HC Deb 15 May 1873 vol 215 cc2054-71

Order for Second Reading read.


in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, its object was to continue in operation till June, 1875, the Peace Preservation Act and the Protection of Life and Property Act, which would otherwise expire in June next. These exceptional measures of repression had been very successful in their object, and under their influence crime had greatly decreased in Ireland, although the state of the country was not such as to justify the Government in relying as to the future entirely upon the operation of the ordinary law. The present Act had been passed in 1871, and in Westmeath the number of agrarian offences was in the year preceding 103; in 1871—during a portion of which only the Act had been in operation—they fell to 40; in 1872 to 25; and in the present year only 4 outrages had been reported. In Meath, to part of which only the Act extended, the number of those offences was in 1870, 95; in 1871, 16; in 1872, 9; and in the present year, 1. In the King's County, to only a portion of which also the Act applied, the number was in 1870, 38; in 1871, 24; in 1872, 15; and in 1873, 6. The Reports of the police as to murders and attempts at murder showed an almost equally satisfactory decrease. In the county of Westmeath there was a diminution of this class of crime from 11 in 1870 to 2 in the present year. In Meath there was a falling off from 4 in 1870 to 1 in 1872, and no case had been reported this year. The effect of the Peace Preservation Act upon crime in general in Ireland had been equally beneficial. In 1869 there were 767 agrarian outrages recorded; in 1870—including several months of 1869–70 previous to the passing of the Act, when the state of the country had become extremely bad—the number of agrarian outrages reached 1,329; in 1871 they sank to 373, a diminution of nearly 1,000 compared with the previous year; and in 1872 they were 256. A considerable proportion of these outrages consisted of threatening letters or notices, a crime of a most serious character, but one which should be distinguished from cases of actual violence. It would probably be said that these threatening letters were to a great extent fabricated, and he had seen it gravely asserted in a newspaper as a matter of absolute notoriety that a manufactory of threatening letters was maintained by the Government in the county of Westmeath for the purpose of procuring the renewal of these Acts. But statistics extending over a long series of years showed a pretty steady proportion of threatening letters and notices to actual outrages committed. The ordinary proportion was about half, but in times when crime was rife the proportion fell somewhat below one-half; whereas in times like the present, when the number of agrarian outrages was less than usual, the proportion of threatening letters and notices was more than one-half. The maintenance of this proportion showed that the sending of these letters and notices was a symptom not to be disregarded. The Government, then, had to consider whether they would renew the Acts or trust to the ordinary operation of the law. In arriving at the conclusion that they ought to propose the continuance of the Acts they had consulted the local authorities. The grand juries of the counties of Meath, Westmeath, Mayo, and Cavan had passed resolutions strongly recommending the continuance of the Acts for a limited period; and some of the Judges at the Spring Assizes had expressed opinions favourable to the operation of this legislation, and to its continuance for some time longer. The first part of the Peace Preservation Act renewed powers which had been in operation more or less ever since 1847. The principal provision of it was one which empowered the Lord Lieutenant to proclaim certain districts, and prohibit any one in those districts from possessing arms without a licence from the proper authorities. It also empowered the constabulary within proclaimed districts to search for arms; and it enabled the Lord Lieutenant to send to a proclaimed district an additional force of constabulary, charging the cost of that force upon the district. With the exception of the whole county of Tyrone, and parts of the counties of Down and Derry, he was sorry to say that all Ireland was proclaimed under the Peace Preservation Act. As far as agrarian crime was concerned, many parts of Ireland might be relieved from the operation of the Act. But, although in this respect there was a great improvement, the Government had reason to believe that the Fenian conspiracy was not altogether dead, though he believed it was never at a lower ebb than at the present moment. Directions had been given to the magistrates to exercise their powers under the Peace Preservation Act with discretion, and only to refuse licences in respect of rifles and revolvers. It was desirable that the power to refuse licences for fire-arms of this description should be retained, in order to prevent unfortunate consequences resulting from armed men taking part in processions or other party demonstrations in the proclaimed districts, although no agrarian crime might have been committed in them for some time. Much good had also resulted from the Lord Lieutenant having the power of closing public-houses between sunset and sunrise in these districts, and from the summary powers given to the magistrates in certain cases. The constabulary were authorized in proclaimed. districts to arrest persons, especially strangers, out between sunset and sunrise who were unable to give a satisfactory account of themselves, and to take them before a magistrate, who was empowered to order them to be imprisoned for a certain time. The Protection of Life and Property Act, which applied especially to the Westmeath district, had also had an excellent effect. How far that Act had been put into operation might be estimated from the fact that since it came into force two years ago 18 persons had been arrested under it, of whom nine had been discharged on certain conditions, the remaining nine only being in confinement. There had been almost unanimous testimony given by the local authorities to the effect that the incarceration of those nine persons had rendered the district peaceable. From the Reports of the local authorities, which were of a confidential nature, and therefore could not be laid upon the Table, it appeared that, although the organization of Ribbonism still existed, it had been utterly and entirely crippled by the operation of the two Acts. At the same time it was pointed out that the measures had not yet been in force for a sufficient time to permanently put an end to the former state of things. The Government had reason to fear that if the pressure under which crime had been kept down in the proclaimed districts were removed, there would be a renewal of crime there. The provisions of the Act respecting newspapers had not been much exercised; but nevertheless their existence had not been altogether without a salutary influence. Although what was called the National Press of Ireland still advocated disunion between the English and Irish people, the instances in which open sedition was preached had been exceedingly rare, and in only two cases had warnings been found necessary. He did not intend to make any alteration in the Act in any respect with regard to newspapers. He did not think the House would be disposed at present to amend Acts of exceptional coercion applied to Ireland, but rather to hope that the time would soon come when this policy of coercion would be entirely abandoned. He should ask the House to renew the Act for two years, which would be certain to carry it over the next General Election, and give the new Parliament an opportunity of expressing its opinion upon the necessity of its re-enactment. His sincere wish was that the necessity for a further renewal would have then disappeared.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(The Marquess of Hartington.)

in moving that the Bill be read a second time this day six months, contrasted the evidence of crime and outrage adduced in 1870 and 1871, before the passing of this measure, with the evidence, or rather lack of evidence, which was adduced now, and contended that the Government were as much bound to justify the renewal of the measure as the original introduction of it. He would remind the House that in 1871 the Government even asked for a Committee to take evidence; that the demand for a Committee was resisted upon the ground that the Government had all the information they desired, and ought at once to proceed to legislate; and that the reply of the Government was that the House ought not to legislate rashly or in a panic. He assumed that the statistics of recent crime now given told the whole story, because if the Government knowingly allowed persons to be at liberty to the danger of life and property they did not discharge their duty, and on that assumption he contended that there was no more crime than could be dealt with by the ordinary administration of the law and without interfering with the liberty of the subject, if only the police, the magistrates, and the country gentlemen exerted themselves. The present Bill was brought forward on the ground that the existing Act would expire on the 1st of June, and unless it was renewed the persons now in prison would be entitled to their discharge. He contended that in a constitutional point of view these men ought not to be imprisoned beyond the period fixed by the Act, and claimed their discharge at the expiration of the term sanctioned by the law. Sufficient ground had not been shown for the detention of these men, and he thought the Government would act wisely in not insisting upon their further detention. The new Act should be left to be applied to its own proper objects.


seconded the Amendment. One of the chief arguments originally used to induce the House to assent to the Westmeath Act was that it was designed to meet an exceptional state of things, and that its operation would be limited to two years. The late Attorney General for Ireland (Baron Dowse) said in February, 1872, that it would expire in 1873. That statement admitted of but one construction—namely, that the Act would be allowed to die of itself in June, 1873. The intention of the Government at the time was further made manifest by the Act passed at the close of the last Session, entitled the Expiring Laws Continuance Act. The Schedules of the Act included the Peace Preservation; but not the Protection of Life and Property Act, otherwise the Westmeath Act. The omission could only be explained on one hypothesis—namely, that it was then the intention of the Government to allow the Act to expire of itself in June, 1873. In fact, nothing could justify the renewal of the Act except an increase of crime in the country, and the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) had not shown an increase of crime. He (Mr. Smyth) affirmed that life and property were as secure now in Westmeath as in any part of Her Majesty's dominions. Two days ago, in the City of Limerick, the Lord Lieutenant said, "The state of the country is very satisfactory. Ordinary crime is very low, and agrarian crime has disappeared." Such was the state of circumstances under which it was proposed to renew the most severe coercive Act which was ever passed. He missed from the Returns of the persons arrested under the Westmeath Act several names which appeared in earlier Returns. What had become of those persons? They had not died in prison; they were not at large in Westmeath or any other part of Ireland. The truth was, their prison doors had been opened on condition that they would go to America. What was now the situation? In order to prevent the return of those men, a population of some 150,000 peaceable and industrious people were outlawed, and a hideous wound inflicted on the Constitution, and for the sake of that Constitution itself, and for the sake of liberty, he asked the Government to pause in the course they were pursuing.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Sherlock.)


said, the House of Commons had seldom presented a more discreditable spectacle than the one that had been witnessed that evening. The House had been occupied exclusively with the discussion of two Irish subjects. One of them concerned the administration of the education of the people, but it was tinged with a complexion of religious intolerance, and that discussion brought into the House Members from all parts of the kingdom. The House was treated to a scene of tumult such as seldom attended even debates upon the most exciting subjects. After that came on a Bill promoted by the Government, which was to deprive of the benefits of the constitution one-third portion of the United Kingdom; and the House heard from the noble Lord the Chief Secretary the reasons why, in his opinion, these disgraceful acts of coercion should be renewed. He called them disgraceful, because it was humiliating and degrading to the national reputation of the United Kingdom that at this time of day the constitution should be suspended over a great part of the Empire. Nearly all the time his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Serjeant Sherlock) was moving his Amendment, and stating the case of the Irish people, the Treasury bench was entirely empty; but when he was drawing to the close of his statement one Member of the Government crept into his place and recognized with a smile the ironical cheers with which he was received. There were at that moment absent from the House not only most of the English and Scotch Members, but he blushed to say the greater part of the Members who represented Irish constituencies also. He maintained that it was a scandal that the debate should have to be conducted under such circumstances, and he could only conclude that the fact of attending debates upon Irish subjects so demoralized hon. Members that they had hardly the courage to lift their voices against the legislation which was proposed. He himself felt it hard to struggle against the coldness, and even the disorder, which at times prevailed when Irish Members rose to speak; but as long as he had a seat in that House he would not lose the opportunity of protesting against the mode in which Irish legislation was carried on, and he would especially protest against the manner in which this debate had been conducted. With regard to the Acts which it was proposed to renew, the Peace Preservation Act was directed against the Fenian conspiracy, which became active at the close of the American war. He asked anyone residing in Ireland whether he believed there was any conspiracy in Ireland now which could give the slightest trouble to the Executive Government? The Westmeath Act, on the other hand, was directed against Ribbonism, which was neither more nor less than trades unionism; and at the time it was passed trade union outrages of great atrocity existed in Sheffield and in other English towns, but no such legislation was proposed as regarded them. But it was useless to ask the House to consider this question upon its merits; for experience had shown that the House of Commons was only too ready to grant these exceptional powers when Ireland was to be the victim. He trusted that some day, upon one side of the House or the other, a statesman would arise who would ask himself seriously—"Cannot I conjure up a public opinion in Ireland?" for it was only by the existence of public opinion that the laws could be rendered effective in any civilized country. The present system of government by the permanent officials of the Castle stifled public opinion and inspired the people with distrust, and as long as it was maintained permanent improvement was hopeless; for neither the responsible classes nor the great mass of the people had any voice in the public service. It should not be surprising that authority was not respected in Ireland when the stipendiary authorities were appointed without any security being taken that they had any knowledge of law. He did not believe that such a system existed or would be tolerated in any other civilized community, whether despotic or democratic, as that which made stipendiary magistrates in Ireland. They were, with some exceptions, either retired officers of the Army or of the Navy, or officers promoted from the constabulary; but there was not one of them that was required to pass any legal examination, or to show that he knew anything of the laws and constitution of the country. They looked for guidance to the authorities in Dublin, and between them a fire of circulars and instructions was perpetually kept up on the true system of centralizing everything at the Castle. Some merriment was caused in the House the other day, during the discussion on the subject of Irish railways, by the statement that there were some 400 railway directors in Ireland, when it was thought 40 would be enough. But why were there these 100 directors? It was because there existed no opportunity in Ireland of gratifying that passion for public service which was a condition of civilization. He believed that if there was in Ireland an opportunity for landed proprietors, and the higher classes of tradesmen, and professional men to take some part in the legislation necessary for their country, a development of public opinion would be the result. If Parliament would seriously set about creating a public opinion in that way by enlisting those classes in the service of the State, instead of concentrating all the Government of the country in the Castle at Dublin, where it was administered by a few paid officials, he believed that very soon we should hear no more of these coercion Acts.


took exception to that portion of the hon. Member's speech in which he sought to make it appear as if the House made a distinction between the treatment of Irish affairs and the affairs of the other portions of the Empire. As to the thinness of the attendance, that occurred chiefly at the dinner hour, and it must be borne in mind that there were 105 Irish Representatives, so that if there was not a sufficiency of Members present, the fault ought not to be attributed exclusively to the English and Scottish Members. They had been engaged in the discussion of Irish affairs all the evening, and he could state of his own knowledge that the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) had been employed upon Irish affairs from 12 o'clock that day to the present hour. He objected to the imputation that the affairs of Ireland were of no concern to English Representatives, and deprecated any such comparison. The hon. Member must not suppose that because he intended voting against him that he was, therefore, reckless of what Ireland was subjected to. With regard to the Bill, he had heard with great pleasure the statement of the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) as to the improved state of Ireland. Ireland was progressing in prosperity and in, everything which could conduce to the happiness of the country, and he hoped and believed that in a very short time there would be no difference in the legislation for that as compared with other parts of the United Kingdom; but at present there unfortunately existed circumstances which led many of the best friends of Ireland to believe that they were doing a kindness to that country by continuing this exceptional legislation for a further period. It had been shown to be necessary; it had not hitherto been abused, and the Government might be trusted with its continuance for a short time longer. He should give his vote for the second reading of the Bill.


said, it was also his intention to support the second reading of the Bill, though by so doing he might expose himself to misrepresentation. No one was more dependent than he was upon popular sympathy; but he was giving no just ground for the charge that he was supporting an encroachment upon the liberties of his countrymen. It was true that the Bill conferred extraordinary powers on the Government, but similar powers were at present in operation by the President of the United States of America. Laws of this nature would from time to time be necessary; but a Government elected by the people could hardly abuse their powers. He believed that there never was in Ireland an Executive to whom the power now sought might be more safely intrusted, and that a resort to oppressive measures was the last thing they desired. The Government possessed sources of information which individuals could not command, and circumstances might arise in the future with which the ordinary law could not grapple. As to the past, he denied that the Bill had abridged the liberties of the Irish people or the freedom of the Irish Press. Socially and politically, the people of Ireland were incomparably freer than at any former period of their history, and this was entirely owing to the reforms carried by Her Majesty's Government. Under the Land Bill the agricultural population had acquired what practically amounted to a partnership in the soil, and according to the hon. Member (Sir John Gray) they were starting upon that partnership with a capital of £70,000,000 or £80,000,000. The well-known industry of the Irish agriculturists would add every day to the amount of that capital, so that the cost of evicting them would become ruinous. Thus the confidence which the Land Bill gave to Ireland was like a new principle of existence; while her political liberties were secured by the Ballot and a fair system of trial by jury. He asserted that the great body of the Irish people would never have known of the passing of the Bill except for a constant clatter kept up by a few newspapers in Dublin. Had any individuals except a little knot of newspaper men complained of it? And did it really abridge the freedom of the Irish Press? In Dublin there were The Freeman, The Daily Press, The Irish Times, and The Mail. But could not they discuss every question as freely as they ever could? And with regard to the papers of Cork and Belfast, and in fact the whole provincial press, could they not act in the same way? They could. The Bill merely affected a class of publications which fortunately were very rare, and were not allowed to appear in any country, not even in America, except under necessary and wholesome restrictions. To describe a Press which pandered to vice as natural and patriotic was an abuse of language. He had no doubt that the Government would in the future, as they had in the past, administer this Bill with discretion, and that the result of it would be conducive to the tranquillity and general welfare of Ireland. For these reasons he should vote for the second reading.


said, he would not attempt to describe the feelings of indignation with which he had heard the speech of the hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue); and he would appeal to the Irish Members around him to say whether it was true that there had been no complaints of this legislation except from a "little knot of newspaper men." The hon. Gentleman, how-ever, would no doubt meet with his reward to-morrow from those journals which upheld oppressive measures towards Ireland. Only the gravest necessity could justify a Bill which the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) had himself described as "unconstitutional," yet the noble Lord had supported it with only a few statistics and had deprecated discussion. If the Legislature did not take advantage of the moment when there was an absence of crime to allow such an Act to lapse, when could it over be got rid of? No evidence had been adduced to justify the statement in the Preamble that a society or confederation of a secret nature now existed in Westmeath. In the hope that such a measure would never be revived again, or that, if it were ever proposed to renew a Bill which struck at the fundamental principles on which the Constitution was based, it would not be discussed before empty benches, he should support the Amendment for the rejection of the Bill.


said, he believed that if he could succeed in realizing to the minds of Englishmen the real oppression that existed in Ireland, the proposal for renewing these Acts would be received in a very different manner. In 1848 the Ministry of Lord Russell proposed an Act which was called the Crime and Outrage Act, under which the Lord Lieutenant for Ireland was enabled to proclaim any county and institute a search for arms, but with this reservation—that the warrant was to be enforced for only 21 days, and must be executed between 6 o'clock in the morning and 6 in the evening. At that time there was a fearful amount of crime in Ireland. In fact, nothing had existed recently to be compared with it. In 1856 an Act was passed mitigating the penalties under the former measure; but in 1870 the Government introduced a far more stringent Act. Out of the 32 counties of Ireland only one—the county of Tyrone—was exempt from the operation of this Act. Twenty-six whole counties were subject to it, and in five it was partially enforced, so that they had the constitution suspended in nearly the whole of Ireland. The districts under the Act were subject to a domiciliary visit from a policeman at every hour of the night; and the police did thus enter houses on pretence that they were seeking for arms when they were acting for very different purposes. He admitted the mildness with which Earl Spencer administered what he had truly called the terrible powers of this Act; but the Lord Lieutenant might proclaim a dis- trict, and the effect of a special proclamation was that any man who was found out of his house after dark might be taken up and, unless he satisfied the magistrate that he was out on some lawful occasion, he might be sent to prison for as many days as the magistrate thought proper. There were now seven counties in Ireland in which this Curfew Law prevailed, and he would ask whether a country could be called free that was subject to such a law? Repeated complaints were made of the conduct of the police; but when the persons complaining were asked to come forward, they were afraid of becoming marked men. If Englishmen were told that such a law existed in Poland, Naples, or Russia, their indignation would be aroused, and, perhaps, despatches would be sent from the Foreign Office pointing out that such legislation was endangering the peace of Europe. The Government which demanded the surrender of their liberties in order to maintain order had utterly failed. He believed that if they had thrown themselves on the good feeling of all classes of Ireland, crime would have been more effectually put down than by these unconstitutional Acts. He asked the House whether the time had not come for this mode of government to terminate, instead of being continued at a date when the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had stated that agrarian and political crime were extinct in the country, and that the number of ordinary offences committed had considerably decreased. Or were they to continue it, and upon what authority? Not upon the authority of the noble Marquess who had not a real voice in this matter. Was it to be upon the authority of the stipendiary magistrates? Had the noble Marquess ever read Mr. Senior's description of the gentlemen who filled the office of stipendiary magistrates in Ireland? Had he ever read Archbishop Whateley's description of the way in which they were appointed? He (Mr. Butt) strongly deprecated legislation such as was now proposed being undertaken on the strength of Reports made by these gentlemen. In 1868 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) stated at a banquet that his Government had tranquillized Ireland; but this statement was promptly denied by the right hon. Gentleman now at the head of Her Majesty's Government, who said that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) had had the hardihood or the infatuation to congratulate the persons seated at a festive board on the state of Ireland, a statement which reminded him of the conduct of a military despot who, having trampled all liberty under foot with his armed forces, declared that order at last existed. But the right hon. Gentleman seemed to have forgotten that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire had not at that time a Coercion Bill at his back, and perhaps he would now say whether at the time of speaking he was factious, or whether he was a tyrant now, when his Government was using the language he himself deprecated six years ago. He would not go the length of saying that peace might not be purchased too dearly; but a Government which could not give to a country order and security for life and property without taking away the liberty of the people had proved and confessed itself unfit to govern freemen. The Act in its worst form was administered in the town of Belfast. Was the Government so incompetent that it could not suppress a street riot without subjecting every house to a domiciliary visit at any hour of the night, and without having a Curfew Law, whereby a man could nut be out except on a lawful occasion? He repeated his question—Was this state of things to continue? Seven of the counties were out of the pale of civilized law—it was not civilized law where a Curfew Act existed; it was not civilized law where a stranger might be arrested and carried off to prison at the pleasure of a magistrate. In 1871 no fewer than 221 warrants had been granted by the Lord Lieutenant to search for arms, to break into houses at any hour of the night in large districts of Ireland, while there was no control over the men so authorized except their own discretion. Did this not account for the emigration which was going on? He believed the people were fleeing from Ireland because tyrannic Acts like these made them feel that it was not a place in which they could live. All this was a source of weakness and scandal to the British Empire, and, if not arrested, the time would come when England would bitterly regret it.


said, he represented a county (King's County) to which no crime was imputed except being a border county to Westmeath. That was held sufficient for placing it in the unhappy circumstances which his hon. and learned Friend had just described. He regretted that no statement had been made to indicate the existence of a belief in the minds of the Government that the present measure would be of temporary duration. He could not believe that it was necessary for the peace of Ireland. When the Government asked for powers which no Englishman or Scotchman would permit to be applied to their own countries, he was entitled to ask whether there were any exceptional circumstances in the case of Ireland which justified the application of such powers to her. It had been said that the magistracy had been consulted in reference to the state of crime in Ireland; but he submitted that, as the revision of the magistracy which was promised some three or four years ago had never been carried out, the Government had no right to appeal to the opinions of the magistrates on the subject. Upon what evidence was a measure based which would place Ireland once more in chains? Not upon any that was at all sufficient or reliable. He believed that the Lord Lieutenant, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, or the Postmaster General, would not state that any reason existed for the continuance of coercive legislation for Ireland. In many cases gross injustice had been committed in the name of the law, and it was the duty of the Irish Members, as guardians of public liberty in Ireland, to oppose by their votes a measure of restraint and coercion being applied at a time of unexampled tranquillity in Ireland. He should vote for the Amendment of his hon. Colleague (Mr. Serjeant Sherlock).


protested against the Bill. In 1870 the Judge of Assize at Cork declared both that city and county to be unexampled for the absence of crime. At the last assizes the Judges made a similar statement; and the Chairmen of Quarter Sessions all through the county had got white gloves. He protested against their liberty being taken away upon half a sheet of paper by hon. Members, half of whom voted knowing nothing of the enactments in the Bill. The hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue) had stated that no individual in Ireland complained of the Bill. The constituents of the hon. Gentleman were of a different opinion, and he thought he might safely leave the hon. Gentleman in their hands. The people of Cork and its neighbourhood were oppressed by the powers which the Bill placed in the hands of the police. The people there had no games on account of the police; they had ceased to sing and had become sullen; they were not allowed to play in the roads; and they were taken up for having a song in their pockets. In the town from which the hon. Member for Tralee (The O'Donoghue) came, only 12 months ago, he knew of a poor fellow who was arrested for singing "The green hills of Erin," and the magistrates, in sending him to prison, said that "he'd soon see whether he could not put a stop to his—seditious singing." He had known the police take up a man for selling a picture of Father Matthew. Another man was searched by two bodies of police; one body found nothing upon him that they objected to, but the other body found upon him a simple pastoral ballad called "St. John's Eve," for possessing which they sent him to bride well, and kept him there all night. He had himself seen policemen arrest two boys at night who were guiltless of crime, and when—on their being at his remonstrance released—he said he would report the case, the people begged of him not to do so, stating that if he did they would suffer persecution from the police in consequence. How was the Arms Act exercised in Cork? He knew a gentleman who was actually refused a licence to carry arms because, according to the authorities, "of the hat he had on." In Mr. Nassau Senior's Conversations, the stipendiary magistrates of some parts of Ireland were described as men appointed from political motives, capable of using the police for their own purposes, devoid of talents or character, and some of them habitual drunkards. In the county of Cork there were 490,000 Catholics to 50,000 Protestants, yet there was a vast preponderance of Protestants holding all kinds of public offices. Even of the governors of the lunatic asylum, there were 25 Protestants to two Catholics, and the Militia, though the rank and file were Catholics, had no Catholic officers. The difference of religion in Ireland marked a broader distinction of politics and feeling than any patriot could wish to exist, and when the people saw this ascendancy of the minority pervading the administration of justice they entertained no confidence in that administration, and did not assist the officers in the manner they ought to do. He knew the feeling of the people better than the noble Marquess, whose information was drawn from the detectives, and he knew that men innocent of Eenianism or any other offence were being driven from the country by police persecution. A man in his own employment was arrested and detained three weeks, while everything was done to obtain information against him, but without effect, for he had never been concerned in anything wrong, and he was at last liberated, but he lost his situation and became insane through the persecution he was subjected to. Stipendiaries credited every charge advanced by the police. He himself had been a sufferer from the Act. Having been in the habit of shooting game, he paid £3 to the customs for a licence, and went out shooting several times, but afterwards found that he had rendered himself liable to a two years' imprisonment for each occasion. Who ever imagined that any man would take out a licence for shooting his landlord? The man who wanted to shoot his landlord would conceal from everybody the fact that he had a gun. The present Government, in their extreme liberality, had taken from them the power of killing game unless they went hat in hand for it to a policeman. He begged the House not to pass the Bill.


replied, denying that he received all his information about Ireland from detectives, much of it being derived from the speeches of Irish Members in that House. Neither did he see that the distribution of honours and emoluments in the county of Cork between Catholics and Protestants was very pertinent to the present question; although, if it was introduced into the discussion at all, the distribution of Irish judicial appointments ought in fairness to have been referred to. It was impossible that the system of police terrorism alleged by the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) to exist in Ireland could be carried to such a pitch of perfection among a people so ready to tell their grievances, and with a Press so active in proclaiming them, that not a single word of it should have been heard of. The principle on which the Lord Lieutenant acted was to arrest those whom he supposed to be the leaders of the Fenian organization, and whose arrest would cripple and paralyze its action. He felt assured that nothing which had been stated by the several hon. Gentlemen who had spoken, would induce the House to refuse the Bill a second reading.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 223; Noes 38: Majority 185.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.