§ MR. LALOR
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If it is true, as stated in the "Standard" newspaper of the 11th instant, that James Lalor, of Raheen, in the Queen's County, has been arrested under the provisions of the Peace Preservation Act (Ireland); and, if so, on what reasonable suspicion; and, if he is aware that James Lalor and his family had been evicted from his holding only a few days previously, after he had sown his land under crops?
§ MR. FITZPATRICK
Before, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman answers this Question I beg to ask him whether it is not a fact that James Lalor owed two and a-half years' rent, and was always an unsatisfactory tenant; and whether the following statement relating to the holding of James Lalor is correct, as stated in The Leinster Express of May 7, that James LalorHeld 16 Irish acres at £18 15s. a-year, and sublet 7½ of them—5 to one party and 2½ to another—for which he obtained a rent of £22 10s.?By this means this rack-rented tenant obtained £3 15s. a-year more for 7½acres than he was asked to pay by Dr. Jacob for 16 acres. And, further, whether, excellent landlord that he is, Mr. Lalor, in sub-letting the farm, required two years' rent in advance, or a sum of £44?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
Sir, it is true that James Lalor has been arrested under the provisions of the Protection Act. The ground is reasonable suspicion of arson. It is also true that he was evicted from his holding a short time before, and I am told that his land was sown under crops. As to the Question of the hon. Gentleman opposite, the only information I have is that he was not considered an industrious tenant. I have seen the statement with regard to the sub-letting, and I have no reason to suppose that it is not true. With respect to the Question of manuring, I really cannot answer it. It is true that a year and a-half's rent was owing.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member has put his Question and has received an answer. If he desires to put any further Question arising out of the answer he is in Order in so doing.
§ MR. LALOR
begged to say that he intended to conclude with a Motion. ["Oh!"] He lived within about half a mile of where that poor man had been evicted, and he understood the whole case. During the last 12 months he had four different ejectments served upon him. Two of these, he believed, were from the Superior Courts in Dublin, while the case could have been tried in the County Court or district where he resided. There had, no doubt, been a burning in the neighbourhood where that man had been evicted; but it was generally understood in the neighbourhood that it had occurred through the carelessness and insobriety of the owners of the place themselves, and there was not the slightest suspicion that it had been caused by Lalor. There was damage done by the fire to the extent of some £70 or £80; but the owner of the place claimed compensation to the extent of £300. He would remind the Chief Secretary that the person who got Lalor arrested and the county proclaimed was the person who had a direct interest in keeping the man in prison. Lalor had his crop sown, and there was an abundant crop in the ground to enable him to pay at the next harvest if he had been allowed to reside on the farm; but 411 the fact of his being kept in prison would disable him from doing so, and there was reason to believe that that was the motive for putting him in gaol. It was most objectionable that the Queen's County should have been proclaimed, as it was one of the most peaceful districts in the Kingdom. It was believed that this had been done, not to put down outrages, but to enable the landlords to eject their tenantry and collect their rents. He begged to move the adjournment of the House.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
, in seconding the Motion, said, that James Lalor had the misfortune to be the tenant of a man who, besides being a landlord, was a magistrate of well-known proclivities. It was a matter of perfect notoriety that that landlord would crush and ruin that man if he possibly could. He understood that this magistrate had on four successive occasions taken proceedings against tenants, and having lost his case he entertained vindictive feelings towards them. Queen's County was conspicuous in Ireland for its freedom from everything like crime and outrage; and it was a matter of common report that that particular landlord had been peculiarly instrumental in causing that county to be proclaimed. They had a right, therefore, to ask the Government for some declaration of the grounds on which Queen's County had been proclaimed. He challenged the Chief Secretary to deny that during a large portion of last year the police were not required at all in Queen's County. In the month of April he believed that in that county there was only one offence of a serious agrarian kind, and another of a very mild description.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Lalor.)
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
Sir, I would only state that James Lalor was not arrested, nor was Queen's County proclaimed, on account of the representation of the landlord to whom hon. Members had alluded. Having had no reason to expect that the question of the proclamation of Queen's County would come up this evening, I can only now say that I have a very different opinion on the subject from that of the hon. Member; but if the Question is repeated on Monday or Tuesday I will give an 412 answer as to the grounds on which the county was proclaimed.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had a very good memory for some things and a very bad one on others, as suited his convenience. He could tell that Lalor had sub-let part of his lands for mere rent than he paid the head landlord for the whole holding; but he could not tell whether it had been so sub-let as conacre and as manured land. In those cases between landlord and tenant the right hon. Gentleman was always inclined to take the side of the strong party against the weak, and no reply that he gave to those Questions was entitled to much consideration from the Irish Members. There had been only one or two slight outrages in the Queen's County recently, and these did not at all justify the proclamation.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he was glad his hon. Friend had moved the adjournment of the House, and he thought the Irish Party ought to come down and move the adjournment of the House on every occasion of this kind. He thought the Irish Party were to blame for not having acted with sufficient firmness in this direction. He thought the adjournment of the House ought to be moved on Government nights as well as on other nights to raise the question of these proclamations and arrests. It was only by action in the House of Commons that they could retaliate on the Government. They had been told that Dr. Jacob had not moved in the matter of the proclamation of the Queen's County; but if Dr. Jacob had any dirty work to do he would get someone else to do it. It would be easy for him or his agents to prime the Government with information which they might use as a means of getting the county proclaimed; and he ventured to say that what information they possessed came from such statements. Owing to the state of the Grand Jury Laws in Ireland, when a man's house or haystack was burned accidentally, he had the temptation to plead that it was malicious; and then, with the present cry about agrarian outrages, if he presented for £200 or £300, the Grand Jurors, who were landlords, were only too happy to mulet the district where the act was committed. He had known cases of this kind where, in place of punishing the really guilty parties—namely, the 413 landlords, the unfortunate tenants were punished.
§ MR. LEAMY
stated that very few of the tenant farmers of Ireland insured their stocks. If, unfortunately, a burning took place, and if there was no evidence as to how it occurred, the first thing that a farmer did was to rush off to the police barracks and give the requisite notices in order to apply for compensation. There was the strongest possible temptation for a farmer who had not insured to prove that the burning was malicious, because that was the only way of securing compensation. Now, he understood that a burning had recently taken place where this man had been arrested; and he thought they had a right to know on what grounds the man was arrested, and whether the burning for which he was arrested was the one in connection with which there was a claim before the Presentment Sessions for compensation.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
wished to enter his protest against the calumnies which had been heaped upon the farmers of Ireland by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. The hon. Member had stated in his place in the House of Commons that it was a usual thing for Irish farmers, whenever a fire occurred on their premises, to go off to the police and make false oaths and statements. ["Oh!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member for Galway County (Mr. Mitchell Henry) is in possession of the House, and he is entitled to proceed to the end of his address; if at the end of it the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Leamy) desires to make any explanation, no doubt the House will afford him an opportunity.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, he must protest against the statement of the hon. Member, for it was one of the greatest calumnies ever uttered. He knew as a fact that the farmers of Ireland were not guilty of this conduct; and he never would be a party to branding poor people as perjurers and perpetrators of crime, even when the accusation came from that side of the House, which assumed to be guardians and champions of the tenant farmers.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, he had not attempted to brand the farmers of Ireland 414 as perjurers; or in any way to reflect upon their characters. What he did say was, that an Irish farmer did not, as a rule, insure his stock, and that, when any of his stock was burned, there was the strongest temptation, in cases where there was no evidence as to how the fire occurred, to endeavour to prove that it was malicious, as it was the only way in which he could get compensation in the present state of the law.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, the perception of the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry), in mistaking the remarks of his hon. Friend (Mr. Leamy), must not be very keen. The Irish farmers would be well able to judge between the two hon. Members, and decide who was most likely to brand the Irish character. His hon. Friend (Mr. Leamy) had merely stated what the history of Ireland had proved to be a fact. The temptation was so strong in these matters that the wonder was that there were not many more compelled to make claims for compensation; and what his hon. Friend. contended was that that temptation ought to be removed out of their way by an alteration of the law. He was not uttering a calumny against his fellow-countrymen, but rather wishing to deprive them of this temptation.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.