland. I cannot but say with what satisfaction I have heard my hon. Friend place in their due relation that class of remedial measures for Ireland which are based upon pecuniary assistance. I refer to this subject the more because I have read the report of the speech of a gentleman who has accepted legal office from Her Majesty's present advisers. The purport of that speech—which was, perhaps, not correctly reported—was that it would be well for the Irish, in considering questions of political support, to look not so much to the relief of grievances of a political and theoretical character, but rather to look to the sources from which they could obtain direct assistance for their material prosperity. If that speech was correctly reported I regret that it should have been delivered. I deprecate all Irish policy founded on a mere system of money grants. You cannot raise a country, you cannot liberate a country, you cannot ennoble a country, you cannot descend into and purge the sources of its discontent, by any policy such as that. The only mode of doing justice to Ireland is a mode which shall unite the hearts of the people with the laws and institutions of the country, which shall begin by mitigating and shall finally put an end to that frightful and monstrous evil which not even the fervid language of my hon. Friend can characterize too strongly, and which is best described in my hon. Friend's account of the feeling with which Irish emigrants arrive in America. The question of to-night, however, is mainly of a different character. It is whether the House shall concede to Her Majesty's Government the prolongation of the term for which the Habeas Corpus Act has been suspended. Duties of this kind are, with regard to Governments, elementary; with regard to the feelings, most painful; but, at the same time, within their own sphere, paramount. The maintenance of the peace and order of a country, the taking of due security for the tranquillity of those who desire only to obey the laws and to pursue their avocations in peace, is the first duty of the Government. I cannot, for one, look, nor do I believe hon. Members will look, at the political creeds of those who happen to hold office. My hope and my expectation are that the powers they ask from us, 1942 if they are obtained, will be administered in a lenient, just, and impartial spirit. I do not now wish to enter into the question whether or not the general policy of the Government with regard to Ireland is such, or is likely to be such, as will command my confidence and support. I only look to the fact that to them is confided the administration of the law and the protection of the persons, the lives, the properties and the liberties of the people; and it is our duty to place the necessary powers in their hands to enable them to fulfil their obligations. Let me say one word with regard to the speech of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire). While concurring as I do in its general tendency I must take exception to one portion of it, although my objection goes perhaps more to the words used than to the principle expressed by the hon. Member. I refer to the portion of the speech of the hon. Member which treats of the land question. The hon. Member said that we must consider the interests of the 4,000,000 of people rather than that of the 8,000 landowners.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
explained that what he said was, that the interests of the 4,000,000 should be considered as much as those of the 8,000.
Well, the proposals made by the late Government with regard to the land question in Ireland—and I think the hon. Member will be ready to admit it—were substantially in accordance with those recommended by the hon. Member himself, and our conviction certainly was that they were no less likely to contribute to the comfort and to the interests of the 8,000 as well as to those of the 4,000,000. But reverting to the question whether or not this act for the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act should be extended, I must, in the first place, venture to remind the House that when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Morpeth (Sir George Grey), on the part of Her Majesty's late Government, introduced this Bill, one of the announcements he made on our behalf was that we were determined to ask from the House the suspension of the ordinary securities for personal liberty for the very shortest possible period, and that, under these circumstances, we did not venture to hold out to the House any expectation that a renewal of that suspension might not be required. Under the peculiar circumstances of the case, we felt ourselves bound to give to Parliament an opportunity of putting an end to this abnor- 1943 mal state of things at the earliest moment consistent with safety. As we are now asked for a prolongation of that suspension it is but just to the Government to state that the time originally fixed for its duration was unusually short, for on many former occasions it has been the practice to ask for the suspension of the Act until the meeting of Parliament for the ensuing Session. The hon. Member for Cork has advanced several reasons against prolonging the suspension. He relied greatly upon the fact that the state of ordinary crime in Ireland is one which may be termed—as far as such an expression can be connected with crime in any way—highly satisfactory. I do not doubt the fact. It is confessed on all hands that Ireland is at present in a very peaceable condition, and free from those acts of outrage and violence which have been unfortunately of very frequent occurrence. But a similar statement would have been equally applicable to the state of Ireland six months ago, when my right hon. Friend, on behalf of the late Government, asked for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act; and the fact that ordinary crime is happily confined within narrow bounds, does not suffice to prove that there exists such a state of political security as would enable us to return with safety to the ordinary state of the law. Again, the hon. Gentleman says that the state of things now is not the same as it was when the Act was suspended six months ago—and, in truth, I think as much as that was admitted by the noble Lord in the speech with which he introduced this Motion. But I think that that proposition is also insufficient for the purpose for which it is put forward. There may often exist a state of things which may justify, and even in prudence require, the continuation of a suspension of the Act of Habeas Corpus, while it would not justify the first introduction of such a measure. When a Motion for the suspension of this Act is first introduced, it is obviously the duty of the House to require the most clear and demonstrative evidence of its necessity. On the other hand, when we have once passed into this exceptional state of things, I will not say it is necessary to adduce demonstrative evidence of the security of a return to the ordinary laws to justify us in adopting that course, but I say that risks which should be run in order to avoid entering into that state of things are not necessary to be run in order to escape from a continuance of that exceptional state. That is a 1944 material fact to bear in mind in discussing this question. The hon. Gentleman has also reminded us that circumstances have recently been greatly changed in consequence of the conduct of the American Goverment. The noble Lord (Lord Naas), in warm but just terms, referred to the manner in which the American Government have discharged their international obligations towards us in respect of the recent attack upon Canada. Undoubtedly it would be uncandid not to admit that the fact of the discharge of their international obligations by the United States Government has removed many delusive expectations that formerly prevailed in Ireland, that injuries real and imaginary connected with previous occurrences would prevent the American Government from discharging their duty. No doubt, the disappointment of these false hopes and expectations has had a good effect on the people of Ireland. On the other hand, I cannot help thinking that some light has been thrown upon the character of Fenianism in that country within the last six months. It is impossible to find a word too strong to use in condemnation of the policy of Fenianism. Although Fenianism may be regarded as a conspiracy against the existing state of things, against the existing law, and against the existing Government; yet those who look back to the history of Ireland will feel that there are extenuating circumstances for political crimes in connection with the state of things that has existed for a long period. But none of these considerations apply to the late attack on Canada, and I must say I know not where to find upon record anything more abominable in the shape of political violence than the invasion of Canada by the Fenians. The Canadians, at all events, are not responsible for any of the wrongs or grievances—be they real or imaginary—which the Fenians might think they had sustained at our hands. The attack, then, upon them by the American Fenians, was a foul, a ruthless, and a murderous act, deprived of all that could extenuate political error. It shows that these men have within them the temper not only to utter threats—which for my own part I believed were mere words—but to endeavour to carry fire and sword into a peaceful country. If, therefore, on the one hand, we have seen from the conduct of the American Government that we are perfectly secure in that quarter, and that we may reckon beforehand on their dis- 1945 charging every international duty, I must say that that invasion of Canada is an indication of the virulence and malignity of Fenianism, which we could not have thought it possible we should witness. The hon. Member and the noble Lord have referred in terms of just eulogy to the conduct of the Canadian people; and the hon. Member appears to think, and he thinks justly, that their loyalty and their attachment to the British rule is founded on the satisfaction with which they view the law under which they live. I quite agree with the hon. Member in those observations. Yet we see that even their universal loyalty did not enable the Canadians, in the difficult circumstances in which they were placed, to adhere to the provisions of the ordinary law, but they—as we have been with regard to Ireland—were compelled to suspend for a time the ordinary Constitution of the country. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork has pointed out the inconveniences which may result from the power for which the Government is now asking being exercised while Parliament is not sitting, and he has pointed out the convenience he has practically felt in having an easy recourse to Parliament, as to the mode in which the exceptional laws have been administered towards those who have fallen under them. No doubt it would be a great convenience, at a time when exceptional laws are in force, if the representatives of the people could at any day, or any hour of the day, come down to this House and set forth in such terms as they might think fit, any circumstances in the treatment of suspected persons which they thought demanded public attention. But, on the other hand, we must recollect that the very fact that the Parliament will not be sitting for the next six months, has a very important bearing in the opposite direction. To refrain from suspending the Act is one thing when the Executive can at any time, and at a moment's notice, come down to the House and ask Parliament for the necessary powers, and quite another for the executive Government to divest itself of its means of action at a time when Parliament is not sitting. And when we see what evils may take place during the six months Parliament will not be sitting, it does tell powerfully in favour of the present application. The noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland has told us that there are now only 300 persons confined under the Act suspending the operation of the Habeas Corpus Act. The 1946 hon. Gentleman the Member for Cork says that of that number the probability is that the greater portion are detained in consequence of being unable from their poverty to obtain the bail required for their release, while others are detained by reason of their reluctance and indisposition to pray for release and to make the requisite submission to the Government. But I cannot help thinking that, after all, many among these persons must be in a position to procure their release by giving a satisfactory explanation of themselves, and satisfactory assurances for the future. It must not be forgotten that the whole number apprehended was 700 or 800, and that more than half have already been released. The process of examining into each case, and of weighing and reweighing any special circumstance, is going on every day, and the release of those apprehended, in order to be safe, must be gradual. It would be most unsafe to make a wholesale and sudden clearance of the suspected cases. I do not see how Her Majesty's Government can, between the present time and the 1st of September, bring the process to a close without danger. It is very well to say, and it is very satisfactory to think, that perfect tranquillity prevails in Ireland. But, at the same time, with these large number of persons still in prison, with regard to whose general disposition towards the Government we have no knowledge, with the threats still held out to us on the other side of the Atlantic, and with the possibility that if this exceptional state of the law were brought to a close many of those who have left its shores under a pledge not to return, would return to Ireland, or if not these, that others might came in their place, I must say, without pretending to have so conclusive a knowledge of the facts as to be able to give a judgment entitled to any authority, that we ought not to do so. On the contrary, I think we ought, as prudent men, acting upon the principles applicable to a case where the Habeas Corpus Act is already suspended, to accede to the demands of the Government. Sir, I was very anxious to say thus much because I think that, taking in consideration the fact that the late Government are responsible for the original suspension of the Act, and for inviting Parliament to pass out of the legal and ordinary into an extraordinary condition of things, it was right for me to give explicitly, on behalf of myself and my Colleagues, our view of the present state of the circum- 1947 stances. We had not, as a Cabinet, an opportunity of considering this question, as six weeks have elapsed since, for a purpose of this kind, we ceased to be Her Majesty's advisers. We have, however, had an opportunity of making communications on the subject. My right hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth and myself have communicated with the late Lord Lieutenant, as well as with my right hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Chichester Fortescue), and the late Attorney General; and our firm belief, formed on the best evidence that we can obtain, is that it would have been our duty, had we continued to be responsible Ministers of the Crown, to make the very same request that is now made by the present Government. Under these circumstances, of course it is our equally plain and obvious duty to take our full share of responsibility for that proposal. I feel perfect confidence that the extraordinary powers of the law will be used in the same spirit in which they have been exercised by Lord Kimberley—that is, in a spirit which I think I may say has drawn forth the unanimous approbation of this House and of the country. Most reluctantly, but, at the same time, without the smallest doubt as to the propriety of the vote I am about to give, I shall record it in support of the proposition of the Government.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, he opposed the introduction of the similar Bill of the late Government because he considered it unnecessary, and therefore unjustifiable; and he now opposed the introduction of this Bill because he considered it to be still more unnecessary, and therefore still more unjustifiable. Even before he heard the speech of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) it appeared to him that the case of the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland was an exceedingly weak one, considering that the measure was a great measure dealing with and setting aside an important feature of the British Constitution. His principal point appeared to be that 300 persons were confined in the prisons of Ireland, and that there would be danger in their being suddenly released on the termination of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. But it appeared to him to be quite clear that those 300 persons had either committed some offences or they had not. If they had not committed offences, let them be released. If, on the other hand, they had committed offences 1948 against the law let them be brought to trial. He saw no way of escaping impalement on one or the other horn of the dilemma. It appeared to him now, as it appeared to him when the measure was introduced which it was now proposed to continue in operation, that the full constitutional importance of the measure had not been duly weighed; and although he would regret to say anything having a tendency to stir up an ill-feeling between the two countries, he was constrained to express an opinion that if a measure of this kind were proposed for England much more deliberation would have been used, and many more grave reasons would have been adduced than had been done in the present instance. In 1777, when civil war raged in America, and persons who had committed offences in America or on the high seas against the Crown of England had taken refuge in England, Lord North, who was then at the head of the English Government, introduced a Bill for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, in reference to those persons who were charged with the offence of high treason alleged to have been committed in a part of America, then an English colony, or on the high seas. That Act was most strongly opposed by the Liberal party of the day. Mr. Fox who opposed the Bill on the 10th of February in that year, said that nothing but the most inevitable necessity could justify the measure—such a concurrence of circumstances as happened at the Revolution, and he divided the House against the introduction of the Bill. In 1794 there was a still more serious juncture. England was at war with France. There was in France a revolutionary Government, and not only a revolutionary Government, but a highly propagandist revolutionary Government, a Government which proposed to extend its detestable principles to all other countries in the world. At that time the Corresponding Society existed in this country which was in fact a formidable conspiracy, the first object of which was to assemble a Convention to usurp the place of the English Parliament. They actually assembled in Edinburgh, and they had emissaries and correspondents in all the principal towns of the kingdom. The members of the society were not of the poorer and less fortunate classes among whom the Fenians were exclusively to be found, but numbers of them were men of education and station. 1949 Well, Mr. Pitt thought it necessary to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act in England. And mark the difference between suspending the Habeas Corpus Act in England and suspending the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland! There was a Royal Message—a Message from the Crown—reciting the existence of this Society and the resulting danger to the country; and the Government laid on the table of the House papers relating to the conspiracy, so as to show its extent and its nature, and these papers were referred to a Committee of Secresy, composed of Members of both sides of the House; and it was not till that Committee had examined into the matter and reported that Mr. Pitt came down to the House and proposed the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. The Correspondence of that Society with the Jacobins of France was a far more serious affair than the recent one of the Fenians. France at that time meditated and designed an invasion of England; and yet when Mr. Pitt, in April 1794, proposed the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, he was met by the strenuous opposition of Mr. Fox, Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Jekyll, and other eminent Members of the Whig party. Mr. Fox said he lamented that the old-established laws, known to the Constitution, had not been applied to the evil, if any evil existed, for that it was an infamous libel on the Constitution to say that it was only able to maintain itself in times of peace and tranquillity, and must be surrendered in times of danger and difficulty. He (Sir George Bowyer) could not help thinking that if circumstances existed in England similar to those which now existed in Ireland, the Government would have hesitated longer before they came down to the House and proposed the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. He did not think that there was justice meted out to Ireland; but he did think that this great and momentous measure was moved for in a manner which was not worthy of the gravity of the occasion, and with that regard which ought to be had to the feelings and to the liberties of the people of Ireland. He trusted that his hon. Friend (Mr. Maguire) would divide the House, and give those who agreed with him an opportunity of recording their sense of the injustice which was done to Ireland by this sort of legislation. He feared he would not be able successfully to oppose the Bill; but, before he sat down, he could not refrain from expressing his cordial concur- 1950 rence in a portion of the speech which had just been uttered by the right hon. Gentleman who was a short time back the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in which the right hon. Gentleman had said that this measure would impose a tenfold responsibility on Her Majesty's Government. He (Sir George Bowyer) said so too. The Government would be armed with extraordinary powers. Let them see that the country had not only peace but justice. Let them take into serious consideration remedial measures which it would be their duty to propose in the next Session of Parliament. Let them not ally themselves with any party or class. Let them hold the scales evenly between all classes of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland. The House had been exhorted to consider the interests of the many rather than the interests of the few. He (Sir George Bowyer) thought both interests could be consulted by the same measures. He must again press on Her Majesty's Government the duty of grappling practically with the grievances of Ireland, and especially with the land question. It was true that the Fenians had no interest in the question. Most of them had no land, and were not likely to have any; but, at the same time, it should not be forgotten that whatever produced discontent and disaffection was sure to foster conspiracy, even on the part of those who had no interest in the cause of that discontent and disaffection; and if Her Majesty's Government wished to put an end to conspiracy let them put their shoulder to the wheel and take into consideration the grievances—the practical grievances—of the country, and deal with those grievances in an equitable and just spirit, not considering the interest of any class, still less the wishes of any faction, but guided only by a sense of justice and what was due to the welfare of the country.
§ SIR FREDERICK HEYGATE
said, that the question to be determined was whether the powers should be placed in the hands of the executive Government, which both the late and the present Administration had declared it was necessary it should possess; and he thought that when the House considered the importance not only of securing the country against the commission of actual outrage, but also of restoring a feeling of confidence throughout Ireland, they ought not to hesitate to give the Government the powers they now sought for. Even after the last elections, 1951 when drilling was going on in Ireland, they heard from some Gentlemen that there was no necessity for alarm; but all at once the Government told Parliament that a serious state of things had arisen, and a sort of coup d'état took place. And it was impossible to look back to what had occurred in the United States and Canada, at the escape of Stephens, and at the almost universal sympathy with the cause that existed in Ireland among the lower classes of the people, without admitting that the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act had not been effected a moment too soon. Gentlemen who resided in Ireland knew what effect Fenianism had had in driving every tourist out of the country, in tying up capital, and in causing mortgages to be called in. He had been told by some of the largest solicitors in Ireland that owing to the discredit which the Fenian movement had brought upon Ireland, it was impossible to induce English capitalists to lend a shilling for investment there. Manufactures which it had been intended to establish were given up as hopeless, partly because of the feeling of insecurity respecting life and property, and partly from the impossibility of getting advances of money, and the hopelessness of carrying on commercial enterrpizes in a country which was subject to periodical agitation. The hon. Member for Cork had spoken of the absence of ordinary crime, and his statement on that point was true; but it did not prove that there was no political conspiracy. Again, it was to be observed that in cases of crimes reported by the police, much difficulty was experienced in securing convictions. He remembered having read in the Irish papers what was notoriously the fact—That before Fenianism was known to prevail extensively in Dublin the magistrates there had observed a remarkable diminution in the charges of drunkenness; and it occurred to them that there was something serious in the circumstance. [A laugh.] Well, when the ordinary propensities of people were suddenly held in check, it did betoken something serious. He was glad to say that in his part of the country only one man had been arrested for Fenianism—and he was an Englishman; but all the evidence against him at first was, that he was seen constantly sitting on a rock looking through a telescope towards the west. It turned out, however, that he was a head centre and a dangerous character. Considering that the present Government were backed up by the Members 1952 of the last in the declaration that the continuance of this measure was necessary, he hoped the hon. Member for Cork would not press his Amendment, but allow the decision of the House to be an undivided one.
§ MR. O'BEIRNE
I must say that very strong facts should be brought forward to justify the British House of Commons in agreeing to a measure of this grave character. My hon. Friend the Member for Cork, whose able speech I listened to in common with the other Members of the House with extreme pleasure, quoted the remarkable words of Lord Russell, when an application of a character similar to that now before the House was made. I must ask the House to allow me to again refer to those words for a special purpose. The noble Lord said—It appears to me that I should prove three things—first, as the grounds of my proposal that the present state of things in Ireland is fraught with evil—that it threatens danger, and that we are on the eve of an outbreak if it is not timely prevented; secondly, that there are means sufficient to produce great injury and great danger if this measure is not adopted to avoid them; thirdly, that the measure which I shall have the honour to propose is that remedy which appears most proper in the present state of circumstances.Now, I have repeated that quotation in order to connect it with the expressions by which it was then adopted by the right hon. Gentleman who now leads the House. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli), on the occasion to which I refer, stated that—The only justification for such a proposition must be the necessity of the case, and I think that necessity exists in those circumstances which the noble Lord at the head of the Government so ably referred to.Now, I think I have shown by those two extracts that the right hon. Gentleman felt the responsibility which the Government of that period assumed, and up to this moment I cannot find that any similar state of circumstances exists to justify the assumption of such a responsibility on the present occasion. I heard with extreme satisfaction and gratitude the observations of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gladstone), and on the part of Ireland I thank the right hon. Gentleman for those observations. But while I listened to the observations with pleasure, I heard his concluding remarks with deep regret. I am totally at a loss to know of anything to justify the measure now proposed. No single statement has been made—no offi- 1953 cial information has been submitted—no single fact has been adduced to justify that step. Judging from the appearance of the House, and the late period of the Session, we shall have but a poor division. I regret that the noble Lord did not find it convenient to bring forward this measure at an earlier period. It is a matter of extreme inconvenience to Irish Members to return to their places in this House after they have left; but I do not attribute to the noble Lord any wilful desire or perversity to delay the introduction of the Bill. It must have been painful to him to have to introduce the Bill, as it is most painful to Irish Members to have to take part in a discussion of this nature. I beg to impress on the House that this question of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act is indeed but a very indifferent means of reaching the true cause of the present state of Ireland. I am very unwilling to weary hon. Members on a question which has been so frequently discussed before—I mean the question of land. The subject of land in Ireland is different to what it is in England. The system of landlord and tenant in England commenced at a very early period, so early as the Conquest; but such a tenure was unknown in Ireland until the time of James I., somewhat more than 250 years ago. No such system of tenure ever before existed. The system that did exist was one of commonage or clanship, in which the chief of the clan had a life interest, and the others a common interest in him. There was no power of ejectment, no collision between landlord and tenant, no power of distress, and at that period we have no record of any agrarian outrage. Soon after that the change worked its own mischief. In the year 1603, a Bill called the Defective Titles Bill was introduced, and under that Bill estates were confiscated in large numbers, but they were not very long settled before the Protector came and destroyed the entire fabric built by James, and from that period to the present moment, I unhesitatingly say, any hon. Member who takes the trouble to turn over the records of that country or of this will find agrarian outrages have never ceased to exist. Every authority for the last 200 years agrees in one opinion, and that is that agrarian outrages, the disturbances amongst the people, all the difficulties that arise as to the settlement of tenants, the murders and other frightful atrocities which have debased the country, are the result of quarrels about 1954 land, and between landlord and tenant. What said my Lord Clare, an authority well known?—Although tithes were stated to be the cause of insurrection, it was not so. It was because the tenants were ground down by exorbitant rents.Lord Norbury, the Lord Chief Justice, in the year 1811, said—Serious rioting having taken place, the offences were all of the same character, all originating in disputes about land, attempting to fix maximum prices to farms, &c., and, in fact, endeavouring to carry by mob legislation all arrangements in connection with land, both rich and poor.But, Sir, I have an authority more familiar to the House, and that is the authority of the late Sir Robert Peel. In the year 1812 the late Sir Robert Peel said, in his place—The first object of the disturbances seemed to be, and only to be, to regulate the price of ground, and to prevent all tenants from being evicted.I could multiply authorities to a great extent, all of them tending in the same direction. I shall be content, however, with the opinion of Sir George Cornewall Lewis, who, as Poor Law Commissioner in 1833, expressed himself in the Report of the Commission in these words—This country has been for seventy years the scene of constantly recurring struggles, and all about land. Successive Governments have apparently exhausted every means in their power to put down the evil, but entirely without success. The statute books are loaded with the severest laws, the country is covered with military and police, capital punishment is unsparingly inflicted, and Australia is peopled with convicts, but as yet all to no purpose.And, Sir, I take the liberty of repeating these words of that great authority—"The present legislation will be all to no purpose" unless it be coupled with some determined, some well-considered, some large measure which will set this question for once and ever at rest, and so restore confidence to the people, and spread satisfaction and peace over the surface of the land. Convinced that the state of the country was to be attributed to that cause, I naturally tried to devise a remedy, and I put upon the books of this House a notice for that purpose. As that notice has been referred to by a leading journal this morning, I hope the House will permit me, in a few words, to explain it. Since it was placed on the books I have heard extraordinary observations with reference to it. One hon. Member described it as an application to Her Majesty's Government to make a present of £1,000,000 to the Irish people for the purchase of Irish 1955 estates, whether the owners liked to sell them or not. Others desired to know what I meant by placing such a revolutionary proposition upon the paper, and many other observations, anything but complimentary, have reached my ears as to the few simple and perhaps inexpressive words for which I am responsible. But my plan was merely to permit the occupying tenant on an estate about to be sold, if he chose, to purchase the portion of that estate of which he was then the occupier. I sought for no extreme power; I sought for nothing that would interfere with private rights; I only wished to borrow, under the sanction of Government, from the savings banks deposits £1,000,000, on which 2½ per cent was now paid, and to charge that upon the purchase at 4 per cent—if there is anything revolutionary in that proposal I have yet to learn it. But before I took that step I took care to ascertain what was the effect of such a state of things in other countries. I consulted the works of the hon. Member for Westminster, and one of the most important paragraphs I have seen was one in which he points out in terms of approval the very plan I have taken the liberty of proposing. The hon. Gentleman, I do not think, is revolutionary. If he is, he has riot shown any revolutionary tendencies since he has entered this House. I had also immense aid from a gentleman, Mr. Fisher, of Waterford, who has given, I may say, his almost entire life to the study of the Irish land question. I have also many authorities upon this subject which I shall merely name—Sir Mathew Barrington, well known to many gentlemen representing Irish constituencies; the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, and many others, among the rest Lord Devon, who, in his Irish Commission, strongly recommended this principle. But, Sir, it was not alone recommended by these gentlemen, Mr. Klay and others, who had studied this question, but has been brought into active operation in many countries of Europe, especially Prussia, where it has been in force from 1803 up to the present time, and has totally reorganized that country, where it has worked in a singularly efficient manner. We have it also in full force in the Channel Islands, where there is not a single farm over ten acres, and where, although the Poor Law is utterly unknown, no pauper is ever seen in the land. With these facts before me, I felt there was a very great amount of weight in my favour, and had I the opportunity I 1956 should have moved the Motion on which I had given notice, but circumstances known to the House caused it to be put back night after night, until eventually I had to give it up for this Session. But in the early part of next Session I intend placing a notice again upon the paper, and I hope I may be permitted to proceed with it. The Irish people, Sir, are impressed with the idea that they are neglected; they do not believe that England takes much interest in their well-being. They point, and with good reason, to the very remarkable fact, that for 140 years or more, from the period of the disastrous visit of King James II., no English Sovereign ever set foot on the Irish shore. No doubt his Majesty the Fourth George honoured his loyal subjects in Dublin by spending some six or seven days with them in 1821, and in thirty years after Her Most Gracious Majesty broke through the rule, and we are grateful to her, and wish sincerely that she would do so more frequently. I wish, Sir, I had the privilege of taking the right hon. Gentleman who leads this House through Ireland. I believe I could show him much that would gratify him, very much that would pain him deeply. He should see, Sir, a loyal, warm-hearted people—a country richly gifted by nature with great capabilities, but very little, if any, power to develop them. He should witness the stern and gloomy spots—the melancholy graveyards, with their stone crosses — sad records of those dreaded years, when famine, followed by disease, pestilence, and death, swept over the country. He should see at our inland railway stations the process of emigration going hourly forward, with all its attendant horrors. The aged father severed from his best and bravest sons; the widowed mother thenceforth childless—all the tenderest ties of nature torn rudely asunder; and if, Sir, he could return to his Cabinet with the deep wail of sorrow that follows each train as it brings away the bone and sinew of the land to a self-imposed exile, still ringing in his ears if he could assume the duties of Government, unmoved by the sufferings of the people in whose midst he had been, unimpressed with the firm resolve to do them at least justice, he must be made of sterner stuff than I take him to be. In conclusion, let me appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, let me appeal to his Cabinet, to this House, and from my place in this House to that good and great people who are so largely represented 1957 within these walls—let me appeal against this system of dealing with the interests of Ireland. We want no coercion — let us have conciliation; let us have sympathy—let our wounds be healed, our aspirations after advancement be fostered—teach us that the Act of Union is no longer a mockery —a galling chain hurriedly forged to bind two nations together, without esteem on the one side, or any real feeling of regard on the other. Let us know that we have an elder sister to take an interest in us. Give us a broad, sound, and statesmanlike policy. If, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman will so direct his Cabinet, he will teach the Empire to know that the words England and Ireland mean no more than the distinctive names of a well and closely united family, and he will have achieved a result long and anxiously looked for — a result, which will enable him proudly to declare that Ireland, instead of being "England's weakness" has become one of the main elements in "England's strength."
§ MR. OSBORNE
Although I have not the honour of being a native of Ireland, yet I have been for many years a constant resident in that country. I am a considerable employer of labour there, and I think I know the people well. I have seen a famine in that country, and two attempts at insurrection. Therefore, I hold that I have some claim upon the attention of the House while I for a brief period advert to Irish affairs. I shall endeavour to deal with this question in a moderate and temperate spirit. I, for one, do not attach any reproach to the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland for having brought in this measure at so late a period of the Session. Probably, from the circumstance in which the present Government acceded to office, this was unavoidable. I think it also fair to state to the House that it is evident from the former Bill, as originally printed and published by the late Advisers of Her Majesty, that the extension of the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act until the 1st of March, 1867, was contemplated by them. I hold in my hand the original Bill, on which I see the date, "1st of March, 1867." Consequently, I do not understand that the present Advisers of Her Majesty contemplate extending the operation of the Bill now before the House more than twenty-one days after the meeting of the next Parliament. But while I admit this, I must say that I have seen with extreme regret the state of the House upon this occasion. What do we see? 1958 On the 2nd of August, a worn-out House and a very thin attendance even of the Irish Members. If we look back upon the history of Ireland, and notice how in former times the Government brought forward a Bill for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act — a measure which makes the Government absolute—we find that even a Tory Administration deemed the step an important one, and a call of the House was invariably made on such occasions. Now, however, it is treated as an ordinary event—it is brought forward much in the same spirit as an enactment for a turnpike trust. This is a circumstance which I deeply lament. When listening to the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Cockermouth (Lord Naas) in moving the second reading of this Bill, it appeared to me that the whole of it was a satire on English Government in Ireland. What have we heard from him? He started by saying, "It is my painful duty." Why, it has always been the "painful duty" of Irish Secretaries when moving the second reading of a Bill for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Nine times since the Union have successive Chief Secretaries, rising from that Bench, declared it their "painful duty." In the year 1801 Mr. Pelham, I think it was, told the House it was his "painful duty" to move the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act; indeed, the form is stereotyped. On that occasion, instead of pointing to America, he directed the attention of the House to France, and pleaded the prevalence of Jacobinism for the steps he was taking. But in 1866 Fenianism takes the part which Jacobinism played in 1801. In 1803, Mr. Yorke, who was the Secretary for the Home Department, said it was "his painful duty" when making a similar Motion, renewing the old cry that Ireland was not safe, because France was extending her intrigues to that country. Again, in 1817, my Lord Castlereagh said it was "his painful duty" to move the suspension of the Act; in 1848, it was my Lord John Russell's "painful duty;" and, in 1866, it was the "painful duty" of my right hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Sir George Grey) to introduce a Bill for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. And now again, in 1866, Ireland is in the same state as when Mr. Yorke in 1803 undertook the "painful duty" of moving the suspension of the Act. I ask, then, what is the reason for this state of affairs? The noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland 1959 has given us a catalogue of the measures which this House has passed for Ireland; but I want to know what measures of concession have been passed by the English Parliament—for I do not blame the Government — for the benefit of Ireland? Look at your catalogue of Peace Preservation Bills, Coercion Bills, and Arms Bills. Why, if attention on the part of Parliament is enough to make a country contented, Ireland ought to be the most contented country in the world, for she has received more than enough attention in the shape of Coercion and Peace Preservation Bills to make her not only contented but satisfied with what English legislation has done for her. In the year 1866 we are going through the old mill-horse round of coercion; and we are asked to suspend the same Act that we were asked to suspend in 1803. What is the meaning of all this? Are the Irish such an incorrigible nation that they are only to be weighted and kept in order by measures of coercion? The hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Sir George Bowyer) quoted something from Fox. Allow me to give the House a notion of what Mr. Fox said in 1803, immediately after the Union; he was the only person, I think, who ever went to the root of the matter, and the remarks which he made then are just as applicable in 1866. Mr. Fox asked—If it be true that treason has tainted the people, if the poison of Jacobinism" (I will call it Fenianism now) "pervade the whole mind of the multitude, if disloyalty be so rooted and universal that military despotism can alone make the country habitable, it would be against the experience of the world that such a wide and deadly disaffection could or ever did exist in any nation for a single day except from the faults of its governors.I unhesitatingly say that at the present day it is from the faults of its governors, and of the English Parliament in particular, that this state of things exists in Ireland. Is it not notorious—though we have had centuries of legislation for Ireland—that it has been chiefly repressive? Is it not the fact that at this minute you are unable to do what you have done in England—give encouragement to the Volunteer system; and that you dare not call out the Irish militia? Is that a fact or is it not? Can any Irishman on the opposite Benches deny it? Well, then, if the facts are so, where does the blame lie? The Irish in Canada have been mentioned tonight. You see that men who were what 1960 are called "rebels" in Ireland directly they take up their abode in Canada become loyal men, and resist the very Fenianism they had done so much to promote in Ireland. Why is this? Is it not because that in Canada they are properly and justly treated, and that they are not, and never have been, justly treated in Ireland? Emigration has been spoken of. Since the year 1846 upwards of 2,000,000 of the people have left Ireland, and in spite of the departure of such enormous numbers two attempts at insurrection have been made since then, sympathized with by those who had left the country. And the excuse for this Motion to-night is that, even with this reduced population, Ireland is a thorn in the side of this country. What is this Fenianism of which we have heard so much? It is a plot, I know, among certain disaffected persons in Ireland, supported by most of the emigrants — I believe there are no exceptions — among those in America; it is a communistic attempt at rebellion, and its objects are pillage, confiscation, and murder. It is nothing else. Nor do I conceal from myself that the organizers of this plot are not for a moment to be conciliated by remedial measures. But that is not the dangerous side; we know how to deal with these men in the field. The dangerous side of this conspiracy is that the whole of our masses, the strong farmers, the bone and sinew of the country, although they do not share the objects of these men, yet sympathize with their endeavours. [Major STUART KNOX: No, no!] I am speaking of the South of Ireland — I am not speaking of those trusty men who return the hon. Member for Dungannon. I am speaking of the persons with whom I am acquainted, the farming interests of the South of Ireland; and do we not know that if there was one success on the part of the Fenians these men would join them in a body to-morrow? Get rid of all this talk of the Irish being loyal or contented. I know well that one success would set the whole of the South of Ireland on the side of the Fenians, in spite of the zealous and well-intentioned efforts of my hon. Friend the Member for Dungannon. My hon. Friend the Member for Cashel (Mr. O'Beirne), who did himself and the place he represents so much credit by what he said to-night, declared that identity of institutions between the two countries is not what we ought to look to. I perfectly agree with my hon. Friend. I 1961 think that cuckoo cry of calling for the same institutions for Ireland as for England is a great mistake. Englishmen are in the habit of thinking that because the institutions which have grown up and become peculiar to this country are suited to England they ought also to be fitted for a people different altogether in race, in condition, and in religion, and they make a great complaint when they have passed some measure which may be very fitting for this country, yet does not answer for Ireland. I am fortified in my view by an opinion expressed on the subject under discussion by one of the greatest authorities in the House. I beg the attention of hon. Members, and particularly of my hon. Friend the Member for Dungannon (Major Stuart Knox) to the following opinion expressed in debate upon a Coercion Bill for Ireland in the year 1844. An hon. Member said—He believed an identity of institutions with England to be the greatest fallacy that could be brought forward; he always thought that the greatest cause of misery in Ireland was the identity of institutions with England. He maintained that, instead of having an identity of institutions, they should get rid of all those English institutions they had forced on Ireland."—[3 Hansard, lxxii. 1011.]Did I hear the word "name?" Those are the views of the right hon. Gentleman now the Leader of the House, the Member for Buckinghamshire. I do not believe he was Member for Buckinghamshire in 1844—though he has sometimes twitted me for my changes of seat—but, at any rate, it was his opinion that this identity of institutions ought to be got rid of. Here is the opportunity. What are these institutions that, if not got rid of, ought to be reformed with a strong hand in this House? He will immediately know. I mean the Church. Parliament will hardly listen when the subject is brought forward; but the country must find it difficult to believe that the number of followers of the Church, according to the official Returns, is 691,872. And what does the country keep up for these followers of the Establishment? Why, they have an ecclesiastical staff of two Archbishops and ten Bishops, besides a following of Deans and Chapters and Prebendaries which would make a man stare with amazement if he were reading of any other country but Ireland; and further, they have 2,281 clergymen—all for this rich minority of the population. True, an attempt at reform was made some years ago; but how did 1962 they begin? They only knocked off ten Bishops, and no attempt was made to deal with the Irish Church proper as it ought to have been dealt with. All this time Parliament refuses to open its eyes to the true question—the religion of the poor majority; it is utterly ignored and neglected, while that of the rich minority is clothed in purple and fine linen. There is one instance of identity of institutions—an English institution forced on the sister country—and all this time Parliament obstinately refuses to apply any reform to this scandal of the nineteenth century. What wonder, then, when you hear of the blessings of the British Constitution, that Constitution is neither admired nor understood in Ireland? The British Constitution, which here is the great sun of our political system, is only shown to Ireland under an eclipse. How can persons admire or respect an institution which totally ignores their religion and turns a deaf ear to their national grievances? However agreeable and amusing it may be to some who sit on the Treasury Benches, it is the bigotry of Scotch and English Members in this House which hinders any effectual settlement of the Irish Church question—I use the word "bigotry" in a Parliamentary sense, and without meaning to be offensive—but this it is which hinders any but a strong Government from touching, and will hinder any Government from settling, this question. But sooner or later—unless suspensions of the Habeas Corpus Act are to be made perpetual—this question must be tried and settled. If it is settled soon, you may have a reform of the Church Establishment; if a settlement be not soon effected, you will not be able to preserve the Establishment at all, in spite of speeches made on the College hustings, and in spite of the determination of the hon. Member for Dungannon. I am speaking of the bigotry of Scotch and Irish Members, and I have no idea of speaking with bated breath on this question, nor do I envy the feelings of those Gentlemen who see the liberties of their country sacrificed, yet who make a bow to the Prime Minister. I see bigotry in Scotch Members, and in a great many English Members. Is it not notorious that the toleration of Roman Catholic constituencies in Ireland is greater than that of the constituencies of this country? Look at the Protestant Members for Irish constituencies. Dare any Roman Catholic show himself upon the hustings in Scotland? Dare my hon. and gallant Friend 1963 the Member for Aberdeen say a word for the Pope? Why it would cost him his seat if he did. In England, there is only one Roman Catholic Member. [Colonel SYKES: Two!] Yes; there is one lately added to the House. There is also the noble Lord who represents Arundel (Lord Edward Howard), which my right hon. Friend below me, by-the-bye, proposed to abolish. And these two Gentlemen represent upwards of 1,000,000 Roman Catholics; and then talk to me of the toleration of Englishmen in dealing with the Roman Catholic question. Any Government that intends to rule that country on proper principles must deal with the Church as established by law in Ireland. And that is not all; for although it is not possible in the present state of feeling of the Roman Catholic body to pay their priests, yet some provision might be made for them in the way of glebe lands and some other recognition of their just claims. Another grievance is the Ecclesiastical Titles Act. If you wish Ireland to be satisfied you must put her priesthood in a proper position, and repeal the Ecclesiastical Titles Act. I always voted against that measure, and I always felt it was an insult to Ireland, which had never meddled with the affair of Cardinal Wiseman. There is one other thing we are sometimes challenged about. I say you ought to throw open Trinity College, Dublin. It is all very well to bring in compromsies, and to propose to affiliate a Catholic University upon the Queen's Colleges. Trinity College is the stronghold of a dominant sect. The flag of Protestant ascendancy waves on the top of Trinity College. If you wish to deal with Ireland on principles of justice you must throw open the fellowships and honours of Trinity College to the whole of the community. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Morris) is, I think, determined not to give up to party what was meant for Galway. But the Attorney General told us lately that he was going to die in the last ditch for Trinity College and the Established Church. I wish him joy of it. There is another and most material question, and that is the land question. I admit freely the great difficulty of dealing with this question. The views on both sides are so extreme that it is most difficult to deal with it; but I, for one, am ready to sacrifice my extreme rights as a landlord if I can produce confidence and peace in Ireland, and that is the case with all reasoning and re- 1964 flecting landlords who are willing to concede something if peace can be restored to the country. We are told by the Secretary for Ireland that he does not see his way in this question. But I ask him how came he to see his way in 1852? There was a Bill with the names upon it of Whiteside, of Napier—who has lately covered himself with so much honour by pointing out how wrong Lord Derby was—and of Lord Naas. That Bill contemplated a doctrine which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University (Mr. Walsh) might well call communistic, for it contained the retrospective compensation clause. The noble Lord (Lord Naas) saw his way in 1852; why has he lost it now, and why need it take six months' incubation to hatch a Bill on this question? This is a question which can only be settled by the Government coming forward with a measure. But the Irish Land Bill has been thrown over, and a Bill for the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act is the sum total of our legislation for Ireland for the year of grace 1866. A change of Ministry is often productive of good for this country, for it gives us a succession of new minds and new ideas. But it works nothing but mischief for Ireland, and the only people who benefit by it are the lawyers, who are so powerful that they not only make suggestions, but sometimes dictate to the Prime Minister. And this brings me to the mode of governing Ireland. I say to the holders of office that your mode of governing Ireland by a Lord Lieutenant is vicious in principle and mischievous in practice. Whatever the necessity for such a functionary might have been before the days of steam, when it took a long time to communicate with Ireland, that necessity no longer exists. The office is now obsolete. When you reflect that you can communicate with Dublin in an hour it is monstrous that you should have a sham King and a sham Court sitting in Dublin, while the sympathies of the people are as remote from England as they were in the time of the great O'Neil. The Viceroy, if he is not in the Cabinet, is nothing but a subordinate of the Home Office, and although the present possessor of that office is a most amiable man, and although he would hear of any disturbance there, as he heard of the Hyde Park riots, with considerable emotion, yet I am not satisfied that he should be King of Ireland. The Lord Lieutenant is a man of no power. He can originate nothing. He has no more 1965 voice than the Mikado of Japan, and Ireland looks upon him as a foreign official. He has no possible influence, but keeps a sort of pinchbeck Court. A man well qualified to form an opinion upon the Irish Government, for it was no other than the present Chief Secretary for Ireland, thus delivered himself at a meeting held in Dublin last August upon the subject of the cattle plague. It was fortunate that this speech was made before the Habeas Corpus Act was passed, or otherwise the noble Lord would certainly have been "put up" under it. I have seldom heard stronger language. The noble Lord said—The inaction of the Government raises serious considerations in the breast of every Irishman. When the voice of the entire country demands a certain step should be taken, their reasonable request is refused. I think it does raise a very serious consideration as to whether the form of Government we rest under is really the best for the interests of the country. These are strong words, but not stronger than the necessity of the case requires. I say without the slightest hesitation that I believe at this moment the interests and condition of Ireland are not sufficiently represented in the Government of this great country.Now, it cannot be said that the Irish people are wanting in loyalty and affection to the aristocracy or their principles, for history shows that they have been not only unreasoning but somewhat slavish in their devotion to their Princes and aristocracy. The aristocracy, unfortunately, they see little of, for they are an absentee aristocracy; but history points out how the Irish people shed their blood for the worst member of the House of Stuart, and welcomed with acclamation not the most respectable of the House of Guelph. If, then, you wish the Irish people to be loyal—loyalty with them is not an abstraction, it is personal—it is absolutely necessary that you should substitute for a Viceroy a Royal Prince or a Royal residence in Ireland. Sir, the times demand it. What are the facts? The Sovereign has visited Ireland twice in twenty-eight years. How can any Irishman be supposed to feel an interest in the British Crown when he sees it only in its most disagreeable form—in the form of Judges when they go the assize? I will take it upon myself to say, in spite of all that has been stated of the affection and loyalty of the Irish people, that the Irish people take very little interest in the British Government—and, what is more, I am not surprised at it. How do they feel about "the Castle," which, for the information of the country 1966 gentlemen of England, I may say is the palace of the Viceroy? In Dublin "the Castle" is merely looked upon as a great restaurant—a social and agreeable lounge for barristers and military men—while in the provinces it is universally regarded as a sort of refuge for political destitution. Am I singular in this opinion about the Viceroyalty? I am not. I will cite a very good authority upon the subject—an authority which will be received by the House with acclamation—if they ever do acclaim—and will be hailed by the Treasury Bench with delight, because it is the authority of a man to whom they offered high office, and he refused it—rather an uncommon thing in Ireland. A meeting took place on the 13th of March, 1862, of the College Historical Society, which resembles very much a superior sort of Union at Cambridge; but the chair is taken not by any member selected from among themselves, but by the President of the Society, who is generally a man of very high position, and on that occasion was of the highest. The chairman was the Right Hon. Joseph Napier, ex-Chancellor, and the question for discussion was, "Whether the abolition of the Viceregal office would be a wise measure." There was considerable discussion, in which the President took no part, and the question was decided in the affirmative by thirteen to four. But after the discussion was over Mr. Napier delivered a speech, in which he said that he bad formerly doubts on the subject, and had voted against the abolition of the office once, but he had since changed his mind. Mr. Napier stated some most curious facts, and amongst others he said that the late Lord Herbert told him it was his decided opinion that it would be greatly for the benefit of Ireland if the office were abolished, and—a most remarkable thing—all persons who had served in the office of Chief Secretary for Ireland—he was not certain about Sir Robert Peel—that is, the great Sir Robert Peel—were in favour of abolishing it. The late Sir James Graham was at one time in its favour, but he told him that, after reading Lord Cornwallis' Memoirs, he had come to the conclusion that the sooner they got rid of the office the better. "For my own part," said Mr. Napier, "it is my honest opinion"—and we all know how decided the right hon. Gentleman is when he gives an honest opinion—" it would not be a bad day for Ireland when the Viceregal office is abolished," and he concluded by quoting some verses from a rebellious poet, 1967 Mr. Drennan, about "the Green Flag," and all that sort of thing. A new Government has just come into office, and it will be well for them to consider this matter. I will not take upon myself the responsibility of affirming that you could go on through the winter without some measure—I will not say the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act—for dealing with these men, these Americans that are in the country, and who form the difficult point to deal with—but we have got a new Government in office, and I think we have a right to ask, "Whose are the hands to which we are going to confide this great power?" I have nothing to say against the appointment of Lord Abercorn to the office of Lord Lieutenant. I believe him to be a most estimable gentleman, and I am sure he will do his best; but he is not in the Cabinet, he has no power, he is but a subordinate of the Home Office. As to my noble Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland, I have the highest opinion of his integrity and abilities, but his associations are such that I have not confidence enough in him to trust him with extreme power. As a private gentleman I respect him as much as any Member of this House—as a public character, I am not disposed to commit too much power into his hands. Well, we have also the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Walsh), who has just taken his seat. I know he is in the highest practice at the bar, but then he is Member for Trinity College, Dublin, and I have never heard of any advocate of liberal —I will say even of just—measures for Ireland who came from that constituency. I will say nothing about the Solicitor General, because he told us in his speech at Galway that he looks to the material interests of Galway, and therefore he will have very little interest with the Cabinet. But what is the policy we have heard advocated for Ireland? Lord Derby in another place has given us a sketch of it, and has told us very plainly that it will be his duty in ruling the country to pay more attention to the representations of gentry than the police—I suppose he means to the magistrates? That is all very well, but, unfortunately, the gentry in the South of Ireland are generally placed in direct antagonism to the people. And what is Lord Derby about to do? Why, we have seen placed at the head of the magistracy, a gentleman in regard to whom I will say nothing in derogation of his former great abilities, but at present stat nominis umbra; but I object to see the liberties of Ireland and the suspension of the Habeas 1968 Corpus Act confided to a Lord Chancellor of eighty-five. Now, what is the position of the Lord Chancellor? He nominates the magistracy, and in the absence of the Lord Lieutenant he is the head of the Executive. Well, I must say, if any disturbance were to take place, I would much prefer to look to the police than to the magistracy for the security of Ireland. There have been dark hints thrown out about stopping emigration; but so long as wages in America are better than wages in Ireland, you cannot attempt to stop emigration. As to any notion that emigration will be stopped or any material good done to the working class of Ireland by making a loan of £500,000 to the railway companies, it is a mere delusion. It may be a very good sop to the holders of debentures, but I take it upon myself to say it is hardly a policy for a country. Well, then, I cannot see at present any distinct or definite policy shadowed out for Ireland—to use the words of the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland, "the Government do not exactly see their way." I know it is not a very agreeable thing sometimes to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire. I put one some seven years ago to the right hon. Gentleman and I got an answer such as I dare say I shall get now. I am not surprised, indeed, that the right hon. Gentleman should manifest a kind of captious reserve on such a subject. He tells people they sat for other places, and they have no right to ask such questions. I am not surprised, because if there be a man who has a knowledge of Irish difficulties, who knows their causes and their remedies better than another, it is the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire. I have that confidence in the right hon. Gentleman's knowledge of the subject, that if he were not oppressed by so great a mass of bucolic respectability which weighs him down and hampers his liberty of action, I would be content to leave the settlement of the Irish question in his hands. And why? Because he has given the most straightforward and statesmanlike opinion on the Irish question that has ever been given in this House; and if I read it, it is not to twit him, but in order that the House may see and understand that there is at least one Minister in this country who is able to grapple with the Irish difficulty, and that if he does not do so, it is because he is trammelled by his supporters. In the 1969 year 1844—yes, you had formed opinions then after great study, and it is not because by some shuffle of the cards you have jumped on to that Bench you can avoid the recognition of them now—I see the right hon. Gentleman remembers. He was then Member for Shrewsbury—not for Marylebone or Wycombe; for the right hon. Gentleman went the round of many places, like myself. I have not changed my principles though I have changed my seat. Well, here is what he said when he sat for Shrewsbury—If they wanted permanently to settle Irish affairs with credit to themselves and to the satisfaction of the Irish people, they must reconstruct the social system of that country, and they must commence by organizing a very comprehensive and pervading Executive. … He wished to see a public man come forward and say what the Irish question was—Let them consider Ireland as they would any other country similarly situated. They had a starving population, an absentee aristocracy, an alien Church, and, in addition, the weakest Executive in the world. That was the Irish question. What would gentlemen say, on reading of a country in that position? They would say at once, the remedy is revolution" (not the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act). "But the connection with England prevented that; therefore England was logically in the odious position of being the cause of all the misery in Ireland.'And in such a state of things the right hon. Gentleman asked—What, then, was the duty of an English Minister? To effect by his policy all those changes which a revolution would do by force.The right hon. Gentleman is now in power. He has the opportunity of effecting those changes by his policy which he advocated when upon this side of the House. Sir, I would ask him—Is he contented to see statesmanship at its last gasp? Is he contented always to see the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act proposed first by one Government and then by another? I call upon him to initiate a policy such as he himself described. It may be, Sir, that in doing so he will shock the prejudices of a faction; but he will succeed to a more glorious heritage; he will inscribe his name on the rolls of his country as the regenerator of a people.
§ MR. DILLON
said, he considered that the remarks of the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Osborne) deserved great attention, for he resided in Ireland, had a large experience of the wants and character of the people, and was on such questions without a rival. He (Mr. Dillon) had come over from Ireland actuated by a feeling of curiosity to know what 1970 case the noble Lord the Chief Secretary could make out in support of his application. From inquiries which he had recently made in that country he had come to the conclusion that there was nothing more remarkable about Fenianism than its sudden collapse. The noble Lord had rested his case on three grounds—first, there were 300 odd persons in prison in Ireland, whom he was anxious to let out; but the condition on which he sought to let them out was the power to put the rest of the population into the places which they now occupied. The next ground of the noble Lord was that a conspiracy existed in America. The third was that the "head centre," or head organizer of the Fenians had made a menacing speech at Boston. So far as regarded the two latter grounds, Ireland was in a hard case if she was to be deprived of her liberty so long as Fenianism prevailed in America and men made silly speeches. So inveterate was the habit of passing these coercive laws for Ireland, that he feared the simple request of the Government for unconstitutional powers would be considered a sufficient reason for granting them. During the sixty-five years which had elapsed since the legislative Union, not one had passed in which some law had not been enacted for the curtailment of the liberties of the Irish people. He opposed the Bill on the grounds so ably stated by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire)—that in the present condition of Ireland there was no necessity for it, and that a wise, generous, and thoroughly Liberal policy was that which was alone calculated to promote the material prosperity and contentment of the Irish people. When a Member proposed such a measure as the present he ought to make out a case of urgent necessity; but the necessity relied upon last year no longer existed; the parties suspected were now either in prison or had left the country, and months had elapsed since any arrest had been made under the Act now in force. He asked the Attorney General for Ireland to state what facts he relied on to justify the Government in asking for a measure of this kind? It was true there was a large amount of disaffection; but the history of Ireland showed that the people could not be dragooned into quietude by such measures. The favourite maxim of Lord Derby when Chief Secretary for Ireland was that the peo- 1971 ple should be taught to fear before they could be induced to love—but all such attempts failed miserably. The noble Lord the Chief Secretary, in addressing his constituents, said, that the policy of the Government consisted in this—that Ireland wanted nothing but a vigorous administration of the law; the Attorney General for Ireland said that all kinds of tenant right should be resisted; and Lord Derby himself recently said that his view was simply this—that they should govern Ireland through the country gentlemen. The government of this class was shown by the fact that in Carlow, where there were 50,000 Roman Catholics and only 7,000 Protestants, all the Poor Law officers except a chaplain, who must by law be appointed, were Protestants. He protested against this measure as not being called for by the state of Ireland. He did not believe that the Government themselves would abuse their powers, but the officials employed under them in Ireland were of a very different class; and they were men in whom the people had no confidence. The conduct of the Liberal Government also for the last ten years had been such as to alienate the affection and confidence of the people of Ireland. The Tory Governments also, from the Union downwards, had opposed all concession, and, even in the present Session, they had opposed those measures which had been introduced for the benefit of Ireland. He appealed earnestly to the Liberal Members of that House, because he was anxious to cultivate a friendly feeling between them and the Irish people, not to arm the Government with these extraordinary powers. Irish discontent was not to be cured by such means; but, on the contrary, by such a wise, generous, and liberal policy as that indicated in the speech of the hon. Member for Cork.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. WALSH)
said, he did not mean to follow hon. Gentlemen opposite through the number of topics which had been introduced into the debate, and which included the Established Church, Trinity College, the land question, the abolition of the Lord Lieutenant, Royal visits, and a poorhouse in Cork. These questions would require the attention of the House from the beginning to the end of the Session for their discussion. If he understood the arguments of the hon. Gentleman and of other hon. Members on the Opposition side 1972 of the House, it would appear that unless everything was conceded to them—unless the Church was spoliated, the Charter of Trinity College revoked, the land question decided to their full satisfaction, and Roman Catholics appointed to every minor office in a Carlow workhouse, the people of Ireland were to be exposed to the attacks of Fenians, property and life were to be allowed to remain in danger, and the safety of the country to be in a constant state of peril. He would not go into those details, but he would refer to one observation of the hon. Member for Tipperary, who returned to an attack made by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) in reference to the relations of landlord and tenant. Now, he (the Attorney General) had lived all his life in Ireland, and he knew something of the relations between landlord and tenant there, and he fearlessly asserted that the picture of Irish landlordism drawn by the hon. Member for Cork was a gross exaggeration. The hon. Gentleman quoted no authority for his statement, which appeared to him (Mr. Walsh) to be very like the writing of some violent country newspaper, who, regardless of strict truth, wished only to produce a certain effect. Every opportunity had been given to the hon. Gentleman, or to any other person who thought like him on the subject, to prove the truth of this oft-repeated story before the Landlord and Tenant Commission, but no such evidence was ever tendered, and, with the exception of one or two futile attempts, which had utterly broken down, nothing of the kind had been endeavoured to be proved. The hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Osborne), in his very amusing speech, had done him the honour of quoting a portion of his speech he had made elsewhere. Now, he could not agree with the hon. Gentleman in either his statistics or history. When the hon. Member accused the University to which he (Mr. Walsh) belonged of illiberality, he would tell him that he could not know its constitution, or he would agree with him that it was one of the most liberal Universities in the United Kingdom. [Laughter.] Yes—for years the University of Dublin had educated Dissenters and Roman Catholics, and, with the exception of admitting them to the Governing Body, it had thrown open to them all its honours and advantages. During the years he had passed in that University he must say he had never heard such intolerant observations as 1973 those which had been uttered by certain hon. Members opposite. The hon. Gentleman, when he charged that University with never having sent a Liberal Member to that House, must have forgotten the great name of Plunkett, who represented the University in Parliament for many years. He now came to the real question which the House had to discuss, and he agreed with the hon. Member for Tipperary, that it lay upon the Government who introduced such a measure as the present to satisfy the House of its necessity. He regretted that it should fall to his lot, on the first occasion of addressing that Assembly, to advocate a measure of such a character as the present; but his regret was counterbalanced by the knowledge of the strong sense of duty which had compelled the Government to introduce it, and he certainly should not be its advocate if he did not think it a measure of absolute necessity. To those who alleged that on the proposal for a prolongation of this Act a case of the same nature should be made out as when it was originally introduced, he thought that the right hon. Member for South Lancashire had in a great measure given an answer. The treatment which a doctor should adopt when he first attended a patient might require long and serious consideration; but when once a certain course had been adopted, and the patient was prospering under it, it would require very long and very serious consideration before it should he given up. And what had been the result of the operation of the Bill in Ireland? At the moment when the present Government came into office they found the gaols filled with 320 prisoners charged with Fenianism of the worst kind. He denied that they were, properly speaking, his industrious fellow-countrymen, deserving of pity for the condition to which they had been brought. The great mass of them were adventurers and strangers, who had come from America, and who had acquired in the armies of, the North and South habits that rendered life and property insecure. There were also many persons among them who, being unable to find employment in Manchester and Birmingham and other large towns of this country, had returned home and joined in the conspiracy, tempted, no doubt, by the very delusive representations of American agents. The House had heard that 700 were arrested, and it must not be forgotten that the 320 who remained in prison were the very worst of 1974 the 700. He must do his predecessor in office the justice of saying that he had anxiously investigated the cases, and kept no man in prison except for the object of public safety; and all persons applying for release, when their applications were satisfactorily borne out by testimonials from persons who knew the prisoners, and when they were willing to give a guarantee to public safety by returning to America, were let out of gaol. Those who remained in prison were either such as could give no satisfactory guarantee, or such as, having come from America for the purposes he had referred to, refused to go back. He asked hon. Gentlemen who refused to trust the Government with powers to deal with these prisoners, what would become of the peace of Ireland if these 300 or 320 prisoners were, within the short space of three or four weeks, turned out upon the country to create bloodshed and commit murder, with no power existing to arrest them. He did not fear the spread of insurrection among large masses of the people — he believed the great mass of the Irish people were opposed to the Fenian Conspiracy; but he would give instances of what things were to be dreaded if some 300 desperadoes, now under imprisonment, should be suddenly turned loose upon the country. The examples he would give were not taken from what had occurred in out of the way places; they had occurred in the heart of the capital—the city of Dublin itself. The first case was investigated at the last criminal tribunal in Dublin. It was proved that on the 21st of April, at seven o'clock in the evening, this occurred in the city of Dublin:—A man named Maher was suspected by some Fenian agents of having given information to the police. He was met by a man named Dowling, who was supposed to be a friend of his, and induced to go into a porter-house in one of the most thickly populated districts of Dublin to drink, and this occurred—he had not long been there when another man entered, and suddenly turning round, fired a revolver at him. By accident he was not killed, only his ear was shot off. He rushed out into the street. Four shots were fired at him. Two women and three men were there. On reaching the street half-a-dozen more shots were fired at him. If he could advance no further than to show that some ten or twelve persons could be collected together and witness such a deliberate attempt at assassination he should go far to 1975 make out his case; but he did not stop there. The case was prosecuted, and it was impossible to get evidence sufficient for a conviction. There was another instance which took place in an equally populous place in the city of Dublin, on the quay at Charles Street, where, on the 29th April, a policeman was shot dead at the corner of a street. The only person who came to assist him was a soldier, who saw the assassin and pursued him. He was stopped by three or four persons, and the assassin escaped. He could not be detected. ["That is Kearney's case."] No, the case of William Kearney, who had given himself up for the murder of Joseph Clarke on the banks of the canal, was a different case. He was obliged to his hon. Friend for reminding him of that case. He had received from the Crown Solicitor that very day in reference to that very man the following statement: — Kearney stated that ho was told off by the Vigilance Committee to commit the murder; that he did not know he was to do it till he received the orders, about half-an-hour before committing the crime. The reason why he gave himself up was, that he found out afterwards that Clarke, the man who was shot, had not given the information he was suspected of having done. He was supposed to have informed on John Carey O'Sullivan the "head-centre" of Mallow. This prisoner, however, would not give the names of any of those from whom he received his orders, who were supposed to be still in the country. That afforded another illustration of the necessity for the continuance of the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act. In the course of to-day it had been his duty to read through a large portion of the papers from Ireland referring to the discharge of the prisoners. There were twenty-four cases. The course generally pursued was, when an application was made to refer it to the resident magistrate, the parish priest, or some other person who could give information as to the probable safety of discharging the prisoners. Of these twenty-four cases, there were five in Mayo, Wicklow, Dublin, and Clare who were recommended to be discharged. In eight cases no recommendation was given either way, and in the remaining eleven the persons referred to stated that, in their opinion, it would not be consistent with public safety that the prisoners should be discharged. Would they, in these circumstances, refuse to intrust the officers of the Government with 1976 the continuance of those powers which had been originally conferred upon them by Act of Parliament for the purpose of dealing with the very same difficulty they were now called upon to cope with. He held in his hand a Return of the arrests made by the late Government shortly before they left office—in May, June, and July. There were forty-three warrants issued in May, eleven in June, and seven up to the 9th of July (the termination of Lord Kimberley's Lord Lieutenancy) — manifestly showing that, in the opinions of Lord Kimberley and the then Law Officers of the Crown, the necessity still existed of retaining this Act in force. It had been said that it was "old womanly" to entertain such an opinion; and if the late Attorney General and Lord Kimberley, and, as he understood, the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, were to be described as "old women" let it be so, at any rate they had stated their opinion that if they had continued in power they would have asked the House to repose in them the same confidence which the present Government now sought. Let it not be forgotten that the present state of things in Ireland was not the growth of yesterday. Among the evils to which Ireland had been exposed—and it was one of the greatest of all evils—was that of a perennial agitation. The most irritating topics which could be addressed to men were perpetually addressed to them year after year, and the result was little to be wondered at. If Irishmen heard from those whom they admired and respected, and placed confidence in, that they were the most miserable, distressed, and ill-used people in the world, it was no wonder that they should believe it to be true, and that the evils they had to deplore should be the result; neither was it to be wondered at that so many had left the country. Great irritation had thereby been kept up for the purpose of hustings popularity, and it was to that they had to attribute the state of feeling which existed up to 1863. It was in November of that year that the great Chicago Congress of Fenians — the first meeting in America—took place, which was followed by the establishment of The People newspaper in Dublin in the December following. What the teachings of that paper were no one could well imagine who had not read it. It had been his painful duty to go through many of its pages, and he fearlessly said that in the annals of sedition it was impossible to find — he would not use a harsher term—any- 1977 thing more utterly abominable. The doctrine was advocated in theory which he had illustrated by example. The remedy for the evils of Ireland were described to be the rifle, the sword, and the gun in the hands of men who should rid the land of robbers—meaning the landlords; and that every cultivator of the soil should be his own landlord, the proprietor in fee simple of the houses and lands of his father. When these doctrines were disseminated among an excited people already in a state of chronic discontent they might well suppose what a fertile field the country presented to American agitators. The continuance of the powers which were intrusted to the late Government was now asked by the present Government to enable them to complete the remedy which had been commenced. He would not go into the collateral topics which had been introduced into this debate, many of which were wholly foreign to the subject. He must say he looked with pain upon the fact, that in a discussion on a narrow subject such as this, turning really and simply on the state of the country, and whether it was necessary for the public safety that the Executive should be armed with the powers intrusted to the former Government, irritating topics should have been introduced, and matters put forward to palliate and excuse the present state of things. ["No, no!"] He was glad that intention was disavowed. But the necessary consequence of what had been said on the other side was that, for the persons now in confinement, and for those who had gone to Ireland in order to cut the throats and appropriate the property of others, some excuse was to be made. ["No!"] Well, he could draw no other logical conclusion from what had been said, and therefore he viewed it with infinite pain. As to what he was supposed to have stated elsewhere, he had never meant to support any doctrine which he was not prepared to advocate in this House. He wholly repudiated the notion that any of the Gentlemen opposite were entitled to the exclusive epithet of Irish Members. He claimed to be an Irish Member, and was proud of the title, which belonged exclusively to no representatives of particular views in politics or religion; but he did not think that the concession to Members of a particular party or sect could be deemed a concession to the Irish nation. The only salvation for Ireland lay in comprehensive measures, which would encourage industry and direct the energies 1978 of the people to that which they lacked—a patient, persevering, peaceful use of the great blessings which Providence had conferred upon them. Any measures of that kind, honestly directed to their good, were the only means of withdrawing them from the delusions which they were now taught to cherish—a taste for agitation and for schemes which never could be realized.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
Sir, in the speech just delivered by Her Majesty's Attorney General I think we have a very fair specimen of the mild policy of Trinity College, Dublin, and of the exceedingly good logic of its hon. and learned representative in this House. The right hon. Gentleman says there have been no arrests for many weeks, and thence he argues that there is an urgent necessity for increased powers. His memory is not less at fault than his logic when he accuses us of defending Fenianism. I appeal to the recollection of every Gentleman in this House whether it is consistent with the fact to say that a single word was uttered on this side of the House by any hon. Gentleman who spoke against the continuance of the Act for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland, either in palliation or in defence of any of the Fenian proceedings or of any of the Fenian principles. Yet Her Majesty's Attorney General does not hesitate to come down to this House, and with all the energy and all the force which belong to his office, seek to brand the men on this side of the House as palliators and abettors of the nefarious schemes, as he truly described the project of Fenianism. Sir, we have not come here to defend Fenianism; we have not come here to palliate Fenianism; we have not come here to offer the slightest excuse for anything that he has condemned, and which he does not condemn more than we condemn. But we have come here to condemn his Government for the course which they have taken, which is calculated to create and to extend discontent by giving the Irish people grounds for ceasing to have hope or confidence in the legislation of this House, or in the sense of justice of the Government of the country. After the change of Government took place some of us went to another House to hear what policy was to be promulgated by the head of Her Majesty's present Government, and we gathered that substantially that policy amounted to this, that the Cabinet was to dispense with Larcom and the police, and trust to the local gentry for the Government of the country. A little recess then 1979 occurred, after which we came back here, and now we hear the leaders in this House describe that all the new Government are going to do for Ireland is to continue the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. The leaders of the Government in another place, and in this House, having explained their remedies, the Attorney General, the officer who is to direct all law proceedings in Ireland, no doubt acting on authority, declared on the hustings of Trinity College his view of what is to be done in Ireland; and he tells us that the policy of his Government is the maintenance of the Church Establishment there in all its integrity, and the denunciation of the Bill introduced by Her Majesty's late Government respecting the land question as a communistic scheme, which should be opposed by every man who possesses property in the country. The right hon. Gentleman has taken special pains to correct what he thought to be misapprehensions as to his speech, but he has not attempted to controvert either of those two portions of the report of his speech. And by not having done so he virtually admits that that is the policy of his Government—the maintenance of the Established Church in Ireland, and the denunciation and suppression of every effort to give compensation to the tenantry, which he condemns as a communistic project. [Cries of "No!"] No! does the right hon. Gentleman say "no?" [The ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND: Yes; I say No, no!] Then I will read his speech. He said—"It will be difficult to imagine any measures more revolutionary in their character"—and this is met with "Hear, hear!"—"I mean the concession of tenant right and the abolition of the Established Church." At a later period he said that tenant right and fixity of tenure or any colourable projects for affecting them were proposals put forward to delude the public, and that they were measures of a communistic character. I refer him to the report of his speech in the Ministerial Journals of the day. Thus, then, we have the statement which was made in another place. We have the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act proposed here, and we have the distinct declaration of the Attorney General in favour of the maintenance of the Established Church, in all its integrity, and the crushing of the communistic project introduced by the late Government. But he tells us that hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House dealt most unjustly with the landlord class in 1980 Ireland, with whom he is in intimate relations, and whose champion he is to-night. He tells us that my hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire) has drawn upon his imagination for the pictures which he has placed before us in the course of this debate with regard to the number of evictions and the sufferings thereby inflicted upon the people. The right hon. Gentleman says that the hon. Member for Cork must have obtained them from the vague notions and wild assertions of country newspapers. Sir, I happen to hold in my hand a Return which was ordered, not by this House, but by the other House of Parliament, where landlords sit—a Return which was ordered on the Motion of the Earl of Belmore—of the number of evictions in Ireland during the years 1860, 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, and 1865, which affords a practical illustration of what the Irish people are to expect when the Government of the country is placed more exclusively in the hands of the landed gentry, the unpaid and uncontrolled magistracy of that kingdom. This Return shows the following numbers:—In the inferior courts in that period there were no less than 34,035 separate processes of ejectment, and in the superior courts 3,129, making altogether 37,164 processes of ejectment. And this, be it observed, notwithstanding the enormous diminution of population by the thousands, who were evicted, and referred to by the hon. Member for Cork, and the immense extent of emigration stated by the hon. Member for Cashel. Now, what do those figures represent? Every man who is acquainted with the process of ejectment in Ireland knows that as a general rule an ejectment process is not a proceeding against an individual occupier only. It means a proceeding by one plaintiff against the mass of holders of one particular denomination of land; one ejectment may therefore mean as many as ten families. All you have to do is to multiply the number of processes by the number of families, but the number of families is not given us. It may be assumed, however, that each process represents three or four families. [An hon. MEMBER: Five or six.] Well, I may be below the mark, and an hon. Gentleman says it will be five or six. Take it at five families then. At all events, an ejectment process means several families. But assuming that each ejectment process represents one family only, what does that come to? I ask the landlords who are so maligned, who are the gentry 1981 of the country, who are represented in another place as the persons who should be the rulers of Ireland, who should be taken to their counsels by the Government to control all the affairs of the country, what do these figures represent as to the social sufferings under the present landlord code? Taking the lowest estimate of those who have been driven houseless and homeless on the world to beg, to starve, and to die, I find, assuming that each ejectment represents one family only, that the total number of the evicted amounts to 216,800 souls in six years. ["Oh, oh!" "Hear, hear!" and a laugh.] I am sorry to hear that callous, that heartless laugh. It may be a laughing matter for some of those exterminators whom the hon. Member who has raised it have sympathies with; but it is no laughing matter to the heads of these families to have the rooftree pulled down upon their heads, the fire on their hearths extinguished, and the door torn off its hinges, whilst the people so turned out are not permitted to remain one hour in the house of any tenant on that estate. That is the process and the rule in Ireland; and although Gentlemen on the other side may laugh at such statements being made, and think it a matter that ought not to come before this House, although the House may be told that to remedy that state of things and put an end to the power which enables a few men to throw 200,000 human beings on the roadside to seek subsistence and shelter as best they may and can in that hopeless and helpless condition—that, as we have been told by the Attorney General, to adopt measures for effectually putting a stop to this is rank communism, and should meet with the denunciation of the Government, I say it is time that this House should be made fully acquainted with the facts of the case. When it is asked to continue the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland, to confer increased powers upon the Government, and enable them still further to coerce the people of Ireland, and when the people are told that to ask protection for the enjoyment of the fruits of their industry is communism, it is time to appeal from a class Ministry to the great English public. On a former occasion, when coercive powers were asked for, a right hon. Member (Mr. Disraeli) said, in reference to it, that for his part he should, under any circumstances, be loth to join in passing a Coercion Bill for Ireland, and that the time had arrived when it was impos- 1982 sible to consider a Coercion Bill for Ireland apart from the general circumstances that distracted society in that country. Reference has been made to-night by an hon. Gentleman who preceded me (Mr. Osborne) to a remarkable speech which was delivered by that same right hon. Gentleman, who, I am sorry to see, has left his place on the Bench opposite; but, if he were here, I would venture to ask him this question—I would ask him why, after making such a declaration as that—why, after saying that he would be unwilling to consider any measure of coercion for Ireland apart from remedial measures to meet the circumstances which distract that country—he now comes down to the House, after a month's incubation, and tells us that the only thing he has to propose as a remedy for that state of Ireland is a suspension of the Constitution, and a renewal of the Act passed at the commencement of this Session. Sir, at this hour of the night I feel that I ought no longer to intrude upon the attention of the House than to say that I give my cordial support to the Amendment.
§ MR. M'LAREN
felt bound to notice a remark made by the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Osborne) that the existence of the Irish Church was mainly owing to the bigotry of the Scotch Members and the Scotch constituencies. Now he (Mr. M'Laren) would venture to say that unless the Irish Church had some better support than the Scotch constituencies it would soon topple over. He believed that out of the fifty-three Scotch representatives, not three would endanger their seats by supporting the abolition of the Irish Church, and the second largest constituency in that country returned at the head of the poll at the last election the candidate who strenuously advocated that measure. At the same time, the Scotch Members would be as much opposed to the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church as they were indifferent to the maintenance of the present Establishment. He thought that if the Irish Members were polled more bigotry would be found among them. He intended to vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. PIM,
while supporting a measure like this when introduced by the present and approved by the late Administration, thought it a humiliating circumstance that such an Act was necessary. He hoped that exceptional legislation would not be solely of a coercive character, and that remedial measures would not be 1983 objected to merely because they too were exceptional.
§ MR. WATKIN
said, that the speech of the Attorney General for Ireland had determined him to vote against this proposal. Because 700 prisoners had dwindled down to 300, it was considered a sufficient cause by the hon. and learned Gentleman to hold in suspension the rights of 6,000,000 of their fellow-subjects. If it had been urged that Fenianism was on the increase, or that an insurrection was imminent, some show of reason might be advanced, but this was not alleged; and no arrest even had been made since the 9th of July. He had recently drawn down upon himself a strong rebuke from the right hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) for having said that the United States Government ought to have put down the Fenian movement months ago. He still adhered to that opinion. He believed that the source of the evil lay in America, and that that source could only be stopped by representations to the Government of America.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 105; Noes 31: Majority 74.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow, at Twelve of the Clock.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Two o'clock.