§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
Sir, before I submit to the House the Resolution which stands in my name, I must ask the attention of hon. Members to the exceptional and unconstitutional position in which so large a portion of the United Kingdom as Ireland still continues. I am not about to open up at present any discussion on the policy of the law under which Ireland is placed at the mercy of the Executive Government for the time being; nor am I about to charge Her Majesty's Government with any abuse of what I may describe as the unconstitutional powers confided to it by Parliament. I am simply concerned to explain, to the best of my ability, the grounds on which I contend that the Executive Government of Her Majesty in Ireland ought now to put an end to what may be fairly termed a state of siege. Hon. Members will understand that I do not describe the existence of the Peace Preservation Act as in itself constituting a state of siege; but I regard it as an act which enables Her Majesty's Government to declare and keep in force a state of siege, and at its pleasure to put an end to that state. My present object is to show to the House that the condition of Ireland warrants, nay, demands the restoration of the country to its constitutional relation as an integral portion of the Empire. In 1847 the Crime and Outrage Act—as the Arms Act of that Session was called—was passed for two years. Parliament was easily induced to pass that Act, because of the short period proposed for its duration. It was, however, renewed in 1850, 1852, 1854, 1855, 1856, 1858, 1860, 1862, 1865, 1867, 1868, 1869, 1870, 1871, and 1874. It was never renewed on any of these occasions for a longer period than three years; but last year the Act was renewed for five years. I admit that the Act passed last Session was shorn of many of the most repugnant provisions of former Acts, and I also admit that there has been no indication on the part of the Government of the Duke of Abercorn to abuse the powers which were confided to it by Parliament by the issue of fresh proclamations; but the only acts of the Duke's Government for which I can offer any acknowledgment are those by 1233 which he has restored the inhabitants of certain districts to the protection of the law, by withdrawing the proclamations which had so long subjected them to grievous penalties for acts in no way immoral, nor opposed to natural law. Sir, I know that there is a political party in Ireland—perhaps I should better term it a somewhat extensive clique—which still retains the prejudices and clings to the traditional policy of a governing class. These people, if I may be permitted to appropriate the expressions of an eminent Judge, probably go wrong rather from unconscious bias than from intention; but, however that may be, they have been the constant and consistent advocates of coercion at all times, and so far as their counsels have hitherto prevailed, they have been effective in bringing home, not merely to the bulk of the Irish people, but to all who sympathize with Ireland, the disagreeable fact that Ireland is legislated for in a spirit of severity and coercion which prevails in no other portion of the United Kingdom. I say this because in Ireland acts which are not offences against any natural, or moral, or religious law, are converted by proclamation into offences under a penal statute. Politicians of the class I refer to reverse the merciful maxim of the British law, which says that it is better that 10 guilty should escape than that one innocent should suffer; for they openly avow that it is a matter of slight account that a dozen of innocent men should be arrested and imprisoned without evidence in order to have a chance of punishing a single offender. I cast no censure on the Irish Government for anything it has done. It has administered what I believe to be a harsh law, with tact and consideration. What I desire to say is, that the circumstances of Ireland warrant—nay, call for—the Government proceeding more rapidly in the restoration to the inhabitants of Ireland of the protection of constitutional law. Sir, I have at all times counselled obedience to the law; but it is right to show to the Irish people that their Representatives in this House are watchful of the interests of Ireland, and are not wholly overborne when they try to preserve for the people, or to restore to them the protection of the Constitution. I know that the class of people in Ireland who clamour for the maintenance of coercive laws in their most re- 1234 pressive and severe form try to make out that the existence of crime, even in isolated cases, justifies the continuance of proclamations in force over large districts unsullied by crime, and over millions of people against whom there is not a particle of evidence of criminal acts, or of complicity with the evil-disposed. Is there any hon. Member of this House who will undertake to show, or even to say, that crimes of violence, or any other class of crime, prevails in Ireland in a greater proportion to area or population than in England or Scotland, and if this cannot be shown, is there any valid reason for maintaining in force proclamations which are a serious source of danger and wrong to persons? If Parliament showed confidence in the people of Ireland as it has done with the people of England, Ireland would be the more easily governed country of the two. I must now, Sir, refer to the Parliamentary Papers, which show what districts of Ireland remain under the operation of proclamations. I think hon. Members who sympathize so warmly with the sufferings of the Herzegovinians and other struggling races at a distance, can scarcely be conscious that constitutional law is abrogated by proclamation in the counties of Antrim, Armagh, Clare, Cork, Cork City, Donegal, Dublin County and City, Galway County and Town, Kerry, Kilkenny County and City, King's County, Leitrim, Limerick County and City, Londonderry, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Monaghan, Queen's County, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, and Waterford County and City. In 21 of the 32 counties—the part of some, the whole of others—the ordinary law is suspended, and people live under a police code. But, say the advocates of coercion, crime still exists more or less, and these laws are requisite to keep it down. Indeed! Then why confine it to 21 counties? No doubt, these people would have the law superseded over the 32 counties, so that I need not use that or any other argument to them; but the House will, perhaps, bear with me whilst I refer to the comparative statistics of crime in England and Ireland, and to the Report presented to Parliament last year by command of Her Majesty. To my mind, there is an eloquence in these statistics—a logic, I should rather say—that is more con- 1235 vincing, and that ought to have greater weight with Parliament than the isolated dicta of learned and eminent Judges. These dicta are, indeed, of great value in the trial of each particular case. Even where they are erroneous they may tend to the elucidation of the truth, for they enable appellate tribunals to discern wherein the Judges of first instance have erred, and they enable justice to recover its equilibrium; but whatever may be the respect due to those dignitaries, this House would commit a grave error if it legislated for a great community on the suggestion of one whose whole mind is intent on the symptoms of the particular case he has to try, and who, very properly, leaves most other matters out of sight. I am, therefore, not about to trouble the House, or to edify it, by quoting from the charges of learned Judges at the late or at any other assizes. I do not say that fair use may not be made of such charges in debates in this House; but for the reasons I have already offered, I refrain from using some which appear to support my own views. I have other materials at hand with which I prefer to prove the case which I have undertaken to bring under the consideration of this House. I must now refer to the introductory and explanatory observations in the Report issued by the Government on Irish criminal statistics, page 11, which showed that the number of indictable offences in Ireland had fallen from 10,865 in 1864, to 6,662 in 1874, and the proportion per 10,000 heads of the population, from 19 in 1864, to 12 in 1874. I will also show how small the proportion of agrarian crime is to the total of crime; but nevertheless, such as it was, and is, it has fallen from a yearly average of 324 in 1862–3, to. 233 in 1873 and 1874. Agrarian outrages had, on the whole, decreased 41 between 1873 and 1874, notwithstanding that I have to admit an increase of 28 such offences in Ulster. The indictable offences of all kinds decreased as between 1873 and 1874, from 6,942 in the former year, to 6,662 in the latter. As for the offences determined summarily, they showed a slight decrease between 1864 and 1874, but not proportionate to the decrease of the population of Ireland in the meantime. They decreased from 232,363 in 1864 to 228,501 in 1874; but, nevertheless, owing to decrease of the population, the 1236 proportion per 10,000 head of the population had risen from 411 to 430. There is nothing, however, in these offences to call for the proclamations of the Lord Lieutenant being continued in force. The offences of drunkenness and common assault constituted 128,000 out of the 228,000 offences determined summarily, and there were about 57,000 to 60,000 of the nature of civil offences. I admit, however—and I will hide nothing from the House as to the facts—that there was an increase of 4,658 of those minor offences in 1874, as compared to 1873; but I will read the note on this subject of the able and impartial statistician (Dr. Neilson Hancock) who compiled those tables. These were Dr. Hancock's words—It appeared that more than a third of the increase in offences disposed of summarily in 1874 may be ascribed to drunkenness. The increase under that head was 1,815. The other large increase, 1,227 against Police Acts; 1,063 against Local Acts, and 606 against Weights and Measures Acts. All mark increased vigilance of the police in prosecuting for minor offences.Yes, that is what it marked, and nothing else; there was no indication that general peace was in greater peril in Ireland in 1874, than in any other portion of the United Kingdom. I will now deal with the bugbear of agrarian outrage, so far as my present observations are concerned, once for all by this proposition—namely, that crime is least in the agrarian or country districts, and greatest in towns, where there can be no reason for attributing crime to agrarian causes. Hon. Gentlemen must not mistake me: I do not mean merely to say that crime is less in the country than in towns—in proportion to their respective areas—for, of course, that would be so everywhere; but what I mean to say is, that the country population as a whole, and relatively to their numbers, are ten times more free from crime than the population of the large towns. I am anxious not to weary the House; but, perhaps, the surprise with which some hon. Members might learn the result of Dr. Hancock's able and exhaustive analysis, might compensate them for giving attention to these dry statistics. I will only read two short paragraphs from the Report, which summarize its results. This is what the learned Doctor says in reference to his own table—The most marked feature disclosed by this table is one that was particularly noticed in the 1237 past three years, viz., the extent to which crime is concentrated in towns in Ireland. Thus whilst the average of all Ireland of indictable offences is 12"—I ask the House to mark this—the crime in the metropolitan police district reached 110 in the 10,000 of the population; and it gives a more definite conception of the matter to notice that of the 6,662 indictable offences in Ireland, 3,734—or more than one half—occurred in the Dublin metropolitan police district.The learned doctor (the Lord Lieutenant's statistician, be it observed) gives us another interesting table, and follows it up by these remarks—It appears from this table that the excess of crime in urban districts, as compared with the adjoining county, is—in the case of Dublin, 91 per cent; in Cork, 57 per cent; in Waterford, 51 per cent; in Galway, 49 per cent; in Belfast, 44 per cent; and in Limerick, 42 per cent.Immediately following the paragraphs I have quoted, Dr. Hancock refers to the exceptional amount of criminality in Kildare county, and he accounts for it, no doubt, truly, by referring it to the concentration of troops in a rural district; and I am glad to see that the Lord Lieutenant has withdrawn the proclamation from that county. Now, I ask, in the name of common sense, if the condition of Ireland be as Dr. Hancock describes it, what excuse is there on the score of agrarian outrages, for the maintenance of proclamations over wide districts of Ireland, where the population is nearly ten times more free from crime than the population of the City of Dublin, in the vicinity of Dublin Castle?
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
speaking, seated and with his hat on, said, he believed he was in Order in announcing that these attempts to count out the House were quite useless, because there were 44 Irish Members who were determined that a House should be kept, if it were necessary, until 6 o'clock in the morning.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
then proceeded with a further analysis of Dr. Hancock's tables, and then said: I will now advert to the plea which has been 1238 put forth more than once by certain persons who attribute the excess of crime in England to the fact that a large number of Irish have immigrated to this country, and so swelled the English Returns of crime. Dr. Hancock, at page 23 of his Report, most conclusively and unanswerably demonstrates the fallacy of this plea; he shows that in London, Liverpool, and Manchester—the three towns where the persons of Irish birth reside in greatest numbers—the criminality of the Irish population was only 64 per 10,000—as compared with 76 per 10,000—the average criminality of persons of the same age in the general population of those cities. These are Dr. Hancock's precise words—The criminality of persons of Irish birth in England appears from this comparison to be not excessive, and so cannot account for the less amount of indictable offences in Ireland than in an equal portion of the population of England and Wales.I will not lose time in dilating upon this evidence. The man who rejects the conclusions with which it is fraught will not be moved by anything I may say. Now a few words as to Scotland. Amongst the observations which are often addressed to Irishmen both in this House and in the Press is this—that they should take example from the people of Scotland. Let us see. My Scotch Friends—and some of my most respected Friends in this House are Representatives of Scotch constituencies—will bear with me whilst, in company with Dr. Hancock, I review the criminal statistics of Scotland, and compare them with those of Ulster, where six out of her nine counties still lie under proclamation by the Lord Lieutenant. The Report shows that in the crimes against human life the proportions are nearly alike for Ulster and an equal proportion of the population of Scotland; the figures being 95 for Ulster against 90 for Scotland, in the two years compared. With respect to all other crimes, he says—The crimes against veracity were only 3 in Ulster, as compared to 11 in Scotland. Crimes against morals"—there is no occasion to mention their ugly names—"were only 31 in Ulster, as Compared with 82 in Scotland. The offences against property in Ulster were only 3,820, as Compared with 12,526 in Scotland. In police Offences there were 54,027 in Ulster, as compared with 58,604 in Scotland.1239 I ask hon. Members what excuse there can be in favour of continuing a penal code for Ulster, whilst Scotland enjoys—what I certainly do not grudge her—that liberty for which in past ages she poured forth her blood, not in vain. Sir, I now come to another part of this case, in which I have to work my way through a positive concrete of ignorance and prejudice. The general opinion in England—the resolute assumption of most of those with whom I have conversed on Irish affairs—has been that it is infinitely more difficult to trace out and punish criminality in Ireland than in England. The Return, which will be found at page 26 of the Report from which I have been quoting, will wholly dispel this delusion, for it is nothing else. Dr. Hancock's figures show that in proportion to offences the apprehensions in England and Wales are only 49 per cent, and those in Ireland are 73. But I suppose it will now be urged as a further plea that the complaint is not as to the proportions of criminals apprehended, but as to the proportion of convictions. I will not leave a vestige of that further plea in existence. It will follow as an absolute result of the facts I shall set before the House, that, although the number of acquittals in Ireland is greater than in England in proportion to the number of persons placed upon their trial, the number of persons convicted in Ireland is much larger than in England in proportion to the number of offences committed. The possibility of such a disparity has to be accounted for, and I account for it by this fact, generally overlooked, that in England the people accused are not even put upon their trial in the same proportion that the accused are sent for trial in Ireland. But a large proportion of Irish acquittals arises also from a still more potent cause, and the most legitimate of all reasons—namely, that a little more than a third of those put on their trial in England are known criminals, whilst not a fifth of those sent for trial in Ireland belong to a criminal class, or are known offenders: but there is another reason. Dr. Hancock shows that the proportion of those who being apprehended were discharged without trial in England and Wales for want of evidence is 49 in every 200, as against 31 in every 200 for Ireland. It is due to these 1240 premises that the proportion of acquittals in Ireland should be greater than in England. Is trial by jury to be rendered indeed a mockery and a delusion, that you are to expect a proportion of convictions in Ireland equal to those in England—when the number of those accused is in Ireland, in proportion to actual offences, so much greater than in England! The proportion of acquittals in Ireland is 30 per cent, and in England 21 per cent; nevertheless, the proportions of convictions in Ireland to offences is between 20 and 30 per cent greater than the proportion of convictions to offences in England. Sir, I shall not trespass on the patience of the House much longer. I am conscious that I have not said all that I might say with propriety. There are many other points of view from which the severity practised towards Ireland casts gloomier shadows than I have attempted to depict. I pray the House not to allow their execration—and their proper execration—of isolated crimes which do occur in Ireland, as everywhere else, to induce them to countenance the maintenance in force of proclamations which are powerless to repress solitary criminals, and rankle in the hearts of many who have never been guilty of violence, and are wholly free from complicity with crime. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That this House, while viewing with satisfaction the withdrawal from several counties of Ireland of the proclamations issued under the Peace Preservation Act, is of opinion that the present condition of Ireland does not justify the retention of the powers of that Act over so large a portion of the Country as still remains subject to its provisions."—(Sir Joseph M'Kenna.)
§ GENERAL SHUTE,
having commanded two Irish regiments, bore testimony to the good qualities of the Irish people, when unmoved by political agitators and treated with kindness and firmness and the certainty of punishment. In considering the amount of crime in England as compared with that in Ireland, regard ought to be had to the proportion of the criminals that were of English and of Irish birth. Now, in England he found that while the Irish only formed one-fortieth of the population they committed 1241 one-seventh of the crime. The total number of Irish-born residents in England, according to the Census of 1871, was 566,540, of whom no fewer than 498,733 were above 20 years of age. The number of all ages committed to prison in 1873 was 155,413, of whom 22,100 were Irish born, or 14.2 of the whole. Lord Aberdare stated at the meeting of the Social Science Association at Brighton that the Dublin Metropolitan Police District, with a population of only 337,000, produced more serious crimes than the remainder of Ireland, with its 5,000,000 and upwards. The indictable offences committed were to the entire population of Ireland 12.8 per 10,000 inhabitants, while in the Dublin district they were 112.8 per 10,000. He quoted these figures not to disparage Ireland, but to show that the hon. Gentleman had not been fair to England in the allegations which he had made, and he would further find, by reference to the Census of 1871 and judicial statistics of 1873, that the before-mentioned Irish contingent of 566,000 furnished annually about 22,000 prisoners to English gaols.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
said, he wished to make a few observations, as he had seconded the Motion. It was pretty generally allowed that Ireland was more free from crime than either England or Scotland; but it was urged by the Government that the crime which prevailed in Ireland was of an exceptional character, and must be dealt with in an exceptional manner. Now he admitted that agrarian outrages were peculiar, generally speaking, to Ireland, and that they should be treated exceptionally; but he maintained that the exceptional legislation by which they ought to be met should be of a remedial and not of a coercive description. The real remedy was by fixity of tenure, to secure to the Irish tenant the fruits of his labour, and so do away with that sense of injustice which prevailed among the people. The Motion of the hon. Member for Youghal was one of a very moderate character, and he hoped it would be received by the House in the spirit in which it had been proposed.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
said, the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton (General Shute) did not dispute the statistics of the hon. Member for Youghal, but wanted to show that a large por- 1242 tion of the crime in England was owing to the Irish element in the population of the country. He might, however, retort on him, and say that a large portion of the crime in Ireland was committed by the English and Scotch who resided there, but he would be above doing so. The question before the House related to proclamations of a local character, and the just argument of the hon. Member for Youghal was, that if districts in Ireland ought to be proclaimed in consequence of their crimes, a fortiori, districts in England ought to be put under proclamation also. The hon. and gallant Member (General Shute) said that there were 22,000 Irish prisoners in the English gaols in the course of one year, but he did not venture to say that these were either murderers or thieves. The fact was that they were men committed for a day or for 48 hours for drunkenness, and when the Irish wished to free themselves from that temptation, Parliament refused to pass for them the measure which they asked for the closing of public-houses on Sundays. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, in quoting Lord Aberdare, omitted what the noble Lord had said in favour of the Irish. He said that the Irish in England were worse than the Irish in Ireland, and he attributed that to the seductive influences to which they were subjected here. The reason of that was that in Ireland the people had their priests to look after them; whereas the Irish in this country were often separated from the services of their religion and were not under the control of their clergy.
§ GENERAL SHUTE
said, he did not quote from Lord Aberdare only. He quoted from the Judicial statistics of 1873, statistics which he had himself examined, and from the Census of 1871.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
said, that no doubt there were weaker points in the hon. and gallant Gentleman's speech than those which he derived from the statement of Lord Aberdare. To show the folly of the attempt to put down crime by proclamation, he might state that the murder which was committed the other day was committed in a proclaimed district, where the Government thought the people were without arms. The remedies they had tried had failed, and the only remedy which could 1243 put an end to Irish crime and discontent they had refused to try.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, the question was not the relative proportions of crime in Ireland and in England, but whether political offences and agrarian crime, to meet which the Coercion Act was passed had so far disappeared as to justify the repeal of that measure. The noble Lord had alluded to a recent murder in the country. He, as much as any man, condemned the atrocity of that crime; but it supplied no reason why a law passed under exceptional circumstances should be kept in force in districts of the country in which crime and outrage did not exist. Our duty was to show the people of Ireland that the British Government was inclined to treat them with kindness and consideration. Lately, under the operation of this coercive law, a gentleman having a commission in the Army, and well known for his loyalty, was arrested and and treated in a very rude manner in the neighbourhood of Booterstown. On complaining to the Police Commissioners they made no inquiry, and afforded no satisfaction or redress to this ill-used gentleman. The law was not justified by necessity, and therefore he (Sir Patrick O'Brien) would support the Motion of his hon. Friend.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, the hon. Member who had brought forward this Motion told the House that the greater part of Ireland was outside the pale of the Constitution, and in a state of siege, because it was subject to the restrictions imposed by ordinary proclamations under the Peace Preservation Act. He would not further notice an exaggeration which would seem sufficiently absurd to all who were acquainted with the facts; but would state to the House precisely what the Government had done in this matter. When they came into office two years ago they found Belfast and several counties under provisions which certainly were very stringent. They were subject to a special proclamation. Persons out at night under suspicious circumstances were liable to arrest, public-houses might be closed at any time, and all strangers unable to give a proper account of themselves were liable to arrest. Last year in asking Parliament to re-enact certain portions of the Peace Preservation Acts, they had not 1244 retained those provisions, and he was thankful to say that the result had so far proved the wisdom of the course they then pursued. Ireland was not less, perhaps it was even more orderly, peaceable, and contented than before these provisions were repealed. Two years ago Tyrone was the only county in Ireland which was entirely free from the ordinary proclamation imposing certain restrictions on the free possession of arms. But now, in addition to Tyrone, Wexford, Wicklow, Carlow, Kildare, Fermanagh, and Down, with the exception of Belfast—a portion of which was in Down—had been placed in the same condition as any portion of England. The Government hoped to proceed in that course, after careful inquiry into the different parts of the country. But it was of little use to compare the records of ordinary crime in England and Ireland with each other when dealing with the question of the Peace Preservation Acts. They had to remember, in spite of the great improvement in the condition of Ireland of late years, and in spite of the decay, at any rate on this side of the Atlantic, of the Fenian organization, there still remained in many parts of Ireland a spirit of disaffection and dislike to this country, which rendered the circumstances of Ireland exceptional as compared with any other part of the United Kingdom. They must also bear in mind that it would still be very dangerous that a population so liable to excitement, and more apt to be carried away at certain times and in certain moods than the steadier race on this side the Channel, should have free and unrestricted use of fire-arms, more particularly at a time when so many returned emigrants had come over from America, in whose hands the revolver would be a familiar and deadly weapon. They had also to remember that a strong and bitter party feeling existed in Ireland; and there was another point which could not be overlooked in dealing with this question. Hon. Members who represented Irish constituencies must admit that agrarian crime was peculiar to Ireland, it being an offence that was unknown in Great Britain. He would not enter into details on the subject; but he might point to cases of agrarian crime which had occurred during the last winter which showed that the state of Ireland in this respect was still by no 1245 means satisfactory. As to the recent terrible outrage to which, reference had been made, he remarked that it was a deliberate attack upon a gentleman against whom even his enemies had alleged nothing worse than that he had carried out, perhaps somewhat harshly, the lawful directions of his employer; and the worst part of the case was that no assistance whatever had been rendered by the people of the neighbourhood towards bringing the offenders to justice. Such a state of feeling in the district was even worse than the crime itself, and showed the necessity there still was for exceptional legislation. The noble Lord (Lord Robert Montagu) had said that the proclamation of districts did not put a stop to agrarian crime; but although there might be some foundation for his remarks, he must admit that, by rendering the possession of arms comparatively rare, the temptation to commit such offences was lessened, and therefore, for this reason as well as for others, it was important to retain a restriction upon the possession of arms in certain parts of Ireland. He did not wish it to be supposed that he was taking isolated cases as proofs of the condition of the whole country; but the fact that such offences did occur pointed to the need of the greatest caution and prudence on the part of the Government in relaxing the present law. Her Majesty's Government felt deeply the responsibility they would assume in revoking the restrictions upon the possession of arms without the clearest evidence that it could be done with safety; because any disturbance resulting from such a course might drive capital, the resident gentry, and all that promoted the prosperity of Ireland from the country, while the existing restrictions involved but little inconvenience. Looking to the action taken by the Government, he trusted the House would continue that confidence which Parliament reposed in them last year. The administration of the Act must be left to those who were responsible for it, and who alone possessed the necessary knowledge. There was, however, a part of this exceptional legislation to which reference had been made that was of a very stringent nature—namely, the Protection of Life and Property Act, which applied to Westmeath, Meath, and some adjoining districts. That, he admitted was a law 1246 of exceptional severity, and he hoped that before long the day might arrive when the operation of that law would be no longer necessary to preserve peace and good order in that locality. Hon. Members opposite complained that the Government proceeded slowly in this matter. Well, he hoped that would enable the Government to act the more surely; and he could assure them that the Government had in view, as an ultimate result, precisely the same object that they themselves would desire—namely, that the law should be uniform through the whole of the Kingdom.
§ MR. BUTT
said, he had nothing to complain of in the tone of the remarks of the right hon. Baronet. When this Act was passing through the House last year he called attention to this—that almost all the proclamations then in force in different counties and districts in Ireland had been in force for, he thought, more than 10 years, and he therefore very strongly urged that there ought to be a general revision of those proclamations, because the fact that a county or a district was in a disturbed state 10 years ago was no proof that it was at present in that condition. The right hon. Baronet said he would carefully review all the circumstances of each county affected by a proclamation. He now pressed for the fulfilment of that promise. He perfectly appreciated the difficulties under which the right hon. Baronet was placed. He would advise the right hon. Baronet to act on his own opinion as to the advisability of withdrawing proclamations, and not to allow any pressure to be put on him against such withdrawal. If the right hon. Baronet acted on his own opinion in that matter, he (Mr. Butt) believed that in a short time nearly all Ireland would be free from the operation of this Act. In the greater part of Ireland there was not, at the present moment, the slightest excuse for continuing the proclamations. As for the agrarian outrage which had just been committed the less said about it the better. He was not acquainted with the facts of the case, and if he were he would rather not in his place suggest the possibility of excuse for such a crime. He said the other day there were indications that the Irish landlords were beginning to renew their oppression, and he could only repeat now his strong conviction that as long as Par- 1247 liament refused to give protection in his home to the Irish tenant, no laws they could pass would put an end to agrarian disturbances. After the statement which the right hon. Baronet had made there was no necessity for continuing the discussion, and he would only add that in his belief the more the people were trusted, the more would peace and tranquillity prevail in Ireland.
§ MR. WHALLEY
must state that it was not creditable in some points of consideration for the Government to be trifling with this question. There were foreign influences in operation in Ireland, and the Government should put a stop to them. He could not understand why the Government kept their reasons to themselves for not putting a stop to these foreign influences in Ireland. They were favouring veiled rebellion in doing so. They should say, as the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland had said—"There is a power in Ireland greater than the legitimate power of the British Crown," and he (Mr. Whalley) must say that it appeared to be so. The remedy for the evils complained of in Ireland was freedom of discussion, of public meetings, and power to explain to the public the tyranny under which they suffered, and the danger to which it subjected them.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
said, that after what, on the whole, he would designate as the satisfactory answer of the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and the manner in which his (Sir Joseph M'Kenna's) statement had been received by the House, he would withdraw his Motion.
§ MR. SPEAKER
then put the Question whether the hon. Member for Youghal be allowed to withdraw his Motion—but an hon. Member objecting—
§ MR. SPEAKER
accordingly having stated the original Question put the Previous Question, "That that Question be now put."
§ Resolved in the Negative.