§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to the Bill [23rd February], (on Consideration, as amended).
And which Amendment was,
In page 2, after sub-section (3), to insert a new sub-section:—"(4.) On the expiration of a period of three months after the arrest of each person detained under this Act, and so from time to time on the expiration of each succeeding period of three months while such person is detained, the Lord Lieutenant shall consider the case of such person and decide there on; and the decision of the Lord Lieutenant in that behalf shall be certified under his hand, or the hand of the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, to each Clerk of the Crown, by whom a copy of the warrant under which such person shall be detained shall he filed in his public office, under this Act, and each such Clerk of the Crown shall record such decision by indorsement on the copy of the warrant so filed in his office."—(Mr. William Edward Forster.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the new sub-section be there inserted."
§ Debate resumed.1666
§ MR. CALLAN,
having been the last speaker on the previous evening, inquired of the Speaker whether, in giving precedence to the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Metge), the first on the Paper, he would be entitled to make the Motion which stood in his name immediately alter that of his hon. Friend had been disposed of? If he were not allowed to do so he would, while in possession of the House, conclude with the Motion which he proposed making; but, as a matter of convenience, and as the Amendment of his hon. Friend stood before his Motion, he would wish to give that Amendment preference, if by so doing he did not forfeit his right to make his own Motion.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, after the Amendment of the hon. Member for Meath was disposed of the hon. Gentleman would be at liberty to move his Amendment.
§ Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, in line 1, to leave out the word "Three," in order to insert the word "Two,"—(Mr. Metge,) —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'Three' stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the hon. Member spoke of this proposal as a compromise. For his own part, he thought he was carrying out the views of hon. Members opposite when he proposed three months. He could not consent to shorten the time, for throe months was a reasonable period.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
regretted that he was unable to support the Amendment, as he had suggested to the Chief Secretary the period of three months, a suggestion which the right hon. Gentleman had been kind enough to accept.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
explained that the object of the Amendment was to enable the Lord Lieutenant to ascertain, as soon as possible, whether an innocent person had been put into prison or not. If any mistake had been made there was no reason why an inno- 1667 cent man should not have a chance of being released at the end of two months instead of three.
§ MR. HEALY
said, this was a case of putting restrictions on the Irish Executive. From his point of view, he was in favour of putting every restriction on the Executive. All that the Amendment proposed was, that a man should have a chance of obtaining his liberty sooner if it was found that he had been wrongfully arrested.
§ MR. BIGGAR
hoped the House would agree to the Amendment: but really, lest innocent men should be wrongfully confined, ho thought there should be a monthly investigation.
§ MR. BARRY
thought it would be a very hard thing for a man to be three months without having an opportunity of establishing his innocence. If, however, the Chief Secretary objected to the period of two months, perhaps he would alter the Amendment to read "within a period of three months." It would leave it open to the Lord Lieutenant to consider the case within three months, and do away with a hard-and-fast line.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, it was not necessary to adopt that suggestion. Whenever his noble Friend the Lord Lieutenant obtained information that a prisoner was wrongfully detained he would not wait throe months to review his case. The chief object in fixing the revision every three months was not to ascertain whether the reasonable suspicion upon which he had been arrested had been then removed, but whether it was necessary for the public interest that he should be further detained.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
hoped the Government would not bind themselves to a tri-monthly investigation. In England, when the Tories were in Office, they held an investigation once a-month.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
As I have already said, it is not necessary that we should wait for three months if we believe the person should be discharged.
§ Amendment to the said proposed Amendment, by leave, Withdrawn.
§ MR. CALLAN
moved, in line 4, after "Lord Lieutenant," to insert, "by and with the advice of the Privy Council in Ireland." The other day they were assured by the Prime Minister of the solemnity of the functions which the Privy Council had to perform. Well, he 1668 believed it could have no more solemn and sacred duty than to inquire, under those circumstances, into the merits of the prisoners who were detained. He did not join the number of Members who sat on that side of the House in the denunciation of some of the Irish Judges. On the contrary, he had for them a very high respect, and particularly for those who were members of the Privy Council. If, unfortunately, he should happen to become an unfortunate prisoner—although he did not believe he would, for he would do nothing to bring himself under the purview of the Act—he would much rather have the merits of the question tested by those who had great experience of sifting evidence than to have his case investigated by the Lord Lieutenant, or even the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He would rather have his case tested by Mr. Justice Fitzgerald, Mr. Baron Dowse, or Mr. Justice Barry, not because he was known personally to them, but because he believed, from their avocations and habits of life, they would sift the evidence with skill, and, were there a vein of exaggeration running through the information, would readily detect it. If the Chief Secretary would accept his Amendment he would willingly withdraw the other which stood in his name.
In line 4 of the said proposed Amendment after the words "Lord Lieutenant," to insert the words "by and with the advice of the Privy Council in Ireland."—(Mr. Callan.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he was not surprised at the hon. Member saying he would strike out his other Amendment if the one before the House were carried, because they were so very contradictory to one another. He could not well understand how the same Member could justify both Amendments. But the question of adding the words proposed would make a very considerable difference, because it would make the members of the Privy Council really responsible for a prisoner being detained after the expiration of three months. The proposition appeared to him to be perfectly inconsistent with the spirit of the Bill, which gave to the Lord Lieu- 1669 tenant, as the Representative of the Government, the power to arrest. Why should it not leave in the same hands the power to re-consider the arrest? Another reason would be that the Privy Council, which consisted of a large number of persons, might all give a vote, and so it would be left to them really to decide, thus taking away from the Government the responsibility resting upon them, and putting it into the hands of whoever had been appointed a member of the Privy Council either by the present or last Governments.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
could really not understand the proposition of his hon. Friend. He thought the Amendment of the Chief Secretary was better as it stood. No doubt it would be very hard lines, indeed, when the Bill came into operation; but he would prefer to leave to the noble Lord who would administer the Government of Ireland, or to the Chief Secretary, the office of mercy, than relegate it to a very large number of gentlemen, no doubt of the very highest position and standing, but, nevertheless, who could not understand the nature of the charge that had been made, and all the surrounding circumstances, as well as the Lord Lieutenant or the Chief Secretary.
§ MR. BIGGAR
opposed the Amendment. If the Irish Privy Council was composed of men of such impartial character as the late Baron Pigott, and the present Judge O'Brien, and perhaps some of the other Judges named by his hon. Friend (Mr. Callan), he would be disposed to support the Amendment very warmly; but when it was partly composed of men who wore unable to arrive at an impartial decision, such as the Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench, it would be very unwise to extend this responsibility to them. He thought that it was better for them to confine them-selves to an extremely bad tribunal— one which had some influence—than to extend the responsibility to a worse tribunal, over which they had no influence at all.
§ MR. M'COAN
said, the obvious objection to the Amendment was that its practical effect would be to distribute amongst the numerous body comprising the Privy Council the responsibility of this Bill which was now centred in the Chief Secretary and the Lord Lieutenant.
§ MR. R. POWER
asked that the Amendment should be withdrawn, because he not only could not agree with it, but did not understand what it meant.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, as his Amendment did not seem to commend itself to the House, he begged to ask leave to withdraw it.
§ Amendment to the said proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. REDMOND
moved, in line 4, after "person," insert "upon whatever evidence the relatives or friends of said person may adduce." The object ho had in view in asking for the insertion of these words was that an innocent person might have every opportunity of proving his innocence. Up to now the action of the Government had gone in a different direction, as they had refused to concede anything to facilitate innocent men proving they were unjustly apprehended. On the commonest principles of justice this Amendment ought to commend itself to the House.
In line 4 of the said proposed Amendment, after the word "person," to insert the words "upon whatever evidence the relatives or friends of said person may adduce."—(Mr Redmond.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
objected to the Amendment, on the ground that it would be importing into the matter the form of a judicial investigation. In addition to that, he thought it would be exceedingly hard to the person arrested, because it would very seriously limit the power of the Lord Lieutenant in re-considering the case. It would limit him to the evidence that the relations or friends might adduce. ["No, no!"] He considered it would have that effect, and there were two grounds why arrests should be re-considered — first, as to whether the reasonable suspicion existed any longer; and, secondly, whether it was necessary to punish the accused by detaining them any longer.
§ MR. FINIGAN
asked why they should be called upon to place themselves in the hands of the Chief Secretary and the 1671 chief of the police. No doubt the Lord Lieutenant was a very good man; but the people who would have to deal with the matter were the Chief Secretary and the police, and he altogether declined to accept these persons, because the Chief Secretary had neither a correct idea of what was law nor what was justice.
§ MR. BYRNE
supported the Amendment, and said that without it the inquiry of the Lord Lieutenant would be simply useless. The Lord Lieutenant would be asked to act, as it were, in a judicial position; and, unless evidence was given by friends of the prisoner, how could he for a moment decide upon his guilt or innocence?
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
hoped that the Chief Secretary would consent to the insertion of some words which would give effect to the purpose of the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for New Boss. As things stood the Lord Lieutenant would have no evidence, but a simple schedule. If it was thought that the actual words of the Amendment gave too much latitude on one hand, and too little on the other, some such words as "including whatever evidence the relatives and friends of the accused might adduce" might be inserted. He wished that the Irish people should have reason to believe that the Government desired not only to coerce, but to adjudicate. At present the Lord Lieutenant would have nothing to adjudicate upon.
§ MR. LEAMY
thought that without the addition of words equivalent to the Amendment before the House the Chief Secretary's Amendment would have no value whatever. They only asked that a particular kind of evidence should be admitted. They did not require that the Lord Lieutenant should necessarily act upon that evidence.
§ MR. SEXTON
protested against the refusal of the Government to accept the Amendment. It seemed to him that men were to be liable to illegal arrest without showing by their relatives and friends that they were innocent.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, if that was the intention of the Government he failed to see why they should object to making the matter clear by accepting the Amendment. Why should they not make their 1672 determination of a specific nature, and then no mistake could arise? Unless they did he should be driven to the conclusion that the inquiries which the Government promised would lead to nothing. The Lord Lieutenant would only read over the old records, and decide on them, and the real facts of the case would never come out at all. Unless that was so let it be stated in the Bill, and ho was sure it would give great satisfaction.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, it was to be hoped the Chief Secretary would accept this Amendment. Common sense was a commodity which seemed to be very much wanted amongst the draftsmen of the Bill at least; and for the life of him he could not see what objection there could be to expressing in the Act itself what the Government professed was the principle that governed their actions, for it simply stated that the Lord Lieutenant should consider the case of a person. In that case let them include any evidence the relatives of the said person might bring forward. If he would not accept the Amendment, he asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he would condescend to pledge himself on the part of the Executive to make this a part of the case in some shape or point?
§ And it being Seven of the clock, Mr. Speaker, in pursuance of the Order of the House, put the Question.
§ The House divided: —Ayes 41; Noes 337: Majority 296.—(Div. List, No. 85.)
§ Amendment proposed, in line 6 of the said proposed Amendment, to leave out the word "or," in order to insert the word"and,"—(Mr. Healy,)—instead thereof.1673
§ Question put, "That the word 'or' stand part of the said proposed Amendment."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 282; Noes 39: Majority 243.—(Div. List, No. 86.)
Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment,
At the end, to insert the words "and such decision shall be laid before each House of Parliament within the first seven days of every month during which Parliament is sitting, and when Parliament is not sitting such decision shall be published in the Dublin Gazette within the first seven days of every month."—(Mr. Healy.)
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The House divided: —Ayes 36; Noes 230: Majority 194.—(Div. List, No. 87.)
§ New sub-section inserted.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I have to point out that the next Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Wexford cannot be put, because the question involved refers to a matter already decided by the House. The same remark also applies to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Tralee.
In page 2, line 14, to insert at end of Clause 1,"Nothing in this Clause shall be understood to interfere with the right of all persons to take part in public meetings, unless such meeting or meetings shall have been previously forbidden to be held by proclamation made by order of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland for the time being."—(Mr. Leamy.)
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The House divided: —Ayes 35; Noes 205: Majority 170.—(Div. List, No. 88.)
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 16, to leave out the word "or," and insert the word "and,"—(Mr. Healy,)—instead thereof.
§ Question put, "That the word 'or' stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 201; Noes 34: Majority 167.—(Div. List, No. 89.)
§ THE O'DONOGHUE
directed attention to an Amendment standing on the Paper in the name of the Solicitor General for Ireland, which, he said, had apparently escaped the Speaker's notice, as it had not been put from the Chair.
§ MR. SPEAKER
explained that he had not put it because it appeared on the Paper by a clerical error.
§ Several Irish MEMBERS: It was challenged.
§ Amendment made.
In page 2, line 30, to leave out the words "by and with the advice of the Privy Council in Ireland."—(Mr. Callan.)
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 199; Noes 34: Majority 165.—(Div. List, No. 90.)
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 31, to leave out the words "and when made revoke and alter."—(Mr. Daly.)
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 201; Noes 37: Majority 164.—(Div. List, No. 91.)
In page 3, line 3, after sub-section (4), insert the following sub-section:—(5.) "Person" means adult male person.—(Mr. William Corbet.)
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The House divided: —Ayes 34; Noes 190: Majority 156.—(Div. List, No. 92.)
§ MR. SPEAKER
I have to inform the House that the two Amendments standing in the name of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) are inadmissible in this Bill.
In page 3, line 7, to leave out the words "thirtieth day of September one thousand eight hundred and eighty-two," in order to insert the words "first day of January one thousand eight hundred and eighty-two,"—(Mr. Redmond)
§ Question put, "That the words 'thirtieth day of September one thousand eight hundred and eighty-two' stand part of the Bill."1675
§ The House divided: —Ayes 195; Noes 38: Majority 157.—(Div. List, No. 93.)
§ MR. SPEAKER
There are two more Amendments on the Paper—one standing in the name of the hon. Member for Wicklow (Mr. M'Coan) and the other in the name of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Pavnell). The principles contained in these Amendments, which propose to take away the retrospective action of the Bill and to restrict its operation to September 31 next, having been already decided by previous votes, the Amendments are inadmissible. I have now to call on the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill to state what course he proposes to take.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
I beg, Sir, to move that the Bill be now read a third time. I do not think for a moment of taking up the time of the House by reiterating and repeating my argument either in defence of the Bill or in description of the Bill; but, as it is not the usual course to move the third reading of a Bill immediately after receiving the Report of it, I wish to state why, on the part of the Government, I take this course to-night, in the full confidence that the House will approve of my doing so. It will be remembered that the Bill was brought forward as a matter of great urgency, and the House, by a Resolution which was carried by a very large majority, accepted the conviction of the Government that it was an urgent measure. But as, notwithstanding that urgency, this is the 21st day that the measure has been before the House, and as it has been accepted by a very large majority, I now beg to move the third reading of the Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(Mr. William Edward Forster.)
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
proceeded to say that, when this Bill was first introduced, the majority of the section of Irish Members with whom he acted announced that they felt it their duty to give to it in all its stages their most uncompromising opposition. He thought, 1676 however, other Parties in that House might have failed to keep the pledges they had given. The Irish Members had thus far fairly fulfilled their promise in that respect. They had hitherto given this Bill every legitimate and becoming opposition in their power, and, in further pursuance of the promise, he rose to offer almost the last opposition it was in their power to give to this most unnecessary, most dangerous, and most unworthy Bill, and to move that it be read—not now, but at a saner period for the House and the country—that day six months. He maintained that they had kept their opposition to the Bill strictly within the bounds of what was legitimate, becoming, necessary, and Constitutional. The Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, in speaking that night, referred to the fact that the Bill had taken 21 days to bring it to its present stage of progress, and he seemed to think that was something extraordinary—something involving an unparalleled and intolerable trial on the patience of the House of Commons; and he seemed to imply that Irish Members were guilty of something like an outrage against the tender feelings of Her Majesty's Government and the British public. The Chief Secretary evidently thought of Coercion Bills only in those later and feebler days, when passing a Coercion Bill for Ireland was a matter of easy amusement for the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The right hon. Gentleman had been a practical working statesman in days when a Coercion Bill for Ireland could be passed at any moment as it suited the whim or pleasure of the Ministry in existence; when there was no organized power in the hands of the Irish Members to make anything like a fair and prolonged stand against its passing into law; but they must remember that there were times when the opposition to coercion was of a little more robust kind than that, and more nearly resembled the opposition it had been their duty and pleasure to offer to this measure. Let him call to the memory of the House the famous Coercion Bill introduced by the Government of Lord Grey. If any man had a claim on the patience and endurance of the House of Commons, on all men of Liberal thoughts, and on Irish Members, Lord Grey was assuredly that man. He brought in that Bill after 1677 his great and magnificent success in passing the Reform Bill. He came and asked the Parliament which be had called into existence not merely by the process of new election, but by a process of entire change in the country—he came and appealed to them to allow him to pass a Coercion Bill for Ireland. He (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) was bound to say that he did bring forward strong reasons why coercion might have seemed necessary. Ho brought forward Returns of outrage showing a different condition of things from that to which the Chief Secretary had again and again described—Returns very different from the trumpery and preposterous stories of outrage with which the Chief Secretary had more than once astonished and amused the House of Commons. And how was his proposal received? Was it passed through in the course of one or two clays? Not at all. A strenuous opposition, such as they had not seen even in the present case, was offered to Lord Grey's Coercion Bill. It was not only resisted in the House of Commons, but even the House of Lords, before which it was brought in the first instance, did not consent to rattle through it with the unseemly and indecent haste which they had witnessed in more recent years. Mr. Spencer Walpole, a near relative of a distinguished Member of that House, in his very admirable and impartial History of England, made some strictures on the conduct of the House of Lords for the rapidity with which they passed the measure. He commented on the fact that the House of Lords hardly thought it necessary to discuss a Bill fatal to the existence of freedom in Ireland. But what did the House of Lords do? Did they pass the three readings at one Sitting? Not at all; they took some time over it. The measure was brought before the Lords for the first time on the 15th of February; it was read a second time on Monday, the 18th of February; it went into Committee in the House of Lords on Tuesday, the 19th of February; Re-port was taken on Thursday, the 21st of February; and the third reading was passed on Friday, the 22nd of February. Therefore, that kind of haste which a most impartial historian censured as unbecoming in the House of Lords kept them more than a week in discussing the measure. They put it through its 1678 several stages with, at all events, dignity and decency, and did not condescend to rush it through, even to gratify the great Minister who then presided over the destinies of England. It was taken into the House of Commons almost immediately afterwards, and how did it prosper? Six long nights were occupied with the question of leave to bring in the Bill; four nights were occupied in discussing the second reading; six nights were given to the consideration of the Bill in Committee; one night was taken up then by the House of Lords in considering the Amendments introduced in the House of Commons; and that Coercion Bill, introduced by Earl Grey in the House of Lords on the 15th of February, received the Royal Assent on the 3rd of April. Now, he asked any hon. Member of the House, on whatever side he was, how could he possibly join in the wonder and indignation expressed by the Chief Secretary because the House of Commons had been 21 nights discussing this unnecessary—this worthless—Coercion Bill, when Earl Grey, with all the force of a new Administration, a now Parliament, and new constituencies, was occupied from the 15th of February till the 3rd of April in passing through a measure which no one in the House of Commons, oven among Irish Members, declared to be absolutely unnecessary. That simple fact disposed of the constant charge made against Irish Members of having occupied unnecessarily the time of Her-Majesty's Government, and of having delayed the progress of the Coercion Bill. The truth was that in later times they fell into bad habits; and at last it came to pass that, if the House of Lords were to take the course which Mr. Walpole censured as indecent in its haste, and occupied a week and a day in discussing the measure, the whole country would wonder whether the House of Lords was not yielding to the vice of Obstruction. The fact was that in 1833 the Irish Party was an organized Party, and had a resolute Leader. After that they became for a long time disorganized and leaderless. They were now again an organized Party and had a resolute Leader, whose position for the moment he found himself most inadequately compelled to occupy. Let them look for a moment at the history of this Coercion Bill. It carried, indeed, 1679 very much of its history written on its face. This was not a Coercion Bill introduced for the purpose of making any change in or bettering the condition of Ireland. It was not introduced for the purpose of meeting any emergency or existing necessity in Ireland. This was a Coercion Bill introduced to satisfy what was oddly called public opinion in England. By public opinion in England was meant the public opinion of a certain portion of the population of the Metropolis, living for the most part in the West End. Ho did the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant the justice to believe that he had a certain amount of good intention in introducing the Bill. He did not believe the right hon. Gentleman thought it necessary for the purpose of maintaining order in Ireland; but he did think ho thought it necessary for the purpose of maintaining what might fairly be called order in England, satisfying the clamour of London, and inducing a state of mind which might enable the Government to pass their Irish measures of Land Reform. He believed the Government saw that there was a temper got up in London against Ireland and the Irish Party, which would render it very difficult for them to pass their measure of Land Reform; and he believed they more or less threw this sop to the barking Cerberus in the Metropolis, and that they brought in this Coercion Bill in order that they might have a better chance of passing their measure of Land Reform. They saw that, with some three or four honourable exceptions, the Press of London was clamorous for any measure of coercion for Ireland that would displease and dissatisfy the Irish people. They were out of temper with Ireland; they were displeased with the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. Parnell) and the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon), and he supposed they did like not very much any of the Irish Members who represented national constituencies in the House of Commons, and they were anxious that anything should be done to inflict some sort of punishment on the country that had sent those persons to Parliament to disturb the sweet tranquillity of Her Majesty's Ministry. On that subject most of the newspapers were in harmonious agreement, from the deep growl of The Times to the shrilly scream of The St. 1680 James's Gazette. In the words of King Lear—The little dogs and all,Tray, Blanch, and Sweetheart, see, they hark at me.At that time the attitude of the Chief Secretary was noticeable. His language was dark and menacing. He spoke of the portentous state of things he had only just discovered, and without immediately producing any official Returns, he contrived to anticipate the effect of their publication. Hon. Members would recollect the various changes that had been evident in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. He first began by alleging the great turbulence of the whole of the Irish population, and he drew, like a political Rembrandt, a striking picture of certain Irish districts which were ruled by "dissolute ruffians" who had got to be leaders of the Land League, and masters of the society of the village. He believed the right hon. Gentleman sincerely believed what he first said on this subject; but that was because he knew nothing of the real facts of the case. He was, however, reminded in this House that in the majority of cases the leader of the Land League in the different districts was one of the respected Roman Catholic clergy of the place; and the Chief Secretary was asked if he meant to describe these gentlemen as "dissolute ruffians," and he assured the House he never meant anything of the kind. He was perfectly certain he never did mean it. The fact was that up to that time the Chief Secretary had not the faintest notion that the Roman Catholic clergy had anything to do with the organization or leadership of the Land League. That fact came upon him as a perfect revelation, and then dawned upon his mind two facts—first, that the Land League was by no means the disorganized association of men he had imagined, but that it was a body doing a stupendous work in Ireland, and most dangerous in that way to the existing system of landlordism and land tenure. At once the "dissolute ruffians" vanished from the scene, and had never been heard of any more from that time to this. The right hon. Gentleman had ceased to remind the House even of the existence of that extraordinary set of men. Then came the time when it was necessary to lay his Returns upon the Table of the 1681 House to show the fearful outrages that were going on throughout Ireland. He would not again analyze the figures of those Returns; but he might fairly say that they were received by the House with a certain amount of decorous laughter, and that probably no one on the Treasury Bench regarded them as a serious argument for the Bill. If they took the worst county in Ireland where the greatest distress prevailed, and where the commission of outrages would be most naturally expected, they found that those Returns showed no necessity whatever for a departure from the ordinary laws of the Realm. In his own county almost unexampled quietness prevailed, only one grave offence having been committed during the last year, and yet Longford stood not first, but third or fourth in the list of orderly counties. The offender was at once arrested, tried, and sentenced to 20 years' penal servitude. The Solicitor General for Ireland had, however, painted that county as if it were in the flames of a civil war. He described a body of men lying concealed in ambush behind trees ready to attack the military; but there was not as much as a hedge there that would shelter even a rabbit.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
I said they were sheltered by an embankment, and I have here a letter to prove it.
MR. JUSTIN M 'CARTHY
said, the House now perfectly understood the value of those Returns. A great many of them consisted in the breaking of panes of glass, pulling down cocks of hay, and the sending threatening letters announcing the intention, if something was not done, of breaking more panes of glass or pulling down more cocks of hay. But those Returns had dropped out of sight, and they had not been able from that time to this to extort from the Chief Secretary any further Returns of agricultural crime in Ireland. Latterly the right hon. Gentleman had taken a new line, and had attitudinized as the open enemy of the Land League. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary, however, took a wider range than his Colleagues. He crossed the Atlantic at a bound, and introduced them to some desperate and truculent men who were plotting assassination to a degree that had never been dreamt of before, and he declared that because this was 1682 going on in America a Coercion Act was necessary for Ireland. There seemed to be a strange scheme to assassinate everybody in London, and the Home Secretary's method of grappling with it was to put the County of Dublin under coercion. The Home Secretary himself was not willing peacefully to be done to death in Whitehall without making some struggle for life by coercing the people of Longford. That was the newest reason for this Bill, He (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) knew something of America, and he had never heard of any such diabolical agitation— diabolical if it were not absolutely ridiculous. He would advise the Home Secretary, when he was told of plots for assassinating Her Majesty's Ministers, blowing up the Houses of Parliament, and setting the Thames on fire, to treat them with absolute contempt. Human nature would never so change that a considerable number of persons in this or any other country, even the Nihilists of Russia, could long continue to cherish such designs. He trusted Her Majesty's Ministers would live long and happily— long after these plotters in America, and their papers, their dynamite, and their daggers were forgotten. But, lot the plotters be as bad as they might, no plots conceived in America and to be executed in London could be counteracted by coercion in Tipperary or in Cork. He would remind the right hon. and learned Gentleman of the words used by Lord John Russell with respect to Lord Palmerston's Conspiracy Bill. Lord John Russell had said that the fanatical assassins who were really dangerous were persons who would not be deterred by any fear of punishment or force of coercion. He thought, therefore, that they might dismiss, as the atripal, not to say melodramatic, the display made by the Home Secretary; for he could hardly think that while the right hon. and learned Gentleman was reading the dreadful threats his pulse beat one tittle higher, or that he felt the least alarmed as to the possible success of those schemes. The Chief Secretary had indicated that the existing system of things in Ireland had found a serious rival in the Land League, and, for his part, he could not doubt that the real object of this Bill was to break up the organization of the Land League and suspend its operations. 1683 Nothing in our time ever took hold of the minds of the Irish public with the same quickness and force as did the organization of the Land League. He was sorry to say that ho had only recently become a member. It was only when the Government issued their offensive challenge and started a prosecution against members of the Land League that ho thought it the duty of every Irishman who pretended to be a patriot to join the organization—an honest and open organization—a body which aimed at closing, and rightly claimed to have closed, the era of secret and midnight conspiracy that under so many different names had been the terror and curse of Ireland for many generations. The Land League was the strongest argument against the Bill, to which he should continue to offer an uncompromising resistance, even if there were no other ground than that it was designed to suppress that organization. The Bill was absolutely unnecessary, superfluous, and worthless. He wished he could say it was only worthless. But it was much worse than worthless. It would cause great bitterness of feeling, and would re-open the melancholy chapter of secret nocturnal conspiracy in Ireland. Then, see at what a cost they had purchased the passing of it through Parliament! It had not been many weeks under discussion, and they had already had to break down, one by one, some of the most ancient and treasured traditions of the Constitution; they had had to do things which might at any time place the most patriotic and enlightened minority at the mercy of some reckless and despotic majority. Unless the Government could show the existence of serious disturbance in order to justify such a measure, they had better think once, twice, nay, thrice, before pressing it forward. The Government put him in mind of a picture by Hogarth, where a furious partizan, dissatisfied with the political device on a sign, was sawing down the signboard, without remembering that ho himself was sitting on it. Ho held that the Irish Members had so far done their duty in resisting the measure; and it would have been well if English Members had joined them more largely, and so prevented the purchase of Irish coercion at the cost of the liberties of their own country. In their eagerness to cut down the Land 1684 League the Government had been cutting down much that was best in the whole system of Parliamentary Government. If the Irish Members were inclined to be vindictive, bitter indeed would be the revenge that the Government had put into their possession. In pulling down the organization of the League the Government had gone near to pulling down the pillars of their own Parliamentary system. In conclusion, he begged to move that the Bill be read a third time that day six months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."— (Mr. Justin M'Carthy.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
said, he felt himself called upon to say a few words before this measure was passed, and he could not help stating his belief that a great deal of the difficulty which had arisen, and which called forth the legislation, would have been obviated had the Compensation for Disturbance Bill of last Session been made law. He desired to speak particularly of one class of tenants in Ireland; but before he did so, he might remind the House that the tenantry of that country might be divided into three classes. There was one class which could afford to pay rents, but with held them, on the ground that they could not pay more than Griffith's valuation before the Land Question was settled. He had no sympathy with them, because he believed they could pay; but there was another class, who, following the mischievous and bad advice given to them by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), who was probably better employed in cementing the new-born alliance between the Land League and the Paris Anarchists and Communists. Cries of "No, no!"and "Shame!"] Yes; he repeated it. He hoped the hon. Member found himself bettor employed than in giving the advice that he and others had so often given. The poor tenants to whom he referred withheld the rent which they had made a sacrifice to get together, offered Griffith's valuation, which was refused, and they had now spent the money in meeting other demands. In what position would the 1685 Bill find these men? They would be helpless, and on the verge of ruin. The hon. Member for the City of Cork would be called to assist them; but all he could do would be to give them £5 or £10 out of the funds of the Land League; and he repeated that he laid the blame of the ruin of those poor people at the door of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. There was, however, a third class, which the Bill of last Session was meant to protect until they had recovered from the pressure which three years of bad harvests had forced upon them. This class had, of necessity, fallen into arrears, and were unable to pay their rents. If they required protection last year—and it was admitted that they did—there was a greater necessity for protection now. It might be said—and had been said— that a good harvest would put them on their legs, to use a common expression, and, had the Compensation for Disturbance Bill of last year passed, and given them the security it was designed to give, it certainly would have put them on their feet again; but without it the good harvest had only made them a better mark for the creditors, whether landlords, traders, or money lenders. He maintained that it was the bounden duty of the Government and the House, now that the present Bill would remove the only protection the poor people had, however illegal it might be, to consider the position in which they were. He suggested that the question of arrears of rent ought to be referred to the Commission, which was sure to be called into operation in regard to the Land Question, and that it should be called into existence at once. If no provision was made for the settlement of the question of arrears, the House would seriously injure, if not entirely mar, what he hoped would be a final and just and equitable settlement of the Land Question.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, he could not understand the grounds on which the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Colthurst) had attempted to lay the so-called ruin of the tenants at the door of the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. Parnell). While the Government was looking on without doing anything for the Irish peasants on the verge of starvation, the hon. Member for Cork City went to America and collected £60,000, which was distributed. Surely that was 1686 not bringing ruin on the Irish tenants. Again, without any exaggeration, there had been between £1,000,000 and £2,000,000 of arrears wiped off, owing to the action of the hon. Member for Cork City. Surely that was not the way to bring about the ruin of the Irish tenants. Although it was a foregone conclusion with the Government to pass this Bill, he should resist it to the utmost. It would be a tyrannical enactment, entirely destructive of liberty. It was said it was only to enable them to deal with bad members of society; but he did not see any limit to its power. As soon as the Bill was passed, they would have every man in Ireland at the mercy of the magistrates and the police. The Irish people knew well, from hitter experience, that those powers given in the Bill would be used with a vengeance. He also opposed the Bill because it was not required in his country, notwithstanding the large number of crimes multiplied in the Blue Book, most of which consisted of threatening letters and other minor offences. He maintained they would find few countries in the world freer from serious crime than Ireland. Take the crimes of murder; what did they find? They found, from every cause during the past year in all Ireland, 20 murders. That was 26 too many; but let them take one district of one county in England during the same period. They found, according to the Return of one Coroner, verdicts brought in for five murders and nine cases of manslaughter. That was more than one-half the entire murders committed in Ireland, with 5,500,000 people, and yet they did not ask for a Coercion Bill for England. He opposed the Bill because it was grossly unjust to deprive the people of their liberties without sufficient cause. The real cause for the Bill was that they wished to give arbitrary powers to rack-renting landlords, and to enforce the payment of unjust and exorbitant rents. This was a question which had agitated Ireland for the last 300 years; and because the Land League had brought it to a crisis, and made it ripe for settlement, the Government turned round on it and prosecuted a large number of its members. What had been the result? By a verdict of 10 to 2, the jury had declared against the landlords; and they would find that 1687 verdict endorsed by at least that proportion, if they could take the honest, unprejudiced vote of the entire country. So far back as 1844, the then Lord Stanley said—The remedy for the evils in Ireland is not to ho found in emigration, hut in a system under which the Irish tenant would he induced to invest his labour and his capital in the land ho cultivated.This was what was required to settle this question once and for ever. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had told the House that O'Connell, during all his agitation, admonished the people not to violate the laws of the country. But what did O'Connell get in return for his peaceful counsel to the people? He was brought before a packed jury by the Government of this country, who convicted him, as a matter of course, and he was thrown into a prison in the 70th year of his age, which broke his large heart. The farmer was well aware that the Land Laws had ever been made against his interest; therefore, it was only natural that he should do everything he possibly could to defeat those laws. That was the root of the land difficulty in Ireland. Wherever the farmer's voice could be heard he cried out for a settlement of that question. He held in his hand resolutions against coercion and in favour of a good, comprehensive Land Bill, passed by the Corporation of Limerick City, by the Guardians of the Kilmallock Union, and by the Town Commissioners of Rathkeale, with which he need not trouble the House. He believed that if the Government were really desirous of pacifying the people, and did not want to enable landlords to enforce terrible rack-rents, they would bring forward their Land Bill before coercion. In conclusion, ho asked what security was there that many innocent people throughout the country would not be arrested under this Bill? What protection was there for them in local prisons against persecution and insult? What guarantee was there that their businesses might not be ruined by the terror of local authority, which would prevent people from dealing with men who were imprisoned? Once this Bill passed, all liberty and protection for those whom local authorities wanted to injure and persecute from base revenge were taken away. For those and other 1688 reasons, he felt he would not be discharging his duty if he did not oppose the Bill in every possible way.
§ MR. A. MOORE
desired to enter his earnest protest against this Bill. He believed that if the Government had introduced remedial legislation for Ireland first they would have enlisted the sympathy of all right-minded men in any protective measures which they might afterwards have deemed it necessary to bring in. One of the greatest difficulties they had to contend with in this question was not so much the question of crime, but that of absolute poverty. A very largo proportion of the agrarian crime of Ireland would not be known by the name of agrarian crime in England, but by a totally different name. The House, perhaps, might have some difficulty in realizing what he said; but if hon. Members would carefully inquire into the subject they would find that crime and poverty ran almost hand and hand in Ireland. They would find that the counties of Cork, Galway, Mayo, and Donegal enjoyed a very unenviable position in the Returns of Outrages, and that these very districts were inhabited by a teeming population who wore almost on the brink of famine. If the Government wanted to grapple with the crime of Ireland, they must deal with its poverty. They were told that in a good year there were some 35,000 labourers who loft Mayo and Connaught for the purpose of obtaining employment in England during harvest time; and that when harvest was gathered they returned to their own country. These men did fairly well in 1876; but in 1877 their case was much worse. In 1878 they had to borrow their fares from their starving wives and families; but in 1879 7,000 of these poor follows could not find any employment at all in England. If they reckoned that each of these labourers lost £14—which was the average gains of Irish harvest labourers—they would find an aggregate loss of £100,000. Besides this, 120,000 of the men only got a part of the usual amount; and it was estimated that the total loss on this head alone amounted to £150,000. In this way the Province of Connaught lost, in 1879, the sum of £250,000. When they reflected that the total subscription raised at the London Mansion House for the relief of distress in Ireland only reached 1689 £180,000, the House would have some idea of the troubles and privations which befell the people of Connaught. These harvesters returned home; they found they had no money in their pockets; they found they had no food; and they found, then, they had no out-door relief for them. This state of the Poor Law in Ireland was so intimately connected with crime that he had ventured to detain the House for a few moments. In Ireland there was no out-door relief for able-bodied men, and there was no out-door relief for persons holding more than a quarter of an acre of land. Some idea might be formed of the extent to which these restrictions were carried when he told them that in one of the poorest Unions in one of the disturbed districts the total relief granted in 1879 was only £21. In England there were seasons of extraordinary distress; but the Poor Laws were so elastic that they were equal to every occasion. There was no need in times of distress in England for a man to sell his furniture, for the Poor Law met him half way. This was not the case in Ireland. In England relief was given to an able-bodied man in case of sudden and urgent necessity; but there was no corresponding privilege in Ireland except in the case of eviction, when relief might be given for one month. Belief could be given to any member of a family in England; but in Ireland it would only be granted to the head of a family. In this country relief could be given in case of burial. There was no such thing in Ireland. In England Poor Law authorities were empowered to relieve widows; but it was not so in Ireland. Relief could not be granted in Ireland, as in England, in the case of a lunatic person; and, furthermore, in England relief could be disbursed to the wives of soldiers and sailors; but in Ireland, from which country our Army and Navy was so largely recruited, no like privilege prevailed. Again, in England the children of a man non-resident in any given Union might receive relief; but not so in Ireland. While, therefore, the poor Irish labourer was gathering in the harvest in England, there was no Poor Law to meet any destitution which might prevail in his family at home. These constituted the very grave differences between the Poor Laws of the two countries, and they were necessarily 1690 mixed up in the question of crime. For the man in adversity in Ireland had, as a rule, to wait until some foreign relief, or some timely benevolence from England, came to his assistance; or else abandon his home, sell his furniture, sacrifice all, in fact, and enter a workhouse, a resource which he detested in a way no Englishman could possibly realize. Poverty and crime were unquestionably closely allied in Ireland, for they could not expect the poor and hungry man to be well affected. The Poor Laws of Ireland must receive attention. There was no use in bringing in Coercion Acts if they would not remedy the evils under which Ireland groaned. The Poor Law system in Ireland was part and parcel of the Land Question. A great deal of complaint had been made about the time they had occupied in the discussion of this measure. Englishmen ought to extend to them some consideration in a matter which really involved the suspension of the liberties of the Irish people. No such stringent measure as the present had been attempted to be passed since 1817. The British Parliament had passed Coercion Acts in troubled times in Ireland; but he ventured to state that one of the consequences of this protracted struggle would be that no such measure would ever again be enforced upon them. They had accomplished the task of carrying it only after seven weeks of hard fighting, in which their own liberties had been sacrificed, and the Forms and Privileges of the House had been subjected to a strain which they were unable to bear. There was one subject which ho would like to refer to before he sat down. One of the greatest difficulties in governing Ireland was the fact of the utter distrust with which everyone viewed the law. It was not sympathy with the criminal, but it was want of confidence in the law. If Ministers wanted to make the country prosperous, they must slowly and patiently undo all the wrongs brought about by years of misrule, and educate the people to freedom. These desired results would never be attained by suspending their Constitutional liberties and placing them at the mercy of any Administration, no matter how just or how humane.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, that before this Bill was introduced ho was of opinion that it was not required by the circumstances of the country. When the Chief 1691 Secretary introduced it he became more convinced that that opinion was correct; and at every stage of the Bill that conviction became more deeply confirmed. The crimes upon which it was founded were very trifling, and, while some of them were agrarian, a great many were due to social causes. He believed that the Government had been forced into an untenable position by a desire to yield to the prejudices of the landlord class both in England and in Ireland. There was not a shadow of justification for the assertion that anything like a treasonable conspiracy existed in Ireland; and when it was borne in mind that there was there a deficiency in 1879 of £11,000,000 as compared with 1878, it was scarcely to be wondered at that the farmers were, in many instances, unable to pay 20s. in the pound. With regard to remarks made by an hon. Member at an earlier period of the evening, who had asked why tenants having money should have refused to pay rent, any person who was engaged in commercial pursuits knew that a man was not expected to pay more than a legitimate price for what he got, so on the same principle farmers were not to be expected to pay more than was the market price for land, and that was all they had refused to do. He was afraid, during the progress of the debate, some hon. Members had been led, in the heat of excitement, to speak as they would not have done at other times. If they had done so he could assure the House it was not done premeditatedly. As regarded the Liberal Benches the Bill was going to be passed without much discussion; and, indeed, he might apply the description "Vaticanism" to the prevalent characteristic of that side of the House—the Government had spoken and the cause was finished.
§ MR. FINIGAN
objected to the third reading on several grounds. The first was that the title of the Bill was a misnomer. Instead of a Bill "For the better Protection of Person and Property in Ireland," it should have been styled a Bill "For the Protection of Landlords' Unjust Eights." They had been told by the Liberals that Irish legislation should be conducted according to Irish ideas, and that Irish Members should be consulted; but no sooner had the great Liberal Party, which was so liberal out of Office and so weak in, come 1692 into power, than their first and greatest act was to bring in a Coercion Bill. The Bill was to protect unjust rights unjustly exercised by a small body of landlords. There were a mere handful of good landlords in Ireland who had carried out an unjust law justly and equitably; but many hundreds of them who, having the power of eviction, had exercised that power in a manner to engender natural contempt for all law in Ireland and for those who administered it, as well as for those in whose interest it was administered. If the titles of the mass of the landlords were examined by the light either of justice or equity they would be found invalidated. But this sop to the Cerberus of landlordism was well understood in Ireland, and the Bill was well understood by the Irish people. When the lachrymose Chief Secretary introduced the Bill he had trusted to statistics, forgetting the dictum that "statistics were as delusive as facts, and that anything could be proved by them;" and his statistics, when examined, were found utterly untrustworthy, many of the so-called crimes being no crimes at all, while the threatening letters, when not foolish, were written by landlords' agents and officials to create the feeling which the Chief Secretary had done so much to maintain both here and in Ireland. He should not object to see crimes severely and summarily punished; he should also like to see outrages put a stop to; but with 30,000 troops and an army of Constabulary in Ireland the Government could surely have carried out the ordinary law, and crimes and outrages would have been put down, because the Chief Secretary said all along that the police could put their hands on those who committed them. The Bill was said to be aimed at Fenianism; but he did not believe there was any such amount of Fenianism either in Ireland or in England as would justify such a course. Young men in Ireland had had sufficient experience to learn to trust to strong and thorough Constitutional agitation and organization. There was no general desire to overturn the power of England in Ireland. The only general de-sire was that Ireland should not be governed by laws different to those which obtained in England, where legislation was in the interest of the majority of the people, and not of a 1693 single class. It was a great injustice to make the allegation that a great Fenian organization was in operation; and ho hoped it would never be the fate of a Liberal Government to drive the Irish people from the Constitutional platform. He had faith in the English people, and in many of Her Majesty's Ministers. If they had adhered to the principles enunciated before the Election they could have calmed and pacified Ireland, and have allayed the crimes and outrages at which the Bill was aimed. If a good Land Bill had been first introduced that would have calmed and pacified Ireland; and if that became law it would do much to pacify Ireland and make some amends for the Coercion Bill. That Bill was said to be aimed at the Land League; but he believed that organization, of which he was a member, though not a very active one, would continue to advocate firmly and Constitutionally a thorough and a revolutionary reform of the existing Irish Land Laws. He had no hostility to England or to the English people, with whom he had been brought up. All he desired was that Irishmen should have similarly free institutions, have the selection of their own officials, and the management of their own local business. In the name of the Land League he protested against a Constitutional organization being put down, especially by a Liberal Government. Too much power was given by the Bill to the Lord Lieutenant, who was a mere machine in the hands of permanent officials. Dublin Castle should be swept away and replaced by a Representative Government. That House should have some power of curtailing the arbitrary power thus conferred. As it was, it would never content or pacify Ireland, though a good Land Bill might. The present measure was merely treading in the footsteps of old Whiggery and Conservatism. He must confess, however, in saying that, that what little aid the Irish Members had received in opposing this tyrannous measure had come from some noble-minded men of the Conservative and of the English Radical Party. The Ministry contained some good men, but included some abominable Whigs, who had ruined the Liberal cause in Ireland. He protested against the measure because the experience of past times had shown it to be a false one, which would never bring content to Ire- 1694 land, while it was an abnegation of all Liberal principles.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Sir, the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy), in his very moderate speech, deplored that upon him had fallen the hard fate of opposing, in its last stage, this Bill. He said he did so in the absence of the natural Leader of the Party with whom he acts. He, however, did not give us an explanation of the absence of that hon. Gentleman. I observed a speech the other day, in which the hon. Member for the City of Cork complained that you, Mr. Speaker, I think he said, had only allowed him, in the course of the discussion on this Bill, 20 minutes in which he could explain the reasons why he opposed it. Well, Sir, why is he not here to-night to take advantage of the opportunity in which he might, as Leader of the Party, have stated his opposition to the Bill? My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the County of Cork (Colonel Colthurst) has suggested that it is possible the hon. Gentleman is finishing his studies in the art of Constitutional agitation at the feet of the Gamaliel of La Lantene, in Paris. The hon. Member who spoke last but one (Mr. Dawson) said that religious considerations ought not to have been introduced into this matter. Sir, I have nothing to do with the religious considerations of this question. The question which is raised by the people who openly and avowedly ally themselves with men like M. Rochefort is not a religious question, but a question which goes to the foundation of society. They are alliances with men who have been convicted as members of the Commune, and who, whether justly or not, wore so convicted at all events. If I remember rightly, M. Rochefort was the man who recommended the burning of the house of M. Thiers. How, then, talk about "religious considerations" when the public mind was scandalized by transactions of this character? The hon. Member for Longford, in a goodhumoured way, alluded to some remarks which I made the other night, and he said—"Oh, the Homo Secretary is very much frightened by letters that he reads in American newspapers. What have letters in American newspapers to do with these matters? How are we responsible for statements of that kind; and what has the present state of Ire- 1695 land or this Bill to do with those assertions to which the Home Secretary referred?" Now, I will endeavour to explain to the hon. Member for Longford how I think the matter has a very pertinent bearing upon this Bill. I quoted some observations from a paper which I had not with mo then, but which I have with me now, by a person of the name of Devoy, and the hon. Member for Longford says—"What have we to do with the sentiments of Mr. Devoy?" Now, I will tell the hon. Member for Longford, who has informed us that he is himself only a recent member of the Land League. But perhaps I know a little more of the history of the Land League than the hon. Member for Longford; and I would like to explain to him who and what Mr. Devoy is, and why I referred to his sentiments as having a very material bearing on that question. Now, I find that in May last year, not 12 months ago, a Land League was established in America, very much on the principle of what in our military system we call "linked battalions." And who founded that Land League in America? It was founded by the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. Darnell). I have in my hand a newspaper of the 7th of May, containing a report of a meeting for the foundation of the American-Irish Land League, and upon that occasion there was present, amongst other people, Mr. Devoy. The report of the meeting of this provisional committee says that—After a thorough discussion, it was decided that an Irish Land League should he formed in the United States for the purpose of rendering moral and financial aid to the Irish National Land League in Ireland.[Home Rule cheers.] Yes; and now I am going to explain to the House what is the moral aid which they offered to the Irish National Land League. What the financial aid is we know. I saw in the papers this morning that the Irish Land League had at its last meeting announced, I think, £1,300 odd of subscriptions, of which £300 was gathered in Ireland and £1,000 by this organization in America. Now, it is very material to show the House that this is very pertinent to the point I alluded to, and to which I am going to allude again. Now, this Committee held several meetings, and at the final meeting the names of the gentlemen 1696 suggested by Mr. Parnell were unanimously selected as a provisional Central Council of the Irish Land League of the United States, and one of the principal members was Mr. Devoy. That is the origin of this American Land League. [Mr. A. M. SULLIVAN: Who suggested Mr. Devoy's name?] Well, I think I will show you presently, if you allow me to go on. The provisional Council having been so established, they proceeded to assemble in convention, and then there are mentioned many of the leading members who took part in the proceeding, one of those leading members being Mr. John Dillon, Member for Tipperary. Next to him comes Mr. John Devoy, and Mr. John Devoy called upon Mr. Dillon for a speech, so that Mr. John Devoy is one of the leading partizans in this affair, and thereupon Michael Davitt arrived in a Cunard steamer, and appears upon the scene. Therefore, we have the Irish-American Land League, founded under the auspices of the well - known names of Parnell, Dillon, Davitt, and Devoy, and hero they are all in action together on this occasion. And here I come to another meeting on the next day on this subject, and Mr. Michael Davitt, the originator of the Land League in Ireland, entered the hall and was greeted with "enthusiastic applause," and then Mr. John Devoy got up and proposed a central treasurer. I just read this for the purpose of showing what the Irish - American Land League is—that it is an affiliated society, acting under auspices formed by the same people, working together from that time to this with the Land League in Ireland, whose like sucking doves here, holding very different language in a country where the law cannot roach them for offences of this character, Now, I say that the language of the American Land League is the language, therefore, of recognized and authorized allies. It is a very different language, it is true, to what is held here. Objects are avowed by the Irish Land League of America which are secretly practised in favour of the Irish Land League here. Of course, some objects are not avowed — it would not be safe to avow them. There is in these matters an exoteric and an esoteric language. The exoteric is the language of America, and the esoteric is the language 1697 used in this country. They are very different; but I very much fancy that they mean exactly the same thing. I have shown you, at all events, that when I referred to the language of Mr. Devoy the other day, I was not referring to the language of a man with whom the Land League in Ireland or America can say it had nothing to do, Now, I should like very much to give the House chapter and verse, as they might think that my memory was defective, and that I had exaggerated what was the character of the speeches made by this affiliated and recognized body, of whom the leading members of the Irish Land League were the founders; and until I am corrected by authority, by somebody who says that the Irish Land League repudiates the American Land League—until they will get up here and say they repudiate that body from whom week by week they receive this money and these subsidies—and I may say they are entitled to repudiate the language of the leaders of that body—until they do so I consider myself entitled to read the language of the leading members of the American Land League. And here it is, and it is headed—"What John Devoy says"— Irish National Land League, It goes on—The usual meeting of this branch of the Land League was held in their hall, January 10.That is of this year. I will not read the whole report, but one of the speeches.Mr. John Devoy entered the hall, and was received with marked applause.Then he says, speaking of the passage of this Act,—It is then that the people, goaded into frenzy by studied injustice, may rise against some constituted authority. A local eviction, a collision with the soldiers may ensue, and our people be shot down in multitudes.That language might be applauded; but the speech goes on—It is here that the office of the American Land League will be called into requisition.Now, this is the moral aid for which it was brought into being, and that it was to render to the Irish Land League. The speech continues—Will we, then, stand idly by, and see our people and country devastated, and content ourselves with enthusiastic resolutions and sympathies? Our aid has hitherto given the people 1698 the impetus that has brought about this state of things.That is the financial aid.Shall we desert them in their hour of peril? No; for every Irishman murdered we will take in reprisal the life of a British Minister.Then there is a sort of arithmetical progression.For every 100 Irishmen murdered we will sacrifice the lives of the entire British Minis-try.That is 100 lives for 14.For every 200 Irishmen killed we will reduce to ashes the principal city of England. For a wholesale massacre of the Irish people we will make England a smouldering ruin of ashes and blood. The receipts of the Land League are now £100 per day, and that is ample for their wants; but we want a fund which will aid us in carrying out the designs that I have already sketched for you.Now, that is what Mr. Devoy says. Mark those words—We want funds here that will aid us in carrying out the design that I have already sketched for you.I say nothing of the destruction of the Cabinet. That is a very inferior matter, because a Cabinet can be replaced; but when you have destroyed a powerful city it is not so easy to replace that. That is the design sketched out by the leaders of the American Land League, for which they want funds. I said something the other day about the Skirmishing Fund. I know a great deal about that Fund—a good deal more than probably the hon. Member for Longford does. The other night when I mentioned it, the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy) showed that he knew something of it, because he said that the Skirmishing Fund had ceased to exist, or at least had become respectable in its character. In the first place, it has not ceased to exist. It is this Fund that is here referred to, the Fund for carrying out the objects which Mr. Devoy has sketched. That is the Fund that is being subscribed for by those people in America. In another part of this same paper a reference is made to the Skirmishing Fund. The hon. Member for Cork City calls the affair at Salford a practical joke. Yes, Sir; it is for practical jokes of this kind that this Skirmishing Fund which Devoy and others collect is employed, for it is so avowed and boasted in those papers; and it is said— 1699Subscribe to the Skirmishing' Fund; it is worth your while; you see you are having your money's worth; you have had the affair at Pal-ford for it.A letter in this paper, dated London, reads as follows:—Look at those paragraphs from the London morning papers. The fire which destroyed the Edinburgh County Militia Barracks was purely accidental. In the House of Commons last night, in reply to a Question, Mr. Childers said the Government were well aware of the circumstances in which they were placed and were taking all proper precautions. That shows me that someone is striking- our enemy with the Skirmishing Fund. Enclosed find my second monthly subscription of one dollar.—Patrick O'Connor, Broadford, Clare.Then a reference is made to the precautions taken with regard to Volunteer arms, and the comment upon that is "All right." What does that mean, but that this Fund is subscribed for these very objects, and is used for these objects? Men like Devoy have their emissaries, both in England and Ireland, who are held down only by the strong hand of the law. Let us tear off the mask of this conspiracy and unveil its secrets, so that the country may understand what is the character of the conspiracy which they have to face. It was on the 16th of January that Mr. Devoy's speech was made. On the same day there was a speech made in Ireland —not in the same language, not quite so frank in its avowal; but it referred to future contingencies. It said—If your patience becomes exhausted by Government brutality, and every right, privilege, and hope which is your God-given inheritance be trampled down by vindictive power, the world will hold England, and not you, responsible if the wolf-dog of Irish vengeance bounds over the Atlantic.That is from the speech of Michael Davitt, made on the same day as the speech of Mr. Devoy. What was the meaning of the "wolf-dog bounding across the Atlantic?" Did "wolf-dogs in America" mean men like Devoy and others, who were holding that language, and who were collecting money for the purposes which were there described? Or else what was the meaning of the statement that the wolf-dog would bound over the Atlantic in vengeance? The hon. Member for Longford says I have gone over to America for the illustration, and so I have; but I ask under these circumstances, when you find these 1700 affiliated associations playing into one another's hands; when you find the American Land League sending its money to the Irish Land League; when you find the identical language of horrible and atrocious menace being held by men on both sides of the Atlantic at the same time—I ask you whether I have not a right to look at this, and whether I have not a right to ask this House for protection to society against such transactions and such language as this? I could—but I will not weary the House by reading language even more atrocious than that to which I have referred —I could refer the House to the language of a man of the name of Redpath, who made a speech.
§ Other hon. MEMBERS: A born American.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
An American. Very well, the hon. and learned Member will be able to tell me whether he approves his language or not. Mr. Redpath says—Many of you may think me prejudiced when I say that the Scotch Presbyterians are superior to you; but when they were oppressed by landlords they shot them down like rabbits. About 30 years ago there were more landlords shot than rabbits. I think that was perfectly legitimate, seeing that the landlords were only beasts of prey.Does the hon. Member for Cavan approve of that language? [Mr. BIGGAR: Ask the Scotch Members.] Then he goes on to say—In Catholic Mayo, where a Protestant cannot be found now-a-days, a minister represents them in Parliament, and a Protestant—Charles Stewart Parncll—is their leader. I must say right there that Irishmen are cowards.He could not be an Irishman if he said that.Now you will like to know why I say they are cowards," he said—"Why I don't like them to apologize for the shooting of landlords." And then—this is the account of the meeting—"at the close of the speaker's remarks, Mrs. Parnell, the mother of the great agitator, was loudly called for, and received a perfect ovation when she appeared. She spoke for upwards of 20 minutes, and gave a brief review of the work of the Land League.So you see that the language of the Land League in America, affiliated with the Land League in Ireland, is, perhaps, of a rather more highly coloured character than that which we have heard to- 1701 night, or even at the meetings of the Land League in Ireland. Gentlemen on the opposite side say they do not know about Mr. Redpath. Unless I am mistaken, he was a very active agent of the Land League in Ireland. That only shows that the parties are interchangeable, and that we may expect visits any day from the gentlemen who make the speeches in America, and who may come over to Ireland. This Bill is intended for these gentlemen should they come over. It is intended also for the emissaries whom they subsidize and pay here. It is intended for the men whom they secretly hire to commit assassination, incendiarism, and outrage. It is against men who are the enemies of all society—against men who, whether connected with the American Land League, the Irish Land League, or any other party, use such language and avow such objects. The Bill does give extraordinary powers. It gives extraordinary powers in order to save society from atrocious crime; and, if there be men who entertain such sentiments as those I have read to this House, it is the duty of this House, it is the duty of this Government, and it is the duty of this nation to stamp upon them as they would upon a nest of vipers.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
said, the Bill had been for six weeks before the House; and, judging from the conduct of the Government in those weeks, it was clear that if it should be before them for six weeks longer the Government would show as many more changes of front. The latest excuse for the Bill had just been heard from the Home Secretary, an excuse which was quite irreconcilable with the nine or ten which had preceded it. At first it was said to be impossible to procure evidence of acts committed in Ireland in the night-time by village ruffians, whom the police could not see in the darkness, and on whom their confederates would not inform. The First Lord of the Treasury, however, with melodramatic voice and gesture, broached a new theory, and told the House, pointing to the Benches occupied by his Colleagues, that the Government knew the men whose actions rendered the Bill necessary. The right hon. Gentleman said it was a singular fact that as they held meetings their footsteps were dogged with crime, and that as the meetings were held, in the same week agrarian 1702 crimes increased. In that month, however, there were Cabinet meetings hold, and he contended it was also equally a fact—though whether they traced the connection was another thing—that the meetings of the Cabinet had been attended with an increase in agrarian crime. He referred to this fact because prominent English politicians, once Ministers of the Crown, on the responsibility of their public character had perceived, or pretended to perceive, the same concurrence between the Cabinet meetings and agrarian outrages. He called upon Mr. James Lowther to bear witness to that fact. The Prime Minister discredited the Chief Secretary's story; but then they had a fresh excuse. Throwing off the mask of kindliness, the Chief Secretary avowed that he wanted the men who published certain newspapers in Ireland brought before him. But was it not preposterous and ridiculous that a man should be sent to prison on suspicion of publishing a newspaper? That night the Government had come to the conclusion that all their shifty stratagems and miserable inconsistencies were discredited in the minds of the people, and they had, therefore, put up the Home Secretary with a new story, in the background of which there stood a monster named John Devoy. The right hon. Gentleman closed his speech with a defence of religion and society, as a pious friend of Church and State, trembling lest any British politician should have lot or part with Continental Revolutionists. This was a startling retrocession for the Liberal Party. Who were the friends of Mazzini? Did the right hon. Gentleman never hear of Lord Ellen-borough, who called for 1,000,000 muskets to put into the hands of the carbonari of Italy? Or of the part Earl Russell played on behalf of the Revolutionists of Europe in his day? Once these extreme Radicals got off the Treasury Bench, and the hated Tories were there, how they would thunder against Continental despots, and bless the new Mazzinis and Rocheforts. It did not lie on the lips of those who feted Garibaldi to reproach anyone for communing with Garibaldi's colleague. Were hon. Members opposite ashamed of their sympathy with Garibaldi? [Cheers.] Then this was only one further instance of the Treasury Bench not representing the views of its supporters. With regard to the story 1703 of Mr. John Devoy and the Skirmishing Fund, he contended that the Government had known of the existence of this Fund for the past five years. This Fund had been collected in New York for the purpose, amongst other awful things, of purchasing some chemical compound which was to be thrown upon the floor of the House with the intent of destroying all the Members before they had time to escape. The former Home Secretary had known all about that Fund, and its pretended object; but he had not come down to the House, and endeavoured to terrify hon. Members with that story, although he was as severe a man, and as loyal to his Sovereign as the present Home Secretary. There were men in Ireland who had hoard it all. Her Majesty's Minister at Washington heard it all, and the responsible Ministers of the Crown in England and Ireland know of it. What view did they take of it? They laughed at it as sensible men in Ireland did. What did Her Majesty's Ministers do during the years that this Skirmishing Fund was being collected? Nothing. They took the view of it that was taken by the people of Ireland—that it would be unworthy of a great Power like England to say that the machinations of these men were putting the Crown into such danger as to warrant a Minister of the Crown to come to the House and gravely make a proposal on the subject. It would be long remembered with deep regret by many Gentlemen sitting on the Ministerial side of the House that that which a Tory Ministry had deemed unworthy of notice should have been reserved by the Radical Ministry as a pretence for an attack upon the liberties of the Irish people. If Ireland was to be scourged for the offences, real or imaginary, of a few such men as John Devoy in America, it would be well that the fact should be known as widely as possible. It was English misgovernment which had manufactured this combustible material which was stored in America. When Irish landlords were clearing their estates, and making outcasts of thousands, Irish Members told the House that those men were going to America with hearts burning with hatred of English misgovernment, and that the English Government had not heard the last of them. The Times: said they were going with a vengeance; but those who knew the 1704 facts knew that the removal of those men from the soil of Ireland was not a benefit, but would be a future peril to England. The records in Hansard's volumes told them that in 18G2, 1863, 1864, and 1865 the Irish Members were scoffed down by an impatient House when they attempted to give a warning of the result of what was going on, telling the House, in the language of one of themselves, whose sincerity, however, was very much doubted now—"Force is no remedy." "Force is no remedy," said this Minister of Her Majesty's Government; and yet ho came hot foot from Birmingham to pass a Coercion Bill. That force was no remedy they had often been told by John Francis Maguire, Patrick McMahon, and George Henry Moore; but those hon. Members were treated as madmen, and scoffed at by the Treasury Bench. The Home Secretary told them that John Devoy had published a letter in which he stated that for every one of his friends arrested a Minister of the Crown should be assassinated. Did the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself feel in danger of being assassinated? Certainly not. He laughed to scorn the threat of the assassin. He thanked the right hon. and learned Gentleman for the assurance given by his gentle gesture, indicating that he did not. Did the right hon. and learned Gentleman, then, wish the House to believe that he was in danger of being assassinated, while, in his own mind, he was not in the least degree frightened? Was it the Chief Secretary who was alarmed at the idea of a bloody uprising? No; the Chief Secretary had a John Devoy under his hand in Ireland, and had extended to him his protection, shelter, and connivance. Assassination was recommended in other quarters by way of a political reprisal. He held in his hand a statement, not by John Devoy, but by a friend of the Chief Secretary. He could not give to it the artistic touches which the Home Secretary gave to the utterances of John Devoy; but the speaker, a Protestant clergyman, addressing a public meeting attended by many thousands of persons in the North of Ireland, stated that—He saw some police present, and he was glad to see them, and hoped they would take a note of every word he was going to say. Let them organize among themselves a Protestant National Society, like the Protection Society; and for every Protestant shot in cold blood let the 1705 priest of the parish and the Homo Rule Member be assassinated also.He (Mr. Sullivan) wished to know, before he read further, in what school of religious thought he was to find the distinction between the assassination of a Minister of the Crown and the assassination of a Roman Catholic priest— in what school of religious and political morality he was to find a distinction between shooting the Chief Secretary and murdering the Homo Rule Members for an Irish constituency? This abominable language was used in October last, and the appeal which was made to the Government to take notice of it was made in vain. He believed the House would agree with him in this, at all events, although they might differ from him in everything else—that if there was anything more hateful than a political war it was a religious war. Hateful it was when they took, in civil war, to slaughter one another; but there had not been in the world crimes more deep or black than the war and bloodshed which had stained Europe in the name of religion. When, then, he saw this attempt to light up in Ireland, among the excitable people of that country, the flames of a hateful religious war, he could not too strongly denounce it. For every three priests shot in Ireland there might have been six Protestant clergymen assassinated; and thus this devilish work of retaliation would go on. Feeling this, an appeal was made to the Chief Secretary whether this public incentive to assassination was to pass unpunished. What official notice was taken of the appeal? None. What was dreadful in John Devoy was connived at in the case of this Protestant clergyman. To the honour of that distinguished Ecclesiastic, the Protestant Bishop of Down, he did what the Chief Secretary would not do. He took notice of this unpunishable incentive to murder, and he called on the clergyman to retract; but the man shuffled and declined, and said he would retract the language as towards the Bishop, but not as towards anybody else. The last letter of the Bishop did him honour as an Ecclesiastic and a Churchman, and he (Mr. Sullivan) thanked him for it. The right rev. Prelate had declared to this minister that ho strongly condemned the manner in which he had held out the cowardly incentive of shooting innocent persons. This Protestant clergy- 1706 man went further, and pointed out that it would be unfair to shoot only one priest in reprisal, adding that surely the life of one Protestant was worth that of five Romish priests. On this occasion, the ravings of John Devoy had been trotted out and paraded to the House in order to terrify them into passing a Coercion Bill. The Chief Secretary knew that he (Mr. Sullivan) was no advocate of assassination. He had only referred to the case of the Protestant clergyman because the Government had refused to have him punished, and because his language might produce most deplorable mischief in Ireland. But the Chief Secretary condoned the outrage, and had only taken steps to direct a prosecution against certain Members of the House of Commons, and had narrowly escaped having an acquittal flung at his head by the disagreement of the jury. Someone had attempted to excuse the Protestant clergyman by saying that the words were used in the heat of a public meeting. But the man himself said—Allow me to say the words were not uttered on the impulse of the moment, hut deliberately and advisedly.It was a direct challenge to the Irish Government. Why had they not taken it up? After such language from a Protestant clergyman, what became of the raw head and bloody bones of John Devoy? In America the Land League movement seemed to have been projected by his hon. Friend the Member for Cork City (Mr. Parnell) entirely on his own design. He (Mr. Sullivan) was not consulted about it. His hon. Friend usually took his own course, although he (Mr. Sullivan) could have told him that his eclectic idea of gathering in America the men of extreme views, the men of moderate views, and the men of loss moderate views, as patriots in one common Party, was impracticable and dangerous. He was only acquainted with what his hon. Friend had done in America from the public Press. He had never, either by letter or speech, communicated with his hon. Friend upon the subject; but he presumed that ho had entertained the idea of bringing individuals in America who had originated the Skirmishing Fund by Constitutional methods to the support of the Land League in Ireland, and certainly with no idea of resorting to reprisals in the fashion of the Rev. Mr. Kane. The right hon. and learned 1707 Gentleman the Home Secretary did not tell the House that for one of the men of this stamp in America there were seven who repudiated the doctrines of Mr. John Devoy, Mr. Stephens, and other extreme men in that country; but as John Devoy had been unconverted by the present Land Leaguers, be chose to fall back upon his original idea, now five years old, of laying London in ashes. He would pass from this story of Devoy, only regretting that a responsible Minister of the Crown should have lent himself to such a use of it. And, now, with these observations, his (Mr. Sullivan's) last word would have been said in regard to this weary Coercion Bill debate. He recalled with some satisfaction that in the first words he uttered upon this painful subject he foresaw what was about to happen, and he had said that while yet he could speak calmly, and before they had entered into a combat, in which friendships would be sundered, he wished to pay a tribute to the motives which, he had no doubt, would animate many hon. Members who would steadily vote against him and his country in these divisions. To-night, looking back upon all the period which had been spent in such fierce contention, he claimed to have done his duty by his country, and by the people who had sent him there. From the first hour in which he saw the character of this Coercion Bill—from the first moment he found that Her Majesty's Government did not intend to accompany it by their measure of redress—he decided, although not without some pangs, but yet with firmness, that ho must sacrifice everything in that House in order to resist the passing of the Bill. If he had obtained, in no matter how small a degree, he would not say a position, but some place in the kindly indulgence of the House, ho knew he was about to forfeit it. If he had, among hon. Gentlemen opposite, as he then had, political and personal friends, friendships which be had formed during the six years he had been a Member of the House, he knew that he was about to be separated from them. But ho had never wavered for a moment. He could not "hold with the hare and hunt with the hounds." Painful as it might have been to him to oppose a Ministry which came into power with the best wishes of his heart; believing, as he did, that they were likely 1708 to do much good for Ireland as well as for England; he felt that he must do his duty, disregarding all consequences. But this he would say, that if the Government, when it brought in a Coercion Bill, bad put an Irish Land Bill on the Table, instead of introducing their measure of coercion without a word of justification or explanation in connection with remedial measures, or even allowing the Irish people to guess what the measure of relief was to be, they would have done something to have broken the shock of this legislation. But instead of laying their Land Bill on the Table, they called upon the people of Ireland first to kneel and strip their backs to the scourge, and then wait patiently until the Ministry, in their pleasure, would tell them what they intended to bestow. It was this fatal and disastrous error of the Government that had induced him to assume the attitude he had taken in all these divisions; and he had told his comrades, who had often blamed him for what they considered the too great moderation in which he spoke of the shortcomings of the Government, that in this fight he would always be found in the forefront, resisting, with all his power, the passing of the Bill. He thanked the House for having listened to those words of explanation, and for having afforded him an opportunity of reviewing all that had passed in the course of this struggle. If in any of those scenes he had said anything that had transgressed the bounds of legitimate conflict he was sorry for it; but for Ireland he felt that he had only done his duty. He believed that the six weeks of respite they had had would have broken the shock of this legislation, and that while, if they liked, the wicked might have fled, at all events, the country had bad time to measure, not in panic and alarm, the character of the present measure. His most ardent hope and desire was that the breathing-time which their determined stand had secured would enable Irishmen to see that, by keeping within the lines of Constitutional action, they might trust firmly to such protection as their Representatives in that House might be enabled to command, and that, if necessary, they were prepared to dare even the perils of the prison, as their fathers had done before them, in the defence of their country's liberties.
§ MR. HOPWOOD
said, he did not yield to his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Meath (Mr. A. M. Sullivan) in passionate feeling for the welfare of Ireland. ["Oh!"from the Home Rule Benches.] He was quite content that unbelievers should express their aversion to this statement, and, in making it, he only intended to use it as a foundation for the few remarks he desired to offer to the House. He looked upon his hon. and learned Friend as a fair type of the Irish Members, with whom he should like to hold commune, and with whom he should like to agree in concerting measures for the good of Ireland. He took his hon. and learned Friend as a type, and he looked upon him as a man feeling the necessities of his position and knowing the difficulties by which he was surrounded. He took this test as applied to the action of his hon. and learned Friend in the matter—that there was no man who would with more indignant scorn denounce the acts in Ireland of the men against whom this Act would be directed when it became law. There was no man more capable, in point of generous feeling, of denouncing that action; and yet what was the attitude of his hon. and learned Friend? He said—"You should not pass a law to restrain men from committing these acts." "Why did his hon. and learned Friend feel bound to say so? Because of the difficult position in which he was placed by the Party with whom he was acting. It had been the most painful hour of his (Mr. Hopwood's) short political existence to have been brought to this extremity, that he felt himself bound to assist in the passing of a Coercion Pill for Ireland, and to appear to be a defender of those who had undoubtedly exercised their rights with harshness and severity. But he could not deny that acts had been committed in Ireland which Englishmen were bound to put an end to, and for which Irishmen must be punished. His hon. and learned Friend could not deny that. Anyone who listened throughout to the candid speech of his hon. and learned Friend, and to the forensic skill with which he sought to parry the attacks of the Homo Secretary, would find in it, from first to last, not the slightest attempt to deny that there had been acts done in Ireland, and clone in large numbers of instances, 1710 in regard to which his hon. and learned Friend was ashamed — [Mr. BIGGAR: No, no!]—which he had denounced, and of which, at the present moment it seemed, the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) was the only defender. If that were so—[Mr. BIGGAR: There is more crime in England.]—that plea had been constantly urged, and he would examine it. "There are not so many cases of crime as in England," said the hon. Member. Quito true; but there were not so many people in Ireland as in this country. No one had ever sought to compare the existence of ordinary crime in the two countries, either in total or even in average. The real question was, whether in Ireland, in regard to which hon. Members opposite asserted, and he believed with truth, that it was the least prone naturally to crime—the real question was, whether in Ireland there was not an extensive and unnatural crop of the particular crimes against which this Act was levelled? That was the only real comparison that could be drawn, and the only true test. He defied any Irishman to deny that he was ashamed of the state of things existing in Ireland. These exceptional crimes were committed in very large numbers, and Englishmen were obliged, with drooping heads and, in some degree, with shamed faces, to retrace their steps in political progress, in order to provide a remedy. That they had found a remedy his hon. and learned Friend candidly admitted; for the rats, the scoundrels, and the ruffians were leaving the country. The very presage and warning given by this Act had driven them out, and he was sure there were hon. Members on the Home Pule Benches who were as glad they were going as hon. Members wore on that (the Liberal) side of the House. Certainly, he (Mr. Hopwood) personally was glad. At the same time, he was sorry that during these debates—and they had been many, although he had listened to them patiently, and had heard from some quarters a defence of the proceedings which had taken place— he had but too seldom heard the same generous denunciation of these Acts which had been just made by his hon. and learned Friend. If a different course had been taken, he was persuaded that there were many on his side of the House who might have been converted. But they had heard, even 1711 when murders had been spoken of, hon. Gentlemen opposite, he believed thoughtlessly, and not with inveterate hatred or a cruel heart, laugh and jeer. He should have thought that the ordinary promptings of humanity would have prevented any hon. Member from manifesting a desire to palliate such dreadful outrages, by setting them at naught, and making a laughing matter of them. His hon. and learned. Friend found fault with the Home Secretary, because he read certain passages from the speeches of a Mr. Dovoy. His hon. and learned Friend said—"You have a minister of religion among you—a Mr. Kane—who is quite as bad." He (Mr. Hopwood) admitted that Mr. Kane's vapourings were atrocious; but ho did not hear his hon. and learned Friend say that the speeches of Mr. Devoy were similarly atrocious. On the contrary, he understood him to argue that both were equally defensible. [Mr. A. M. SULLIVAN: I said that both wore to me abhorrent.] If his hon. and learned Friend had omitted to do so he should not have pressed him too hardly upon the matter, for he was sure he (Mr. A. M. Sullivan) would not desire to characterize those utterances by any other language. The hon. and learned Member asked why Mr. Kane was not punished. He was a lawyer—would he say under what law he could have been punished? [An hon. MEMBER: Under this Act—for sedition.] Perhaps Mr. Kane might be dealt with under this Act; but, in regard to the question he had just put, he know that his hon. and learned Friend could not answer him. The vapourings of a madman—of a wicked madman if they would—unless they took the form of a positive act— unless they suggested something beyond mere rant—in fact, the ground work of conspiracy—were difficult to reach by the law. Our laws had been exceedingly tolerant, and he had no wish to see them made more stringent, and if he was supporting this one, it was only on special considerations suggested by the exceptional condition of Ireland. But Mr. Devoy was in a very different position from Mr. Kane. This Skirmishing Fund, referred to by the Home Secretary, his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. A. M. Sullivan) told them had been in existence five years, and yet now it seemed that the Land League, a now 1712 society, was seeking to graft itself upon it. ["No!"] He was glad to find that there was a sufficiently spirited feeling among some of those who represented the Land League to repudiate the suggestion. Let it go then to America and to all parts of the world, that in this British House of Commons the representatives of the Land League repudiated the agitation got up in America for conveying funds across the Atlantic to subsidize and fee persons engaged in the dissemination of these abominable doctrines. Ho was sure that his hon. and learned Friend could not fail to see that the recognition of Mr. Devoy was connected with the evidence of a widespread conspiracy proceeding from America, to disturb our laws, of which the reflex action and the echo were found in this House, which, as a deliberative Institution, was being utterly destroyed by the acts and the bearing of a small minority. His hon. and learned Friend had referred to Garibaldi and others. He was sure that when such a name was mentioned, it was only for forensic effect, and that the hon. and learned Member really, with his whole heart, despised the argument he sought to deduce. If there was any man in that House who had sympathy with Garibaldi, and the freedom which ho brought to other nations, surely it was his hon. and learned Friend. [Mr. A. M. SULLIVAN: No, no!] Well, for the purposes of debate, they would admit it was not so. They were, at last, at the end of six weeks, coming to this, that a deliberative Assembly, which, at an earlier period, gave evidence of its feelings and conviction, had now been slowly allowed to arrive at the last stage which was necessary before it could place those feelings and convictions under the sanction of the law. Hon. Members opposite had continually delayed, deferred, and resisted this measure; and, with all respect for them, he must take this opportunity of protesting against their action. ["Oh!"] It might be a very small matter what ho thought. He knew it, and he bowed to it; but he was bound to say that there were a great many persons who thought like him, and who deprecated the small policy of this headless Party, the head of which was sometimes somewhere and sometimes nowhere, and seldom in his place. With that policy, his hon. and 1713 learned Friend did not disguise that he had frequently been out of harmony'; he had not been always able to sanction it; and he admitted that it had frequently placed both himself and his Party in the wrong. He (Mr. Hopwood) thought it might be seen, throughout the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman, that he had been frequently obliged, in some degree, to disengage himself from his Party. [Mr. A. M. SULLIVAN: I said nothing of the kind.] He would remind the hon. and learned Gentleman of what he had said. He had said something of his moderation in receiving the adverse criticism of those about him, and had mentioned matters in which his conduct had not received the approval of his Friends. But he (Mr. Hopwood) only knew this, that oven the errors of the Land League were never mentioned by those who were supporters of it. He knew that many able men, equally with his hon. and learned Friend, had disengaged themselves from its policy, and had only—and here he recognized the generous impulse of the hon. and learned Member—thrown themselves in with the lot of the Party when they felt that there would be an imputation of cowardice upon them if they did not share the imminent ruin or the mischiefs which might impend. In considering the observations of his hon. and learned Friend thus critically—and he thought he understood him—he was entitled to take the absence of his approval of the policy pursued by the Land League as the strongest argument he could use for its repression. In parting with this Bill, he felt that there were many things which were mournful about it. He himself, and all of them, would gladly have done something to soften parts of the measure, had not the power been taken from them; and that statement he would put forward anywhere, before an English or an Irish audience. He would put it before even the most unfavourable specimen of an Irish audience he ever could meet with —and that was to be met with in that House. In saying this, he did not wish hon. Gentlemen opposite to suppose that he meant anything personal. He only meant that as far as the poles were asunder, so far was his opinion, he supposed, from that of hon. Members opposite at this moment. He 1714 hoped and believed that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would administer this law with mercy. He trusted that they all, wherever they sat —whether above or below the Gangway, on his own or the opposite side of the House—would deprecate any exhibition of harshness in the treatment of unfortunate men who might be driven into prison by the acts of others, or through the misguided advice that might be tendered to them, or the promptings they might receive from America or elsewhere. The right hon. Gentleman, he hoped, would make the Bill a terror to evil-doers, and would do what he could to put down those who incited others to do wrong, those who wrote inciting articles of a cruel and wicked kind, and those who came over from America to disturb the peace and to disturb our institutions with utter recklessness as to the safety of the lives and fortunes of those who lived in Ireland. The course and aim of all in that House had been to vindicate the institutions of the Kingdom which had been so rudely assailed.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said, that from the speech of the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down one might suppose that the House was to be guided on this question, not by the conduct of the 5,500,000 of the Irish men and women, but by the conduct of the Irish Members and the American agitators. The hon. and learned Member only considered the policy of hon. Members opposite, and not the deserts, the wants, and requirements of the Irish people. There was one thing of which he wished to remind the House, of which, indeed, he might remind almost everybody who had spoken on the question in the House. They had heard a great deal about crime and outrage; but he did not think they had heard one single word about the tyranny the tenant farmers had been subjected to—the cause of all agrarian crime. From the Front Bench they had not heard one word of sympathy for the people of Ireland. He remembered that a few months ago, when the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary was bringing in the Compensation for Disturbance Bill, their feelings were harrowed by a description of the sufferings of the poor tenantry for whom protection was being sought. If he (Mr. Collings) protested against the present Bill, it was because the measure pro- 1715 tected the lives and property of the strong, but left out of account altogether the lives and property of the most numerous and most helpless. Hon. Members spoke of a panic, and no doubt there was a panic in this country — an anti-Irish panic. He remembered the gladness with which they had hailed the remedial legislation—the unsuccessful, but yet the attempted remedial legislation—of last Session. They had rejoiced to think that there existed in the Liberal Government a faith in the true power of Liberalism to do justice, and to put down agitation and disorder by removing the cause of agitation and disorder. He confessed that when he heard the Chief Secretary was visiting Ireland last year he had expressed some misgivings, because he knew that visiting Ireland did not mean visiting the 600,000 tenants, the 200,000 small poor tenants, but it meant visiting Dublin Castle. He was afraid that there the right hon. Gentleman became giddy, and they were told that "to those who are giddy all the world goes round." This visit to Dublin Castle was, no doubt, the origin of the Chief Secretary's change of policy. He (Mr. Collings) could have forgiven, or, at any rate, he could have looked with some consolation upon this Coercion Bill, if the protection which the poor peasantry required had accompanied it. He could not help repeating to the right hon. Gentleman a question which had been asked over and over again without eliciting any reply—namely, what was to become of the poor inhabitants of Ireland for whom the right hon. Gentleman offered up such words of sympathy a few months ago? The Chief Secretary—whom he did not wish to misquote—had said in words which did him honour—If you do not pass this remedial measure, I fear that the forces of this great Empire will be employed for doing an injustice to the poor cottier tenants of Ireland.Well, the Bill did not pass, and the necessity for it which existed then would, when this coercive measure became law, be intensified tenfold. The fear of the right hon. Gentleman would be realized, and the forces of this great Empire would be employed in doing injustice to the cottier tenants of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman should answer and toll them what the lot of those men for whom he had pleaded would be in the interval between now and the time—if 1716 ever it came—of the passing of the remedial measures. The Chief Secretary seemed, in his change of policy, to be determined to throw over the weak in the effort to protect the strong. The landlords had again won in Ireland, as they had won often before in the history of that unhappy country. He should be glad, and he had no doubt many Liberals in the House and many thousands of them outside would be glad, when they heard the last of this Bill, for there was an amount of shame attached to it—in the first place, that it should have been brought forward at all; but doubly because it had been promoted without that measure of protection which they had been told was so absolutely necessary in Ireland. Six months ago the present Government were looked upon in Ireland as saviours, and the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister was spoken of in every cottage as "that good man;" but now the state of things was such that every Liberal must deplore. The result of the action of the Government was this, that there would never be another Liberal returned there. The action of Her Majesty's Ministers had succeeded—no doubt, somewhat unjustly—in representing the Government as being in opposition to the interests of Ireland, whereas he firmly believed that no Government could be more kindly disposed towards the country. But they saw what the result of a blunder had been. He welcomed heartily the end of this business, and the sooner it could be forgotten and become a dead letter the better. If the Chief Secretary had continued the remedial policy which he inaugurated some months ago, even though he had accompanied it with coercion, by this time every disorder would have been settled in Ireland, and the Government might have been most popular in every cottage. [Anhon. MEMBER: So they are.] He did not think their popularity was shown in a very sat is factory manner. But if remedial measures had been proposed on the assembling of Parliament, from every house and every cottage in Ireland would have gone up blessings on the Government, and they would have appeared in the light of dispensers of that peace and contentment which they desired to secure. He simply had to make his protest against this Bill. The measure showed a change of policy, 1717 not on the part of the Liberal Party, but on the part of the Government. It was a useless Bill, and would prove disastrous in its effects on the Irish people; and, moreover, it would take away to a large degree the benefits and the grace and pleasure of conferring those remedial measures which he hoped would soon be laid before the House. There was one other matter to which he wished to refer. The Government did not seem to be quite aware of the extent to which they had strained the allegiance of their followers. He did not believe there had been any heart in this coercion matter at all, and was convinced that the Bill had only been accepted on account of the expectation and the assurance of the Government that there would be an ample remedial measure to follow immediately. Let them hope that this expectation would not be disappointed.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
confessed he had enjoyed a rare treat that evening listening to the denunciations levelled at the Irish Party by the hon. and learned Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood), and could not help thinking, whilst the hon. and learned Gentleman was making his speech, that he must have changed his constituency as well as his principles. He knew now that, to rally the hon. and learned Member once more to the banners of the Irish Party, there must be a Conservative Government sitting opposite. The hon. and learned Member, who was now so free in his criticism of the Irish ultras, would be glad once more to identify himself with them, and, in season and out of season, to harass and worry for all purposes a Government of his own country, provided that Government was only a Tory one. The hon. and learned Member had indulged in some cheap criticism of the prevalence of acts of evil in Ireland; but could he deny that acts of evil occurred oven amongst the virtuous population of Great Britain? The hon and learned Member said, in a tone of triumph—and he imagined that this was a proof of his argument—"The mischief of the Irish situation is that the acts of evil are all of one description; there is an unnatural crop of crime of one particular order." It would be unnatural, indeed, if there were not a number of crimes of one particular order in Ireland—namely, of the agrarian order; and he ventured to say that, if Great Britain was under 1718 a similar system of Land Laws, and the people of Great Britain were solely dependent upon the land, as were the people of Ireland, when wholesale evictions were carried out in conformity with the law, they would not see single assassinations committed by the people of England, but wholesale massacres, ["Question!"] This was the Question; and hon. Gentlemen who sat on the Benches of the Radical Party, and who represented constituencies associated with trades unionism in days before trades unionism learned to purify itself, might recall to their minds deeds of a most horrible character which were committed on very paltry provocation by English working men when laws affecting English working men injured what they considered their just rights. It had also escaped the notice of the hon. and learned Member that the crimes—numerous and great as they were, and to be deplored—committed by the Irish masses under terrible provocation, were nevertheless inferior even in number to the crimes committed by the landlord class during the last year. After so many seasons of deprivation, when the masses of the Irish people were steeped in poverty, were there not 10,000 men, women, and children cast out from their homes by Irish landlords? He supported the rejection of the third reading of the Bill, because down to the present Her Majesty's Government had dealt in denunciations, and not in proofs. It was perfectly true that Blue Books crammed with outrages had been presented to the House; but it was known that many of those outrages were fictitious, and a large number repetitions. But the most important point to be borne in mind in connection with the case of the opponents of that Bill was that the vast majority of outrages were plainly shown on the face of the Blue Books themselves to have been caused not by illegal agitation, not by any state of affairs amongst the people requiring punishment by repression, but by the misuse of the large powers which the present Land Laws gave to the landlords of Ireland. He had pointed out how in almost every case of a serious character, from one end of Ireland to another, wherever an outrage had been committed by the people an outrage committed by the landlords had preceded it. Everywhere was to be read 1719 the monotonous story of the White boy offence of intimidation, or the offence of an assault committed upon some farm from which a tenant had been recently evicted; and in almost every case the suspicions of the constabulary were laid not upon any political agitators, but upon some persons connected by blood and kinship with the evicted family. It was always found that an outrage had first been committed by the landlord, and then revenged, unfortunately, in an illegal manner by the tenant class. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had told the House that outrage had dogged the steps of the Land League. He would not repeat what had been so ably said in criticism of that extraordinary argumentation. He had proved, and he could prove again, that in several Irish counties outrages had increased, although the meetings of the Land League had diminished; and whenever he found a distinct increase of outrages he could trace that increase to a cause very different from agitation by the Land League or any other organization. Outrages, including the sending of threatening letters, increased in Ireland at the approach of winter—at the date when the landlords began to press, not only for the rent, but for arrears, which it was absolutely impossible for the tenant to pay. Was it not admitted that these outrages took place in order to intimidate the landlords from evicting, and was it not also proved that the landlords were intimidated from evicting? During the first three quarters of the year which had passed there was but a small number of outrages, and the result was a large number of evictions. It was during the nine months of the year when outrages were very few that threefourths of the evictions perpetrated by the landlords last year took place, and it was not until the people goaded into criminal self-defence — if self-defence were crime—took revenge in outrages, that evictions almost disappeared from Ireland. And yet the Chief Secretary carefully avoided alluding to that fact. Nothing was clearer than that the people abstained from outrage until the landlords drove them to despair by the excessive use of the power of eviction. When 7,000 persons had been evicted in Ireland the increase of outrages took place, and when they increased in num- 1720 ber the thousands of evictions sank to scores and dozens. It was the landlords of Ireland who had taught the people the lesson that the only way to restrict evictions was by having recourse to public agitation. But Irish Members sought to teach the people a better lesson. They hoped to give the people remedial legislation, and then there would never be the necessity to intimidate landlords to prevent the exercise of their legal rights. Another explanation of the increase of outrages was that it took place in the most poor and miserable parts of Ireland, and could be seriously shown to be due not to the causes alleged by Her Majesty's Government as the ground for introducing this Bill, but to the excess of poverty which overtook Kerry, Donegal, Sligo, and other famine-stricken districts in the West of Ireland. Donegal was peaceful during the time of distress until the Donegal landlords began last year to put on the screw of eviction; and in Sligo, Mayo, Galway, and Kerry there was remarkable patience and endurance shown until the landlords began to evict, although these districts were the chief seats of the famine. The whole policy of the Government this year was a contradiction of their policy last year. Last year they suggested remedies, and threw the whole of the blame on the landlords; this year they introduced coercion, and became apologists for the eviction of the people. There was no excuse for the passing of this Bill on the ground of agrarian crime. The agrarian crime which had been committed had been distinctly committed under the pressure of individual wrong, and were the rude acts of popular vengeance. The only way to prevent them was the introduction of remedial legislation, which would deprive Irish landlords of the power of committing wrongs in the homes of the people. Conscious of the hollowness of the agrarian pretext, Her Majesty's Government took refuge in the unproved and unprovable existence of political conspiracy. But what argument had they produced in support of their theory of political dangers threatening Ireland? Hon. Members had heard stories of the presence of former Fenian head—centres in such and such capitals of Europe, and the House had been invited to listen with awe to the horror-striking communication, by a Member of the Go- 1721 vernment, that Mr. James Stephens had returned to his ordinary occupation and ordinary home in Paris. Such was one main argument of Her Majesty's Government in favour of completing the suppression of political liberty in Ireland. Another was the story of Mr. Devoy's letter. He would not deal with that; but it was notorious there was no incendiary expression to be culled in the columns of American newspapers to-day that could not be found there on any date during the last 15 years, and, therefore, at any time within that period Her Majesty's Government could find quite as strong reasons for suppressing Irish liberty as they were now putting forward. The true explanation, therefore, of the coercive policy of Her Majesty's Government was not to be founded either on the prevalence of agrarian or political crime in Ireland. What Her Majesty's Government wished to strike down was the individual resolution of a number of the Irish people to imitate, at least, the manliness and independence of Englishmen and Scotchmen, who set about righting their wrongs by Constitutional agitation, and by the application of the means in their own hands. It was because the Irish people had declined to act as wretched petitioners to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the other Leaders of the Liberal Party that the Government had turned round and dealt a blow which was meant to be an insult to Irish Nationality. If the Irish people had maintained an attitude of humiliation, if they had come as mendicants and paupers, begging for the commiseration of Her Majesty's Government, there would have been no Coercion Bill. The Bill was meant as a punishment to the Irish people for the assertion of their independence. It was meant to curb and break the spirit of Irish Nationality. In that sense it was offered, and in that sense it was accepted by Irish Members. The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) was entitled to their acknowledgments for the kindly speech he had just delivered, in which he had expressed his sincere satisfaction that the end of this painful business was at length appproaching. But he (Mr. O'Donuell) replied that they were only approaching its beginning. The work which Irish Members had been doing in the House for weeks past had 1722 been to put off the shameful and evil day of the unchecked rule of liberal despotism in Ireland. They were irritated, but not daunted, by the prospect before them. They felt that Ireland would come out of the trial strengthened in her resolve to abide by her own resources; and, above all, never more to believe in the principles of Liberal policy. They were absolutely indifferent to any legislation the Government might choose to bring in. If they did not choose to do the work, another English Party would, and, probably, do it far better, because they would work under the stimulus of the Land League. It had been the unvarying feature of Liberal Administration in Ireland always so to introduce a reform as to leave a sting behind it. The manner in which they had forced on Coercion, without regard to the numerous protests of the Irish nation, would have the effect of separating the Irish people for ever from the doctrines, promises, and programmes repeated on the Treasury Bench. For the future, after the passing of this Act, the Irish nation would act independently between English Parties; and if it had been made a matter of complaint against them that they had leaned unduly against the Conservative Advisers of Her Majesty, that complaint should never be made again, for they knew now that the Liberal Party was as little deserving of the confidence of Ireland as their Predecessors in Office.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Sexton.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.