Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [22nd March], "That the Peace Preservation (Ireland) Bill be now read a second time;" and which Amendment was,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House disapproves of the imposition or maintenance of exceptional legislation, except in those cases where urgent grounds, proving the necessity of it, have been clearly shown; and that sufficient grounds for the maintenance of any exceptional legislation have not been proved to exist at present in Ireland,"—(Lord Robert Montagu,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.233
§ MR. CALLAN
rose to renew his opposition to such legislation for his country as was embodied in the Bill before the House. Some years ago, when a similar measure was proposed, he had the honour of seconding an Amendment moved by the late Mr. G. H. Moore. The circumstances then were very different, for at that time Ireland was in a state at least to cause alarm; whereas at present peace and quietness prevailed in the land. He thought it right now to renew the protest he had made on that occasion. It had been stated last night by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland that no memorials had been presented to the Government for the liberation of "Captain Duffy." But he (Mr. Callan) could affirm without fear of contradiction that a memorial, whether it had been presented to the Lord Lieutenant or the Chief Secretary or not, had been signed with that object; what was more, it had been acted on, and the notorious "Captain Duffy" had been liberated. The hon. Member for West Gloucestershire (Mr. Plunkott) had declared that the ordinary laws were insufficient for the proper government of Ireland; but he had failed to adduce any facts in support of such a statement. No such facts, he (Mr. Callan) felt persuaded, could really be brought forward. On the contrary, it could be easily proved that the country was in a condition to be altogether freed from these restrictive measures. They bore with peculiar hardship often in places where they were least deserved. It had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman that licence to carry arms was granted at the discretion of the properly-constituted authority, the resident magistrate. But in the county of Louth, which had 2,400 registered electors, there were not 50 of the county farmers who had the right or licence to carry arms over their own land. So much for the discretion of the properly-constituted authorities. The Bill before the House was in every respect most vexatious, and consequently most objectionable, and could only be justified by the fact of Ireland being in a disturbed condition. That was not so, as he knew from his own experience. He had during the last month been on Circuit in Louth, Monaghan, Armagh, and two other counties, embracing a population of 700,000, and no serious 234 case was tried at the Assizes, save one murder case arising out of a family dispute and totally unconnected with agrarian crime. Where, then, was the need of again imposing these restrictive laws? In every one of those five counties the Judges congratulated the Grand Jury on the absence of serious crime, yet the county of Louth was under special proclamation. It was penal to carry arms, and the peaceful inhabitants were liable to have their houses broken into by special warrant in a search for arms. That was surely not the proper way to govern Ireland! He would not have pressed his objection to the Bill had the Chief Secretary given an assurance that its provisions would not be applied to counties that were peaceful and orderly; but as it was he would have to give the measure his strong opposition.
§ MR. LESLIE
said, the Gentlemen who sat on the Opposition side of the House claimed to represent the people of Ireland in opposing the Bill. He, too, claimed to speak the voice of a portion of the people of that country upon the subject, but it was not the voice of those who sat opposite. He granted that the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. John Martin) and his Colleagues represented the majority in this matter; but in dealing with such a question it was their duty to bear in mind who it was that formed the minority. The minority were the leaders of progress in Ireland. They were the principal promoters of the industry of that country. They were the chief creators of the material wealth of that country. They were, in fact, the leaders of the van of civilization in Ireland. He had listened to the calm, impartial, and conciliatory statement of the Chief Secretary with the highest satisfaction; and he thought there would have been a general approval of this measure among Irish. Members, especially after the withdrawal of the Press clauses, in which, as it appeared to him, the right hon. Gentleman approached the utmost limit of prudence rather than give a shadow of excuse for the charge of oppression. The hon. Member for Youghal (Sir Joseph M'Kenna), when discussing the other night the incidence of taxation, asked how they could wonder that disaffection existed in Ireland when they overtaxed the people; but last night they heard 235 the same hon. Gentleman declare he did not believe that disaffection existed at all in Ireland. In considering whether those Peace Preservation Acts were necessary they must ask themselves whether disaffection really existed in Ireland. Everyone knew very well that it did. But while he thought the Bill necessary, he thought it was a misfortune that it should be necessary to define any specified time at which the Acts should expire. It was impossible to define the exact time at which crime and disaffection would cease, and until they knew that how could they tell when the operation of the Acts should cease? He did not envy the noble Lord the Member for Wostmeath (Lord Robert Montagu) the position he now occupied. Having, in 1870, voted in favour of the Peace Preservation Act, he now moved this Amendment. The noble Lord had paid too high a price for the distinction of representing the county of Westmeath; it was evident to him that an encroachment had been made on his mental and moral freedom. As for himself, he would cling to the party of order. He believed that the party of order in Ireland approved of the Bill, and he would, therefore, cheerfully vote for its second reading.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
was of opinion that the noble Lord the Member for Westmeath (Lord Robert Montagu), in adopting the course he had thought fit to adopt, and by moving his Amendment, had shown that even an Englishman, when he studied the subject with a mind free from national prejudices, could see that Ireland was not fairly treated by this country. He (Mr. O'Connor Power) believed also that discussions of this kind were productive of great good, because they enabled the House of Commons to investigate the position of the different classes which made up the Irish nation. The chief misfortunes of Ireland were due to the landowners and the magistrates, who were selected from the landocracy, and they were now in a minority because the people believed they could not be trusted with the destinies of Ireland, and because they had availed themselves of the Ballot to express their preference for men who had become eminent by their own industry and ability. Speaking in the House of Commons nearly 30 years ago, in 1847, at the time of the Famine, the hon. 236 Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) produced what was described as a "sensation" by referring to the Irish landlords, for whom, he said, the British Parliament had been legislating for 300 years; and during that time, he continued—They had been legislated for, as a body, against the people of Ireland. They had wrought always for their own personal purpose, unmindful of the wants of the people of Ireland."—[3 Hansard, lxxxix. 111.]And yet these were the men who according to the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Leslie), represented Irish interests, and who declared that if Parliament would do what they wanted, Ireland would become a land flowing with milk and honey, and the Emerald Isle the brightest gem in the Crown of the British Empire. The people of Ireland had rejected their leadership, and they were now in a minority. At the time of the Famine, so far from making any attempt to remedy the grievances of the Irish people, the landocracy assembled together at a large meeting in Dublin and projected an elaborate scheme for the wholesale extermination of the Irish people, and they resisted an excellent measure brought forward by Lord George Bentinck, and intended to develop the resources of Ireland. He resented coercive legislation as a galling insult to his country, because it conveyed to Europe and America the notion that the people of Ireland were in a savage state, and that it was necessary to destroy the Constitution in order to preserve the public peace. Were they to allow legislation on such statements as were made by the Chief Secretary—statements which no witness cared publicly to substantiate, statements which were supplied by the police, and by magistrates many of whom had been properly described as being bankrupt in character as well as in fortune? What would be thought in England if the Government proposed to legislate on statements made by magistrates without reference to the opinion of the people's elected Representatives? Such a proposal would elicit protests from a thousand platforms, and would seal the fate of any Government by whom it should be submitted. Irish Members were elected that the Irish people might participate in the British Constitution, which was forced upon them by English bayonets, and now they 237 were refused the exercise of their rights lest Ireland should attain to too great prosperity. The whole history of Irish legislation was based on suspicion and distrust; but peace, loyalty, and contentment might be purchased by the very same moans and at the very same price that contentment had been purchased in other lands where good government had promoted the interests of the people. Give Ireland a land system such as that of Franco, Prussia, Holland, Belgium, and Switzerland—give the Irish peasantry fixity of tenure in the soil and undisturbed enjoyment of the fruits of their labour—and there would then be no necessity to propose those periodical coercion enactments. If we were determined to continue the rule of force, we must engage in a struggle against the laws of nature, for resistance to injustice was natural and inevitable. So long as Parliament was determined to prevent Irish Representatives from legislating for Ireland in their own country, upon Parliament would rest the responsibility of the disaffection of the Irish people. If Parliament would give tenant-right to the Irish peasantry and rescue them from the power of rack-rent, landlords and spendthrift absentees, it would relieve itself from the burden of the Irish difficulty as far as agrarian crime was concerned. He protested against these periodical enactments, and should therefore vote for the Amendment of the noble Lord.
§ SIR EARDLEY WILMOT
said, he was desirous to set himself right in the opinion of the House in reference to a circumstance which occurred in the last Session. At the instance of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord G. J. Hamilton) the House was counted out at the end of last Session when he was about to bring forward a Motion in the interests of the naval and military services of the country. He was surprised that he should have been so dealt with by a Member of his own Party, and he was still more astonished when the noble Lord made public the statement, as a reason for counting out, that he (Sir Eardley Wilmot) was a Home Ruler, and therefore sitting behind the Government under false colours. He denied the charge, which had been made on the authority of Dod's Parliamentary Companion. When his hon. Friend the learned Member for Leeds called his 238 attention to the fact that he was described as a Home Euler in that usually correct publication, he did not think it worth while publicly to contradict it; but he wrote to the Editor, who told him it was a printer's error, and assured him that it should be rectified in the next edition of the Parliamentary Companion. This had since been done; but he desired to take this opportunity of setting himself right with the House and the country. He should not be ashamed of being a Home Euler if he held the opinions of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He respected those hon. Members, believing that they were actuated by the same patriotism and feeling of duty to their country as himself; but he objected to be accused by Members on his own side of acting in an unworthy manner. If he were a Home Euler, he should walk over to the other side of the House. No one, however, could take a deeper interest in Ireland than he did; and he was glad it had been found possible to relax some of the restrictions which had been imposed upon that country. Still, being convinced that it was necessary to continue for a time this coercive legislation, he should support the Bill before the House. Who was to blame for this coercion? They ought to have developed the great natural advantages and resources of Ireland; but instead of doing so the arterial wealth of that country had been drained to the extent of some £4,000,000 a-year and spent in England and elsewhere. England had governed Ireland by means of the venom of party. Party feelings and animosities prevailed in the Executive of that country, and it was not surprising that the example set by those at the top had been followed by those at the base. Much disadvantage had arisen from frequent changes of the Irish Government in recent years. Prom the years 1830 to 1875 there had been no less than 17 Lords Lieutenant of Ireland; whereas from 1400 to 1595 there were only 25, and from 1500 to 1680 only 8 Governors of Ireland. The Earl of Sussex, in Queen Elizabeth's time, held the government of Ireland for 30 years. By the modern policy of the Governments of this country towards Ireland the prophetic utterances of the great statesman, Grattan, that separate Government, with a separate Parliament was not identification but extinction, conquest, and dishonour had been real- 239 ized. He called upon his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government not to lose the present opportunity of inaugurating a policy of conciliation. No great Constitutional question now agitated the country, and he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to utilize his powerful majority in order to bring forward beneficent and conciliatory measures for Ireland. Ireland was a great, generous, and noble nation. The people had faults, but they were faults akin to great virtues, and by such a policy they might be quickened and fostered into heroic acts. He hoped his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister would take care that he approached the Irish people with measures of conciliation in one hand while obliged to carry coercion in the other, for in that case he would go down to posterity as one of the greatest statesmen of this country, and one of the greatest benefactors of Ireland. He trusted that they might still see that country happy, prosperous, and contented, with such a true union of the hearts of the people of both countries as might justify the language——paribus se legibus ambæInvictæ gentes æterna in fædera mittant.
§ MR. REDMOND
said, it appeared to him that the sentiment of the right hon. Gentleman in bringing forward this Bill was somewhat like that of the man who knocked another down, and by way of consolation told him that although the blow he had hit him was a strong one, he might have hit him a much harder blow. He certainly was ready to admit that the measure now proposed was in many respects not quite so severe as the coercion code which it was intended to replace; but then that code had never been intended to be a permanent code. On the contrary, it was a temporary law to which Parliament had assented on the condition that it should be in force for only two years, so that the people of Ireland had a right to look forward to its total remission and not to its re-enactment. Those two years had passed away, and the conduct of the country had been such as to fully entitle it to the fulfilment of the promise which had been made to it by the last Administration. His dread was that the House might become so habituated to exceptional legislation of this kind that it might, after some time, come to pass coercion mea- 240 sures as a matter of course. The danger which they had most to fear was that Parliament might be induced to make a too easy surrender of those rights and privileges which it was their duty as a great Representative Body to maintain and uphold. Yet when they concurred in a measure such as that before the House they practically said to the people of Ireland—"You must be faithful and obedient subjects of the Crown, you must loyally discharge all your duties to the State, and you must patiently endure all the fixed burdens it imposes upon you; but the privileges of the Constitution you must not expect to enjoy." Was it reasonable, he would ask, to expect a friendly reply to language such as that? He was sure there was not an Englishman present who would not willingly consent to the curtailment of even some of the boasted liberties of this country if it could only be shown to him that there was a public necessity for it. That was just the case of the Irish Members; they did not hesitate to surrender their constitutional principles when it was shown that there was a necessity why they should do so; but that necessity no longer existed, and Her Majesty's Government had not even a pretence of showing that it did exist. They had not shown the existence of any lawlessness nor any impending danger; and, as a matter of fact, the only abnormal organization existing in the country at the present moment was the Home Rule movement, the very essence of which was to win away the people from even the thought of violence. The argument of the Government was that they were responsible for the peace of the country, and they said they could not undertake to govern it unless some such extraordinary powers as those proposed in this Bill were conferred upon them; but, for his own part, he must demur to confiding such powers in the hands of any set of officials. Several hon. Gentlemen had spoken of the state of Ireland with great assumption of authority, although many of them had never seen the country; and he therefore asked if Gentlemen like himself, who resided in the country, and who were acquainted with the feelings of the people and their habits of thought, ought to be supposed to know nothing of the subject now under consideration? The county of Wexford, with which he was acquainted, had been 241 now for many years under the Coercion Act; but it was now entirely free from agrarian crime, and threatening letters had not been heard of for years past. The Judges at the Assizes had uniformly congratulated the Grand Juries on the county having an almost absolute immunity from crime. Therefore, so far from Wexford being placed under unequal and oppressive laws, it should enjoy all the privileges of the most favoured part of Her Majesty's dominions. The only reasons he could imagine for the present course of legislation in reference to Ireland were that the Government were misled by false information as to the state of the country, or that they were determined, no matter what the condition of Ireland might be, that the Irish people should not enjoy the same freedom which was allowed to their fellow-subjects in England and Scotland. The fact of the matter was, that the people of Ireland know very well these Acts did not in any way assist in the government of the country. If he wished to foster a spirit of disaffection he would give a cordial support to the measure of the Government, because he felt that it would form an admirable argument for people in Ireland to say there was no use in coming to an English Parliament to obtain their rights; but, as he desired to see Ireland happy and loyal, he called upon the Government to cease placing reliance upon police officers and rascally informers, and to trust the people themselves. He believed that if such a course were adopted, and the evil traditions of English government in Ireland cast aside, the prosperity and the permanent pacification of the Irish people would be assured.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, he had listened with considerable surprise to the speech of the, hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power), who spoke with his usual eloquence, but who, from the beginning to the end of his speech, had not fairly grappled with the question. The hon. Gentleman referred to the past history of the country. He (Mr. Gibson) did not think it necessary, from his point of view, to go into that retrospect. If it were necessary to go into it, he thought it would be found that there were a great many things which ought to be forgotten, and many things which were to be regretted on both sides. It was impossible to suppose that a hard- 242 and-fast line was to be drawn, so that it might be said that all the good was on one side and all the bad on the other. He hoped hon. Gentlemen would not contend that there were not some mistakes on their side. Would it not be as well, with such a measure before the House, to try to forgot those wretched animosities which the past had bequeathed to them, and to consider the present measure as a matter of business, although a very unfortunate business? There were two ways of meeting the question which had been introduced to their notice—one by fair and temperate argument, the other by indulging in allusions to the past which he thought could only be used—if he might say so without offence—on occasions of this kind for the purpose of eloquent declamation. The hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Redmond) had referred to his own experience. He (Mr. Gibson) respected the powers of observation of the hon. Gentleman; but he was also a resident in Ireland, and his experience had been to say that they should not assume that this was a matter on which there was unanimity of opinion in that country. He should, indeed, be surprised if 50, or even half, of the Irish Representatives went into the Lobby against the Government; and, after all, the Division List of the House was the only means by which Irish opinion on the subject could be measured. In the face of the unanimous opinion of the English and Scotch people, and a very substantial body of public opinion in Ireland in favour of the Acts, a grave responsibility would rest upon the Government if they proposed to sweep those laws away at once and absolutely, and that merely in deference to suggestions which, so far as they had any foundation at all, were based on allusions to the past, which it was the duty of all parties to forget. No doubt the gradual abolition of this code was desirable, and in this direction the Bill made very great strides—strides as great as were consistent with prudence. What seemed to have most weight with the Irish Members who had spoken against the present very moderate Bill was the fact that it preserved certain regulations which did not exist in England, and it was said that this should operate on the minds of the Government. But if his hon. Friends appealed to history in support of their case, he could 243 also appeal to history to show that between England and Ireland there was a great social and economic distinction. In England for over a century there had been nothing in the nature of civil war; whereas in Ireland within a period of 80 years there had been four revolutionary outbreaks—namely, in the years 1798, 1805, 1848, and 1864. These were sad circumstances to go into. He should have been glad to consider the Bill upon its merits; but when history was appealed to on the other side it was only reasonable to recall those dates, because they suggested very substantial arguments in his favour. With reference to the Act of 1870, at the time it was passed its necessity was absolutely proved. This was tested by a reference to the Division Lists, there having been 425 for it and 13 against it, which showed a majority of 412; and if the Division Lists were again appealed to, it would be found that when the Westmeath Act of 1871 was passed 163 voted for it, and only 7 against it. Surely these facts afforded proof that the great bulk of public opinion, not only in Great Britain, but in Ireland, was favourable to the present legislation. The Bill now introduced by the Chief Secretary did not propose the continuance of that legislation at all. On the contrary, it suggested the continuance of one of the Acts for only five years, and another for two years; and it must be remembered that although the Bill proposed the continuance of those Acts for a certain period, there was contained in the Acts themselves a power of remission by gradually revoking the proclamations; and he believed it was the intention of the Government to watch their opportunities and to revoke the proclamations whenever a chance offered, and he hoped that, before the five years in the one case, and the two years in the other, had elapsed, these Acts would have practically ceased to be in operation in any part of Ireland. The House had heard a good deal about the government of Ireland in accordance with Irish ideas, and his hon. Friends below the Gangway on the opposite side were very glad to avail themselves of that view to obtain the passing of the Irish Church and Irish Land Acts. Was it unreasonable, then, to suggest to them that there might be differences between the state of Ireland and England which would render restrictive legisla- 244 tion properly applicable to the former, though not to the latter? The noble Lord the Member for Westmeath (Lord Robert Montagu), indeed, stated that while in 1870 the number of agrarian outrages in Ireland was 1,329, it had fallen in 1874 to 213. Well, that was a very good argument in favour of the relaxation of restrictive laws, but that relaxation was proposed by the Government in the Bill under discussion. The noble Lord appeared to forget that not a little of the diminution of agrarian offences of which he spoke was to be attributed to the operation of the Act of 1870, and that the fact that the diminution commenced immediately after the passing of that Act furnished a good ground for urging that a measure which had produced such results ought not to be at once abandoned. He could quite understand the feelings of hon. Members opposite when it was proposed to continue the Acts in the ordinary way, but it was a very different state of things this Session. Last year what was continued was the old code of 1870 and 1871; but in the Bill now introduced the Whiteboy code was entirely abandoned, and the power to issue search warrants was decidedly diminished. For the future no search warrant was to exist for more than 21 days, instead of for three months, and the right to arrest suspicious persons was entirely given up. Such arrests were in future to be made according to the ordinary operation of law. The power to arrest strangers at night and to close public-houses by the mere order of the Lord Lieutenant was given up, and the proceedings before magistrates were changed in essential particulars. A power of appeal was also given. Resident magistrates were also dropped out of the summary procedure clauses of this Bill, and it was left to the ordinary petty sessions bench to administer the jurisdiction. Moreover, the Act of 1870 enabled the Attorney General for Ireland ex officio himself to suggest a change of the venue, while under the present Bill it was left to the Court of Queen's Bench to make the change whenever it was satisfied that ought to be done. There was another relaxation which, in his opinion, ought to have great weight with his hon. Friends opposite, and that was the complete and absolute removal of all restrictions on the Press. What was 245 chiefly complained of last year was the arbitrary power of arrest and the restraint upon the Press, but such objections could not be urged against the present Bill. After the passing of this measure no person could be arrested in Ireland except by the ordinary operation of law, whilst the Press would be as free in Ireland as it was in any other part of the Empire. In his opinion, everything had been given up that could by possibility be given up, and the very smallest amount of legislation had been retained that could be retained if they were to continue anything at all. What was it that had been retained in the present Bill? The Westmeath Act of 1871 could not in any proper sense be regarded as having any connection with the legislation to which his hon. Friends opposite so strongly objected, because that code was an exceptional police statute, rendered necessary by the Ribbon conspiracy—that dark, cowardly organization which had nothing in common with true patriotism. ["Hear, hear!"] He was glad his hon. Friends opposite acknowledged the justice of that statement, for he was sure that men whose private character was above suspicion would not pollute ths name of patriotism by admitting that it had any connection with the hideous code which did not stop short of assassination. The Preamble of the Westmeath Act, he further contended, contained its own justification, for it recited the history of a society whose existence and whose crimes furnished its best justification. That society had carried on its operations for nearly a century, and the facts which had boon revealed with respect to its action before an influential Committee in 1871 had been the foundation of the Act of which the noble Lord seemed to complain. Now, would it not, he would ask, be rash to assume that the vitality of a society which had existed so long, which had out lasted the Rebellions of 1798 and of 1848 and the events of 1864, which had not been overcome by the Famine and remained unrooted out by 10 years of emigration, had become all at once absolutely eradicated? The noble Lord said that this should be done because crime had diminished within the last three or four years; but it should be recollected that crime could be diminished either by reformation or by terror. The 246 existing code was said to be one of terror; but surely the noble Lord, in making use of that argument, cut the ground from under his own feet! Surely it was more probable that crime had been rendered dormant during the last throe and a-half years by terror rather than eradicated by reformation. In 1871 the noble Lord himself voted for that Act, which was then necessary to protect, not property alone, but life, in Westmeath; and now the noble Lord asked a Government responsible for the lives of people of those districts rashly to assume that all those terrible agencies of crime had been entirely extirpated. He now turned to the remainder of the Act. Section 13, which was retained, gave power wherever a felony or a misdemeanour had been committed of summoning persons to give evidence. That was only a reasonable improvement in the criminal law. It existed, he believed, in Scotland. Where a felony had been committed why should a man, if he knew about it, and there was no privilege to cover him, shrink from giving evidence before a constituted tribunal? Such a person ought to be liable to be summoned and to state all he knew of the facts. Then the 38th section was retained, and ought always to be retained, in the law of Ireland. It was this—that if a witness in a criminal case was about to abscond, there should be means taken to prevent him from absconding, and he thought that if this Act was allowed to expire, this section at least should be kept always in operation as part of the criminal law of the country. He had pointed out what was given up and what was retained, but he would not enter into minute particulars. Lot them look at Section 39, which gave compensation to the relatives of those who had been the victims of agrarian murders. Was not that an admirable law? It embodied one of the oldest principles of the law of this country; but it could not be granted without all the elements of the cases being proved by legal evidence. Why should not the family of a victim have compensation? Agrarian murder implied concert and, to a certain extent, conspiracy; and whore such elements existed—and their existence must be proved to the satisfaction of the Judge of a Superior Court—that section operated both to compensate the family of the victim and 247 also as some little punishment of the locality, which, at all events, was honoured by the residence of the parties to the agrarian murder. The hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don), and Longford (Mr. O'Reilly) spoke of that as an innovation; but it was one of the oldest and most familiar principles of our law, and went as far back as Anglo-Saxon times, when the system of frank-pledge prevailed. Moreover, at almost every Assize in Ireland compensation was given for malicious injuries and injuries caused by tumultuous assemblages; and if they compensated the loss of property and taxed the district for causing it, why should they not equally tax the district that was answerable for the murder of the head of a family? This Bill had been called a desperate and an atrocious one, and he dared to say it would be called so again. But what did it come to in the end? These clauses were certainly excusable and defensible. Then, as to the restriction upon an indiscriminate carriage of arms. Now, was there such a restriction as should cause those observations which the House had been obliged to listen to? In England it was not the absolute right of everyone to go without question into a gunmaker's shop and walk out with a gun. A person must get a licence, which implied a power of registering the names of those who had a licence, and that was to a certain extent a check on the indiscriminate purchase and use of arms in England. That, he admitted, was a different thing from the restrictions that existed in Ireland; but, apart from sentiment, he was not sure that it was now very necessary or desirable to have the power of carrying arms generally and indiscriminately extended to a people so excitable as the Irish, among whom faction fights had not utterly died out. At fairs and markets not unfrequently "rows" were got up, in which by the use of their "blackthorns" people were able to administer sufficient punishment to one another without having recourse to any more deadly weapons. There was not an Assize held in Tipperary at which dockfuls of fine young fellows were not sent to prison for getting into little encounters of that kind; and he had heard that in one of the largest baronies of that county there was not one entire skull. In objecting, therefore, to do away all at once with the present re- 248 strictions on the use of arms he was not at all disparaging his own country, which in respect to ordinary crime would compare favourably with England. Indeed, if in Ireland they sometimes wanted a proclamation against arms, in England there might advantageously be an occasional proclamation against boots. The only restriction in the Bill was really one against carrying arms; it was to continue only for five years, and long before then it would be taken off if possible. He should be glad to have this legislation carried out without any attempt to set class against class; and he had been sorry to hear the noble Lord the Member for Westmeath appealing as he had done to the past and speaking of an alien magistracy. Those magistrates lived among the people, their fathers had lived among them, and their children had been born among them. Although many of them were not of the same religion as most of the people, this could not be regarded as a justification of the harsh terms which had been used. It would be well, instead of dwelling so much upon the past, to think a little more of the living present. It had gratified him to read in The Times of that morning the following generous and noble words:—When Irishmen consent to let the past become indeed history, not party politics, and begin to learn from it the lessons of mutual respect and tolerance, instead of endless bitterness and enmity; then, at last, this distracted land shall see the dawn of hope and peace; and begin to renew her youth and rear her head amongst the proudest of nations.These were the words of John Mitchel—De mortuis nil nisi bonum. He ventured to think that the "dawn of hope and peace," of which Mr. Mitchel had spoken, had now begun; and, although not of a very sanguine disposition, he looked forward to the day, and believed it was not far distant, when the fulfilment of those generous hopes would be witnessed.
said, he thought the House must have listened with pleasure to the first speech of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin University (Mr. Gibson), and, though they might belong to opposite sides of the House, he could assure him that in no section of that Assembly had it been listened to with greater pleasure—apart from the arguments it contained—than it had been by the hon. Members around him. 249 He was sorry that the evening's debate should have been preceded by a dramatic display—he hoped, not arranged between the Irish Secretary and the hon. Baronet (Sir Edward Watkin), who rose behind them to impart a lurid hue to their discussion of the Bill, by asking, amid murmurs and sensation, whether it was true, as stated in The Pall Mall Gazette, that there had been an attempt of agrarian murder in Ireland yesterday or to-day. They knew what would be the effect of that melodramatic procedure, and though many of his Friends around him (Mr. Sullivan) could have given a very effective counter-thrust, they thought they might let the matter pass. They might, for instance, have asked the hon. Baronet, who rose to put the Question, whether he did not resemble the man who could not see the beam in his own eye, though he could denounce the mote in his neighbour's, seeing that—as they might also have asked the Home Secretary—four murders in England were reported on Monday alone.
§ SIR EDWARD WATKIN
explained that he had spoken to the Irish Secretary but once in his life, and that was at a dinner-party about a month ago. He had had no communication whatever with him about the Question to which reference had just been made. The fact was, simply, that the good landlord and generous man whose agent had in a dastardly way been shot was a friend of his, and the circumstances of the case had in consequence come to his knowledge.
said, he had not stated that the Chief Secretary and the hon. Baronet had arranged the Question together; but it was fair for him to presume that what was usual in such circumstances had been done. ["Oh."] Well, it was usual to give a Minister at least private Notice of a Question that was to be put to him; and if the hon. Baronet was so eager to thump down Ireland that he could not follow that usage, he must be content to take the consequences of his presumption. The Home Secretary might be asked whether it was true, as reported in The Times, that a man in England had cut from ear to ear the throat of the woman whom he had vowed at the altar to love and cherish; and whether it was also true, as reported in the same journal, that another man had murdered his father 250 and mother? Such acts did not seem to impress hon. Members deeply; but when a land agent was killed or wounded it was thought to be something extremely wicked. Really, that little prelude of the debate was unworthy of the occasion, and induced them to ask whether they could not have a debate on a Coercion Bill, without having such elements introduced into it? He did not think Her Majesty's Ministers, however, altogether welcomed this imputation, and he must frankly admit the supporters of the Bill on the part of the Government had abstained from indulging in that class of argument. He was sure the Government would rather have done without that Coercion Bill; but they found it on the Statute Book, and a party needed a great deal of education before they could be made to take the necessary course in an era of coercion for Ireland. It was quite true that the code which it was now proposed to enact was less severe in some respects than the one which in a few months would expire; but he maintained that they were now discussing the enactment of a new law, and not the modification of an existing one. The Bill ought to be judged by what it contained within its four corners, and not by comparison with Acts which would be dead in a few months. There was just one answer to opponents of the Bill that ought to have been made, if it could have been made, but which had not been made because it could not. If it was true, as it was asserted by hon. Gentlemen who defended the Bill, that it would only affect the guilty and the criminal, and not the innocent and law-abiding citizen, why not adopt the policy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and deal alike for the three parts of the Kingdom with the same classes of offences, wherever they were found? Why not make the crime of murder alike for the three parts of the Kingdom, and let the district which had most murders suffer the most? If it was so harmless and so useful, why hesitate to pass it for England? And that was the place to explain the too tender susceptibility of Irish Members. It had been asked why could they not discuss the Bill as calmly as the Artizans Dwellings Bill? Their answer was this—that so long as a single statute existed that branded their country as needing more repression than England or Scotland, so long would they regard con- 251 ciliation as an object of scorn, and indignation as a virtue. But there was, besides, in that legislation a wound to Ireland as well as a positive insult. Let them lay on their country the same repressive enactments as they provided for the rest of the country, and they would hear no mere objections to their laws. Let them lay on the rest of the Kingdom the same restrictions on the possession of arms, or on being out after Curfew, and let the murderer take the same chance wherever he was found in the three parts of the Kingdom, and they would hear from Ireland no word of complaint. But so long as, by a single Act or a single clause, they attempted to hold forth to the world that they were a nation so given to murder, crime, and infamy, and that their much-vaunted British Constitution was insufficient to cope with them, so long, he hoped, would Members be found to rise on those benches to tell them that it was an insult to ask them to discuss such a proposition. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) asked him, "How about Sheffield?" Well, he would ask the hon. Member to study the calendar for Louth for the last 10 years, and to look at the Sheffield cases at the last Assizes. One crime tried at those Assizes he could not mention; another was a ease of wounding, another crime must be nameless, and there were crimes of embezzlement, forgery, burglary, manslaughter, robbery with violence, abuse of a girl, robbery with violence again, and so on. He contrasted that with the county of Louth, which was proclaimed by this Coercion Bill. He was far from wishing, however, that the Coercion Acts should be applied to Sheffield or to any other part of the Empire; because the British Constitution ought to be the scorn of the world if it were unable to deal with these ebullitions of crime, which were worse in some parts of England than they were in Ireland. He would ask on what grounds the exceptional powers of these Acts could be continued in Ireland, and to the exclusion of England? The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was still to have the power of sending extra constables into the proclaimed districts, and they would presently see how that worked; persons might be arrested for carrying arms without a licence, and were liable to six months' imprisonment with hard labour; 252 and the Lord Lieutenant could issue a warrant authorizing the police to break into a man's house and search every part of it, day or night, and even female modesty might be outraged, as it had been before under colour of this exercise of power. He wondered how English Members would like to see such a law enacted for England. He knew that it would be said that there was a benevolent despot at Dublin Castle who would prevent these statutes from being abused; but would Englishmen feel satisfied if their liberties and the sanctity of their homes were subject to the caprice of any Minister, however benevolent and well-meaning he might be? What was the excuse put forward for renewing these statutes against Ireland? They were told that secret crime was waiting to burst forth in that country, but where or how was not stated. The Chief Secretary, who had failed to lay before the House any evidence upon the subject, had treated them to a dark-lantern scene, in which he had described the dreadful things that were going on behind the white sheet, and had asserted that there was murder in the land waiting to start forward the instant that these Coercion Acts were repealed. The right hon. Gentleman had said that, if those laws were repealed, murder, assassination, crime, and outrage would rage in Ireland during the coming winter as sure as he stood in the House. Who had taught the right hon. Gentleman that? Where was his authority for making such an assertion? Why did he not produce the documents supplied to him by the magistrates? And who were his authorities? The police and some of the magistrates. To show the efficiency of the police in some districts, the hon. Member related the story of a young Englishman who came to pay him a visit some years ago, and who brought his photographic apparatus with him. They were at Kells, about to photograph a very interesting old cross, and the young man had the cloth over his head, when a policeman came up and the crowd fled in terror. The policeman said—"Come, come, sir; we allow no peep-shows here!" As to the police in Ireland, if they waited to mitigate coercion law until 184 B and his captains became defenders of Constitutional liberty, he feared they would have to wait a long time. The rural policemen believed that they knew how 253 to govern Ireland much bettor than the right hon. Gentleman himself did. Those ignorant men sent up their reports to the magistrates, and through the latter they actually influenced the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. Then, as to the magistrates, had they not asked for the Bill? There had been a great deal of avoidance on that point. He knew that in King's County a Protestant resident gentleman met one of the favoured few magistrates who were invited to consider whether the Coercion Act should be renewed, and he asked him whether he had stated that there had been no crime in their county? He replied that he had; but that as the Act had not been applied, and that it had therefore done no harm, it ought to be renewed. His friend rejoined that he thought that just the reason why it ought not to be renewed. "Ah!" replied the magistrate, "but don't you know that since the Coercion Bill was passed the game was never so well preserved in the county. We have had splendid shooting ever since." The Bill had, in fact, been asked for by the gentry, as the whole police of the country had been converted into watchers for their game, and their game could not be much disturbed if there were no guns. The unhappy alienation of a portion of the Irish magistrates from their fellow-countrymen was, perhaps, as much their misfortune as it was their fault, seeing that for a long time past they had been taught to regard themselves as being a class apart from the people and a garrison planted in the midst of a hostile population, and living in the country, but not being of it. He did not so much blame the magistrates for following the instructions they had received for more than a century; but he warned the Government that neither they nor the police were to be depended upon as advisers on the question whether or not the state of Ireland required an extension of these Coercion Bills. Why had not the right hon. Gentleman referred to the opinions expressed by the Judges of Assize? True it was that at the last Assize at Antrim the Judge had stated that a certain class of crime had increased in the district; but he had, at the same time, pointed out that that increase was in such crime only as resulted from intoxication. In Armagh the Judge said there was a slight in- 254 crease in ordinary crime, but it was traceable to intoxication. At Carrickfergus the Grand Jury were congratulated upon the peaceable and satisfactory condition of the county. Mr. Justice Keogh, who was never given to taking a too roseate view of popular affairs, stated in the city of Cork that the number of cases for trial was eight only, and that these were of a trivial character; while the Grand Jury of the county of Cork were told by Mr. Justice Lawson that the number of criminal cases was very small indeed. The Lord Chief Justice of Ireland said he rejoiced to be able to inform the Grand Jury of Carlow that their duties would be very light, adding that it might become a question with some enthusiastic reformer whether a portion of the County Court House and gaol might not be turned into an industrial school. At Drogheda, the Lord Chief Baron remarked upon the fact that there were only five cases to be sent before the Grand Jury. In the county Down the calendar also contained but a few cases. At Fermanagh, Baron Deasy congratulated the Grand Jury on the satisfactory condition of the county. There was a slight increase of ordinary crime in the county of Galway; but in the city the Judge spoke of the peaceable state of things which prevailed. In the county of Kilkenny there were three criminal cases only for trial, and for that coercion was to be imposed upon the country by English votes. In Kildare there was a rather heavy calendar of ordinary crimes, "arising from the vicinity of the Curragh Camp and from the public-houses." In the King's County, with a special proclamation against it, the Lord Chief Justice found that "the cases were not numerous, but they included two cases of homicide." Louth—his own county—was as stainless as any in the Empire. There were but four cases for trial, and not one of them was of a serious nature. All these were hard facts, upon which, and not upon mere rhetoric, the arguments of the Irish Members rested. At Limerick the number of cases was large; but it included no fewer than 1,652 cases of intoxication—a fact which he hoped would be remembered when next the House was asked to pass a Sunday Closing Bill for Ireland. With respect to Limerick County the learned Judge found six or seven cases only for trial, "none of them 255 calling for observation." At Londonderry Mr. Justice Morris said that—With the exception of one case of murder, which furnished no indication of anything like conspiracy, the district was remarkably free from crime.In Mayo the Judge said that it had been the good fortune of himself and his learned Colleague to be able to congratulate the Grand Juries on a peculiar absence of crime. There had been cases of personal violence, largely owing to the effects of intoxication. Of Meath, which had been described as the home of murder and of lawlessness, the Lord Chief Justice said—The cases for trial are 10 in number; but I am not aware that there is anything particular in them to which it is necessary to call your attention.In Queen's County, Roscommon, and Sligo the Grand Juries were congratulated by the learned Judges on the peaceable and satisfactory condition of the respective counties. In North Tipperary the only heavy Assize was held, the calendar containing five charges of murder—But," said the learned Judge (Mr. Baron Dowse), "I do not find that there is anything to show that there was an organized conspiracy in the county against the lives of Her Majesty's subjects, arising as the crimes did from bad feelings between the parties.In the county of Tyrone there were only four bills for the Grand Jury, none of a grave nature; the South Riding of Tipperary had a heavier calendar than before, but there were not more than 16 or 17 criminals; at Waterford City the Judge expressed his pleasure at having so little to do; at Waterford County the number of bills was small; at Wexford the Judge congratulated the Grand Jury; in Cavan the Judge was presented with white gloves for the third time within the year; and at Tullaghmore white gloves were also given to the Judge. These facts coming from Her Majesty's Judges were, he submitted, more important contributions to the debate than were the bugaboo stories of policemen, and in the face of the utterances of the Irish Judges he challenged the House to pass, by English votes, a Coercion Bill for Ireland. Let them contrast the charges of the Judges in Ireland with those of the Judges in England, and he said without fear of contradiction that bad as the record was 256 in England, and clear as it was in Ireland, no Minister of the Crown would dare to propose a suspension of the Constitution for this country on that ground. He was but expressing freely the opinions that were surging in the breasts of the Irish people when he said that they felt with respect to the proposed legislation, not so much its severity—although that was much—as the indignity, the humiliation, the wrong, the outrage, that would be inflicted on them; while for England no such measure could be proposed, although her calendars were so deeply blood-stained with crime. By passing this Bill the House would tell a highly susceptible race that a peace almost unequalled throughout Europe availed nothing to save their country from the shackles and chains which an English majority could impose on them.
§ SIR EDWARD WATKIN
said, that as the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) had thought fit at the beginning of his speech to make a sensational point by alluding personally to him, he thought it his duty to say a few words in justification of the vote which he intended to give. Although he had heard many speeches like that of the hon. Member, outside that House, greeted with immense applause, he thought the hon. Member must have gathered, as he went on, that the style of oratory in which he had indulged was not that which would convince the calm judgment of that Assembly. He (Sir Edward Watkin) appealed to Gentlemen on either side of the House whether the hon. Member had grappled or attempted to grapple with any one of the close and logical arguments used by the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson), who showed conclusively that there was no ground for such declamation as that in which the hon. Member for Louth had indulged. He (Sir Edward Watkin) believed there was nothing contained in the Bill with the exception of the clauses relating to the possession of arms which might not properly be extended to England, and which, if it were proposed to extend in that direction, he should feel bound to support. He believed, with the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, that these provisions were proper and wise amendments of the criminal law; and, if so, why should they not be applied to Ireland, or to England, or to any other 257 part of the Empire? As to the question of arms, we in England had the gun tax and the license for shooting, and why were these particular clauses to be applied to Ireland? Because, with all their faults, Englishmen had no Ribbonism amongst them—[An hon. MEMBER: You have worse]—because they had not taken the money of the people of the United States in order to raise up conspiracy and treason against the Queen, and because they had endeavoured to submit to the laws, believing that good laws, however severe, must bring about contentment, peace, and happiness; and although we might not like the rod, we were satisfied with the consequences of its infliction. Therefore, when the hon. Member spoke of that House having inflicted on Ireland all its wrongs, it was only fair to tell him that that House contained men whose lives, like his (Sir Edward Watkin's), had been marked by work and not by talk; and that a great part of the evils inflicted upon Ireland came from men like the hon. Member himself and those of his class, who, instead of devoting themselves to the honourable pursuit of promoting peace and harmony around them, of increasing industry, of augmenting prosperity, and of endeavouring to set an example in those things which most adorned a man, made it their highest ambition to get upon the stump, and, if they could get the Queen and Parliament to dissect, would hesitate at no kind of language, and no volume of abuse, in order to elicit a temporary cheer, upon which it appeared the necessary excitement of their lives depended. Who were the friends of Ireland? If those who employed Irishmen, then he (Sir Edward Watkin) had been one; if those who had always supported justice to Ireland, then he claimed that he had supported every measure which he thought was in the direction of establishing equality between the two countries, as those connected with him had done in days gone by when it was dangerous to speak of justice to Ireland. The English Members of that House were not to be taunted with having brought all the evils upon Ireland of which the hon. Gentleman had complained. What was the cause of the greatness of England? Hard work, industry, and obedience to the law. He had tried in his humble way to follow the example of many others in 258 that direction, an example which in England had produced such good fruits, and which he respectfully and with all deference recommended to the hon. Member, and to those who sympathized with him in the sort of oratory in which he had indulged.
§ MR. RONAYNE
, as one of those adventurers and agitators, to whom the hon. Gentleman had just alluded, asserted that he had worked as hard as the hon. Gentleman for the practical prosperity of Ireland, and had for 30 years employed people in every part of the country, and he thought he knew the people, their wants, and their character, much better than the hon. Member did—he knew they would resent an insult even when it was given by an English railway magnate. Why had his hon. Friend been taunted with seeking for a cheer? Was he likely to get it from that Assembly? He quoted the hard facts as stated by the Judges of Assize, using no rhetoric or oratorical effect, in order to show that Ireland was more free from crime than any country in Europe during recent years. Previous to the passing of this Act in 1870 he (Mr. Ronayne) took a note of the charges of the Judges of Assize in the county and city of Cork. On the 7th of March, 1870, Justice Fitzgerald said that although seven months had elapsed since the previous Assize there had been no crime of any unusual or extraordinary character in the interval, and the instances of undetected crime had been very rare. In the same county of Cork, Justice O'Brien said that the number and the ordinary character of the crimes spoke well for the good character and peaceable conduct of the inhabitants. Mr. Kane, Q.C., at Middleton, said the application of the Coercion Act to that district would be unnecessary. Mr. Hamil, Q.C., was presented with a pair of white gloves in the West Biding of Cork; and Mr. Leahy, at Limerick. In spite of those facts, the Act was extended to that county. This Bill was merely a specimen of the manner in which Englishmen had ruled Ireland for centuries, and one consequence had been that the people of that country had been taught from their earliest youth that their first duty to God and to their country was to resist the law, because it was tyrannical and oppressive. In fact, the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary were not 259 constitutional rulers—they were despots. The Lord Lieutenant, though called a Viceroy, could order arrests and act in a arbitrary and despotic manner, such as the Queen, whose delegate he was supposed to be, could not exercise in this country. The right hon. Gentleman opposite held the office of Secretary for Ireland with all its powers simply because he was a political partizan. He did not doubt his anxiety to do the best he could for Ireland, but he had no experience of the country, and was forced to have recourse to the Jenkinsons and Robinsons of whom Pox wrote nearly 100 years ago—Fox to Fitzpatrick, April 13,1782.The Lord Lieutenant not having any regular Ministry to apply to, is driven, or, at least, led to consult Lees, and such sort of superior people, and by that means the whole power is, as it were, centered in the Jenkinsons and Robinsons, etc., of that country. Nobody is responsible but the Lord Lieutenant and the Secretary; they know they are to go away, and, consequently, all the mischief arises that belongs to a Government without responsibility.The Jenkinsons and the Robinsons were the party in Ireland for whom the country had been governed, for whom England had risked her power and influence in that country, and by them the magistrates of Ireland were selected and appointed. He contended that before the rights of the country were taken away the facts ought to be given upon which it was proposed to take them away. The Chief Secretary for Ireland declared the other evening that the communications made to the Irish Executive were of a confidential nature, and that if he disclosed the names of those on whose information the Government acted they would not again communicate with him. Fortunate would be the day if such a result came to pass, for Ireland must then be better governed. The right hon. Gentleman said the majority of the magistrates were of the religion of the people, but could any statement prove more clearly than this did his complete ignorance of Irish affairs? As a matter of fact, there were 390 magistrates in the county of Cork, and of these only 60 professed the religion of the people, for there were in that county 550,000 Catholics as compared with 49,000 Protestants. It should be borne in mind, too, that the Protestant aristocracy occupied a peculiar position in Ireland. Irishmen reposed no confidence in them, because they were English, and 260 not Irish, in sympathies and sentiments; while the English despised them because they were Irishmen. With reference to the robbery of arms by the Militia in the county of Cork, he pointed out that in two out of the four regiments there was not a single Catholic officer; in one there were two Catholic officers, and in another three. Under such circumstances, one could hardly expect to find such sympathy as ought to exist between officers and men. The question between England and Ireland was not a religious question, but a national question; and he, for one, would use every effort in his power to pull down that ascendancy of Protestants, as exclusively the governing class, which those who govern at the present day so strenuously promote.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, that although there were not 40 Members present he should like to make a few observations on the Bill before the House. He contended that it was a very injudicious thing on the part of the Government, even from a military point of view, to maintain these coercive measures with respect to Ireland, which being chiefly an agricultural country, was one of the best fields we had for recruits, whether for the Army or the Navy. Another result was that Irishmen who emigrated to the United States increased the Fenian element in that country. Some day England would be at war, and with a view to such an event it was desirable to govern Ireland in such a manner as to induce her people to make common cause with England in the hour of need. The Government would act most wisely if they withdrew the Bill, instead of pressing it forward. He had listened attentively to the two speeches of the Chief Secretary, and he had not been able to find a single argument in them which would show that this Bill ought to pass. The right hon. Gentleman had led the House to believe that he had in his possession private information which would justify him in asking the House to consent to this measure; but he had not given the least hint what that information was. That was not sufficient. The right hon. Gentleman relied upon what was told him by magistrates who were untrustworthy, or by policemen, who, with a view to preferment, would lead him astray; but the Irish Members, the town commissioners of Ireland, and 261 the tenant-farmers, who were most of all liable to suffer from agrarian outrage were all opposed to measures of coercion; and that was the general opinion of the people of Ireland so far as there had Been any opportunity of ascertaining it. He had been refused a licence to carry arms when he lived in Ireland; but since he had been a Member of the House he had been allowed to carry a revolver. His object in carrying arms was to defend himself from rowdies. Englishmen knew nothing whatever about the affairs of Ireland, and the Chief Secretary therefore could only act on statements made by the police or the stipendiary magistrates, most of whom were broken-down gentlemen. It was said that Ribbonism existed in Ireland; but that was altogether denied by those who knew Ireland better than police-constables, from whom the Government derived their information. If this Bill passed, the Orange Society, which was bound by a secret oath, would be perfectly illegal. He had no personal grudge against any of its members; he believed many of them were very good fellows; but the people of Ireland would expect to see even-handed justice administered to all secret societies. It was generally supposed that an Act of Parliament was capable of being understood; but this Bill was more like a Chinese puzzle than an Act of Parliament. It was perfectly incomprehensible. He particularly objected to that clause under which compensation was to be given by Grand Juries, who were not elected by the people and who often gave their decision in such cases from favouritism. It was exceedingly unfair in some cases to permit a Grand Jury to award compensation for injury to property. There was reason to suppose that the proprietors of flax-mills neglected to insure them against fire, because they could obtain compensation when they were burnt down, and there were owners whose mills had been repeatedly on fire, and who always claimed and obtained compensation as for malicious injury. He complained that the Attorney General for Ireland had no practice at the Bar and was not a good lawyer, and it yet was necessary, when a Bill like this was passed, that the law Officers of the Crown in Ireland should be competent to give an opinion on any point that might be called in question.
§ MR. STACPOOLE
complained that the Government maintained an unnecessary and invidious distinction between the stipendiary and other magistrates. He hoped the Government would give the magistrates their proper position. He should vote in favour of the Amendment.
desired to supplement the speech of the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) by quoting the Charge of the Judge to the Grand Jury at the Wicklow Assizes on the preceding day.
§ CAPTAIN NOLAN
pointed out that the front Opposition Bench was deserted, and complained that, while he and his Friends had been eager to discuss the Bill from their point of view, the Irish Members who would give the Government their votes had not been equally eager to support the Bill by arguments, and only four of them, including the hon. and learned Member for Dublin University (Mr. Gibson), bad taken part in the debate. The Secretary for Ireland took credit for this Bill because it relaxed the provisions of the existing Coercion Laws; but he regarded it as the worst measure for Ireland during the last six or seven years, because its duration was to be five instead of two years; and it was likely to be much more debauching to public opinion. The right hon. Gentleman also defended the Bill because there were murders in Ireland. No doubt there was always a remarkable murder before a Coercion Bill, and the Irish Secretary had produced one. He would admit that there were 40 murders in Ireland every year, or nearly one a week, and it was easy to convert them into remarkable murders by a few newspaper articles. But then, comparing the population of the two countries, there were exactly three murders in England for every two in Ireland; and the House was therefore, on this reasoning, bound to pass a more severe Coercion Bill for England than for Ireland. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that, as firearms were dangerous weapons, it was rather a good thing than otherwise that there were restrictions upon their possession in Ireland, as it lessened the number of casualties. Well, there were, perhaps, less than a dozen people killed in Ireland by the incautious use of firearms; but there were 400 people who hanged themselves 263 in England, and 200 who cut their throats. So that the argument, if good for anything, would go to prohibit the use of ropes and razors, and would stop the use of some of the first luxuries of life. The Chief Secretary for Ireland said that a tax of 10s. was paid upon every gun in England, so that it was only a question of degree if arms were prohibited in Ireland. It might as well be argued that if a tax was levied upon tea in England, there would be no hardship in prohibiting it altogether in Ireland. When three or four Members of Parliament had told the House that the possession of arms had been refused to them, the House might judge what chance the ordinary farmer had of obtaining permission. In England the number of gun licences taken out in 1873 was 109,863. Comparing the area of the two countries there ought to be 54,000 in Ireland, or if they compared population, there ought to be 26,000, while the actual number of gun licences taken out in Ireland was only 3,460. There were a large number of farmers and others in Ireland who would, as a matter of business, keep arms but for the prohibition; and, in addition to this number, there were many more who regarded the prohibition as a grievance, although in all probability they would not exercise the right to keep arms even if they possessed it. The Bill would not only inflict a grievance upon Irish farmers, but it would place Members representing Irish constituencies in a very awkward position also. The Bill was to remain in force during five years, and no one could doubt that before that period had expired, there would be an outbreak of war in Europe. Whether England was or was not engaged in such war, there would arise a necessity for arming, and therefore for an increased supply of money to the Government of the day. When a Government came to Parliament to ask for these supplies, the Irish Members would be under the necessity of offending their constituencies by voting for the supplies without urging the grievances of their country, or of laying themselves open to a charge of want of patriotism by delaying the process of arming for possible defence at a critical period. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), on the previous evening, stated that the grievances of which the 264 Irish people complained as being likely to arise from the operation of this Bill would be removed if they would cease from demanding Home Rule. This was equivalent to saying that they were only to be permitted to call for the repeal of an unconstitutional law on condition that they ceased to strive after a constitutional object by constitutional means. The hon. Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin) had, in the course of the debate, made an undeserved attack upon the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), on the ground that he was not a working man. This might be the opinion of the hon. Member; but the House would scarcely agree with him in denying the title to be considered a working man to a man whose literary ability was universally admitted by the country generally. The hon. and learned Member opposite (Mr. Gibson) had spoken of his constituents being in favour of the continuance of these laws of coercion; but the farmers in his (Captain Nolan's) part of the country were altogether against their continuance. Many references had been made to the magistrates of Ireland, some saying that they were good, and others that they were bad. How was the position of the magistrates affected by this Bill? The Government were making the magistrates and police officers the judges as to whether this was a good or a bad Bill. They were relied upon, and they alone were exempted from the action of the Bill in regard to carrying arms. It was from the magistrates that the Government had drawn all their information which was the basis of this Bill. Now, the love of sporting and shooting was as great in Ireland as in England, and the fewer guns that were allowed to be used in Ireland, the more game would there be for the privileged few to shoot at. That was, in a sense, holding out a bribe to the magistrates not to grant licences to carry arms. In conclusion, the hon. Member complained that the period just before Easter was a very awkward one for Irish Members to attend in Parliament, and called upon the House to reject a Bill which was opposed by two-thirds of the Representatives of the people who would be affected by it.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PLUNKET)
remarked that it had been alleged that hon. Mem- 265 bers on that side of the House refrained too much from taking part in the debate. He could assure hon. Members opposite that this had not been done from any want of respect for them or their arguments. They had been actuated solely by a desire that an ample opportunity should be afforded for a full criticism of the Bill; and certainly he did not regret that this course had been taken; because the further the discussion had gone the more he had been struck with the change which had come over the views of hon. Members since the introduction of the Bill. The more the measure had been explained and studied the more difficult it had been for hon. Members opposite to find good reasons for treating it in the spirit of unmitigated resistance and stern denunciation with which it was first received. The speeches made had been able, as speeches by the hon. Members for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) and Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power) must always be. But it was worthy of remark to how small an extent they had really touched upon the subject under debate. The hon. Member for Mayo, impelled doubtless by oratorical motives, raked up the old history of oppression and of distinctions between religions, using language which certainly was not calculated to create good feeling between landlords and tenants.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
explained that he was not aware that he had used such language, and said that, perhaps, the hon. and learned Gentleman was referring to the remarks made by the hon. Member for Cork or for Louth.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PLUNKET)
No; the hon. Member for Mayo had told the House of landlords in Ireland having agreed upon "the wholesale extermination of the Irish people." Did the hon. Gentleman suppose the House would accept that as an argument in support of his view of the case? He ventured to tell the hon. Member for Mayo that he would not advance his cause or bring credit upon his party by making such wild and unfounded accusations. But no doubt he had found himself in the position of having no better argument to employ. The hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) had done little more than call attention to the amount of ordinary crime which existed in England. But that, again, was not the question; for it 266 was admitted on all hands that Ireland was singularly free from crime of the ordinary kind. What they were debating that night was the propriety of having exceptional legislation to meet exceptional crime; and it was therefore quite beside the point to draw pictures of wife-beating and burglary at Sheffield and elsewhere. The special circumstances which called for coercive legislation in Ireland were altogether absent in England; but he was quite sure that if they believed it necessary, the English Members would not hesitate to apply the present Bill to their country. He was sure they would be willing to sacrifice for a time their most cherished liberties; nor rest content until they had stamped out from among them that class of exceptional crime which still prevailed in his unhappy country, though not to so great an extent as formerly, and which reflected disgrace not on individuals alone, but on the people at large. The hon. Member for Louth, arguing on this subject, had referred to the Charges of the Assize Judges, which no doubt presented a very satisfactory picture of the state of ordinary crime in Ireland. But there were two recent Charges to which refer-once had not been made, but which had a very important bearing on the question under debate. Referring to the county of Westmeath, Mr. Justice Fitzgerald, who was no partizan of the present Government, and could not be considered an alien in race or religion from the Irish people, said he wasHappy to observe that the Peace Preservation Act had been so mildly and fairly administered that not a single person was in custody under its special provisions, while its effect had clearly been to suppress outrages, to expel bad characters from the districts where it was in force, and to protect people who were peaceable and well-conducted.This view corresponded with that expressed in the same county at the last Summer Assizes by the Chief Baron of the Exchequer, who remarked—he quoted the words from memory—thatnot until they had perfect immunity from exceptional crime could they afford to dispense with exceptional legislation.That was his contention now; not that there was so much ordinary crime, or crime arising from conflicts between persons of different religion; but that the elements which within the last few years had produced crimes of an excep- 267 tional and atrocious character had not yet been eradicated. The Government knew they were still there, and asked the House for such powers as would enable them to tide over to the time until the partial immunity from these crimes should have become complete. When that period arrived none would rejoice more than hon. Members sitting on that side of the House, the charter of whose policy it was to lean on the common law and to trust the people. He thought he need not go through the various clauses of the Bill, as they were fully explained last night by his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and also that evening by his hon. and learned Colleague (Mr. Gibson), whom he congratulated on his very able, clear, and effective speech. But he would refer to the part assigned to the stipendiary and ordinary magistrates in Ireland. The former had to perform the duty of granting licences under the Act, and it had been said that they were not reliable persons; and a general onslaught was made upon the latter by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Ronayne), who had told the House anecdotes of his familiar conversations with these justices; but it seemed to him that the hon. Member made an attack upon his own personal and intimate friends. He (the Solicitor General for Ireland) believed that both those classes of magistrates were most intelligent and reliable men. He might mention that for the appointments of resident magistrates a very large number of candidates always presented themselves, and there was not one of those gentlemen whoso recommendations and qualifications for the office were not carefully and attentively examined. Whatever might have been the case in former times, the selection of candidates for the magistracy was now made on no other ground than that of fitness; and he believed the present Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary took care to have a personal interview with candidates before they were appointed. He himself, in the course of his own professional experience and ordinary life in Ireland, had come into contact with a large number of the resident magistrates, probably more than half of them, and he could confidently say that a more intelligent, trustworthy, and energetic body of officials did not exist. It was therefore they entrusted those powers to the resident magistrates, 268 and why did they entrust them? Because they were responsible to the Government for their conduct. If any hon. Member thought there was just reason to complain of the conduct of any one of those gentlemen, all he could say was that if they took the trouble to bring those complaints before the notice of the authorities, they would be attended to in the proper spirit. There was no proof whatever of the alleged misconduct, and it was rather hard upon the resident magistrates to make a general accusation against them in that House. Hon. Gentlemen should not take advantage of their position as Members to bring forward charges of that kind. If there was a solid accusation against them, let it be brought forward at half-past 4, when Questions were put, and the process of interviewing Ministers had become almost a science. What was desired was to regulate the power of carrying arms, and proper opportunity should be given for trying the question when it was found needful. Then as regarded the ordinary magistrates, they had heard certain complaints brought against them too; but an hon. Gentleman opposite rose and indignantly defended the conduct of his magisterial brethren. All the power the ordinary magistrates had under the Bill was, that when a man was accused, they had the opportunity of trying his case at petty sessions. That had been objected to as a harsh administration of the law; but it was not administered in any such spirit, and it was better that the man should be tried at once than held over until he could appear before another tribunal. The investigation was just the same as that which took place in the case of a man accused of ordinary crime, and he had the opportunity of calling in counsel to conduct his defence. It was absurd, then, to turn this into a complaint. He had now to ask the House to consider what was the present state of things in Ireland on which they grounded this exceptional legislation. He was not there to contend that the state of Ireland at the present day was as bad as it had been in 1870—far from it; but what he was there to contend for was, that there still remained in the country a sufficient amount of agrarian outrage to show that beneath the surface there still lurked all the elements of greater crimes. The Bill was meant, therefore, not only 269 to punish crimes now committed as to prevent the renewal of offences which had unhappily been, a very short time since, so frequent. There were three different kinds of damages to he considered. The first were the crimes connected with Fenianism, and that branch of the case was, he thought, at the present moment, of the throe, that which was of the least importance. In that view he was rejoiced to be able to agree with his right hon. Friend near him (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), and the noble Lord the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (the Marquess of Hartington). But he also concurred with them in thinking that Fenianism, though scotched, was not killed. Now, the power of promiscuously carrying arms was the life blood of that conspiracy, and the knowledge that there were stores of arms in the country which they might obtain was a circumstance which gave to the conspirators their chief importance, enabling them, as it did, to spread their infamous trade far and wide. When it was believed a large quantity of arms were ready, the ringleaders, who misled the lower orders, urged them on until some unsuccessful project was attempted, and though, of course, he apprehended no danger to the Imperial authority from such miserable attempts—the day had gone by when they could be regarded otherwise than as ridiculous—yet they were sufficient to bring the most wretched classes of the people into conflict with the law. Then it became necessary to ask for fresh Coercion Acts. Then special Commissions had to be appointed. Witnesses had to be brought up, the sympathy of the common people was evoked, jurymen were unwilling or unable to return verdicts, and if convictions did take place sentences had to be pronounced, political prisoners had to be dealt with severely. And so there re-appeared once more the dreary procession which had so often crossed the stage of Irish History—crime and outrage—prosecution and punishment—exceptional legislation and smouldering vengeance against the English Government. Was it not, under these circumstances, he would appeal to his hon. Friends opposite, better to take things in time and to remove from the people of Ireland temptations to which it had 270 been shown on more than one occasion they were unhappily so open, by not giving them the opportunity of readily obtaining arms until the miserable attempts at mischievous conspiracy to which he was referring had been finally extinguished? He now came to the next ground on which the proposed legislation of the Government was founded. There were, unfortunately, in Ireland sectarian differences and jealousies which had prevailed for a long time. He rejoiced—and he was sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite would give him credit for sincerity—in the belief that these conflicts were fast dying out. They were, however, not dead, for they had heard the hon. Member for Belfast describe the riots which took place in that city two years ago, and which would have disgraced the capital of a barbarous country. Those riots took place in 1873. One policeman was killed, 73 were injured, 170 other persons were also injured, and 37 of them so seriously that they had to be taken to the hospital; 883 families had been compelled to leave their homes, and 247 houses were injured and wrecked. All that occurred only two years and a-half ago, and clearly showed, he maintained, the existence in the district in question of a state of feeling which was exceptional. Orangemen and Home Rulers went out and came in conflict with one another, and their first object was to prepare for the meeting by obtaining firearms to let off in the air, if they made no other use of them. Did it not appear inevitable, he would ask, that scenes of bloodshed and violence would again occur if the unrestricted use of arms were to be all at once permitted, or could it be called oppression to keep arms out of the hands of such people? Was it not, on the contrary, a merciful law which placed obstacles in the way of a return to all their worst traditions? He, for one, appealed to the House with confidence to give the Government of Ireland the power—he hoped it would be needed only for a very few years—to keep out of the hands of such men arms which they would be likely to use only for the purposes of mischief. Then came agrarian crimes, and he heartily rejoiced to have observed that there had been a wonderful decrease in that class of offences since the passing of the Act of 1870. He wished to call the attention 271 of the House to some figures. In 1870 there were no fewer than 1,329 outrages of an agrarian kind reported in Ireland. The Act of 1870 then came into force, and the Government prosecuted in every part of the country the most vigorous search for arms, which resulted in a large quantity of dangerous weapons being taken from the most disloyal and criminal classes. That was the first effect, and what followed? The House would hardly believe that in one twelvemonth the number of agrarian outrages fell from 1,329 to 373. Last year they amounted only to 213. Still, he put it to the House whether, in the face of the exceptional crime yet in existence, they would be justified in giving up the more limited provisions of that Bill, which they hoped would be enough to prevent the relapse of the country into that fearful state which brought down upon it that stringent code to which he had referred from a Government whose watchword was to consider to the utmost possible extent the feelings and even the prejudices of the Irish people. It was only fair and right that the House should have full information on all these points. For himself, he could truly say that a more painful task he had never performed than that of recommending any exceptional and repressive legislation for his country. But it was useless shutting their eyes to the facts, and if there existed elements of danger, and they had the means of preventing that danger, even though those means involved exceptional legislation, to say that they would not avail themselves of them because, as Irishmen, they felt it to be an insult to their manhood to do so, was, if that language was seriously intended, very childish sentiment. But let them look a little further back than 1870, because the peculiarity of that class of crime in Ireland was that it suddenly subsided and, unfortunately, as suddenly increased again. The agrarian offences, which in 1870 culminated in 1,329, two years before that were only 160, or fewer than the number last year; and in 1866 they were half as many as in 1874. Therefore, in a country where the people were so excitable, so sensitive to the influences he had described, it was impossible to count upon the experience of a single year. They had still to deal with the same generation of Irishmen who in 272 1866 were so peaceable, who in 1870 were roused into a fearful state of agrarian disorder, and who were now settling down again, he would fain hope, into a lasting condition of order and tranquillity. They had to deal with the same generation of men who in those years sympathized to some extent with those offences—who were then, and still were, reluctant witnesses and reluctant jurymen, and who then sheltered, and still sheltered, the felon who was flying from the punishment of the law. The subject had been so thoroughly exhausted that he would not refer to some other topics to which he had hoped to call the attention of the House; and he would only say this, that the Executive Government had taken every pains in its power to inform itself fully on the subject, not partially or in any partizan sense, not with any desire to press Coercion Bills upon the country, but with the most earnest longing to be enabled, as soon as possible, to return to an absolutely unexceptional state of legislation in Ireland; and they had come to the conclusion, with great satisfaction, that they might safely try the experiment of abandoning the most coercive parts of those Acts and the clauses most inconvenient to the law-abiding subjects of the Queen. On the other hand, they had come with equal certainty, though not with equal satisfaction, to the conclusion that they would be failing in their duty to the Empire, and also to his own countrymen, if, to catch any breeze of passing popularity or from any sentimental feeling they were suddenly to relax provisions which had been found to work so usefully, and which they believed must still be used for the purpose of preventing the recurrence of those terrible events that but a few years ago disgraced Ireland and unhinged society in that country. He did not complain of the spirit in which they had generally been met by hon. Gentlemen opposite. He knew that their position upon this subject was a difficult one; but he must take this opportunity of thanking the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) for the truly patriotic way in which he spoke upon this measure. He would venture to urge further the advice which that hon. Member gave to other hon. Members for Ireland who sat around him, praying them to repre- 273 sent this measure candidly and fairly to those over whom they had such influence, and he would say such just influence. He saw opposite to him many of his Friends who had the glorious gifts of the brilliant pen and the eloquent tongue, and who had acquired great power among their countrymen. He appealed to them, now that that measure was to become law, to give the Government at least credit for the effort they had made in the direction of restoring to Ireland a state of things that was not exceptional, and not to exasperate the feelings of the people against those clauses which they were obliged to retain. At least he could honestly say for himself, and he believed also for every Member of the House who would vote for the second reading of the Bill, that they regarded its necessity with as much regret and as great pain as any hon. Gentleman who would go into the lobby against it.
§ MR. BUTT
said, the impression that had been left upon his mind by the speech of the hon. and learned Member was to deepen the conviction which he entertained, that the real question for the House to consider was whether they were to persevere perpetually in a system of coercion for Ireland, or whether they were, once and for all, to make a stand and say it should be continued no longer. Every argument that had been used in advocating that as a measure of precaution, founded on the peculiar circumstances of Ireland, on the antagonism of creeds or races, on the divisions between classes of society, would be just as available five years hence as they were that day. There were many clauses of the Bill which might be better dealt with in Committee; and he would therefore speak upon what he believed to be the real question before the House—namely, whether Parliament was prepared to deal with crime in Ireland by the principles of British law and the British Constitution; by a firm but impartial administration of the Common Law, or by making coercion a chronic and permanent instrument. The Bill dealt with three perfectly distinct classes of enactments—with what were called the Peace Preservation Acts, with the Acts for the Protection of Life and Property in certain Parts of Ireland, and also with the Act against Societies administering Unlawful Oaths. The Westmeath Act no- 274 body would abstractedly defend. It gave to the Lord Lieutenant power to imprison at his discretion and without trial any man he pleased, and also to the police power to arrest any man who was out of his house after dark. It was idle to say that Act had not been abused. When they came to discuss the Westmeath Act—a separate part of the Bill—that would be the proper time to adduce proofs of how the power of arresting men out after sunset had been exercised. The Arms Act—first passed under the name of the Crime and Outrage Act—took its origin in 1847, and was brought in for two years, and until the end of the next Session of Parliament. It was renewed in 1850, 1852, 1854, 1855, 1856, 1858, 1860, 1862, 1865, 1867, 1868, 1869, 1870, and 1871, when it was continued by another Act until now; and in all these renewals no Government had yet asked the House to renew the Act for the period of five years which was now proposed. He asked if any Member of the House really believed that there was any greater chance of the Act being allowed to drop at the end of those five years than there had been at any period of its existence? The Act gave the Lord Lieutenant power to disarm the whole people. This might be right; but it gave also to the police the right of domiciliary visit at any hour of the day or night, and the absolute power of searching a man's person. Was a provision of this kind not inconsistent with any constitutional or rational liberty? By the Act as it was passed in 1856—and, indeed, by the original Act—it was provided that the search for arms must be made between sunrise and sunset; but this restriction was afterwards removed, and under the Bill at present before the House the search might be made at any hour whatever. The Lord Lieutenant issued a warrant, but it was not addressed to any particular person. It was directed to the inspector of police—not by name—and to every subordinate constable in the county, and the effect of this was that an ordinary constable had the power in every proclaimed district—and there were 31 counties proclaimed—to enter the house of any man and search for arms, without any special warrant or any information to search for arms, without even the sanction of a magistrate or even any superior officer of his to control him. This monstrous power of domiciliary 275 visit was to be preserved. But it must not be imagined that the powers given by this Act were used only for the purpose of discovering arms. He had been engaged not long ago in an action brought against a clergyman on account of a malicious prosecution, and the disclosures in that case would serve to illustrate the uses to which the Act was put. There had been a dispute about pews, and tar had been placed on them; and, for the purpose of getting evidence on the subject, the sub-inspector of police—a friend of the clergyman—had caused a search to be made by four policemen in a number of houses, under the powers of this very Act, in order to find garments marked with tar. The sub-inspector was examined at the trial and acknowledged that this had occurred, apparently without the slightest consciousness that he had done anything wrong. What guarantee was there, under these circumstances, that the powers given by the Act would be used only for the purpose which the Legislature had had in view? But, oven if its legitimate object was observed, was it necessary that in every county in Ireland which the Lord Lieutenant chose to proclaim there should be vested in the police an absolute right of domiciliary visit at any hour of the day or night? This was an Act which placed the whole of the country under disability, in order that some people might be prevented from committing crime. It pressed upon the innocent just as much as upon the guilty. It was all very well to say that it would be temperately administered by the Lord Lieutenant; but it so happened that it was in the police the real power resided. And could it be said that it was temperately administered at present, when it was in force in no less than 31 counties, in some, at all events, of which there was not the slightest pretence of excuse for retaining it? What was the next provision of the Bill? The Lord Lieutenant's provision was to prevent persons carrying arms; and if it stopped there, there might be a great deal to be said for it; but it did not stop at preventing persons from carrying arms outside their houses. There was issued a notice calling upon them to come in and deposit their arms, and if they did not do so their houses might be searched; and, moreover, any policeman might go and search any person on the road to see whether he was 276 concealing any arms about him. Was that freedom? He contended that the Common Law of England did not at all need to be supplemented in Ireland by such odious, he would not say atrocious, provisions as those under which that right of domiciliary visit was exercised. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had quoted a speech of his (Mr. Butt's) delivered 20 years ago, in which he expressed his opinion that some restriction should be put on the possession of arms; but was the right of domiciliary visits and the searching of the person necessary to carry out such restriction? He was very proud of having so diligent a student of his speeches as the right hon. Gentleman. It was not the first time the right hon. Gentleman had quoted them. He hoped the study would be continued, and that it would extend beyond the speeches of his early days to those of later years. It was true he had said there ought to be some restriction on the possession of arms; but did it follow that there ought to be such provisions as those of which he was now complaining? The question really was whether they would try to deal with the evils which he admitted existed in Ireland, by means of a vigorous administration of the powers of the Common Law? English Members had said that England was a country in which such coercive legislation was not needed; but the fact was that England had gone through the same or worse experiences. And how had England been dealt with under those circumstances? How were such crises got over in England? Not by coercion, but by enfranchisement. Not long ago a speech was delivered by the Prime Minister in which the proud boast was made that the English artizan's home was freer and more safe from intrusion than the castles of noblemen in other lands, and in which a reference was made to the effectual operation of constitutional principles at a time when the proclamation of a Republic among a neighbouring people seemed the signal for sedition throughout the whole of this country. In only one instance had an Arms Act been passed for England, and that was in the year 1819. And what was the nature of that Act? It enabled two justices to issue their warrant for the search of any house for arms in certain specified districts upon receiving infor- 277 mation that arms were concealed in it for seditious and treasonable purposes. Under that Act, however, the individual whose house was searched had an appeal to the Court of Quarter Sessions, and the Act itself was only in force for two years. When that Act was passed by the House of Lords, a Protest against it was signed by several of the Peers. He had heard it stated that British subjects had no right to carry arms; but he had a distinct recollection that it was declared by the Bill of Eights that it was the inalienable right of every Englishman to carry arms, and he had a not very indistinct recollection that under the Act of Settlement, by virtue of which Her Majesty held her Throne, that right to carry arms was also recognized. The Protest of the Lords against the English Arms Act, after referring to the Bill of Eights in proof of the right of all British subjects to carry arms, went on to show that the effect of such a law in Ireland had merely been to irritate the people and to provoke revenge owing to the abuses which had occurred under it. That Protest was signed by Lord Grey, Lord Erskine, Lord Holland, Lord Fitzwilliam, and the Duke of Sussex. What would those noble Lords have said if in place of the very moderate measure which they protested against they had had to deal with a Bill like the present? But what was the condition of England at the time those noble Lords were protesting against the passing of the Act—was there then no excuse for asking Parliament to pass it? At the time the Cato Street conspirators were brought to trial and executed for conspiring to surprise the Bank of England and to carry out other treasonable practices this Act was in force; but so strong was the feeling of Englishmen against its principle that it was not put into force. That was the one solitary Arms Act for England. The Habeas Corpus Act had been suspended, and the spy system had been enforced, but the way in which a better state of things was brought about was by passing measures which had the effect of tranquillizing the people. The Prince Regent was fired at in coming to open Parliament, and a Message was sent to the House, and a Secret Committee was appointed, which reported that all the Northern parts of England were in a state of sedition, and that a conspiracy had been formed to divide the land 278 of the landowners amongst the people. There were depôts of arms in different parts of the country. Measures had to be taken to have the cannon in the hands of merchants spiked lest they should be turned against the Government. Were there not men now living who recollected that William IV. dared not go to the City to dine with the Lord Mayor because of the conspiracy that existed to shoot him on the way? But in that state of things in England, did Parliament give the King himself the powers which were given to the Viceroy now with respect to Ireland? The Habeas Corpus Act was suspended, but the Reform Bill was the first thing that brought peace; the household franchise was what completed the work of conciliation, and gave contentment to the English people. There had been nothing in Ireland to equal the discontent which prevailed in England in 1819, and yet with respect to England no such measures were attempted as those which were in force with respect to Ireland. Try, then, for Ireland under less difficult circumstances what you tried for England. Act upon the principle of Burke—that if concessions had not produced peace more must be given. Give the people of Ireland the rights of the British Constitution, and let the star of liberty shine for once over Ireland, and he ventured to say that peace and prosperity would follow in its train. He would appeal to English Members to say whether the Irish Members of that House were unreasonable in objecting to the passing of this measure. He unhesitatingly joined in giving credit to the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for endeavouring in some degree to relax the rigours of these statutes under the present Bill; but, at the same time, he scarcely thought the right hon. Gentleman would have ventured to propose an extension of those statutes in all their harshness. But did the present measure bring them any nearer to getting rid of this class of legislation? The fact was that this Bill proposed to re-enact laws which were far more harsh than that of 1869. He asked the House not to judge of the effect of those measures by the speech of the right hon. Baronet, but by the terms of those measures themselves. The right hon. Baronet had by his speech almost persuaded him that the times of coercion had come to an end; 279 but when he came to look at the terms of the statutes about to be continued, he found that although "the voice was the voice of Jacob the hand was the hand of Esau," and that there was a very stern reality in the very rough hands of Esau—as discovered by these Acts. Were they prepared to re-enact or to destroy the law and the Constitution, which were sufficient to meet every case that might arise? The worst of these Coercion Acts was that the Government knew they could at any time resort to them; that they taught the Government to put the Common Law in abeyance, to gain a false popularity by being remiss in the execution of the law, and then to make up for their own weakness by a Coercion Act. Let him read to the House an extract from the late Lord Brougham's Political Philosophy. He said—There is no more powerful argument against ever granting exceptional powers than the tendency of such grants to be perpetuated, and the tendency of the powers themselves to become part of the Constitution. The people become accustomed to them, the rulers become fond of them, and believe that the affairs of the State cannot be administered without them.So said Lord Brougham, and an illustration of the truth of what he said was supplied in the successive renewals of this Act. It was time to make a stand against its further renewal, and to say boldly that there should not be a lease perpetually renewable of coercive legislation for Ireland. He had no particular distrust of the present Government; but he had heard with amazement the argument put forward that because they trusted a Government they were to give them any power they asked for. That was not the language of an Englishman; it was not the language of the English Constitution. It was based upon distrust and jealousy of the Executive Power. The question was, whether they were prepared to continue a system of coercion in Ireland? The Government acted upon the testimony of magistrates. The right hon. Baronet had heard of outrages. Might he venture to ask his attention to a despatch of one of his Predecessors in the office of Chief Secretary to the Military Commander at Limerick? The Chief Secretary in question said it frequently happened that disturbances existed only in a very small degree, and probably only partially, yet that the Civil Government were called upon, as if there were a general rising, 280 to call out the Militia to repel disturbances represented as being more serious than the occasion warranted; that letter after letter was written to the Government on the subject, and that the result of inquiry generally was to show that the outrage was by no means of the extent complained of. The obvious remedy, it was added, was that the representations should be upon oath. The writer of that despatch was Arthur Wellesley, and it referred to outrages greater than those which, on the reports of policemen, had frightened the Chief Secretary from his propriety. As he had said, he would not then discuss the provisions of the Bill, many of which were very objectionable. He would content himself with calling attention to one—namely, the power of entering a house for the purpose of searching for handwriting to compare with a threatening letter. He did not wish to at all lessen the guilt of writing threatening letters. It might constitute a greater or a lesser crime, and he believed he had himself received as many as had ever been addressed to any magistrate in any county of Ireland, but he had paid no attention to them. What did the Bill do? It gave power to any magistrate, upon information that any person was suspected of having written a threatening letter, to issue a warrant under which a common policeman could enter the suspected man's house, break open all his drawers and desks, examine all his private documents, and carry off such of them as he thought fit. But everyone acquainted with Courts of Justice knew that of all evidence liable to mistrust, it was that of experts founded upon a comparison of handwriting; and yet with the hope of obtaining such evidence, an outrage was to be committed upon every principle of law. One case had occurred in which, upon a warrant of two magistrates, a man's house was entered and his daughter's desk broken open by a policeman, and letters carried off which were read and discussed in the police barracks. He would not mention the young lady's name, as he did not know whether she was yet married, and as the letters were of a tender nature and had been written to her by a young gentleman. It turned out that the proceeding was dictated by personal spite; an action was brought against the magistrates, and damages to the extent of £500 were recovered. 281 He endeavoured to find out last year how the fact was; but, though he failed to do so, he had every reason to believe that the costs and damages were paid at Dublin Castle. Let English gentlemen make the case their own. Would they tolerate their houses being entered, the desks of their daughters to be broken open, and their letters to become the subject of the jeers of policemen? Why, then, should they be parties to the granting of such powers in respect of Ireland? Was this system of coercion to be stopped? It was not a system to punish crime, or to make the detection of guilt easy. Could not Her Majesty's Government keep the peace without disarming a whole nation? Could they not do so without giving to policemen the power of making domiciliary visits, and of breaking open private desks? Was that really the power of the British Government? Oh, but he had heard yesterday that four men had done all the mischief in Meath, and that British law could not cope with those four men unless power was given to arrest every man who was abroad after dark. Why, this was a mere burlesque upon government. Let them retrace their steps. Let them try the power of the ordinary law, the power of making Irishmen content with the law. The difficulty was that, under the present system, the inferior classes in Ireland regarded the law as their enemy. Coercion embittered them against the law, and led to well-founded discontent. Murat tried such means of putting down brigandage in the Neapolitan States, and brigandage existed there to this day. If they did not try the effect of the law according to the British Constitution, they would brand their whole system of government in Ireland with itself contributing to a conspiracy of the few against the many, and provoke and almost justify a conspiracy of the many against the few. He had always, whenever he had the opportunity, impressed upon the people that their best redress and protection was not to resort to violence, but to the laws of England. They were now thwarting him. They talked of men who aroused the passions of the people; but the Government of England put weapons in those men's hands. The next time he met his countrymen and told them to look to that House for redress, in many a heart there would 282 arise the sad and bitter response—"We remember your appeal to that House, and the Coercion Act which, by English votes, it adopted."
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, this is a measure of necessity framed in a spirit of conciliation. [Major O'GORMAN: No, no!] If that is to be taken for a reply, I must say that according to the Orders of the House the hon. and gallant Gentleman will not be able to take any further part in this debate.
§ MAJOR O'GORMAN
I beg to say I have not spoken one word.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I repeat what I said before, and what I am prepared to prove, that the measure which we now ask you to read a second time is a measure of necessity, framed in a spirit of conciliation. It is a measure to preserve peace, and therefore is unjustly represented by its opponents as a measure to create coercion. "What is in a name?" I think a moral may be drawn on that question in this night's debate, for it is only by representing this measure to preserve peace as one to create and enforce coercion that the arguments of hon. Gentlemen opposite have found any substance or foundation. Now, Sir, I would remark, in the first place, in considering this Bill, that when it was first introduced some Sessions ago it contained many clauses which were principal subjects of invective and opposing arguments by those who now maintain similar opinions with regard to this Bill, and yet all these clauses have been omitted. The chief points which were brought under the consideration of the House, and which were held up to its indignation as violations of the liberty of the subject, and as proposals contrary to the traditional freedom of this country, find no place in the Bill now under consideration. These points were: Restrictions on a free Press, the establishment of what was then described and denounced as Curfew; and the power given to magistrates of summarily closing houses. These are the three things which in former discussions were particularly inveighed against as violations of the liberties and rights of Her Majesty's subjects. None of those matters are treated of in this Bill; and yet only by a sidewind have hon. Gentlemen opposite during this discussion of two nights had the candour to admit that those 283 main features of odium, according to their view of the case, are entirely omitted from this Bill. Well, then, there are no doubt points which we think it our duty to insist on, and which I trust this House, by a commanding majority, will prove that we have not been mistaken in recommending to the House. The points which we insist on are—restrictions on the possession of arms. When the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just addressed the House, and worked much on that subject, touched on the clauses of the Bill, he omitted to remember that the restrictions on arms were much modified in this Bill, as compared with past Bills. The hon. and learned Gentleman has said much upon domiciliary visits, and that any policeman at his own pleasure could make a domiciliary visit to seize arms. It never was in the power of a policeman, at his own pleasure, to make a domiciliary visit. I believe such a power was not given in any one of the Acts to which the hon. and learned Gentleman has referred, and certainly it is not given in the Bill before the House. In former days—indeed, I believe within the last two or three years—there were general warrants entrusted to the police for a term of three months, which they might use. I will not say that was an abuse. It might have been at the time a necessary arrangement by our Predecessors, but it is one which we have terminated, and there are only two places in Ireland where a general power of that kind prevails.
§ MR. BUTT
The warrant remains exactly as before. It is a general warrant directed to every sub-constable, and this Act authorizes him to execute it whenever he thinks fit.
§ MR. DISRAELI
If a constable makes a search for arms he is obliged to apply for a warrant to the Government.
§ MR. BUTT
No, no. The right hon. Gentleman will pardon me if I state what the fact is. A general warrant is one directed to a county inspector or to a sub-constable of the county, and this Bill expressly authorizes any warrant so directed to be executed at any hour of the day or night.
§ MR. DISRAELI
My right hon. Friend the Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant remarks that formerly it was so, but that as a matter of administration it is not the practice. ["Oh!"] It is not likely I should make that statement 284 if I did not believe it to be true. [Major O'GORMAN: I am perfectly sure of that.] It is fortunate that this House is used to every combination of human nature. Well, then, the hon. and learned Gentleman said, What is the prospect for Ireland if you are to proceed with this sort of legislation? It is very true you may modify and mitigate your Bills; it is very true you have omitted some odious clauses, but the result is coercion, it has always been coercion; and what security have we that again in five years we shall not have a new Bill similar to this? "The hon. and learned Gentleman continued—" This is not the way you have dealt with England. England was just as disturbed as Ireland; there was as much sedition in England at the earlier part of this century—and, indeed, for the first quarter of this century—as in Ireland, and yet you have not carried any Coercion Bills for England. You carried no Coercion Bills to meet the Corresponding Society or any of the seditious combinations." But does the hon. and learned Gentleman mean to say that the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, which was then, unfortunately, too frequently resorted to, was not an act of coercion? The hon. and learned Gentleman particularly alludes to the year of 1819—when he says the state of England was more dangerous and more menacing than that of Ireland—when there was as much sedition, as many secret societies, and as much danger to the State impending, and yet we did not have recourse to a policy of restriction and coercion. What does he say about the six Acts which were introduced by Lord Sidmouth and Lord Castlereagh? Look at the names of those Acts. The first of those Acts passed for England was an Act against the training of people to the use of arms—that was an Act of restriction. The second Act authorized justices of the peace to seize arms that might be used for purposes dangerous to the public peace; what does the hon. and learned Gentleman say to that? The third was an Act to prevent seditious meetings and assemblies. The fourth was an Act against blasphemous and seditious publications. The fifth was an Act containing severe restrictions against the Press. And the sixth was an Act to prevent delay in the administration of justice in the cases of 285 certain misdemeanours. Certainly no coercive legislation for Ireland has exceeded the scheme which was devised and carried into execution by these celebrated and odious Acts. And that is an answer to the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument about the hopelessness of this system of legislation and the folly of supposing that Ireland will ever be tranquil; because, if the state of England was then the same as the state of Ireland now—if that state was altered and checked by coercive legislation—why should not Ireland, in due season, be as tranquil, as prosperous, and as contented as England without the unhappy influence of exceptional legislation? Mr. Speaker, there is one point to which the hon. and learned Gentleman adverted with regard to myself, on which, with the permission of the House, I will say a few words. It is always disagreeable to enter into personal explanations; but I hope the House will allow that I rarely trespass on them in this way. The hon. and learned Gentleman quoted a passage from a speech which I made not in this House, but which at the time attracted some public notice. I said then, as I say now, that the working classes of England inherit personal privileges which the nobility of other nations do not enjoy. That is my opinion. By that opinion I stand; and I shall always be prepared, when an opportunity offers, to prove it. Well, a stupid, some think a malignant interpretation was given to those words, and a ridiculous story went about that in consequence of using those words a representation was made to Her Majesty's Government, and that I made an apology to a Minister who believed that he was referred to. I have never gone out of my way to contradict this story; but I think that as an hon. Gentleman has talked to-night about Her Majesty's Government truckling to Prince Bismarck, the House will, perhaps, allow me to make one remark. There is not the slightest truth of any kind in the statement that was made that any allusion or remonstrance—direct or indirect, public or private, by male or female—was ever made to me, or to any Member of Her Majesty's Government, upon that subject. When the erroneous charge was made that I had alluded to the conduct of Prince Bismarck—of whom I was thinking then 286 as little as I was thinking of Rory O'More—I thought it idle to answer the remarks in the newspapers, for I never grudge them their sport with public men; but when, after a few days had passed, I found that one or two journals were gravely announcing that the peace of Europe was endangered by such remarks, I thought the matter had become ridiculously grave, and I asked a friend of mine to put in a paragraph in the papers, for which I have never been even thanked either by Prince Bismarck or by anybody else. While I make these remarks on the observations of the hon. and learned Gentleman with regard to the first point in our Bill upon which we felt it our duty to insist—namely, the restrictions on the use and the possession of arms—I may say that both in this Bill and in the practice of the Administration great modifications have been introduced and arrangements which tend, in my opinion, to produce very beneficial results; such as the inquiry by an officer who fulfils the duties of a coroner in England after a murder, or the tax upon a district in which an outrage or murder has been committed. I heard with regret the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don), who, upon all subjects connected with his country, addresses us with an authority which is most due to him, criticize this proposal not entirely with the excellent sense which usually distinguishes his remarks. However, whether the hon. Gentleman be right or wrong, that is clearly a question which we must discuss in detail in Committee when the proper time arrives. But I must, upon the second reading of the Bill, protest against an arrangement of this kind being treated as one of an exceptional character, and differing in every respect from the general spirit of our administration for the United Kingdom. Surely, one of the most ancient customs of the country—a custom introduced into our ancient common law—is the redress which an injured inhabitant of a hundred has upon those who dwell in the same district. This is merely an application of the same principle, founded, as I think, upon justice and convenience; and therefore I trust the House will not consent to its being repealed. The other points we have insisted upon are with regard to the taking of unlawful oaths and the sending of threatening letters. 287 These are the points on which we have insisted in this Bill, which I maintain is to preserve peace, but which is described as a measure to inflict coercion. Who could be injured—who ever has been injured—by any of the arrangements contained in these clauses? Who are the persons who send threatening letters in Ireland? Many of those letters are of a most mischievous and disastrous character, and are often characterized by a bloody truth which a very short time after a letter has been received is confirmed by the fact of assassination. Who is in favour of extending mercy toward such men, or who can be opposed to legislation against such practices? It is idle to tell us a story about the apprentice of a butcher or somebody who sent a threatening letter to his master, in order to get his wages increased. Of course, in such a case there is no question of human life; and there is no proposal which could not be made to appear ridiculous if it were illustrated by some extreme case of that kind. But we who know the state of Ireland—the House of Commons—who know that Ireland has suffered from the tyranny of threatening letters, will not be misled, I am sure, by remarks of that sort. These, then, are the points upon which we ask the House to support us in carrying this Bill. We do not attempt—we do not ask you, we do not wish you to interfere with the freedom of the Press. We do not ask you to re-establish the Curfew which some years ago you denounced with so much eloquence. We do not ask you to give to magistrates the power of summarily closing public-houses? But we do ask you to agree to restrictions upon arms, much milder than those which were proposed and carried by our Predecessors—restrictions which more or less prevail in almost every country, and which, as all agree, have been exercised in Ireland, whatever party has filled the counsels of Her Majesty, with temperateness and moderation. We ask you at the same time to assist us in preventing the taking of unlawful oaths and the transmission of threatening letters. We ask you again, what possible injury such legislation can inflict on any innocent being? and to remember what support, encouragement, and spirit it must give to the loyal subjects of Her Majesty. And now I come to the graver part of 288 this matter, as treated by the hon. and learned Gentleman—namely, the consideration of the Westmeath Act. That has been viewed in a very different manner by the various speakers who have addressed us from the other side of the House below the gangway. Hon. Members ought to be tolerably fresh in their recollections with regard to the origin of the present Westmeath Act. It is not a long period ago, though it was in another Parliament, that the foundation of this Act was laid. It is well, however, that the House of Commons should recollect the circumstances which attended its introduction and its passing. The state of Ireland in the county of Westmeath, and in some contiguous districts, was such as to create a considerable impression upon public opinion in this country. Crimes which had rarely been equalled in the most terrible period of agrarian outrage were frequent. Members came down to this House day after day to hear from authority that some outrage, some act of violence, had been committed, which seemed to show that that part of the country was in a state almost of dissolving civilization. What, then, was the course pursued? The Minister for Ireland at that time was the noble Lord who at present is Leader of the Opposition; and in a speech which I well remember—and of which I will say, even in his presence, that it was an admirable speech, both from its command of the facts which the House required and from the dignified and moderate tone in which his policy was recommended, though it was one of the most energetic character—the noble Lord proposed that a secret Committee should be appointed to inquire into the state of the disturbed districts. For myself, sitting on the bench opposite to the one I now fill, I did not approve a secret Committee, because the facts were so patent, all that was occurring was so well known, the remedies required were so urgent, that I thought a Government—and a powerful Government, such as the Government of the day was—ought to have acted on its own responsibility, and introduced a Bill into the House. I mention these circumstances, not because I expect the House to agree with my opinion, but to show the animus with which I, at the request of the noble Lord, became a Member of the Committee. The Com- 289 mittee sat, and the noble Lord was our Chairman. I know not whether all the evidence which came before us was printed. If I remember rightly, some of the documentary evidence was not made known. The Committee was powerful from the influence and ability of its Members, consisting, as it did, of men who represented all the great parties in the House and possessed their confidence; and, upon the evidence produced, we arrived at the unanimous conclusion that the measures which the noble Lord afterwards introduced, and which have been so frequently adverted to in the course of this debate, the greater part of them—the whole of them I may say—being still the law, should be adopted. Accordingly, they passed through the House of Commons unanimously. This legislation, then, with respect to the county of Westmeath, and the general policy then adopted for suppressing agrarian outrages there, was not merely the policy of a Minister, but was the policy of the House of Commons. All parties, represented by their chief men, were persuaded, on the grounds brought forward by a Minister well entitled to the confidence of the country, that there was in Westmeath and in the adjoining districts a dark conspiracy and sanguine confederation which had more or less existed for a century. We knew, before those discussions were finished, before those investigations terminated, who the very assassins were who were hired. We knew, I may say, who was the king of the assassins, the individual who exercised an irresistible power in that county over a panic-stricken people. Well, then, I say that policy was adopted by the House of Commons. It was their own policy, founded on the proposition of a secret Committee—at least a Committee of great reserve, because we sat with closed doors. The House of Commons was persuaded of the facts I have stated. They were not the transient incidents of a Session or a year. The evidence before us was that this was an ancient institution of murder, spoliation, and anarchy; and we knew we were dealing with that which the greatest energy and the greatest wisdom could not tame or subdue in the course of a few years. I say, then, it is idle for the hon. and learned Gentleman, and for other Members who have spoken in the 290 same spirit, to pretend that we have no evidence to justify us in again bringing forward and continuing what is called the Westmeath Act. The Westmeath Act must be continued from the conviction of the House of Commons of its necessity—a conviction founded upon the information obtained by the Committee, and from the deliberate, mature, and defined opinion of Parliament generally that this system of outrage must be put down. Well, Sir, I am surprised, remembering those days, remembering the deep interest in that Committee, remembering that when the House met every Member of the Committee was surrounded by his friends and companions who wished to obtain some information of the startling and terrible revelations that we had heard, remembering all that, was it not astounding—for it was only five years ago that that occurred—to hear hon. Gentlemen opposite—men, too, filling the great position of county Members, deeply and intimately connected with that part of the country, getting up in their places doubting, and more than doubting, the existence of the conspiracy; for one hon. Member told us he believed Ribbonism did not exist at all, and that there was nothing like a system of terrorism in Ireland—that the whole thing was an invention, or something to that effect. I think that was astounding. There was once a Member of this House, one of its greatest ornaments, who sat opposite this box, or an identical one, and, indeed, occupied the place which I now unworthily fill. That was Mr. Canning. In his time, besides the discovery of a new world, dry champagne was invented. Hearing everybody talk of dry champagne, Mr. Canning had a great desire to taste it, and Charles Ellis, afterwards Lord Seaford, got up a little dinner for him, care, of course, being taken that there should be some dry champagne. Mr. Canning took a glass, and, after drinking it, and thinking for a moment, exclaimed—" The man who says he likes dry champagne will say anything." Now, I do not want to enter into rude controversy with any of my hon. Friends opposite who doubt the existence of Ribbonism; but this I will say, that the man who maintains that Ribbonism does not exist is a man who—ought to drink dry champagne. Having touched upon a few points in this debate, and gathered 291 some few oars in a well-threshed field, I wish the House, before it votes, clearly to understand the issue before us. Hon. Gentlemen opposite can hardly suppose that it is very agreeable to our feelings to introduce Bills which they look upon as Coercion Bills. It is not agreeable nor is it flattering to the people of England that there should be a necessity for such Bills now in the Government of Ireland. If we declined to continue this legislation, for which, as Ministers, we are not responsible, I dare say that the Session would be calmer; and though I cannot doubt that, even if there were no Coercion Bills, the fervid imagination of Irish Gentlemen would not fail in introducing a sufficient number of agreeable grievances to relieve the dulness of our Parliamentary life, still I think they will acknowledge that had we not brought forward this measure our business would have been easier, at least for the Session. But hon. Gentlemen opposite argue as if it was the interest of an English Government to bring in Coercion Bills for Ireland. They argue as if the people of England were watching with eagerness the passing of this measure. On the contrary, they only, like us, regret the sad necessity for such proposals. But what in the present case I wish to impress upon hon. Gentlemen opposite is this—that we do watch these proposals with some satisfaction from the conviction that the spirit which animates them, instead of being a fierce and suspicious spirit, such as has often, I fear, in old days animated and inspired our legislation for Ireland, affords evidence of our desire to extend to that country the same friendship which we entertain for Her Majesty's subjects in England. But we cannot shrink from making proposals which we deem necessary for the preservation of order in Ireland. Hon. Gentlemen opposite can hardly hope that they can ultimately prevent this Bill being passed. They have given a fair opposition to it—I entirely acknowledge that. Nor do I myself for a moment wish that they should be debarred from an adequate opportunity of expressing their opinions. But if, when this measure is passed, they will in their counties assist us by conveying to the people there the assurance that these Acts are but a mitigated continuation of that unhappy policy which was inevitable under the 292 circumstances; if they will impress upon their constituents the conviction—which when impressed upon them by their leaders they will entertain—that there is in the Parliament at Westminster, and in this House of Commons, a bonâ fide wish to act well with our Irish brother Representatives, and to assist them in all their proposals which we believe are really for the advantage of their country—that this legislation which we are now proposing, and which the great majority of both sides of this House say with us is inevitable, is a solemn, though sad, duty, which we have inherited, and which, filling these places, our duty to the Queen requires that we should bring forward—if they will look upon it in that light, and acknowledge the necessity for passing it, they will find, I am sure, on both sides of the House a true sympathy with their sincere efforts for the advancement of Ireland in those many measures of which they have given Notice, some of which affect the rights and some the material interests of their country. They will find, I say, in the Parliament of England a sympathizing body who will feel proud when they confess that a true experience of the House in which they sit has proved to them that it is capable of representing the United Kingdom.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 264; Noes 69: Majority 195.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time.295
|Adderley, rt. hn. Sir C.||Beaumont, W. B.|
|Agnew, R. V.||Bective, Earl of|
|Alexander, Colonel||Bentinck, G. C.|
|Anstruther, Sir W.||Beresford, Colonel M.|
|Antrobus, Sir E.||Biddulph, M.|
|Archdall, W. H.||Boord, T. W.|
|Arkwright, A. P.||Bourke, hon. R.|
|Arkwright, F.||Bousfield, Major|
|Ashbury, J. L.||Brassey, T.|
|Ashley, hon. E. M.||Bright, R.|
|Assheton, R.||Brown, A. H.|
|Astley, Sir J. D.||Bruce, hon. T.|
|Backhouse, E.||Burrell, Sir P.|
|Baggallay, Sir R.||Buxton, Sir R. J.|
|Balfour, A. J.||Campbell, C.|
|Barrington, Viscount||Cartwright, F.|
|Bassett, P.||Cave, rt. hon. S.|
|Bates, E.||Cavendish, Lord G.|
|Bateson, Sir T.||Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.|
|Bathurst, A. A.||Chaine, J.|
|Beach, rt. hn. Sir M. H.||Chambers, Sir T.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Chaplin, Colonel E.|
|Chaplin, H.||Hick, J.|
|Charley, W. T.||Hodgson, W. N.|
|Childers, rt. hon. H.||Hogg, Sir J. M.|
|Clarke, J. C.||Holker, Sir J.|
|Clifford, C. C.||Holland, Sir H. T.|
|Clive, Col. hon. G. W.||Home, Captain|
|Cobbold, J. P.||Hope, A. J. B. B.|
|Cochrane, A. D. W. R. B.||Hubbard, J. G.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Hunt, rt. hon. G. W.|
|Conolly, T.||Jackson, H. M.|
|Coope, O. E.||James, Sir H.|
|Cordes, T.||Jenkins, D. J.|
|Corry, hon. H. W. L.||Johnstone, H.|
|Corry, J. P.||Johnstone, Sir H.|
|Cross, rt. hon. R. A.||Jolliffe, hon. S.|
|Cuninghame, Sir W.||Kavanagh, A. MacM.|
|Cust, H. C.||Kay-Shuttleworth, U. J.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Dalrymple, C.||Kennaway, Sir J. H.|
|Deakin, J. H.||Kensington, Lord|
|Denison, W. E.||Kinnaird, hon. A. F.|
|Dickson, Major A. G.||Knight, F. W.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Knowles, T.|
|Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.||Lacon, Sir E. H. K.|
|Douglas, Sir G.||Laverton, A.|
|Dyott, Colonel R.||Learmonth, A.|
|Eaton, H. W.||Leeman, G.|
|Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W.||Lefevre, G. J. S.|
|Legard, Sir C.|
|Egerton, hon. A. F.||Legh, W. J.|
|Egerton, hon. W.||Leith, J. F.|
|Elcho, Lord||Lennox, Lord H. G.|
|Fielden, J.||Leslie, J.|
|FitzGerald, rt. hn. Sir S.||Lewis, C. E.|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord E.||Lindsay, Col. R. L.|
|Fitzwilliam, hon. C. W. W.||Lloyd, S.|
|Lopes, Sir M.|
|Fletcher, I.||Lowther, J.|
|Folkestone, Viscount||Lusk, Sir A.|
|Fordyce, W. D.||Macartney, J. W. E.|
|Forester, C. T. W.||Macduff, Viscount|
|Forster, Sir C.||MacIver, D.|
|Fraser, Sir W. A.||Mackintosh, C. F.|
|Freshfield, C. K.||M'Lagan, P.|
|Gallwey, Sir W. P.||Mahon, Viscount|
|Gardner, J. T. Agg-||Majendie, L. A.|
|Garnier, J. C.||Makins, Colonel|
|Gibson, E.||Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.|
|Gilpin, Colonel||March, Earl of|
|Goldney, G.||Marjoribanks, Sir D. C.|
|Goldsmid, J.||Marten, A. G.|
|Gordon, W.||Mellor, T. W.|
|Gore, J. R. O.||Merewether, C. G.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Mills, A.|
|Gorst, J. E.||Mills, Sir C. H.|
|Grantham, W.||Monk, C. J.|
|Grieve, J. J.||Montgomerie, R.|
|Halsey, T. F.||Montgomery, Sir G. G.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J.||Morgan, G. O.|
|Hamilton, I. T.||Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.|
|Hamilton, Lord G.||Mulholland, J.|
|Hamilton, Marq. of||Naghten, A. R.|
|Hamond, C. F.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Hanbury, R. W.||Newport, Viscount|
|Hankey, T.||Noel, E.|
|Harcourt, Sir W. V.||Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.|
|Hardy, rt. hon. G.||O'Neill, hon. E.|
|Hardy, J. S.||Onslow, D.|
|Hartington, Marq. of||Peel, A. W.|
|Hay, rt. hn. Sir J. C. D.||Pell, A.|
|Hermon, E.||Pemberton, E. L.|
|Hervey, Lord F.||Peploe, Major|
|Percy, Earl||Smith, W. H.|
|Perkins, Sir F.||Smollett, P. B.|
|Phipps, P.||Somerset, Lord H. R. C.|
|Pim, Captain B.||Stanhope, hon. E.|
|Plunket, hon. D. R.||Stanhope, W. T. W. S.|
|Plunkett, hon. R.||Stanley, hon. F.|
|Polhill-Turner, Capt.||Starkey, L. R.|
|Powell, W.||Steere, L.|
|Praed, C. T.||Storer, G.|
|Praed, H. B.||Taylor, rt. hon. Col.|
|Price, Captain||Torr, J.|
|Puleston, J. H.||Tremayne, J.|
|Raikes, H. C.||Turner, C.|
|Read, C. S.||Vance, J.|
|Reed, E. J.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Repton, G. W.||Walker, T. E.|
|Ridley, M. W.||Wallace, Sir R.|
|Ripley, H. W.||Walpole, rt. hon. S.|
|Ritchie, C. T.||Walter, J.|
|Robertson, H.||Waterlow, Sir S. H.|
|Rodwell, B. B. H.||Watkin, Sir E. W.|
|Roebuck, J. A.||Watney, J.|
|Round, J.||Welby, W. E.|
|Russell, Lord A.||Wellesley, Captain|
|Russell, Sir C.||Whalley, G. H.|
|Ryder, G. R.||Whitbread, S.|
|St. Aubyn, Sir J.||Whitelaw, A.|
|Salt, T.||Williams, Sir F. M.|
|Samuda, J. D'A.||Wilmot, Sir H.|
|Sanderson, T. K.||Wilmot, Sir J. E.|
|Sandon, Viscount||Wolff, Sir H. D.|
|Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.||Woodd, B. T.|
|Scott, M. D.||Wynn, C. W. W.|
|Seely, C.||Yarmouth, Earl of|
|Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.||Yeaman, J.|
|Yorke, hon. E.|
|Sherriff, A. C.||Yorke, J. R.|
|Shirley, S. E.||Young, A. W.|
|Simonds, W. B.||Dyke, W. H.|
|Smith, S. G.||Winn, R.|
|Anderson, G.||Jenkins, E.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Kirk, G. H.|
|Blennerhassett, R. P.||Lawson, Sir W.|
|Bowyer, Sir G.||Lewis, O.|
|Brady, J.||Locke, J.|
|Brooks, M.||MacCarthy, J. G.|
|Browne, G. E.||M'Kenna, Sir J. N.|
|Burt, T.||Martin, P.|
|Butt, I.||Meldon, C. H.|
|Callan, P.||Monck, Sir A. E.|
|Cameron, C.||Montagu, rt. hn. Lord R.|
|Carter, R. M.||Moore, A.|
|Chadwick, D.||Norwood, C. M.|
|Collins, E.||O'Brien, Sir P.|
|Conyngham, Lord F.||O'Byrne, W. R.|
|Cowen, J.||O'Callaghan, hon. W.|
|Dease, E.||O'Clery, K.|
|Digby, K. T.||O'Conor, D. M.|
|Dilke, Sir C. W.||O'Conor Don, The|
|Dixon, G.||O'Gorman, P.|
|Dunbar, J.||O'Keeffe, J.|
|Earp, T.||O'Leary, W.|
|Ennis, N.||O'Reilly, M.|
|Errington, G.||O'Shaughnessy, R.|
|Fay, C. J.||Plimsoll, S.|
|French, hon. C.||Power, J. O'C.|
|Gourley, E. T.||Redmond, W. A.|
|Harrison, J. F.||Richard, H.|
|Herschell, F.||Ronayne, J. P.|
|Shaw, W.||Sullivan, A. M.|
|Sheil, E.||Swanston, A.|
|Sheridan, H. B.||Whitworth, W.|
|Simon, Mr. Serjeant||Williams, W.|
|Smyth, P. J.||Nolan, Captain|
|Stacpoole, W.||Power, R.|
Bill read the third time, and passed.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, he would put the Bill down for Committee on the 5th of April, with the view of then fixing the day.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, the Committee would certainly be taken on that day.
§ Bill committed for Monday 5th April.