§ MR. BIGGAR
said, his hon. Friend (Mr. Parnell) had intended to draw attention to the action of the Irish Executive in the administration of the Coercion Act; but, in the absence of the hon. Gentleman, the House would perhaps allow him to make a few observations on the subject. His hon. Friend had intended to call attention particularly to the case of the persons who had been arrested under the Suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. The Irish Members considered that the charges which had been brought against the persons so imprisoned were in most cases of a thoroughly unreliable and unreasonable nature; they considered that the Chief (Secretary, as the Representative of the 158 Government, had been entirely misled by interested parties, and they also thought that the right hon. Gentleman had been, from time to time, wanting in candour to the Irish Representatives when they made inquiries with regard to particular parties against whom these charges had been made. The part of the country he had the honour to represent (Cavan) was fortunate to this extent—that not a single individual in it had been arrested under the Coercion Act—a fact which was owing to the circumstance that the landlords in that county had not, by exacting exorbitant rents, produced a state of excitement among the people. In the neighbouring county of Leitrim, however, with which he was indirectly connected, where landlords of a different character owned the land, numerous arrests had been made. It was rather a peculiar thing that when the charges with regard to the alleged outrages were made, before the Coercion Bill was introduced by the Government, very grievous charges were made against the inhabitants of the county of Cavan; and the Bishop of the diocese, speaking on behalf of his clergy, called in question the statements made with respect to that part of Ireland. The Chief Secretary thought it his duty to direct an impertinent reply to the protest of the Bishop, and said he was in possession of much better information on the subject than the Bishop could have, and that he was convinced that the statements he had made with regard to the people of Cavan were correct. Now, the landlords in Cavan were not in the habit of charging extortionate rents. They charged full rents, and the result was that the tenants had not been driven to desperation. But, unfortunately, in the county of Leitrim the same state of things existed which, unfortunately, existed in Mayo, and in the other disturbed districts, the landlord had charged extravagant rents, and had used their powers in a very tyrannical way. The people had been driven to despair, and a substantial amount of disturbance did occur in the country. But, at the same time, although that was so in the county of Leitrim, it was very strange that neither of the three persons arrested answered the description given of the men the Coercion Act was supposed to be aimed at. In these circumstances, he thought that the Chief Secretary, as the mouth- 159 piece of the Government, was entitled to the very substantial censure of the House, unless he could give some very satisfactory explanation of his conduct; and he should ask the House to pass such a vote of censure upon that right hon. Gentleman as would make it impossible for him to continue in the Office which he had disgraced. The statements upon which the demand for coercion was based entirely broke down, because the great proportion of the charges which were embodied in the police reports were of so trivial a nature that they really were not worth taking into consideration, and did not in the most remote degree justify the exceptional measure which was passed. However, under all the circumstances of the case, seeing that, the Government entered into a most unfair and unreasonable compact with the Tory Party in that House, and to suit their political purposes they got these extensive powers. He would undertake to show that, so far as the county Leitrim was concerned, the Government had entirely misused and misapplied these powers, and did not carry out the Act in accordance with the representation which they made to that House. He would take the liberty of describing, upon very reliable authority, the history of some of the parties taken prisoners under the provisions of this so-called Peace Preservation Act, but really very tyrannical Coercion Act; and he would show, so far, at least, as the county Leitrim was concerned, that there was no justification for the Coercion Bill at all, and that the Act was carried into effect in a very tyrannical and unfair way. The parties who were taken prisoners were perfectly different from the sort of persons described in the application of the Government for these exceptional powers, and were not at all likely to commit the offences charged. He would also point out that they were a class of persons exceedingly easy for the police to watch if they were likely to commit these outrages. In the majority of cases they were occupying farmers or shopkeepers in the towns who were within walking distance, or within a few yards of the police barracks. With regard to Mr. Burke, of Dublin Castle, to whom the Chief Secretary had given a most glowing character, the fact was that Mr. Burke was a rack-renting landlord himself, and had a direct interest in keeping 160 up these extraordinary powers which were protested against by the Irish. Members. He would go through the number of persons (12) who were arrested in the county Leitrim. The first name on the paper was Mr. Thomas M'Givney, a spirit and provision dealer, of Drumkeerin, county Leitrim. The charge against Mr. M'Givney was that he was "reasonably suspected" of being guilty of unlawfully assembling with others for the purpose of disturbing the public peace. Mr. M'Givney was perfectly well known to all the Constabulary in his own district; and if he was a member of an assembly calculated to create terror among Her Majesty's subjects, nothing was easier than for the police to take him prisoner at once if they caught him in the act, bring him before a magistrate, and have him committed for trial. He was arrested in the dead of the night. It was exceedingly doubtful in this case whether or not the accused was guilty of any crime whatever. One of the conditions under which the Act was passed was that the party arrested should be charged with being guilty of an indictable offence, or inciting others to commit an indictable offence. Thomas Shanley was certainly not one of the village tyrants described by the Chief Secretary. He was a large farmer. The rent of the farm occupied by him was £50 a-year. The Government valuation was only £35. He was a tenant of Lord Granard. He was sent to prison because he was not very willing to pay an exorbitant rent to Lord Granard. He was charged with having endeavoured with divers others to disturb the public peace and prevent the execution of law processes. The next person on the list was Michael Kelly. He was charged with beating another man; but if he beat another man why did not the other man prosecute him? An excuse for arresting him under the provisions of the Coercion Act was altogether wanting, and the powers put into operation against him were contrary to the contention on which the Government got the House to pass the measure. The next case was that of John M'Murray, a National School teacher, who was arrested because he was supposed to encourage the Land League, which was distasteful to the local magistrates. The specific charge against him was that he participated in a riotous 161 and unlawful assembly; but it was altogether unreasonable to suppose that a man so well known in the neighbourhood—a man receiving Government pay—would take part in an assembly of that sort. The next case on the list was Patrick M'Manus, of Drumshambo, county Leitrim, who was charged with taking part in a riotous assembly. All that was proved against him was that he took a prominent part in the land agitation. Of course he did. He saw his neighbours being robbed and plundered by landlords in the most iniquitous manner, and he naturally took their part. In fact, the Government might as well arrest on suspicion any person who had dared to criticize the conduct of landlords. So far as he could see, there was not a single prisoner from county Leitrim whose arrest was in any way justifiable. There were no threatening letters and no secret offences, and any sensible Government would have merely summoned the alleged offenders before the magistrates. If that had been done an immense amount of time would have been spared in that House, and then Irish Members would have had an opportunity of really criticizing the Laud Bill instead of allowing it to pass through the House with undue haste. The Government had been guilty of grievous and gross misconduct in wasting so much time over the Coercion Bill, the result of which had proved that it was entirely uncalled for, and would never have been passed if the facts as to the condition of Ireland had been stated in the House. The next case was that of Mr. William Elliott, who was charged on suspicion of assault and robbery. That was a very serious offence, and might have justified the man's arrest; but the people in the neighbourhood believed it was for obstructing a rack-renting landlord. Another of the persons who had been arrested was a tenant of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Tottenham), the Conservative Member for Leitrim, and had to pay an exorbitant rent. He had assisted some tenants who had been evicted, and, of course, he was obnoxious to the landlords in the district. On the suggestion of that hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland was induced to allow an unreasonable provision with regard to legal distress to be introduced into the Irish Land Bill without a single argument being raised in favour of that 162 proposal in the House. The next case was that of another person who was also a tenant of the hon. Gentleman's. His rent was £22 15s. 0d.; Government valuation, £17 10s. 0d. He was one of those unfortunate people who had to pay exorbitant rents, though not so exorbitant as some other landlords exacted, and he merely assisted some evicted tenants, which, of course, made him obnoxious to the landlord. The next person on the list was Patrick M'Glone, son of a tenant farmer. He lived with his father on his holding, and his father had refused to pay more than Griffith's valuation. No doubt it was on that account that he had been considered a dangerous man, because he refused to pay more than a fair and reasonable rent. Then there was Charles Nelson, a tenant of Captain M'Dermott; and the reason, he thought, he was arrested was because he was suspected of taking an active part in the "Boycotting" of certain parties in authority. This Captain M'Dermott, who represented the Crown in county Clare, encouraged rack-renting, and got the people in such a state of discontent that it was not to be wondered at if they did things they would not have done under other circumstances. Not one single case was made out why the Government should have put those persons into prison, because they were all cases in which, if they had been guilty, the evidence was within the reach of the authorities. Nothing in the shape of damage was done, and all that was known against them was that they were members of an assembly which had frightened people who, having guilty consciences, conceived they were going to suffer greater punishment than was actually inflicted upon them. He now came to the cases of persons with whom he was personally acquainted, and of whom he could speak from his own knowledge. The first was that of Mr. Charles O'Beirne, of Ballinamore, Leitrim, a friend of his. He was charged with inciting people to acts of violence. He was a shopkeeper in the town, a farmer and a cattle dealer, who went to all the places round the district in which he lived. He was well known, was a man of high personal character, and was not likely to run the risk of ruining his position in life by doing that which he was charged with. The alleged threats with which that man was charged were 163 not put into the documents before them, and they were certainly entitled to have some evidence of charges made by the Government. Charles O'Beirne was not at all the sort of man who was likely to be concerned in underhand dealings, or to do anything of an illegal nature in a surreptitious manner. He was a man on a small scrap of land, and was not likely to be actuated by any personal or interested motive. It was all but impossible that he could have been guilty of being concerned in anything of the kind he was charged with. The next person in the same district to whom he would refer was John Gilloogly, a farmer paying a rent of £20, and a voter for the county. This was another case in which there was not the slightest justification for the proceedings taken. There was reason to believe he was taken into custody on false information. There was not the slightest doubt he was connected with the Land League; but that was an organization which was held by all the best authorities to be a perfectly legal one. If he had been guilty of a criminal offence, nothing would have been easier than to obtain evidence against him. It was stated that he was concerned in assaulting some person, whose name was not given; and, perhaps, there had been no assault at all committed. The case of Peter Reilly was slightly different. Reilly was only a herd, and he was charged with unlawfully assembling with others to break into a dwelling-house; but it did not appear whether the house was empty or not. It seemed he was charged with assaulting the house. There could not have been sufficient ground on which to base a charge of the sort. The next person charged in this indictment was another personal friend of his, Mr. Philip Brady, an exceedingly respectable man, who had been a Poor Law Guardian for a great number of years, and who was very well known. This was quite as strong a case of injustice as that of Charles O'Beirne. He was the last person in the world likely to commit an assault or to incite other persons to commit an assault. He was known to everyone in the neighbourhood. The resident magistrate had lodged in his house, and he was not a man who was likely to run away from justice. He was accused of assembling with others to attack dwelling-houses; but, though he had certainly taken an 164 active part in the land agitation, that was no reason why he should be charged with an offence of which he was innocent, nor why, if the Government had any evidence against him, they should not attempt to produce it before the magistrates. He had had occasion to complain to the Chief Secretary of the treatment of these Ballinamore prisoners at Mullingar. The reply he received from the Chief Secretary was, no doubt, the reply of the police authorities, but which was perfectly false and unfounded. The right hon. Gentleman, when questioned, said that Philip Brady and others got leave to have a room in the police barracks, and, in point of fact, to send a large number of telegrams to friends, so that a demonstration could take place at the railway stations between Mullingar and Ballinamore.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, what he and other Members understood the right hon. Gentleman to say was that which appeared in the newspaper report of his speech, and perhaps he had said something different from what he thought he said. He was inclined to think the right hon. Gentleman's memory was somewhat defective.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
repeated, that what he said was that these prisoners had not leave to send telegrams to their friends.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, the complaint was that these prisoners were removed from the Mullingar station to the lock-up attached to the police barracks. That was done without any reason, for there was no attempt to rescue the prisoners. The manner in which the prisoners had been treated was contrary to the stated intentions of the Government when the Coercion Act was passed, for it had never been anticipated that they should be subjected to any personal indignity and annoyance. Instead of being allowed to rest in a comfortable manner after a long journey, when they arrived at the gaol they found it in such a state that they were unable even to sit down. The right hon. Gentleman ought not to attempt to screen the head constable who had thus treated the prisoners in his power at Mullingar. It had been alleged by the Government that all that was required was that the arrested persons should be placed in. a place of safe con- 165 finement, and prevented from committing any breach of the law; but certainly these men had not been so treated, and he did not think the Chief Secretary was justified in the course he had taken. In conclusion, he had shown that, as far as the county of Leitrim was concerned, there was not the slightest warrant for the proceedings which had been adopted under the provisions of the Coercion Act, that the Act itself was without justification, and that the Government would do well to release every one of these prisoners, unless it could bring some substantial bonâfide charge against them.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, he rose to support the observations of the hon. Member for Cavan, and he gave Notice that he would move that the Irish Government had exceeded their duty under the Coercion Act in arresting so many persons without sufficient cause. His own county (Limerick) had attained an unenviable notoriety under the Act, and more persons were arrested under the Act in that county than in any other.
§ MR. WARTON
rose to Order. He had understood the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) to say when he rose that he would move the Resolution which stood in the name of the hon. Member for the City of Cork.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
also rose to Order, and said that he had been sitting closer to the hon. Member for Cavan than the hon. and learned Member for Bridport, and he felt bound to say that he made no such statement, because it was understood that the hon. Member for the City of Cork would move his Amendment himself.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, he would speak simply on the Question that the Speaker do leave the Chair. He thought be was quite in Order in following the hon. Member for Cavan.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, he understood a Notice of Motion had been given by the hon. Member for the City of Cork.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member does not understand. When he rose I understood him to give Notice of moving an Amendment. Was that not so?
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, it was; and, if necessary, he would move that the Irish Government had exceeded the powers intrusted to them under the Protection of Person and Property (Ireland) Act. In his county a larger number of men had been arrested than deserved to be arrested in any form. In his parish the Rev. Father Sheehy was arrested. Father Sheehy was a priest of the highest order of intelligence and a hardworking priest, who saw the people at the mercy of the rack-renting and exterminating landlords, and who did all he could to prevent the people from being driven out as they were driven out in 1847 and 1848. It was a very hard case that under the present Liberal Government a priest had been arrested. In 1867 over 1,000 persons were arrested under a Tory Administration under the provisions of the coercive measures of that day; but not one out of that number was a priest. In that year 45 persons were arrested from his parish alone; but not a single priest was then arrested in all Ireland. Most of the persons who were now arrested he knew to be industrious, hard working, respectable men, most of them being large farmers, some tradesmen, and others professional men. He did not know one out of the whole lot who he thought would be guilty of a breach of the peace, or of otherwise bringing himself within the power of the law. One of the first to be arrested was Mr. Henry Gilberson, a large farmer and auctioneer, who held the position of vice-chairman of the Kilmallock Union, as a prisoner he still retained the position. The next was a farmer named Thomas O'Donnell, who had been arrested for some reason he could not ascertain, except that the Warrant charged him with trying to induce a tenant to give up his holding. He held a rack-rented farm, for which he paid £126 a-year, the Government valuation of the farm being only £71 10s. After the harvest of 1879, a writer in The Irish Times signing himself "County Limerick Landlord" referred to the splendid crops on this farm, and how foolish it was to say the tenants could not pay their rents. He (Mr. O'Sullivan) 167 maintained that there was not one title of truth in that statement, and in this particular farm it was impossible for the tenant to pay the large rent which had been charged. Upon a calculation which he had made upon one small crop of oats of the value of £10 12s. 4d., it appeared that he would sustain a loss of £l 3s. 8d. Three other large and industrious farmers—named Slattery, Collins, and M'Carthy, two of whom were married men—had also been taken away from their families and their business and cast into prison, the only reason for it being that they were members of the local Land League. Another man who was arrested was James W. Joyce, than whom, in the whole district of Kilmallock, there was not a better husband, father, or son, and who, without exception, was the last man in the whole neighbourhood to be suspected of any crime. The men who had been arrested were about the best class of men in the county, and were not the "village ruffian" class for whom coercion was intended. The next case was that of Denis Hannigan, a bank official, who had lost his situation through weak eyesight. This was the man the Chief Secretary sent into Kilmainham to gaze at whitewashed walls.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
I wish to inform the hon. Gentleman that that gentleman has been liberated from custody.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, they were thankful for small mercies. William Kennedy was arrested because the footboard of a car on which was a flighty lady was struck with a stone. It was said a shot was fired, but this was nonsense. Two very remarkable cases were those of Daniel Reardon and Francis Allen. He had made every inquiry, and he could not find any other ground for their arrest than that they refused cars to Mr. Clifford Lloyd and to the police, on which to attend evictions. It was the greatest possible cruelty and injustice to keep Reardon in custody. He was a large contractor, and had several contracts on hand, and no one to look after them. It was true that Mr. Michael Tobin kindly undertook to look after the business; but he himself was arrested a week after Mr. Reardon. There were two other cases—those of Andrew Mortal and Edmond O'Neill— and in respect of them he challenged 168 the Chief Secretary to say that Mr. Clifford Lloyd had not caused them to be arrested to gratify his own private vindictiveness. Under the Warrant they were charged with extorting money by means of intimidation; but what was the head and front of their offending? A man had been fined £3 3s. for standing in the street by this magistrate, and the people said they should not allow him to go to gaol. Mortal and O'Neill asked for subscriptions, and for this they were arrested under the Warrant of the Lord Lieutenant. What was this but odious tyranny? The subscribers had sent him a written declaration that they gladly subscribed; but the Chief Secretary was so fond of backing up Mr. Clifford Lloyd that the men were still in prison. Now, he challenged the Chief Secretary to state to the House distinctly whether there was any other charge than the one he had stated against these two innocent and respectable men—men far more honourable than Clifford Lloyd. He said it was a shame for the Government to allow this oppressor and tyrant to gratify his vindictive nature. If these two cases only stood alone the Government was condemned before the Irish people. John Ryan, a large farmer, had been arrested, and the only reason he (Mr. O'Sullivan) could discover for his apprehension was that there were some law proceedings between him and the gamekeeper of a neighbouring gentleman, and he had incurred the displeasure of this gentleman. There were one or two other cases of unreasonable arrest. But he could not now recollect them. Now that the Land Bill had passed he hoped it would be a message of peace to Ireland; and, as far as he was concerned, he would do all in his power to induce the people to make use of it; but there could be no peace or contentment in the country as long as hundreds of people were unjustly imprisoned, and he hoped, therefore, that the Government would lose no time in releasing the prisoners.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
I will move, if I am in Order, the Amendment that stands in the name of the hon. Member for the City of Cork.
§ After a slight pause,
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, if the hon. Member declines to move the Amendment of which he has himself given Notice, it is not for me to force him to do so; but I am bound to say that, having addressed the House on the understanding that he would move that Amendment, if he does not he is acting disrespectfully to the House.
§ MR. DAWSON
complained of the placing of Dublin under the Act. Of the many outrages perpetrated by the Chief Secretary in his administration of Irish affairs, this was the most flagrant and atrocious outrage of them all. The number of "suspects" in Dublin was only seven or eight in a population approaching 400,000, and the character of the cases was still weaker than the numbers. A carpenter, named John Challoner, was suspected, but immediately discharged. Thomas Goodwin, a waiter, and not a member of the Land League, was arrested upon suspicion of being connected with the recent shooting case. That, however, would come within the category of ordinary crime; and, therefore, ought not to come within the provisions of the Coercion Act. John Ryan was arrested on the frivolous charge of inducing people to join the Land League, and George Marshall, a student, 21 years of age, was arrested on reasonable suspicion of being an accessory to an assault in a dwelling-house. Cornelius Nichols was arrested on an equally frivolous charge, but was acquitted. Some of these cases only showed that this exceptional legislation had been taken advantage of to arrest people who did not come legally within its purview. Hon. Gentlemen would hardly think it possible that in the Metropolis of Ireland, notwithstanding all the microscopic inspection on the part of the Government, only one "dissolute ruffian" had been found. They had heard of a city which was to be saved if a few honest men could be found in it; but here a city was condemned because in its population of 400,000 one person was found, not guilty, but suspected. He denounced the proclamation of the city of Dublin as a gross and wanton outrage, and m insult which would not soon be forgiven Her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, the Resolution of which he had given Notice on the 170 Civil Service Estimates, Class II., was to call attention to the action of the Irish Executive in the administration of the Coercion Act; and to move—That, in the opinion of this House, this Act has not been administered in accordance with the declarations made and pledges given by Ministers when the assent of the House was being obtained for the suspension of the Constitution in Ireland.He had designedly made the Motion of a narrow character, because he thought it of importance that they should have an opportunity of going into the case of the persons arrested under the Lord Lieutenant's Warrant by the Chief Secretary, and of confining their whole attention to their case and to the administration of the Coercion Act. If the question of the entire action of the Irish Executive, in administering the general law and their general duties in Ireland, were brought into question it would divert attention from the case of those prisoners, which was one worthy of the closest scrutiny and examination. He proposed to prove that the Coercion Act had not been administered in accordance with the declarations made and the pledges given by Ministers when the assent was being obtained to the suspension of the Constitution in Ireland, and he proposed to prove that by a short examination of the speech of the Chief Secretary in moving the first reading of the Bill. He should contrast the nature of that speech and the grounds then put forward for asking the House of Commons to assent to the Bill with the result of the working of the Act as they found it—in the character and standing of the men arrested, and the nature of the offences for which they had been charged. In moving the first reading of the Coercion Act, the Chief Secretary based his principal claim to exceptional powers on the fact that a very large number of outrages had been committed in Ireland, and that they were rapidly mounting up day after day. But he went on to say—It is not merely the number of the outrages that is the most alarming feature; but it is their effect, arising from their character. We must consider their character, their object, and their effect. Now, the chief characteristic of these outrages is intimidation, and the object is obedience to certain commands which have been issued, especially commands not to take farms, and not to pay rent, which have been issued by the Land League."—[3 Hansard, cclvii. 1210.]171 And then he went on to describe the character of these outrages, and in his powerful speech he, no doubt, made a great impression on the House when describing the character of the outrages; and he said—Then comes the threatening letters, which the law considers an offence, and visits with a heavy punishment, even amounting in some cases, I believe, to penal servitude."—[Ibid. 1211.]He proposed to show that very few of the persons, comparatively speaking, had been arrested for the classes of offences which the right hon. Gentleman laid special stress upon when introducing the Bill. If hon. Gentlemen would examine the list for themselves, they would find that very few indeed of the persons had been arrested for sending threatening letters; and, therefore, that disposed of one class of offences upon which the right hon. Gentleman relied. Of the 192 arrests, only 14 were arrested for sending threatening letters or notices. Then the Chief Secretary went on to comment upon the outrages upon property. He said—There are two forma in which these outrages are specially committed—incendiary fires, burning down hayricks or cabins, and the maiming of cattle. Now, incendiary fires, and the outrages connected with incendiary fires, have very largely increased."—[Ibid. 1212.]And the right hon. Gentleman produced certain statistics. Of every class there numbered only 87 crimes. He (Mr. Parnell) found in his analysis of the number of persons arrested that the arrests for the maiming of cattle were only eight. The "dissolute ruffians" all over Ireland were eight. He also found that not more than four or five persons had been arrested on suspicion of arson. Nothing had done more to incite public indignation in England against the Irish National Land League than the charges which had been brought forward, and which were endeavoured to be substantiated by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) upon the introduction of the Bill, relating to the maiming of cattle and the houghing of innocent and unoffending animals. In 1880, the right hon. Gentleman said the number of cases of maiming of cattle amounted to 101, and that 64 of those cases occurred in the last three months of the year—the highest number since 1845, when the population was nearly 172 twice as large as now. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say—
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must point out to the House that the hon. Member is citing speeches made by the right hon. Gentleman during the current Session. That, as the House knows, would, strictly speaking, be out of Order; but as the hon. Member calls in question the administration of the Act, possibly the House will extend its indulgence to him.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he should be exceedingly sorry if, by any strict interpretation of the Rules of the House, the hon. Member was prevented proceeding with his speech.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, of course he should be very sorry to do anything out of Order; but he desired to remind the House that he brought the speech of the right hon. Gentleman within the terms of his Motion—that the administration of the Act had not been in accordance with "the declarations made and pledges given" by Ministers. However, with the permission of the House, he would proceed. He had very nearly finished the extracts to which he wished to refer. Referring to night visits, the right hon. Gentleman drew a very highly-coloured picture of one of these night visits to which the law-abiding people of Ireland were supposed to be nightly exposed in every part of the country. If hon. Members would refer to the Return to which he had already referred of the persons detained and of the offences with which they were charged, they would find that of the 192 persons arrested very few were arrested on suspicion of those night visits or similar offences of which so much had been made by the right hon. Gentleman. Then the right hon. Gentleman had gone on to describe cases of firing into houses, and of the substantiation received from the Constabulary of the frequency of those night visits. He had said that if there were such powers as were asked for the unwritten law of the Land League would become an empty form; and as to the men without whose help the hon. Members for Cavan, the City of Cork, and their friends, would be perfectly harmless—the men who struck terror into whole districts—the right hon. Gentleman said he would strike 173 terror into them; outrages would be stopped, persons and property protected. Those were the criminals whom it was intended to arrest. They could not be arrested then; but with the necessary powers they would be able to do so. It was not that the police did not know who those "village tyrants" were. They knew them perfectly well. But why had not the right hon. Gentleman arrested them? Those village tyrants were still at large; the police did not know them, and the right hon. Gentleman had not arrested them. The Act had failed for the ostensible purpose for which it was passed. It had not failed for the purposes for which it had almost entirely been used—namely, putting down public opinion in Ireland and stopping peaceable and Constitutional agitation, and setting up a reign of terrorism in the minds of every peaceably disposed person in the country who desired to take part in that agitation. The right hon. Gentleman then went on to speak of persons who had taken advantage of the condition of the country for their own purposes, and then of the "mauvais sujets" of particular districts. These men, he said, were shunned by every respectable person; but were, nevertheless, powerful policemen in support of the unwritten law. The Government took powers to arrest those men and to prevent them from tyrannizing over their neighbours. Now, he wished to show what had been the working of the Act with respect to the class of outrage which the right hon. Gentleman desired to put an end to. He would first refer to the county of Mayo, where the land movement first commenced, and which he represented for a short while after the General Election; and he would inquire into the character and description of the men who had actually been arrested, and he would compare their character and description with the character and description which the right hon. Gentleman gave of them before he obtained those powers. He had called them "mauvais sujets," "dissolute ruffians," and "village tyrants," and so forth. Turning to the list of those arrested in the county of Mayo and their professions, he found that out of the 22 who had been arrested in Mayo, and who were still retained in prison, all belonged to most respectable trades and occupations, with the exception of one 174 who was returned as having no occupation. Seven were farmers, five labourers, one a land steward, one a newspaper correspondent, one a baker, three shopkeepers, two shoemakers, and one tailor. There was thus only one to whom the Chief Secretary's description could possibly have applied. On those 22 men 100 women and children were dependent for their support. One man had a family of nine, another of 10, another of six, and so on; and all these families were left without support. He must complain again, as he frequently did before, in the very strongest manner, of the refusal of the right hon. Gentleman to give more information than he had done in the Warrants as to the offences with. which these persons had been charged. The Chief Secretary gave as his reason the dangers which might ensue to the witnesses and persons on whose information the arrests took place. Another reason was that the Government did not wish to release themselves from responsibility and throw that responsibility on the House of Commons. A third reason was that it would take up too much of the time of the House of Commons. He did not himself think the House of Commons would by any means be released from the responsibility which attached to it. Besides, that statement of the Chief Secretary clashed with the undertaking given by the Prime Minister on the first reading of the Coercion Bill, that every arrest might be challenged on the floor of the House. The Irish Members were thus placed at a great disadvantage in consequence of the Chief Secretary's refusal; and the prisoners were placed at a disadvantage, because they did not know with what offences they were really charged, and when or where those offences were stated to have been committed. Those prisoners were absolutely ignorant of the first conditions necessary to enable them to prove their innocence. He would next examine in detail the cases of the Mayo suspects, so far as he was able to do so by the aid of the local inquiries which had been made. The first case was that of Thomas Towey, farmer. He regretted the wearisome nature of the references he felt it his duty to make; but the House would bear in mind that the Irish Members had remained almost silent during the whole Session in reference to the case of these men, and that the Session was now 175 coming to an end. One hundred and ninety-two of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland were looking forward to being detained throughout the Winter without trial or opportunity offered for establishing their innocence, and it was a far more dreary thing than the references they made for these men to pass month after month in prison separated from their families and friends. To return to the case of Thomas Towey. He was detained in Galway Prison. The opinion of the locality as to his arrest was that it was in consequence of his having expressed an opinion that some farmers had paid their rents privately. He found in the Return that Towey was "reasonably suspected" of inciting persons in divers places not to pay their rents. That was a totally different offence from the real one, so far as he had been able to ascertain. The next case was that of Patrick Duffy, whose family numbered 10. He was charged with arson in a prescribed district. Duffy was a baker, and was at present in hospital. Duffy had been charged with the offence before the magistrates; but the charge had been dismissed for want of even primâ facie evidence. It was well known that the magistrates would be bound to commit for trial if there was even an apparent foundation of truth in the charge. The right hon. Gentleman, not satisfied with that, put himself in the position of a juror, arrested the man for an offence for which he had practically stood his trial, and put him into prison again. The real reason assigned for his arrest by persons in the locality was that he assisted evicted families after their eviction. The next case was that of Patrick Feerick, a tenant farmer and labourer, who was charged in the Warrant with being reasonably suspected of having been guilty of murder. He found that a magisterial investigation had been held into this charge, with the result that no foundation existed for it in the opinion of the local magistrates, who dismissed it. Immediately afterwards he was arrested by the right hon. Gentleman on evidence of which they knew nothing. The local opinion was that the reason for his arrest was that he had incited people to join the Land League. Then came the case of John Dunleavy, a tenant farmer and road contractor. His occupation was evidence that he was a respectable and substantial man. He 176 was "reasonably suspected" of assembling with others for the purpose of maliciously assaulting a dwelling-house and beating persons therein. That phrase, "maliciously assaulting a dwelling-house," seemed to be coined for the express purpose of this Act.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, it was a statutable offence.
§ MR. PARNELL
supposed it was under a very old statute—probably under the Whiteboy Act. The public opinion of the district was that he was arrested on account of a malicious feeling of the landlords of the district against him, because they found that owing to his action the tenants were unwilling to go into debt for the purpose of borrowing from the shopkeepers and others money sufficient to enable them to pay impossible rents. Then followed the case of Thomas Quinn, of Claremorris, who was suspected of arson. He was "reasonably suspected" of inciting persons to burn a certain house with the intent to injure persons therein. Mr. Quinn himself had written to him very strongly several times with regard to the case. He said the reason, in his belief, and in that of the people of the locality, for his arrest was his action at a Coroner's inquest held at Cloreen, when a verdict of manslaughter against a policeman was given. He (Mr. Parnell) might remark that on several occasions men who had dared to give evidence against policemen and sub-Inspectors had been very shortly afterwards arrested under the Coercion Act and thrust into prison. He said also that he gave evidence against the local sub-Inspector in an action of seduction which had been brought against the sub-Inspector, for which he was cast in damages. Almost immediately afterwards Quinn was arrested. It was obvious that the Lord Lieutenant's Warrant was issued almost exclusively on information supplied by policemen and constables, and that case showed what grave suspicion there might be in some cases that the power of the police might be directed to suit their own private ends. He would next refer to the case of Patrick Gordon, who was a man of very eccentric character. Undoubtedly, his language had been strong and extreme, and such as no one ought to have used; but he was permitted to go on using this language at meeting 177 after meeting during the term of Office of the present Chief Secretary and that of Mr. Lowther, and he naturally supposed that his words were not contrary to the law. He (Mr. Parnell) did not wish, in the slightest degree, to defend the language used at any of these meetings. He considered that the language was most reprehensible, and should have been stopped by the Government of the day; but they never stopped him as they might have done by bringing him before the magistrates, and they chose to include him in the State prosecution in Dublin, when the Judge told the jury that unless they convicted all of the traversers they were not entitled to convict him. He was arrested under the Coercion Act. On his way to prison, two policemen swore that he made use of language from the window of the railway carriage inciting those who were listening to him to murder a certain landlord. He was brought before the magistrates and convicted, and sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment with hard labour. Gordon was a very delicate man. He had six in family depending upon him, and the conduct of the Government in his case had been of a very vindictive character. The evidence upon which he was convicted was exceedingly slight, and was, in fact, contradicted in a negative way by respectable witnesses. Gordon, upon the whole, had been very badly treated. The Government allowed him to go on for months, and in fact years, using strong language, of which there could be no doubt, and when they put him into prison they proceeded against him for words spoken in the heat of anger, which nobody paid any attention to, which were not reported in the newspapers, and in reference to the use of which there was the greatest possible doubt. The next case was that of John Nally and Richard Nally. They were charged with shooting at and wounding a Mr. Heard; and though the magistrates before whom they were brought refused to return them for trial, because of the absence even of a primâ facie case, the Chief Secretary in London considered that he had evidence enough to justify him as a juror in practically finding them guilty of an offence of which they were previously practically acquitted. The next case was that of Thomas Daly. He was charged with 178 intimidation, and had been imprisoned since the 11th of March. The public opinion in the locality was that he was arrested because he prevented tenants from paying rack-rents. Michael Sheridan, who had 10 in family, was arrested because he was supposed to have refused to work for a land-grabber. He was a shoemaker, and in his case what had ceased to be an offence in England had been made the ground of arrest and imprisonment. The grounds of the arrest of Thomas Madden, John King, Thomas Winters, Patrick Moran, and Patrick Hession were equally vague and untenable, and the public opinion in the locality was that they were imprisoned because of their connection and sympathy with the Land League. Mr. Joseph B. Walsh, of Castlebar, was arrested on suspicion for an offence which had ceased to be illegal in England; and Mr. Daniel O'Connor, of Irishtown, was arrested because he was the most popular man in the locality, and, consequently, an object of special detestation to the Chief Secretary for Ireland. In all the list of cases from the county Mayo he found that hardly one person had been arrested on suspicion of having committed any of the offences mentioned by the Chief Secretary in introducing the Coercion Act; in fact, in every case the Government had used the Coercion Act, not against village tyrants and ruffians, but against the local leaders, undoubtedly a much more fatal and a very much more dangerous way of using it if their object was to put down the Constitutional agitation of the Land League; but if the object was to put an end to crimes of violence and outrage, their action directly tended to perpetuate and encourage, nay, almost to render inevitable, those very crimes, because they removed the restraints which the presence of the local leaders imposed on the humbler classes of the community. From all parts of Ireland they heard that the secretaries, treasurers, and other officers of the local branches of the Land League were marked out as the victims of this law. The most respectable man in the locality, the moment he took part in the land agitation, was seized and cast into prison. He did not know why it was that the Chief Secretary had not arrested any of those who were suspected of being concerned in the outrages which he prominently mentioned 179 at first. Comparatively few had been arrested for firing into dwelling-houses, for arson, for houghing cattle, or for any other offences which were dwelt upon by the right hon. Gentleman with such tragic force when he was moving the first reading of the Bill. He (Mr. Parnell) imagined that all his police, whom the right hon. Gentleman had threatened to arrest, were still at large, and that on his return to Ireland he would find them in the enjoyment of liberty. He supposed when the right hon. Gentleman came to measure his prison space he found that he had not room for all those whom he described as his (Mr. Parnell's) police, and that the accommodation at his disposal would be sufficiently taxed by the local leaders, whom he arrested in every direction. The Act had been misused—it had been abused, and it had been employed for purposes which the right hon. Gentleman undertook never to use it for. It had been used for putting down open speaking which was taking place in the presence of Government reporters. It had been used for the purpose of preventing the collection of subscriptions to defend men brought to trial unjustly. It had been used to prevent advice being given from one neighbourhood to another, which by the Chief Secretary had been held to be intimidation. It had been used in every form to exasperate the people against English rule in Ireland; and one of the results of this Act and of its administration in Ireland would be to perpetuate that hatred between the two peoples. The Government had done their best to alienate the sympathies of the Irish people and to prevent any gratitude attaching to their action in bringing in the Land Bill and any advantage that might be derived from it. Had they trusted the Irish people, had they at the commencement of the Session proposed this measure of Land Reform, a very different reception would have awaited it to that which awaited it at present. The people had practically gained by their own exertions far more benefits than English legislation could confer on them. They therefore considered that they had to thank the Government for nothing. It was a well-known fact that were it not for the existence of the Land League and the determination of the Irish people not all the strength of that House and all the force of public 180 opinion in England could have forced the Land Bill through the House of Lords. He thought, therefore, the Irish people would be wise if they continued to the end to rely upon those exertions which had produced for them such an instalment of their just rights. He begged to move the Resolution which stood in his name.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, the Protection of Person and Property (Ireland) Act has not been administered in accordance with the declarations made and pledges given by Ministers when the assent of the House was being obtained for the suspension of the Constitution in Ireland,"—(Mr. Parnell,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. LALOR
, in supporting the Motion, said, he should not detain the House long; but he felt bound to say a few words, inasmuch as in the Queen's County, which he had the honour to represent, there had been several arrests under the provisions of the Coercion Act. He was bold enough to assert—-and he spoke from personal knowledge—that the Queen's County was the most peaceable district in the whole United Kingdom. It had a population of, in round numbers, 70,000, of whom seven, or one in every 10,000, had been put in gaol under the Coercion Act. Among these there were three young men of the name of Doran, who resided in the town of Maryborough. One was a shopkeeper, a peaceable, respectable man, with as high a character as any man in England. No doubt, he had joined the Land League agitation, and when he came out of gaol he would join it again; but as to being guilty of intimidation, either against the community or against the laws of the country, he was absolutely free from it. The next brother was also a most peaceable young man, scarcely ever attending public meetings. But he happened to be the local secretary of the Land League, and that was all. The third was a young farmer, and they were all arrested on the charge of unlawfully assembling with others, to the terror of Her Majesty's subjects, for the purpose of disturbing the public 181 peace and intimidating persons from bidding at a sheriff's sale. But if these met) had committed any crime at the sale, they did it in the presence of the police, the sheriff, and the magistrate; and there should have been evidence enough to convict them at the next Petty Sessions. Why had the authorities not taken that course? Simply because they knew they could not sustain the charge against them. And so these young men were incarcerated out of compliment to some landlord. They committed no crime. They attended the auction with, perhaps, the intention of discountenancing such sales, but nothing more. Another of the suspects, a namesake of his own, happened to be under the ban of his landlord, because he was unable to pay his rent; and a few days after he was evicted the magistrates took it into their heads that he was a dangerous character, and locked him up on the charge of arson. The fire occurred on a neighbouring holding, and the neighbours were of opinion that the occupier of that holding, an old man of 80, who was in the habit of drinking rather freely, went out with a candle to attend to his cattle, and a few minutes afterwards the fire was discovered, and the out-house was burnt down. Young Lalor was arrested; but there was just as good reason for arresting any other man in the county. In another case, a man was arrested on suspicion of sending threatening letters; but, as his handwriting was well known, the case could easily have been proved against him if there had been any ground for it. But, while the Queen's County was generally peaceable, it had latterly become notorious for the acts of men opposed to the Land League. Some weeks ago, one of them, named Stanley, chastised some children who hooted him, and, the father having remonstrated with him, he deliberately shot the father. Another such man shot a boy 13 years of age. From the beginning to the end there was no justice in the Government of Ireland; and he was surprised that in the 19th century an English Parliament should have been capable of passing such unjust Acts as these Coercion Acts that were now in force in Ireland.
§ MR. DALY
said, that, intentionally or unintentionally, the Irish Executive had deceived Parliament by making the 182 existence of "dissolute ruffians," "village blackguards," and "mauvais sujets" the excuse for the Coercion Act. The persons arrested under the Act in the city and county of Cork included many of whom he had an intimate personal knowledge; and, so far from being "dissolute ruffians" or "village blackguards," they were persons of substance and respectability, and the friends of law and order. Of the 19 persons imprisoned in the city and county of Cork seven were farmers—many of them large and substantial farmers—one was a shoemaker, five were shopkeepers, one a draper's assistant, one a law clerk, one a student, one a commercial gentleman, representing a large and influential firm in England, one a labourer, and two whose occupations were not returned. The first on the list was a Town Councillor of Cork, and it was unreasonable to suppose that in an intelligent city like that a "village blackguard" or "dissolute ruffian" should be elected to such a high position. In the case of Mr. John O'Connor, the English firm whom he represented were so convinced of his private worth that they were keeping his situation open for him until he came out of prison. Independent testimony to Mr. O'Connor's character also came from an Englishman named Finlayson, who at a public meeting cordially endorsed every sentiment uttered by Mr. O'Connor; but while the latter was imprisoned, the former, being an Englishman, was left untouched. Mr. O'Connor had, on former occasions, been thanked by the sheriffs for the pressure he put on his countrymen to submit to injustice rather than break the law. In another case, a Poor Law Guardian, who had been elected to the position because his neighbours reposed confidence in him had been arrested; and from examples such as these he had no hesitation in saying that the Coercion Act was obtained from the House by false pretences. He did not accuse the Chief Secretary of intentionally misleading the House; but he did say that he had put forward a state of facts that recent events had shown to be false and untenable. Mr. Murphy had been arrested because he was a Nationalist; but if they imprisoned every man in Cork who was a Nationalist they would have to enlarge their prisons to a hundred times their present 183 size. It was his boast that he represented a city that was the corner-stone of the National sentiment in Ireland; and he did not believe any man of ordinary intelligence, who had a love of country, could be other than a Nationalist. He claimed to be a Nationalist himself, and if in the absence of anything else a man was to be arrested for being a Nationalist, then the Government were extremely lax in their duty in not arresting 25,000 men in Cork. He knew enough of the Chief Secretary to believe that he would not be capable of wilful injustice; but he had been worked upon by malicious wire-pullers, and made the instrument of some of the foulest injustice in Ireland. Judge Lawson had himself reluctantly borne testimony to the general peacefulness of Cork, as shown by the lightness of the Calendar at the recent Assizes. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had a great deal to answer for, because he had deceived the House as to the object he had in view in obtaining from it an engine of such destructive power as was the Coercion Act. Ruffians and rowdies of the worst type were those against whom it was to be directed, according to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman on the second reading of the Bill; but the measure had, instead, been used against leaders of the Land League, and for the purpose of suppressing Constitutional agitation. What, he asked, was the nature of the evidence on which the Chief Secretary acted? It was that of police constables and stipendiary magistrates; and he was in a position to demonstrate that the testimony of the former was altogether unreliable. He would only refer to one or two cases. The first was that of Mr. Travers, the manager of the Cork Gas Works. That gentleman, hearing that a dispute had arisen in the park between the police and the people, and knowing that two of his nephews were in the park, went out to see that they were safe. While crossing a bridge, over which he was the only passenger, three constables rushed towards him; two of them knocked him down, and the third stabbed him with his bayonet. When asked about this most unjustifiable assault in that House, the Chief Secretary, believing the account the police gave of the matter, but which was utterly false 184 and misleading, stated that Mr. Travers was one of a riotous mob which had assembled at another bridge, which he had not been upon on the day in question. The Chief Secretary had been deceived in that case, and, no doubt, in many others. Well, if the police had wantonly misled the authorities in one case they would do so in another, particularly under the pressure of the Circular issued on the subject of arrests from Dublin Castle. Then there was the case of Thomas Wall, a member of a branch of the Land League, who was arrested by a constable on a charge of having used abusive language and interfering with the prosecutor in the discharge of his duty. In the Court the constable was put upon his oath to prove the truth of the charge. He said the man was sitting on the roadside whistling Harvey Duff. He was asked, "Do you consider whistling Harvey Duff as using abusive language?" and he replied, "Yes, I do; and I swear that it is." Was it difficult, he asked, under the pressure of such a Circular as that which had been issued by the authorities, to induce constables to swear informations against any man in the locality? If a policeman swore that whistling Harvey Duff was using abusive language he would be ready to swear almost anything. In the case of a man named James Maddox, the man was charged with reasonably assaulting a police constable. Now, the man was 75 years of age, and was suffering from asthma; so such a charge must be utter nonsense. When they saw such things, they could only say that there was no Liberalism in the present Government, while they were astonished that such things could be perpetrated in the name of a Government professing to govern free men. The past action of the Government had been an entire mistake, and he trusted they would now see the fact, and accompany the Land Bill with the measure of justice and wisdom in liberating the men imprisoned under the Coercion Act. He was deeply anxious that the Land Bill should be successful; but he did not think it could be so while there was rankling in the breasts of the people of Ireland the feeling of injustice which was engendered by keeping these men in prison. If the Government desired the Bill to have a fair and complete trial, then they must accompany it with a measure which should set at 185 liberty all those arrested in Ireland under the Coercion Act.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
said, in glancing at the Return issued at the beginning of the month he saw no dates indicating the duration of the confinement of the men, and he would call the attention of the Chief Secretary to the omission. According to the statement of the charges, the offences upon which they were arrested were of a varied character, some of a comparatively serious and some of a comparatively light character; and if they were able to estimate what had been the duration of the period of imprisonment already undergone, they would be in a better position to estimate how far the Government were justified or excused in their action. He trusted that, if possible, that information might be given. He heartily joined in appealing to the Government to consider the question of the immediate liberation of the prisoners from a standpoint of statesmanlike policy; and, if the Motion was pressed to a division, he should vote for it, to show that he was not prepared, under any circumstances, to make a compromise with any Government on a policy of coercion. If the Government, as one of the results of that discussion, were induced to liberate the prisoners immediately, he trusted they would not make the mistake of imposing unnecessary conditions on them. He thought that policy was a very weak one, and its unsoundness was easily demonstrated by the fact that it was entirely unnecessary. If the Government had not the power to re-arrest those whom they restored to liberty he could understand asking for such conditions, but not otherwise; and if those men abused their freedom they could be again arrested. Therefore, he trusted no conditions would be imposed upon them. With regard to particular cases, the accusation against Mr. Joseph B. Walsh was of an undoubtedly light character; and, from the position that he occupied, it seemed strange that the Chief Secretary had not before now taken his case into consideration. He was charged with having incited others with a view to compel them to quit their lawful employment. He admitted such conduct was illegal; but, after all, it was only illegal under a strained interpretation of the law; and he knew, when similar offences were committed by English 186 workmen, the law was not strained in the same way. Mr. Walsh was a member of the Board of Guardians of the capital town in his county (Mayo), and a man having the confidence of large masses of the population, engaged in business, and having a stake in the country and an interest in the peace of the community, and yet, on that particularly light charge, he had been in prison for four months. He expected, when the three months was reached at which the Chief Secretary was obliged to reconsider the cases, that Mr. Walsh would have been released. Then there was the case of Mr. Andrew O'Connor, who was a farmer, and also a member of the Board of Guardians. The charge against him was a comparatively light one, and he strongly invited the attention of the Chief Secretary to his case. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) had referred to the case of Mr. Patrick Duffy. The case of that gentleman was a peculiarly hard one, as he was in a bad state of health. Mr. Thomas Quinn had been arrested, it was believed, on the information of Sub-Inspector Carter, to whom reference had been made that evening, without the slightest opportunity of knowing the precise nature of the evidence. In the case of Mr. Matthew Harris, the accusation was of an equivocal character; it was that he had used some language which might have led to an assault upon some individual. How far that charge could be sustained was beyond his knowledge; but he knew Mr. Harris to be a man of strong opinions, who used language which went even beyond his opinions; but, at the same time, he was a man who would recoil from inciting anyone to an act of violence. He hoped that this case would be one of the first to be considered; and also that that of Mr. P. J. Sheridan would not be omitted from the list. Upon the general policy of the administration of the Coercion. Acts, he was glad that no attempt had been made to support this Resolution by means of any personal attack upon the Chief Secretary for Ireland himself. He thought that candour and justice required them to acknowledge the very great difficulties which the right hon. Gentleman had had to contend with in the government of Ireland. He did not say that those difficulties should at all induce them to be lenient with the Chief Secretary if 187 they could fasten upon him the policy which was opposed to the interests of the country and Constitutional liberty; but because they had the best of the argument in this controversy with the Chief Secretary for Ireland and his government, they should not be tempted by any strong feeling which they might entertain to base any portion of their case upon anything that would look like a personal attack upon the right hon. Gentleman himself. He emphatically stated that the policy of coercion had failed in Ireland. The result which the Chief Secretary had accomplished since the passing of the Peace Preservation Act would have been accomplished without the exercise of the powers conferred upon him by that measure. The history of remedial legislation for the last 81 years clearly proved that remedial legislation was calculated to promote the peace and prosperity of the country, provided it was not too late; but if it came too late, there must be disappointment all round. Several of the prisoners, who now numbered nearly 200, were confined on suspicion of being guilty of tending to disturb the public peace. In what respect? Was it by assembling at public meetings, or by using language which was so far removed from illegality that no other phrase could be found than this very equivocal one of assembling to disturb the peace? As to so-called treasonable practices, there were thousands of Englishmen who had been as guilty of them as the Irish prisoners. If they went to the Democratic and Republican Clubs over England, they would hear sentiments which, if they were not treasonable, he did not know how they were to be described. The members of these Clubs repudiated the existing form of government, and they called not only for the abolition of the House of Lords, but the abolition of the Monarchy. Why did not the Home Secretary take notice of these declarations? Because it was known they could have no effect upon the form of the Constitution. Why, then, imprison men in Ireland who had theoretical opinions in regard to the relations of Ireland to this country. Were they afraid their power in Ireland was crumbling to pieces, and that such legislation was necessary? He saw no good reason, founded on sound policy or true statesmanship, why these men should be arrested. Even assuming that they 188 were not merely suspected of the offence, but had actually committed it, an offence of that kind would be ignored by a wise Government so long as the language employed did not imperil the national tranquillity or public safety. The burden of what was said on this subject generally fell on the devoted head of the Chief Secretary. The Chief Secretary, he presumed, had no direct knowledge in regard to any of the cases. It was not to be assumed he had. He depended on the magistrates and police throughout the country. Reference had been made by several of his hon. Friends to Mr. Clifford Lloyd. He had no personal motive for saying anything against Mr. Clifford Lloyd; but he had no hesitation in affirming that if the Chief Secretary believed in that gentleman he did not. He (Mr. O'Connor Power) had been speaking to an Irish magistrate, who had good opportunities of forming an opinion of Mr. Clifford Lloyd; and that gentleman had told him that Mr. Lloyd was the last person that should be sent into a heated district, as he was nothing more nor less than a firebrand. There would be no contentment in Ireland until the magistrate class, who were hostile to the people, were removed. The administration of Irish affairs was in the hands, nominally, of the Chief Secretary-but really of others, who were hostile to the Irish people. The English Government might go on selecting its Lord Lieutenants and Chief Secretaries for Ireland; but they would not unlock the Irish heart or obtain Irish sympathy until they had swept away those administrators, whose only object was to recommend themselves for patronage, and who had not a particle of sympathy with Ireland's indestructible aspirations.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, the best guarantee that could be offered of the desire of the Government to govern Ireland without exceptional legislation was to be found in the fact that they had allowed the Peace Preservation Act to expire, and not until the country had got into a state in which exceptional legislation was absolutely necessary did the Government ask Parliament for exceptional powers. It was not until a state of circumstances had arisen which he would not now go back on- [Ironical cheers from the Some Rulers]-that what hon. Members chose to call coercion 189 was applied. He could appreciate those cheers very well; but he had no hesitation in repeating the language which he had used on a former occasion. Now that the Land Bill was passed— [Renewed ironical cheers from the Home Rulers]—well, it might be an object of ridicule to some hon. Members opposite; but he would affirm that the Irish people would not consider the Land Act an object of ridicule. In respect to what was called, at all events, a remedial measure, he would rather that nothing occurred, even in words, to excite any bitterness between the Government and hon. Members opposite, and nothing of that character should fall from him. Having this exceptional legislation to deal with, the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) impeached the action of the Government in two ways. First, he asserted that the Return on the Table showed it had been improperly applied; and, secondly, that the evidence on which the arrests were made was totally unjust, because he had other evidence which he stated contradicted it. He (the Solicitor General for Ireland) would deal with those two propositions, and, first of all, the assertion that the Act had been improperly applied. Looking at that Return, he found that the whole number of arrests was 192. [An IRISH MEMBER: Now in gaol.] Yes; now in gaol. Of these, he found that the arrests on the grounds of reasonable suspicion—that was a question of evidence, of course—of murder, shooting at the person with intent to murder, and of doing grievous bodily harm, and inciting others to attempt to murder—a crime which he (the Solicitor General for Ireland) considered worse even than the actual perpetration of the crime itself— the number of arrests on these grounds was 31. The next was for attacking dwelling-houses by day and night, and making raids for arms, and the number was 36. The hon. Member for the City of Cork spoke of the invention of a word on the part of the Government, a statement which he (the Solicitor General for Ireland) would take the liberty of correcting. The hon. Member charged the Government with inventing a phrase, in order to sustain an argument, of maliciously attacking a dwelling-house, and he cited an instance to show how absurd it was to make such a charge; but the ton. Member did not read the whole of 190 the Warrant. [Several IRISH MEMBERS: Assaulting.] The offence was not a very intelligible expression; but it was, at all events, a statutable expression and a statutable offence. Let them look at the case which the hon. Member cited as a very trifling one. It was that of Dunleavy, who was at present detained in prison. Dunleavy was charged with being reason-ably suspected of unlawfully assaulting, with others, a dwelling-house and the persons therein. Was not that a very bad case of crime, and one of those cases intended to be dealt with by the Act? The house had been attacked and violently entered, and the occupants assaulted; but the hon. Member referred to that case as being of a ridiculous character, and one which was never contemplated by the Act. Of that class of crime he found there were 36; he had taken down, as well as he could during the debate, the number of cases of intimidation by various ways, specified in each case, and he found the number was 26. Of treasonable practices, as to which the reasons for the arrests were not by the Act required to be stated, the number of cases was 5; of arson, attempts to set fire, and inciting others to set fire—and here again he thought the incitor was the greater criminal of the two— the number was 8; killing and maiming cattle, 7. These, along with the others which he had mentioned he had picked out from the gross number of offences, numbered 119; and it would have been the duty of any honest and impartial jury, if such cases had been tried by them, to have convicted those accused of those offences. There were in addition to these cases the offences of riot and assault, and inciting to riot and assault, and the number of such cases was 54, in addition to the 119 which he had already enumerated. Therefore, as to the allegation that the Act had been improperly applied, he thought the House would agree, whatever they might think of the offences which were contemplated at the time when the exceptional legislation was passed, and of the classes of crime which the Act was intended to deal with—and the smallness of the number was not any evidence that there were not many more—the House would agree that these were the classes of crime which the Act was intended to deal with. As to the other assertion of the hon. Member, that the arrests were not justified 191 by the evidence on which they were made, he (the Solicitor General for Ireland) asked the House to accept his statement that no single warrant was issued in any one of those cases except after the most careful and anxious consideration of the facts—facts of which there was no reasonable doubt, and on which, if technical legal evidence could be given, an impartial jury, with due regard to their duty, ought to have convicted under the circumstances. Therefore, although there were a number of cases in which suspicion only was alleged, the suspicion was such as to justify the Chief Secretary and the Lord Lieutenant in thinking that those cases came up to the requirements of the statute. The smallness of the total number of arrests did not show that very few offences had been committed; but it did show the very great discrimination that had been exercised in putting the law into force. Anyone who compared the list of arrests with the number of crimes that had been reported even in the newspapers must know that there had been many cases in which arrests had not been made, and that was solely because of the nature of the evidence that was required to ground a reasonable suspicion such as the Act required and the Executive exercised. Anyone who read the Irish papers must have observed that within the last fortnight, in the neighbourhood of Mill Street, county of Cork, there had been numerous reports of cases of nightly raids for arms. [Several IRISH MEMBERS: By the police.] Not by the police at all. That was one of the misrepresentations which were constantly made. He had stated what everyone might have read in the newspapers. The hon. Member for Waterford interrupted him with a statement that that was not correct. Was the House to take the hon. Member's assertion for that? The fact, at all events, was stated in the newspapers—that nightly raids had taken place by disguised men, who entered the houses, assaulted the inmates, took arms from them, and compelled them to take illegal oaths. He dared say that pretty strong suspicion attached to the individual persons who were engaged in those practices; but arrest under the Act did not follow. Why? because the evidence was not sufficiently clear. As to the evidence on which the arrests had been made, 192 of course, it would be easy enough to go into this in each case, and cite the evidence upon which the arrests had been made. All that evidence was in the hands of those by whom Warrants had been issued on the evidence; but to publish that evidence would be to defeat the very object for which the statute was passed. Suppose a person in the Dunleavy case made a statutory declaration which was laid before the Chief Secretary, or the Lord Lieutenant, and that high official, acting not merely on the statement of the police, or the resident magistrate, but upon his own judgment in respect to the evidence laid before him, ordered the arrest and then published the statutory declaration, would it be affirmed that the life of the man making such a declaration would be worth a minute's purchase? He (the Solicitor General for Ireland) did not think it would. It was not because the Government were unwilling to lay the evidence before the House that they withheld it; but because, if they produced it, the safety of the persons who gave the evidence would be in peril. Nor was it merely upon the evidence of police and of resident magistrates, as had been alleged, that the Government acted. [Mr. O'KELLY: And of the landlords.] Well, he did not know that a landlord was an untrustworthy witness, because from his class and means he was usually a man of education and property, and because it was his duty to be, and it might, therefore, be fairly assumed he had been the whole of his life, a supporter of law and order. But he would say, once for all, that the evidence upon which the Government had acted was not confined to any one class, and in every instance, before a Warrant was issued there was an exhaustive examination of all the circumstances that could be brought to bear upon the case, and of the credibility of the persons who gave the evidence. That fact would probably account for the comparatively small number of cases that appeared in the statement now under notice. The hon. Member for the City of Cork had appealed to him (the Solicitor General for Ireland) personally with regard to his experience of that city. Whilst he was not a native of the City of Cork he had practised for some 30 years of his life there. He had practised many years in 193 the Civil Court formerly, when he was a young barrister, and, in fact, at the Assizes there ever since he had been a barrister; and he was proud to bear his testimony to the opinion of the most eminent members the Munster Bar ever sent to the Bench, that a common jury of the City of Cork was a better jury than any special jury a member of the Munster Bar could find in any other part of Ireland. And yet questions had been asked in the House on two occasions, by different Members, whether it was not true that at the same Assizes and in the same Court House in which Mr. Justice Lawson pointed with satisfaction to the small number of cases furnished by the City of Cork, in but too many cases from the county of Cork Judge Barry, whose impartiality no one would question, declared that the jury ought to have convicted, but had either disagreed or acquitted; and the consequence was that the learned Judge, upon the application of the Crown Prosecutor, adjourned 12 criminal eases, stating that he could not submit them to the arbitrament of a jury. How, then, could the Criminal Law be carried out by submitting offences to a jury? The fact was, the times were out of joint. In any matters connected with land, so strong was the feeling throughout the country that large classes of men could not look upon them fairly and impartially, but only through a coloured medium, though, possibly, without any deliberate intention or desire to abuse the office of jurymen or to act unfairly. And that would be the case, he feared, until these unhappy troubles were at an end. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Daly) dealt with a portion of his case in a vein of humour. For his own part, he did not see the joke at all. He would like to know who was Harvey Duff?
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, he did not think that explanation threw much light on the subject. He did not see his name in the list of arrests, neither did he remember him as a martyr in any political agitation.
§ Several IRISH MEMBERS: He was a reformer.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, he looked upon the whole reference as a 194 joke introduced by the newspaper reporter. Several hon. Members had complained that many of the persons charged with offences were people of social position who were charged with inciting others to commit offences, and that persons of that class could not be guilty of acts of this kind. It reminded him very much of the story of the trumpeter in the fable, who was taken prisoner in an engagement, and who at once pleaded to his conquerors—"But you never saw me in a charge in battle. You never saw me with a sword in my hand. I have nothing but this trumpet." The answer they would remember was—"Yes; it is very true you were never in a charge with a sword in your hand, because you had not the courage to attempt to take a man's life; but with this trumpet of yours you incited others to do what you were afraid to do yourself." They all knew that persons in good social positions were not above committing crime; but in the cases in point a warrant for arrest was never issued without the authorities carefully scrutinizing the evidence, and, being so scrutinized, if it had been a jury case, the jury, in cases where they were bound to convict, ought not to have been influenced by the circumstance of the social position of the accused in coming to their verdict; and neither should the Executive—the social standing of a person who violated the law aggravated, instead of diminished, his offence. Another statement or complaint which had been adverted to was that many of those incarcerated had wives and families depending upon them; but in the history of crime it would be generally found that where a man embarked in any offence the last thing he recollected, though it was the first which he ought to have remembered, was the lives and fortunes of others dependent upon him. Unhappily, it was not upon the guilty man that the trouble always fell most heavily, but upon the innocent wife and children. To pay the fine inflicted on the drunkard, how often had the wife to work the skin off her bones and the children to pine for food? But law could not exist in any country if an excuse of that kind was to be received. The hon. Member for the City of Cork mentioned the case of a person who, in consequence of his arrest, was not able to attend to his farm. But he saw in the newspapers that the man's neigh- 195 bours cut down his hay for him and weeded his turnips, so that the hardship alleged did not follow in that particular case. The form of warrant strictly complied with all the provisions of the Act, and the Act gave every information to hon. Members opposite as to the persons arrested and the place where the arrest were made, thus differing widely from what was the case when the present Government came into Office. [Mr. PARNELL: The Westmeath Act was not then in force.] Not the whole of it, but a part of it was. The hon. Member for the City of Cork, who brought the Motion before the House, concluded by a very bold and defiant declaration against the Land Bill. [Mr. PARNELL: Nothing of the sort.] He was glad to hear it; but he must say it looked very like it. He trusted that the hon. Member and other hon. Members would do what the hon. Member for the County of Limerick (Mr. O'Sullivan) and the hon. Member for the County of Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power), and several other Members, had declared their intention of doing—namely, their best to reestablish national tranquillity and public safety in Ireland, and from this time forth to satisfy those who had been agitating that they had got, in the remedial measures which had been passed, independence and security for their interests in their holdings, free sale of those interests, unfettered by anything but their own voluntary action, and subject only to the payment of a fair rent. They had also got a tribunal to go to which would declare what should be a fair rent as between landlord and tenant. Certainly, if anything could satisfy the exigencies of the situation it was this Bill that had been passed. He therefore appealed to every Member who came from Ireland— and he would also ask the Liberal Members from England to assist the Government in their conscientious endeavour to re-establish peace and order in Ireland, and then the prison door might be thrown open, never to close again upon anyone on suspicion, and the exceptional legislation which had had to be resorted to would come to be a thing of the past, and only be remembered as a part of the unhappy history of Ireland.
§ DR. COMMINS
said, the Government of Ireland was as bad as that of Turkey or Bulgaria. He agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor 196 General for Ireland that the Land Bill was a large, and, he hoped, would prove an efficient measure in dealing with the difficulties of Ireland. But he pitied the hon. and learned Gentleman in his attempts to defend the Peace Preservation Act of the Government. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that the Government began Office without availing themselves of exceptional legislation; but the charge against the Government to-day was that they not only used exceptional legislation, but used it in an exceptional way. If the evidence upon which these men were arrested was sufficient to convince a jury, as the hon. and learned Gentleman had stated, why were they not brought before a jury? Was the reason that this had not been done due to a fear that an Irish jury would have found against the Government? The Peace Preservation Act, he thought, should have been named "The Act for the Abolition of Liberty and Security," for under it there was no liberty for anyone. What case was there against such men as John Dillon, Father Sheehy, the Poor Law Guardians, solicitors, and news-paper editors who had been arrested? In the county which he had the honour to represent (Roscommon) what had Mr. Tully, a newspaper editor, Mr. Harris, or young Mr. Cox done except agitate for a reform of the Land Laws such as that which the House had passed? These gentlemen, whom he knew himself to be men of high character, were charged with inciting to intimidation; but that was an offence which it was very hard to define. The Government did not dare to produce the evidence on which they acted. He did not ask them to give the names either of informers or of the persons injured, but the character of the evidence; and the times and places at which the offences were alleged to have been committed ought not to be withheld. It appeared to him that the Orange Emergency Committee wielded the supreme power in Ireland, and that the Chief Secretary was their obedient servant. These men were allowed to parade the country in armed bands. In fact, they were permitted to set all law at defiance. Yet none of them were arrested under the Coercion Act. Why was not this law, such as it was, administered impartially? When the Act was sought they had the explicit undertaking given by the Chief Secretary and 197 the Prime Minister that it would not be used for the repression of the agitation for the reform of the Land Laws; but, as a matter of fact, it was only against prominent members of the Land League that the Act had been directed. He considered this a fitting time for the Government to consider whether they could not now retrace their steps. He asked the Government to accompany their message of peace by an act of justice—that was, to send home to their families all persons incarcerated on suspicion, and return to the old English principle, that a man should not be punished until he was proved guilty.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he was not going to join with the Irish Members in condemning the Government for the administration of the Coercion Law. He thought the Government had administered these laws with as much prudence and consideration as was compatible with the evil nature of the laws themselves. He wished, however, to join with the Irish Members in the appeal they had made for mercy. ["No, no!" from the Irish Members, and cries of "Justice!"] Hon. Members disclaimed that it was an appeal for mercy—perhaps they would allow him to put his in the form of an appeal for mercy. They were sending a message of peace to Ireland, and he wished it to be accompanied with a message of mercy. He wished to see those men who were in prison, untried, released as soon as it could be done. That, he thought, was a proper sequel to the Land Bill. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) knew how much it had gone against the wishes of the Liberal Members to support such legislation. The right hon. Gentleman knew with what reluctance a great many Liberal Members had voted for the Coercion Act. He knew, further, that they did it only through trust in the right hon. Gentleman and the Government with which he was connected. He had no hesitation in saying that if the same proposal had been made by the late Government they would almost to a man have voted against them. They voted for these Acts, not in belief of them, but belief in the Government that was to administer them. All along they had watched the progress of the Government; and while he did not condemn them in the very least, yet still he 198 said that in many things they had not seen these Acts to be what they expected them to be. He did not think it could be said these Acts had been attended with success. Coercion was an evil tree, and good fruit could not be expected of it. He firmly believed that, and he was beginning to be of opinion that he gave a wrong vote when he voted for it at all. It was very doubtful if, in similar circumstances, he should again repeat his votes; and therefore it was that he was most anxious, now that a remedial measure had been passed, that they should go back from the evil part of their legislation, and in some way undo it. He thought the Government would not be wrong to grant a large order of release now. If those who were released did not behave themselves after their release there would be no difficulty in re-arresting them, so long as the Acts were unrepealed; but his firm belief was that they would not offend again, and might fairly be trusted in a great many cases. The Solicitor General for Ireland endeavoured to make out that there were bad cases; but it must be remembered that they were all untried men, and to keep untried men in prison was contrary to the principles of our law, and it was a thing which ought not to be tolerated a day after it could be dispensed with. He earnestly begged the Government to look into this matter with the largest heart and broadest views they could in the way of mercy, and endeavour, in every case, to give the benefit of the doubt to those now in prison, and, if possible, to send them all back to their families and give them a chance to do better.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
said, the Irish Members were thankful to the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) for the good advice he had tendered to Her Majesty's Government in respect to the release of the "suspects" in Ireland. It was not possible to bring a single criminal charge against them, and yet there they were in prison, and had been for months so, and for no other reason but that they had largely assisted in the organization of the Land League, so that every sentiment of justice would be outraged were they to be kept any longer in prison. He had listened with much satisfaction to the speech of the Solicitor General for Ireland when he spoke of the prison gates being thrown open; and he hoped Government would not defer that act, 199 of justice until they heard a pæan of triumph over the success of the Land Bill, for in that case one side would be waiting for the other, and nothing would be done. If Government did not wish to release these men at once, they should, at least, bring them to trial before a competent tribunal. They might have been themselves coerced into the passing of the Coercion Act; but now that they had their own way they might say—Hitherto we have had to govern Ireland against our own principles; but now we shall try and govern it in a Constitutional manner. The adoption of the advice of the hon. Member for Glasgow would make the Liberal Government popular, and bring about a new era in Ireland. Many of those men might have been agitators and made strong speeches; but not stronger than he had last year heard from the Chief Secretary during the debate upon the Compensation for Disturbance Bill. If he made one of those speeches in Ireland, he would find the police and the magistrates ready to throw him into prison. The proper thing for the Government to do before the close of the debate would be to announce their intention of liberating the men now incarcerated in Kilmainham and other prisons, and this they could do without, in the slightest degree, compromising their position. The reason why local agitators were thrown into prison, and the rioters in Mill Street were not, was because, in the case of the latter, there was no one interested about their imprisonment except the Executive; while, in the case of the local agitators, the landlord and the agent, who gained over the Executive by acts of hospitality and the like, were interested in their imprisonment. It was a very serious thing to keep in prison large and respectable farmers who had so much influence and so many connections in the country. He might instance the case of Mr. Kerney, in the county Galway, against whom the charge simply was that he was agitating generally.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Molloy.)
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, as the debate must be adjourned in a few 200 minutes, he would not oppose the Motion; but he hoped the debate would be brought to a close as soon as possible.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.