§ RESOLUTION. ADJOURNED DEBATE.
§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [17th August], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair" (for Committee of Supply).
And which Amendment was,
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 again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, the characteristic of yesterday's discussion which struck 231 him most was the evident sincerity and desire on both sides to come to some Bound and reasonable conclusion on the subject before the House. He did not know what were the intentions of Her Majesty's Ministers; but he thought the debate might be one of those straws which showed in what way the Ministerial wind blew. Its object was practically the release of the men who were detained in prison under the Coercion Act, and he hoped he was not mistaken in the belief that some such idea was in the minds of Her Majesty's Ministers. The Irish Members were in a most deplorable position in the matter; for they were called upon to defend their constituents, when they had no evidence either of what was their crime, or what they were charged with. They were simply rambling about in the dark, trying to guess what the accusation was, or what was the evidence upon which their constituents were thrown into prison without charge and without trial. He had had a great deal of correspondence with the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the Lord Lieutenant upon these arrests; but he found that he usually got a stereotyped answer, and that it meant, after all, very little more than a little courteous writing. A promise was given to the Irish Members that the arrests should be discussed; but, in the absence of any information, he asked whether it was anything more than a mere farce? All they knew about it was that a lettre de cachet was issued, and, as a consequence, the man was arrested. He would like to call attention to the cases which had occurred in his own county (King's County), where there had been, he was happy to say, only three arrests. The first of these was that of a man named Bernard Corcoran, whose offence was said to be that of sending a threatening letter. His case had been the subject of considerable correspondence. They had to run about in search of evidence of the probable cause of the arrest of that gentleman, and be pointed that out in order to illustrate the difficulty he was in finding himself utterly unable to do anything for him. From the most reliable sources he had obtained information which showed that the man was innocent. He was utterly unable to see, even from the point of view of the Government, what good the Coercion Act had done, or that it had, in any way, 232 strengthened their hands. He would take another case, which was a typical one. It was that of Mr. George Patterson, a merchant, of Edenderry. Patterson had been a soldier. He entered the 32nd Regiment in 1840; and, after six years' service at home, he went to India, where he spent seven years. He had been in several general engagements under Gough, Dalhousie, and other commanders, and was present at the battle of Gujarat. He had been wounded in three battles, once so badly that he was declared unfit for further service, having a poisoned wound in the leg. He then went to Sydney, where, in consideration of past services, he received a grant of Crown lands; and, being a man of superior intelligence and education, he was appointed the postmaster and schoolmaster of the district. He fulfilled those offices to the entire satisfaction of the Colonial authorities. He did not originally intend to return to his native country. He returned, however, to take possession of his family property. There, after thus distinguishing himself on behalf of his country, when he came home to settle down peaceably, instead of being left alone, he was called upon one morning by the police and thrown into prison. The only accusation against him was that he had intimidated some person or persons unknown to deal with some other person or persons unknown. He (Mr. Molloy) knew nothing of the accusation; for all that he knew, it might be simply that Patterson had warned a friend not to deal with someone who had defrauded him in a particular transaction. He was supposed to do something to help the man; but he found himself wholly helpless, and as ignorant as anyone could be of the facts. When the Coercion Bill was being brought in they were told that everything should be discussed on the Floor of the House; but that was a complete farce, when, on a man's being thrown into prison on a lettre de cachet, they could obtain not the slightest information upon which to found the discussion. Mr. Patterson had been since released; but he knew no more why he should have been released than why he should have been arrested. The whole thing was a mystery. What was the object of the Government in inflicting the punishment of imprisonment? Was it not to inflict disgrace and discredit, and to operate as a warn- 233 ing and deterrent? Those objects were certainly not attained in the present case, for on the day of Mr. Patterson's release such a demonstration of the people was made in his honour as had, perhaps, never before been witnessed. At 9 o'clock in the morning, about 3,000 cars went a distance of three miles to meet him, and some 10,000 or 20,000 people of the district turned out to cheer and welcome him, and they afterwards cut his turf for him. That showed the view which the people of the locality took of the action of the Government, and showed that what the Government meant to be punishments the people made into rewards. That, however, was only a typical instance of events which had occurred hundreds of times before. He asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland to consider what was the result of their action. The object of the Government appeared to be to give a lesson to the people; but the persons whom the Government declared to be criminals were the very persons that were elevated in the minds of the people. So far from the Coercion Act inspiring the people of Ireland with a greater respect and admiration for the law, the result of it was that the people had nothing but utter contempt for the law. The Irish people offered rewards to the men to whom the Government awarded punishments. He asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland what good this Coercion Act had done in Ireland up to that moment? He (Mr. Molloy) declared that he did not see in his own or any other county in Ireland that the Coercion Act had done one bit of good. The Government had certainly seized upon men, some of whom were guilty of crimes; but for them he did not plead. He did not plead for murderers and criminals; but he did plead for men who, like Mr. Patterson, had been grievously wronged under the operation of the Act. He was now speaking of political acts; and he said distinctly, from the point of view of the Government, that no good result could be shown from the exercise of the Coercion Act in Ireland. It was his intention, when Parliament rose, to go to his constituency and explain in detail the provisions of the Land Bill which had just been passed. When he went to consult with them after the Bill was 234 introduced, he was met with this— "We do not care for your measure. Why did you let Coercion be passed?" That was the difficulty before him (Mr. Molloy) and other Irish Members. If he went to explain the Land Act to them, as he intended to do in the discharge of his duty, he knew he would be met by the cry—"Where are the people that are in prison?" He told the Government, not in the way of a threat—for threats would be useless and silly—that from his experience of the people of his own county, which was one of the quietest in Ireland, the Land Act would not be met in the spirit in which it ought to be met on that account. If the Government did not arm the Irish Members, before they went to their constituencies, with some weapon that would enable them to strike a good blow, he believed that the Land Act would not be accepted. Let them not send them there disarmed, or else the difficulties of the future not only might be, but would be, infinitely greater than any of the difficulties the Government had yet to cope with.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
Sir, I must, at the opening of my remarks, say that I have no reason to complain of the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. Molloy), or of the manner, as the hon. Member has said, in which the discussion was conducted yesterday, characterized as it was by a soberness and an absence of irritation which was promising. There is, however, one observation I must make with regard to the speech we have just heard. The hon. Member for the King's County mentioned the case of Mr. Patterson, and said he had not the slightest idea why he was released any more than he had why he was imprisoned. Well, I will tell the hon. Gentleman why. Patterson was released on the ground of ill-health. His condition was not very bad, but such as to raise the question whether he ought not to be set at liberty, and we gave him the benefit of the doubt. I cannot, however, allow that the fact that great sympathy was shown him in any way proves that he ought never to have been detained. Turning now to what the him. Member said about the Coercion Act, he remarked that, living in Ireland, he was able to state that everything which had been done by 235 the Government for the good of that country would be abortive.
§ MR. MOLLOY
explained that what he said referred to every act done by the Executive under the Coercion Act.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
In that case, I will not pursue the subject further. I do not doubt, and the Government are fully aware of, the feeling of dislike with which many of the people of Ireland regard the Act. The difficulty that it would be so regarded was felt by the Government and by the House at the time the Act was being passed. What the hon. Member stated was divided into two parts —namely, objection to the very nature of such a Bill; and, secondly, the hope and desire that the time would come when the Government would find it unnecessary to put it into operation. With the latter part I most decidedly concur. I will now make a few observations on the debate of yesterday. I understand the purport of the Motion of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), which he brought forward in very definite terms, to be that the administration of the Coercion Act has been inconsistent with the original declarations of the Members of the Government, in asking to be intrusted with the powers it gives. The hon. Member did not even debar himself from stating that the Government exceeded their powers under the Act. But the main charge of the hon. Member is that we have said one thing and done another. For my part, I must begin with a denial of the charge that there has been any inconsistency whatever in our action as compared with what we stated would be our action when we convinced the large majority of this House that it was necessary to pass this most exceptional measure. At that time I felt, and I appeal to the recollection of hon. Members whether the chief ground on which I asked for this exceptional legislation was not this —that there was such an amount of intimidation in Ireland that while it existed there could be no freedom of action, no safety for persons, and no security for property. Those were the grounds on which I asked for this Act—namely, because there were intimidation and acts of violence, and it was on that account mainly the Act was passed. We also obtained power by the Act to arrest for treasonable practices, for we found, as we stated at the time on bringing it in, 236 that those who were generally known by the name of Fenians were taking advantage of the excitement prevailing in Ireland, and might become active, and we therefore thought it necessary, in some measure, to guard against them. The enormous majority of the arrests, however, have been based on the ground of intimidation; and what I maintain is, that we asked for the Act because we thought it was proved that there was such an amount of intimidation existing, that men were afraid to pursue their daily business, that witnesses could not be got to give evidence, and that juries would not convict. Therefore, we asked for this legislation as the only means by which we could prevent the unwritten law taking the place of the written law. Now, no arrests whatever have been made except on the belief that persons were engaged in treasonable practices— and the number of persons so arrested is only seven—or upon the belief that the accused have either committed acts of violence or intimidation punishable by law, or incited others to commit them. The hon. Member for the City of Cork said the Act had been used for little else than for putting down peaceful and Constitutional agitation. ["Hear, hear!"] Well, I hope and think I shall be able to convince the House that we have not used it in that way. The hon. Member said that the Act had been used for the purpose—Of silencing open speaking, of preventing the collection of subscriptions for the legal defence of accused persons, and of preventing the free interchange of views between neighbour and neighbour.I maintain that that statement is absolutely unfounded. It has not been used in that way; it has been used for the purpose of suppressing violent speeches and preventing intimidation and breaches of the peace. It is true that there have been cases of interference with "open speaking;" but this open speaking has amounted to an incitement of great violence. I absolutely deny, however, that the Act has, in any case whatever, been used for the purpose of putting down any legal or Constitutional agitation. The hon. Member for the City of Cork further says it has been used against the public leaders of the Land League. But it has not been used against any member or leader of the Land League because he belonged to 237 that organization, or was a leader of it. When it has been used against Land Leaguers, it has been against members of that body and leaders of that body who have incited to violence or intimidation; and I cannot suppose that hon. Gentlemen opposite think that we ought to pass such men by, and that they ought to have freedom from being arrested simply because they happen to be leaders of the League. The hon. Member for Roscommon says the Act has been used to prevent agitation for a reform of the Land Laws. I can only say that such an assertion is as unfounded as it is possible for an assertion to be. Before I go further, I wish hon. Members to understand that I fully acknowledge that when a Government has been intrusted with such exceptional powers, it is entirely within the rights—nay, that it is the duty—of hon. Members from that portion of the Kingdom to which these powers apply, to call upon the Government for evidence and explanations with regard to their employment, and more especially upon that Member of the Government who might have most to do in putting the Act into operation. Now, I have tried to collect together the different charges made against the Government in connection with their administration of this Act, and I think they are these. The first is, that information has been obtained by the hon. Member for the City of Cork and other hon. Members which makes them think that the persons whom we have arrested are not guilty of anything of which we have suspected them. It was not stated to the Government, however, when and where that information was obtained. At the very most, it amounts to no more than what the neighbours of arrested men say about the causes of their arrests. Well, we do not deny or doubt that there is very often considerable sympathy among the neighbours of a man with the very acts for which he has been arrested. [Mr. HEALY: For houghing cattle.] No; not with the houghing of cattle. (Sympathy for any individual arrested. Hon. Members have stated in broad terms that every man arrested was a respectable man, and I should expect such sympathy to be shown by all the members of the Land League-, for instance, and we know there is a very large number of them. The next charge is, that men have been arrested for spite; third, that the Go- 238 vernment have arrested men who might have been committed to prison by the magistrates, or who might have been convicted by juries; fourth, that the men are reputable men; and, lastly, that they are Constitutional agitators. With regard to the first statement, I have no doubt that the committee of the Land League in Dublin received reports from branches of the League throughout the country denouncing the arrests; but, really, I do not think the opinion of the "suspect's" neighbours that he has committed no offence is to be taken as a sufficient reason why the House of Commons should compel the Government to decide that such arrests should not be made. I think the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) can hardly have taken the pains to compare the statements made by the Government with the reports which he has received. I understand him to say, for instance, that Michael Sheridan and another man were arrested for encouraging exclusive dealing. But if the hon. Member had looked at our Report, he would have seen that in both cases the men were arrested for going about armed at night, for malicious assaults, and for forcing their way into dwelling-houses and robbing the persons therein. I give this as an instance of the careless way in which the hon. Member appears to have drawn, up his case.
§ MR. PARNELL
explained, that he had not intended to convey that the men in question were arrested for encouraging exclusive dealing, but that that was the ground upon which it was supposed in their neighbourhood that the arrests were made.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
Well, that is not the ground upon which they were arrested. The hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Sullivan) also has stated that one man was arrested on suspicion of having fired a shot at Miss Ellard; and he said that it was the general opinion in the district that no shot was fired at all. Now, though this case was one in which it would have been difficult to get a jury to convict, that the shot was fired was proved in the clearest possible manner, and the place in the car which had been struck by the bullet was discovered without a doubt. The next charge made against us is that men have been arrested on suspicions originating in spite. Well, I knew that the powers 239 wielded under this Act were powers which should be most carefully used; and, consequently, both I and the Lord Lieutenant have always been on our guard, as much as it is possible for any two men to be, against giving orders for the arrest of any man about whom there might be reason to believe the information was given from motives of spite, revenge, or jealousy. Again, it seems to be supposed by some hon. Members that we have arrested men upon the mere statements of landlords, or the opinions of resident magistrates, or policemen. But no man has yet been arrested on the unsupported statement of a landlord, and in saying that I do not wish to be understood as casting any slur upon landlords. Such statements, which have been very few, are merely grounds for inquiry, and not for arrest. Then, as to our having acted on the unsupported opinion of a policemen, sub-inspector, or resident magistrate, I can only say that we have not so acted, and that we have always required the grounds of such opinions to be given, and we have never taken action upon them without testing them. The hon. Member for the City of Cork has charged me with not carrying out the declarations I made on bringing in the Coercion Bill, and quoted a passage in my speech, where I said—"The police knew who the village tyrants were perfectly well." I am now asked—Why were they not arrested? Simply because we would not act upon the mere statement of a policeman, which, although, no doubt, in many cases right, was never taken as a sufficient ground for arrest—although the policemen might believe they knew certain men to be planners and contrivers of outrages. The fact is that, being dependent on their testimony to a large extent, we tested the accuracy of their statements, and compared them with other evidence as far as we could, when they asserted that any particular individual was a dangerous man in his district, and was the instigator and the contriver of outrages. I do not want to detain the House by referring in detail to many cases; but in justice I feel bound to refer to two matters. The hon. Member for Limerick has brought charges against the Irish Administration in relation to the action of Mr. Clifford Lloyd, who, he says, is even more unpopular with the people of Limerick 240 than he was with the Orangemen of the North. The fact is, that Mr. Clifford Lloyd has tried to do his duty in both districts, and has done it successfully. ["Oh, oh!"] The hon. Member appeared to assume that Mr. Clifford Lloyd had exercised his power as a magistrate in an arbitrary manner. But, to show the state of things which existed in Limerick when that gentleman first went there, I will read an extract from a newspaper which is supposed, at all events, to represent the opinions of the more advanced section of the Irish Party. Hon. Members are doubtless aware that every week there appears in The Irish World newspaper, which is published in America, a letter from a correspondent residing either in. Ireland or England, in which he professes to give an account of the state of things which exists in Ireland, with the view of encouraging agitation in America, so as to enable more money to be collected there. This is the writer's account of the state of things which then existed in Limerick. It appeared in The Irish World on the 23rd of July last—The Ban of the Land League. —Some months ago, the local Land League ordered a farmer and publican named Berkery, of Kilmallock, to give up possession of his farm at Bulgaden to a tenant who had been evicted some years ago. He refused to comply, though a written notice to quit was served upon him. The Rev. Father Sheehy and others were prosecuted; but the proceedings broke down, in consequence of Berkery having been spirited away out of the country. Matters had changed, to all appearance, since Berkery ventured to return; but the ban of the Land League was still upon him, and he is 'boycotted.' No one will deal with him, work for him, or speak to him, and Ma gates were broken down some nights ago, so that the cattle could not be kept in the fields. The other day he proceeded to Bulgaden chapel to hoar the Bishop, and was accompanied by two young men named Gorman, natives of Pallas. Observing the hostile demeanour of the people, he left early; but the Gormans, on leaving, were pursued and stoned. They were knocked down and severely cut, and had to run. for their lives three-quarters of a mile to Berkery's house, where they arrived covered with blood and bruises. Information was taken before Mr. Clifford Lloyd, resident magistrate, against two men named Byrne and Ryan, and the prisoners were committed for trial at the Assizes, bail being refused.It must be recollected that this is the description, not of a policeman, nor of any magistrates, but of this so-called independent paper. I think that if the account be correct, it will be admitted to be quite possible that Mr. Clifford 241 Lloyd may have acted as he did for reasons altogether independent of a personal spite against individuals. Doubtless, after a very hard struggle, Mr. Clifford Lloyd has made it much more difficult in that district than it formerly was to stone a man and cover him with blood with impunity. I feel bound to refer to another case in simple justice to an individual. The hon. Member for the City of Cork alleged that a person named Thomas Quinn, who had been a witness against Sub-Inspector Carter, of Claremorris, in a seduction case, had been arrested under the Coercion Acts. Before the hon. Member made that assertion, he should have made himself acquainted with, at all events, the main facts of the case.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
Then I shall be glad to give him the necessary information on the subject. The official account of the matter which I have received is as follows:—The action was brought at Quarter Sessions. In charging the jury, the chairman said he believed it was a concocted case. But the jury found for the plaintiff—£15 damages and costs The Sub-Inspector appealed to the Assizes, when the decree at Quarter Sessions was reversed. The Judge (Judge Fitzgerald) said, in dismissing the case on its merits—'If ever there was a case to be dismissed on its merits this was one.' Thomas Quinn, of Claremorris, since arrested as a suspect, did give evidence against the Sub-Inspector at the Quarter Sessions. He was not summoned as a witness; but jumped up in court and stated he saw the Sub-Inspector cross a gate with the girl at 11 o'clock at night. The County Court Judge told him he did not believe a word of it.There can be no doubt that if a man enforces the law, there will be created a hatred against him, and attempts will be made to injure him. Surely, the House will agree with me that the Government, under such circumstances, would have been very much to blame had they determined to dismiss a man merely because charges of that nature, which the evidence had disproved, had been brought against him. The reason of Quinn's giving evidence, therefore, was not the cause of his arrest.
§ MR. PARNELL
asked, if it was true that Quinn was not allowed to appear at the second trial because of his incarceration?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
No doubt, he was in prison; but if it had been thought 242 desirable by the parties to call him he would have been permitted to attend. That has been allowed in other cases, and would be repeated in all where necessary. Of the next two charges made, one is that we have arrested men whom magistrates would have committed for trial and juries would have convicted. I will not detain the House long in answering this charge; indeed, it is scarcely necessary to do so. The truth is, that it was because witnesses were deterred from giving evidence by intimidation, even though they had been injured themselves, and because very few juries, from sympathy, would convict, that we asked for the Act; and we have put it in force only when we believed there was no other way of preventing outrage. To complain, therefore, of the Government putting it in force is simply to go over the ground again for its passing; and such facts, if anything, greatly strengthen all the arguments with which the Bill was brought forward. There are, however, happily, one or two places in Ireland, and especially in County Mayo, in which we see encouraging signs of a change. The hon. Member for Mayo has alluded to the conviction of a man named Gordon by a Mayo jury, on what he seemed to think insufficient evidence; but, on the contrary, the offence was clearly proved by two policemen, who heard him make a speech to an excited crowd, recommending the murder of an individual he named.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
Stop him! I do not know how they could, unless they had put their hands over his mouth. That, however, would not have stopped him, because the words were already out. The hon. Member seems to think it a small or trivial matter to incite to murder. I can assure the hon. Member that I think it no trivial matter openly to incite to murder, especially in that county. We have had too much experience of that; we have had murders in County Mayo that make such speeches very important and very dangerous, and the speech in question was one of them, and was one of which it was impossible not to take notice. Well, the jury convicted the man; and I confess it was with very great pleasure 243 and surprise that I heard of that conviction. I am assured that nothing could have been clearer than the evidence against him; but there have been other cases quite as clear, in which no convictions have followed, and therefore I look upon it as a very encouraging sign that in County Mayo the law-abiding feeling is too strong for the law-breakers. Still, though this is encouraging, there are other facts that are not encouraging. If we may at all judge by our experience of the Cork Assizes, we know that if ever this Act was necessary it is still necessary, I am sorry to say, in many parts of Ireland, and especially in parts of County Cork. It really is almost wasting the time of the House to complain of the arrests of men who might have been brought before a jury, when the great ground of arrest under the Act all along has been that juries cannot be depended upon to convict in these agrarian cases. Now, I wish just to explain why men have not always been brought before the magistrates. There have been cases in which the evidence was so clear and distinct and so convincing that we knew the magistrate must commit for trial; but I must state frankly and candidly that which I am sorry to state—that, in many instances, a committal in which bail was taken only meant a most disastrous triumph for the law-breakers over the law. It simply amounted to this—that when the Assizes came on there would be no Chance of a conviction, and that the man was held up as a hero among other law-breakers from the time he was arrested up to the time of his liberation. The hon. Member for Mayo says that we are keeping in prison some men whose sentences would have expired if they had been tried by the Common Law. I do not deny that, in some instances, that may be the case; but these are cases of intimidation, and will anyone compare intimidation such as we know it to be in Ireland with the same offence in England or any other country? It must be remembered that the great present evil of social life in Ireland is intimidation; that is the real ground upon which the law is defied, that has deterred witnesses from giving evidence, and has made it difficult to obtain convictions from juries, and has thus been the main cause of the Protection Act. The next charge is very remarkable. We are told 244 that we ought not to have arrested men. because they were respectable. The hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. Daly) says that in that county the most respectable man, if he takes part in the Land agitation, is at once seized and cast into prison. But I may say that he would not have been so arrested, although he might have taken part in that agitation, unless there was reason to believe that in taking such a part he had at the same time either committed or incited others to commit acts of violence and outrage. I can only say it appears to me that the meaning which the word "respectable" bears in Ireland is very different from that which it bears in England. When one or two hon. Gentlemen came to see me about certain arrests, and said that the persons arrested were most respectable men, I thought at first that the term attached to personal character, moral character, or personal virtues, and that they were men respectable for their virtues or for some moral qualities; but I have since found that the real and ostensible meaning was their social position—their business position in the world—the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Major Nolan), for example, complaining of the arrest of men whose business was interfered with. I must really differ from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Galway, and say that the fact of a man being respectable because he is engaged in business is no reason whatever why his offences should be overlooked. An ingenious argument was also used yesterday to show that the arresting of men of good position, whose business would be interfered with, would make the Act unpopular. Well, there may be no ground for an arrest, and then it is intelligible that a man should not be arrested; but it is not to be expected that an offender should be let off because he is influential and respectable in his neighbourhood. Whoever these respectable men may be they cannot be protected by their position. [Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR: We never said that.] I believe it was so stated yesterday, both by the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Major Nolan) and the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. Parnell). The latter hon. Member sought to make out his case by showing that many of the men arrested were labourers, land stewards, shopkeepers, and three shoe- 245 makers; but the mere fact of their being so employed surely cannot be expected to excuse them from arrest if they are found to be persons who committed outrage or incited to outrage or murder. I dare say I shall be reminded of my statement, when I brought the Bill forward, that in my opinion the men who committed the outrages were village tyrants and—I believe I called them so—dissolute ruffians. Well, I still believe it; but hon. Members must not expect me to give the proofs of that assertion. They will see why. It is quite enough to arrest men without trial upon sufficient grounds, and to state a part of their offence, without making special charges against their character, and, therefore, I shall refrain from doing so; but anything more absurd than the counter-statement of many hon. Members opposite, that because the persons arrested are what they call respectable people they must, therefore, be virtuous people, and incapable of committing a crime, I never heard in my life. It is very curious how that remark of mine was taken; and the first retort was that I used that hard language of all the Land Leaguers, whereas I specially confined its application to the planners and perpetrators of outrages, and I stated over and over again that I thus characterized only those who committed or planned outrages. Then I was told I intended it to apply to all who attended land meetings. But now the ground is shifted, and I am told— "Because you have arrested certain people who are, according to our definition, respectable persons, even though you have a reasonable suspicion against them, you should have let them alone." Whether he was respectable, either in the one sense or in the other, no man has been arrested without the Lord Lieutenant or myself, and almost always both of us, having very reasonable grounds of suspicion that he had committed this crime which is punishable by law. When we see that a man has a good character, we ask for more stringent proofs than we should otherwise require to show that he ought to be arrested. Possibly some persons have been arrested who previously stood well, and deservedly so, with their neighbours, but who, being carried away by the violence of the agitation, committed acts which brought them within the 246 scope of the Act of Parliament, and we cannot release them from the consequences of their acts even on account of their previous character. The House should recollect that such a man is all the more dangerous because he is more likely to influence his neighbourhood than a man of bad character. I now come to the last charge which is made against us in the working of this Act. It was said we made use of the Act to arrest Land Law reformers and Constitutional speakers. Before I go into that question, however, let me say a word or two as to the actual statistics of what we have done, for I think the House has a right to ask us for them. On the 1st of August the number of persons in prison was 192; and that is also, I believe, the number of persons in prison at the present date, because, although nine arrests have been made this month, there has been an equal number of discharges. Before the month of August 16 men were discharged, and one man was convicted, making 209 altogether who had been imprisoned. I think there is an impression on the minds of many hon. Members that we have only professed to arrest the majority of these men because they had in vague terms incited the people to commit crimes. Now, I have drawn up a sort of analysis which shows that 16 persons were suspected of murder, 10 for shooting at the person, 22 of assaults or riot, 44 of unlawfully assembling to attack houses or of night attack.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
I cannot tell; but if the hon. Member desires the information I will find out. Twelve persons were arrested for unlawfully assembling to disturb the peace, and four for obstructing the law.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
The hon. Member for the City of Cork said we had only arrested 14 persons for intimidation and sending threatening letters, or causing them to be sent. The number is really 20. But a mere suspicion that a man had written a threatening letter was not considered to be a ground for his arrest. It must have been shown that the threatening letter was part of an organized system of intimidation, and 247 was likely to intimidate. The hon. Member seems to complain that we have arrested only nine persons for maiming cattle. The reason is that it is exceedingly difficult to attach suspicion to those people who have committed the offences, inasmuch as such crimes are generally committed at a time when it is almost impossible to obtain information. Eight persons have been arrested for incendiary fires; and now, I think, I have gone over nearly the whole. One hundred and seventy-one out of the 209 prisoners under the Act were arrested upon grounds upon which if evidence had not been withheld we could have brought them before a jury on an indictment for being principal or accessory in the respective acts of which they were suspected. That leaves 38 persons who were arrested for incitement; 25 of whom were apprehended for special incitements, and 13 for what I may call general incitements—namely, incitements to commit outrage made by speech or writing. The latter are cases in regard to which we have no right to plead the danger and difficulty of giving the names of the persons upon whose information the prisoners were arrested. It is open speaking, and the only question is whether it is open speaking of a sort for which men ought to be arrested. I grant that is a reason for arrest concerning which the House ought to be very jealous, and about which the Government are bound to give explanation. When I brought in the Bill I hoped and believed there would be no such cases; but I am sorry to say I have been greatly disappointed. [Mr. HEALY: Hear, hear!] It is not my fault that I am disappointed. Whilst it will be detaining the House I should like to give the grounds upon which, in one or two cases, we found it necessary to enforce the Act. I ought to say that in no case has a man been arrested on such a charge for anything he had done before the passing of the Act. The man whom we first arrested for an outrage of this kind was Mr. Michael P. Boyton. Was it possible for us to avoid arresting him? He was guilty, not of incitement to a special outrage, but of a general instigation to outrage. Mr. Boyton said—We have seen plenty of them (landlords and agents) that deserve to be shot at any man's hands. I have always denounced the commission of outrages by night, but meet him 248 in the broad daylight, and if you must blow his brains out, blow it out in the daytime. It will be your duty to punish those people (the landlords) for any misuse of their power. Don't be afraid of the Government or the police, but teach that man (the land-grabber) to be afraid of you. It is the intention of the Government to prop up the landlords that you have pledged me here to-day to destroy. You must continue the struggle until we get rid of the landlords in this Irish nation for ever—that is what we want. Any policeman that enters your house between sunset to-night and to-morrow, you can lull him if you choose. If they (the police) come at night, and you have an old musket or an old pistol, and your wife or daughter is frightened you can blow out his brains. Teach your children to grow up in the love of God and hatred of English misgovernment and oppression. If we saw a fair prospect for something better, we would not be afraid to sacrifice our liberty first and afterwards our lives in its attainment.Although I hold that we ought not to arrest a man for a free and fair public speech, yet I think we should have been simply making fools of the House if, after applying for and obtaining the Coercion Act from the House, we had permitted such a speech to be made without exercising the powers we had obtained.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
On the 5th of March, 1881, at Killorglin, in the county of Kerry, just after the passing of the Act. Mr. Boyton was the organizer of the Land League, and he was succeeded by Mr. Thomas Brennan. On the 23rd of May we found it necessary to arrest Mr. Brennan, and I may say that, by that time, much more careful speeches were delivered. The care, however, with which they were delivered did not prevent their ill effect; in fact, to some extent, there was a new interpretation of language, which was well understood by both speaker and hearer. It was evident from what happened that more was meant to be conveyed by certain speeches than appeared to be meant. Mr. Brennan said—You have still to make the country hotter; you must make it impossible for the landlords, assisted as they are by soldiers and police, to collect rent.At a later stage, Mr. Brennan said—Let every man in Ireland who pays rent only pay it when he is forced to pay it at the bayonet's point.If such a speech as that had been de- 249 livered two or three years ago, probably we should have taken no notice of it; but we must bear in mind what significance it has now. The speech is really an instruction to the people to resist until the rent is collected at the point of the bayonet. [Mr. PARNELL dissented.] Does the hon. Member mean to say that if he were to make such a speech it would not have a very serious effect upon an Irish audience?
§ MR. PARNELL
The meaning of that speech is perfectly well known in Ireland. It is entirely different from the interpretation which the right hon. Gentleman and others have put upon it.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
I need hardly cite the speeches of Mr. Gordon, for the hon. Member (Mr. Parnell) himself thinks he spoke too strongly. The hon. Member, in his famous speech at Ennis, which was a sort of prelude to the agitation, did not set an example of temperate language. He called upon his adherents to condemn any man whom they might consider to have aided in an unjust eviction by taking the vacant farm, to the loss not only of his money, but to a life of absolute misery—to suffering greater than that of any person we have arrested, or that anyone of the evicted people endured. It was, in short, such a punishment as would not be given by any Court of Law in any civilized country. Upon that speech we tried in vain to bring the ordinary law to bear in Dublin. Everyone will remember the failure of that prosecution, and that, as a consequence, other speeches of a violent nature were made. When we remember this, I do not think it lies with the hon. Member to rebuke those who followed him for the violent language they had used Passing over the minor offenders whom we did not think it worth while to touch, I come to the speech of one Bartholomew Finn. This person, whom we arrested on a charge of inciting to murder, addressed a meeting at Mahanagh, County Sligo, in the following terms:—Will you spring to your feet and settle this question the only way it can be settled? The French settled their question. They acted like men; they hanged their landlords to the nearest tree, or shot them down like snipe in September. It strikes me that you will be driven by exorbitant rents, you will be forced to fly to the hillside, unsheath your sword, and win your rights.[Mr. HEALY: Hear, hear!] "Well, would 250 the hon. Member think it right to make that speech in Ireland? [Mr. HEALY: I would please myself.] Of course, in that case, we could not sit patiently by and listen to such language as that, with the powers we had given us. The hon. Member's cheer obliges me to refer to something he said in this House a few days ago. [Mr. HEALY: Hear, hear!] He made a speech in the House of Commons—
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
The hon. Member was in the House when the Speaker stated that this debate might be an exception to the rule. Indeed, the hon. Member for the City of Cork based his accusations very much upon my speech in introducing the Coercion Bill. However, I do not press that point. I take it the hon. Member is sorry he made that speech, and does not want any allusion made to it. Now, supposing such a speech had been made in Ireland to an excited crowd, and supposing the person who delivered it attempted to guard himself from the consequences of the talking of shooting landlords and bailiffs, by saying it was a quotation, is there a single Member in the House who does not know how the speech would be interpreted in Ireland? What would have been its effect? Could any person suppose that the hon. Member would be sufficiently exonerated from its consequences by saying that he had merely made a quotation? I do not think the hon. Member would have made that speech in Ireland. In saying this, let me not be misunderstood. I am not reflecting upon the hon. Member's courage, on the ground that he knew he was safe in making that speech in the House. I say it, because I believe that he has some sense of responsibility for what he says in Ireland. However, I think it right to warn the hon. Member that if such a speech were made in Ireland we should be obliged to take notice of it. I now take the cases of Murphy and O'Connor, who were arrested for treasonable practices; but the grounds of their arrest were speeches, and their cases consequently come within this category. Mr. Murphy, who, I see, is a Town Councillor, took the chair at a meeting of the Cork Land League, and, 251 according to the report in The Freeman's Journal, spoke as follows:—Nine-tenths of the police force in Ireland were drawn from the farming community, and he now appealed to the farmers in that room and the farmers throughout Ireland who might have a brother, a nephew, or a son, or a cousin, or a friend in the force to ask him to leave it. He had read the oath given to policemen in Dublin Castle, and he knew that it was a very solemn thing to infringe that oath; hut if there was anything to sanction the breaking of an oath, it was duty to country, and duty to country ranked next to duty to God Himself. He would say now that that sacrifice was demanded, and he would say on conviction that that oath was more honoured in the breach than in the observance.That, in my opinion, was a treasonable speech, for it was clearly an exhortation to the police to break their oath. O'Connor said, practically, the same thing—The chairman's remarks with regard to the police were very well-timed. He wished to point out that there was at present, in collection, a fund which would be used for the purpose of aiding and assisting any man in whom the early teaching he got would predominate, who would respond, as it were, to his mother's milk and leave the force. Let them not for a moment take into account the violation of their oaths. They were only bound to keep their oaths as long as they kept their places in the force; but as to leaving the force, they had the opinion of a great Constitutionalist, who said that when a just oath clashed with allegiance to a man's country he was not bound to keep it.We know very well that one of the chief features in the agitation that has been carried on has been that of frequent attempts, usually, and, as a matter of consequence, secretly carried on, to induce the police, by all sorts of allurements, to forsake their duty. We also know that the police have shown in these circumstances the most wonderful loyalty and devotion, and we were bound to protect them from such attempts. That one of the offenders in this case should have been a Town Councillor, and a man who was otherwise entitled to be considered "respectable," was all the more reason for our taking action. I think I have now replied to the different charges made with respect to our working of the Act, and I wish to make a few observations with regard to the extent to which the Act has been worked. We obtained our extraordinary powers on March 2. In that month we arrested 35 persons; in April, 19; in May, 60, but discharged 4; in June, 73, but discharged 6; in July, 22, but dis- 252 charged 6, and 1 was convicted; so that on the 1st of August there were 192 persons in prison. That, I believe, is also the present number. Well, we have been told by the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) and others that the Act is a failure. I believe, for my part, that without it we should either have had a much larger number of outrages, or there would have been no occasion for outrages—the unwritten law would have ruled Ireland. Here let me quote a few statistics of outrages. I am not going to include threatening letters, which, as a means of intimidation, are extensively used in lonely parts of Ireland. I have had some personal experience of them myself, and I suppose so have many others; but I do not think they are so trivial in Ireland as in this country. In Ireland they are generally the forerunner of a violent attack upon some individual; but I omit them, because I do not think they are a sufficient test of the amount of agrarian crime. Agrarian outrages began to increase very much in October of last year. There were in that month, not including threatening letters, 114 cases; in November, 219; and in December, 384. In January they began to go down. There were then 188. I believe it was felt that Parliament must meet and try to do something. In February, when it was known that the Act must be passed, they fell to 90. In March, the Act still exercising a deterrent effect, they fell to 82. Then they began to increase again. I believe they increased for two reasons. The first was that we treated the prisoners very well in prison. [Laughter.] That we did treat them very well is pretty clear, from the fact that no attempt has been made to charge us with cruelty. The second and principal reason was that we were exceedingly careful and sparing in our first arrests. I was in hope that that course would suffice. The number of cases in which we refused to arrest was large, and a feeling seemed to have sprung up that we were not in earnest. As a necessary result, we were obliged to apply the Act more strictly. In April the outrages—again not counting threatening letters—numbered 196; in May 199; in June 207; but in July they fell to 159; and in the first half of the present month they were only 66. Having said so much with, regard to the working of 253 the Act, which I think is due to the House, I must say a word or two with regard to the future action of the Government, as far as we can judge at present. The hon. Member for Glasgow, in a speech of most excellent tone, and other hon. Members, not especially from Ireland, have asked, in view of the passing of the Land Bill that we should consider the question of the release of the prisoners now detained by the Government. In answer to my hon. Friend, I would say there are two classes of prisoners. There are some, but not many, whom I do not think my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow would ask to be released. Some men have been arrested because they are believed to have been engaged in organized attempts at murder. There are one or two places in which we believe secret societies are at work quite as vigorously and destructively as ever in former times in Westmeath. We have, for instance, arrested on reasonable suspicion of complicity in murder, nine men about the district of Loughrea; and in and about Loughrea there have been four murders. I do not think my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Glasgow would say that because of the passing of the Land Bill we should liberate men who we thought were engaged in organized attempts at murder until we are satisfied that the operation of these secret societies has come to an end. But the majority of those who have been arrested were arrested on account of their being engaged in carrying out by violence an organized system of intimidation. The question is, whether we should liberate all these men? I am sorry to say that, having regard to the safety of the country, I do not think we should. What are the dangers against which we have to contend? We have to deal with a most determined and a most powerful agitation. The ostensible object of that agitation, as I have already stated, is to replace the written law by the unwritten law of the Land League. The result has been open resistance to the officers of the law, or secret outrages, making it dangerous to obey the law of the land, and dangerous not to obey the unwritten law. As regards open resistance to the law, I am hopeful, for I am thankful to believe that we have not the difficulties to contend with now that we had. By taking 254 care that in all cases of expected resistance the Sheriff should inform the heads of the police, and that they should take care that a sufficient force should accompany the Sheriff, we have secured that that resistance which appeared to be likely to be very dangerous has much decreased. We have also thought it our duty to warn the people in the neighbourhood as to what the effect of resistance to the law would be. In that way, I believe we have been able to quell open resistance, where it was expected, without experiencing, at any time, as we thought we should have done, the dangers arising from a bloody collision. There was, it is true, a case in Mayo in which a policeman was killed, and two of the attacking parties were killed; but, beyond that case, there has been but little serious fighting between the people and the guardians of the public peace. That case was more the mob unexpectedly attacking the police than an engagement, as it was a mob of persons attacking three policemen, one of whom, as I have said, was killed. That we have not experienced such collisions has been a great relief to me; and I hope I shall still be able to avoid such a collision. At the same time, I must secure that the law shall be obeyed; and, when sending a force to attain that result, if resistance is made, force must be used. The other danger is in secret outrages. If we were to see an immediate probability that they would cease under the operation of the Land Bill, nothing would be more delightful to the Government than to open the prison doors and let the prisoners go free. It has been said that the Land Bill should have a fair chance. But is there, I would ask, any attempt to give it a fair chance? I hardly think, from speeches made in this House, that there is an intention to give it a fair chance. I do not wish to deal with those speeches. I refer to the speeches made last Monday night. I think they were made under a feeling of irritation at the prospect of the Land Bill passing; but now, as that has been fulfilled, and it is on the point of becoming law, I hope it will have a fair trial. But speeches have been made out of the House, as well as in it. The hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy) made a speech at a meeting of the Land League, a report of which appeared in The Freeman's Journal of 255 July 25. After stating his reasons for thinking that the Land League would be more likely to give a fair verdict than the Court, he said—If the Court did not establish a fair rent, what satisfaction would the farmer have? He would have none. But if the League declared what was a fair rent, and if the League declared that only a fair rent should be paid, the League gave him a remedy. If the landlord evicted him no man would take the land.Well, what does that mean? It means that if the policy of the Land League be carried out, it will prevent any man from taking land from which a tenant has been evicted. [Mr. HEALY: Why did not you arrest me?] I understood the hon. Member to say that that would be the working of the policy of the Land League. That will be understood, and the meaning of it is that the working of this policy will be by intimidation; not merely by trying to make men outcasts and moral lepers, not merely by sending threatening letters, but by actual violence and intimidation, men are to be prevented from taking land in cases where the Land League say there has been an unjust rent. Therefore, I say to those hon. Members who are anxious—not more anxious than we are—that we should open the prison doors, that before we can do so we must see what power the hon. Member and those who think with him have to keep up this agitation. Again, there was a Land League meeting last Tuesday. I read the report of the meeting with great interest. The mover of the first resolution said that if the Land Bill of 1881 should pass into law the Land League would go on as if it never existed. He also said that he believed that, under that Bill, the tenant farmer would be far worse off than under the Land Act of 1870. That appears to me to show that we shall have a dangerous agitation still going on, organizing intimidation, if it is able to do so. We have, however, an opportunity of finding out what are the intentions of the leaders of this agitation by reading The Irish World, which is the chief organ of the Land League in America. Now, I look at The Irish World of the 6th of August. I do not suppose hon. Members will deny that it is the organ of the Land League. [An hon. MEMBER: Not the official organ.] No; not the official Organ, perhaps, but a very influential 256 one. I find in the very number from which I am about to quote the statement:—"Land League Fund.—Subscriptions received this week by The Irish World making a total of $135,000." I have made an analysis of the subscriptions received for the funds of the Land League, for I wished to see to what extent the Irish people give material and influential help to the Land League agitation. I find that the amount received for the agitation during the months of June and July was £10,907. Of this, the subscriptions received by The Irish World amount to £4,800; other American subscriptions, £4,543; subscriptions from Great Britain, £81; from Ireland, £163. [Mr. BABRY: The landlords have it.] Nearly half comes from The Irish World, about nine-tenths from America, and less than 1½ per cent from. Ireland. Hon. Members may be proud of it; but never was there before an agitation the means of carrying on which were provided to such a great extent from places outside of the country, and to so infinitestimally small an extent from sources within it, and from the inhabitants themselves. I think I have established the claim of The Irish World to be considered an authority for one section, at least, of the Land League agitation. Here is a passage from a long article in a publication which is circulated everywhere in Ireland, and very often given away—If it" (the Land Bill) "is accepted by the Irish in lieu of what they have been demanding at every meeting since the first one held at Irishtown, then, indeed, the Land League may furl its banner and acknowledge itself beaten, not by the power of England, but by the cowardice of those whom it has sought to free from the yoke of landlordism.….But we hope better things from them. They have learned that no mere modification of landlordism will cure Ireland of the disease that has so long sapped her vitality.…. Gladstone by this time is probably congratulating himself on having so successfully laid the spectre that so startled the land-thieves of Ireland and England. No time ought to be lost in dispelling his delusion. This can be effectually done by Ireland resolving not to give to the land-thief any part of the coming harvest.….Let Ireland's determination to hold the coming harvest be her answer to the man who, under the guise of a ' benefactor,' would rivet still closer the chains of landlordism which have so long bound her to poverty and misery.….Remember, there has as yet been nothing like a general strike against rent. The isolated instances of resistance to landlordism have been but mere skirmishes. But, comparatively insignificant as 257 they have been, they have tested the power of the English Government in a way that has shown that it would be utterly incapable of putting down a general strike, extending from one end of the island to the other.Thus, we are not only told what we are to expect from this influential organ of the Land League, but that we shall be too weak to resist it. Surely, to say that is hardly consistent with asking us to give up some of our power, as hon. Members representing the Land League do now. The same article goes on to say—If, then, this strike be inaugurated, the coming autumn, by a firm refusal on the part of the Irish people to hand over to the land-thief any portion of the harvest, there can be no doubt about their gaining a victory that will be a death-blow to landlordism.I give these extracts to show the House what we still have to contend with, and what will be endeavoured to be done. I do not say the effort will be successful. There are hopeful signs. Providence has been pleased to bless Ireland with a good harvest. I expect the harvest to be too good to hold; that it will be too large for even those men who read these papers and hear these speeches, more or less open, to be induced to follow these dishonest counsels. Do not let me be supposed to be casting too great a reproach on the Irish nation; but there is a great want of moral courage in that country. That appears to be the great want of Ireland; but it is, like many other faults of Ireland, the effect of a small country being tied to a big one. [Loud cheers.] I call upon those who cheer this remark to do their utmost to raise that spirit in Ireland which exists in England, which is not merely protection in England against the exaction of any Government or any unjust laws, but against intimidation by any individual or any organized system. But, notwithstanding that there is this moral cowardice in many parts of Ireland, I have heard of very many cases of touching honesty in which men, fearing to pay their debts on account of the intimidation of the officers of the Land League around them, have gone stealthily and paid what they owed. [Mr. O'KELLY: Cowardice.] [Laughter.] The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) surely does not laugh at that. [Mr. O'KEELY: Is it moral courage?]
§ MR. SPEAKER
If the interruption by the hon. Member for Wexford con- 258 tinues to be so frequent I must take Notice of it.
MR. J. COWEN
May I explain, Sir? It was not the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy) who interrupted. The interruptions came from the hon. Member for Roscommon (Mr. O'Kelly).
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
The bountiful harvest will strengthen honest men in their determination. But there is another hope for Ireland. Notwithstanding The Irish World and those who circulate it, notwithstanding all the money which comes from The Irish World and which is spent in this agitation, I still believe that the Land Act will be too strong for the Laud League. Until now there has been an apparent justification among the tenants of Ireland of much that has been done—but no justification before the House, or before those whose duty it was to carry out the law, because the law must be carried out, or anarchy is the result; but it was stated with some degree of truth, though with much exaggeration, that there were very many cases of unjust rent, and that there were no legal means of getting an unjust rent turned into a just rent. That gave a certain excuse, though no justification, for Irish tenants looking to this organization for a support which the laws were not supposed to afford. The law will now give it. [Mr. HEALY: We shall see.] The law will declare that an unjust rent shall be made just. The hon. Member for Wexford says—"We shall see." Let him and those who act with him use their influence with their friends in America to induce them to stand aside a little, and let the Irish people see, and before long we shall be able to open the prison doors. I have alluded to speeches which have been made here and outside of this House. Not even all the Land Leaguers take that line. Other speeches have been made on this subject; and I cannot help referring to one which was delivered only yesterday by a most influential person, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cashel. I cannot allude to his speech without saying that I very much regret some part of the course which the Archbishop of Cashel has taken. But no one doubts his influence or his sympathy with the Irish tenants. If the hon. Members for the City of Cork and Wex- 259 ford, and other hon. Members who have, or think they have, influence in Ireland, were to take the part that Archbishop Croke is taking, many of our difficulties would be removed. What does the Archbishop say?—He did not know what the exact provisions of the Bill now were; but he had no hesitation in saying that if the Bill was substantially what it was when presented to the Upper House by Mr. Gladstone and his Colleagues, he would strongly recommend the people to give it a fair trial.That is all that we ask for. [Mr. HEALY: Hear, hear!"] I am delighted that we have the hon. Member for Wexford's statement that he will give it a fair trial.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, that the hon. Member for Wexford had cheered, not only the remark that the Bill should have a fair trial, but the further remark that that was all the Government asked for.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
That is all we ask for at the present moment. Archbishop Croke went on to say—And to accept it, not, if they liked, as a final settlement of the Land Question, but, at all events, as a great been and a great blessing —as a Bill calculated to do immeasurable good to the tenant farmers of Ireland.Ever since Lord Russell received the name of "Finality John" we could not expect a man to speak of finality in human affairs. Archbishop Croke ended by saying—" Their attitude would be an attitude of observation." [" Hear, hear!" from the Irish Members.]They would see what good the Bill was likely to do; but, as it had been offered in a gracious, just, kindly, statesmanlike spirit, they should accept it with gratitude.'There are two influences at work. There is the influence of a good harvest, the influence of the Land Bill, and the influence of many influential men who have taken part in this agitation, doing their utmost to put down outrages and the system of intimidation which has existed. On the other side, there is the baneful influence to which I have referred, and the question is— Which of the two would prove the strongest? What must be our course? Until the sentiment expressed in a "Hear, hear!" which we have just heard from the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy), there has been very little indication of any such opinion as that expressed by Archbishop Croke on 260 the part of the Land League Members. Does anyone think that any Englishman would wish to retain these coercive powers if they could help it? Does anyone believe that the Government wish to detain these men in gaol? No one could believe that any Gentleman holding the position I do could wish to keep them in prison. If anybody does think that, nothing that I can say will convince him. What is our duty? The duty of the Government is to protect personal property and industry, and to free men from violence and intimidation; and the passing of the Land Bill into law does not relieve us from the fulfilment of that duty. This House—the people of Great Britain would blame us, and all law-abiding people in Ireland—and they are a vast number more than we have any notion of—would blame us if we were to disregard these duties because of the Land Bill being placed on the Statute Book. In the ensuing months, and until Parliament meets again, I earnestly hope that such will be the state of things, that I may be able to meet it again under different circumstances, and without having to put the Coercion Act into operation; but if it be necessary, in keeping up the struggle of law and order against outrages, to use this power, then the Government dare not divest themselves of it. Their duty will be in each case to consider its merits, and to let any individuals out of prison when they could safely be discharged; but as regards any general release, and as regards any special release, whatever may be our wish—whatever may be the honest desire of some of the supporters of the Government—while this power is necessary to keep order and maintain the law and protect persons and property, we cannot divest ourselves of it.
§ MR. GIBSON
Sir, I desire to occupy the attention of the House for a few moments only. I do not think that anyone will regret that this debate has been introduced; and I am satisfied that if the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) presses his Motion to a division, he will find that the vast majority of the House on both sides cannot give it their support. When, originaly, the Government asked for an increase of powers, it was felt by Parliament, after great consideration and ample debate, that the Government of the day had made out a case in favour of their being intrusted 261 with these exceptional powers; and, Parliament having intrusted Government with these exceptional powers, we must trust them completely, subject to their own great responsibility. Everyone who has listened to the speech which has now been delivered by the Chief Secretary for Ireland must acknowledge that he spoke as a man who thoroughly recognized his responsibility, and was not afraid to show the country and the Irish Members how it was that he had fulfilled that responsibility in each particular case that came under his notice. The state of Ireland at the present moment, I regret to say it, is still such as to fill everyone with very great anxiety; and, unquestionably, at the present time at which I speak, the position of the country in many parts of it is very serious indeed. I should have been very glad if the passing of the measure which is so much associated with the name of the Prime Minister had been received in a way which would allay our anxiety; but, unfortunately, some of the utterances show that it has been received in a very different spirit. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland has referred to a speech delivered on the 16th of August by Mr. Lowden, in the Central Land League Committee. I took down one sentence not quoted by him. Mr. Lowden, referring to the Land Bill, said—The Land League would let it live as long as it could, but it was doomed to an early death; the League would go on as if it never existed, and if it did last, it would be only a curse.I think language of this kind is to be deplored. The Bill now awaits the Royal Assent, and it would be desirable for all parties to wait and abide the result of its operation. For myself, I feel bound to say, having been in this House the open and fearless critic of its provisions, now that it is about to become law I shall not, by word or suggestion, say anything that may interfere with the operation of the measure. I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland could consider it consistent with his duty to give the country, during the Recess, particulars as to the state of crime in Ireland. If he could continue to furnish the ordinary sources of information with Returns of what I would fain hope would be a falling-off in outrages, I think it would be well. No one who 262 listened to the closing words of the right hon. Gentleman will doubt, I think, that he approaches the consideration of his new duties—or a new development of them—in a thoroughly reasonable spirit. Everyone must regard with the deepest pain the fact that it is necessary to confine, for an hour, a single Irishman in prison; and everyone who listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman will recognize that no one is more anxious than he is to welcome, at the earliest possible moment, any opportunity which would enable him to free those men now in confinement. But that is a matter which must be left to the absolute responsibility of the Government. The Government have now before them an interval which will elapse before the meeting of Parliament; and they would be acting with a great want of prudence if, for the sake of winning a little brief popularity, they were to recede from the strict lines of obvious duty. They discharge their duties under public supervision. They will be watched, on the one side, by the hon. Members who have spoken below the Gangway, in order that they may see that the Government do not exceed their duty; and, on the other hand, the whole Empire will watch the Government to see that they are strictly fulfilling their duty. I myself, as an Irishman, sincerely, anxiously hope that peace and tranquillity will soon fall upon my country; and, in any event, I trust that every loyal subject of the Queen, whether in England or Ireland, will earnestly support the Government in their endeavour to maintain law and order.
§ MR. REID
said, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Gibson) was correct when he said the hon. Member for the City of Cork could expect to receive little support from any portion of the House. He (Mr. Reid) cordially agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland in hoping that the Land Bill would have a most beneficial effect in Ireland; but, at the same time, he hoped a measure of relief to the persons now in prison would be considered. He thought the right hon. Gentleman deserved every thanks for the manner in which he had discharged, under circumstances of very great difficulty, his very painful and unpleasant duties. He trusted the satisfactory influence of the Land Bill would enable the right hon. 263 Gentleman to bring to an end the exercise of a power which every generous man would wish to see abolished, but which had been only a necessary weapon against a wicked and abominable conspiracy. He would point out to the Government that, in his belief, the influence of the Land League had been greatly increased last autumn by the rejection of the Compensation for Disturbance Bill: the tenants, unable to pay excessive rents, and deprived, by the action of the House of Lords, of the temporary protection offered by that Bill, had, in despair, fled for succour to the Land League, the only body that appeared capable of protecting them. Hence that League had acquired an altogether different position in consequence of the folly of the Legislature, which enabled the League to obtain the sympathies of the people, and it was possible that the League might be still further strengthened by retaining men in prison who by many people in Ireland were regarded, however wrongly, as martyrs. These men were in a position with which everyone ought to sympathize, because they were men who had not been found guilty nor even tried— nay, who had no opportunity of being brought face to face with their accusers, or of offering evidence in disproof of the charges preferred against them. He did not consider that the slightest blame was to be cast upon Her Majesty's Government; but he hoped they would think over the matter with an earnest desire to relieve, as soon as possible, the state of irritation which prevailed in Ireland, for the universal feeling was that the operation of the Act should not be prolonged beyond the absolute necessities of the case. The Government could act without abandoning any of the power they at present possessed. He had, however, no doubt that the Government would carefully consider the question, and come to a wise decision. It was as an English Liberal Member, knowing what were the feelings of English Liberals upon the subject, that he ventured to make this appeal to Her Majesty's Government; and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland would soon see his way towards acting upon it, and the sooner the better. Such a release would be accepted both in England and Ireland as a proper ac- 264 companiment to the message of peace conveyed by the Land Bill. It would be hailed with rejoicing by the people of this country, who were jealous of liberty, and it would be an indication to the people of Ireland that they were no longer to be governed by rifles and bayonets, but by just laws temperately administered, with the sole object of promoting their welfare.
§ MR. REDMOND
said, that while grateful to the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down (Mr. Eeid) for his philanthropic appeal to the Government on behalf of his imprisoned countrymen, he yet ventured to look at the question from a different point of view. The hon. and learned Gentleman stood there as an English Liberal and appealed for mercy to those unfortunate men; but in the Motion of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) there was not a single word about mercy, and the Irish Members made no such appeal. What they said was that if justice was to be at all regarded these men must be released from prison; and in their public speeches they went further, and said that what was called the remedial measure must fail so long as one of these men was detained in prison. So long as that was the case the peace of Ireland would be impossible. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had given expression to an opinion in which he (Mr. Redmond) heartily concurred. The right hon. Gentleman stated that he wished the Irish would imitate the spirit of the people of England. If they were to do that, the speeches of those who joined in the Land League and other popular movements would be more extreme than they were at present. The spirit of Englishmen was a liberty-loving spirit, which had been bequeathed to them by their ancestors, and they would without delay sweep away any Ministry which proposed to take away the liberties of the country. In that he entirely agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, and would tell him that so long as these men were retained in prison, so long as the Coercion Act was allowed to create an irritating sore, so long would the Representatives of Ireland prolong and intensify a state of feeling which would be not only inconvenient and embarrassing to the Government, but also a 265 source of danger. The right hon. Gentleman had made a long speech descriptive of how the Coercion Act was being carried out; but he (Mr. Redmond) had not found any portion of it which proved that the result of the measure had been what he predicted it would be. Were there any facts to show that it had been successful? There were not. The right hon. Gentleman went into a defence of the arrests he had caused to be made under the provisions of that Act. The right hon. Gentleman took a number of cases of outrage; and, relying on that statement of facts, he argued that individual arrests were justifiable. Now, one of the pleas put forward for the Act was, that it was necessary to meet secret crime in Ireland that could not be otherwise met or coped with; but what did they find? Here they had 40 or 50 men arrested, not because of any secret crime, but on the charge that they took part in unlawful assemblies and riot. Surely these took place in the open day, in the presence of the police; and, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman could not pretend that he could not have got them convicted, or that it would be impossible to obtain evidence against them. Again, it could not be alleged it would prove a failure in their case, since they might have been brought before a magistrate and summarily convicted. He would pass by the sneer which the right hon. Gentleman made as regards the social respectability of the men under arrest. He stated that the fact of a man occupying a good social position was no reason why he should not be punished for his crime; and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland, going further, stated that the fact of a man having a wife and family was no reason for his not being made to pay the penalty of his crime. That was manifest; but surely no one could say that those men were undergoing punishment for any crime. All the Government could say was that they were suspected. Now, there were good reasons why Government should be careful as to whom they arrested in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the case of Mr. Brennan with horror painted on his benevolent countenance, and told the House that that gentleman's conduct was of such a character as to give rise to crime and outrage. But what was it Mr. Brennan said? He simply 266 advised the people not to pay any unjust rents until they were forced to do so at the point of the bayonet; and the right hon. Gentleman, knowing well that it was untrue, said that the man who used language like that desired to bring about a collision between the people and the military. The words had no such meaning. What they meant was that the tenants should not pay unjust rents until the sheriff, attended by a force of military and police, came upon the farm to compel them to do so. His (Mr. Redmond's) own words to the people, when advising them not to pay unjust rents, were, that the people should not meet violence by violence, nor expose themselves to the bayonet and buckshot. A great deal had been said about how the Land Act would be administered, and the right hon. Gentleman said that all he wanted for it was fair play and a fair trial; but it was impossible it could have a fair trial so long as the people found hanging over their head the dread of coercion, which was, in itself, an incentive to crime; but if they wished to create and foster animosity they would detain them in prison. As regarded the Land Act, he would not venture to say whether it was a bad or a good measure; but this he would say—the Irish people did not owe it to the Prime Minister. All the burning words which had been spoken by the Irish Members in respect to the condition of the tenants had been disregarded until the country was brought within a measurable distance of civil war; and then terror, not a feeling of justice towards the Irish people, wrung the measure, such as it was, from the Liberal Government. The Motion of the hon. Member for the City of Cork gave expression to the feeling which was uppermost in the minds of the Irish people. It would not do for Parliament to hold out to the Irish people remedial measures in one hand, while in the other they held aloft the whip with which to scourge them. The question now was, what was to be the future policy of Her Majesty's Ministers towards Ireland? Was it to be peace, or was it to be war? If it was to be peace, the Government must abandon their war establishments and release the suspected persons. It was yielded in cowardice, not in love, for it was the fruit of the peaceful agitation of the people of Ireland, who had learned at last one lesson from recent occur- 267 ences—namely, never to expect anything from the sense of justice and right of English political parties. They had learnt from bitter experience to rely only on their own exertions, determination, and courage. It was said by some that the people of Ireland owed a debt of gratitude to the First Lord of the Treasury. He (Mr. Redmond) would ask, What for? For establishing in Ireland a despotism the like of which was unknown even in Russia, or for passing a measure of reform which the right hon. Gentleman himself had acknowledged could not be withheld without danger to England and Ireland alike? In his opinion, the right hon. Gentleman had been guilty of conduct towards Ireland which would remain as an indelible blot upon his character as a wise statesman and humane man. He last year told the people of Ireland that the Government would prevent the eviction of families who were prevented by the act of God from paying their rent, by passing a Bill—the Compensation for Disturbance Bill—for the purpose; but when that measure was rejected by the House of Lords the right hon. Gentleman not only folded his arms and left the people to meet a sentence that came near to starvation, but he poured an army into Ireland to enforce a cruel and relentless law, which he had himself admitted to be unjust. The conduct of the Government had been impolitic and infatuated; and day by day they were making the Union between the two countries more hateful to the Irish people. Day by day men against whom the Government dared not frame legal accusations—men who, like "village Hampdens," the petty tyrants of their fields withstood, were thrown like malefactors into prison. Was it to be wondered at if, in these circumstances, disturbance and outrage followed in the wake of coercion? It was impossible, under the circumstances, that he and the other Members of his Party should not rejoice over the failure of the Government, for they would never submit to national degradation. From Wexford, he was happy to say, there was not a single case of arrest under this miserable Bill. In fact, the county had not been proclaimed. This happy state of things he attributed to the fact that in Wexford the resident magistrate was a man of tact, judgment, and common sense. If men like Mr. Clifford 268 Lloyd were sent to Wexford, in one week a disturbance would arise which would baffle the allaying powers of any Coercion Act that could be passed. Like his hon. Colleagues around him, he must complain of the scant information furnished by the Government in connection with the arrests that had taken place. He could only conclude, from the refusal of the Executive to give accurate information about the crimes which the incarcerated men were supposed to have committed, that the Government did not desire that it should be possible for them to prove their innocence. He wished, in conclusion, to address a few words to many English Members who voted in support of the Bill with heavy hearts and grave misgivings, but, at the same time, with a belief in the tales of outrage which were alleged by the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and of trust also that the Act would be administered temperately, wisely, and judiciously—in a word, they took the course they did, believing in the right hon. Gentleman, and trusting in the Irish Executive. He would ask those hon. Members whether their expectations had been realized, and whether the arrests of Mr. John Dillon, M.P., and Father Sheehy showed that the intention of the Act was to deal solely with dissolute ruffians, village tyrants, and mauvais sujets? The fact that the Act had not been administered in the spirit which was indicated when it was introduced in the form of a Bill was shown by the action of the Government agents, and the Clifford Lloyds who were scattered broadcast over the country. It was impossible to suppose that the Government could secure respect for laws which were unjust, and it was worthy of remark that the passage of the Act had not pacified Ireland; but it had brought into disrespect those unjust laws which prevailed in Ireland. What, in effect, it brought about was the practical strengthening of the Land League, and it had deeply intensified the feelings of the Irish people generally in regard to, and in opposition to, the recent action of the Government. The course which had been taken by the Imperial Parliament had intensified the hatred with which the Irish race, both at home and abroad, regarded the government of their country by the present Government. He again asked Her Majesty's Advisers 269 whether the question was to be one of peace or war as far as Ireland was concerned; for, if their intentions were peaceful, they must, in the first place, repeal that Act—they must send back to their homes the 200 true-hearted Irishmen they had unjustly arrested as "suspects," and subjected to the degradation of imprisonment under it; and, above all, they must not any longer hesitate to dismiss from Office the weak and tyrannical Minister who presided over the government of Ireland. Unless they did that he, at least, in his very humble capacity, would do everything that lay in his power to intensify and prolong the state of feeling in Ireland, which ultimately might prove a source of danger to England.
§ MR. BLAKE
said, he could speak as a totally independent Member. He believed there were a few of his constituents who had been arrested; but with regard to the circumstances he had received no information. All he had received from his county had been a notice of eviction from his seat by most of the branches of the Land League in it; and, therefore, as he had said, he spoke in the almost unique position of a Liberal Member being totally independent alike of the Land League and the Government. He most earnestly joined in the appeal which had been made from both sides of the House to the Prime Minister, that he would act in what he (Mr. Blake) believed would be a wise and politic manner, by opening the doors of the prison house, so far as it was possible, to those political prisoners who were immured there. The Act which had been passed, and which he (Mr. Blake) thought would not have been possible without a certain amount of agitation, was, in his view, as wise, just, and generous a measure as was practicable, all circumstances considered, had been nobly pushed forward by the First Minister of the Crown; and he believed it was highly calculated to bring back peace, happiness, and prosperity to Ireland if it only received a fair trial. That, unquestionably, would be its natural effect under ordinary circumstances; he hoped such an effect would not be marred by keeping in prison a great many, if not nearly all the men, whose chief fault had been their anxious desire to assist in carrying out that measure. As an act not only of generosity, but of 270 sound policy, he recommended the Government to order the immediate release of the men they had imprisoned under the Coercion Act. A strong feeling prevailed in Ireland that the time had come for release; and deference should be given to this sentiment with as little delay as possible. So long as they were kept inprison—the men who injured their interests and sacrificed their liberty in order to obtain justice for thetenants— there would not be contentment or loyal feeling to the Government in Ireland.
§ MR. HOPWOOD
said, he cordially joined with his hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) in his appeal to the Government for mercy for the "suspects" arrested under the Coercion Act. In common with his hon. Friend, he approached that measure of coercion with considerable repulsion; but he supported it, because he was convinced by the case made out by the Government that such a measure was necessary. While there were some hon. Members belonging to the Irish Party who were deserving of his warmest regard, there were others who were not entitled to the same measure of respect, when they were discussing who was to blame for what had happened, and who were to be set free from coercion; and he was as much convinced by the conduct of certain Members of that House, leaders of the Land League, who had no word of condemnation for outrages which hon. Gentlemen on that side strongly condemned. He, and many others, were also impressed by the promise of a remedial measure, which, by the way, received scant support from some hon. Members to whom he had just alluded; and when its fate hung in the balance last week that circumstance seemed to them a matter of congratulation. He was one of those who was proud of, and anticipated great things from, that measure; but there was one element which might interfere with its healing influence, and that was the conduct of some hon. Members of that House, who seldom disguised their sentiments, and to whom it was pretty sure to be a menace. When those hon. Gentlemen were making this appeal for mercy hon. Members ought not to be altogether influenced by the course they had pursued. It was true those Gentlemen might have a programme to carry out—namely, to produce utter disunion between the two 271 Kingdoms. If the object of those leaders was rebellion with a very fine veil over it, he could understand their opposition to remedial measures, he could understand their trying to set their country against the reception of remedial measures, and trying to promote discontent; but he could not envy them such a programme. But they were now discussing the propriety and expediency of releasing a number of unfortunate men. They had had an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland that against some of the men in prison a case of inciting to murder had been made out. But he (Mr. Hopwood) was speaking not of those, but of men who, from love of Ireland, might have been impelled into an unfortunate course. If such men were released it would gratify England, and, no doubt, Ireland also. He knew the responsibility must rest with the Chief Secretary for Ireland; but he would appeal to his right hon. Friend whether the gravity of his position might not render him unnecessarily nervous. When one was closeted with policemen, though high in rank, every day, one became in time a policeman in a sort of way. That was something against which he (Mr. Hopwood) could say, from his experience of the administration of the Criminal Law, the right hon. Gentleman would do well to guard. The Chief Secretary for Ireland had told the House, on his responsibility, that, under the pressure of present circumstances, he did not see how he could let out those men. But suppose the right hon. Gentleman began with the men who were put in prison merely for violence of language, choosing those who had been the least so, and gave it to be understood that on the conduct of those who were let out would depend whether the rest would be released or not. In that way he thought the right hon. Gentleman might tentatively proceed; and in a short while he believed Kilmainham and the other prisons would not retain a political prisoner. What was the obstacle? The conduct of several hon. Gentlemen opposite, who were open to the suspicion that they did not want to see their countrymen released, and that they believed the fact of these men remaining in prison would add to the power of those who were pulling the wires of the existing 272 agitation. In that case, let it be thoroughly understood that the obstacle to the release of the imprisoned men was the conduct of the leaders of the Land League, who prevented the Government from gratifying their own feelings of mercy. He trusted the Chief Secretary for Ireland would be able to give effect to the suggestion he had made; and in doing so it would gratify a vast number of the supporters of the Government, and the bulk of the people of England, if Her Majesty's Government could do what the Prime Minister and some of his Colleagues had done more than 10 years ago in the case of the Fenian prisoners. What had been done then was a message of peace to the people of Ireland, and those who criticized it at first afterwards admitted its courage and wisdom. He therefore hoped the Government would see their way to act in that direction. To the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland he paid a willing tribute of respect. Though a statesman entitled on the formation of the present Cabinet to a more prominent position, he, nevertheless, consented to take an Office which was the least likely to be attended with honour, or to be softened by the gratitude or tenderness of the people. The right hon. Gentleman had, he (Mr. Hopwood) thought, administered the Office with a merciful consideration towards those whom he was called upon to govern, and he had remained at his post notwithstanding taunts, frequently vulgar and often insolent, and of such a nature that would not be addressed outside the House for fear of the retaliation which they might provoke; and he, therefore, maintained he ought to be thanked by all who had the good of the Empire at heart.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, that the hon. and learned Member who had just spoken (Mr. Hopwood) had insinuated that some of the members of the Land League were deficient in courage. It was too soon, however, after the surrender in the Transvaal and the Battle of Majuba Hill, for Englishmen to make such a charge against the Irish. The hon. and learned Member had also thought fit to appeal for mercy for what he called the unfortunate men who were now in gaol under the Coercion Act; but there were men like Father Sheehy in prison who had rather rot there than owe their liberty 273 to the pleading of the hon. and learned Member. They still supported the Land League, and would continue to do so, although there was not the least doubt that if they chose to give up that Association the Government would be only too glad to set them at liberty. Like his hon. Friend the Member for the county (Mr. Blake), he (Mr. Leamy) wished to say a word about his own unique position. He represented a district proscribed, but in which no one had been arrested—namely, the city of Waterford. On a former occasion the Chief Secretary for Ireland said it had been thought necessary to proclaim the city of Waterford, because the county had been proclaimed, although, out of 140,000 persons in that county, only three had been arrested under the Coercion Act. However, the matter was not of much importance as long as the Chief Secretary for Ireland was able, by a stroke of the pen, to suspend the Constitution. The ease with which such a county as Waterford and its city, with the proud motto Urbs intacta, were proclaimed showed how completely the liberties of the people depended on the will of the Castle officials. Not that he (Mr. Leamy) specially blamed them, or thought their conduct personally unjust; but they were the victims of a bad system, and were poisoned by the air of the place. He thought that if they took an angel out of Heaven and placed him at the head of Dublin Castle he would be contaminated by the evil traditions of the place, and would be persuaded to curtail the liberties of the Irish people. He would not occupy the time of the House unduly with details; but he wished to refer to one case, that of J. D. Power, a farmer, paying more than £100 a-year, who was arrested on a charge of preventing persons from obtaining the necessaries of life. As he (Mr. Leamy) understood the Chief Secretary for Ireland, it was only a case of exclusive dealing; but, if so, how could inciting to exclusive dealing be regarded as an offence? Whatever the Coercion Act had done, it had been used to suppress the Land League by the arrest of its most prominent members; but the arrest of Mr. Dillon showed that the leaders of the people were ready to share their hardships. It was a disgrace to English law that a man should be sent to gaol for a single day without having a right 274 to appeal to another tribunal. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland must be held responsible for the Circular which directed the head constables to make out lists of persons whom they thought were likely to commit offences. It also contained a direct incitement to the police to worm themselves into the confidence of the peasantry for the purpose of betraying them. Although a practice of that kind might be looked upon with favour by English Radicals, the Minister who promulgated such an order could not be looked upon as a Constitutional Minister. It instituted a State inquisition of the most infamous character in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman must likewise be held responsible for the conditions which he deemed it necessary to impose on prisoners who were discharged on account of ill-health. There never was a more wanton abuse of power than to insist upon a man signing such conditions before he was released. If the release of a prisoner were a bar to his subsequent arrest, there might be some reason for imposing these conditions; but, in the actual state of things, the only object in doing so must be to humiliate a man and to break his spirit. It was true that the conditions were not imposed in the case of John Dillon, because the right hon. Gentleman knew very well that he would die rather than accept them. If, however, the right hon. Gentleman could dispense with the conditions in the case of John Dillon, it was a meanness to force men of a weaker nature to accept them. While he (Mr. Leamy) was opposed to these exceptional powers being given to the Government, he derived a good deal of comfort from the reflection that the Coercion Act had brought the Government into discredit in Ireland. People might talk about the Land Act being the great legislative outcome of the present Session; but the Irish people would always remember that the great legislative outcome of the Session was the Coercion Act. Long after the present Ministry had passed away, and when their acts had become a matter of history, men in Ireland would be glad to trace back their descent from those who were now the "suspects" of the right hon. Gentleman. Whatever might be said, of the Land Bill, no Irishman would admit that he owed that measure to the 275 Government. On the contrary, all would agree that the passing of that measure was due to John Dillon, Father Sheehy, and the "suspects" now incarcerated in Kilmainham Gaol; while, at the same time, the Government were credited only with the Coercion Act, which had deprived these men of their liberties.
§ MR. P. MARTIN
supported the Motion of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), and contended that the exceptional and arbitrary powers vested, under the provisions of the Coercion Act, in the Chief Secretary for Ireland would not have been conceded by the House but for the statements made by the Government that a wide spread system of terrorism and outrage prevailed, which made it impossible for them to bring forward in public evidence within their knowledge, or to anticipate, even when sufficient proof was laid before jurors, that convictions would be had. More than once had the Prime Minister and Chief Secretary given- assurances that the Act would not be put in force except in places where intimidation defied the ordinary course of law, and prevented the administration of the ordinary tribunals in a Constitutional form. As had been said by the Solicitor General for Ireland, if the names of the witnesses were given their lives would not be worth an hour's purchase. Now, having regard to those statements and assurances on the part of the Government, could any fair-minded man deny that faith had not been kept with the House, and that there had been, in very many instances, a great abuse by the Irish Executive of those exceptional powers. Let him take, as an example, the county of which he was one of the Representatives (Kilkenny). He defied the Chief Secretary or Attorney General for Ireland to deny that it was a model county, in respect of the very small number of agrarian offences; and where they had been proved to have occurred the ordinary tribunals had been found sufficient to meet all the requirements of justice. There was no hesitation on the part of witnesses in coming forward and giving evidence, and there was no fear on the part of the juries which made convictions in proper cases not procurable. These facts clearly appeared from the admissions made by the County Court Judges—Mr. Baron Dowse and Mr. Baron Deasy—that there 276 was nothing to defeat the ordinary action of the tribunals in either the county or the city of Kilkenny. Despite all this, however, the county had been proclaimed, and he would like to know exactly the grounds of such proclamation. It seemed to him that it had been pro-claimed on wholly insufficient grounds, the principal one being that Mr. Dillon had gone down and made a speech on its confines. Therefore, after their action in proclaiming the county with which he was connected, he could not place any confidence in the promises of Her Majesty's Government. Equally indefensible had been the conduct of the Government in respect to the arrests made in Kilkenny. In Dublin, English delegates had been allowed to indulge in most violent language. The Government had certainly in no way challenged, or attempted to deny, that the proceedings and speeches of the Land League leaders in Dublin were within the law. Indeed, it might be well believed their legality was admitted by the Government. Yet, in most capricious fashion, they arrested in the country respectable shopkeepers as adherents of the Land League, on most frivolous grounds, under the Act. The first arrest in Kilkenny was a Mr. Patrick Barron, a Poor Law Guardian and shopkeeper, and in commenting on the circumstances of his case, he most urgently contended the arrest was unjust. Even if guilty of indirectly inciting or encouraging the rioters, it must be borne in mind the actual rioters had been convicted without difficulty at the Assizes, and that the term of Mr. Barron's imprisonment had, by many months, exceeded that awarded by the Judge to those actually concerned in the riot. If the ordinary tribunals, then, sufficed to insure the conviction and punishment of the guilty, why was the exercise of this harsh and arbitrary law resorted to in the case of Mr. Barron. Why was he, a man in delicate health, subjected to a punishment out of all proportion to his offence if it had been proved before the ordinary tribunals. The next arrest was of a farmer named James Bowe. He had been charged with a riot and intimidation in connection with the service of some ejectment processes, before the magistrates, presided over by the resident magistrate. The case was fully investigated, and the witnesses all heard. Bowe was acquitted; 277 and yet, though no dissatisfaction was expressed by the magistrates with the result, this man was arrested, it was said, on the same charge under the Coerion Act. Some explanation as to this was required. As matters appeared, he felt bound to say that the Coercion Act had not been administered in accordance with the declarations of Ministers at the time it was obtained; and he must protest against the proclamation of the county of Kilkenny, where, as he had said, it could not be pretended that juries would not convict on reasonable evidence. He had adhered to the Government in nearly all the divisions on the Land Bill as an independent Irish Member, and he hoped and believed that it would be a most beneficial measure. But, at the same time, while recognizing its beneficial character, he did not see how any Irish Member could do otherwise than vote for the Resolution of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. He believed so long as those men were kept in prison its good effect would be entirely counterbalanced, and the continuance of their imprisonment would only serve to perpetuate the exasperation and dislike of the English Government. He must express the regret he had felt with the speech of the Chief Secretary. It was idle to say that the agitation had not aided the Government in carrying into law the recent measure of Land Reform. The wise and politic course, then, for the Government was boldly to open the prison doors for all the "suspects," without distinction. Thus peace and tranquillity would again spread over Ireland.
§ MR. O'KELLY
said, that the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland had been mere special pleading, and that of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland a mere echo of what he had made on the introduction of the Bill. He (Mr. O'Kelly) and his hon. Colleagues ought to thank the hon. and learned Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman for having delivered those speeches, for they would deepen the impression in the minds of the Irish people that they could never look with confidence to that House for justice and fair play. In fact, it seemed that the policy which underlay the action of the Government on this subject was that of the Quaker who gave his dog a bad name in order that others might kill it. 278 The men who had been arrested were individuals who stood high in the estimation of their neighbours. That House did not prevent the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland making insinuations of a grave character against these men, while he refused to them an opportunity of disproving the charges brought against them. Could anything be more infamous on the part of a Government? Irish landlords might be men of education, or they might not be. Some of them occupied small positions in society; but, in any case, their evidence was necessarily tainted with strong bias against men who were opposed to them. Yet it was on the evidence supplied by them that many persons had been arrested, and were still lying in prison. Many of the arrests that had taken place in his county (Roscommon) were, he believed, for the purpose of suppressing free and open speech and a popular Press, and the character of such arrests threw the greatest discredit on. the Government. Their conduct in committing the political prisoners to gaol without evidence had been bad enough; but it was still worse—it was infamous to traduce them and take away their characters, when nobody could stand up on their behalf, when no definite charge was brought, and, consequently, no defence could be made. For instance, 28 men were arrested for a supposed illegal act. They were committed for trial at the Roscommon Assizes. Before the trial took place one of them was arrested under a Warrant of the Lord Lieutenant. The other men were brought to trial, and they were acquitted; but the one had been imprisoned three months on the charge of committing an act which a jury of their countrymen had acquitted the others. And yet the House was told by the Government that men were arrested under the Coercion Act only on evidence which would compel a jury to convict. Patrick Lynch, again, was arrested on a charge of having taken part with a crowd in an assault on an occasion of process-serving. The process-server denied that any attack was made on him. It appeared that Lynch had disputed with his landlord. He was in prison. Would the Government give him a chance of proving his innocence? There was a similar case, in which a man was charged, with others, with having taken part in an unlawful assembly to the terror of Her Majesty's 279 subjects engaged in the discharge of public duties. Not the least offence was committed by that man. He was 30 miles away from the place at the time it was said an unlawful assembly took place there. Yet he had been five months in prison. Would the Government give him a chance of proving his innocence? Then, again, Mr. Jasper Tully, the editor of The Roscommon Journal, was arrested. What was the motive for his arrest? A desire to suppress public opinion in the neighbourhood and in the county. The editor had shown up the hyprocrisy of Mr. King-Harman, one of the most powerful landlords in the country, and one who had more influence with Members of the Government than he ought to have. It was matter of common notoriety that Mr. King-Harman said, while the Coercion Bill was under discussion, that he would arrest the editor, and as soon as that Bill passed the editor was arrested. A man named M'Hugh was arrested on the pretence of inciting to murder. His case deserved attention. Two years ago a man named Young was shot in the county of Roscommon. The local police had always regarded M'Hugh as an obnoxious person. He was a man of pronounced National views; years ago he had the honour to be connected with the Fenians, and for that reason he never was forgiven by the local authorities. The Government postponed the trial from time to time. When the trial came on, it was distinctly proved by the evidence of priests, doctors, and policemen that M'Hugh was about 50 miles away at the time when the murder took place. The police must have known that. He was kept in prison for 18 months, and when the trial came on he was acquitted. M'Hugh was arrested under the Coercion Act, although he kept himself clear of the Land League agitation. When he was arrested, the police said it was not on their demand that he was arrested. For a long time it was a mystery how he came to be arrested; but at last the mystery was unveiled by an account which a London paper gave of an interview between Mr. King-Harman and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. That account stated that Mr. King-Harman represented to the Chief Secretary for Ireland that M'Hugh had threatened to shoot him (Mr. King-Harman); that the right 280 hon. Gentleman wanted to know what evidence there was to show M'Hugh's intention; that Mr. King-Harman said men, before they committed murder, did not make public their intention; and that if the Government did not protect him he would protect himself. That gentleman was a magistrate and lord lieutenant of the county. It was said that the Chief Secretary for Ireland was horror-struck at the idea of a Fenian being killed, and evidence was soon found at the Castle to lock up the fellow. Except for the light it threw on the way in which the government of Ireland was conducted, the bragging statement of Mr. King-Harman would scarcely be worth mentioning. He (Mr. O'Kelly) did not think Mr. King-Harman would have ventured to shoot M'Hugh, unless he shot him in the back. But if there was any truth in the statement, given on the authority of a respectable journalist, it pointed to the necessity of some close and public supervision of the way in which the Castle conducted its business in Ireland. If, as the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland said, no man was arrested unless there was sufficient evidence to convict him before a jury, why were the men who had been arrested not brought before a jury? So long as that Government of secrecy existed, so long as those unconstitutional acts were continued, the public opinion of Ireland would not be satisfied that their powers were not being abused. If they had anything like evidence against a man, why not put him on his trial? If they had not evidence, how dared they arrest him?
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
explained that what he had said was that if there was technical legal evidence about facts as to which there was no doubt, and if that evidence could he brought before an impartial jury, the jury would be bound to convict.
§ MR. O'SHEA
said, he wished to go back to the time when the present Government came into Office. At that date not even the Prime Minister himself had an adequate idea of the extreme pressure of the agrarian question in Ireland. He only thought that English interests were jeopardized by what was going on in the East, from Bulgaria to Cabul. His mind was in the "temples of Benares" when it ought to have 281 been in the cabins of Connemara. Not only was Ireland not thought of, but there was a systematic exclusion of Irish Members from the body of the Administration, as if they were disloyal to the Crown. Now, Home Rule opinions were perfectly consistent with loyalty to the Queen and fellowship in the burdens of the Empire. In England, on the other hand, sedition seemed to be one of the surest stepping-stones to distinction; for when the present Government was formed, the Cabinet Minister-maker was a politician who had declared for a Republic, and accused the Queen of malversation. What Irishman would have been forgiven, much less rewarded, for such conduct? He (Mr. O'Shea) referred to the Minister who filled what Lord Beacons field, in his last novel, described as the most interesting position in the Government— namely, that of representing the Foreign Department in the House of Commons, when the Head of that Department sat in "another place." Now, that once ultra-Radical politician was found answering questions about foreign affairs with all the airs of an hereditary Whig bureaucrat. The Chief Secretary for Ireland, when he had very courageously and patriotically accepted his most difficult post, did so with a light heart, for he knew nothing about that country when he took Office; and if in politics success was to be regarded as the criterion of merit, it could not be said that that right hon. Gentleman had succeeded, for the result was that everything soon went topsy-turvy. Mr. James Lowther had been accused by some persons of being the worst Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in our time, and yet many men of advanced opinions looked back with regret on Mr. Lowther's occupancy of that Office, as to the days of Plaucus the Consul. Still, he did not wish to say anything to hurt the feelings of the right hon. Gentleman, recollecting the noble services which he and his father rendered to the West of Ireland during the Famine of 1847; and it would be very satisfactory if even now at the eleventh hour the right hon. Gentleman's name should be associated not only with a great Land Bill, but with an amnesty. That would not only shed honour upon the right hon. Gentleman, but would improve the position of the Government in Ireland, for a policy of mercy to Irish prisoners would be felt there 282 to be a policy of strength. Even if the "suspects" after being released were to offend against the law, Ministers would have plenty of opportunities of re-capturing them. It would be a graceful step on the part of the Government to release Father Sheehy, who surely could not be accused of inciting to murder. Such a step would be a most appropriate way of rewarding the Archbishop of Cashel for the good advice he had given the people as to how they should receive the Land Act.
§ MR. WARTON
said, he considered they were all agreed in thinking that it was a terrible thing that 192 men should be kept in prison without trial. He did not think, however, that what he was now about to say would meet as unanimous an assent. But whose fault was it that they were kept in prison? He did not hesitate to say that it was the fault of Her Majesty's Government, and of the Chief Secretary for Ireland in particular. The right hon. Gentleman was certainly the wrong man for the place. He undertook the duties with a kind of notion that he was the man to govern Ireland, and he began by having a green despatch box, very different from the red one customarily used by the right hon. Gentleman his Predecessor (Mr. J. Lowther), and he seemed to take a great pleasure in exhibiting his green despatch box. In fact, he had been very green—very hopeful and encouraging all through. On commencing the duties of his Office, he refused to put the law into operation as he found it. Then he hoped that various good things would happen; but they did not happen. He hoped last year, for instance, that the harvest would be good, and that the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) would use his influence for the good of the country, and to-night he was again hopeful. In fact, he (Mr. Warton) had heard him hoping about the Compensation for Disturbance Bill, the Coercion Bill, the Land Bill, and everything else connected with the government of Ireland; but it was that perpetual hopefulness, in spite of all experience, that led to this wretched weakness, and which afterwards obliged him to turn to coercion. He (Mr. Warton) did not hesitate to say, the more especially as he had very attentively listened to the elaborate statement of the Chief Secretary for Ire- 283 land, that the great majority of the "suspects" would not have been in prison that day if the Government had started with a really firm policy—if they had given the Irish people to understand that no nonsense would be allowed; and that they had been imprisoned on account of the Land League, and by reason of the teaching they were foolish enough to follow from that body. With all deference to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General, he (Mr. Warton) had no hesitation in saying that the Land League was an illegal combination, and ought to have been suppressed long ago. We, the great Conservative Party sitting in that House, had behaved most generously to the Government during the entire Session, and gave them every support, not only in bringing in, but in carrying through, the Coercion Bill, which was rendered necessary by the agitation and organization of the Land League. For a long time, while turbulence and rioting prevailed in Ireland, not a voice was raised in England on behalf of law and order, and it was not until the November Banquet at Guildhall that the Lord Chancellor of England delighted his auditors by stating that the time had arrived when the Government should take steps to dispel the illusion under which the people of Ireland laboured—namely, that they could set the laws of the Realm at defiance. Parliament then stood prorogued until the 20th of November; but they never had any explanation why, in the midst of an almost unexampled crisis, Ministers postponed the re-assembling of the Legislature until the 6th of January, thus allowing outrage to go on unchecked for four months. He was quite free to admit that, at the present moment, the Chief Secretary for Ireland was acting according to what, in his own mind, he conceived to be best for the interest of the country, and what he thought right and justice demanded. No doubt, careful investigation was given to every one of the cases of "suspects" who had been imprisoned; but he maintained that the Coercion Act would have altogether been unnecessary if the Government from the first had acted with firmness. The hon. Member for Roscommon (Mr. O'Kelly) had said—If the men in prison were guilty, why not try them? But juries would not convict. ["Oh!"] He knew it was said Irish juries con- 284 victed in all save political cases. That meant that a distinction was drawn between political crimes and other crimes. Inciting to murder was wicked, whether political of otherwise; and he thought the word political in this connection had done more mischief than anything else in blinding people to the true nature of the crime, for some people seemed to think that all crimes ceased to be crimes when they were called by the name of political.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, the beauties of coercion had been so vividly depicted by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland that he only wondered why English Members did not desire it for their own country. They took good care, however, not to do so. It had been said that no one was arrested under the Act without good and sufficient reason; but to that he would reply—"Tell that to the Marines!" They knew very well that spite was one of the elements in those arrests, and that the landlords were the denouncers of men arrested in numbers of cases. Naturally the landlords did the best they could to retain their powers and privileges. They had the ear of the Government, as administrators of the law, and they detested and feared the men who worked the Land League agitation. Spite, enmity, and revenge thus became associated in sending men into imprisonment. In the county which he (Mr. T. D. Sullivan) represented, a young man named James Higgins was arrested. He was the Secretary to the local Land League. The tenants on the landlord's estate had asked for a reduction of rent, which had been refused. One of them was evicted, and a Mr. Murphy took the farm. In the meantime, there had been an election for Guardians, at which Mr. Higgins's father was elected, in opposition to the landlord's nominee. Higgins, the son, subsequently wrote a letter to Murphy requiring him, if he wished to live in harmony with his neighbours, to give up the farm. No doubt, it was too strong an expression to use; and ''request" might have been substituted for "require." But surely it was too slight an offence to be visited with several months' imprisonment. The priest of the parish had said that young Higgins was a youth of the highest character and all that a Christian ought to be. The next case was that of a man who 285 was accused of inciting to unlawful assemblies and riots. All that he had done was to announce a public meeting, at which thousands were to assemble to witness the dying throes of landlordism. The next case was that of a man who had been charged with sending threatening letters. But the person to whom the letters were sent had expressed his belief that the charge was unfounded, and asked him (Mr. T. D. Sullivan) to use his best endeavours to get the prisoner released. The agitation in Ireland had effected results which went far to justify it, for the broad seal and stamp of the Land Bill had been put upon that agitation; and he did wonder that the House of Commons, obedient as it was to its Leaders, should consent to the perpetration of such gross injustice as the incarceration for three months, with the prospect of another three months, of men who were guilty of no offence but taking an honourable part in that agitation. The right hon. Gentleman had made much of what appeared in The Irish World. That paper had existed long before the Land League, and contained many statements for which he himself, though a member of the Land League, would not like to be considered responsible. It was absurd to attempt to fix the Land League with responsibility for what appeared in that paper. It was true that large sums of money were received by the Land League through The Irish World; but there were many men connected with that land movement in Ireland and America whose opinions were entitled to respect, and who believed and said that the Association in Ireland would have received twice as much money if it had come through some other channel than The Irish World. Allusion had been made to the smallness of the contributions from Ireland compared with those from America. The explanation was that the Irish race in America could amass money, but the Irish race at home could not—the Irish landlords and the English Government took good care of that. And it was a most creditable thing to the Irish exiles in America that they should so love their kindred at home— the victims of Irish landlordism and British misgovernment—as to give them the help they did to carry on the land agitation. In the name of the people of Ireland he saluted those noble-hearted 286 Irish men and women of America who contributed those funds; he sent to them the expressions of their heartfelt gratitude, and he hoped and believed that they would stand by them, not only during this land agitation, but until they obtained for Ireland the completion of her national rights and national liberties.
THE O'GORMAN MAHON
said, that he craved the indulgence of the House for a few minutes while he addressed it for the first time that Session. During the whole of the Session he had not intruded himself upon the House, and even now he did not intend to occupy their time for more than a few moments. He might say, by way of preface, that he highly approved of the Resolution which had been proposed by the man whom they, as Home Rulers, had chosen to be the Leader of their body. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) was a man entitled to every confidence; and he (The O'Gorman Mahon) would vote for his Resolution, because he believed it was honestly conceived, and because he believed that it was well grounded, and because, furthermore, he was satisfied that it was even a source of regret to him to be obliged to make such a Motion as that in opposition to the Administration he (The O'Gorman Mahon) saw opposite. Passing to the speech they had heard that evening from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, he could not help complaining of this—that there was either misconception on his part or a wonderful departure from facts, which he must have been well aware of. The latter position he would never attribute to him, believing him to be sincere and honest, and that he meant well for Ireland; but he believed he was the mistaken engine and dupe of the clique that existed in Dublin Castle, and he believed that clique had been for a series of years the source of the disunion that existed between Ireland and England, and until that was exterminated, crushed, and stamped out, he believed there would never be a chance of real union between the two countries. It was now more than 51 years ago since he said in that House, while representing the same constituency as he did now, to a House of Commons very differently composed from the present one—he looked upon the hon. Members around 287 him as children—that there never could be anything like union between England and Ireland until that baneful knot, that clique that existed in Dublin Castle, was routed out bag and baggage, and he repeated the statement now with the confirmation of experience. What was the good of years, and what was the advantage of experience, unless it induced something like a wise conclusion? Eighty-one years' connection between the two countries—a connection forced upon Ireland by means so abominable that only the eloquence of the Prime Minister himself could adequately describe their enormity—had proved a total failure. It was not a union, but a parchment that had been a source of disunion. Prom that hour to the present it had been the bane of England and the curse of Ireland, and the source of rejoicing to the enemies of Great Britain. He had hoped for better things. When the present Government came into power he addressed a telegram to his constituents, who were holding a large meeting, telling them they might put confidence in "Gladstone, Forster, and Bright." What ensued? They received those three names with cheers and cheers, and reiterated cheers. And now how did they receive them? How was he to appear before his constituents, old man as he was, and great as might be the indulgence they would extend to him, after what had occurred? The Government brought in a Bill, he granted, one of 18 months' duration, for which the people of Ireland would have been gratified; but they (the Liberals), who had the power to command and control, allowed mischief-makers at the other end of the Gallery to interfere, and they exposed the poor people of his country to the extermination and death which they themselves declared would be the result if the Bill were not passed. He blamed them for that—that was, he blamed them for having allowed themselves to be bullied—a vulgar word, but still it was the truth—to be bullied by the wretched mischief-makers at the other end of the Gallery. England would resent the deed, because it was at this moment contemplating what advantages were to be derived from that respectable body who could resist the volition of the Representatives of the people, and who could, by a scratch of their pen, say— "We despise them all, and we will 288 throw England, Ireland, and Scotland in confusion merely for the gratification of our own views." If he happened to have the misfortune to be the son of a booby Peer, and inherited the booby advantages of his papa, he should go into the House, and with a scratch of his pen—
§ MR. SPEAKER
I merely wish to point out to the hon. Member that he is not speaking to the Question before the House.
THE O'GORMAN MAHON
said, he was sorry to offend against Order. He would be the last in the world to do that. He was very glad to get rid of it. But one thing he might be privileged to say. How, he asked, could the Government be justified in keeping in custody, as had been advised by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson), those men who were now incarcerated on charges emanating God only knew from whom, charges which had not been proved, and on charges which, as the hon. and learned Member for Hereford (Mr. Reid) had said, no Englishman would submit to be imprisoned for unless he had first been brought to trial and convicted. Then, if they would not submit to such a proceeding in England, why should they be asked to do so in Ireland? The Government said it had been necessary to pass the Coercion Act, because it was not possible in Ireland to secure convictions; but, God bless his soul, if a man was deemed to be guilty of an offence, let him be brought before a jury of his country, and let them pronounce upon his guilt or innocence. The adoption of the course which had been followed by the Government had been practically to renew the state of things which existed in the days of the Stuarts in regard to a people to whom they said —"Why do you not love us and take us to your bosom, in order that we may advance your freedom and intelligence?'' The reason was that the Irish people looked upon the English Government as a Government which had ruled them with a rod of iron, by physical force, and not by affection and just laws. He would 289 not detain the House further; but would say—"Avoid Gibson's recommendation." [Laughter.] He begged pardon for having transgressed Order by naming the right hon. and learned Gentleman, one of whose constituents he was, and for whom he had the strongest possible personal admiration; but, on the principle ah hoste doceri—which he translated "avoid your enemy!"—he warned the Government to avoid the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He had known him as a boy, and a better friend or a truer gentleman he did not know; but in this matter he was an enemy. He hoped that in sending over to Ireland this boon, of which so much had been said, that it would be no half measure, but that it would be accompanied by the release of many men who had been arrested on mere suspicion, and who had not been tried openly before the tribunals of their country, as they ought to have been, in which case he, for one, and many others, would use their influence with their constituents to give it a fair trial; but it would never have that trial as long as they kept those men in prison. [Loud and prolonged cheers.]
Sir, the sounds which followed the close of the speech delivered by the hon. Member (The O'Gorman Mahon) will have made known to him, what is hardly necessary for me to declare, that there is no person in this House by whom the House would more gladly like to hear the case of Ireland stated. Although we may not entirely agree with his policy, we recognize the genial and hearty character of his utterances, and we notice with joy the total absence from his speech of that spirit of mingled suspicion, defiance, and hostility towards the people of Scotland and England which, unfortunately, we sometimes trace in the utterances of a portion—I am bound to say, numerically, a very small portion—of the Representatives of Ireland. I am not able to follow the argument of the hon. Gentleman; but I can sympathize with his sentiments with respect to the grounds on which the Government asked, at the beginning of this Session, for extra-Constitutional powers in order to deal with an extraordinary state of things. He asks why we did not submit to the ordinary legal tribunals of the country the cases of persons whom we deemed to have been guilty of offences against 290 the law. But, Sir, that is the very thing which we did. We did submit, in the most solemn manner, to the tribunals of the country, the cases of those whom we deemed to have offended against the law; but we found it impossible, notwithstanding the judgment pronounced by the highest legal authorities, to procure the verdicts which were absolutely necessary for maintaining the peace of the country. We recognized the general growth of efficiency in the judicial system of Ireland, and the growing security of property and life in all classes of the community, except that which is unhappily known as agrarian; but we contended that in agrarian cases the who judicial system of the country had completely broken down. The hon. Gentleman—nay hon. Friend, if I may be permitted so to address him—he and I have, at least, this tie between us, that I believe we are two of the three persons now in Parliament who earliest came within these doors—my hon. Friend has put this question to me; he gave me this challenge, which he thinks is conclusive. He said—Would Englishmen endure a system such as this? I ask—Would Englishmen tolerate, would Englishmen be parties to a state of facts such as that which created the necessity for that system? ["Yes," and "No!"] If I could suppose a condition of things in England or Scotland in which life and property would be insecure in connection with the class of duties which appertain to agricultural relations, I say the people of this country would endure even the suspension of their Constitutional liberties. ["No, no!"] Well, I may know as much of the people of this country as the hon. Members who interrupt me; and I say they would endure even the suspension of their Constitutional liberties rather than allow their country to be disgraced in the eyes of the world by the total failure of those institutions upon which the fulfilment of the first duties of society depends; That is the answer I make to the challenge so fairly put, with regard to what England would endure in circumstances that are happily impossible in England, and which I trust will never more involve dishonour and misfortune in Ireland. I need not go back to one part of the speech to which we have just listened, as I fully agree to it, I mean the lamentation of my hon. Friend over 291 the disastrous act which marked the latter part of the last Session in the rejection of the measure which, had it been allowed to pass, I believe would have averted by far the greater part of the dangers and difficulties which have arisen, and which have rendered this legislation necessary. My hon. Friend lays on me the blame—[The O'GORMAN MAHON: No, no!]—well, then, not the blame of rejecting the measure, but the blame of enduring that proceeding. But we had no more choice in the matter than he had; and he also endured, and lamented, as we did, the rejection of the Bill. It would not have been easy for him to point out the method by which we could have escaped from the position in which Ireland was placed, and the whole country was placed, by one of the most deplorable errors of judgment which, in my opinion, ever bewildered or misled a public Legislative Assembly. I should not have wished to interpose in this debate, notwithstanding the fascination which my hon. Friend has been able to cast over it, but that I felt it to be my duty to associate myself with my right hon. Friend near me, at least in a few words, in the responsible position which he holds towards the government of Ireland. I do not think it necessary to go back to that portion of the debate which referred to the administration by the Irish Government of the powers placed by Parliament in its hands. I only wish to say that I believe those powers have been used— ["Oh, oh!"]—be tolerant with me for one moment—with as much of firmness, of discrimination, and of clemency as any Executive Government could have brought to so painful, and, I will go so far as to say, so odious a task. But this debate has another aspect. It refers also to the future. We have had a discussion as to the manner in which the Land Bill will be received in Ireland, and upon the course to be taken hereafter by the Government in the administration of the law. The speeches we have heard divide themselves into two classes. Some there have been—I will not say that they have been numerous— the constant strain of which is, unhappily, not unknown to us; it is to the effect that nothing is to be gained from this Parliament or this country for Ireland by reasoning; that agitation and disturbance are the means by which alone anything has ever been attained on be- 292 half of that country; and threats are added that unless the prison doors are opened and every political prisoner set free there can be, and there shall be, no fair trial for the Land Act. [Cries of "No, no!" and an hon. MEMBER: Who said that?] I am quoting the very words—I am certain the spirit of the words—of one hon. Member in particular, to whose speech I listened with care—the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for New Ross (Mr. Redmond).
§ MR. REDMOND
said, those were not his words. He had argued that so long as a single prisoner remained in Ireland the state of affairs would not be satisfactory, and that it would utterly impossible for the Act to have a fair trial in Ireland unless the Government liberated them.
But the hon. Member further said that his endeavours would be to move in that direction; that as long as any political prisoner remained within the prisons of Ireland, he would not endure or assist in procuring any fair trial for the Land Act; and he said that he held, in all its purity, that the doctrine of intimidation of the people of Great Britain was the only means by which anything could be procured for Ireland. Well, I am not one of those optimists who take a very satisfactory view with respect to the past relations of the two countries. I have often expressed myself in that sense. I must, however, say that even if there is something to be desired in this matter, there is, in my opinion, something harsh and uncharitable and unjust in a state of mind which, in reviewing the history of the last half-century, taken as a whole, can deem it fit to apply to the conduct of the British Legislature and the British people towards Ireland epithets such as those which are still too commonly bestowed upon them. It may be that we may have much to learn; it may be that we have not made all the progress that might have been desirable; but surely there have been honest efforts. It was not Irish agitation that procured for Ireland the re-constitution of its Parliamentary system in 1830. It was not Irish agitation that procured in 1869 the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. [Cries of "Yes!" "Oh, oh!" and an hon. MEMBER: What was it then?] The sense of justice on the part of the 293 people of this country. [Mr. HEALY: Clerkenwell.] Clerkenwell! Do you really believe that Clerkenwell inspired the people of this country with a sentiment of fear and cowardice, and thus led the House of Commons to pass that great measure of religious equality? Clerkenwell, Sir, was no more the cause of the Disestablishment of the Irish Church than, when you hear the bell of your chapel ring to call you to public worship, the sound of that bell is the cause of your going to chapel. Clerkenwell was simply that which drew attention to it; but is attention the same as fear? [The IRISH MEMBERS: No; we do not say so.] Then, if you do not say it is, why interrupt me? I affirm that never were two measures passed by the Legislature with less regard to the motives inspired by public agitation than in the case of the Irish Church Act of 1869 and of the Land Act of 1870. Sir, at any rate, this I must say—it is not by defiant speeches, not by the tone and temper of those who point across the Atlantic to another country as the true country for Irishmen, it is not by declarations which treat the people of England and the people of Scotland as foreigners, and which complain of them as administering a foreign rule—it is not by these means that my right hon. Friend, or anyone connected with the Irish or English Government, will be induced to accelerate by one day the opening of any prison door holding in confinement the Irish prisoners. It would be a betrayal of the duty imposed upon the Government if they gave way to motives that appeared to presume the baseness of our characters, and to insinuations the fountain of which, in the mind of those who make them, I do not care to investigate. But there are other appeals which have been made to us, which, if we required any such incentives, it would be more difficult to resist—appeals such as that made by my hon. Friend who has just sat down, such as that made by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Blake), and such as those which proceeded from more than one hon. Member on this side of the House yesterday, and during the debate of this evening. Now, what are the duties of the Government in respect to Ireland, and what are the limits of their choice? It is surely not difficult to believe that we regard with no sentiments of desire the 294 continuance and continued exercise of powers which are outside the limits of the Constitution, and which are alien to its principles. Nothing in the world but a failure in the very first and elementary purposes of political society can have justified a resort to such laws as those which are now in existence. But the failure which justifies such a resort also requires it; and when the duty of administering these laws is put upon the Government, it is like every other political obligation, a sacred, though it may be an odious duty; and the odium attending that duty must not be allowed to lead our minds to slacken, in its execution. My hon. Friend (The O'Gorman Mahon) has said that he was so kind at the beginning of this Administration as to recommend the names of some of its Members to his constituency in Ireland, and to advise them to place confidence in that Government; but he says now that he fears the reception of those names would be very different from the reception accorded to them then. It may be so, Sir; but I say to him that I wish to know whether we should not be the meanest of mankind, whether we should not be totally and absolutely unworthy to be chosen for the discharge of any political duty if we allowed the pain with which we should contemplate the loss of Irish sympathy and approval—be that loss small or great—to govern us in making our choice between what is right and what is wrong. We must not shrink from the performance of our duty because it is a painful and an odious one. We have had before us two great obligations. One has been to apply the whole power of the Government, and all the power with which Parliament can arm it, to the maintenance of law, and the maintenance not only of public order, but of private rights in Ireland. Our other duty has been that of attempting to grapple with what was most urgent and needed in connection with remedial legislation. Between the different exigencies of Irish society, as it has understood them, the Legislature of this great Empire has devoted its whole time during this Session. Hon. Members opposite may think that a mistake which we have done; but they cannot be so distant from the truth as to suppose that it was an abstract love of coercive measures which led the British House of 295 Commons to devote the first three months of the Session to the consideration of the Bills of that class which were submitted to it. I ask you for no gratitude for those first three months of the Session; for I know with what indignation the idea is repelled by certain hon. Members—though, as I have said, by very few—representing Irish constituencies— with what indignation they repel the idea that any devotion of the time and care of this House, any deviation from British principles of legislation to meet the peculiarities of Ireland, any amount of investigation used in order to pierce into the very depths of the difficult Irish problem—I knew with what indignation the idea is repelled that the smallest fraction of gratitude would be a proper return for all this. But I ask for no gratitude from those hon. Members. Gratitude is spontaneous. There is no use in attempting to force it. Let it come in its own good time. There are some minds so constituted that it does not easily spring up; but there are others across the Channel in whom it will spring up and grow and flourish—nay, in whom it has sprung and has grown and flourished; and I look with perfect confidence to the judgment of the Irish people upon the motives and action of the British Parliament in the labours in which it has lately been engaged. My hon. Friend opposite has very fairly owned that the British Parliament, in the business of remedial legislation, has done what it could. Some hon. Members opposite may be idealists in legislation. There may be hon. Gentlemen among them who are not satisfied with anything less than what they may deem perfection; and I presume that, when they meet among themselves for the discussion of Irish matters, they have no experience at all of human imperfections and infirmities. I presume it is only when they descend from the lofty heights to which they have climbed to the level of common humanity that they are led to discover so much ground for complaint and remonstrance in the proceedings of the British Legislature. But, be that as it may, I wish to put this case to them. If an Act has been passed by Parliament, which, as I believe, the enormous majority of the Irish Members calling themselves either Liberals or Home Rulers admit to be a measure calculated to do much good to Ireland, 296 are they, I ask then, justified in intercepting, or endeavouring to intercept, the consequence of that measure? However much you may disapprove our mode of administering the Irish Government, and however far you may think yourselves supported by justice and policy in calling for the immediate release of the prisoners, I put this to you—that whether the Government accede to your representations or not, our misconduct in that respect, and our misconduct and misjudgement in Irish government, cannot justify you in intercepting the action of a measure which you know and admit to contain provisions vital to the interests of the Irish people. And I should wish to know, therefore, in which way it is you support, if you are prepared to support, the contention of the hon. Gentleman the Member for New Ross, who says that as long as one political prisoner remains in Ireland the Land Bill is not to have a fair trial?
§ MR. REDMOND
I did not say that. I said that so long as there was a political prisoner in Ireland there could not be any such thing as a pacified Ireland.
I understood the hon. Gentleman to say—and I certainly thought I took the words down, the words from his speech—that it was his intention to prolong and intensify a state of feeling which was a danger to England. I do not wish to insist upon it, or to make charges where there is a desire to repudiate them. ["Hear, hear!"] Then I do not understand him to say that the Irish Land Bill is not to have a fair trial?
I am not so sure of that; but, as I said, I will make no charges, and if such things are said they are only to be received with grief and concern for the errors they seem to involve. So far, so good. As far as we are concerned, of course, as I have said, our duty is, when we have been able to complete, so far as depends upon us, the business of remedial legislation, to fall back at all times, and with an undivided attention, or, at least, with an unrelaxed vigilance, upon the work of administering the business of the government of the country, and of maintaining the laws. We can have no negotiations, and we can have no compromise with those who do not respect them. We cannot be parties, 297 directly or indirectly, to the setting up of any other law in Ireland than the public law which has received the sanction of Parliament. That duty of securing both the maintenance of public order and the enforcement of private rights is a duty paramount over every other duty. Society does not exist for particular laws, but particular laws exist for society. It is the first business of a Government to see that primary purposes are attained; and the purposes which, beyond all others, are primary are the maintenance of public order and the enforcement of private rights. I am bound to express my belief that the very large majority of those even who bear the name of Home Rulers, and who are regarded on this side of the water as extreme politicians, are completely united with the rest of the House of Commons in the desire that full and free opportunity may be given for the working of the beneficial provisions of the Land Act. I wish that I could say that I were as certain with respect to a small—a very small—minority of their number. Their declarations have not tended to inspire us with the confidence which we could have wished to feel. However, Sir, sometimes I hope that even those hon. Gentlemen, whose language we have now and then listened to with the deepest pain and the strongest reprobation, have not determined to set themselves against what we think the true interests of their country. I heard with the highest satisfaction to-night from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy), or, at least, I gathered so much from one of his interlocutory passages during the speech of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Forster), in which it appeared to me that, however uncompromising may be the sentiments to which he sometimes gives utterance, and however strong and dangerous his language—even he seemed to have a divided feeling, and a leaning towards the cause of peace, and I would hope, if there be a conflict in his mind, that his better part may gain the victory. But, be that as it may, our course is clear. We must under no circumstances compromise the peace of the country. We may have a choice of means; but we must pursue peace, and, so far as our limited powers may carry us, we must not allow any vision of popularity, we must not allow any sanguine theory of the operation of gratitude upon the 298 minds of men, to place society in danger. We must do our best to confront danger and to compress it, and we must make no terms of accommodation with those who defy or endeavour to frustrate the law. Short of that, Sir, who can doubt that it is the desire of the Government, by every means in their power, to accelerate the arrival of the happy day when they may begin to contract, or when they may be able altogether to depart from, the sphere of their extra-Constitutional action in Ireland. Supposing, even, that we have none of the commonest motives of humanity that dwell in the minds of men; supposing that we are totally deficient in those principles of liberty which are the ornament and the glory of this Legislature in its whole, and not least, I hope, of the political Party which has now in its hands the administration of power, we must use the powers we have as long as they are necessary. We must not contract that use; but we shall rejoice to place it in abeyance when we find them superfluous. When they are insufficient, it is equally our duty to enlarge them; but I myself, for the present, desire to record my full adhesion to the declaration of my right hon. Friend, whose own antecedents and disposition, drawn, I think, from the recollections of other days, must be known to be such as will never allow him to be, at any rate, a conscious instrument of unnecessary aggression on public liberty. Sir, it lies not in our hands; but it lies in the hands of others to place us in a position to bring about a consummation that seems to be so warmly desired. Only give us a state of things to deal with in which we can see that the public safety will not be compromised by the free exercise of mercy, and we shall require no other stimulus but our love of order. Our duty towards order will then tend to co-operate with our love of liberty, because we know perfectly well that it is in the union of liberty with order in which the happiness of civilized society is to be found; and although the maintenance of order must be paramount in certain circumstances, even to the allowance of liberty, such order never can be permanent, never can be safely placed upon a solid and lasting foundation, unless when it is associated with freedom.
MR. T. P. O'CONNOK
said, he wished to point out, in answer to the speech of the Prime Minister, that there had been 299 many cases of house-burning and rickburning and acts of violence in England which had not been followed by coercion and the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Take the case of the Rebecca riots in Wales, which were mentioned by Lord Granville. Those riots went on for four years, and in the course of them atoll-keeper was killed. Several persons were brought to trial; but the juries refused to convict; yet nobody proposed an Act of Coercion. Indeed, he believed that some of the lawlessness which prevailed at that time still went on, because the grievances against which it was directed still existed. But he might take another case—the outrages in Sheffield. Could the right hon. Gentleman deny that those outrages were of a far more heinous character than anything that had taken place in Ireland? but yet nobody proposed coercion for Sheffield. In that part of his case the right hon. Gentleman had completely broken down, because it could be abundantly shown that the same state of public disturbance and crime existed in England and was not followed up by coercion. The right hon. Gentleman was amazed to find that Irishmen considered that the Irish people and their country were placed in an inferior position to that of Englishmen and England. The right hon. Gentleman asked for no gratitude from Ireland for the attention which Parliament had given to Irish affairs. He wished the right hon. Gentleman would try for a moment to comprehend the position of the Irish Members upon that matter. Why was it that they were unable to feel grateful to Parliament for the devotion the Legislature had paid to Irish affairs? It was simply because it was a reflection upon the right of the Irish people to govern for themselves. He was surprised that an Englishman of the clear intelligence and usually just judgment of the right hon. Gentleman should so completely misapprehend the whole Irish position. If Parliament wasted its time upon Irish affairs, it was not on account of the wishes of the Irish people, but in spite of their loudest protests. Retorting upon the right hon. Gentleman his appeal to the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy) to act in accordance with the better part of his nature, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman how it was that he could not sympathize with the feeling of the Irish 300 Members, many of whom would only be too proud to devote their energy and ability to the improvement of the distressed and backward condition of their country, instead of which they found themselves compelled to appear in that House and endeavour to make their voices heard in the deaf ear of Her Majesty's Government. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to some meetings the Irish Members had held for the discussion of Irish affairs. He (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had attended more of those meetings than the right hon. Gentleman; and he was proud to be able to say that, as far as his experience of them went, they would contrast favourably with those of any nationality for good sense, mutual toleration, and a keen and ardent desire to arrive at the most practical means of carrying out the wishes and the ends of the Irish people. All they asked of the right hon. Gentleman was that he should give to the Irish people the opportunity of meeting and discussing where their discussions could have some practical effect in the shape of legislation. Ten or 11 years ago he had been present at the deliberations of a body brought into existence by the action of the right hon. Gentleman—he alluded to the Convention of the first Disestablished Church. It was a Convention of Irish Protestants, most of whom were either Irish clergymen or landlords, with whom it certainly could not be supposed that he had the slightest sympathy. But the deliberations of that body were conducted with a discretion, a good temper, and an orderly discussion, which formed a favourable contrast with the debates in Parliament itself. They certainly afforded a satisfactory augury of what a popular body connected with Ireland would be likely to do. His complaint against the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister was that it ignored the question which had been raised that night. The speech—like all the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman—was distinguished by eloquence, great felicity of language, and much sentiment; but he had failed to hear a syllable that bore reference to the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). Accordingly, it became necessary to go back to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary in order to find something to answer. He proposed to discuss the speech of the 301 right hon. Gentleman in a practical spirit. In the first place, he charged the right hon. Gentleman with having carried out the Coercion Act in direct contravention to the promises he had made to Parliament while the measure was under discussion. The right hon. Gentleman founded the Bill mainly on the assertion that the Land League possessed power in Ireland principally by means of intimidation; that that intimidation was exercised by acts of violence against persons who disobeyed the injunctions of the Land League; and that these acts of violence were of such a character that it was either impossible to get witnesses to swear to them, or to induce juries to convict. In the course of his speech in introducing the Coercion Bill, the right hon. Gentleman divided the acts of intimidation under various heads—sending threatening letters, arson, attacking houses, firing into houses, shooting landlords, and so on. Documents had now been laid on the Table showing the character of the offences for which arrests had been made; and in the list of the offences supplied by the right hon. Gentleman he (Mr. O'Connor) found that those which were instanced as justifying this Act of Coercion were precisely the offences for which the smallest number of persons had been incarcerated. Out of a total of 192 prisoners now in gaol, only 53 were imprisoned for offences the commission of which gave the right hon. Gentleman the excuse and the reason for demanding coercion; 53 out of 192 were of a character which the right hon. Gentle- man declared ought to be put down with a strong hand. Looking at the list a little closer, he thought he had a right to complain, both of the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland, for the manner in which they had bracketed the offences —bundling up in the same category the small offences and the great. He found, in looking over the list, that many of the cases were cases which ought to have been brought before the magistrates. The right hon. Gentleman never attempted to answer that part of the question. In one single allusion to it he said, what was the use of talking about cases which the magistrates might decide when it was to impossible to obtain evidence which could be brought before the magistrates? Five of the persons 302 arrested were in prison for assaulting and beating Her Majesty's subjects. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that in a case of assaulting and beating an individual it was impossible to obtain evidence of the assault? [Mr. W. E. FORSTER assented."] The right hon. Gentleman did say so. Very well. He would take another case. Six persons were in prison under the Coercion. Act for assaulting constables. Were those cases in which the right hon. Gentleman found it impossible to get evidence? If the constables were able to tell him they had been assaulted, and to tell him by whom they had been assaulted, surely they were able to bring their assailants before the police magistrates, and have them sentenced to six months' imprisonment with hard labour. He would take another class of offences. One of the most cruel injustices of the Coercion Act was the atrocious and undeserved stigma it cast upon the character of respectable men. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland laid great stress upon a number of cases of extreme violence, such as murder, shooting at individuals, and inciting to murder, and he said, very properly, that incitement to murder was even worse than murder itself. But the hon. and learned Gentleman forgot to go into those cases of inciting to murder. Mr. Huban and Mr. Cunningham, of Loughrea, were in prison for inciting to murder. Hon. Members were perfectly well acquainted with the cases of Mr. Huban and Mr. Cunningham. Mr. Huban was a newspaper correspondent, and Mr. Cunningham was a student of the same College of which he (Mr. O'Connor) had been a member. Two more respectable, honest, earnest, and patriotic young men did not exist in Ireland; and no more atrocious calumny was ever uttered against two young mea than that they could in any way have been accessories to, or the instigators of, the foul crime of murder. When the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary undertook to tell the House the offences for which persons would be put in confinement, no one anticipated that the Warrants would be made the vehicles of blasting the character of honourable men. He thought the fact that Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Huban, and several other gentlemen, should have been charged on Warrants with having 303 incited to murder was even a greater offence against them than the fact that they were in prison. Looking at the list of offences further, he found that a large number of them were Land League offences—offences in the nature of carrying out the means of combination. There was one matter which no speaker on the Treasury Bench had yet alluded to. No Member of the Government had explained why the two gentlemen alluded to by his hon. Friend the Member for the County of Limerick (Mr. O'Sullivan) had been put in confinement. Their offence was the collection of subscriptions; and what were the circumstances of the case? A woman and two men were fined a guinea each by Mr. Clifford Lloyd, a magistrate in regard to whose character he preferred the testimony of Mr. Boyd Kinnear to that of the right hon. Gentleman. These persons were fined by the presiding magistrate, and certain persons went round to collect subscriptions for the purpose of paying the fines. For the offence of collecting those subscriptions in order to pay an unjust fine, the two men mentioned by the hon. Member for the County of Limerick had been put in prison, and he was ashamed to say that they remained in prison at that very hour. No other ground of complaint whatever was stated in the Warrant. Edmond O'Neill, one of them, was stated in the Warrant to be suspected of having intimidated divers persons with a view to compelling them to contribute to the payment of certain penalties imposed by the magistrate, of having in that way extorted money in a prescribed district, and of having been guilty of intimidation with the intention of interfering with the maintenance of law and order. But what did his hon. Friend the Member for the County of Limerick do? He got a declaration from every single person who had subscribed to the payment of these fines, and every person who was alleged to have been intimidated signed a declaration that he gave the money voluntarily, and not in the slightest degree under compulsion. His hon. Friend the Member for the County of Limerick was a much more daring man than he (Mr. O'Connor) would like to be; for his hon. Friend had done exactly what these men Lad done. He had asked a declaration from the persons who subscribed the money stating that it was not extorted 304 from them; and, accordingly, he had brought himself quite as much under the ban of the Chief Secretary and Mr. Clifford Lloyd as the two unfortunate men who were in prison. In another case, a young man had been put in prison because he rang the church bell to summon people to what was called a riotous assembly. If his memory did not deceive him, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, in 1878, might have been accused of having been instrumental in getting the church bells rung, and thereby inciting persons to assemble unlawfully together. There had been a touching allusion to the ringing of a church bell that night, and reference had been made to an Orange clergyman who had the church bell rung in the mouth of July in order to call the people together.
said, the case was one of an anti-Orangeman who refused to allow the church bell to be rung.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, the illustration remained the same. But they lived now in different times from those halcyon days of the right hon. Gentleman's Lancashire speeches, and this man was now in prison on the charge of having rung a church bell for the purpose of preventing the due execution of the law. He would take another case. Three men were in prison on a charge of having intimidated persons not to pay rent. He saw the other day that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had instructed his agents to abate 10 per cent of the rents due to him in the present year; and immediately below the paragraph containing that announcement was another, stating that the Duke of Westminster had abated 25 per cent of the rent on his farms, and that the late Lord Beaconsfield had also taken off 25 per cent. If these things had been done in Ireland, probably the right hon. Gentleman, and the Duke of Westminster, and the late Lord Beaconsfield might have found themselves in Kilmainham, charged with intimidating persons not to pay their lawful rent. Twenty persons were in prison for intimidating persons not to pay their lawful debts. Intimidating persons not to pay rent was an extraordinary charge; but he did not think it would require much compulsion in order to induce a man not to pay his lawful debts; and yet, according to Her Majesty's Govern- 305 ment, it required coercion, all the agency of the Land League, shooting, threatening letters, and incitement to murder, in order to induce a willing tenant to refrain from paying a rack-rent which would leave himself and his family in a state of destitution. There were 19 persons in prison in Ireland on the charge of unlawful assembly. He had carefully gone through these charges of unlawful assembly, and he found they were of various kinds. Some of the unlawful assemblies were alleged to have been followed by riot—others had been brought together for the purpose of obstructing the proceedings at a sheriff's sale. But none of the persons imprisoned were directly charged with rioting, or with the prevention of legal process, or with any act of violence whatever. All the charges were of the same kind—namely, unlawful assembly to the terror of Her Majesty's subjects. Only a few days ago there was a meeting in Trafalgar Square. It was surely quite as much an unlawful assembly; but he confessed that it did not terrify him, as one of Her Majesty's subjects, although he was unable to say whether it might not have terrified the worthy Alderman (Mr. R. N. Fowler) who was then representing Her Majesty's Opposition on the Front Bench. He did not think it would have required much straining to regard some of the Mid Lothian meetings, and the meetings at Scarborough—the constituency represented by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board—as unlawful assemblies calculated to intimidate Her Majesty's subjects. Yet 19 persons were imprisoned in Ireland upon no more serious charge than that of unlawful assembly—or, in other words, taking part in a perfectly Constitutional public meeting. Of course, if these so-called unlawful assemblies had been accompanied by acts of violence, or by anything tending to incite to violence, the Warrants would say so; and they contained no such charge. Notwithstanding the statements, the promises, and the representations made by the Chief Secretary, the facts clearly proved the gravamen of the charge made by the Irish Members that Her Majesty's Government had used the Coercion Act for the purpose of putting down the Land League. The Chief Secretary had talked of the increase of crime in Ireland, and 306 had endeavoured to answer the argument that coercion had not put down crime. The right hon. Gentleman had been compelled to acknowledge that it had not; but that outrages had actually increased during the present year in the coercion months. The right hon. Gentleman stated that there were 196 offences in April, 199 in May, 207 in June—three months after the Coercion Act passed. Therefore, coercion had not diminished outrage. But that was only part of the case. The right hon. Gentleman not altogether candidly turned the argument by saying that if the outrages were more numerous in the months of coercion than they were in the opening months of the year they were less than they were in the three concluding months of last year. The right hon. Gentleman compared April, May, and June this year with the three last months of last year. It would certainly have been fairer to compare April, May, and June this year with April, May, and June last year, because, as everyone knew, in the winter months if any disturbances were going on there was an increase of crime. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had taken the opportunity of talking of the lowered tone of that Assembly, and had more than broadly hinted that it was due to the action of a new class of Irish Members who had entered it. [" Hear, hear!"] An hon. Member, remarkable for his timely applause, cheered that observation. The right hon. Gentleman apparently looked back to the olden times of that House and a different class of Irish Members as halcyon dreams which had, unfortunately, passed away. But there were four Members in those halcyon days, one of whom was expelled the House for forgery; while a second flew to New York on account of robbery; a third, having been guilty of forgery, committed suicide; and the fourth, being the political associate of Members of the present Government, was raised to the Judicial Bench. Personally, he infinitely preferred the hon. Member whom Cork had given to the House either to the lamented suicide, John Sadleir, or the equally lamented Judge— Mr. Justice Keogh—who, on one occasion, speaking in the town of Mullingar, said something to this effect—"Remember, boys, the long winter nights are coming on, and then you can treat the landlords 307 as you like." The right hon. Gentleman, who looked back with regret to the days when the Irish Members were of a different class, must well remember that this foul agitator—this miscreant who gave this advice to the Irish peasantry —was raised by the Government to which the right hon. Gentleman himself belonged to the ermine of the Judicial Bench. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] Mr. Justice Keogh was Solicitor General for Ireland in the Aberdeen Administration; and although the right hon. Gentleman did leave that Ministry for a while he was at one time a Member of Lord Aberdeen's Government, or, at any rate, a friend and associate of Lord Aberdeen. He (Mr. O'Connor) would now compare the outrages in April, May, and June this year with those committed in the months of April, May, and June last year. In April this year, with coercion, the number was 196; in April last year, without coercion, only 43; in May this year, with coercion, 199; in May last year, without coercion, 54; in June this year, with coercion, 207; in June last year, without coercion, 58. Did anybody ever see such an enormous disproportion in so short a time, between the outrages in a time of coercion and in a time when no coercion existed? In March, this year, the outrages were 82, and in March last year, without coercion, 40. In the first quarter of the present year there were 351 outrages, and in the second quarter there were 611. And there were not only double the number of outrages, but 1,051, or treble the number of evictions. This was the way in which Her Majesty's Government justly, wisely, and humanely administered the law. They had been told that the law of the Land League was supreme; but it was the law of the landlord and the law of the outrage-maker that the right hon. Gentleman, by his coercion, had made supreme. He thought he had proved how little coercion had benefited the country. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had alluded to the statement which had been made in regard to the respectability of the men arrested. He did not accuse the right hon. Gentleman of intentional misrepresentation; but sometimes an experienced and adroit Parliamentary debater was guilty of a suppressio veri. The right hon. Gentleman ought to have known that not a single 308 Irish Member had put forward the respectability of the suspected persons as a reason why they should not be punished if they were guilty of crime. [Mr. W. E. FORSTER dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman shook his head. He challenged the right hon. Gentleman to name a single Member who had put forward the respectability of a man as a reason why he should not be punished. Let the right hon. Gentleman name.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
would respectfully ask the right hon. Gentleman, through the Chair, to name a single Irish Member who had put this for ward as a reason why a man should not be punished.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
I do not know if I am in Order; but I might quote the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Major Nolan).
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, the hon. and gallant Member for Galway was in his place and would contradict him if he was guilty of any misrepresentation. The hon. and gallant Member brought forward the case of a man named Carney, who was accused of arson and of being accessory to the burning of some hay. The hon. and gallant Member stated that the accused was the son of a man who did business to the extent of £1,100 a-year; and he asked if it was likely that such a person would be a party to the burning of hay when he would be called upon to provide the largest share of the money paid in compensation as the largest ratepayer in the district. What the Irish Members had adhered to all through these debates was that the respectability of these men afforded some proof that they would not lend themselves to dastardly outrages and to offences against their fellow-citizens. The fact that many of them had been elected to municipal honours might be taken as a proof that they were neither "village tyrants" nor "dissolute ruffians," nor that scum of society for whom the right hon. Gentleman said this Coercion Act was alone wanted. Even now the right hon. Gentleman was misrepresenting the argument of the hon. and gallant Member for Galway, and making it appear completely contradictory to the object for which it was advanced. It was a specimen of the mode of dealing with the arguments of his opponents for which, 309 the right hon. Gentleman was famous. Many of the persons who had been arrested were personal acquaintances of hon. Members sitting on those Benches. He often regretted in these discussions that English Members had not had the advantage, which the Irish Members had, of a personal acquaintance with the details of every-day life in Ireland, because the most sympathetic nature without such acquaintance could not conceive the realities of Irish life with half the force and vividness with which they presented themselves to the minds of persons who had spent the greater part of their time in Ireland. Hon. Members opposite, in discussing the Land Bill, dealt only with the Motion to strike out a sub-section or to amend a particular line; but to the minds of the Irish Members there was always present houses which in their boyhood they had seen inhabited and prosperous in desolate ruins now, with all the people who were once connected dead or gone away. Coercion meant the desolate home of men like Mr. Harrington—with every member of whose family he was intimate—and cases like that of Mr. Sheridan, who was put into prison a few days after he had been engaged in the holy work of assisting the unfortunate people whom the landlords had turned out of house and home. They could see the acts of these men; and they could see, too, the swaggering constable, who stared at everyone at the railway stations in Ireland, and who walked through the streets of Irish towns and villages the only well-dressed and well-fed man, and the only insolent tyrant and dissolute ruffian in the place. They had seen these things, and they would see them again when they returned to their homes in the Recess. Some of the scenes they had witnessed would appeal to the heart of any man who had human feeling in his bosom. In one case a man had been arrested upon suspicion, who had a wife, eight children, and an aged mother dependent upon him, and so wretchedly poor was their home that the police sergeant who executed the warrant took 4s. out of his own pocket to assist the family who were deprived of their only means of support. The loss of liberty to these people was, perhaps, the smallest part of the injury done to them. Their real loss would be represented by the broken-hearted wives, and, perhaps, the dead children, 310 whose sufferings would complete the painful tragedy of coercion. There were 1,000 women and children deprived of their bread by the operation of these Acts. He would now pass on to the Land Bill, and here he would express the opinion that the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the Prime Minister had been engaged in a cross-examination of hon. Members on that side of the House. They were endeavouring to sound them before risking themselves to a course of justice, and, he would add, of decency in this policy of coercion. They asked Irish Members to give the Land Bill a fair trial. He asked the occupants of the Treasury Bench would they give it a fair trial when they put its acceptance or rejection before the Irish people, not to their free will, but to their will coerced by buckshot, by large numbers of the military and police, and by the spectacle of 200 persons lying in prison? Why did the Government ask this question about a fair trial for the Land Bill? If they themselves felt confidence in its justice and completeness, and in the satisfactory character of its provisions, they would never have asked that question with so much anxiety. Did they mean that, because they feared the Bill was not satisfactory, they must force it down the throats of the Irish people with a complement of coercion, so that their mouths might be closed from expressing their real feelings with regard to it? He answered the Government by saying—"Begin by giving the Bill a fair trial yourselves, and when you have shown some confidence in the reality of your measure it will be time enough to ask the approval of the Irish people and their Representatives." Then with regard to what has been said as to foreign intervention in Ireland. It was a noticeable fact that whenever any movement took place there it was attributed by somebody to intervention. But that was an old argument, familiar to himself and to the Prime Minister also, against whom it had been used, and one which he triumphantly repelled. When it was said that the intervention of Russia was the cause of the discontent of Bulgaria, the right hon. Gentleman's answer was that—These men of the same creed and scions of the same race would be less than human if they did not sympathize with the wrongs and oppression of their fellow Sclavs.311 And would the Irish race in America be worthy the name of men and women if, because they were in a free country, where their ability and industry were not kept down by foreign rule and coercion—would not they be less than men and women if they gave not of their substance to the brothers and sisters they had left at home? He said that the Irishmen in America were the pride of their race, because of the sympathy they had shown with their fellow-people, and because of their love and affection that kept so green in a foreign land. He thought he had completely answered the case of the Government with regard to coercion. On the whole, he was not sorry, because of coercion, for he regarded it as as necessary trial through which the Irish people should pass. They had passed through it triumphantly. The Government had done their worst against them; they had imprisoned as many of their leaders as they could with any show of decency; they had poured as many troops into the country as if they were waging war against the people; they had encouraged the magistrates in the worst form of brutal tyranny, and with what result? Why, the Irish people were that day more attached to those who represented them in the House of Commons than they were before the Coercion Bill was passed, with regard to the future government of the Irish people. They had in their party a recruiting sergeant in every single man who had been put in prison. They would be the men who, when the Government faced the Dissolution which now they feared, would be the means of sending to Parliament 70 or 80 Members pledged to adopt the policy and follow the lead of his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork. When that day of reckoning arrived they would see what would become of the Liberal Ministry in Ireland who employed coercion. Therefore, he contended that coercion had been tried and found wanting, and that the Irish people had been shown what they could do.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said he should endeavour to make his remarks as few as possible. It was his duty to lay before the House, in the absence of the Liberal Members for the County of Donegal, an account of the working of the Coercion Act in that county. Donegal was one of those counties which, some months ago, 312 Obtained the peculiar pity of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, on the ground of its poverty and the trial through which it had passed. However, in Donegal the Coercion Act had been worked with at least as much industry as in any part of Ireland. He was directed to lay before the House the true history of a village tyrant, only he was not one of the defenders of the people whom the Chief Secretary for Ireland was mistaken in suspecting were men of that character. He was one of the guardians of the peace, one of the persons charged with the administration of law and order in Ireland. In Donegal there had been six respectable men arrested under the Coercion Act, one of these being Hugh M'Bride, a process-server during 44 years, who found himself cast into prison, on reasonable suspicion when he refused to continue the trade of process-serving, his offence, when called by its proper name, being that of refusing to deliver threatening letters. The rest of the prisoners were respectable farmers, and they were all charged on the usual grounds of unlawful assembly, or of having something to do with the delivery of threatening messages. But he was specially directed to ask the attention of the House to the case of Messrs. Crampsey and Diver, who had been imprisoned since the 16th of April on charges of reasonable suspicion in connection with unlawful assemblies in Innishowen. With regard to Mr. Orampsey, he asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether it was not true that a short time previous to the passing of the Coercion Act the Government had accepted his bail to keep the peace for 12 months? That bail had never been forfeited, and yet the Government, without the commission of any offence on his part, had cast him into gaol. The man who was responsible for the arrest of Messrs. Crampsey and Diver was Sub-Inspector Smith—something of whose history he must lay before the House, and who was just now the tyrant of Innishowen. If the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary thought that inquiry into the character of the agents who were his chief informers in Ireland was worthy his attention, he would ask him to take notes of the history he was about to lay before him. He found, in 1874, Sub-Inspector Smith giving evidence before Judge Barry in a notorious case of rioting which occurred in the 313 town of Derry; and the evidence which he gave on that occasion furnished a very favourable illustration of his capacity for carrying out the duties of Sub-Inspectorship. Smith did all in his power to throw the blame for the riot which took place on the unarmed Catholic Party, and one of the principal reasons advanced by him in the witness-box for this was that in the Catholic procession he had seen a green flag with a bloody hand displayed upon it. Nothing could shake the belief of this Sub-Inspector that this bloody hand was nothing else than the certain pledge of the procession to commit murder before they returned to their homes. Mr. May, the Government lawyer, did all in his power, in a gently leading way, to bring home to the mind of Sub-Inspector Smith that the red hand was a proper cognizance in the Heraldry of Ulster. But Smith had never read a line of Irish history, and knew nothing of the Ulster red hand, and so he came into the witness-box to proclaim that it was an open declaration on the part of the Catholic procession of its intention to commit murder. Next he found Sub-Inspector Smith at Cooks-town in 1879 in a state of remarkable excitement, entering the houses of the resident Catholics in search of rioters, levelling his revolver at the head of one Catholic, flinging his cigar at the head of another, and finally charged with being drunk on duty. The charge was investigated before a full Bench of magistrates—an extraordinarily full Bench— for there was not one Orange magistrate who did not think it his duty to be present when the case of Sub - Inspector Smith came forward. As a matter of course, Sub-Inspector Smith was acquitted of all the charges with flying honours; and he (Mr. O'Donnell) would advise the Government to investigate the constitution of the Bench of magistrates in Castletown. He found that Sub-Inspector Smith had, in 1880, allowed the Orange fraternity to erect an Orange arch right under his own window, and that fact need only to be referred to as an evidence of the warm sympathy which united Sub-Inspector Smith with the most fanatical portion of the people in the North of Ireland. On being removed to Innishowen, Sub-Inspector Smith at once proceeded to show in what spirit he intended to carry Out his authority by removing the 314 Catholic constables to Moville, and replacing them with trusted members of his own persuasion. He (Mr. O'Donnell) had not the smallest doubt as to the capacity of Protestants more than Catholics in Ireland; but changes of that description by a gentleman with such antecedents were significant. Mr. Sub-Inspector Smith set about gaining for himself credit as an active and intelligent officer from the first moment of his arrival in hitherto peaceful Innishowen. He did not wait for the secret Circular of the Lord Lieutenant to spur him on to the work of denunciation. Among the engines of intimidation which he set up was a petty court—a sort of Star Chamber—to which he invited by summons all the peasantry of the neighbourhood to come, and gave a full account of their proceedings; and until the rev. Father O'Dogherty warned the parishioners from the pulpit that Sub-Inspector Smith had no right to set up any such jurisdiction, the whole countryside was trembling in fear of being summoned to this court. Energy of that kind was only a preparatory step. It was necessary to go further in order to obtain what Sub-Inspector Smith required. Innishowen was still unproclaimed; and, accordingly, he set about charging every country fellow who had taken a drop too much, or who had a quarrel with a relative, with committing an offence under the Whiteboy Acts. Catholic and Protestant peasant lads who had used hard words to each other were brought before the Bench of magistrates, and on the assurance of Sub-Inspector Smith that evidence would be forthcoming they were returned for trial, and duly marched to Lifford Gaol for incarceration. In all these cases the Judge of Assize—Judge Lawson—refused to see primâ facie evidence of an offence against the Whiteboy Acts, and treated the cases as trivial. But another machine was then produced to damage the country. The Belfast News Letter was unique in its unsparing denunciations of those who differed from its views, whether they were Papists, Nationalists, or Land Leaguers. From the arrival of Sub-Inspector Smith until public opinion made it too hot for the Constabulary, The Belfast News Letter contained special reports of the fearful condition of affairs in Innishowen, and the preliminary investigation in the case of 315 Hutchinson at Cam Dough was treated as positive proof that Innishowen was in such a condition that there was not a respectable non-Leaguer, agent, tenant, or landlord who did not go about armed to the teeth, not knowing when some cowardly assassin might shoot him. That was a statement which produced an emphatic contradiction; but whenever any Land League meeting took place in the neighbourhood there was a spicey and poisonous narrative in The Belfast News Letter; and it was a remarkable fact that whenever these letters appeared in The Belfast News Letter copies of the paper were sent in a more or less disguised hand to Messrs. Crampsey and Diver, who were leading Land Leaguers in Innishowen. These papers bore the Moville and Derry postmark, and were strong evidence that Sub-Inspector Smith, stationed at Carn Dough, had some connection with the sending of those papers. On one occasion, when he had been at Omagh on official business, The Belfast News Letter of that week, containing an abusive article, was sent to Messrs. Crampsey and Diver bearing the Omagh postmark. He (Mr. O'Donnell) held in his hand the very newspaper which had been sent to those gentlemen. Mr. Crampsey was a draper and tailor in a respectable way of business in Innishowen, and Mr. Diver was a farmer in the neighbourhood of Carn Dough. The superscription on the paper sent from Omagh was printed, in order to more completely disguise the handwriting. After the Land League meeting, at which Messrs. Crampsey and Diver were present, and at which Mr. John Dillon spoke, an abusive article appeared in The Belfast News Letter singling out as the most dangerous persons Messrs. Crampsey and Diver. The paper containing that article reached Moville, and Sub-Inspector Smith was so delighted with the article that he sent a copy of the paper, with his compliments, to all the leading inhabitants of Carn Dough. Mr. Crampsey was, no doubt, a man of rather quick temper and sharp tongue, and did not spare denunciations of his persecutor; and the ground upon which he was bound over to keep the peace was that at a public meeting, where some uncomplimentary references were made to Sub-Inspector Smith, Mr. Crampsey cried out in a jesting tone, "Boycott him." Sub-Inspector 316 Smith, ever on the watch for a good case in order to condemn the reputation of the district and procure himself favour at the hands of the Government, at once entered a prosecution against Mr. Crampsey, and swore that he himself was in danger, and in that way he succeeded in getting Mr. Crampsey bound over to keep the peace for 12 months. The Belfast News Letter, containing a letter upon this case, was handed around the town by a constable sent for the purpose by Sub-Inspector Smith. Messrs. Crampsey and Diver, who, although Land Leaguers, were respectable men, and on several occasions had contributed to preserving the peace when evictions were going on, were arrested and carried away, without trial, like the other "suspects." All these statements with regard to the insulting demeanour of Sub-Inspector Smith in Carn Dough could be borne out by universal testimony; and he brought this case forward because the Chief Secretary for Ireland had not been told that Mr. Crampsey, before being arrested under the Coercion Act, had been bound over to keep the peace and had not forfeited his bail. He doubted whether, if the Chief Secretary had known these facts, he would have consented to the arrest of Mr. Orampsey, and the Chief Secretary ought to inquire into the circumstances of the case. Sub-Inspector Smith, from all he could hear of him, was a hotheaded, fanatic, passionate, and prejudiced man. His ridiculous errors about the bloody hand of Ulster in the Derry witness-box, his blustering violence at Cookstown on July 12, 1879, his permission to the Orangemen to erect an arch under his window in 1880, and the reasonable suspicion of his action with The Belfast News Letter, all went to show that he was not a man to be intrusted with the powers which were given to a Sub-Inspector in a district in Ireland, and he was perfectly certain that if Sub-Inspector Smith was sent to some other district—to some warm Protestant district in Antrim—where he would be surrounded by Protestants, he would be a harmless officer, and would never suspect Protestants of being in league with the Pope and the Devil against the Constitution of the United Kingdom. But if he were left amongst a Catholic population he would continue to be, as he had admitted himself to be, unable to 317 conciliate the Catholics. He had been nourished on croppies' tails; he was a relic of the past, and he ought to be preserved in the Museum. He was not fit to be intrusted with the powers given under the Coercion Act. He (Mr. O'Donnell) was satisfied that Innishowen would not have been proclaimed but for this officer's activity; and he was certain that if the Chief Secretary would enter into this case he would see that Mr. Crampsey had been treated with bad faith, and that Mr. Diver had been brought into the case because he was a friend of Crampsey, and because Sub-Inspector Smith suspected evil from both of them. Both of them had suffered four months' imprisonment; but both, as the Chief Secretary would find, might be restored to their liberty without danger to peace and with satisfaction to the district. He would leave these facts for the Government to consider, asking them only to consult all the independent witnesses—the clergy of all denominations in Innishowen— and he would then see that there was no ground for proclaiming the district, and certainly no ground for keeping two easy-going, respectable men of, perhaps, somewhat sharp temper and bitter tongue, and who were just the sort of men to use strong language against a busybody like Sub-Inspector Smith, in prison. They could be very well restored to their homes and friends without the tenure of Office by the Liberal Government being endangered.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 83; Noes 30: Majority 53.—(Div. List, No. 395.)
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.