§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [2nd March], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ And which Amendment was, 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 again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question." Debate resumed.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, when he was interrupted the day before, he was pointing out that though in the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General for Ireland there had been a great deal of sound, there was a lamentable deficiency of facts and figures to support his argument. It was said that Mr. Hearne had been foully murdered; but Mr. Hearne was still living. It was also said, to add a dash of sensationalism to the matter, that Mr. Hearne was an agent of the brother of Lord Mountmorres. It had turned out, however, that he had no connection with that unfortunate nobleman, and that he was not dead. So it was that hour by hour, and day by day, additional light was thrown upon the inaccuracy of the statements which proceeded from the 151 Treasury Bench; and if the Bill were postponed more light might be brought to bear on the situation, to show how utterly unsuitable was the measure before the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman had cast a very severe censure upon the Irish Members on account of the manner in which the Irish Judges had been spoken of. It would, no doubt, be an extremely novel and unaccountable thing to hear hon. Members speak thus of English Judges; but it would not be so regarded if hon. Gentlemen were only intimately acquainted with the procedure which led to the Judicial Bench in Ireland, and with the conduct of those who found themselves in that high place. In this country eminent lawyers, irrespective of Party considerations, were chosen from the ranks of their fellows to sit on the judgment seat, and none of them were open to fear, favour, or affection. But in Ireland men proceeded to the Bench through the mire of politics; they were obliged, in too many cases, to be agitators, and there was evidence of one Judge, now deceased, whose appointment was a matter of debate in that and the other House on account of the agrarian agitation which he had stimulated. Therefore, they found excited harangues from the Bench where they should expect to find coolness and impartiality. A Chief Justice in Ireland had, in his own hearing, confessed in open Court that he had been carried away by passion and blinded by prejudice, and, therefore, he abandoned the part which otherwise he would have taken at a late trial. He would, however, address himself to the specific provisions of the Bill. The hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), with his usual ability, had proved that continuous Arms Acts had in every case been followed by an additional crop of crime. Arms might be used by bodies of men riotously proceeding through the country and terrifying peaceable inhabitants. If that were so in Ireland, he would at once favour its repression with a strong hand. But that idea was immediately dismissed, when they came to consider the matter carefully. If there were bands of 50 and 100 armed men perambulating the country now, an Arms Act was not required for their repression. The provisions of the ordinary law would enable such bands to be stopped in their riotous career. It was said in that House, on 152 the part of the Government, that there should be every forbearance in the disarming of the Basutos; and, if so, it should not seem strange that a nation not in arms should appeal to the House to temper coercion with mercy. Firing at the person was a very tangible crime; and yet, with the gradual aggravation of distress in the last three months of last year, there were only three cases in October, three in November, and seven in December. Not one of these cases was attended by any personal injury. This was over the entirety of Ireland, amongst a population of 6,000,000, in a time of aggravated distress and the most intense excitement. But even then, when they looked into these, the majority of the cases turned out to be family quarrels, having no connection with the Land League, and which could not be termed agrarian. In one case, in October, a man named Harding had by will left his farm to a younger son, to the exclusion of the elder son, who had come from America expecting to have the farm. There was a family quarrel, and the pistol was fired by the wife of the elder son, who was tried, convicted by a jury, and sentenced to 12 months hard labour. In one case, in November, there had been a long standing family feud, existing long before the Land League was heard of, and before his hon. Friend (Mr. Parnell) had assumed his present prominent position. In this case, too, the offender was convicted by an Irish jury, and sentenced to 20 years' penal servitude. In the last case, in November, in which no injury was inflicted, the man was found guilty and sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment. In nearly every case in which a tangible crime had been committed evidence was forthcoming, and Irish jurors did convict. There had been no time to examine the Return just issued for December; but he recognized one case in which there had been a long-standing family quarrel. In the whole quarter there were only two agrarian murders. This was at a period of political excitement and aggravated distress in the four Provinces of Ireland, with its 32 counties and 5,000,000 of people. The cases of firing did not in the slightest way justify such a Bill as this, and there had been only two agrarian murders. It was astounding that the Government should think for a moment of bringing forward 153 a Bill of such a nature on such flimsy reasons. Let them turn to England, and for the same period they would see greater reasons for passing an Arms Bill for England. Let the Home Secretary turn to the shooting affair at Kensington, and the undiscovered murder of an officer in a dastardly manner at Chatham. In Ireland there were no such terrible cases, and yet an Arms Bill was about to be passed for that country, while he saw no sign that the people of England were about to be subjected to similar legislation. The noble Lord the President of the Council, speaking a few evenings before in "another place," had quoted the opinion of Lord Macaulay, to the effect that the Habeas Corpus Act was the bulwark of English freedom, and that the liberty which it gave ought not to be touched except for overwhelming reasons, and with the probability that good results would follow from its curtailment. But, in the present instance, no such overwhelming case had been proved, and the measure before the House, instead of tending to good results, was calculated to have the very opposite effect. That was the view, he believed, which the people of England now took of coercive legislation, which, notwithstanding the speeches made by the President of the Board of Trade in the Autumn, the Government had proposed. It was, perhaps, useless for him to deliver these remarks to the House when the mind of the Government was made up in the same way as it was made up in regard to the last Bill. Irish Members had been credited with good debating powers when there was none to debate with. It, nevertheless, was the duty of the Representatives of Ireland to protest to the uttermost against this superfluous and most unjust Bill; and notwithstanding the speeches of the Home Secretary, who took refuge in lengthy quotations, delivered, it must be admitted, with dramatic effect—Not florid prose nor honeyed lines of rhyme Can blazon evil deeds or consecrate a crime.
§ MR. DILLON
said, he rose for the purpose of opposing this Bill, which seemed to him a most unnecessary measure; but, before he gave his reasons for objecting to the Bill, he would ask the permission of the Speaker and the indulgence of the House for five minutes, whilst he uttered a word or two of personal explanation on behalf of an absent 154 friend in answer to what he must term a most cowardly and uncalled-for attack. He thought he had a right to make a personal explanation on his own behalf; for he had read a speech of the Home Secretary, which had been interpreted by the Irish people to mean that he (Mr. Dillon) was an assassin. He only wished, however, to speak on behalf of his friend, who could not speak in this House, and who, the Home Secretary had boasted, could not set his foot on English soil. He thought it would have shown more manliness if the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had abstained from that boast. The words he objected to were contained in the concluding passage of the Home Secretary's speech on the third reading of the Protection of Person and Property (Ireland) Bill—namely,If there exist men entertaining such sentiments, it is the duty of the House and of the Government to stamp upon them as upon a nest of vipers.Also, in answer to a Question with reference to Mr. Devoy, the right hon. Gentleman had said that so long as Mr. Devoy and his confederates—the leaders of the Laud League (including himself, he supposed)—thought fit to remain beyond the seas—whether at the Straits of Dover or the other side of the Atlantic—the less notice the Government took of them the better. Now, if the House complained of Mr. Devoy being thrust under their notice, he (Mr. Dillon) would never have mentioned him if the Home Secretary had not made the remark he had. After accusing Mr. Devoy of cowardice, the Home Secretary said that if he set foot on British shores it would, no doubt, be his (the Home Secretary's) official duty to pay him some attention. That was certainly inconsistent with his (Mr. Dillon's) ideas of manliness. When he read the Home Secretary's speech, he thought it contained one of the most cowardly attacks that had ever come under his notice. It was always a cowardly thing for a man, taking advantage of an eminent position, and catching the ear of the multitude, to blast the character of a man whom he knew circumstances prevented from making a reply. There were peculiar circumstances connected with the present case which made it more cowardly than an attack of this kind usually was. Who was the obscure man whom the 155 Home Secretary had attacked? He was a man who had spent his whole life—who had spent the best years of his manhood—struggling, sometimes in the direst poverty, against a hateful and atrocious Government, which he saw was destroying his country. He had shown, on more than one occasion, the best and highest qualities of courage; and he could not believe that when the Home Secretary taunted him with cowardice that he was acquainted with his history. For seven long years he endured the torture of an English convict prison, and, though he had never proclaimed it before the world, he had described to him treatment he received which would have disgraced the dungeons of Naples. With regard to the language used in reference to Mr. Devoy, he did not know whether hon. Members of that House were aware how inaccurate the reports of American newspapers usually were; and to charge a man with being an assassin because of some report published in an American paper was a most unjust and unwise proceeding. But suppose, for argument's sake, that Mr. John Devoy, in a moment of passion, used the very language which was attributed to him by the Home Secretary, he (Mr. Dillon) would prefer his friendship, even after he had thus spoken, to the friendship of a sleek and contented Home Secretary who could make the attack he had spoken of. Mr. John Devoy had faced imprisonment and exile, which, to him, were very bitter; he had devoted the best part of his life to a cause which he held sacred; and now, at the end of all his exertions and all his sacrifices, he saw his country, as he believed, about to be drenched with the blood of her children deliberately by the Government. He saw his country stamped on and insulted by two such worthies as the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the Home Secretary. Therefore, if, for the sake of argument, he were to admit that John Devoy made use of these words—strongly as he dissented from anything tending to assassination—he would recognize that they were spoken in a moment of rage, which he would almost call a noble rage—that they were spoken from the bitterness of a spirit which was broken by long years of suffering and disappointment, and which saw all the hopes of a lifetime overthrown. In dismissing that subject 156 he now wished to say a few words with regard to the present Bill. He had been accused of advising the Irish people to supply themselves with arms. He most decidedly did advise the Irish people to supply themselves with arms, and he should explain his purpose in so doing. Not being an Irish farmer himself, he did not know what view they took exactly with regard to evictions; but he might be allowed to state in that House that if he were an Irish farmer himself, and a body of men came to turn him out of his house and land, he should decidedly shoot as many of them as he could manage to do, and then abide the consequences. He believed if the Irish farmers took that course the evictions would soon come to an end in Ireland. Not being a farmer himself, and not being likely to fall under those circumstances, he had not given that advice. If he did, he might lay himself open to the charge of cowardice by recommending others to place themselves in a danger which he would not have to encounter. Therefore, he had not been in a position to give that advice. But he thought it well just to state that he held that view. [Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT: Hear, hear!] This Arms Bill seemed to him to be a very cowardly measure, and also to be one of a degrading character. It was, to his mind, one of the greatest insults that could be offered to a free people. He did not even think the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act was as insulting to a free people as to deny them the right of carrying arms. Would the Government disarm the Irish landlords? Or would they do what he thought was one of the most cowardly things ever done—would they disarm the Irish people, and leave the English people armed? The Home Secretary, in introducing this Bill, said at least it would prevent the open and ostentatious carrying of rifles and revolvers. Who was it that had carried rifles and revolvers openly and ostentatiously? Who but the landlords and their retainers, who went about and brandished them without the slightest justification? If they wished to restore peace in Ireland, they would disarm the Irish landlords, and tell them that the 50,000 troops they had sent into the country were sufficient to protect them. Let them at least disarm everyone in Ireland, and not leave the Irish people helpless, to be 157 shot down, as they would be by armed landlords and their armed retainers. He had been accused, as he had said already, of advising the Irish people to procure rifles. The Home Secretary might have quoted a dozen speeches of his in which he gave the same advice. He did that for this reason—that he considered if the Irish landlords had the knowledge that in every farmer's dwelling there was a rifle, it might exercise some check on their depredations. [Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT: Hear, hear!] He did not believe that the English Liberals would have lent themselves to so cowardly a proceeding as to disarm one class and leave another class armed. Neither did he believe that many of the Irish Members who had voted for coercion would have given their support to this disgraceful measure. He could not admit that a shred of justification had been shown for it, for the absurd and offensive observations of the Home Secretary with reference to plots and schemes of assassination directed against himself and his brother Ministers would justify an Arms Act for England, quite as much as Ireland. The real object of the Bill was to remove the last check upon eviction in Ireland. The landlords were not content with the suspension of the Habeas Corpus. They were not content with having placed at their disposal 50,000 troops, who were now marching about the country, insulting members of the Land League, and provoking outrage and bloodshed. It was only three days ago since he was insulted by a company of English troops at Ballybrophy, in the county Tipperary. They were drawn up at the railway station, and they called out—"There goes the Land Leaguer," without receiving any reprimand from their officers, who wore listening. Was that conduct which should be permitted to go on amongst unarmed people, smarting under injustice and oppression? If they wanted to provoke a civil war in Ireland—but it could not be a civil war, for the Irish people had not the means of waging a civil war—he wished they had—[Cries of "Oh!" and "Withdraw!"]——
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is now exceeding the licence of Parliamentary language in advocating civil war.
§ MR. DILLON
withdrew the expression, and said, if they wished to provoke 158 bloodshed in Ireland, they could adopt no better means than to let their soldiers, as they were, loose through the country, insulting the people. He wished he could take hon. Gentlemen into the offices of the Land League, and show them the unfortunate farmers coming in from every district with handfuls of writs and ejectment notices, which were falling in Ireland as thick as snowflakes; in fact, he believed that the proceedings of the Irish landlords would justfy any extreme that the people might have recourse to, had they any chance of success. The landlords knew this themselves; and, therefore, they asked the Government to take the arms out of the hands of the Irish people. He must confess that the Property Defence Association had given him a great deal more trouble and anxiety than had the Coercion Bill, for they hired gangs of armed men, and sent them down to sales of property seized upon for rent. The danger attending these proceedings was terrific. They came down in the midst of furiously excited masses of people. They came armed to the teeth, and they purchased the cattle of farmers which had been seized upon and sold for rent. He acknowledged honestly that these proceedings had interfered a great deal more with the power of the Land League than the Coercion Bill could, and that he was much more uneasy about them than he was about the Coercion Act. But he still believed that he would be able to defeat the Property Defence Association. What he wished to point out was the cowardice of these men, who sent down hired gangs of armed persons whom they would not disarm, but would leave arms in their hands, to seize upon the goods of the people, and who were surrounded by crowds of armed police, and the soldiers of England, who alone supported them in their brutal conduct in Ireland. And while these men were permitted to pursue this atrocious conduct, the Government wanted to strip the people of their arms, for fear on some occasion they might in desperation, resist the proceedings. He would not detain the House much longer, and probably he should not address the House again for some time. He should not detain it, except to comment upon one of the concluding statements of the Home Secretary. He said—and in that sentence was a complete condemnation 159 of the Bill—he (Sir William Harcourt) said—"I have no doubt that this Bill will fail to take away all the arms from the people. I have no doubt that numbers of arms will be retained with which murders and outrages will be committed." He would ask the House to consider that while the people were taking that advice of his, which had been represented as murderous, while they were acting upon his advice of supplying themselves with rifles, had murderous outrages increased? On the contrary, it had been acknowledged on all sides, and no attempt had been made to deny it, that while the people were arming themselves with rifles, outrages decreased in a most marked manner; and while Arms Acts such as these were in operation, ten times more murders were perpetrated in Ireland than there were now. There was much of the philosophy of Irish history contained in that sentence of the Home Secretary's. He (Sir William Harcourt) looked forward, he dared say, without regret, to an increase of murderous out-rages in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said that numbers of these arms would be retained in spite of all their exertions, that horrible crimes would be committed with them. He (Mr. Dillon) was afraid that was so. He was afraid that if they drove those people to desperation that they would have recourse to the old methods of avenging crime, which they had hoped they had succeeded in driving them from. He told the House the simple truth in that he said the men had come to him in Ireland and had blamed him because they had induced the people to leave the old methods which they considered effectual. They said it was all very well to drive them into Constitutional agitation; but there they were now to be disarmed and put under the heel of the landlords. Formerly, when they used the more effectual weapon, one or two landlords were marked, then shot, and that proved more beneficial than all your Constitutional agitation. By their Coercion Acts they had driven the Irish people out of their paths of legal and Constitutional agitation rich they induced them to go into; and they were driven back to the dark lays of assassination by these Coercion Bills, passed amidst the jeers of a triumphant Ministry and a triumphant Irish Liberalism; if they were driven back to the dark and desperate 160 methods which the leaders of the Land League had almost successfully induced them to give up, he said that the blame of the murders which would be committed on the return of the Irish people to the old methods must be laid at the doors of those men who struck out of their hands the weapons of open and legal agitation by arresting the men who committed any crime, and driving the Irish people back into desperation, from which they—the Land League—sought in vain to save them.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I think the time has now come when this debate may be closed. We have heard the doctrine of the Land League expounded by the man who is an authority to explain it; and to-morrow every subject of the Queen will know that the doctrine so expounded is the doctrine of treason and assassination. Sir, I will not yield to the hon. Member——
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
No, Sir, I did not interrupt the hon. Member, for I was determined that without interruption he should be allowed to give utterance to sentiments which, I venture to say, will bring horror and disgust into the mind of every honest man. He said it was true that over and over again he had advised the Irish people to arm themselves with rifles, and he told us he would explain for what purpose they were to have these rifles. He added—"I have not in Ireland explained to them exactly what I meant." It was well he did not. He has come here, under the privilege of this House, to explain what he meant. He said—"If I was an Irish farmer, and if I saw men come upon my land to put me out of the land, then whatever people might think, and although they might come, in the name and under the authority of the law, I would shoot as many of them as I could." That has been said in the hearing of the House of Commons. To-morrow it will be in the hearing of the civilized world, which will pronounce its judgment on this—I will use the word—this vile conspiracy. 161 Sir, I knew that these were the objects of the Land League. I knew it as one responsible for the public peace in the Dominions of the Queen, and as one whose duty it was to denounce it as I have denounced the language of John Devoy, as I denounced the language of Redpath, and as I denounce the language of the Member for Tipperary. I call them confederates. They are confederates in action, and their language is the same. The language of Redpath, which I read out the other day, and in which he recommended that the landlords should be shot down like rabbits, was exactly the language which the hon. Member for Tipperary has just used.
§ MR. DILLON
I did not advise the Irish people to do any such thing. I say it is a gross misrepresentation.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I am speaking in the hearing of the House, who know whether or not I have misrepresented him.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I have said that it was the language of assassination. I have said that it was the language of treason. You, Sir, were obliged to rise in your place and stop the hon. Member, who said he advocated and desired civil war. We now know what the hon. Member and his friends mean by saying that they are the friends of Constitutional agitation. I have given the hon. Member greater credit for his frankness. I said his doctrines, his policy, and his principles were such as deserved the severest reprobation; but I also said that, at all events, he had the manliness to avow them, and did not pretend to the hypocrisy of those who, while advocating such schemes, pretend that they are acting in a Constitutional manner. All I can say is, that the matter has passed beyond the region of debate, when we have a man in the position of the Member for Tipperary getting up and speaking as he has done. He said I was cowardly in my attack on John Devoy in the absence of the man. Did Devoy think of the absence of 4,000,000 of people, when he said he meant to set Lon- 162 don on fire? Was that not a cowardly action on the part of a man who was, in a manner, one of the officers of the Land League in America? I felt it my duty—and I hope the House still think that I did my duty—in telling them what I knew—that the Land League is an association which depends upon the support of the Fenian conspiracy. The hon. Member has avowed it to-day. Who are the men they know? Who support the Land League in Dublin? Is it supported by Irish subscriptions? Why, the Irish subscriptions are coppers; but the gold and silver come from Fenianism in America. That is where it comes from, and the hon. Member knows it as well as I do. Who are the men they take for their agents to send this money to Paris and thence to Dublin? Men like Devoy, a convicted Fenian. When they set to work to organize this Land League, who were the chief agents by whom it was started and conducted? Why, they were notorious Fenians, many of whom had been convicted, while others were perfectly well known to be connected with the Fenian conspiracy. I am not accusing all the people who are members of the Land League. The hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) appealed to me the other night; but who would suppose that he had sympathized with views of this kind? I do hope and believe that most of those hon. Members who sit upon that Bench will view the sentiments of the hon. Member for Tipperary with the same abhorrence as I do, and that they will to-night get up and disavow the language we have heard. If they do not, then the Land League is condemned by the language of the hon. Member for Tipperary, which must be reprobated by every honest and Christian man. For what is the use of going to Blue Books and asking what is the meaning of these armed attacks on men, women, and children? Why, was I right or was I wrong the other night when I said that it was the language of the hon. Member for Tipperary, and men like him, which instigated to such crimes? [Mr. DILLON: You are wrong.] I say that the case is concluded. There is nothing more to be said upon the subject. [A laugh from, Mr. HEALY.] Ah! I see one Member, at least, who sympathizes with those sentiments. I am not surprised. 163 I should, perhaps, have made him an exception when I expressed a belief that all the persons who sat near the Member for Tipperary would disavow his language. It was said that I did not prove my case the other day. If I did not prove it then, I summoned the witness, and I meant to summon him, who should prove that case before the House of Commons. If I had had a case to prove at the Bar, I would have called the hon. Member for Tipperary to prove the true spirit, the true character, and the true nature of the Land League. There may be men who think it more prudent to use more covert language; but the language which we have heard from the hon. Member for Tipperary to-night, depend upon it, is the true spirit that animates the Land League. [Mr. BIGGAR: Hear, hear!] It is therefore that Her Majesty's Government, with the assent of an overwhelming majority of the Representatives of the people, are about, by this Bill, to take the murderous weapons out of the hands of men who represent such opinions and avow such sentiments as we have heard from the hon. Member for Tipperary to-night.
§ Mr. DILLON
I only wish to say one word of personal explanation. I am perfectly prepared to stand by every word I uttered; but the right hon. Gentleman grossly misrepresents what I said. ["No!"] Yes, he did, indeed. ["No!" and cries of "Order!"] May I not say a word? He represented me as having said something which amounted to approval and admiration of assassination. I did not, indeed; and I distinctly said in the beginning that no amount of injury or wrong would induce me to tolerate such a crime for one single second.
§ MR. GRAY
said, that no man could have more regard for anyone than he entertained for the hon. Member for Tipperary. He knew him to be an honourable man. He was not connected with the Land League; but he believed it had done much good in Ireland. He felt bound now to say that he entirely dissociated himself from a considerable portion of those who belonged to the Land League and its proceedings. [cheers.] Those cheers gave him great pain. He could not justify the language which had been used, except on the ground of excitement, by the hon. Member. He did not believe it was the 164 language of the Land League, and he was confident that much of it would not be endorsed by that Body. But whether that was so or no the could not connect himself with them. He was sure the hon. Member spoke what was true when he said that the results of the Government legislation would be disastrous, and would bring about that bloodshed and assassination which, notwithstanding the Blue Books, had never been caused by the Land League. Anybody who knew the hon. Member knew the loving heart he had and his great spirit; and he (Mr. Gray) believed that it was because the hon. Member foresaw from his knowledge of the country—his intimate knowledge of the country—more clearly than anyone else that the legislation that was about to be consummated, and the discussion of which the Home Secretary said had reached a sufficient point, would result in such a way that the hon. Member made the speech he did. The House would understand the speech better when they saw the results of their legislation, and that the hon. Member had been led into it.
§ MR. M'COAN
fully shared the personal respect and regard for the hon. Member for Tipperary which had been expressed by the hon. Member for Carlow. He had not been present when the speech was made, but came in while the Home Secretary was speaking; and he took it that the character of the language used was accurately expressed by the right hon. Gentleman. Had he been in the House he would have heard it with deep pain, and immediately resolved to dissociate himself from language of such a character. Although he occupied a seat amongst the Irish Party, he would not hold it for an hour if, by doing so, he was supposed to identify himself with anything un-Constitutional, still less avowedly Fenian; for he claimed to be as loyal a subject of the Queen as any Gentleman in that House. He had no sympathy with illegal action; but it was clue to his hon. Friend to say that he associated himself with him most heartily to any amount of self-sacrifice that might be necessary in the effort to reform Irish grievances by Constitutional action. He had the highest opinion of the hon. Member; but he at once disavowed all sympathy with the violent opinions he had now expressed.
§ MR. HEALY
said, that the hon. Member for Tipperary was responsible for his own words, and he was well able to defend himself in that House and elsewhere. Anything he uttered did not implicate his Colleagues; and, for his own part, he felt no obligation resting upon himself to disavow the language he had heard. It was time, indeed, that they should take a lesson from the enemy, and give no one any handle by the use of expressions which were liable to be tortured by the ingenuity of right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench. For his own part he was not inclined to do so; but what must be the state of things in Ireland and the condition of the landlords when a Member like his hon. Friend (Mr. Dillon), who was as good and honest a man as the Chief Secretary, felt it incumbent on him to say so? Desperate was the condition of the country, and to such a pass had the people been brought, that if he found an armed party came to turn him and his family out on the roadside he would shoot as many as he could. ["Oh!"] The hon. Member was responsible for his words, and the right hon. Gentleman would be happy if any other Member accepted his words; but he thought they were a little too wide to give the right hon. Gentleman a chance. For himself, when he had anything to say to the Irish farmers, he would say it to their face; and if the Irish people were to be driven to a pass when he considered certain advice necessary, he would not shrink from giving advice, no matter how bad that advice might seem in the minds of some English Members. The hon. Member for Tipperary only put into plain words what was the saying of one of the best English, or rather Irish Generals, the Duke of Wellington, who said—"If you wish for peace you must be prepared for war." His hon. Friend said that if each man had a rifle, and knew how to use it, there would be less unfair evictions. Not being prepared to engage in any war with this country, because the people would simply be mowed down, he (Mr. Healy) did not feel at liberty to give any such advice; but there was sound truth at the bottom of the saying, for if the Irish farmers had guns, and knew how to use them—just as the Boers did—the Member for Tipperary would be found to be very near the truth. The Home Secretary 166 had stated that the doctrine of the Land League was a doctrine of assassination and treason. That statement was a deliberate untruth.[ Cries of "Oh, oh!" and "Withdraw!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I cannot allow that expression to pass. It is un-Parliamentary, and the hon. Member must withdraw it.
§ MR. SPEAKER
That is merely a repetition of the expression. I must call upon the hon. Member distinctly to withdraw it.
§ MR. SPEAKER
If the hon. Member contests the authority of the Chair I shall have only one course to take.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he did not desire to dispute the ruling of the Chair; but the expression was not necessary to his argument, and he would pass from it. ["Withdraw!"] He supposed hon. Members wished the operation repeated half-a-dozen times. So far from its being true that assassination was the doctrine of the Land League, the Land League had distinctly lessened the number of assassinations. Before the Land League they were 132; but in 1880 they were reduced to eight. It was true that there was one assassination which had excited a good deal of comment. But if anyone deserved his fate, it was the person in question; for his cruelty, his evictions, his persistent rent-raising, his exactions as a Grand Juror, his cruelty as a magistrate, marked him out, if such a thing was justifiable, for the bullet of the assassin. ["Oh"] If the right hon. Gentleman searched the speeches at Land League meetings from first to last he would find a distinct deprecation in every sense, not merely of assassination, but of outrage in all its forms, though the landlords' journals, through which information filtered into English newspapers, ignored such things. The right hon. Gentleman had accused his hon. Friend of having made his statement under the Privileges of the House. But it might have en- 167 tered the narrow soul of the right hon. Gentleman, if he felt himself obliged to escape from the penal consequences of his acts, to come into the House to make attacks upon absent men, and charge them with committing the breaches of truth that he had committed himself. [Cries of "Withdraw!" and "Name!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must call upon the hon. Member to withdraw that expression at once. It is the second time that the hon. Member has offended against the Rules of the House, and I must call upon him now to withdraw the expression without equivocation.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he did so frankly, and without any reserve whatsoever, because the expression only slipped from him. ["Oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite might think it very good play to engage in baiting Members engaged in a struggle of that kind; but they could afford to despise such conduct, as they had behind them the opinion of their own nation. The hon. Member for Tipperary came into the House for the purpose of repelling the charges brought against him by the right hon. Gentleman. They would soon go over to Ireland; and he would venture to say the right hon. Gentleman's opinions as to their cowardice would not be sustained. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Land League as a "vile conspiracy." He must allow the right hon. Gentleman to choose his epithets; but the Government and the entire might of the British Crown, though attempting to pack a jury, had failed to prove a conspiracy. There was no one who knew anything about the movement that did not know it was a Constitutional and noble movement, and that it had at its head a body of men the most scrupulous in any country—the Catholic priesthood. These were the men whom the right hon. Gentleman charged, by implication, with being abettors of assassination. The right. hon. Gentleman had referred to officers of the Land League in America. No doubt, many of them had expressed themselves without restraint as to the means of getting rid of the cruel laws from which the country suffered; but it was not because the Land League accepted aid from those men that it must be held responsible for what they said. The members of the Land League were not bound by, or responsible for, the politics or the religion 168 of the people who chose to send help to the Irish nation. Whatever men in America might say, they were not responsible to the Land League; those in America carried on their own organization in their own way. The Irish Members were not responsible for the opinions of those in America any more than for the cut of their coats. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, with his usual disingenuousness—["Order, order!"]—
§ MR. SPEAKER
I think the House will feel that, after the frequent admonitions I have addressed to the hon. Member, I shall only be doing my duty to the House by Naming the hon. Member. I therefore Name you, Mr. Healy, as continually disregarding the authority of the Chair.
On the declaration you, Sir, have made, I propose that the hon. Member for Wexford be suspended from the service of the House during the remainder of this day's Sitting.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That Mr. Healy be suspended from the service of the House during the remainder of this day's sitting."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ The House divided:—Ayes 233; Noes 15: Majority 218.—(Div. List, No. 106.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he hoped that, in spite of what had taken place, the House would hear him with patient attention. He congratulated the Home Secretary on his invitation to the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) to attend in his place having been accepted, and on his rhetorical triumph, which might be a satisfaction to the right Eon. Gentleman, but was no proof of the gravity befitting a statesman. For his own part, he was going neither to explain nor to extenuate the language which had been used by his hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary. At the same time, he must say that his hon. Friend 169 had given advice to which he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) could not give his adhesion, and which he thought would rather prejudice than serve the cause which he had so much at heart. On the other hand, he was glad that his hon. Friend had used words which expressed not only his individual opinion, but the burning thoughts of many Irishmen, both in Ireland and in America. It was well that the country should stand face to face with the hot, mad passions which the Government, by its conduct, was provoking. There was no use in coming to that House and telling hon. Members that the patient was merely suffering from cold when fever was in all his veins. The coercive legislation of the present Session was stirring up every bitter memory of the past; and statesmen who were not simply rhetoricians, and whose aim was not, by resorting to paltry witticisms, to win a momentary cheer, were not sorry when the true state of a country was laid before them, in order that, knowing the disease, they might try to apply the remedy. If his hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary had used hot language, it was only because he was giving voice to that universal sentiment in Ireland which the insulting sneers and safe braggadocio of the Secretary of State for the Home Department was so active an agent in promoting. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman that, in discharging in that House what ought to be the solemn and painful duty of proposing coercive legislation, a spirit of conciliation would have become him, and that taunts and sneers should be avoided, even though by refraining from their use he might receive one cheer the less. The restless vanity of the right hon. Gentleman might, he thought, on an occasion like the present, be satisfied in the absence of such incense. If his hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary had been betrayed into a display of feeling to which the right hon. Gentleman objected, he himself was the culprit who had provoked it by his insults. His hon. Friend had spoken of the dreadful possibility of civil war in Ireland, and had stated that if he was a farmer he would shoot as many of those persons who came to enforce an eviction upon his farm as possible. And did his hon. Friend stand alone? They had the words of the Prime Minister to show that the murderous outrage at Clerkenwell had 170 matured public opinion in England. [Mr. GLADSTONE: No, no.] The right hon. Gentleman had given several explanations on that point; but the fact remained that that outrage matured the opinions of English politicians as to the necessity of practical politics for Ireland. It was well that heated and passionate language like that used by the hon. Member for Tipperary should occasionally be heard in that House as a warning against the criminal and dangerous courses in which the present Government were engaged. The object of the Land Leaguers was that the people should offer a passive but Constitutional resistance to those who rack-rented their farms, and to pay only as much rent as they were able to do. As for the Bill, the best they could hope for it was that it would prove merely ineffectual. He would do all he could to discourage crime; but he very much feared, remembering the previous experience of the country, that crime under that Bill would increase.
MR. GEORGE RUSSELL
said, that some of those who sat below the Gangway on the Ministerial side had that night learnt a lesson which they would not readily forget. They had not been willing to include the whole body of Irish Members in one condemnation. They had discriminated between man and man—between, for instance, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon), whose courage and candour they had respected, and some of his Coadjutors, who had neither the courage of their convictions, nor the silence of their shame. But the language that night of the hon. Member for Tipperary, although it might, perhaps, be the outcome of excitement, had been vividly impressed on the minds of all who heard it. It was true that his language had been disclaimed by those who sat near the hon. Member; but the hon. Member had expressed by his words, plainly and unmistakably, the terrible sentiments which the House had been told from the Treasury Bench actuated a great part of those who were said to be fighting for the liberties of Ireland. One hon. Member, in disclaiming the policy of murder and civil war, had expressly done so on the ground that he and his Colleagues were "too wide awake" to adopt it. The denial was not made on the ground of moral 171 reprobation. Liberals below the Gangway had followed with considerable reluctance the paths of coercion and repression; but they accepted the Bill as a disagreeable necessity on the part of the Government, for they had learnt that night to believe that those charged with the burden of government had better opportunities than themselves of realizing the actual situation. If that were the same kind of language as used by the hon. Member in addressing public meetings in Ireland, he would ask the House to picture to itself what might be the effect of such words on crowded assemblies of uneducated men, suffering, as it must be admitted they were, from extreme pressure of wrong and injustice. The possible effect of such words was the measure of the responsibility which rested on the Government to deal firmly, nay, peremptorily, with such an evil, terrible as it was in its dimensions, and one requiring to be sternly repressed. There was one thing—perhaps only one—that was more sacred than liberty, and that was human life.
§ MR. REDMOND
said, that, in desiring to give adequate expression to his feelings as to the unfounded accusations levelled by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department against the Land League, he was hampered by the limits of Parliamentary language, which prevented him from characterizing as untruths statements which he knew to be grossly inaccurate. He was a member of the Land League; but he denied that that association was a "conspiracy for assassination, and treason." The principles of the Land League were well known, and by no one better than the right hon. Gentleman. The Land League advised rack-rented tenants to combine and offer their landlords a fair rent; and, when that rent was not accepted, then to abide eviction if necessary. It endeavoured to create a public opinion strong enough to induce tenants to leave idle on the hands of the landlord farms from which tenants had been unjustly evicted. That, and that only, was the teaching of the Land League, which ever denounced outrage, and ever advocated passive resistance. The hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) had not, as the right hon. Gentleman cleverly asserted, spoken authoritatively on behalf of the Land League. The 172 hon. Member spoke in that House for himself, upon his own responsibility. He was perfectly ready to accept the responsibility of his words. He did not compromise the Land League or any of its members, whose policy in the present crisis was one of passive resistance. When the Speaker thought it his duty to interfere, he understood the hon. Member to be expressing his sorrow that the Irish people had not to-day the means of successful rebellion or of civil war against England. So far as that, he (Mr. Redmond) agreed entirely with the hon. Member; because he was firmly of opinion that if the only thing wanting—the possibility of a successful rising against this country existed, it would be an ample justification for the Irish people at the present moment. [Mr. PARNELL: Hear, hear!] Having said so much with regard to the speech of the hon. Member, he desired, notwithstanding what was said by the Home Secretary, to recall the attention of the House to what was the real question under discussion. It was not a speech of the hon. Member for Tipperary, nor an interpretation which hon. Members might please to put on that speech; but it was a Bill authorizing persons to search for arms, and arrest men who might be found in possession of them. He believed some time ago that a policy of repression was about to give way to one of reform; but he was disappointed. Exasperated as, no doubt, the Irish people were with the precedence which had been given to coercive legislation, he knew that all the country to-day were looking forward with feelings of intense anxiety to the promised Land Bill of the Government to save them from the tyranny which, under the admittedly unjust state of the law, at present rendered the life of the tenant-at-will to-day one of continual uncertainty, of hopeless poverty, and helpless misery. But once again their, perhaps, foolish faith in the justice and wisdom of that House had received a severe shock. Reform had been postponed indefinitely, and the policy of force and coercion was to have another innings. They were now discussing the latest development of English Liberalism, and it seemed inevitable that before many days were over this Arms Bill would form part of the laws of the land. He believed the measure would ever remain a fruitful 173 source of injury and wrong, and he had to protest against it as impolitic, unnecessary, and unjust. There never was, he believed, a Government since the so-called Union which had so great opportunities of winning the hearts of the Irish people, and of diminishing natural animosities, and of removing the great and admitted grievances of the country as the present Government. Such a policy was worthy of the great men at the head of that Administration, men to whom the Irish masses turned with confidence and hope, all the more confident and the more hopeful because of the six years of Conservative inaction which they had just passed. The Irish people had fought the electoral battle all over the Kingdom for their Liberal friends, and had listened with delight to the promises of the Candidate for Mid Lothian. They had materially assisted in transforming those Liberal friends and that philanthropic Candidate from a disorganized Party and a discredited Chief into the Rulers of the destinies of Ireland. The whole people cried aloud for the fulfilment of those promises, and what had been the reply? When the history of the day was written it would be a sorry record of what Liberalism was; and he regretted to think that these coercive measures would be the one sole blot on the reputation and character of a man whose name would otherwise be given down to posterity as a friend of the people—he meant the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright). The measure was impolitic, because it destroyed whatever chance remained to the Government to consolidate the Irish people by means of remedial legislation, and its very existence proved very clearly what the value of the Government Land Bill would be. If that Land Bill was, indeed, to be of a comprehensive and satisfactory nature, the necessity for repression, if ever it existed, would be at once removed. It was a common assertion amongst a certain class of politicians that agitation in Ireland was ever the result of cunning and self-seeking agitators; but he gave credit to Her Majesty's present Advisers for a keener insight into cause and effect. They knew very well that no agitators could create a movement such as the land movement unless there were real and terrible grievances crying for redress. It was not the Land League 174 that had created the agitation; but the wrongs and miseries of the Irish people had created the Land League. The only politic and sure way to pacify Ireland and make the law respected was to go to the root of the evil, and to rob the law of its injustice and inhumanity. The only effect of this Bill would be to render the agitation in Ireland more formidable, and to increase—if, indeed, it was possible to increase it—the intense hatred which was entertained by four-fifths of the Irish people against the rule of their country by this Parliament. The Government had indefinitely postponed reform; and, in the meantime, what were the people to do? By those coercive measures they had armed the enemies of the people with every hateful weapon known to the history of despotism. Emboldened by the weapons they had placed in his hands, the rack-renter and the exterminator would once more set about their unholy work. The sentences of death would again be showered down upon the people. But did they think the people would tamely submit to a law which they themselves had declared to be unjust and inhuman? What did the history of the whole world prove but that, when open agitation was stifled, the passion of an oppressed people found vent in secret organizations and secret plots. To stop outrages, forsooth! He would tell them what those Bills would do—they would create outrages; and if, as he prayed might not be the case, the history of these measures should be marked with blood—not the Irish Members, whom they suppressed upon the floor of that House, but the Government who, in order to carry their hateful proposals, sacrificed even liberty of speech in that House, would be the guilty ones. That measure was not alone impolitic—it was unnecessary. The measure which had already become law was sufficient to meet every possible contingency. Do not tell him that by an Arms Bill they would take the weapon from the hands of the assassin. He cared not if every house in the land were stripped of arms, the murderer would still find his instruments of murder. To prove the efficacy of Bills of that kind, the hon. and learned Solicitor General for Ireland told the House how outrages increased year by year up to 1870, when such another Bill came into operation, and then they suddenly and rapidly dimi 175 nished. When the hon. and learned Gentleman used that argument he (Mr. Redmond) knew he was speaking dishonestly, for the hon. and learned Gentleman knew that in 1870 the Land Act was passed, and that to it, and not to any wretched repressive legislation, was due the change. Now, as then, they said, remedy the grievance and the evils would cease. He listened to the speech of the Solicitor General for Ireland with feelings of the keenest humiliation and pain. He (Mr. Redmond) was pretty well accustomed, even from his short experience in that House, to hear English Members misrepresent the Leaders of the Irish people, and calumniate the Irish nation. But, it was with far different feelings he heard an Irishman, the Member for an Irish constituency, rise up and, encouraged by the cheers of ignorant and prejudiced men behind him, level calumnies against his own people and his own nation, in a speech which from an Englishman would have been unworthy, but from an Irishman was absolutely discreditable. If that Bill was impolitic and unnecessary, it must also be unjust; but of its injustice he did not care to say much, for the government of Ireland from that House ever had been, and ever would be, based upon injustice. But he would like to say of one thing that House might be assured. The Irish people would not be intimidated by those measures. They had passed through too many persecutions to learn what fear was now. They felt they were battling for the dearest cause that ever urged the heart of man—the right to live and prosper on the land of their birth. In battling for that cause they were ready that day to suffer as their fathers suffered before them, and their Representatives in that House would be found by their side in the hour of peril, ready to sustain them in their struggles, and share with them in their sufferings. He had done. He cordially detested that measure. Upon every opportunity which was open to him he should oppose it step by stop; and when at the close the Speaker should have, in the exercise of his new-born functions, stifled discussion upon every stage of the Bill, then he and the other Irish Members would, at any rate, be able to say they had done their duty to those who sent them there to protect the liberties of the people, and would be able to say 176 with pride, that owing to their efforts that House of Commons was obliged, in order to coerce Ireland, first to suppress, coerce, and to degrade itself.
§ MR. BYRNE
opposed the Bill, and condemned the language used by Ministers in the course of the debate. The Bill did not even exclude the female population from being arrested. The Bill was unnecessarily severe and cruel. It empowered the arrest of any person having arms or ammunition by any constable or peace officer, without warrant; this—without punning, for the subject was too serious—he regarded as a most unwarrantable interference with ordinary freedom. Clause 4 introduced a new personage upon the scene. Any warrant or order of the Lord Lieutenant could be signified under either his own hand or that of the Chief Secretary, or of the Under Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, and this would give the last-named official an amount of authority which was quite disproportionate to his proper function. The 4th sub-section of Clause 4 contained the provisions for proclamation, and he thought that these were altogether inadequate.
§ MR. CHARLES LEWIS
rose to Order. He wanted to know whether the hon. Member was in Order in discussing the details of the Bill, clause by clause, as if the House were in Committee?
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that the hon. Member was not at liberty at that stage to discuss the Bill clause by clause.
§ MR. BYRNE
said, he bowed to the ruling of the Chair. He was only giving his reasons for opposing the Bill, which was unnecessary and uncalled for. There was no evidence to show that the people had arms. The language of Judge Fitzgerald on the subject was very unguarded. That learned Judge had no means of knowing that every farmer's son and every farmer's servant had a gun or a pistol. He would oppose the Bill at every stage.
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. LEAMY
, referring to the statement that Aims Acts had been necessary in Ireland since 1847, said, they had been necessary since the Union, and would be as long as that House governed Ireland. The Home Secretary said that in the Bill the Government had adopted 177 the mitigated Code of the Act of 1875; but he forgot that the present Bill did not contain two important provisions of the Act of 1875. The latter Act gave a power of appeal which was not given by this Bill, nor did it contain a provision enabling a person accused and acquitted to obtain a certificate, freeing him from further proceedings. Moreover, under the Act of 1875, the magistrates had power to dismiss a case which they did not consider sufficiently serious to require the infliction of a penalty. No such provision was contained in this Bill. It was, he thought, a most serious objection to the Bill that it did not give a person who might be convicted at Petty Sessions by a resident magistrate, surrounded by landlord magistrates, the right to appeal to Quarter Sessions. That was a serious restriction upon the rights of the people, whom it placed in a far more unfavourable position than that in which they had been placed by the Act of 1875. He submitted it was unfair to legislate by giving undefined powers to the Lord Lieutenant. It was unfair that power should be given to disarm the people, and allow the landlord class to go armed. He was also strongly opposed to that provision of the Bill which would give to any Justice of the Peace the power to search any person whom he might reasonably suspect of carrying arms. In conclusion, he would observe that so long as measures of coercion for Ireland were before the House, it would be the duty of Irish Members to resist their passing, however anxious they might be to see a Land Bill introduced.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, the Bill was not levelled against presumably guilty persons, but against the whole people—the most honest, the most upright, the most just. The power of searching the person ought not to be given to a policeman. As the Bill stood it was a provocative to breaches of the peace and outrages. The right of search should be exercised only under a certain degree of responsibility; and he hoped a provision would be introduced into the Bill providing for compensation in the case of a man whose home had been searched, and perhaps his furniture, without any reasonable ground of suspicion. If the Bill was directed against the criminal classes, why was the night time carefully excluded from its operation? This ex- 178 clusion was an admission by the Government that the Bill was not necessary. There had been no proof submitted showing that there were such wholesale outrages with firearms as would justify a Bill of this kind. The increase of political badinage, such as that which had passed between the Home Secretary and John Devoy, could not be reasonably adduced as a reason for this Bill. The Home Secretary had dexterously made use of the language which had fallen from the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon); but he had submitted no reason for the Bill. The hon. Member for Tipperary had been betrayed into uttering expressions by the most unfair treatment he had received. He had, no doubt, used language which must be regretted in reference to evictions in Ireland. He (Mr. O'Donnell) could not justify those expressions; but how would those things which took place in Ireland be looked at if they had happened in a foreign country—in Bulgaria, Thessaly, or Epirus? The hon. Member for Tipperary wished to convey to the House the true state of affairs in Ireland, And to show how terrible they were, when Irish farmers were often placed in a position of great peril to themselves and families when evicted and thrown out to starve and die upon the roadside. The rash statement of the hon. Member was not, however, an argument in favour of this Bill, but for the passing of remedial measures. The whole policy of the Home Secretary was one of hitting them when they were down. Instead of proofs the right hon. Gentleman treated them with sarcasm, with quotations, with jokes more or less heavy, and seemed to calculate upon finding some one among the Irish Party more excitable than his Colleagues, who, irritated by the insulting tones and language, would give utterance to words too candid and too violent upon which he could seize. Thereupon he executed one of his characteristic war-dances on the floor of the House, and declared that he had proved that the Land League was a combination of assassins. The right hon. Gentleman had carried the game of irritation and provocation a little too far. One year's duration of this Bill would create a feeling of irritation which for years to come would tell against the Liberal Party.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Secretary Childers.)
§ MR. CHAPLIN
wished, before the Motion was put, to make a few observations upon the present position of affairs. ["Oh, oh!" and "Divide!"] He was surprised at these interruptions. He had sat some years in the House, and it had not been his habit to unduly trespass upon the time of the House; and he hoped he should not be interrupted in the few observations which he thought it right to make on this Motion. The present position of affairs was most peculiar; and, had it not been for the ruling of Mr. Speaker, he should have said most irregular. The Resolution of the 25th of January, which ordered that preference should be given to two particular measures, still remained unrescinded. Nevertheless, they were in this position. Government Business was taken on Monday last, and was to be taken again to-night, other than that which the House had ordered to have precedence. If this course were continued, independent Members would have to surrender their nights and days for an indefinite period, in order that the Government might get on with Supply. That was not an object for which, generally speaking, he should feel called upon to make any sacrifice, unless the Government were, in their turn, prepared to make some sacrifice in behalf of English Members and English Business in which they were interested. He himself had obtained, by persistent balloting, a place for a matter which he regarded as of urgent and immediate importance; and that was with respect to the foot-and-mouth disease. If the Government would guarantee to give him a place for his Motion before Easter he would consent to the adjournment. Not only that; but he had also a Motion on the question of compensation to tenants for improvements, and this, too, he took leave to consider as "urgent" Business. He thought independent Members ought to raise their voices against the course which was being taken by the Government, unless the Government made some compensation to them for the days of which 180 they would be deprived. The noble Lord had told them that the course taken by the Government was owing to the excessive delay in discussing the Protection to Person and Property (Ireland) Bill. He differed entirely from the noble Lord. He said the Government, and the Government alone, were entirely responsible for it. The unfortunate position in which they were placed arose from two facts—first, from the gross mismanagement of Irish Business by the Government; and, secondly, from the violation by the Government of the solemn pledges they gave to call Parliament together in the autumn. ["Question!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Member that the Question is the adjournment of the debate. He is not speaking to that Question.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
was perfectly aware that the Question before the House was that of adjournment; but he referred to the pledge given by the Government in order to illustrate his argument—to show that the necessity for this adjournment was solely caused by the conduct of Her Majesty's Government. The noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) complained of delay; but surely he must have foreseen this delay when the Cabinet decided not to call Parliament together in the autumn. ["Order!"]
§ MR. DILLWYN
I rise to Order, and wish to ask whether the hon. Member is acting in accordance with your ruling?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I have already stated that I consider the hon. Member is passing beyond the immediate Question before the House, which is the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
As I consider that to bow to your ruling, whatever that ruling may be, is the first duty of every Member of this House, I will not continue my remarks.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Even if I thought I should be in Order, I certainly should not have attempted, upon this occasion, to follow the hon. Member into the remarks which he seems to have found this the most convenient opportunity in the course of these two months to make upon the conduct of the Government in regard to Irish affairs. The course of the de-bates surely might have afforded a 181 more appropriate opportunity. But I am willing to admit that the position in which we find ourselves is, to a certain extent, an anomalous one. I explained on Monday how we stood, and the circumstances in which we had to ask the House to accede to the arrangements we proposed; and I stated that we were bound by, and were still under, the operation of the Resolution of January 25, by which it was determined to proceed with the Peace Preservation Bill from day to day, and it was our intention, as far as the exigencies of the public service would permit us, to proceed with the Bill; but I stated, at the same time, what was the condition of affairs as to Supply, and that it would be absolutely necessary to interpose, from time to time, with the Business of Supply before the consideration of the Peace Preservation Bill. That is simply the state of the case. I pointed out that it was absolutely necessary that a certain class of Supply should be disposed of within a very short time; and it cannot, therefore, be said that we are moving this Motion in order to go on with any other Business. If the House decline to accede to the arrangement which we proposed, it will be necessary for the Government to take some other course; but I understand it was the sense of the House generally—and, at all events, that it was the sense of the Party opposite, if I may understand it is represented by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Stafford Northcote)—that the proposal was acquiesced in, and that, for the purpose of proceeding with certain classes of Supply, the Opposition, at all events, were quite willing that the debate on the Peace Preservation Bill should, from time to time, be interrupted.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
The noble Lord has made a personal appeal to myself, and I must say that, to a great extent, I admit what he has said. There is no doubt that in the discussion the other day the Government proposed to ask for urgency for the Arms Bill, with the understanding that the discussion on that Bill should be suspended at a particular time, in order that an important statement of great interest might be made. I expressed my assent to that arrangement; but, at the same time, it should be borne in mind that on that occasion there was no opportunity for 182 discussion. We were unable to do more than ask for explanations; and it is, consequently, not unnatural that my hon. Friend should take the present opportunity of making observations on the course of Public Business, considering that it is not easy to find such opportunities. I hope it will be understood, at all events, that if we consent, as I hope we do consent, to the course proposed by the Government on the present occasion, we do so on the strict understanding that it is for the convenience of the House, and because we are anxious to hear the statement of the Secretary of State for War, and that the House is in no way bound to accept a similar course without full understanding and argument on its own part. It certainly strikes me that my hon. Friend has a very strong case. We have sacrificed the rights of private Members to a great extent in order to give way to the Government for a particular object, which, I think, they have not taken the best means to promote. I am not referring to the necessity of calling Parliament together last autumn; but with respect to this particular Bill within this particular Session, I do think that if the Business is to be urgent it should be urgent throughout, and that the wasting of Monday night and the interruption of the debate this evening have not advanced the Business of the House. For my part, I think we should go on with a determination like that of a man who means to clear a fence, and intends to get over it. However, we are bound by the understanding we came to, and, not so much for the convenience of the House as for the sake of the House and the country generally, to hear the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. It is clearly understood that it is only for that purpose that we propose to adjourn this debate.
§ EARL PERCY
complained that there were very few opportunities for discussing the state of Public Business. The noble Marquess had spoken of the urgency of the Estimates; but, after all, were the Estimates so extremely pressing? This was the 3rd of March, and on only one occasion during the last 10 years had the first Vote for the Army been taken earlier in the Session; the same might be said of the Navy. The Supplementary Estimates, also, had only on three occasions during the last 10 years been 183 taken earlier than the 3rd of March. The point, however, was not a Party question, but rather concerned the rights of private Members, many of whom on both sides of the House felt very keenly the invasion of their privileges by the Government. ["Divide!"] He was sorry hon. Members opposite should be so impatient while their rights were being defended. He would take another opportunity, if one presented itself, of bringing the matter before the House.
§ MR. PARNELL
wished to enter his protest against the action of the Government in moving the adjournment of this debate at the early hour of 9 o'clock. He could not understand the policy of taking this course. They were told that the Arms Bill was a very urgent matter; but the urgency was only in the view of the Prime Minister, and was of such a character that it could cease at 9 o'clock, or any hour the right hon. Gentleman desired. If a question was urgent yesterday it ought to be urgent to-day. There had been no reason assigned why the discussion on this Bill should cease at this hour, and why the House should proceed to the consideration of a fresh subject. A Resolution was passed on the 25th of January, declaring that the introduction and several stages of the Protection of Person and Property (Ireland) Bill and the Peace Preservation (Ireland) Bill should have precedence of all other Business until the House should otherwise order. And now the Government were attempting to evade that Order. The Government said they were not going to take any Votes. But the right hon. Gentleman was about to adopt an unprecedented course in making a statement on Army Organization before the Speaker left the Chair, thus preventing private Members from exercising their inalienable right of discussing grievances before Supply. The whole course of the Government was nothing more nor less than a dodge to override the Rules of the House, and to do that by a side wind, indirectly so illegitimately, which they could not do in a straightforward manner. He claimed the right of the Irish Members to continue the discussion on the Peace Preservation Bill until half-past 12, and then the Government could adjourn the debate if they liked. He was 184 not going to lend himself to this attempt of the Government to put aside the Orders and Regulations of the House, and thus deprive them of time for discussing the Bill. He would prefer to obtain such time as he could to show the false position the Government had taken up with regard to it rather than to listen to the eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman. The whole conduct of Business for the last fortnight was most extraordinary. A few days ago rumours were circulated in the Press that the Arms Bill was to be abandoned.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not keeping to the Question before the House, which is simply that of the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, that he was only referring to the introduction of the Arms Bill instead of the Laud Bill. He believed that the great body of Members had been misled by the introduction of the Arms Bill; in fact, the policy of the Government had been shifted about in the most extraordinary manner, and they did not seem to have made up their minds for 24 hours together. Let them go on with the debate, and give Irish Members an opportunity of convincing the House by fair argument that they were right. He was sure the eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman would keep.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
asked whether he was to understand that while the Government asked, for their own particular purposes, to have an interruption of the debate to-night, they meant to give the Irish Party any compensation for the time so taken? On the showing of the Government, there was no extreme urgency with the statement of the Secretary of State for War. He did not see why the right hon. Gentleman should not send his speech to the newspapers. The Home Secretary always did so. The Government had entered on the Land Bill in a dilatory manner, showing there was no Cabinet agreement with regard to the measure. They seemed to be engaged in burlesquing their own policy.
§ MR. DAWSON
, who doubted whether it would be necessary to adjourn the debate, in order that the right hon. Gentleman might deliver a combustible speech, spoke amid cries of "Oh!" "Divide!" and "Question!" and said. 185 he was really speaking to the Question, because it was one between a paper war in that House and real war in Ireland.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must call upon the hon. Member to confine himself to the Question of the adjournment of this debate.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, they were asked to adjourn the debate on the Arms Bill; and there was an intimate connection between an Arms Bill and war. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War might say, "Arma virumque cano." He sang of arms, and they against arms.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not confining himself to the Question before the House. [Cries of "Twice!"]
§ MR. DAWSON
said, no doubt some hon. Members would be glad if it were thrice; but it should not be if he could help it.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I wish again to point out to the hon. Member that he is bound to confine himself strictly to the Question of the adjournment of the debate. [Cries of "Thrice!"]
§ MR. DAWSON
said, he had thought that on the proposed adjournment of a debate on an Arms Bill there was a fair opportunity for alluding to the status quo in Ireland; but he did not wish to make himself a hero by coining, at the goading of hon. Members opposite, into conflict with the ruling of the Chair. He was of opinion that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin), whom he gladly welcomed to their ranks, had made out a very good case against adjourning the debate.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
asked whether, if the Irish Members consented to the adjournment of the debate, the Government would undertake to do nothing to curtail the debate on the Arms Bill to-morrow morning?
§ MR. FINIGAN
expressed his satisfaction that Members on the Opposition Benches had at length had the courage to break down the outworks of Whig tyranny. He did not see why the debate should be adjourned for a matter which was neither urgent nor necessary.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, he should vote against the adjournment. He quite 186 agreed with the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire. He considered that two Saturdays and a Monday had been wasted by the Government that ought to have been applied to the carrying forward these measures of urgency which were important for the peace of Ireland. As had been pointed out, it was quite as early now in the Session as it had been customary to introduce the Army Estimates. Therefore, he did not see any necessity for adjourning a discussion on a Bill which had been voted to be urgent.
§ MR. REDMOND
repeated the question of his hon. Friend (Mr. O'Connor), for the purpose of demonstrating that there was a little courtesy left upon the Treasury Bench.
hoped that, after the expression of opinion which had taken place, the House would assent at once to the adjournment of the debate, so that the Secretary of State for War might have the opportunity of making his promised statement. It had been said the statement of the right hon. Gentleman would not really advance the Business before the House. That was perfectly true in a certain sense; but what really advanced the Business was the Vote for the men and for the Supplies. Unquestionably, as a preliminary to both these, the statement of the right hon. Gentleman must be made; and it was for the convenience of Parliament that the statement should be made when the House was full. He believed it was understood such an arrangement should take place. He quite admitted that his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire had considerable ground for complaining that he was unable to bring forward the important question of which he had given Notice relating to the agricultural interests.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he did not know that he should oppose the Motion, because, as a rule, his policy was in favour of the adjournment of debates. He must, however, point out that the course pursued by the Government with regard to a Bill which they had declared to be urgent was extremely inconsistent. But it would, perhaps, after all, be a hardship on the Secretary of State for War 187 that he should not be allowed to proceed with his statement, especially as he understood the greater part of it was in type.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 277; Noes 28: Majority 249.—(Div. List, No. 107.)
§ Debate further adjourned till To-morrow.
§ MR. PARNELL
I wish to know, Sir, whether, when you put the Question to the House that the resumption of this debate be taken to-morrow, whether that is not a matter within the cognizance of the House to decide; and whether I shall not be entitled to move an Amendment to that Question—namely, that the resumption of the debate shall be deferred until Monday. I would wish to point out to you a precedent which occurred in the course of the progress through the House of the Protection of Person and Property (Ireland) Bill, which has since become law. I think it was after the Committee stage, when the Question was put as to the committing of the Report for a certain day, that I moved an Amendment to that Question that it should be taken on a later day. You permitted me to move that Amendment; it was put from the Chair, and a division was taken; the House affirming the Previous Question, that the resumption of the debate should be taken on the following day. I wish to ask, therefore, whether in the present instance I shall not be in Order in now moving that the resumption of the debate be deferred until Monday?
§ MR. SPEAKER
No doubt the hon. Member has correctly stated what occurred on the former occasion, and no doubt that proceeding was quite correct and in Order. If the hon. Member had proposed his Amendment in time, no doubt it would have been in Order; but to-morrow has been appointed for proceeding with the Bill.
§ MR. CALLAN
I rise to another point of Order. The Question that the debate be resumed to-morrow was never put to the House; and, Sir, until it is put to the House I ask, as a point of Order, is it not competent for any Member to move an Amendment?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The Question was put to the House, and the House has decided that the resumption shall be taken to-morrow.
§ MR. SPEAKER
By direction the Clerk has proceeded to read the Orders of the Day. The Order of the Day for Supply has been read, and I have called upon the right hon. Gentleman to address the House.
§ MR. CHILDERS
In accordance with the understanding arrived at on Tuesday last, I now rise to explain what are the main recommendations as to Army Organization which Her Majesty's Government propose to follow.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
rose to Order. He wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman, in making his Ministerial Statement before going into Committee of Supply, was in Order; and he also wished to point out that when the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon) wished to make a similar statement on the Educational Estimates on the 10th July, 1877, before the Speaker left the Chair, he was not allowed to do so?
§ MR. PARNELL
also rose to a point of Order as to whether it was regular for the right hon. Gentleman to make his statement before hon. Members, who had previously given Notice, had had an opportunity of moving their Amendments against Supply? He found that there were a number of Notices on the Paper; and he submitted that if the right hon. Gentleman was entitled to make his statement on the present occasion before the Speaker left the Chair, and before 189 any of the hon. Members who had given Notice had moved their Amendments, it practically precluded those Members from the right which had hitherto been secured to them by the Forms of the House. He submitted that he was en-titled, according to the Rules of the House, to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice—namely—That, in the opinion of this House, the Boers of the Transvaal, by their valiant resistance, have proved the earnestness of their desire for independence, and earned a right to its restoration.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
Before the point of Order is distinctly decided by you, I wish to ask you very respectfully whether, in the course of the last Parliament, you did not declare that my right hon. Friend the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) was adopting an un-Parliamentary and irregular course in attempting to move the Navy Estimates with you in the Chair?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I conclude the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War is about to conclude with a Motion, and I shall not interpose to prevent his making any observations to the House he may think proper before so doing. At the same time, if the right hon. Gentleman were to go into great detail in regard to the Estimates which will have to be voted in Supply, I should consider it my duty to interfere.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
If the right hon. Gentleman proposes to conclude with a Motion, will it not be necessary for him to confine himself to such remarks as are relevant to that Motion?
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, that no reply had yet been given to the question of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) with regard to the course which was adopted when the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool wished to move the Educational Estimates in the last Parliament before the Speaker left the Chair.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I have already stated within what limits the right hon. Gentleman would be at liberty to address the House, and, of course, the hon. Member asked me whether the right hon. Gentleman would be in Order in doing so and so. If the right hon. Gentleman is out of Order, of course I shall interfere.