HC Deb 03 May 1881 vol 260 cc1663-4

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether it appears by reports in the public press that the honourable Member for Tipperary, in his speech at the meeting of the Irish Land League in Dublin on the 27th ultimo, made the following statement:— Next week a last appeal will be made to the Government to suspend process of eviction in Ireland for the next year. We have frequently appealed on this subject before and have frequently been refused, but, at the present moment, the situation is more desperate and critical than it has been at any time. At this moment over five thousand—I can only make a rough guess, probably I would be nearer the truth if I said ten thousand—families are under the sentence of eviction. We will ask the Government next week whether they intend to proceed with these evictions by force; whether the honourable Gentleman was not entitled to give public warning of the spirit excited amongst the Irish people by the circumstances thus set forth by him; and, whether the Government will take any steps to suspend or restrain the present legal power of evicting tenants in Ireland which may deprive them of rights to be vested in them by impending legislation?


Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that Question, I should like to ask him, Whether it is a fact that Mr. Dillon was arrested at Portarlington yesterday, and why the fact of that arrest was not communicated to the House the same day, as required by Section 3 of the Coercion Act?


I will answer the last Question first. I have heard by telegraph that the hon. Member for Tipperary was arrested at Portarlington yesterday under the Protection Act, and I have reason to believe that full compliance will be made with the section of the Act, which requires that the arrest shall be communicated to the House immediately, as in the case of persons charged with a criminal offence. The last precedent was the arrest of Mr. Smith O'Brien; and in that case a communication was made by letter from the Lord Lieutenant to the Speaker. I have no doubt that my noble Friend the Lord Lieutenant will follow that course on the present occasion. He could not have communicated yesterday, because he would not have known of the arrest in time to send by post; but I shall be surprised if he does not take the first opportunity of making that communication. With regard to the Question of the hon. Member for Sligo, I believe that the words which he read are a correct extract, from the speech, which also contained other passages, which I cannot too strongly condemn. With regard to the other Question, I must refer the hon. Gentleman to the provisions of the Bill now before the House, and which are still the subject of debate.


Will the right hon. Gentleman read the other passages to which he refers?

[No reply was given.]