(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £564,461, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1881, for the Constabulary Force in Ireland.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, that he found that their position with reference to these Constabulary Votes had been somewhat misunderstood, and he wished to recall to the recollection of the Committee the statement which he made at the conclusion of Business, when Progress was about to be reported upon this Vote on Friday morning last. The statement was this, that he had found the almost unanimous opinion amongst Irish Members to be that the Constabulary Estimates were of such a character that no undertaking or understanding could be entered into with regard to them. They also felt that the result of resuming the discussion on Friday evening would not be satisfactory for their purposes. At the same time, he felt no moral doubt that if Progress was then reported, and the discussion resumed at the commencement of the Monday Sitting, that that would be deemed a sufficient discussion. He would draw the attention of the Committee to this statement, for he had seen it extensively stated in the newspapers that they had entered into an engagement to close the discussion that night. That was the thing they had always avoided doing. They found that they could not do it, for they felt that it would be adopting the principles of the cloture with regard to Irish discussions, and there was no precedent for such a course. He wished, however, to state his belief that the discussion that evening would be sufficient to enable them to come to a division upon the Estimates. He wished also further to say that subsequently to a speech which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland delivered on Tuesday, the Irish Members aban- 659 doned their intention to use the Forms of the House to oppose the Vote. Up to that time, he admitted, that they all considered, in view of the entire absence of any statement of the right hon. Gentleman to the effect that justice would be accompanied by mercy, or that if Parliament were called together to renew the Coercion Act, that it would also be called together to prevent the injustice to Irish tenants—he felt it would be their duty to use all the Forms of the House against the Vote; but after the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland on Tuesday last, they considered that two nights' discussion would be sufficient for the purpose of putting the ground of their? opposition to these Estimates before the English public. Perhaps he might also refer to the criticism upon their opposition which was made by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere). He seemed to think that they would have been justified in doing what they did on Thursday night, or rather on Friday morning, and if they had determined to use all the Forms of the House against these Votes for the purpose of entirely opposing them; but that they were doing an exceedingly disgraceful thing in using the rights of the minority for the purpose of only obtaining another day's discussion. He would remind the hon. Member for Northampton that this was a question upon which the Irish Members were responsible to their constituents alone for their actions. When they did come to a determination to take a certain course with reference to these Votes, he considered, and his hon. Friends with whom he acted thought, that they should do all they could to secure that action being successful. They desired a second night's debate upon those Constabulary Estimates; and they had, therefore, gained the object for which they initiated the struggle of Friday morning. Now, what he wished to do was to make certain suggestions or propositions to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland with reference to the administration of the law in Ireland during the ensuing autumn and winter, and particularly with reference to the use he might have to make of the police force in that country. No one could deny that the right hon. Gentleman stood in a most unparalleled position with reference to this Vote, and to the pros- 660 pects before him in the coming winter. He had said publicly, on his authority as a responsible Minister of the Crown-— responsible for the good order and government of Ireland—that the late Bill for Compensation for Disturbance (Ireland) was necessary in order to prevent the Government from being under the necessity of using the powers of the police for the purpose of assisting landlords to work injustice. He qualified that statement by a further one, that a very small minority of the Irish landlords had committed injustice, or were likely to commit injustice; but, at the same time, the fact remained that the right hon. Gentleman was now asking them for a sum of money which he anticipated he would be obliged to use for the purpose of working injustice to some, at all events, of the tenants in Ireland, and for the purpose of defeating the object of the Legislature as defined by the Land Act of 1870. He had further given them on Tuesday last to understand that, if he found that the landlords compelled the Government, to any great extent, to use the law for the purpose of working injustice, and if he found that he could not enforce the law by the ordinary means at the disposal of the Government, he would apply to Parliament for fresh power, and ask Parliament to pass a Bill which would obviate the necessity the Government were under of working injustice. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman how he proposed to undertake to inquire into these matters, and what practical steps he proposed to take' in order to obtain the information which would be necessary to ascertain whether the landlords were likely to commit injustice? Perhaps he was also entitled to ask him upon what principles he would proceed in making those inquiries? Would he consider that a landlord was inflicting injustice upon a tenant if the tenant was in a state of starvation, and was turned out upon the road without any shelter or means of support? Would the right hon. Gentleman consider that a landlord was working injustice if he found that a tenant had been paying a manifestly high rent for many years, and that the attempt to pay this high rent for many years had left the tenant in such a position that it would be absolutely impossible for him to pay the rent in the current season and leave 661 enough for him to support himself during the rest of the year? Of course, the right hon. Gentleman could only give them a general assurance; but it was obvious that it would be necessary for him to adopt some practical machinery; and he thought the Irish Members were entitled to have the views of the right hon. Gentleman, in respect to these matters, fully stated. He would also ask him whether he would undertake to inquire, so far as he could, into the merits of the cases of eviction where he was asked for police assistance to enforce the process of the law, previously to affording such assistance? It was obvious to everybody that such an inquiry by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would be a very material caution to the bad landlords, as it would show them that their proceedings were being watched by the responsible authority; and that, if the responsible authority, on the one hand, was obliged to assist them in evicting their tenants unjustly, yet, on the other hand, the occurrence of that injustice was known to the right hon. Gentleman, and formed one of the grounds which would induce him to apply to Parliament for a Bill to protect the tenants from that injustice. The knowledge that that was likely to occur would have a very important effect upon public opinion among the landlord class in Ireland. If the Irish landlords once knew that acts of injustice inflicted by the minority amongst themselves were likely to lead to fresh legislation—were likely to lead immediately to fresh legislation, giving the tenantry of Ireland further protection against acts of injustice — he felt convinced that the public opinion of the landlord class would set itself in motion with a view of preventing those acts of injustice, and preventing the minority, whether large or small, from so using the law as to compel the Government to put a stop to their actions. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman, also, whether he would consent to lay upon the Table of the House a Return showing the number of such cases where, in his opinion, after making such inquiry, the enforcement of the law had been attended by practical injustice to tenants, and further showing the circumstances upon which such opinion was formed, and also giving the names of the landlord and tenant in each case. Further, he would ask him 662 whether he would agree—and he looked upon this as a most important point— whether he would agree largely to limit the practice of charging the cost of extra police upon particular districts or baronies? With the permission of the Committee, he would beg leave to be allowed to say a few words with regard to this matter upon which the Government had informed the House, in reply to his question, that they had power. He was informed, upon good legal authority, that there was considerable doubt whether the Government had power to charge the cost of the extra police drafted into a district on the report of apprehended disturbances, or apprehended riots, or past disturbances, or crimes—there was doubt whether power existed in the Government, under the 4 & 5 Vict., to levy the cost of such extra police upon the districts or baronies into which they might be sent. He hoped that before the conclusion of these debates to hear from the Law Officers of the Crown in Ireland some explanation as to the method of procedure by which the extra cost of such police was now levied upon the ratepayers. Under the system in force up to the expiration of the Peace Preservation Act, the cost of the extra police was levied in a particular way, and it was possible for the ratepayers, upon whom the charges were levied, to traverse them, and to take the opinion of the Courts as to their legality. But he was informed that there existed no such mode of testing the legality of the charges under the present system. He believed that Grand Juries, or other bodies by whom the rates were levied, might levy a rate for the cost of such extra police, and that the ratepayers were absolutely unable, and had no power whatever, to take the opinion of any of the Courts in the Kingdom as to the legality of the charge; in other words, the rates were levied and were collectable by the whole force of the police, and yet the people who had to pay them had no possibility of obtaining the opinion of the Courts upon the legality of such levy. The way in which those rates were levied would scarcely be believed with reference to any part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in the 19th century. A police officer was sent down, and placed himself, with his iron hut, 663 upon a vacant piece of ground, and levied the rate for the maintenance of himself and his men upon the inhabitants of the district or barony in which he might be. He thought that when they were asked for money, for the purpose of inflicting upon the people of Ireland further hardships, he was entitled to have some assurance from Her Majesty's Government that they would use this power with the greatest possible circumspection, and that they would largely diminish the number of cases in which this tax was to be charged upon the unfortunate people in the starving districts. In reply to a Question put earlier in the Session to the right hon. Gentleman, asking him whether the police tax had not been levied upon certain Crown lands or districts, and whether three-fourths of the people were not upon the Relief List, the right hon. Gentleman said that that was the case, and that that was one of the reasons which induced the Government not to renew the Peace Preservation Act. But it now turned out that the Government had precisely the same view in respect of levying the cost of extra police under the 4 & 5 Vict., as they had under the Peace Preservation Act, although the rate was to be levied for purposes not contemplated when that Statute was passed. The purpose of the Statute of the 4 & 5 Vict, was plain to anyone who read it; it was for the purpose of enabling the Government to charge the cost of extra police upon certain districts, when it was found necessary to remove a portion of the force from one county to another. The Government now turned round and claimed the credit, on the one hand, for not renewing the Peace Preservation Act, and, on the other, declared that they had precisely the same power for levying this rate under the 4 & 5 Vict. Speaking from his own experience, he should say that this tax was one of the most odious that had ever been collected—he would go further, and say that it was one of the least possible utility. It might be said that the tax would be inflicted because it was found that outrages had been committed, and that great difficulty existed in the districts amongst the people to give evidence and facilities for the purpose of obtaining the conviction of the offenders who had committed such outrages. He would ask Her Ma- 664 jesty's Government whether they intended to levy this tax from motives of revenge, or from a desire to alter the existing state of things? If they proposed to do so from a desire to alter this state of things and to change this disposition, which, he admitted, did exist amongst the people in the districts of Ireland where agrarian outrages were committed, and where there was a desire to shield a criminal from justice—if they acted in this way for the purpose of changing the feelings of the people, he might take it for the moment that if they were likely to succeed by this course of action, then they would be justified in pursuing it. But what had been their experience in reference to the infliction of these Acts upon the people in districts where crime was committed? Had it ever brought about a more favourable state of feeling amongst the people? Had they found that the districts, where the criminals were sheltered before, had changed their opinion, and become desirous of delivering up the criminals? Had they not rather found that many men who abhorred outrage and murder, when they found that those who were innocent were made to suffer for the guilty, had become exasperated with the Government—which was so far unable to govern the country except upon the most rudimentary principles'—as to confirm them in their desire to shelter the criminals? This blood tax, for it was nothing else, was really one of the relics of barbarism in Ireland. It had not produced the effect it was intended to produce, and it did not make it more easy to discover the criminal; on the contrary, the feeling produced was only one of exasperation and disaffection against the Government in Ireland. He would ask, in view of these circumstances, whether Her Majesty's Government could not give the Committee some assurance that whatever might be the powers they possessed, they would be used with the greatest possible discrimination and discretion, and that they would largely limit the number of cases, in which districts were taxed under the old system for the support of extra police force? For his part, he would say that if the Government showed that they were going to administer those excessive powers which they possessed in Ireland, but which they had not in England, moderately 665 and justly, he should he very glad to use any influence he might possess with the people of those districts, both publicly and privately, to prevent the commission of outrages and murders. He had always felt himself that agitation in Ireland was a most unpleasant course for them to adopt. He had always regretted that circumstances should be such that, when their times and seasons of distress occurred, they should be accompanied by attempts on the part of ignorant persons to revenge themselves upon those whom they supposed had brought about that distress, by inflicting pain upon animals. But he considered that the existence of such outrages in Ireland had been much exaggerated. They must recollect that in Ireland, in the old times, the people had, from time to time, endeavoured to resist the oppression to which they were subjected by maiming the cattle, simply because they had no other way in which they could make their wrongs known. But now public meetings and other constitutional means of expressing an opinion were open to them, and they had not the same reason for maiming cattle in the manner described or for committing other outrages. He believed that during the last century the practice of maiming cattle had enormously diminished. The facilities which were now afforded to the people to meet together in public and to express their grievances constitutionally and publicly, and the power of combination which had been taught to them, had been largely instrumental in reducing the number of outrages both upon cattle and upon individuals; for, practically speaking, there had been but very few outrages upon individuals. He had no reason to suppose but that these outrages would still further diminish, and would eventually disappear altogether. The tenantry of Ireland were able to win this battle without inflicting injury upon animals or upon their landlords, and he was convinced that they would win in the long run. He would further ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in the event of his finding it unnecessary to call Parliament together for the purpose of obtaining further powers for protecting life and property in Ireland—if that on the other hand the landlords were, to any material extent, making use of their powers so as to force the Govern- 666 ment to support them in their acts of injustice, he would summon Parliament for the purpose of passing a Bill which would relieve the Government from the necessity of being obliged to support injustice? The way in which the right hon. Gentleman put the matter on Tuesday was scarcely fortunate. He told them, as he had previously done, that if he found the ordinary law insufficient to enable the Government to protect life and property, he would call Parliament together to obtain additional power; and, he added, that in the event of his finding that the landlords of Ireland were, to a great extent, compelling the Government to assist them in working injustice, he would also bring forward a Bill for the purpose of preventing the occurrence of such injustice, that was to say, some kind of Land Bill. He would put it to the right hon. Gentleman that the effect of that declaration was to tell the Irish tenantry that unless they committed outrage and murder, and rendered it impossible for him to administer the ordinary law of the land, he would not bring in a Land Bill for their benefit, notwithstanding that the Government might find that any minority of the landlords of Ireland were using their powers unjustly. If he put it in this way, he would announce to all whom it might concern that, whether he was able to govern Ireland by the ordinary method of the Constitution or not, and if he found that the landlords of Ireland were, to any extent, compelling the Government during the coming autumn or winter to enforce the law in such a way as to work injustice, he would call Parliament together for the purpose of passing a Land Bill, he would free himself very much from the imputations cast upon him, as he thought very rightly, by the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) and the, other hon. Members who had spoken from the Conservative Benches, in critizing his speech of Tuesday last. In conclusion, he would say that although it would appear that the Government intended to carry out the decision of their Predecessors with regard to the maintenance of that Constabulary force, still, he must say, that he felt as confident as he was of his own existence, that if that force were abolished, the necessity for the majority of changes in the Land Laws would disappear. Some people had said that it was the landlords, 667 and the state of the Land Laws, which rendered the Constabulary necessary. He would rather put it the other way, and say that it was the Constabulary that made bad landlords in Ireland. If landlords knew that for the enforcement of their rights they had just as much assistance from public opinion, and the forces at the disposal of the Crown, as they would have in England or Scotland under similar circumstances, it would be found that that enforcement of rights would be limited in the same way as they were in this country. The deplorable necessity that existed of frequently bringing before Parliament that question would cease, and a mutual arrangement would follow between landlords and tenants with regard to their respective rights in the land. The Government, unfortunately, proposed to adopt a different course—they proposed to keep that large military force of highly-trained men in existence. They had adopted, or proposed to adopt, a new method of armament; they intended giving buckshot instead of bullets for short ranges. The Government had not, in any one respect, intimated that the force that was maintained for the carrying out of what was acknowledged to be bad law was to be reduced in the slightest degree. On the contrary, the present large numbers had been increased. The force which the right hon. Gentleman had sent for the purpose of carrying out the evictions was larger than that sent by his Predecessor, and thereby the right hon. Gentleman had taken upon himself a grave responsibility. If the result was that during this autumn or winter hardships and suffering were being imposed upon the poor tenants, the right hon Gentleman the Chief Secretary would have taken upon himself a grave responsibility both as regarded the peace of Ireland and the future relations between the two countries. He (Mr. Parnell) could not conceive of anything more calculated to turn the mind of the people away, and prevent them from assimilating themselves as was desired to the English system, than the harsh enforcement of the English Law. If the result should be that large numbers of evictions took place, and were followed by violent resistance to the police in carrying them out—a course which, he must confess, he thought less criminal and less objectionable than assassination of 668 landlords, or houghing of cattle—then the right hon. Gentleman would have a responsibility which he thought no public man would desire to have. He had just one more observation to make. They had the employment of police at all public meetings. He had attended, he believed, every one that had been held with the exception of those held during the electoral campaign. He did not refer to the meetings of the electoral campaign, but of those of the land agitation. A large force of police, numbering from 80 to 300, attended with their rifles, bayonets, and a plentiful supply of ammunition, He would ask what, in the name of conscience, did that intimate? As far as he knew, there had not been a single riotous or disorderly proceeding, not a single instance in that series of 150 large public meetings, at times when the minds of the people were certainly very much agitated and excited; and yet, whenever he went to a meeting, he saw flanking the platform a body of Constabulary, numbering 50, drawn up in battle array. For what purpose were those men stationed there, or was there any purpose? Their services had never been called into request, and the only reason that he could suggest was that they were there for the protection of the Government shorthand writers, and that, not from the violence of the people, but simply to protect them from disturbance while taking notes. He would tell the right hon. Gentleman that that attendance, at those meetings, of the police force—which was composed of the sons of farmers—wasono great reason in favour of their becoming demoralized from the point of view of the Government, but not from his (Mr. Parnell's) point of view. He had often been struck with the intense interest those fine young men took in the speeches, which were called revolutionary by some people, which had been made at so many of those meetings. He could not but think that if the right hon. Gentleman wished to keep the Constabulary force from having any sympathy with the Land League, it were far better that he should not allow them to attend those meetings. Considering the fact that there had been no breach of the peace at the 150 public meetings to which he had already referred, he was at a loss to understand why the Government should insist upon that absurd exhibition of force which had been initiated by the late Conservative 669 Government. He could, of course, understand that when the present Government came into Office, the right hon. Gentleman was naturally guided by the officials of Dublin Castle; he felt, no doubt, that it was not necessary to make a hasty change; and, being absorbed by his Parliamentary duties, had not the time to examine the question. He (Mr. Parnell) believed, however, that when the right hon. Gentleman went into the question and the statement that he had then made, he would find that there was not the slightest reason for the practice to which he had alluded; and that, in the future, the land meetings might be held without the presence of a large force of the Constabulary. One reason suggested for that force being present was that the Government found it necessary to send shorthand writers to take notes of the speeches, and that the police protected them. In regard to that, he would say that the right hon. Gentleman would find, when he inquired into the matter, that no real attempt had ever been made to ill-treat those shorthand writers. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that if it were made a point of honour with the promoters of the meetings, that if the Constabulary were kept away, the Government shorthand writers should be treated courteously, and with proper regard to the usuages of war, he would find that no sort of rudeness would be offered to any of those men. He did not wish to detain the Committee at greater length. He had endeavoured to put certain practical matters before them which, he believed, required to be considered before that Vote was put from the Chair.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he had heard one part of the hon. Member's speech with very great pleasure. [Mr. WARTON: Oh, oh!] He was surprised at that interruption from the hon. and learned Member opposite. He should have thought any hon. Gentleman would have heard with pleasure the statement of the hon. Member (Mr. Parnell) that he would use his influence in the coming winter to prevent acts of outrage either to man or beast.
§ MR. WARTON
said, as the Chief Secretary had referred to him, he must remind the right hon. Gentleman that when the hon. Member stated that he would use his influence, the promise was given under a condition.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the hon. Member for the City of Cork had also remarked that the present Government had carried out the law more sternly than it had been carried out before. Now, what he had done was this— where he thought there was likely to be resistance, he had sent what he thought would be an overpowering force. He considered that he had acted more humanely in doing so. The present Government had not introduced buckshot; but he approved what had been done by his Predecessors. He then came to a rather important question. He was sorry that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) was not then in his place, but he saw his Colleague was there. He was not in the slightest degree reluctant to answer questions, nor did he doubt that he generally made matters clear; but judging from recent experience, he found his answers so twisted and so interpreted, not according to plain English in which they were spoken, but according to some sort of interpretation that might be put upon them by some other person, consisting of terms which he did not employ, that he really felt hesitation in making any answer at all. The hon. Member asked whether the Government would undertake to inquire, as far as they could, into the merits of all cases of eviction where the police were used? He had information at present with regard to every case of eviction of this kind; but he could not undertake that his own opinion with regard to the evictions should be enforced. That would be exercising a dictatorial power which he had no right to exercise. He could not undertake to give a Return showing the cases where, after making inquiry, the law was attended with practical injustice. He had great hopes that the evils would not occur; but, as he had stated some time ago, he had taken steps to ascertain the character of the different evictions. The hon. Member then asked him the principle on which he should define injustice. He had no objection to do so. The principle was laid down in the Compensation for Disturbance Ireland Bill —that there should be an inability to pay, not merely through long thriftlessness, but from the circumstances of the time—in fact, from the failure of 671 the crops—want of reasonableness on the part of the landlord, and a willingness to come to reasonable terms on the part of the tenant. That was his definition of injustice. Then the hon. Member asked—Supposing we find that there is not disturbance enough—and he was delighted to find that, while encouraging agitation to obtain a legal result, the hon. Member would use his great influence to prevent individual outrage—to necessitate the introduction of the Peace Preservation Act, were they going to do nothing? The hon. Member also asked whether the Chief Secretary would summon Parliament if unreasonable and harsh evictions took place? It was no part of his duty to summon Parliament. He hoped—he was more hopeful now than he was a week or two ago—that he should not have to bring in a Peace Preservation Act. He could only repeat what he said on Tuesday. He had then stated that it would be a serious duty of the Government to consider what their action should be, and also that he, for one, should not be the instrument for carrying out the law under those circumstances. He was not able to pledge the Government on a doubtful and speculative result; but he should inform his Colleagues if the state of things referred to by the hon. Member came about; he should inform them how serious he thought it was, and if he was convinced that the law was the means of inflicting injustice, he should not be the instrument of that law. At the same time, he must say he did not expect this. One or two isolated cases of injustice would not be sufficient. They did not alter the law because of individual hardship; the injustice should be to some appreciable extent—an extent giving reasonable cause for alarm. He was asked to limit the practice of charging districts for extra police. The hon. Member was under the impression that the Government was doing what was done in this matter under the Peace Preservation Act. [Mr. PARNELL: In a different way.] They were not doing the same thing. Under that Act the whole of the cost was levied on the people, and without delay. It was very different now. He could not bind himself as to the way the power should be used. It was a power which might be abused so as to inflict great injustice. It would 672 not be used for the purpose of revenge, but to deter. As to the land meetings, the hon. Member said 50 to 100 police attended these meetings. There was in that statement great exaggeration. The hon. Member had said that land meetings turned the people's attention to agitation by meetings rather than to agitation by means of individual outrages. There might be some truth in that; but he was sorry to say that had not been his experience. From the very hard and disagreeable work he had had to do in watching the progress of crime from day to day, he regretted to find that land meetings had been followed very soon by outrages. If the hon. Member carefully read the speeches made at some of those meetings, he would see that the language used was not only a natural incentive to political agitation, but in many cases an incitement to individual outrages. He would appeal to men of influence and character, who must know that the case was as he stated, from the cases of murder and maiming which had occurred. He was entirely of opinion that, as in England and Scotland, so in Ireland, meetings within the limits of the Constitution ought to be permitted to be held, and that no one in such cases had any business to interfere. But there were meetings and meetings. There were meetings held merely for the purpose of passing resolutions. Then there were meetings which were ostensibly held to protest against some proceedings of the law, but which really went very much further than protesting. For example, there were meetings held to protest against evictions, when people went in hundreds and thousands. In such a case, especially if the people marched in order and were organized, and if they were told that it was no longer illegal to be in possession of arms, then there was considerable danger to the public peace, and the police were bound to appear in such force as to prevent violence. [Mr. PARNELL said, that such meetings only occurred at evictions.] But everyone knew that meetings held for the purpose of intimidation were illegal. He would only say, in conclusion, that, in one respect, the Government were in a very different position now from that which they occupied six or seven weeks ago. That was, that one great ground upon which the Government had brought in their Bill was the 673 great distress prevalent from the failure of crops. Now, it appeared that the crops had not failed, but, on the contrary, were abundant. But he would have no one suppose that there was no distress, and that there were not many farmers in a sorrowful condition. But he would say that their position was much more hopeful and less dangerous than it was six or seven weeks ago, when the potato crop had disappeared and out-door relief was being largely given. Still, there was great distress, which would require great forbearance on the part of the landlords. He thought there would also be great discretion required on the part of the leaders of the people. They must wish, as much as he did, that their agitation should not be marked by any violent outrage against individuals which would cause general disgust and set public opinion decidedly against them. His position was a most unenviable one. Whatever was the result, he knew he should be blamed impartially by both sides; he should be called, at the same time, weak and tyrannical. The Government must, however, do its best to keep order, and to discourage any injustice by those possessing property as respected those who were occupiers. They were trying to administer the country with an even and firm hand. He did not know whether they should be told they had done the right thing; but they had, at least, the satisfaction of having meant to do so.
§ MR. PLUNKET
said, he had not had the slightest intention of taking part in that debate; but he was sure that the right hon. Gentleman would not think his interference uncalled for after the remarks which had fallen from him. So far as he was himself concerned, whatever remarks he (Mr. Plunket) might have made upon that subject he was prepared to stand by. With regard to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman as to his Colleague (Mr. Gibson), he was prepared to treat those observations with the perfect good humour that he was sure his right hon. and learned Friend would have shown if he were then present; and he claimed the indulgence of the Committee while he said a very few words. The Chief Secretary had now referred to a criticism by his right hon. and learned Colleague of a speech that the Chief Secretary delivered some time since. His right hon. and learned Colleague 674 had already explained to the House how the misunderstanding arose but, after the speech that they had just heard, he thought it would not be out of place if he were to relate the circumstances again. At the time that the Chief Secretary was speaking, he (Mr. Plunket) was conversing both with his right hon. and learned Colleague and with—then present—the late Secretary of State for the Colonies (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach); and they were saying that what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman as to the Irish landlords generally was of so reasonable a character, that it did not call for any reply. But, whilst this private conversation was taking place, observations of a different character seemed to have been made, which had not reached their ears; and as soon as the right hon. Gentleman sat down, his right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Gibson) replied to some other remarks of the Chief Secretary in a short speech. His right hon. and learned Friend, having subsequently informed himself of those portions of the Chief Secretary's speech, which he had at first failed to catch, made, on the following day, a further criticism on them, which the Chief Secretary stated to be a misrepresentation of his meaning. It must be well-known that, so far as there was any misrepresentation, it was not intentional; and it must be remembered that misrepresentations came, not only from that Bench, but from other parts of the House also. They had then heard an explanation from the right hon. Gentleman which was much more satisfactory, and which was expressed with that clearness and force which usually characterized the statements of the right hon. Gentleman. No one in that House listened with greater pleasure to the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman than he did; but he was bound to say that when he, on that particular occasion, had employed the words "injustice" and "harshness" in a sense in which they ought not to be employed, it was not a matter for surprise if some confusion should arise. He did not wish, however, to re-open that controversy, and he would not further refer to that collateral issue; but, as he was an Irish Member, although not one of the Third Party, perhaps he might be allowed to say a few words on the subject then under discussion. They had 675 just heard from the right hon. Gentleman that the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) had assured the Committee that on his return to Ireland he would do all in his power to prevent the occurrence of outrages of a serious character. He was not present when the hon. Member made the statement; but, if that were so, and the hon. Member for Cork was able to induce his Colleagues to assist him in the execution of that undertaking, he would only say that it was one of the happiest promises for prosperity and peace in the immediate future of Ireland that had been made for many a day. He accepted that promise most readily, and he hoped that, not only the hon. Gentleman, but his Colleagues also, might be succesful in their efforts in that direction. But the hon. Member for Cork had also said that if the landlords of Ireland behaved as well as the landlords in England, and if public opinion in Ireland regarded these matters as jealously as in England, there would be no necessity for an armed constabulary. Now he (Mr. Plunket) did not want to rake up the whole controversy again; but he was prepared positively to assert that, although they had been listening now for many months to general charges against the Irish landlords, not a single case had been brought forward and proved in that House. Further, a Bill had been brought forward by Her Majesty's Government which was supposed to be grounded on the same foundation— namely, the course taken, and likely to be taken, by the Irish landlords; but he repeated that not one single charge against the landlords had ever been brought forward and sustained. He had had a much closer and more intimate experience of Ireland than many of the hon. Members who brought forward these charges. He utterly denied them; and he must remind the Committee that whenever they were brought to the test, they had never, in a single instance, been substantiated. They faded away the moment they came to be investigated. It was a very easy matter to make these general charges; but he ventured to assert that when they had before them the Reports of the Commissions now sitting in Ireland, they would find very little excuse indeed for them. Indeed, he had heard it said, on good authority, that certain gentlemen who 676 went to Ireland as members of those Royal Commissions with preconceived opinions against the Irish landlords, were now astonished to find how baseless were the imputations which had been so often made. All he asked was that public opinion would suspend its judgment against the Irish landlords until they had more decided and clear reasons for condemning that class than had hitherto been brought forward, and until they had better ground to go upon than that which had been put forward in support of the Government Bill. He would not now go into the question of the usefulness of the police at public meetings; but he believed that even some of the most distinguished Members of the Third Party would themselves sometimes have been in a difficult and disagreeable position if it had not been for the presence of the police at those meetings. As far as the present situation in Ireland was concerned, the accounts which he had heard from it were certainly, in some instances, accounts which gave grounds for the most grave and serious consideration of the Chief Secretary for Ireland; but if agitation was really to cease—he did not mean fair and ordinary agitation such as might be justifiably carried on, but that kind of agitation which was always followed, as the Chief Secretary told them, by outrages in the localities in which it arose—if that kind of agitation was going to be laid aside, he believed that many of the apprehensions that were entertained in regard to what would take place in the coming autumn and winter would be found to be as baseless as all the other accusations which had been made against the Irish landlords for their conduct in the past. He joined with the Chief Secretary in believing that there would be a good harvest, and that there were reasonable grounds for hoping that a good harvest would, if agitation did not counteract it, have an immense effect in smoothing away the existing excitement, and in greatly diminishing the number of those outrages which filled every Member of that House with feelings of abhorrence. He could promise the right hon. Gentleman that both sides of the House would fairly and impartially consider and judge the action which he would adopt in the discharge of the arduous duties which it was now his painful duty to perform; and he could assure the right hon. Gen- 677 tleman that in no spirit hostile to any class in Ireland, and in no spirit hostile to the Government entrusted with so great and difficult a task, would the Irish landlords endeavour to thwart or counteract that policy which the right hon. Gentleman had, with so much clearness, laid down that evening. On the contrary, he would find them desirous, as every true Irishman ought to be, in the present state of affairs in Ireland, to cooperate with him in every possible way in order to remove the traces of wild and reckless agitation, and also to avert such great national calamities as that which fell upon the people of Ireland last year, and the effects of which, it was to be hoped, were now passing away.
§ MR. HOPWOOD
said, that hon. Members who sat upon the Benches below the Gangway on the Ministerial side of the House had been challenged to say a word or two upon this Vote. There was no one in that House, although his capacity to help might not be great, who more deeply appreciated the condition of Ireland, and more heartily sympathized with her woes, than he did. While he had been sitting there listening to the debate he had had brought to his mind the appeal which was made the other night to hon. Members on those Benches by one or two of his hon. Friends on the other side of the House. They asserted that nobody had spoken a word of sympathy for Ireland from that part of the House. There were several reasons why they had abstained from addressing the Committee on Friday, and certainly a lack of sympathy for Ireland was not one of them. He could say this with confidence, not only for himself, but on behalf of many of his hon. Friends. Perhaps, however, it would be better that he should confine his observations to what he felt personally, for fear that he might express unworthily what was felt by other hon. Members in that part of the House. He was bound, then, to say that what he thought on Friday, and doubtless a good many other Members thought, was that there was a premeditated intention to prolong the debate by straining all the Forms of the House; and of this course he certainly did not approve. Passing that by, however, his second reason was that anything he had to say had been said already by hon. Members who were thoroughly conversant with 678 the matter, and who were able to express themselves with eloquence and power on the subject. In the third place, what principally weighed on his mind was that they had a Government in power in whom, until found wanting, they were bound to place the most implicit confidence and reliance that whatever could be done that was generous towards Ireland, and just towards Ireland, and that was, in fact, wise towards Ireland, would be done. He had no doubt that, if time were allowed, measures of that description would be introduced and passed for the benefit of Ireland. Therefore, unless a mere act of sympathy was required, there was no use in any one of them rising to express such feelings. They had not been restrained, by any want of sympathy for Ireland, from expressing their opinions; but they had been ruled by other considerations. He wished now to say a word or two in regard to the position of the Government and of the Chief Secretary. His right hon. and learned Friend who had just spoken had spoken with much justice and impartiality. But he had addressed the Committee from a point of view which was not adopted by the Radical Members. He wished, therefore, as a Radical Member, to point out to his hon. Friends on the other side of the House what the opinions were which he entertained. They had now a right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government who had already shown his intense desire to do what was right and fair in conceding the just demands of Ireland. He was ably seconded by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster). But what was the course pursued by the Irish Members? They were constantly putting pressure upon the Chief Secretary, who was a Minister who had accepted the most thankless Office in the Government, from a desire to do all the good he could to their country. No sort of sympathy was expressed for him in the difficult and arduous duties he was called upon to discharge. But, on the contrary, every kind of difficulty was thrown in his way. He (Mr. Hopwood) wished to be candid and to express freely what was passing in his mind. The Chief Secretary had already given unmistakable evidence of the sympathy he felt for Ireland and the Irish people; and he had intimated that if the Irish landlords manifested a disposition to strain the law, and to act 679 with injustice—or with harshness, as the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) conceived the distinction was important— then the Government would interpose and call upon Parliament to pass a measure to restrain them. This was taking a course which any wise statesman and legislator would feel himself called upon to take. But it was not enough for hon. Members opposite; and, instead of manifesting their sympathy with the Minister, they at once took a course which could only be calculated to add to his difficulties, if, indeed, they did not create new ones. The hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) had spoken admirably in the remarks he had made that evening, although he (Mr. Hopwood) felt bound to take exception to some parts of his speech. The hon. Member was more considerate in the line he had taken that night than he had been on some other occasions. The hon. Member said—"I will use my influence to prevent the breaking of the law." That was a remark which, no doubt, they would hear taken up and repeated again by others —his adversaries—with all sorts of meanings attached to it, until, probably, the hon. Member would find himself obliged to modify it. He would certainly be told that he was going to give up his duty to the Irish people for the sake of conciliating the base suffrages of a Saxon Parliament. That was an illustration of the position in which the Chief Secretary was placed. If he gave way to the representations made to him by one side he was sure to be immediately baited and beset by the other. If they wanted to drive a Minister from his place, that was the way to do it. He must say—although he did not wish to use language which might seem adulation towards a man before his face—that the course pursued by the Chief Secretary since he had occupied the Office had been most able, wise, and judicious. There was every reason to believe, if they would repose confidence in Her Majesty's Government, that whatever was wrong in regard to the state of Ireland now would be set right, if they would only allow the time necessary for doing it. But the conduct of a portion of the Irish Party certainly tended to create a disposition to regard every question connected with Ireland as a nuisance, rather than to look upon the 680 Imperial Parliament as the place where the difficulties and wrongs of Ireland should be discussed with calmness and moderation, and with a sincere desire to alleviate them. He did not say that the opinions of any Irish Member were to be stifled, or that his tongue was to be tied. Let every man speak out boldly, and he was sure that no Radical in that House would complain. But the course followed could not be so defended. The practice pursued now-a-days was not to be content with the words the Chief Secretary uttered. They said—"You have stated so and so; will you go a step farther, and say so and so?" If the Irish Members would excuse him for saying so, they were sometimes apt to produce irritation of feeling for which there was no necessity. The Minister said—"Under certain circumstances, we should feel it our duty to call Parliament together if we felt it necessary to do so in the interests of public order." And then the hon. Member for Cork got up, and asked—"In that case, upon what principle would you act?" What right had the hon. Member to ask that, unless he wished to embarrass the Minister by questions of that kind, and lead to a debate which would disturb and prevent any useful result from being obtained. For, of course, answers palatable to the hon. Member would be distasteful to others, and lead to further questions in an opposing sense. For himself, and those with whom he usually acted, he should be prepared to advise the Minister and to say—"Pray do not answer the question; that is not the way in which a responsible Member of Her Majesty's Government ought to be treated. He ought not to be called on. to pledge himself beforehand to pursue a particular course." He appealed to the right feeling of hon Members, and he was sure they would admit there was some justice in the appeal he made to them. Why should the Irish Members seek to tie the hands of Her Majesty's Government, and to alienate the sympathy and support of Members in that part of the House? They were desirous of setting all these difficult questions right, and they were convinced that they might be set right by discussion in that House. They felt that there were difficulties both there and in "another place." But the Irish Members could see for themselves how rapidly public opinion 681 was being educated in all these matters. The English people were beginning to recognize that there was a land system in Ireland which was different from that which existed in England. There might be a right, and there might be a wrong application of that system; but at present in England they had no experience of it. He was quite sure that the whole matter would be properly dealt with; but if they were to understand that all their earnest sympathy and all their desire to put matters right were not to be attended with some generous return, and to be received with something like gratitude, their good intentions were frustrated at once. He knew that Ireland had a great deal to expect yet before they could ask for her gratitude; but if the feeling did not amount to gratitude, it would be a pleasing support for those who sympathized with the wrongs of Ireland to find that the Irish Representatives were ready to listen to their views and to discuss them. In regard to the Vote now before the Committee, it was one upon which almost every Englishman felt that it was a monstrous thing that the police in Ireland should be of a military type. If the desire of the Irish Members in continuing this discussion was to awaken public opinion to this Vote, and to induce proper consideration on the part of the Ministry, and due deliberation for the future, then their purpose was an excellent one; but it had already been fully accomplished. He believed there was not a man in that House who was prepared to defend the force in its military form, except on the ground of hard necessity. If the Irish Members said that it was not necessary, then let them bring evidence to that effect to bear upon the question, and before next year had passed by they would find some change introduced, even if it were only of a partial or tentative character. He felt satisfied that in the irresistible march of public opinion upon the subject, it would not be more than a year or two before they would see the introduction of a distinct and radical change in the constitution of the Irish Constabulary Force. The way in which the Irish public meetings were attended by the police had been alluded to. Until within the last few years no policeman ever showed himself at a public meeting in England. Indeed, he was told by his superiors 682 that he had no business to go there, and that he ought not to go. That system had now been changed, for it was found that the English policeman was a pliant and useful representative of order in the interest of those holding the meeting, and they often requested his presence. That was a condition of things they desired to see in Ireland; but the circumstances must be the same, and they must be brought about by the same feeling which made every man in England in some degree the representative of order. He could assure hon. Members opposite that he was as anxious as they were to do full and ample justice to Ireland; but he was not prepared to dissolve the Parliamentary ties between the two countries. Short of that, if any question of the franchise, or of local government, or of any matter in which England had an advantage over Ireland arose, the earnest offices of himself and his Friends would be given in support of the Minister who should propose measures of reparation and equal legislation for the Irish people. If the Minister failed to propose them himself, they would be anxious, willing, and desirous of suggesting them to the serious consideration of the House.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he was exceedingly glad that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood) had taken part in the debate. As he had ventured to tell his hon. and learned Friend in a private conversation, there was a certain feeling of irritation on the part of the Irish Members at the conspicuous silence which had been observed on the opposite Benches. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) thought he had already shown that he had as good a claim to be regarded as a Radical as any Member of that House. He only desired to obtain for his countrymen justice and good laws, the right of free and full debate, and the privilege of religious toleration, which, to his mind, was one of the most precious privileges of a nation's life. But his ardour as a Radical had been somewhat weakened by the fact that there had been an absence of readiness on the part of his fellow-Radicals on the opposite Benches to respond to the feelings of the Irish Members, and to manifest the same willingness to support them which the Irish Members always displayed when they saw that the English Radi- 683 cals had a decent case. He was glad for another reason that his hon. and learned Friend had spoken, because it afforded him an opportunity of answering the criticisms which had been urged, both in public and in private, with regard to the action of the extreme section of the Liberal Party. It had been found necessary to speak in terms of severe reproach of the course pursued by the Members below the Gangway on the Ministerial side of the House. The excuse generally made was, that the Ministry were friendly towards Ireland, and that, being friendly, the Irish Members were bound to abstain from putting anything like pressure upon them; but surely that was no reason why they should abstain from putting pressure upon the Government when there was a feeling of injustice. Take as an instance what occurred on Saturday last. It could not be imagined that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the Prime Minister, or any other Member on the Ministerial Bench was not in favour of conceding the rights of the Dissenters. The Irish Members were also in favour of the rights of Dissenters. Why, then, had pressure been exercised upon Her Majesty's Government? Why did they propose an Amendment the object of which was to make an essential, but probably a vital and a perilous change, in the Burials Bill? Pressure had been brought to bear upon the Ministry in reference to that Bill, and if that were right, why was it not right for them to exercise pressure in the case of the Irish Constabulary? It was only a question of degree as regarded the pressure. They did not press the Ministry too hard any more than did hon. Gentlemen opposite on Saturday press them so as to imperil the Bill that was then before the Committee. The degree of pressure must be regulated by the cause which one advocated. He fully acknowledged the justice of the contention on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite on Saturday; but would anybody say that their grievance was to be compared with that of the starving people whom they were there to defend. If hon. Members opposite thought it justifiable, on the part of the supporters of the Government, to exercise pressure on the Ministry on that occasion, they must admit that it was equally justifiable in the case of the 684 Irish Members on the present occasion. He would admit that they had every reason to be grateful to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary and the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland for the tone in which they had spoken in that debate. There were, however, one or two points to which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had referred, in which he was unable to agree with him. With regard to the charges brought against Irish landlords, the right hon. Gentleman said that they were general charges. He maintained that they were not general charges. He had offered over and over again to mention three or four cases, within his own constituency, in which the landlords had exercised what he considered to be the grossest harshness and injustice. He would not mention them because it would have the effect of drawing down the indignation of the Committee upon those individual landlords; but he was well aware of the particulars of those cases and could mention them if he thought proper to do so. The right hon. Gentleman also said that he thought they had been too severe in their remarks with regard to the Land Commissioners. He must say that he considered that a great mistake had been made both as regarded the Tory and Whig Commissions. Everything that he had heard made him feel that the right hon. Gentleman had not gone into the facts of the case. The Prime Minister had called the Tory Commission a sham Commission, and one fact seriously attracted his notice, and that was the utter want of any machinery in Ireland for bringing the facts before that Commission. It was not the case that the facts were not there; but the machinery was defective, and they were unable to make those facts known. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Prime Minister had constantly repeated, from those Benches, that it was a small minority of Irish landlords who were exercising harshness and injustice. It appeared to him that the right hon. Gentleman had gone out of his way in order to pay a compliment to the Irish landlords. Now, against that general statement he would put a particular one of the Prime Minister, to which he had alluded on a previous night. The gist of that statement was, that ejectments were increasing at an enormous rate, 685 and that if they continued during the remainder of the year at the same rate as in the first half of it, 15,000 persons would be left houseless and homeless. He would put it to his hon. Friends opposite, and the right hon. Gentleman, whether the prospect of 15,000 human beings being left houseless and homo-less was not sufficient to make every humane and generous-minded man stand aghast? It could not be that a small minority only were using their power badly, but that a large proportion of Irish landlords were doing so. If that were so, he contended, that they had a right to press the Ministry as far as they could to put forth all their powers in order to save those poor people from such a disaster. He thought he might well complain of what fell from the right hon. Gentleman sometime ago, when he referred to the outrages which he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) loathed and detested as much as any man in that House. He rose to reply to the right hon. Gentleman, but was put down by the Speaker as being out of Order. He wished to say that he regretted that the Chief Secretary had thought it desirable to drag to the front the maiming of cattle, as against the tenants, when he had left out of sight the outrages which were committed by other persons and those committed on human beings. He had always endeavoured, when speaking on Irish questions, to avoid any single expression which might have the effect of exasperating the feelings of the people of the two countries. It had struck him that the tone of the right hon. Gentleman on that occasion was one of exasperation and retort, and he had felt inclined to say—"Allow me to read a list of outrages on women in England during the same period." If outrages on animals were a blot on Irish life, such outrages as those were surely blots on English social life. What would be thought if, in resisting some counterproposal, he, in order to strengthen his own proposal, should read out, amid the horror of his countryman, a list of brutal assaults on human beings, which were to be found in the annals of crime in this country? He did not wish to raise any such feelings, but he must say that he thought they might complain with justice that the right hon. Gentleman should have flourished those outrages in the face of the public opinion of this 686 country, which was so sensitive on that point. The right hon. Gentleman had placed a fictitious importance upon what was only a small portion of Irish life. With regard to the land meetings, the right hon. Gentleman had said that some of them were held at evictions, and that such meetings could only be supposed to lead to a breach of the law. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to have forgotten the fact that, out of 150 land meetings, only four had taken place on the scene of evictions. With reference to the attendance of the police at those meetings, the right hon. Gentleman had not, he thought, given them a satisfactory answer. His hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) had said that that attendance of police would have the effect of demoralizing that force from the English point of view, but not from the Irish point of view. He had tangible ocular evidence of the truth of that statement. He had just received a letter which began as follows:—"Sir, the Lord bless you," and then went on to say that they had there a large staff of constabulary, consisting of seven sergeants, three acting sergeants, and 72 men, all of whom were paid for out of the pockets of the poor starving tenants. The writer was not quite correct as regarded that; but he went on to say that 46 men were employed all the season on band-playing. He would not read the signature, but it came from the Royal Irish Constabulary, Phœnix Park. He had received another similar letter, marked "private and confidential," with which he would not trouble the Committee; but he thought there was sufficient evidence to show that the Constabulary were becoming demoralized. It had been said that the proper way to deal with the matter was first to remedy the grievances and then remove the police. He would say that it was his most emphatic and earnest conviction that a large portion of the police ought to be removed at once. He believed that the police, instead of preserving order really caused disorder, and that since they had taken the form of an army of occupation, the warmth of sympathy with English law had increased. The authorities, he was sure, ought not to allow the police to come within miles of the land meetings, as their presence was always the cause of irritation. He believed they were right in advising the 687 Government to take away the police, or, at any rate, the majority of them, to take away the rifle and the bayonet and the buckshot. He did not hesitate to say that they ought to be ashamed to think of discussing in that free Parliament the question whether the police should be supplied with bullets or buckshot. He was so convinced that the attendance of the police at the land meetings had the effect of endangering the peace, that he hoped, seriously, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would give them an undertaking that that attendance should be discontinued. The right hon. Gentleman said in the course of the debate the other night, talking about processions, that he intended next year to see whether they could not be put down. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) advised him strongly against that course. He remembered attending a meeting some years ago, presided over by a gentleman who afterwards sat in that House, and he heard him declare that he was pleased to be able to state that the Party Processions Act was dead and buried. That gentleman had been imprisoned for taking part in a procession, and he made that statement after he had been so imprisoned. He was confident that if the right hon. Gentleman attempted to put them down it would seriously affect, if not endanger, the peace of the whole of the North of Ireland. He was not in favour of such processions himself—in fact, he should much like to see them put down, but, at same time, he felt that it would be a most serious thing to attempt to do so. They must be allowed to run their course, and, no doubt, in time they would cease altogether; but to attempt to put them down would only have the effect of increasing disorder. Finally, he hoped that the English Members would consider the matter seriously before they agreed to allow the landlords to continue to have at their disposal a military force for the enforcement of their unjust claims upon the tenantry. The Irish Members objected to the country being governed by a military force instead of a civil one, and they looked forward to the time, which they believed was not far distant, when the present unsatisfactory state of things would cease to exist.
§ MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY
said, it appeared to be supposed in some quarters 688 that the lengthened discussion on the present Vote had been raised by the Irish Members with the object of revenging themselves on the House of Lords for having rejected the Compensation for Disturbance Bill. But he could assure the Committee that the Irish Members would have brought the subject of the Irish Constabulary under the notice of Parliament and the country whether that Bill had been rejected or not. The opposition of the Irish Members to the Vote was, he might add, no sudden thought upon their part; it had, on the contrary, been long determined upon. The subject had been brought before the House last year, and had been discussed for seven hours, and the Irish Members had pledged themselves to bring it forward again and again until they succeeded in obtaining the end which they had in view—the conversion of the Irish Constabulary from a military into a civil force. The military character of the force was objected to on the broadest Constitutional principle, and because, as the force was constituted, it was one of the last and most effectual supports of an unjust land system. It was maintained for no other purpose, because all other laws, except the land laws, were respected in Ireland. The Irish Parliamentary Party could not, however, claim the credit of having been the first to lay before Parliament the complaints made against the force as it was now constituted. The complaints against its military organization originally came from a very different quarter. They came from the Irish Conservative Peers in the House of Lords and the Conservative Members in that House. The complaints were taken up and urged by the Conservative Peers on the grounds—namely, that the organization of the Irish Police Force was a violation of the Constitution, and that its military training rendered it unfit for the discharge of the duties of a police force— the detection of crime. To those two grounds another was added by the Irish Liberal Members, who contended that the Irish Constabulary system was a mode of supporting the Irish landlords in a position which, without its aid, they could not maintain. He did not know whether many hon. Members besides those who represented Irish constituencies knew the way in which the system worked. If not, they had only 689 to go to an ordinary Irish town and they would see, in the most peaceful times, men marching through the streets in broad daylight, with bayonets by their sides, or at night, even in undisturbed rural districts, walking two and two armed, not only with bayonets, but with rifles, and carrying several rounds of ammunition. Then they might be seen at race-courses, where there was not the slightest disturbance, drawn up, to the number of 50 or 100, in military array, armed with bayonets and rifles, and with an officer by their side who was, to all intents and purposes, a military man. Now, of what use, he would ask, was their presence in such circumstances? The only answer to that question was, that so unnecessary a display of force was, as it were, an announcement on the part of the Government that, no matter how peaceable the people might be, or how little danger there might be of any disturbance, still the people were under no circumstances to be trusted, and must, therefore, be treated in a way different from that in which the inhabitants of any other portion of the United Kingdom were treated. A policeman in Ireland was always armed, although in the streets of the village in which he was walking he might not expect to have anything more formidable to deal with than a drunken man; and the whole system gave to the Government of the country the appearance of a rule upheld by armed force. The Irish policeman, he repeated, was always armed with a bayonet and at night with a rifle, as he went through the country. [Mr. W. E. FORSTER: No, no!] He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that on whatever authority he founded the negative which he had just given him across the Table, it was not based upon the real facts of the case. He had heard it said that the Irish police did not wear bayonets when going on patrol. [Mr. PLUNKET: Hear, hear !] He was surprised at the want of knowledge displayed by the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin; but he supposed the right hon. and learned Gentleman must have drawn his inspiration from his experience of the City of Dublin. [Mr. PLUNKET: No!] Well, he was glad the right hon. and learned Gentleman had reminded him that in Dublin—which was, perhaps, one of the most turbulent towns in Ireland—the police did not carry 690 bayonets, and that they were able to keep the peace without the use of those deadly weapons. But if he turned to Limerick or Cork, or to any of the small towns in the counties of which those cities were the capitals—indeed, in all the Provincial towns in Ireland—the police were, by the rules and regulations of the force, obliged, when marching, to carry bayonets by their sides. He observed the Chief Secretary was about to consult some Gentleman who, he supposed, was a permanent official of the Irish Office; but he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that the fact was as he (Mr. O'Shaughnessy) had stated. But how was the Irish police force governed? The Inspector General was invariably a military man; and when Colonel Dickson, who was a military man himself, and formerly a Member of that House, brought the subject of the organization of the force under the notice of the House, he pointed out that nothing could be more calculated to draw the men away from the proper performance of their civil duties, or to render them unpopular and inefficient for the purpose of the detection of crime, than that organization. How was the force officered? The officers were, for the most part, chosen from a different class from the men. They were selected by a competitive examination on subjects which afforded no sort of guarantee that they would be filled up for the detection of criminals or the repression of crime. In the case of all the other constabulary forces of the Empire, the officers were taken from the body of the men, and the result was that the men were encouraged to cultivate those qualities of ingenuity and tact in dealing with crime which led to promotion. There was, however, no such encouragement in the case of the Irish Constabulary, because only a very small share of the appointments in it were given to the men, who were not less intelligent than the English or Scotch police, and who were deprived of all the incentives which a hope of promotion would give, solely because it was deemed advisable by the Government of England that they should be kept up as a strictly military force. And how were the smaller appointments in the Irish Constabulary distributed? There was a competitive examination in reading, writing, and matters of that kind, and then there were a certain number of marks for general intelligence; but so 691 far as he could see the result showed that that was a quality which was usually found to be possessed in the greatest degree by those candidates who belonged to the right religion—for, although something like four to one of the men in the force were Roman Catholics, who were just as intelligent as their Protestant brethren, the numbers were reversed in the case of the non-commissioned officers, of whom by far the greater portion were Protestants. Was it not plain then that the force being maintained for the purpose of keeping up that last relic of ascendancy-—the Irish land system—it was thought necessary that the men with any authority in it should, as far as possible, belong to the religion of those who were in the ascendant. The Government dared not trust Catholic noncommissioned officers; and so nearly all the little posts to which he referred were given to Protestants, which, perhaps, was necessary if the land system of which he complained was to be maintained. But how, he would ask, was the Irish police force made responsible to Parliament? The Chief Secretary, of course, had a certain share of responsibility to bear in connection with it; but he should like to know how the question of responsibility was brought to the test whenever the force was brought into collision with the people, and the necessity of inquiry into the conduct of any of its members arose? The ordinary mode of proceeding in such cases was the most simple delusion that could be imagined. The Government appointed two barristers—one, probably, a Member of the Administration, and the other an aspirant to Office—who went down to the place where the circumstances to be inquired into had occurred. A short investigation was held into the conduct of the police on the occasion, and into the question whether the police authorities had acted within their right or not. Now, he should be sorry to say that any member of the legal profession in Ireland, whose duty it was to preside at such an inquiry, would conscientiously depart from what he thought to be the path of right and justice; but men who were Members of the Administration, or aspirants to Office, could hardly, in his opinion, be regarded as constituting a proper tribunal to deal with such cases, or one in which the Irish people could be expected to place much confidence. He 692 should like, in the next place, to be allowed to say a few words in regard to the Irish Constabulary in its capacity of a force for the ordinary purposes of repressing crime and the detection of criminals. It was on the ground of its inefficiency to perform those duties that the military constitution of the force had been attacked in the House of Lords by the late Lord Clanricarde, by the late Lord Donoughmore, and most powerfully of all, by that unhappy nobleman who afterwards lost his life by violence— he meant the late Lord Leitrim. On the occasion to which he referred, some observations made by Judge Keogh in relation to the Irish Constabulary were quoted, in which he said that the members of the force were the persons who ought to look after the crime of the country; and to the absence of the exercise of their proper functions in that respect, it was due that the perpetrators of so many offences against the law remained undetected. The police force in Ireland, the learned Judge added, was one of considerable magnitude, and one which, in a pecuniary point of view, entailed considerable expense; and that, although military display in that case might, in its proper place, be a useful thing, the Constabulary, if it directed its attention to it to the neglect of its primary duty—the detection of crime—would not be carrying out the object for which it was established. Baron Fitzgerald had given expression to similar views, which were also mentioned in the House of Lords, with respect to the action of the force in other parts of Ireland. Lord Clanricarde pointed out that, although he had no doubt that the men in the Constabulary would always do their duty when they were ordered, that duty was not what it ought to be. Lord Leitrim also said that the Irish Police were a political tool; and, having shown that several crimes which had been committed in Ireland had remained undetected, informed the House that he had been asked to present a Petition praying that the constitution of the force might be reformed, in order that it might be able to attend to the discharge of its civic duties, adding that the worst consequences would, in his opinion, follow, if they were not allowed to pay more attention to the repression of crime. For his own part, he believed that if the 693 Constabulary were not a military force, discharging duties hostile to the feelings of the great body of the people, many such melancholy murders as that of Lord Leitrim would not have occurred. The speeches to which he referred were made in 1864; but he should like to point out how the duties of the Irish Constabulary in the detection of crime had been discharged in more recent times. He found, from the Judicial Statistics for the year 1878, that the entire number of offences committed in Ireland was 6,900, and that for those offences only 4,800 persons had been arrested. But, as more than one arrest was constantly made for the same offence, as was shown by the Return from which he was quoting, it was not unfair to suppose that, at least, one-half of the actual number of offenders had remained unarrested by the police. He also found, by the Return, that with reference to a class of crimes in respect to which Irish juries were notoriously disposed to be severe—namely, stealing and other offences against property without violence — that of such offences for the year which he had mentioned, the number was 3,840, and that, for those offences, the number of arrests made was only 1,874, by a force which consisted of 11,000 men. But as more than one person was frequently arrested for one of those crimes, it would be seen that there were over 2,000 crimes for which no arrest had been made; while out of the 1,874 persons who had been apprehended, 412 had been discharged by the magistrates for want of sufficient evidence. Those figures proved, he thought, how entirely inefficient the Irish police were for the performance of their ordinary duties-—the detection of crime and the punishment of the offenders. The evidence, besides, of the Irish Judges, to whom he had referred, went to show that that inefficiency was largely due to the fact that the attention of the force was diverted from their ordinary duties to military objects, for the Irish Constabulary were not in reality maintained to prevent ordinary crime. There was, happily, in Ireland very little of such crime, and the police were maintained there solely, as he had already said, for the purpose of upholding the power and the proprietary rights of the landlords; and yet it was constantly paraded before the world as a constitutional, when it was, in reality, a military force. He believed, he might 694 add, that great good would be achieved by the present discussion; and that it was the beginning of the end of the military organization of the Irish Constabulary. The discussion would open the eyes of Englishmen to the unconstitutional character of the force, and the injustice of a system which required its support. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had informed the House that he would deem it to be his duty to enforce the law in that country; but the right hon. Gentleman, he thought, could scarcely approach the discharge of that duty now with the same confidence in the police as before. The right hon. Gentleman, after the debate which had taken place, must be alive to the anomaly and the injustice of leaning on it for the enforcement of the rights of the landlord. A further advantage would, in his opinion, be gained owing to the debate; and that was, that after the revelations which had been made during its progress, the Irish landlords would be slow to call out the Constabulary to aid them in enforcing their claims against the Irish tenantry. They would soon perceive that, as a military force, its doom was sealed; and that every time they appealed to it to support them in inflicting an injustice, they were more and more hastening on the only prop by which their ascendancy was upheld. He had heard it said that the present was a very inopportune moment to raise the question of the organization of the force; but, in his opinion, there was no time at which the Irish Members could have more opportunely than at the present insisted on the principle of disarming the Irish Constabulary; for the land system, which it was maintained to support, had never produced such evil fruit as it was producing now; and as long as the Constabulary continued to wear arms, and the advocates of bad Land Laws continued to rely upon it to deny reforms, so long would there be anarchy in Ireland. But when bad landlords saw that they could no longer hope to have the rifle and the bayonet to support them in the enforcement of what they called their rights, they would yield to necessity what they ought, long ago, to have yielded to reason; and then, and not till then, Ireland would be as free from agrarian disturbance as she was from every other form of offence against the law.
§ MR. MARUM
I conceive that this Vote involves the civil administration in Ireland, and the nature and relations of the Government in reference to the Irish people. Why is it, I ask, that, according to the theory of the British Constitution, the sheriff does not call upon the posse comitatus to enforce the law and uphold law and order? Why will not the people respond to an appeal from the first executive official of a county? The answer is obvious to Irishmen. Who is the sheriff? Formerly, he was an elective officer chosen by the freeholders, like the coroners at present; but now he is not appointed by the Crown, nor by a responsible Minister, or even, as in theory, by the Judges; but he is the nominee of preceding sheriffs, and there is an endless chain composed of the Grand Juries of counties. The Grand Jury system has been condemned. I need not, therefore, expose the system that imposes taxation without any representative, and the patronage of which bodies are controlled by the caprice of the sheriff for the time being—nay, arrangements are made in futuro in refer-once to appointments. In the next place, who are the county magistracy? They are appointed by the Lieutenants of counties, who are but the political nominees of whatever Government or political Party may be in power, on vacancies in the office. In all these offices in Ireland the appointments are effected by political bias, and are influenced mainly by sectarian ascendancy considerations. There is no confidence amongst the people in the sheriff, in the Grand Jury, or in the magistracy. To illustrate the matter I will instance the case of the Queen's County, of which I myself am a Justice, as well as in my own county. I attended during the summer a land meeting to protest against the landlord action of the sheriff of that county, held at a place called Knockaroo. It was a hard case, an eviction for only one year's rent, and no hanging gale, and the tenant had made great improvements. The rental had been raised and a very penal lease imposed on the tenant in 1873, and the land was not worth the present rental. The tenant had been served with writs for the year's rent due—£155—and also with an ejectment, upon which judgment was obtained; the tenant was evicted, and the lands are now untenanted and 696 will remain so. How could the Sheriff call on the people of the Queen's County to assist him, with such a case before them? The Grand Jury was quite in character with the sheriff. It was and is always composed of 22 Protestants and one Catholic—being heretofore, Mr. Dease, well known in this House. And this Grand Jury had pertinaciously refused to present the small weekly stipend of 2s. 6d. for Catholic juveniles regularly committed by me for periods of four and six years; and furthermore, they actually stopped payment for a Protestant juvenile, heretofore paid for, in order to enable them to cover their action. The magistracy of the county numbers 77, out of which there are but nine Catholics, including myself, and this in a county where 86 per cent of the population are Catholics! How could the people have any confidence in such sectarian county government? And as there is no confidence amongst the people, they are governed by a semi-military force instead of by the ordinary civil administration, as in England. I will ask are our people suited for civil government, or only for mere military despotism? Now, as I have said, I hold the Commission of the Peace for the two counties—for the Queen's County and my native county of Kilkenny, which I have the honour to represent—over 20 years past. The petty sessions' courts have a civil jurisdiction up to 40s. and in wages cases to £10, and they initiate the criminal procedure; and my experience is that the people are most willing to abide by law when they have any confidence in its administration. And I may mention, as an instance, some years ago at one of our sessions, we were in the habit of referring cases to the arbitration of the parish priest of the locality, thinking that it would thereby stop litigation, and promote harmony of feeling. But this respected clergyman, of high attainments, stated to me that although he did not desire to save himself the trouble, if he could be of service, yet he found it was more satisfactory to leave cases to be adjudicated upon at the Courts of Law. The people would be bickering and disputes cropping up again under his arbitration; whereas the decisions of the law were regarded as of finality, and if they had the confidence in the Bench, both sides were perfectly satisfied to abide by its decisions, 697 and shake hands over the matter. Indeed, I have known cases where the litigants under such circumstances held council, and were brought up before us for over-indulgence in their reconciliation cups, and the occasion was put forward by way of extenuating circumstances. Again, I have attended political meetings for years past, and have always perceived the same acquiescence in law. Nay, instance the meeting of Knockaroo. Although it was held in my bailiwick, and that I could certainly undertake to keep the peace, yet the usual form was observed. Police and their sub-inspector, and the resident magistrate were present, to supersede the local magistrate, and, I repeat, quite needlessly. But to show how the character of these meetings is misrepresented, I may mention that upon this occasion, notwithstanding that we justly felt the intrusion of the police, and I had reason to complain of the matter, the resident magistrate and the sub-inspector were invited to our luncheon, and the hospitality of Irishmen extended to those who were fulfilling their duty, 'and the amenities of life interchanged. Indeed, I feel bound to say that in long intercourse with the constabulary force, I have found them a most correct and respectable body of men; and no matter how justly we may complain of the character of the organization and the police system, yet, individually or personally, they are a body of men reflecting credit on the country. And I may add that we of the County of Kilkenny, like other counties, purpose holding a county meeting during the Recess, to protest against the action of the House of Lords, to demand our national rights, and to organize public opinion in protection of the tenantry. We have invited my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), and I beg now to invite the right hon. Gentleman opposite me. If the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant for Ireland will be good enough to attend this meeting, he can see for himself the nature and character of these meetings, and not derive information second-hand, I will assure him that he will receive a full hearing, and I promise him an enthusiastic reception in the ancient City of the Confederation, where I expect 30,000 Kilkenny men to be present. What are the remedies, then, that will 698 conduce to the abolition of the semi-military character of the constabulary, and bring it back to the true level and mere duty of ordinary civil administration, such as police should be in a free country? Let us take the precedent of England itself. There was a time when animosities of races existed in England, and there was equal despotism of civil government. The Norman turned upon the Saxon, and it was an ordinary imprecation of the farmer to say—"Do you take me for an Englishman?" One or two hundred years after, the descendants of these conquerors were proud of the English name, and justly so. Lord Macaulay tells us, and the Committee will kindly permit me to read a short extract—The battle of Hastings, and the events which followed it, not only placed a Duke of Normandy on the English Throne, hut gave up the whole population of England to the tyranny of the Norman race. The subjugation of a nation by a nation has seldom, even in Asia, been more complete. The country was portioned out among the captains of the invaders. Strong military institutions, closely connected with the institution of property, enabled the foreign conquerors to oppress the children of the soil. A cruel penal code, cruelly enforced, guarded the privileges, and even the sports of the alien tyrants. Yet the subject race, though beaten down and trodden under foot, still made its sting felt. Some bold men, the favourite heroes of our oldest ballads, betook themselves to the woods, and there, in defiance of Curfew laws, waged a predatory war against their oppressors. Assassination was an event of daily occurrence. Many Normans suddenly disappeared, leaving no trace. The corpses of many were found bearing marks of violence. Death by torture was denounced against the murderers, and strict search was made for them, but generally in vain; for the whole nation was in conspiracy to screen them. It was at length thought necessary to lay a heavy fine on every hundred in which a person of French extraction should be found slain; and this regulation was followed up by another regulation, providing that every person who was found slain should be supposed to be a Frenchman unless he were proved to be a Saxon.What was it that caused the amalgamation of the hostile races in England, and changed the face of the country? We are told by the same authority that it was the abolition of tenure in villan-age—fixity of tenure and fair rents—that produced this glorious result to Englishmen, which was called copyholdism. Why not, then, apply the same principle to Ireland? Let the principles of ancient copyholdism be extended to Irish tenantry, and to which they are entitled 699 under the British feudal Constitution, in the first place; and, secondly, stamp out sectarian ascendancy—stamp it out in the shrievalty, stamp it out in the Grand Jury system, and stamp it out in the magistracy. The Grand Jury system stands condemned; taxation without representation shall not be tolerated longer; But the question of the composition of the magistracy of Ireland requires the instant action of Parliament. The hon. Member for Louth County (Mr. Callan) is moving for Returns to ground future action, and I myself intend to bring the question before the House next Session. Some years ago I issued a pamphlet upon sectarian ascendancy in Ireland, and the Committee will permit me to read an extract—The great unpaid hold possession of all offices of power, privilege, and honour, to the steady exclusion of Roman Catholics. Just take the example of a southern county to illustrate. In the Queen's County, the Roman Catholics number 80,025, whilst there are only 10,619 Protestants; yet the representative Peer is a Protestant, the Lord Lieutenant of the county is also a Protestant, the 17 Deputy Lieutenants of the county are all Protestants; of the 90 magistrates in the county, 79 are Protestants and 11 Catholics; all the officials in the county gaol, the county infirmary, and the lunatic asylum, are of the ascendancy creed. The same, with the exception of the chaplaincy, is the case in the three workhouses. The two coroners, the secretary of the Grand Jury, the county surveyor and his assistants, the resident magistrate, the county inspector, and the chairman of the quarter sessions, are all Protestants. Of the eight sub-inspectors in the county, seven are Protestants and one Catholic. The 11 collectors of cess for the 11 baronies of the county are Protestants. On the list of special jurors for 1867, 41 were Protestants, and seven only were Catholics; and on the common jury list there appeared the names of 95 Protestants, and but 35 Catholics. The above constitute the statistics of one of the most Catholic counties in Ireland. If a Return were obtained of the other 31 counties, it would exhibit the self-same results.In the two counties where I attend petty sessions there are three districts— petty sessions—in every one of which the following state of things exists at present:—The lord of the soil is a justice and a Protestant; the land agent ditto; the resident magistrate ditto; the sub-inspector ditto; the petty sessions clerk ditto; and further, clerk of the rent office, the head constable, ditto ! I do not mean to allege anything injurious to my brother magistrates, or to insinuate that justice may not be done; but what I do say is that there is no 700 confidence in the administration of justice amongst the people. I know that it is not infrequent for suitors of the petty sessions courts to examine the composition of the Bench upon the day of trial and then to adjourn their cases, and the fact of such feeling amongst the people is a scandal upon the administration of justice. Why should the appointment of justices be left absolutely and without control to mere political casual nominees of Government? The patronage should be vested in a responsible Minister of the Crown, or resort be had partially or entirely to the ancient principle of election. I believe that one of the chief grounds for the maintenance of the armed force of Constabulary to which we object, is the want of confidence in the local Benches, inciting the people to take the law into their own hands. In the county of Kilkenny I could name half-a-score of gentlemen who would be an acquisition to the Bench of the county, and yet are excluded. The population is 85 per cent Catholic, and there are but 19 Catholics out of 97 justices, and not a single resident magistrate is a Catholic. If the land tenure system of Ireland were placed upon a proper basis, and sectarian ascendancy in county government and in the magistracy were stamped out, there would be no occasion for this armed Constabulary, save, it may be alleged, as to the "garrison" theory of government rampant in Ulster. The theory is that not only distinction of religion, but of race, is to be kept up in Ireland, just as under the Black Act, or Statute of Kilkenny, Orangeism means that ascendancy of race and religion is to be maintained, and for that purpose the police army is to help it in governing the country. I could certainly say that if anything could reconcile me to a short continuance of this armed force it would be for the purpose of putting down those senseless party processions of the North of Ireland. Would any Government in England permit party processions to annually celebrate the Battle of Hastings, and maintain a police army to enable the descendants of the Norman conquerors of England to hold the Saxons in slavery? Or to have the victory of Marston Moor annually celebrated with party fights over all England between Republicans and Royalists? Let the theory of government that 701 Orangeism is to rule Ireland as an English garrison be exploded; land tenure reform be established, and sectarian ascendancy abolished, and the present police system will become unnecessary, and the Empire saved some £2,000,000 sterling of expenditure, which, capitalized, would go a far way to purchase the ownership of the soil for the Irish people, and put an end for even to agrarian disturbance.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, he would support any Motion for the reduction of the strength or of the pay of the Irish Constabulary. He found in the Estimates that there was an increase both in the number of men to be voted and in the extent of barrack accommodation for them. He certainly saw no necessity for that increase. The population of Ireland was decreasing; and, from certain statistics lately published, they might conclude that it was likely to be still further diminished. Crime and outrage in Ireland had been talked of all through these debates, and made so prominent that many persons who were unacquainted with the real condition of the country could hardly avoid coming to the conclusion that the Irish people were highly criminal and exceedingly vicious; but he wished the English people and the Irish Members of the House of Commons to understand that the crime and outrage of Ireland were almost entirely connected with the tenure of land in that country. It was impossible to have bad laws without having also unrest, and disturbance, and violence. When, in England, circumstances existed that were similar to those which now existed in Ireland, the same crime and outrage prevailed. When the Saxon holders of the soil were being dispossessed by their Norman conquerors, outrage, assassination, and violence pervaded the land, and the oppressed were then to be found, as was unfortunately the case in Ireland now, waiting behind walls and hedges, in order to get rid of their oppressors. One of the laws then made was, that whenever a Frenchman was found murdered, the Saxon population of that part of the country in which the body was discovered should pay a fine for the outrage. The Irish people were being subjected to very nearly the same treatment that prevailed in England so long ago. Why 702 did he say that? Because the people of Ireland were subjected at the present day to a vicious coercion system, and his contention was that, wherever such a system existed in any part of the known world, it would produce the same evil fruits. How did these Saxon people save themselves from this odious mulct? Their system was certainly ingenious, though it was not very handsome. In order that the Frenchmen should not be able to tell whether the murdered man was French or English, they mutilated the body after they had assassinated the man, cut off his limbs, slashed his face, and, in fact, mutilated him from head to foot, so that the Norman people could not say whether it was not a poor Saxon who had been murdered. The Normans, however, soon met this state of things by a law that, whenever it could not be proved to be an Englishman, the mutilated body should be taken to be that of a Frenchman. This state of things existed in England—this state of crime and outrage, this horrible system of assassination—when nothing of the kind was known in Ireland. The agrarian system then in operation there gave no occasion for these crimes. That system recognized no absolute property in land by any man, not even the King himself; and the land was considered as the property of the people, and divided amongst them by a system which he need not fully describe. Thus, while in England the country was full of crime, outrage, mutilation, and assassination, in Ireland nothing of the kind was known. The recent practices in Ireland were learnt by the Irish people from England. They got their teaching in that system from this country, and that fact should be remembered by Englishmen, and by the English people. It was left on record by Englishmen—some of the earliest settlers, if they could so call them—that there were no people on the face of the earth who better loved equal and indifferent justice than the Irish people. Sir John Davies, the Attorney General of James I., had left that opinion on record; and the poet Spencer had given expression to similar views; so that it came from more than one high English authority that no people at that time better loved equal and indifferent justice than the Irish. He maintained that the same qualities 703 existed among them to the present day. It was only in these agrarian difficulties that the Irish people had any sympathy with what was called crime, and the explanation of that fact was simple. They had in Ireland Judges who had to administer, from time to time, and very often, laws which were not only unpopular, but were most unjust. Yet, the Irish people, from their justice-loving nature, accepted that administration of the law; and they had never been known to either assail or menace a Judge in Ireland. If it could not be said that the Judges were very popular men, at any rate they were not unpopular. He heard it remarked some time ago, from a Bench above the Gangway, that if the Disturbance Bill should pass into law, it would be necessary to take some measure for the protection of the Irish Judges. Now, against that he put the fact he had just mentioned, that the Judges, though they were administering laws which were often unjust, were neither menaced nor assailed by the Irish people. He knew a case of a learned Judge still alive of whom it was related that he purchased a little property in the County of Tipperary, and soon after paid his first visit to it in his capacity as landlord. He related the story himself, that he went down one day—he was a man of very small stature—to look over his property. As he went over one of his fields he heard a woman, who had been peeping at him from some little plantation, say to someone else—"Is he that little bit of a fellow? Why the boys might as well be shooting at a snipe." Relating this at a dinner, to his legal brethren on the Munster Circuit, the comment of one barrister present was—"Quite right, too. It is a good business principle that every landlord should be a mark for his tenant." But nothing happened to the learned Judge. He was alive and well now, and the remark of the Tipperary woman was probably made in a joking spirit. It had been said by Englishmen, writing in English papers, that the parts of Ireland in which agrarian outrage was most rife, and in which assassination of landlords was most frequent, were precisely those parts which had the largest infusion of English and Saxon blood. In support of that statement he might read a few words written not long ago in one of the 704 leading organs of England—a paper which boasted of having the largest circulation in the world. It remarked on the fact that in the purely Celtic counties there was no agrarian crime, while the Southern and Midland counties—such as Tipperary and Wexford, Meath and Westmeath, King's County and Queen's County—where they had a certain infusion of English settlers, were just those counties where landlord shooting had always been most prevalent; and it said that—The evictions to which the Celts of the West and South submitted with tears and lamentations, the farmers of Tipperary and Westmeath resented with muskets from behind a hedge.That was the testimony of the The Daily Telegraph, that agrarian crime was most rife just wherever there was the greatest infusion of English blood. The Irish police system was the main prop of this unjust and odious landlordism in Ireland. One of his Colleagues, who spoke a few minutes ago, read a letter from one of the Royal Irish Constabulary, complaining that their time had been spent in drill in the Phoenix Park and that their band was playing to aristocrats all over the country, while the police had to pay for its support. Surely the Consolidated Fund ought to bear that extra expense? He only wondered, as the police were such a military force, that regimental colours were not given to them. He should not be surprised if that step were taken, and if ever anything of that sort were resolved on, he would venture to suggest a design for those colours which should be a crowbar crossed with a rifle. Some of his friends had suggested that the land laws ought to be reformed first, and the discipline of the police afterwards; while others thought that the organization of the police first needed reform, and then that there would be little difficulty in dealing with the landlords. He, for his part, did not care which was begun first; but he did claim that one or the other should be commenced at once, because the present state of things in Ireland was intolerable.
§ MR. MACFARLANE
said, he had taken no part in the debate hitherto because he thought it was more becoming that Irish Members, who were not only Irish Members but Irishmen, should 705 express their feelings. He should explain that it was not from any want of sympathy, or because he failed to agree with them in their objection to the Constabulary Force, that he had not spoken before. He regretted that it was necessary to maintain a police army in Ireland. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) had said that afternoon that if they removed the Irish Constabulary, he would ask for no legislation for the land. He, himself, thought it would be better to legislate for the land first, and then reform the Constabulary. It had been said that the Constabulary was maintained in its present form because life and property were not secure in Ireland. He did not think, as a general proposition, that that was a correct statement. Ordinary property was quite as safe in. Ireland, he believed it was safer than it was in this country. It was only one kind of property, and that a property about which there had been a conflict for many a generation as to its true ownership, with regard to which there was any insecurity. The landlord maintained that he had the sole, and entire, and absolute ownership of the land, and that the people of the country, the cultivators, had no rights whatever in the land except such as he might choose to concede to them. That he thought a most vicious principle. The tenants of Ireland had been in conflict with their landlords upon that question for many generations; and until it was settled upon an equitable basis, there would be no peace and no security for that kind of property in Ireland. For his part, if he were an Irish landlord, he should go on his knees to the House of Commons, and beg them to settle this question—beg them to settle it fairly and equitably between the landlord and the tenants, in order that he might live in security, and receive his rents with regularity. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had spoke of the 500,000 tenant farmers of Ireland, standing face to face with 10,000 landlords. All that he had said was very true; and the sooner the House of Commons recognized that fact, and legislated accordingly, the better it would be for England and Ireland. In his opinion, the Irish Members, in their protest against this armed force, were doing no more than their fair duty. They would be open to the reproach of their own people and 706 their own constituents that they, as Irish Members, had been guilty of neglect of their duty if they had not brought forward this question. He also, as a Member for an Irish constituency, would be equally guilty of a neglect of his own duty if he did not add an expression of his own sympathy with the object they had in view. He believed that if the Government would settle the Land Question as they had settled it elsewhere, under the dominion of the Crown, there would be no further difficulty. In Bengal, an Act was passed in 1859 settling the Agrarian Land Question, as the Government felt it to be of very great importance. They, therefore, passed an Act to give the tenant fixity of tenure with a fair rent, and denying to the landlord the right to raise that rent except by an action at law. In that action at law, also, the landlord would have to prove, before he could enhance the rent of the tenant, that the proceeds and the value of the land had increased from other causes than the expenditure of the tenant's capital and labour. If they would pass a simple Act of that kind for Ireland, he believed they would have the Irish Land Question settled at once, and would be simply following the precedent for it which had received the sanction of the Crown in India, after it had passed from under the old rule of the East India Company. When that had once been done, the Government could get rid of the Constabulary, or, at any rate, take the arms out of their hands, and employ them in a more congenial work than that of evicting women and children. For his part, he would far prefer to see that splendid body of men employed under another gallant Irishman marching upon Candahar than engaged in conflict with their own people. He did not say that it was in the power of the Government at present to disarm the Constabulary; but he had no doubt that it was with great reluctance that the Government felt itself compelled to keep up an armed force for the preservation of peace in Ireland. They had at present twice as many European soldiers in Ireland as they had in Afghanistan. It certainly was a most humiliating fact that they had half as many soldiers in Ireland as served to keep in awe a population of 200,000,000 of aliens in India. The great result of English rule in Ireland was, that after 700 years of govern- 707 ment, it was necessary to keep 30,000 armed men in that country. It seemed to him that the mere statement of that fact was a disgrace to the English government of Ireland.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, that with regard to one remark of his hon. Friend, he wished to say that he and his hon. Friends on that side of the House were not merely advocates of Home Rule for Ireland, but also for Afghanistan and Zululand. He would be very sorry to see any Irish force marching against Candahar; but with regard to the present Estimate, he would ask the Government to consider, not only their own position in the matter, but also that of the Irish Members and of the Irish tenantry. More than once the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had appealed to the Irish Members to use their influence, and he had said, very truly, that it was a great influence to preserve law and order in Ireland; and he had frequently, also, as it appeared to him, unnecessarily dwelt, almost with delight, upon the instances of cattle-marking and personal outrages which he had been able to collect by reason of his Office. He did not say that the right hon. Gentleman was acting with characteristic unfairness, for unfairness was not a characteristic of the right hon. Gentleman, but with that unfairness which appeared to be the characteristic of all Englismen in dealing with Irish subjects. It had never occurred to Irish Members to suggest that remedial measures should be passed with regard to crimes committed in England; those crimes were not crimes of revenge, or such as were committed in selfdefence, but were brutal and inhuman. But it had never occurred to Irish Members to suggest, on account of those crimes, that repressive measures should be adopted with regard to the population of England generally. He did not think that the right hon. Gentleman had any right to bring before the House those horrible details, with respect to outrages on man and beast, which had happened in Ireland, by way of showing that they ought not to expect any alteration in the landlords. [Mr. W. E. FORSTER said, that he had not used them in that sense.] He (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) did not say the right hon. Gentleman had made use of such a proposition, but his whole bearing was suggestive of that attitude. 708 He had suggested that until those outrages were put a stop to, hon. Members from Ireland had not done all they could to put an end to them. His appeal to Irish Members was unnecessary and uncalled for. Long before the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman, he himself and his hon. Colleague, who was much trusted by the people in Queen's County, as was his noble father before him, anticipated the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, and urged the people in Queen's County to remain quiet and peaceable under a law which they knew to be unjust. They had appealed to the people to allow them to advocate their cause in that House, and to work out their redemption through the open channel of the Constitution instead of having recourse to those measures, which however justifiable under certain circumstances, were entirely outside the law. If they went back to their constituents, at the end of the present Session, without anything being done, what would they say to them? The people would tell them that they advised them to be quiet and peaceable; and, if they would trust to their Representatives, they would secure for them, if not complete justice, yet a fair hearing in the House of Commons. The people would say that they had told them that the House of Commons could not refuse to admit that there was great ground for their complaints, and a necessity that steps should be taken, if not at once, yet in the immediate future, to remedy the grievances under which they lay. But the whole Session had been completely barren of results, so far as they were concerned. It was nonsense to talk about the assurances of Ministers. Unfortunately they were not in sufficient numbers to make the position of the present Ministry at all insecure. If they were in such a position, he was sure they would not have had to waste the time they had in obtaining a hearing. The remedy would have been pushed almost into their arms by eager Ministers. In the same way, if, in Ireland, they were able to demand, in arms, what they could justly claim, it would not be necessary for them even to ask it. The English people and Ministry would be but too glad to grant it, and a number of people, whose consciences were now utterly dead to their grievances, would be clamourous that steps should 709 be taken. But they had not the force of arms, and they had not the force of numbers in that House sufficient to compel attention, and the result was that they saw the whole Session wasted and the position of Ireland not one whit better, and not one whit more hopeful, than it was before. They had seen days and weeks wasted on the question whether landlords and tenants should be allowed to shoot rabbits and hares in England; but they had been grudged an extra evening for the consideration of the question whether soldiers or police should shoot down women and children in Ireland. They had seen, it was true, some slight efforts on the part of the Government to pass a Bill which, at the best, extended only to one half of Ireland, and only dealt with those parts which were disorderly, and where it was necessary to maintain order at the point of the bayonet and with buckshot and bullets; but the scheme did not extend to that part of Ireland which, although suffering under equal grievances and having equal ground of complaint, had submitted to the law and had preserved a peaceable demeanour. The county which he had the honour to represent was the most rack-renting county in Ireland; but the people were amongst the most peaceable in the country. In spite of their sufferings, when disturbance broke out in Mayo, constables from Queen's County were able to be sent over to re-inforce those in Mayo. Those constables went to assist to suppress the disturbances in Mayo, although they sprung from the people, and sympathized as much with the land movement as any man in that House. Their fathers, mothers, or brothers might be tenants in Queen's County or in the adjoining county; and they sympathized so much with the tenants that, when in Mayo, they were sent to assist in evicting one man, they felt such sympathy with his misfortunes that they clubbed together and paid the unfortunate man's rent in order that he and his fever-stricken children should not be turned out on the roadside. On that occasion in Mayo they were received by the people with cheers, and when they returned to Queen's County they were welcomed with blessings. He was very glad to be able to record such an instance of the humanity of the constabulary in the 710 present discussion. In 1828, when O'Connell went down to Ennis, the garrison turned out and presented arms to him, and it was only then that the Duke of Wellington conceived the idea that there was nothing so horrible as civil war. The Duke then urged the House to pass a Bill for Catholic Emancipation, because he thought that if it did not pass there would be civil war. He trusted that the lesson the Duke of Wellington learned at Ennis might be repeated with regard to the constabulary in Ireland. He did not wish that the Government should think that there was any fear of civil war, nor did he wish that the constabulary should fail in their duty in any way; but he wished that their sympathy, which he knew to be strong with the unfortunate tenantry in Ireland, might be shown in such a way that even the authorities in Dublin Castle might come to see that even the constabulary might be used too much in an unnatural direction. The constabulary at present were the Janizaries of their own country, and were set against their fellows as the Mussulmans were set against their fellows. They were compelled to be strangers in the land of their birth. It was part of the system to send every man to a district in which he was a stranger, and if, while he was there, he should marry, he was then at once removed and sent to a district in which not only he was a stranger, but his wife also, for no man was allowed to be in a county of which either he or his wife were natives. These Irish police, who were disguised soldiers, were thus made strangers in their own country; but besides the police in Ireland, there were the soldiers, who were Scotchmen and Englishmen. Coastguards were so arranged that the Irish soldiers did duty either in England or Scotland, and the Scotchmen and Englishmen were sent out to Ireland; and precisely the same thing happened with regard to the soldiers. The Irish soldiers were sent to do extra service in foreign lands; they were sent out to fight the battles of Great Britain, and nearly all the English and Scotch soldiers were retained for Home service. Whenever a regiment was to be sent abroad, it was first sent to Ireland to be recruited up to its full foreign strength; and if anyone would look through the rota for foreign service, they would find that the troops 711 relieved from foreign service were quartered in England, Scotland, or the Channel Islands, and that troops were only sent to Ireland before they went on foreign service. The result was that the soldiers for foreign service were principally drawn from Ireland, and the English and Scotch soldiers were kept at home. The Government could not pass any new measure of a remedial character that Session, for there was no time, even if there was the will; but they did ask the Government to give them some means of showing their tenants, when they appealed to them to trust the Constitutional means, that they were justified in so doing by the result, and that they might be able to point to some small concession. They asked that if the women and children of Ireland were to be shot, to allow them to be shot by soldiers, and not by policemen. It was simply nonsense to talk about the means of disarming the Constabulary. If such a system were in force in England, and there was in England such a feeling with regard to the system as there was in Ireland as expressed through her Representatives, the Government would find no difficulty about disarming the police in a single week. The hon. and learned Member for Meath (Mr. A. M. Sullivan) the other day stated that it was impossible to prevent the passing of this Vote, and said that he did not contemplate that it could be done. For his own part, he did not understand that attitude, and he regretted that the hon. and learned Member should make that statement. He had always believed, in accordance with what was written by Hume, the great Constitutional writer, that the cardinal principle of the British Constitution, and the keynote of the House of Commons, was that the redress of grievances must precede Supply. He would like to see his fellow Members from Ireland take a firm and determined attitude on this question, no matter what amount of odium they incurred, or what irritation it might produce upon the Treasury Bench. He thought they would be justified in carrying on a war á outrance, refusing to grant Supply until they had obtained some distinct proof of the intention, or some substantial assurance of the Government, in direction of remedial legislation for Ireland.
§ MR. FINIGAN
said, that he fully agreed with the course taken by his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell); but he was not so well pleased at the line adopted by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. Though the right hon. Gentleman seemed for a moment to be extremely friendly he had always been taught to believe that conciliatory words were only to be believed in when they took the forms of deeds—
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. FINIGAN
continuing, said, that he only believed in conciliation when it took the practical form of deeds, and was totally removed from mere words of sympathy and conciliation. He looked upon the Irish Constabulary as the most unconstitutional and despotic force that had ever existed in any country; and though he was quite prepared to vote against this Vote generally, yet he was not willing to delay it by going through its different items. He took it to be the case that they had a very handsome promise from the Ministerial Bench with regard to the police army in Ireland, and some hope was held out that, provided they could show during the coming winter, and, perhaps, during two or three winters, that they could preserve peace and order by moral suasion, then that the military order and organization of this police would be abolished. He was determined, so far as he himself was concerned, to vote against this police Vote as a protest against the system, and not against the men. The other night he said that the Constabulary of Ireland was composed of Russians; he was misunderstood when he was supposed to refer to the police personally, and he wished to make it clear that he referred to the system of police. He considered the police system to be of an unjust and despotic character, and worthy only of a country like Russia. In reply to his question, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had said that at a meeting alluded to by him, constables were not present as constables, but were simply there in their personal capacity taking notes. He contended that the constabulary were so from one day to another, and from one year to another, 713 continuously without any break in their capacity as constables, and he held that it was neither just nor equitable that the Constabulary of Ireland—a military force—should be encouraged from the Treasury Bench in devoting their leisure hours to a system of espionage in order that they might avail themselves of their spare time to injure the interests of individuals by their police espionage system. He would not, however, take up the time of the Committee by further alluding to this matter; but, he was extremely sorry to hear such a policy as that laid down by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, and he should do, in time to come what he had done in times past—he should, both in Parliament and out of it, so long as this unjust system of eviction existed in Ireland, and so long as there were the results they now had of carrying out this unjust system—he should advise the tenants he met, whether in public or private, to support their families, and clothe their families, and house their families first, and then to consider whether they would pay rent. He should oppose the police attending any meetings at which he had the honour to be present. If the police would keep away he should do his best to preserve peace and order; but if the police would not abstain from forming squares or from forming lines around any platform on which he might be, he should leave the law and the people face to face, and he should, at the same time, ask the people to act Constitutionally but firmly in the interests of what he considered to be the interests of his country and the interests of that country with which his country happened to be associated. With respect to the remarks of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood), he could only say that as long as he was in that House he should support independently of one side of the House or the other, any measure or Bill which he deemed to be for the interests of the people of England, and he should take any course he deemed fit with regard to any English Bill which he thought would be for the benefit of England. With these few remarks, he begged to say that he was perfectly willing to follow the advice of his hon. Friend and Leader the Member for the City of Cork; but, that at the same time, he should ever act independently of Party, and in- 714 dependently of any other considerations than those which he believed to be for the benefit of Ireland.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said, that there were two points as to which he would intrude upon the Committee, but only for one moment. One was as to the presence of the constabulary at public and political meetings. It was perfectly true that that practice never obtained in England, and that if any sort of array of armed police was noticed at any English political meeting it would excite great indignation. He thought he had been present during the last 30 years at as many public and political meetings as any man of his age; but he had never seen such a display of force there as he had seen at public meetings in Ireland, and he could not but think that the presence of a few policemen, armed like soldiers, did nothing to preserve peace, or to restore order if it were broken. Many public meetings had taken place in Ireland, sometimes under circumstances of considerable excitement, and from the time of O'Connell downwards, he thought that political meetings in Ireland had been, on the whole, as peaceable and as well conducted as those in England, and he hoped that the Government would think it advisable, in reference to these public meetings in Ireland, not to force upon them a display of arms, which must be a source of annoyance and irritation to the people there as well as those who desired liberty here. There were difficulties, no doubt, in Ireland, which did not exist in England, but he thought that the presence of armed police at public meetings could be perfectly well dispensed with. With respect to the outrages which had been committed in Ireland, no man could say a word in justification of them, but the circumstances out of which those outrages arose should be taken into consideration. He had had personal experience in the presence of armed constabulary and military, of the way in which public feeling was excited in Ireland. He was present about 30 years ago at the eviction of some unfortunate men in the County Cork, which eviction took place in the presence of armed constabulary and a squadron of the 7th Dragoon Guards. Amongst the unfortunate people evicted was one man who was at the point of death; but the entreaties of his wife that he might be allowed to 715 live his last few remaining hours in the hovel he had occupied the bulk of his life, were totally disregarded, and he was left to perish by the road side. He was one of the mounted escort at the time and saw what happened. That unfortunate man's wife was found the next day in an insensible condition, with one child in her arms nearly dead, and the other quite dead, and was taken in an insane state to Cork. It seemed to him that the occurrence of scenes of that description went far to explain the many outrages which they heard of in Ireland.
§ SIR EARDLEY WILMOT
said, that having, ever since he had had the honour of a seat in that House, taken a deep interest in all that concerned the welfare of Ireland, and was calculated to benefit her, he hoped he might be allowed to make a few observations. He did not rise for the purpose of objecting to the Vote under discussion; on the contrary, he intended to support it; but at the same time he deeply lamented the necessity which occasioned it. He greatly regretted, that in the 19th century, when they in that House were doing what they could to extend the blessing of enlarged freedom to the rest of the community, and widening, in almost every direction, the boundaries of civil and religious liberty, they were under the sad necessity of governing Ireland at the point of the bayonet. He could not help feeling, when he regarded the 11,000 constables employed, and the £1,000,000 which was being expended in keeping up so large a force, that that £1,000,000 would be much better laid out in finding employment and food for the suffering population. No one beheld with greater horror than he did the disgraceful outrages which at that moment prevailed in many parts of Ireland, and no one who read the daily papers could shut his eyes to their extent; but still, as an Englishman, he could not help saying to himself, while he felt horror and detestation at those crimes—"Have we done justice to that unhappy country? Have we done all we could to elevate and raise her, and ought we not rather to feel conscious of our shortcomings, and to say, 'Verily, we are guilt concerning our brother.'" In many places the inhabitants had not food or sustenance, and yet the land, if properly cultivated, would supply the wants of a 716 much larger population than at present existed, and there was much land now waste and unreclaimed, which might be brought into fertility, and supply the wants of many thousands of the peasantry. He had a letter in his pocket which the late Sir Richard Griffith, the very able and respected Government Surveyor in Ireland, had written to him a short time before his death, in which he stated that there were 900,000 acres of land now lying idle and useless, upon which, if comparatively moderate capital were expended, they might be rendered amply fertile and productive. Surely it was the duty of the Government to develop the existing resources of Ireland, and bring those lands into cultivation; for he would remind them of the political axiom of one held in high authority by hon. Gentlemen opposite—Stuart Mill —"That it was the duty of the State to find food for the population." As regarded the political and social position of Ireland, he had always been in favour of equal rights and privileges for the whole United Kingdom, and had always condemned the inequalities to which Ireland was subjected. But it would be found of no use extending political rights and franchises to the Irish people, until many of those who rightly claimed them were rendered capable of properly exercising them by the advantages of a better education than they now had, and by the improvement of their general status and social condition. He objected to the character of the Administration in Ireland, and he had always advocated its abolition. It savoured too much of military despotism, and he would have the same laws and the same description of government for both countries. But while he said that, he gladly took the opportunity of expressing his opinion strongly against Home Rule, which he considered a vision and a chimera, though he was aware that his hon. Friends below the Gangway were pledged to that theory. But he considered that Home Rule meant separation, and separation meant ruin and destruction for their country, and he could not help reminding them of what that great patriot and statesman Edmund Burke said, in 1797, in the last letter which he wrote before his death, and was on the subject of Ireland which he loved so well, adverting to separation from England which was then agitated, although, of course it was before the 717 Union, and, therefore, long before Home Rule was thought of—A separation from England would make Ireland the most wretched, the most distracted, the most desolate country on the face of the habitable globe.And, therefore, it was that he often entreated his late lamented Friend Mr. Butt to cast off this impossible idea of Home Rule, and go with him, in a calm, dispassionate, and earnest investigation, into the general state and condition of Ireland, with the view of developing her resources, which, undoubtedly, were many, and placing her on that equal footing to which she was entitled, with England and Scotland. He was convinced that the difficulties in the way of her improvement and progress were far from being insurmountable, and so warmly had he felt on this subject that the first, or nearly the first, speech he had made in Parliament, standing on the Bench immediately behind Lord Beaconsfield, then Mr. Disraeli, was to implore that eminent Statesman to employ the large and powerful, and he might add docile, majority which he possessed to confer real and substantial benefits on Ireland. But he could not help saying that during the six years of power held by the Conservative Party hardly a step was taken to improve the condition of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) had succeeded to the reins of Government as Chief Secretary, and although he (Sir Eardley Wilmot) had not been able to support, or approve of, the first Irish measure introduced by him—namely, the Compensation for Disturbance (Ireland) Bill — as he considered that it relieved and assisted one class at the expense of another, yet he fully believed that the present Chief Secretary for Ireland had the interests of that country warmly at heart, and was disposed to devise and introduce measures more maturely and carefully considered than the Compensation for Disturbance (Ireland) Bill, which would be found beneficial, wise, and just. With the great abilities, energy, and honesty of character possessed by the right hon. Gentleman, he thought that hon. Members below the Gangway might safely trust and confide in the Minister who now had charge of the interests of their country; and, if they had that confidence, he would ask them to allow the present 718 Vote to pass without further opposition as a Vote which they all lamented, but of which, under present circumstances, they recognized the stern necessity.
MR. J. COWEN
said, he had no wish, by any remarks of his, to delay the progress of the Committee. He would not have interfered in the discussion, if it had not been for the repeated allusions that Irish Members had made to the fact that English Liberals—especially the Radical section of them—had listened during all the recent debates in silence, if not indifference, to the wrongs of their country. He could assure them that, although he had been silent, he had not been indifferent. He was always reluctant to take part in an Irish discussion, because there were so many Members from that country not only able and willing, but anxious, to expound their views, and he felt hesitation in interjecting his opinions upon the House in preference to theirs. He had listened to the melancholy recital of Irish distress, discontent, and disaffection, not only with regret, but with a sense of humiliation and shame. It was a sad satire on the government of Ireland by this country. No bitterer condemnation could be pronounced than the bare repetition of the facts that the recent distress had elicited. Let Englishmen look at them free from Party bias or passion. Seven hundred years ago we conquered Ireland. A century since we gave the Irish a Parliament of their own, when we were threatened with a war with France, and engaged in a conflict with our American Colonies. No sooner, however, had the fear of the results of that war subsided, and the complications in America been settled, than we broke up their Parliament by a combination of fraud and force that had no parallel in modern history. And now 80 years after the Union that was to bring peace, prosperity, and plenty—that was to secure happiness and harmony—we had the Chief Secretary telling us that the condition of Ireland was so grave that it was possible, at one time he even thought probable, that Parliament would have to be called together in the autumn to pass another Coercion Bill. Another Coercion Bill! that meant the fifth or sixth occasion on which the Constitution had been suspended in half a century. They had been discussing, for hours together, whether the Irish people could most 719 mercifully be shot down by bullets or buckshot. The discontent in the country, if not so widespread, was now as intense as it was at the commencement of the century. There were over 100 Irish Members in Parliament. Sixty of these came to the House pledged to accept no settlement of Irish grievances that did not give some recognition of their National aspirations. Thirty, if not 40, of these 60 were prepared to emphasize and accentuate that declaration by demands even stronger. English Members might ridicule it as they chose, but the fact could not be gainsaid that these Gentlemen represented the public opinion of Ireland, and, if they did not, they would not be there. The Members who sat on the Ministerial side of the House constituted a majority in Parliament, and, being a majority, they formed the Government. But the Home Rule Members returned for Irish constituencies were proportionately more numerous than the Liberals returned for English constituencies. That might be an unpleasant statement to make, but it was true; and if they were wise they would recognize it, and deal with it. Circumstances had required him recently to give special attention to Irish land difficulties. He had visited that country more than once during the last few months. He had been anxious to study upon the spot some of the causes of the dire distress that afflicted the people. He could say that there were to be witnessed in the West of Ireland scenes of wretchedness and squalor such as it would be difficult to match in any country in Western Europe. Men, women, and children were huddled together, indiscriminately, in miserable hovels that hon. Members would not house their cattle in. To say that such a state of things was an outrage upon civilization was not to condemn it sufficiently. It was an outrage upon decency. If English Members wished to understand the origin of the feeling of asperity that lay at the bottom of many of the Irish discussions, they could not do better than employ the Recess by visiting some of the scenes to which he referred. They heard a great deal of the violence that had characterized the doings of the people in the distressed districts. No one condemned this violence more than he did, and he rejoiced at the emphatic and unanimous condemnation it had received 720 from his hon. Friends opposite. It damaged their cause in the estimation of the country, and it had no effect in modifying the severity of their condition. But, while condemning this violence, he would have hon. Members to inquire if it was not in many instances the handiwork, the horrible handiwork, of misery alone? Were not the outrages frequently the outbursts of intolerable self-suffering? It was easy for them to sit by their fire-sides, in comfort and plenty, and pass judgment on starving men driven to desperation. Without palliating, certainly without justifying, the excess that had been so often alluded to, these generous considerations might be allowed to have some force in the minds of Englishmen. When he was last in Dublin he spent a Sunday morning in the cemetery of Glasnevin. An incident, apparently insignificant, occurred there which threw some light on the state of popular feeling. A funeral was taking place. It was evidently that of a working man, and one who had the esteem of his class. As the mourners passed the spot where he was sitting they uttered many expressions of interest if not of sorrow. He was struck with their demeanour, and inquired the cause of it. One man answered, "Don't you know, Sir, that it is here they are buried !"He asked who they were, and his informant replied," The Fenians." He then remarked, "Oh! these are the graves of Redden, Macarthy, Macmanus, and their compatriots?" Yes," replied the man, "this is the burying-place of those who were done to death by England in her gaols." In the estimation of these poor people, this was hallowed ground. They also directed his attention to a monument hard by. It was erected to the memory of the Manchester men, and, in speaking of it they said with much pathos—"The English call these men murderers; we call them martyrs; they died for their country." These expressions might appear extravagant; in the estimation of some hon. Gentlemen they would be grotesque, but they expressed the feeling of the poor people. The present Government, like all others, ought to recognize the fact that, in ruling a nation, we should not only govern it according to its wants, but its wishes; not only in accordance with its principles, but with its pleasures and its prejudices. Until the English people realized that, the 721 government of Ireland would continue to be unsuccessful. He was sure it was not from any want of disposition to do justice to Ireland. Both parties—the adherents of the late Government and the supporters of the present —? were equally desirous to act justly to their fellow subjects. But it was more from want of appreciating the best way to serve that end, than from want of will to accomplish it. The Prime Minister, years ago, said that, with all their efforts, the English people had not won the heart of Ireland. The observation was as true to-day as it was when it was uttered. The national sentiment of the two peoples clashed, and what appeared insignificant to the one was looked upon as important by the other. In their opinions, with respect to the land, this point was well illustrated. Englishmen, with characteristic self-satisfaction, regarded their laws and customs with respect to the tenure of land as the common, the right, and the natural ones. They forgot altogether that the position of England was exceptional and extraordinary—that no other country was so peculiarly placed as it was by its mining and manufacturing industries. They did not realize the fact that it was the English custom that was the exception, and the Irish custom that was the rule. In other things, too, there was a curious misapprehension of the spirit of the two peoples, and, until it was harmonized, they could not hope to see a genuine, as well as a legal, union exist between the two countries. Nothing during his inquiries as to the state of affairs in Ireland had struck him more forcibly than the fact that a large percentage of the landowners were really and honestly anxious to do justly by their tenants. It was a great wrong to the Irish landowners to pass upon them an unqualified condemnation. Considering the circumstances, he had no hesitation in saying that the large landowners in Ireland were more considerate to their tenants than the same class were in England, and a good feeling existed between them. But there were others of whom the same remark could certainly not be made. These men were, for the most part, new landowners—men who had purchased property out of the Encumbered Estates Court, and had striven to get commercial interest for their money out of possessions that, in many instances, 722 were regarded as little else than luxuries. It was these land speculators and land jobbers towards whom such bitter feelings of resentment were entertained. He had seen, within the last 12 months, an illustration of the sentiment towards this class. Going to attend one of the land meetings that had been so often referred to, he passed, on his journey, on a Sunday morning, a landlord driving to church, with two armed constables in front of his carriage and two behind. He was going to a place of worship between these men, carrying loaded carbines to protect him from the dreaded attacks of his neighbours. If such an incident had been reported from other countries—say from Turkey—we should have had no end of moralization over the fact in that House; and the lesson it taught, as well as the insecurity of human life, would have been unctiously enlarged on. But it took place in Ireland, within a few hours' journey of the place they were now in, and it was unheeded. The feeling towards one section of the landowners was represented by this incident; and, towards another section, by the pleasant personal relations that, notwithstanding all the recent distress, had never been weakened. In dealing with Ireland, therefore, they should remember that what applied to one section of the country, and to one class of men, did not apply to the other. He recalled, for the benefit of the Government, an observation made more than 2,000 years ago by a Greek philosopher. He remarked that when a herd diminished, or degenerated, the fact that it did so was a condemnation of the herdsman. The remark was applied to the 30 tyrants who were then demoralizing and corrupting the people of Athens. From this homely illustration they might draw a wise political axiom, which was this—that if a people continued, not for years but for generations, not even for generations but for centuries, in a permanent state of discontent and disaffection, the existence of that disaffection and discontent was of itself a condemnation of the mode of government. It did not require argument, it simply required a repetition of the facts, to show that our government of Ireland had been a failure, from which not only the Irish people but the English also had suffered. He did not blame one Party more than the other. The entire country was responsible for it. Irish 723 politics, like foreign policy, ought not to be a question of Party. They were all interested in doing justice to the country, and in eliciting a spirit of cordiality between the two peoples. It was the duty of Parliament to give heed, irrespective of faction, to any measures that might contribute to this end.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he had listened to the hon. Gentleman below him (Mr. J. Cowen) with the greatest attention. He had seen something of Ireland himself, and had visited a great many other countries, and he could certainly say that, so far as his experience of the world went, no country amongst civilized nations was kept down by armed force to the extent that Ireland was. He said, deliberately, that the condition of Russia, of Turkey, of India, was better than Ireland in this respect. The armed force that one saw in Ireland seemed to be ubiquitous; for you could not go anywhere without seeing the constabulary. These quasi- soldiers were to be found in the most remote parts of Ireland, and he could not help thinking that this was a remarkable state of things very much to be regretted. He regretted it from a political point of view, and he thought, with the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen), that it was a sad thing it should exist. He regretted it as a ratepayer of this country, considering it hard that they, the taxpayers, should be called upon to put their hands in their pockets for the payment of this armed police. If the Motion was not to abolish it but to put upon the Irish proprietors and taxpayers the expense of maintaining it, he should agree to the proposal. There was no reason why Irishmen should not pay for the constabulary themselves, just as England and Scotland paid for their own police. He had great sympathy indeed with the Irish people, who, for centuries, had suffered great wrong at our hands. We owed them a debt of reparation, but he had no such sympathy with the Irish proprietors that he would relieve them of this expense. It was unjustifiable that the Irish proprietors should be, as they were, relieved by Englishmen and Scotchmen in this matter. As he had said before, so he would say again, that Ireland had always appeared to him to be an English Colony which had a minority of Colonists, and a majority of 724 Aborigines which were still unsubdued —still discontented. We should learn a lesson from our experience in other Colonies then—from our experience in South Africa, for instance, where we had been for 100 years. We had not had time to settle the people there, but still we were anxious to get rid of the expense of maintaining the forces necessary to keep the country in a state of tranquillity. Well, if we thought it hard in the South African Colony and elsewhere to be obliged to put our hands in our pockets to support the Colony, it certainly appeared to be hard that in this Irish Colony which we had had for 600 or 700 years the people had not sufficiently settled themselves as to be no longer a burden upon the mother country. For the future, therefore, he should be glad to see this Vote struck out of the Estimates. At the same time, the state of things was, unhappily, such at present, that the Vote was necessary, both on political grounds and on account of the religious differences which existed amongst the people in some parts of the country. But why, he would ask, was an armed force such as they found in no other country required in Ireland? As he had said before, Ireland, no doubt, had her grievances; but they must all acknowledge that justice had been done —["No, no!"]—wait and hear the end of his sentence—that justice had been done by the Liberal Government so far as the principles of English Law would permit. He would not say that they had gone farther—that the Executive legislation which had already taken place had gone beyond the principles of English law; but, although they had not gone beyond them, he thought that so far as those principles permitted they had done justice to Ireland. Notwithstanding that, their difficulties had not been diminished; on the contrary, they had been increased. And why was it? It was because they had given partial freedom to Ireland—a free Press, free elections, free trial—because they had allowed the voice of their Representatives to be heard here and elsewhere. But one thing still was wanting—namely, a m ore steadfast right to land than the Irish people had at present, and, by saying that, he did not mean free land. That being so, only two courses were open to them. Either she must be governed with a strong hand as a Crown Colony in 725 much the same way that Mr. Froude had suggested in The Nineteenth Century. ["No, no!"] He meant to say that they might govern it in that way, and he believed it would be possible. ["Never, never!"] Let them hear him out—he believed it would be possible to govern the country in that way; but, on the other hand, he believed that having conceded free trial, a free voice to their Representatives, and a free Press, to maintain their institutions and govern the country properly something further must be conceded. Having made these partial concessions within the limits of English Law, they really were not at the end of their difficulties; on the contrary, they were increasing. He was one of those, who, for some time past, had entertained the opinion that the Irish difficulty in this House was a very serious one. He had always thought that the Conservative Government had found Irish Obstruction, or persistent opposition, very useful to them; but Ministers who were anxious to go forward with the work of legislation found that persistent opposition impeded them. What had taken place that year? There were some Irish Members who were determined that something should be done beyond what the principles of English Law would allow, and those hon. Members were extremely active in opposition. He, therefore, said—"You must govern Ireland with a strong hand, and use expressive measures or adopt some heroic measure." That was his belief; he had said it before and he repeated it now, that the only way in which they could render the people of Ireland Conservative was by passing a heroic measure as to land, going far beyond the present principles of English Law, and far beyond the limit of anything hitherto attempted. If they wished to make Ireland Conservative, as the right hon. Gentlemen the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright) said the other night they must not have 10,000 proprietors in Ireland, nor 100,000, but 500,000. They must have 500,000 people interested in the state of the peace and prosperity of the country, and then Ireland might be governed without an armed police. He had said that he would not detain the Committee long, and he was anxious to keep his word; but he had one other remark to make on the subject before he sat down. 726 Those who had been brought up with a reverence for the existing principles of English Law, would look upon the creation of 500,000 landed proprietors as an extraordinary and an extravagant measure. He had studied that question a good deal, and had attended meetings on the subject in various places, and the result he had arrived at was that Ireland was the only country in Europe where cultivators of the soil had not been enfranchised. Reference had been made to the measures adopted in Russia, and France, and Belgium for the establishment of a peasant proprietary; but there was a more recent example he would refer to—namely, that of Austria. Even in Turkey they had peasant proprietors; but Austria, which was a Conservative country, and a country with which the Conservatives of England had often had sympathy, there was a peasant proprietary. Austria was not under a revolutionary government; yet throughout the Austrian dominions this great measure of enfranchisement had been carried out, and measures were approaching completion which would make almost every Austrian peasant the proprietor of the land he tilled. It was an extraordinary thing that what was done in all Conservative countries in Europe should be too revolutionary and too extravagant for a Liberal, if not a Radical, Ministry—because we had a Liberal, if not a Radical Ministry, now in power in this country. He hoped that such a measure would be carried out in the very early future; and when it was introduced, he trusted that it would be found that we could dispense with this armed police of Ireland. Ireland would have nothing more to pay for than a civil police. He really believed that we were becoming more liberal in some matters; and he and others were thoroughly convinced that if prosperity and contentment were more universally spread, there would be no more violent expressions of antipathy to Great Britain used, and if some such heroic measure as he had described were adopted, we should have a truly contented and peaceful Ireland.
§ MR. THOMASSON
said, that thoroughly disliking, as he did, the existence of an armed Constabulary in Ireland, it was with some regret that he could not see his way to oppose the Vote, He agreed with the right hon. 727 Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright) in thinking that it would be the duty of the House next Session to consider a land measure for Ireland; but, as an independent Member, he would go further, and say that if such a measure should be brought in and passed by a large majority in that House, and should be rejected by hereditary and irresponsible Legislators in "another place," he should have to consider whether he could again give his vote for the payment of this armed Constabulary. Sooner than vote for the payment under such circumstances, he would say to noble Lords, or, rather, he would wish those who were in power to say to them—"Take the government of Ireland into your own hands, come down to this honourable House, and, by any mouthpiece you can find, ask it to vote the money for the payment of this armed Constabulary and get it if you can." The House had in its hands a powerful Constitutional weapon in its right to refuse Supplies. In the judgment of the Government, and in his humble judgment also, the time had not come when it would be wise to use that weapon; but he felt that the time might come when it would be the duty of the House to consider whether it should not use that Constitutional weapon committed to its charge for the purpose of protecting the people of Ireland against an Assembly of landlords.
§ MR. WARTON
(rising at the same time as the Chief Secretary for Ireland) said, he should be sorry to stand between the Committee and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, except for one consideration—namely, that the right hon. Gentleman had already spoken in the debate, and had, moreover, made a personal allusion to him. He had listened with some pleasure to the speech of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell); but his pleasure was confined to admiration for the ingenuity of the hon. Member. The speech of the hon. Member for the City of Cork was, he thought, a fine specimen of well-sustained arguments; and, coming from that hon. Gentleman and addressed to the Chief Secretary for Ireland, was, he could not help feeling, unanswerable, because of the promises which had been so frequently made by the right hon. Gentleman, as well as of the statements which 728 had been made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, and the words used by the Prime Minister as to the country being "within a measurable distance of civil war." The hon. Member for the City of Cork was, in fact, too much for the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who seemed to be extremely desirous to go out of his way to compliment the hon. Member on the influence which he possessed in that country. He (Mr. Warton) would, however, take the liberty, with the permission of the Committee, of indicating the view which he took of the matter, which was that the promise given by the hon. Member for the City of Cork to use his influence in order to prevent, as far as he could, crime and outrage in Ireland, in the case of both men and cattle, was altogether a qualified statement, not absolute, but conditional, and depending for its performance on the acceptance by the Government of his proposal to pledge themselves to observe what the hon. Gentleman was pleased to call a policy of moderation. While the right hon. Gentleman had expressed the pleasure which he felt at hearing that part of the hon. Member's speech, he seemed to have overlooked the other passages in which the doctrine was laid down—the doctrine that resistance to the police was less criminal than the murdering of landlords and the houghing of cattle. Now, he (Mr. Warton) ventured to say that when those passages were read by the people in Ireland, they would be very likely to be taken by them, not in the same sense in which the right hon. Gentleman might take them, but as a recommendation to resist the police. If the hon. Member for the City of Cork wished to use the influence which he possessed in Ireland as a country gentleman, in a legitimate way, by all means let him do so; but if he took upon himself the position of a Leader of the Irish people, or any portion of them, he took upon himself a great responsibility. He put himself, as it were, in the place of the Government; and it was only a weak Government which, in his (Mr. War-ton's) opinion, would allow him to assume that position, and he ought, therefore, to be very careful as to the language which he used. In any case, it was the duty of the Government to stand upon a firm principle—no truca with treason.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the speech which the Committee had just heard seemed very like a remnant of past times, and gave some indication of the way in which Ireland had been governed during a great part of the last 100 years. To him it appeared to be possible, and not unreasonable, that while the law in that country was enforced, yet it might, in some respects, be altered for the better; but to the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Warton) it was evidently an excessively absurd, unwise, unstatesmanlike, and miserable course to adopt to pay the slightest attention to the views on the subject of the Representatives of a considerable portion of the Irish people. As to the Vote before the Committee, it was not, he thought, necessary to make any remarks upon it which would delay the Division which was about to betaken. He might, however, observe that there was one thing which was very evident, that the Committee had not been discussing the details of the Vote, and that, once the debate turned on the condition of Ireland, it was not easy to get it out of that groove. That that should be so was a matter which caused him no surprise, for he admitted, as readily as any Member of that House, that it was a thing not to be wondered at, or lamented, or blamed, that the Irish Members, and English Members, too, should, year after year, when the Irish Constabulary Vote came before the Committee, feel anxious to place in the strongest terms before the Committee and the country the present condition of Ireland. In much that had been said that evening, both by English and Scotch Members, he entirely concurred. He agreed in a good deal which had fallen from his hon. Friend opposite the Member for South Warwickshire (Sir Eardley Wilmot) in the course of his eloquent speech, and also in a good deal which had been said by his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen), who had endeavoured to impress upon the Committee the view that, in dealing with Irish questions, regard should be had, not merely to argument or what might be termed sound sense and a knowledge of the facts, but also to the feelings of the Irish people, with which, he maintained, it was the duty of the Government to be as far as possible in sympathy. Now, all he could say in reply to that remark was, that if he had not that 730 feeling of sympathy to which his hon. Friend referred, he should not be now trying to overcome the difficulties with which, in the position which he had the honour to hold of Chief Secretary for Ireland, he had to contend. He would, however, remind his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle, that although there was in his able speech much that was true, yet that, while he reminded the Committee that the condition of Ireland was a disgrace to the Government and to Parliament, his hon. Friend was remarkably silent as to any measures which he himself would propose to remedy the state of things of which he complained. He would beg of his hon. Friend, who had a great knowledge of Ireland, and who felt a deep interest in her welfare, to use his great powers to remove, as far as possible, those evils which resulted from the general position of the land system in that country. And now, he should like to refer for a moment to one matter which had, he thought, been lost sight of throughout the whole course of the debate. For a period of more than 30 years there had been exceptional legislation in regard to Ireland. An Arms Act, or a Peace Preservation Act, or a Coercion Act, or all three together, or two of them—as at the beginning of the present year—had, during that time, been in operation in Ireland. And now it was for the first time for 30 years that any Government had attempted to try to govern that country without the aid of those exceptional powers. He thought, therefore, that Irish Members when they complained so strongly of what the Government wanted to do, ought to bear that fact in mind, and to recollect that it was not a very easy matter for the Irish Executive to get rid of a support on which it had so long rested. It was said that the Government ought not to have that support, and the Government were of the same opinion; but certainly the position in which they were placed, by doing away with the Peace Preservation Act, was an entirely new position, and that course, he might add, had been taken in opposition to many representations which had been made to them against its adoption. The Government, therefore, had, he contended, shown a degree of boldness in the matter, for which they ought to receive some credit, seeing that they were not trying to make use of more coercive 731 powers than were absolutely necessary for the government of Ireland. It was, however, a strong measure to suggest that they should take from the police the powers of protecting life and property which they possessed, and that they should either diminish the number of the force or disarm it, especially at the very moment when, for the first time for so many years, the free importation of firearms into that country was allowed. For his own part, he must confess that it was not without anxiety that he watched the increasing importation of firearms into Ireland; but there was another point to which he wished to direct the attention of the Committee, and that was, that during the last 10 years, firearms had been used more frequently by the police in putting down disturbances arising out of foolish processions then in connection with agrarian offences. Nothing, in his opinion, was more clear than that at the recent affair at Dungannon, the police were absolutely obliged to fire upon the people. If they had not done so they must either have been themselves stoned, or, having run away, must have left the town in the possession of the mob. As the Committee would perceive, it was with proceedings of that kind that the Government had to deal; but he hoped that in the course of time the Irish Executive would be able to get rid of the necessity for using such weapons and he did not suppose anybody would be more pleased if such a result were attained than the Government which happened at the moment to be in Office. He thought, he might add there was some misapprehension in the minds of many hon. Members as to the extent to which the police in Ireland carried arms. The hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Shaughnessy) had informed the Committee that they always went through the streets of provincial towns in Ireland with arms.
§ MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY
What I said was, that when on duty they always walked through the streets with side-arms, swords, and bayonets.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he had been informed that that was not the case. He had been asked a question with respect to a large meeting which had been hold in the county of Cork. That was a meeting which was attended by the police, as it was thought they 732 ought to be present at it; but they had gone there mainly for the purpose of preventing the reporters from being molested, and, according to the statement of the sub-inspector, there were only 12 men armed simply with truncheons—a fact which, in his opinion, tended to prove that the police in Ireland went about armed more frequently with truncheons than with arms. [Mr. O'SHAUGHNESSY: No, no!] Then it was a very remarkable thing that he should have had information which differed from that of the hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY
The statement to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred only means that they did not take their rifles with them.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
begged the hon. Gentleman's pardon. The statement was that they carried truncheons only, and not swords. There was another error which he wished to correct. He had never stated that because agrarian outrages still occurred in Ireland no remedial measures would be introduced by the Government. He regretted, however, to have to state—and he knew the statement would be used against him by those who found fault with the Government for having allowed the Peace Preservation Act to lapse—that agrarian offences in Ireland had of late been on the increase. During the first seven months of last year the number of those offences averaged 48 a month; while during the first seven months of this year the number had risen to 88 a month.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he thought it was, and that he had no wish to cast any reproach on the people of Ireland. His only object was to point out to the Committee the state of things with which the Government had to deal. When the Government were asked to disarm the police, he might mention that there were persons in Ireland who had to seek their protection, and that the Government thought those persons might be shot unless they were escorted constantly by armed policemen. That was a horrible state of things, and showed that there was a great disease in the social condition of Ireland; but at the same time it did not relieve him 733 of his duty to prevent such men from being shot, while it imposed a strong duty upon the Government to try and change such a condition of affairs. The Government had endeavoured to pass the Compensation for Disturbance Bill; but that measure had been thrown out by the House of Lords, and insufficient time remained for a second measure of the kind. He thought they could not do without the armed police as they were at present constituted in Ireland; but at the same time, he was of opinion that the Government ought not to rest until they could do without such a force. Although many speeches had been delivered against the police being armed, yet he believed that if the people of Ireland themselves really wished them to be disarmed they would not see, as was more than probable, a small minority of Irish Members voting against the Government upon this question that night. The fact was that they could not do without the police; but he believed that every one who had taken part in the debate showed that he felt that the Government must not rest until they put themselves in such a position as that they should not require a force of 11,000 men who might be armed, or who, at any rate, ought to be able to act as an armed force, on constant duty for the preservation of order.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 105; Noes 29: Majority 76.—(Div. List, No. 155.)