§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [15th February], "That the said Address be read a second time."
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, that after the sweeping and general observations that had been made by the noble Lord the Member for the County of Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) against the Sub-Commissioners, he had felt it his duty to make what the noble Lord below the Gangway (Lord Randolph Churchill) would call "a few interlocutory observations" in regard to those Commissioners. The noble Lord opposite (Lord George Hamilton) had attacked these gentlemen for the manner in which they had reduced rents in Ireland. He wished, therefore, in addition to what he had mentioned yesterday, to direct the noble Lord's attention to another public testimony that had been given in regard to the work of these gentlemen. He found that in The Dublin Evening Mail, in reference to another Sub-Commissioner, counsel for the landlord was reported as saying—He desired, before the Court rose, to express, on behalf of himself and his learned friend, their warm thanks to the Commissioners for the firmness and ability with which they had administered the various cases before them.This opinion was echoed by the other professional gentlemen present, representing both landlords and tenants. After that testimony, he ventured to say it was a little too much for the noble Lord the 796 Member for Middlesex to assert that the Sub-Commissioners knew that the only way in which they could give satisfaction was largely to reduce rents, and that the Land Commission would not dare to reverse the decisions of the Sub-Commissioners. That was a serious charge to make against the Land Commission—a judicial body—and he thought the noble Lord, upon reflection, would regret that he had made it. Having regard to the two judicial bodies, even though one might be looked upon as the Inferior, and the other the Superior Court, what did the complaint amount to? Suppose the rents were reduced, the question was—Were they fairly reduced? The question had been tested by appeal, and the Court of Appeal had affirmed the decision of the Sub-Commissioners. What did that fact establish, but that the rents were properly reduced? There was not a Member of the House on either side who had not avowed that landlords did not want an unfair rent. It was said that all they wanted was "fair rent," and that they would accept a tribunal to establish a fair rent for them. The tribunal had reduced rents, which showed that land in Ireland had been more largely over-rented than many persons had supposed. He himself knew many landlords who had largely under-rented, holding that a landlord acted best when the tenants lived and throve under him. Some landlords rented their tenants heavily, no doubt. The following question was put to a witness before the Richmond Commission:—Can a man be contented in his own mind to find his own exertions are taxed so that he is obliged to take Indian meal and butter-milk instead of having bread and tea?And this was the answer—There is an old saying that 'better manure never went on land than to be well salted with rent.'He could only say, in reference to that statement, that if any landlord was in the habit of putting his tenants into pickle of that kind, the sooner he took them out of it the better. Well, now, the remaining complaint was that the Land Act had not, in four months, wrought the regeneration of the country. How could it? What was the state of the country when the Land Act came into operation? How had it been treated? How had the Land League 797 tried to strangle and choke it? To turn round and complain, under such circumstances, that the Act had not instantly brought peace and tranquillity to the country was to make the same complaint that, as the late lamented Lord Hatherley said, the child made when it planted a flower to-day, and pulled it up to-morrow to see whether the roots had grown. They must wait and see whether the prospect of improvement, which, notwithstanding all that had been said in that House, he was happy to say was showing itself in Ireland, would spread, until, at last, he hoped it would succeed in banishing from Ireland disorder and dishonesty. The debate upon that paragraph in the Speech from the Throne and on the Address had proceeded above the Gangway upon the lines distinctly laid down by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition—he meant the Leader of the regular Opposition, and not the Opposition unattached—and had been carefully followed by his right hon. and learned Friends the Members for the University of Dublin. Their complaint was that the Executive in Ireland did not use their powers as speedily or as severely as they should have done; whilst hon. Members below the Gangway complained that the Executive, on the other hand, had been too severe, and had brought about a state of terrorism. Between opinions so opposite as that they might expect to find that the mean was the truth, and it was the mean that had been adopted by the Government.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I am sure I never used the word ''severely," nor, so far as I know, did my right hon. and learned Friends. I said the Act had not been "efficiently" administered.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, he accepted the correction; but ''efficiently" meant with a greater amount of energy, and that a greater number of persons should have been put into prison. These words were reported in The Times—and he presumed they were correct—that had 60, 70, or 100 of the leading men, men who were in command of the Land League organization, been arrested at the outset, matters would have been very different. Those figures sounded to him very ominous, and seemed 798 as though they represented the whole of Mr. Parnell's Party; but if the Leaders of that Party, if 60 or 70 of the Members behind Mr. Parnell had been arrested, what would the country have said? How would it have been possible, in their absence, to have discussed the remedial measure proposed by Parliament? Would the people of Ireland have been disposed to accept that remedial measure proposed and discussed in the absence of so many of those whom they sent to represent them? It was not the intention of the Government to sweep a drag net over the whole of Ireland. It was the intention of Parliament to arm the Government with the means of repressing violence and intimidation; but not that the Government should cram the gaols with prisoners. Unnecessary severity was not part of the policy of the Liberal Party. There were times which, unhappily, had come to that country of theirs that required the stringent exercise of very strong powers; and, in his opinion, the Government which, armed with those powers, did not use them was not worthy of power. How had they used those powers? At once, in the passing of the Protection of Person and Property Act. The Return for the first month gave 5 cases of suspicion of murder, incitement to murder, and shooting at the person; 8 of intimidation; 8 attacking dwelling-houses; 2 treasonable practices; and 11 of arson, maiming cattle, &c. Thus was the Act applied. But there was another Party below the Gangway to which he had listened with terror. The speech which the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock was expected to make was thus spoken of by an Irish newspaper—"He means to go for Mr. Gladstone. The Chief of the Fourth Party"—which seemed to be confined to himself, so that he was general, rank and file, and all—''intends to wipe off a large balance of arrears by as slashing an assault as the Rules of Parliamentary Procedure will allow;" and it wound up further by saying that "Lord Randolph Churchill meant to edge his tomahawk for Ministerial scalps." The noble Lord also considered that Government had not been vigorous enough in sweeping "arrests." When the noble Lord's father was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, he had the opportunity of studying Irish politics in his noble father's school. He (the 799 Attorney General for Ireland) knew not what manner of man was the political Gamaliel at whose feet the noble Lord had sat, and from whose inspiration he learned the salutary mode of administering a Coercion Act. The noble Lord had informed the House that he supposed the Government could not be expected to use the Coercion Act as similar Acts had always been used. "A Coercion Act," said the noble Lord, "was aimed at unscrupulous persons, and, from the necessities of the case, must always be used unscrupulously." The maxim of the Constitution under which they lived was that there should be no criminal so humble, no crime so bad, that the criminal should be treated unscrupulously. And yet they were to be told that they failed in their duty because they had not used the Coercion Act unscrupulously. The greatest praise that could be conferred upon a Government was that it had not used its powers unscrupulously, and would not do so. The censure which came from such a school of politics or thought as that was preferable to praise from the same quarter; and he should be slow to study in a school which set at naught the elements on which the Constitution of the country rested. He did not believe that one right hon. Gentleman who sat opposite would support such a declaration as that of the noble Lord's; and the noble Lord, if he thus made flotsam and jetsam of the traditions of his house, would hardly add to his political reputation. The public would judge which was right between those who charged the Government with doing too much, and those who charged them with not doing enough. But while it was necessary for the Government to have repressive powers, it was necessary, also, that the provisions of the Land Act should be enacted to remedy that which was at the root of the evil. Now, the Land Act had been introduced in April. Was the way to relieve the festering sore of Ireland, was the way to recommend a remedial measure and to administer that measure, to be found in repression? That remedial Act was passed in that House a little before the end of August; and what was the position of the Land League then? The hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had asserted that the objects of that Land League were threefold—to stop rack-renting, to stop eviction, and 800 to enable the tenants to become purchasers of their farms. But these objects could be lawfully obtained by the Act of Parliament. If the Land League was a loyal and Constitutional organization really established for the purposes named, its plain duty was then to have stood aside and allowed the Act to do its work, and not to attempt to strangle the Land Act before it had had an opportunity of being worked. They had heard a great deal in that House which was hardly reconcilable with language heard outside; and he was not sure but that the defence made for some absent Members would not be rejected with contempt by them. The hon. Member for Sligo had spoken as if the Land League had never committed outrage, as if farms were to be kept vacant by the force of public opinion, and so on. Surely the hon. Member imagined the Members of that House had short memories! What said the hon. Member for Tipperary, whose opinion on such a subject he preferred to the hon. Member for Sligo's? Mr. Dillon, speaking at Templemore, County Tipperary, on the 10th of October, 1880, said—and well had his advice been since pursued—If a landlord evicts any man he will have an idle farm left on his hands. He will have on his hands what I have heard described as a model farm, and that is a farm which no living-thing will go on, to show what the power of the public opinion of the people is.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
The chief organizer of the League, who was, he supposed, a paid agent, speaking on the same day in the same county, used a similar expression—Already a dozen model farms exist in the County Tipperary. They are standing there a living witness that the landlord dare not till the land, and cannot get a living man to strike a spade or plough into it, and he dare not. He is too cowardly to go there and till it himself What has brought about this condition of things? Intelligent organization.This was the Constitutional agitation and intelligent organization of the Land League!
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
replied, that he was the principal organizer 801 of the League. [Cries of "Name!"] His name was Mr. Boyton. Did hon. Gentlemen really forget, or would they repudiate Mr. Boyton? Was he not a paid agent of the Land League? Why, one would think that the memories of hon. Members were gone, that all their misfortunes had disappeared, and all this dreadful glamour which was over the country had been lifted of like a spell—as he hoped it would be at no very distant date. If then, as they were told, the Land League never changed, its origin was outrage, and its mode of working was outrage, which it had been careful to maintain to the present day. The hon. Member for Sligo, forsooth, said it existed by the soundness of its principles, the laudable and necessary nature of its objects, and the just character of the means it employed. ''Oh, Shame! where is thy blush?" It was not only that the original constitution of this organization; which had been styled by those who were responsible for advising his Excellency to issue his proclamation of October 20th, "an unlawful and criminal conspiracy"—it was not only for the organization to work thus from the beginning; but the ordinary means were not sufficient, and it would not do to have newspapers "running with the hare and hunting with the hounds." Something that was stronger was necessary. Therefore, United Ireland—this pet organ in which the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) took such a special interest, and in the promotion of which he took such zealous care—was started in August—just before the House rose—on the 13th of August—and he begged to call the attention of the House to this organ of "constitutional agitation and intelligent organization!" The issue of that date contained the following statements by way of a published letter—the promoters of that journal had an ingenious way of conveying information, under cover of collecting news of public interest, which was of the most odious and atrocious character, and which struck at the root of all morals and of all law. Here were its words:—O'Donovan Rossa's warning to Irish landlords. The following, by O'Donovan Rossa, appeared in a recent issue of his paper:—' Irish landlords, we have a few words to say to you... It has been determined on by the scattered Clan na Gael to give you warning that henceforward a record will be kept of every 802 landlord who exercises the power of eviction in Ireland, and for every such death sentence executed on a tenant a death sentence will be executed by the Irish race against the murderer's house, and the Irish race all the world over will give encouragement to the avenging angel.'Then followed a request to be furnished with the names and residences of the landlords evicting after August, 1881. Was there ever a more direct incitement to murder? It would interest the House to know something about that journal. United Ireland was published by the Irish National Newspaper and Publishing Company (Limited), which was the first instance, he believed, of a company being established in this country for the dissemination of sedition and treason. The shares were issued at £10, and were taken up, among others, by the following gentlemen:—Mr. Parnell 237 shares, Mr. Egan 237, Dr. Kenny 10, Mr. Biggar 10; and then followed some other persons, who, though they might have been on "pleasure bent," yet still possessed "a frugal mind"—they only had two shares apiece. Treason and sedition made cheap; treason and sedition wholesale for £20! Landlords shot and their assassins protected and started in business in any part of the world! Parliament rose, as he had said, at the end of August, and accordingly on September 15th the position obviously of such hon. Members and gentlemen as were at the head of this institution, finding it paid and flourished, had to be re-considered. They sent recognized agents through the country, whose object was to spread sedition and to set Her Majesty's subjects against each other as much as they could. That was what they called promoting peace and happiness. Their game was desperate, and the position must be faced. What did the Land League desire? Was it that the supremacy of the law should be established and the authority of the Queen recognized? Nothing of the kind. That was the last thing the Land League wanted. The agitation proved to be a paying one. Money flowed in freely from America, but something was expected in return. At the Dublin Convention on the 15th September messages were read from the brethren in America, couched in terms like these—"Reject the Land Bill, pay no rent, hold the harvest." Then came 803 a touch of business. The American sympathizers liked to have some music for their money. They did not believe in sending over their money and getting nothing for it. As had been said in that House before—"Those who pay the piper have a right to call the tune." The Parnell Land League of Albany sent a telegram, which was very short, to this effect—"Strict adherence to the Land League principles, or no more help from here;" while the President of the State Land League of Iowa significantly telegraphs—"One step backward and no more money." All of which provoked laughter and applause. Money was all that was wanted. What did it matter if the country was wrecked and the people left to perish, if wholesale ruin was spread from one end of the country to the other, provided only these Land League agitators could get money? He would pass over the 1st resolution. [Cries of "Read!"] Well, it ran thus—That this National Convention, assembled by the will of the people of Ireland, and acting in their name, declares that the political and social evils which afflict and impoverish our country are to he found in the detestable system of alien rule so injurious and oppressive to our people.["Hear, hear!" from the Irish Members.] That was a matter of opinion. If they had theirs, he had his; and the sentiment of the resolution, it seemed to him, was something like treason. The next point was this—it was necessary to strangle the Land Act in order to keep up the land agitation and the consequent flow of money from America. The action of the Land League was intended not to facilitate, but to obstruct the working of the Land Act. Test cases were to be submitted, which he ventured to say he would prove before he sat down were not entitled to anything approaching the explanation given by the hon. Member for Sligo. These test cases were designed not to give further facilities to the working of the Land Act, as the hon. Member would have them believe; and therefore it was, as he (the Attorney General for Ireland) had ventured an opinion, that those whom the hon. Member for Sligo was defending, if they had been in the House, would have laughed with contempt at such a defence being put forward in their behalf. The tenant farmers were directed by the Land League not to go 804 into the Land Court as individuals to obtain relief from their particular grievances, but to wait until test cases had been brought before that Court; and the House would be satisfied that in the meantime the outrages were to continue. The object of this course of procedure was fully explained by Mr. Parnell at what was called the Queen's County Convention—nothing was to be done that would show that the Land League was not the supreme power in Ireland. The effect of the action of the Land League was that the Queen's subjects were not to be allowed to avail themselves of the provisions of an Act which Parliament had passed for the redress of their grievances. It was declared that no tenant farmer should go into Court without the consent of the local branch of the Land League—and what were the local branches of the Land League to do? They were to select test cases of an average character in which the rents were neither too high nor too low—that was to say, cases in which the rent was a fair one and would not be disturbed. The object of this direction was to prevent Her Majesty's subjects from resorting to the Queen's Courts without sanction of the Land League. Such a direction as that was fraught with treason. It was asserted by the Land League that the object of the direction was to insure a low standard of rents, because it was said that the Court would be anxious at the outset to establish a claim to national confidence by lowering the rents in all cases brought before it, and to win the hearts of the tenants from ''the ranks of the Land League and from the paths of agitation." If, on the other hand, the Court did not reduce these fair rents to a very low standard, Mr. Parnell would then be able to point to the uselessness of the Act. Then came Mr. Parnell's triumphal entry into the City of Dublin on a Sunday night, which on the occasion was given up to riot. ["No, no!"] The City was on that occasion given over to riot and to the plunder of property, for which Mr. Chancellor, silversmith, he thought, had to be compensated.
§ MR. SEXTON
That was more than three weeks after Mr. Parnell's entry. It was after we had all been arrested.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
Three weeks after! Well, but it was 805 at the instance of the Land League. [Cries of "No!" and "Shame!"] He maintained that the language used at the great torchlight meeting was treasonable. At that meeting the hon. Member for Sligo used the memorable language, which he had in the House endeavoured to explain away—To-night Ireland has broken loose from the Lion and the Unicorn, and has arrayed herself in all the irresistible majesty of the people, under the Shamrock and the Harp.The hon. Member would have the House believe that he was thinking only of the slavish tradesmen who furnished the Castle, and that he was not thinking of the emblem of the Sovereignty of the Queen as contra-distinguished from the "majesty of the people; "and that he was not, in short, actually inciting an excited mob to believe they had entered on the paths of revolution. To call that a jocular description of a torchlight meeting was uncommonly like what Bottom said—''I will aggravate my voice, so that I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove." That might be in the House of Commons, but it was not exactly the way the Lion roared outside in the City of Dublin. If the explanations that hon. Members had thought fit to offer of the speeches delivered on that occasion were to be accepted, assassination and mutilation would come to be regarded as mere practical jokes—such as had been described the blowing up of the barracks at Salford, or as some seemed to treat the explosive letter sent to the Chief Secretary, which might have blown off the hands or blown out the eyes of the person who opened it. Mr. Parnell was presented on that occasion with an address, which ended—"We ask you to lead us to that glorious consummation, the dream of Tone, Emmett, and Fitzgerald—National Independence;" and Mr. Parnell replied accordingly—A spirit that is shown in every quarter and corner of Ireland. That spirit, fellow-countrymen, will never die till it carries the alien rule which has kept our countrymen impoverished and in chains, and sweeps that detested rule, with its buckshot and bayonets, clean over the Channel, whence it came, never to return.What was that but rank treason? ["Hear, hear!" from the Home Rule Members.] Then hon. Members below the Gangway opposite admitted that such language was rank treason? ["Hear, hear!" from the Home Rule Members.] 806 Then he was not going too far when he put that construction upon it. ["Hear, hear!"] At length the Leaders of this "constitutional agitation" were obliged to throw off the mask and make plain what it really was—a revolutionary and insurrectionary agitation. On 2nd October, Mr. Parnell and Father Sheehy attended a meeting in Cork, and Mr. Parnell remarked that—If they refused to allow the ranks of their organization to be broken, nothing could resist their power.And then, forsooth, added, with his tongue in his cheek and a wink in his eye—You will convince our Rulers that it is an absolute necessity for them, if they wish to maintain the link of the Crown, that the link of the Crown shall be the only link between the two countries.What was the gloss put upon those words by Father Sheehy? He said—A national idea is becoming a prominent one. It is no longer so much' Down with landlordism' as 'Down with the English rule in Ireland.'Father Sheehy went on to say ''Your 100,000 fighting men," when a voice in the crowd, amid cheers, prevented the speaker from concluding the sentence, and shouted out—"Aye, and ready at a moment's warning." What could be meant by that but insurrection? And yet they were told that there was no ground for imputing to Mr. Parnell treasonable practices. Mr. Parnell in his speech proceeded to give his hearers some moral instruction, after having given them the revolutionary instruction which the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) called constitutional agitation and constitutional organization. All this was in the newspapers: it was the pabulum which the people fed upon. Mr. Parnell said—I am bound to warn you that the tenant-farmer who pays a single penny of arrears to any landlord pending the decision of the test cases which we propose to take before the new Land Commission is a fool.What security would there be in Ireland for a man who was thus branded by Mr. Parnell as a fool? It was a repetition of "Don't nail his ear to the pump." Mr. Parnell continued—Nay, more, and I do not wish to give you any advice in a matter which must depend to a great extent on the peculiar circumstances incident to each locality; but if I were a tenant 807 farmer I should be very much indisposed, pending the decision of these test cases, to pay any rent whatever to my landlord, and certainly not any rent the payment of which would prevent me from paying my debts to the shopkeeper, from paying good and just wages to the labourers in my employment, and from fulfilling any obligations as a member of society to those dependent upon me, and also to the institutions generally of the country.The "institution of the country," in Mr. Parnell's vocabulary, was the Land League, and the "obligation" was to subscribe to it and obey it. Then followed the memorable statement of what he considered a fair rent—I would measure the original value of the rental of Ireland before it was improved by the tenant at about £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 sterling, not more.Mark that "not more." The hon. Member for Sligo told them that by that Mr. Parnell did not mean to strike the rent of Ireland down to £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 a-year, but to leave a margin between £17,000,000 a-year and £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 a-year as the basis for arrangement. But what was the meaning of "not more?" For his own part, he believed more in the text of the speech than the gloss which had been put upon it. The "no rent" doctrine had been preached pretty well up to that time, and the insurrectionary doctrine had been kept hand in hand with it; but then it became necessary to go a step further, as the people who paid the piper wanted more music for their money. The statement that the Land League was supreme in Ireland was rapidly passing through the country. In course of time it reached Waterford, and the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) plainly announced what the hon. Member for Sligo had plainly endorsed, that all England was lamenting the fact that there were two Governments in Ireland,—"the Government of Mr. Gladstone," which was an euphemism for the Government of the Queen, "which nobody minds, and the Government of Mr. Parnell and the Land League." During the whole of this time United Ireland was continuing its publication. On the 17th of September, that journal said that—The plan of the campaign was in the hands of the Land League, and that whoever moved without their order was a deserter. Whoever thwarts them by individual action is an enemy.What security was there in Ireland for a 808 tenant who was branded as a deserter and enemy by the Land League? And then it proceeded—Impoverished landlordism; manacle it in the Land Courts if it be possible, or if not, or whether or not, hunt it down steadily, patiently, remorselessly to the death.On the 24th of September that newspaper published a leader which stated that the Act of Parliament had been displaced by the Convention, and that it was clear that the Sovereignty had passed from the Queen and had been assumed by the Land League. We were told that—The Convention has thrust Mr. Gladstone's Act aside, and the cortége moves on. That is the brief summary of the decrees of the Convention. The vital point, as we pointed out last week, was the supremacy of the Land League; that established, the doom of landlordism was sealed," &c.By a clear commission from the nation the Land League resumes its sovereignty and its purpose. If the Land Courts do its bidding, well; if they refuse to do its bidding, better still; if they falter (as is exceeding likely they will), the Land League are armed with the most ample authority to take the work out of their hands and do it by swifter and sharper methods.He would give illustrations of these methods. Mr. Parnell's speech in Cork was on 2nd October. On the 4th October, in Cork County, East Riding, a young man, 22 years of age, was fired at by a party of men, and warned not to pay his rent; he died next evening. On the 7th of October, in Cork County, West Hiding, an incident occurred which showed that this language was not spoken in vain. A party of men, numbering not less than eight, visited the house of a farmer named Gosnell. Being repeatedly refused admission, a shot was fired through the door, the charge passing through in one mass, like a bullet, so close was the muzzle of the weapon to the door. A second shot was fired. What was his offence? Gosnell and one other tenant were the only two tenants on the property who had paid their rent; he had also refused to subscribe to the Land League. Of course it would be said that the Land League had nothing to do with these cases. But who defended the ''Captain Moonlight" cases at Cork Winter Assizes? It was sworn at the trial that the Land League was connected with these outrages. The defence was rumoured, at all events, to have been carried on by the Land League. Where did the 100 809 guineas for counsel come from? Who paid the original retainer and the refreshers from day to day? That question was put several days since in the House, and had never been answered. Those fees were not paid from subscriptions. The question, then, was how far that policy had succeeded. Somebody had been foolish enough to state at the Chicago Convention, as it was called, that Mr. Patrick Egan estimated the rent unpaid pursuant to the "no rent" manifesto as $100,00,000. But that amount seemed paltry to the American supporters of the League, and in The Freeman's Journal of December 7 appeared a statement from Mr. Egan that the correct amount of his estimate was £10,000,000. Mr. Parnell, two days after his speech in Cork, told the tenants at Waterford that if they were dissatisfied with the prospect before them as regarded an application to the Land Court, they ought to stand by the organization and "endeavour to get their rents reduced as they were doing at the present time." Mr. Parnell put the matter quite plainly. The Land League had pointed to swifter and sharper means, and Mr. Parnell said to the tenants—"If you can gain nothing from the Court, get your rents reduced as you are at present." And that he called "a reasonable, right, and just programme." He (the Attorney General for Ireland) had shown how that was to be done on Land League principles. Then, at the meeting in the Rotunda in Dublin on the 12th of October, the day before Mr. Parnell's arrest, one of the speakers ventured to say that the tenant would have a right to go to the Land Court to ascertain whether his rack rent would be reduced. It was bad enough that the Court should be spoken of in that way, as though their decisions, if unwelcome to the tenant, were not to be respected. But what followed was worse, for Mr. Patrick Egan rose to a point of order, and this was it—"They would not be justified in testing the Land Act without the consent of the Land League;" and the chairman, who was none other than Mr. Dillon, at once said—As the point has been raised, I think I should give my ruling upon it at once. In the new rules of the Land League there is a rule directing that the Land Act is not to he tested without the consent of the League.That was to say, a man was not to have 810 liberty even to apply to the Queen's Courts without the permission of this Land League. They need not tell him that all this was not treason. Mr. Parnell himself was at this time steeped in treason to the lips. There was an obvious attempt on the part of Mr. Parnell and the Land League to subvert the supremacy of the Queen, and, using a legal expression, to levy war against her. Mr. Parnell was accordingly arrested. They must not imagine there was any desire on the part of the Law Officers of the Crown in Ireland to shift the responsibility to the great Officers of the State. The Law Officers, when asked for their opinion, had no hesitation in giving it, and there was quite enough to sustain that opinion in point of law. All this time United Ireland was going on. A letter was inserted in it, signed "Gerald Griffin," expressing surprise at finding prayers for the Queen in Catholic prayer-books. It was plain that Mr. Griffin had not been regular in the performance of his duty, for he would have known that the Sovereign was always prayed for as such in Catholic churches. As long as revolutionary projects were not abroad, there seemed to be no objection to praying for the powers that be; but when the traitor was going through the country sowing disorganization, such prayers were looked upon with horrified disgust. A leading article in this newspaper of the 8th of October contained the following in a leading article:—"The English are surprised to find that there is something behind the Land agitation." The hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had confessed that they had ulterior purposes. The article continued thus—They know all about us and how to rule us; but they do not know what any Irish child could teach them. The first lullaby that is sung over an Irish cradle is a 'treason-song,' as the first dream of Irish manhood is to act that 'treason-song' out, should the curtain even fall on a scaffold or on a field of death. This 'treason-song' is treason no longer, unless it is a treasonable doctrine that the people have a sovereign right to be ruled as they like in their own land; but, treason or not, it shall be sung and acted; it shall fire our hearts, and, if need be, it shall command our blood.Was there not sufficient upon which to arrest Mr. Parnell? Notwithstanding all this, they were told by the hon. Member for Sligo that there was no explanation of the cause for assigning 811 treasonable practices for the arrest of Mr. Parnell. He thought the quotations he had read to the House were sufficient to dispose of the excuses of the hon. Members for Sligo and County Carlow (Messrs. Sexton and Gray) as to Mr. Parnell's object in testing the Act. The hon. Member for County Carlow (Mr Gray) had complained that the persons who were detained in prison would not have been liable to as much punishment if they had been convicted of the crimes of which they were suspected. Now, the penalties for the different offences were as follows:—For treason, death; for treason-felony, penal servitude for life; for intimidation, penal servitude for life; inciting to intimidation was a misdemeanour punishable with two years' imprisonment and fine—both or either. What, then, was the meaning of saying that the punishment under the Protection Act was excessive? [Mr. SEXTON: Under the Whiteboy Act.] Great Heavens! was he to be told that the man who shot a farmer by the fireside must not be indicted under the White-boy Act? Criminals like these were not to be handled with kid gloves, but were to be hunted down by every resource of the law; and while he had the honour of being Public Prosecutor in Ireland he would see that no part of the law was abandoned. Law and order were at stake, and the credit of the country was in question, and he appealed to all loyal subjects to aid in the maintenance of order. When that was done they could fight out their Party battles on Party grounds. The hon. Member for Sligo was under a misapprehension, he (the Attorney General for Ireland) thought, as to the treatment to which he had been subjected in Kilmainham. The hon. Member said he was ordered seven days' solitary confinement for signing the "no rent" manifesto, and that when two hon. Members who were confined with him came to see him and one left, the other was ordered to leave also by the warder. Those charges were so grave that his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary considered it right that there should be an explanation. In justice to Captain Barlow, a member of the Prison Board, he would ask leave to read the letter which he had received from him in answer to the inquiries that had been made. The letter was dated the 15th of February, 1882, and ran as follows:— 812As directed, I have the honour to report, with reference to the extract from the speech of Mr. Sexton, M.P., as follows:—Mr. Sexton was not ordered seven days' solitary confinement, or confinement of any kind or any period.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, the letter proceeded thus—I saw Mr. Sexton on the day of his release. He made no complaint to me whatever as to any pain suffered or indignity endured, nor did he make any such complaints at any time to the prison officials. I was almost daily in the prison during his detention, and he never asked to see me, nor made any complaint. The circumstances of Mr. Sexton's case are these:—On the 14th of October, 1881, he was received into Kilmainham; he was, owing to illness, confined to bed, and on the 18th of October a male nurse was provided for him by Dr. Kenny. This nurse remained until his release on the 1st of November; therefore he was never alone, night or day. On the 19th of October I inquired as to the signing of the 'no rent' manifesto. I questioned Messrs. Dillon, Parnell, Kelly, and Brennan, and stopped their visits for some days each. Mr. Sexton being ill, I did not deal with his case directly or indirectly. Having heard that Mr. Sexton was threatened with typhoid fever, I directed that other prisoners should not visit him. This order I after a time rescinded; but it was not given in any sense as a punishment. So far as I can judge, Mr. Sexton was treated with every kindness and consideration, consistent with the rules of the P.P. prisons.The letter was signed by Captain Barlow. He would ask the House to judge between those two statements, and he would leave the issue to them with perfect confidence. Again, on the 17th of October, a great meeting was held at the Rotunda; that was shortly after the arrest of Mr. Parnell. The hon. Member for County Carlow (Mr. Gray) wished to address an excited audience from one of the windows; but he was not allowed to do so. Any peace officer who had allowed such a proceeding under the circumstances would undoubtedly have committed a breach of duty. The hon. Member for the Borough of Carlow (Mr. Dawson), too, had stated that he wished to address his constituents, but that he was told by an insolent sub-inspector that he might do so provided he did not say anything against Mr. Gladstone. On hearing that statement made in the House he had telegraphed to the sub-inspector, and this was his reply—No such conversation as that stated in your telegram occurred between Mr. Dawson and myself.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
The telegram continued—I sent word to him that he would not be permitted to hold a Land League meeting, nor to address the mob on the subject, as I had received information that that was his intention.
§ MR. SPEAKER
If the hon. Member proposes to make an explanation he will have an opportunity of doing so at the end of the present address.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, that on the occasion to which the hon. Member for County Carlow (Mr. Gray) had referred the mob had actually grown to such proportions in the principal streets of Dublin that there was no safe passage for Her Majesty's subjects. He remembered it being stated that the crowd at that time, when the windows of The Evening Mail wore smashed and other damage done, was led by a respectable man who was respectably dressed. Tradesmen and others who ought to have known better than to take part in such riots were convicted before the Dublin magistrates. The state of Dublin was, in fact, such that the police were in actual peril, and had to go about in bodies to secure their personal safety. One mounted policeman, who was ordered to take a message to the Phoenix Park, had to gallop for his life, pursued by a mob who stoned him. Had his horse stumbled his life would certainly have been taken. From these instances the House could judge what sort of an audience it was that the hon. Member for County Carlow (Mr. Gray) was prohibited from addressing. The hon. Member also complained that Crown officials, against whom Coroners' juries had returned verdicts, were not prosecuted, though all other persons against whom such verdicts were returned were prosecuted immediately. Since, however, his accession to the Office which he now held, no one had been prosecuted on the verdict of a Coroner's jury. In the time of his distinguished Predecessor, now Lord Chancellor of Ireland, proceedings were taken against a constable upon the evidence disclosed in the depositions taken before a Coroner; 814 but the Grand Jury threw out the bill. He had himself recently obtained conditional orders to quash an inquisition against a police officer at Ballygarret. Why? Because during the inquest the jury acted as complete partizans, and would not listen to the witnesses for the defence. The jurors had themselves instructed the counsel and solicitor for the next of kin. They left the Court while evidence was being given, and smoked up and down the street, and the Coroner and his son remained with the jury while resolving on their verdict. There was another case in which he had obtained a conditional order to quash a Coroner's inquisition. A police officer in King's County, suffering from a cold, applied to his head constable for a car to go home to be nursed. The head constable said he could not give him a car, and that he must wait till morning. The doctor also told him that if he must go he ought to drive in a covered car. No such car being at hand, the constable got a lift from a friend in an open car. On arriving home he became worse, and died the next night, and the Coroner's jury brought a verdict of wilful murder against the head constable. A third case was at Belmullet, which he should consider very gravely. But whether it was a Crown official who was concerned through over-zeal in the maintenance of order, or whether it was an ordinary subject, he would not shrink from the performance of his duty, when he was satisfied that it was his duty to act. [Laughter.] He would do this, notwithstanding all the jeers that might come from any part of the House of Commons.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether it was at Ballygarret that the witnesses for the prisoners were arrested as "suspects?"
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, he had no information as to that. He confined himself to his own business, and found it quite sufficient. Among those who had been impeached by the hon. Member for the County of Carlow (Mr. Gray) was Mr. Clifford Lloyd. That gentleman, whose acquaintance he had made during the Recess, was by no means open to the attacks to which he had been so repeatedly subjected. Mr. Clif- 815 ford Lloyd had been assailed for his action in the case of Mrs. Moroney. On the 14th January, at the late Winter Assizes in Cork, several persons were indicted for riot and offences connected with inciting Mrs. Moroney's tenants not to pay rent. The defendants pleaded "Guilty," and were leniently dealt with, being only required to come up for judgment should they be called upon to do so. Well, on January 24, only 10 days after this merciful treatment, a poor old man, Mrs. Moroney's servant or herd, John Lennam, 77 years of age, was shot through the body when sitting at his kitchen fire, the bullet having been discharged through the window. The cause assigned for this outrage was that he was faithful to the mistress whom for years he had served, and remained in her employment after having been warned to leave her some months before. Mrs. Moroney had previously met some of her tenants, and offered them a reduction of 25 per cent in their rents, with which, forsooth, they were not satisfied. Well, under such circumstances as these, could it be maintained that Mr. Clifford Lloyd was not justified in asking the shopkeepers who had "Boycotted" Mrs. Moroney whether they intended to intimidate her any further? Mr. Lloyd, he held, would have been false to his obligations as a conservator of the peace if he had refrained from taking the steps which he had taken. What was there in store for the peaceful inhabitants of Ireland in this conspiracy, which was strangling the law and destroying the tranquillity of the country? What was there to be hoped for if the supremacy of the law was not to be established, or the authority of the Queen asserted? The country did exhibit some signs of improvement, "The cloud had turned its silver lining to the night" at last, and he hoped the gloom they had seen so long was beginning to depart. In every part of Ireland obligations were being fulfilled, the tenantry were rising superior to the inducements of cupidity and the terror of intimidation. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) appeared to think that there were only two places in Ireland—namely, Dublin and Cork—where Winter Assizes were held. There were four Winter Assizes in Ireland, and the result of each was satisfactory. His hon. 816 Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Daly) stated that after the names of men were drawn as jurors from the ballot-box they were objected to and thrown aside simply because they were Catholics, or men of national and patriotic sentiments; while the first Protestant who presented himself was told to go into the jury-box. He would show how unfounded such statements were. It was common history, unfortunately, that in 1880 the jury system broke down in Ireland. In cases of agrarian character the juries failed to agree in the plainest possible cases. The Winter Assizes of 1880 also failed alike all through Ireland. Trial by jury was itself on trial, and he (the Attorney General for Ireland) had resolved it should have a fair trial so far as he was concerned. It was the duty of the Crown Solicitors to take care that proper persons were empanelled as jurors. They were bound by their instructions to order every person to stand aside who was a publican, or a person who, by being likely to be influenced by fear, or favour to the accused, or other improper motive, was unable to give an impartial verdict. That rule, he (the Attorney General for Ireland) had required the Crown Solicitors throughout Ireland carefully to observe, and they had done so. He must say those who represented the Crown, Counsel and Solicitors alike, had acquitted themselves as their duty demanded, and as courageous men ought to have done. They exercised the rights and privileges of the Crown, and were bound by their duty to do so fearlessly. The hon. Member for the City of Cork said that Catholics were not permitted to serve upon juries. He (the Attorney General for Ireland) had before him the particulars with reference to the composition of some 40 or 50 juries. In the first case, the jury consisted of four Protestants and eight Catholics. In the next case, there were eight Protestants and four Catholics. In the next case, there were four Protestants and eight Catholics. In the next, four Protestants and eight Catholics. In the next, one Protestant and 11 Catholics. In the next, seven Protestants and five Catholics, and so on. Nearly all the cases at the Winter Assizes were agrarian crimes. What was the complaint of the persons who had not been allowed to serve on juries? Here was the complaint of one of them. 817 But, before he read the statement of that man, he would observe that if he had known that a gentleman with his sentiments was allowed by the Crown official to serve on a jury, he would instantly have brought that official to account—he would have required a complete explanation of his conduct; and if such explanation were not made he would have known what course to take. These were this gentleman's sentiments. A meeting was called of discontented jurors, in Cork, who were not allowed to serve. They were in all, he thought, 16 or 18. They passed a resolution, and intrusted it to his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork to bring before the House—who, he supposed, thought it was better not to have the matter inquired into. This juror said—He was determined that he never would agree with robbery, even if it were legalized robbery, while he was sworn to be true, just, and honest. He was aware it was said that justice was one thing and law another; and he firmly believed that (and the other jurors called out 'hear, hear!'); he knew it was said that 75 per cent of British law in Ireland was unjust ('hear!'); that wherever he felt the law was unjust, while he was sworn to be true and just, he could only conscientiously say what he believed to be true and just."Hear, hear!" exclaimed the rest of these jurors. So a juror was to be a man who should decide against the law because his notion of moral sense satisfied him that he was right and the law was wrong. A Crown official would have betrayed his duty if he had allowed a man with such sentiments to serve on a jury. About the 11 Catholics who, it was said, had been directed to stand by he had asked for particulars; but, he was sorry to say, he was not able to give to the House particular information. The Crown Solicitor was unable to identify any such case. The Crown Solicitor also, in his Report on the subject, said—"No man was set aside on account of his religion or his politics." Now, that was a complete vindication of trial by jury at these Winter Assizes. The Attorney General for Ireland of the late Government had referred to the difficulty of dealing with the Ladies' Land League; and if the right hon. and learned Gentleman's tact and resolution would scarcely enable him to cope with it, it would require a great deal more than he (the Attorney General for Ireland) possessed to deal with it. A 818 complaint had been made that some of the "lady Land Leaguers," as they were called, had been imprisoned. He must admit that he could see no distinction between crime in petticoats and crime in trousers. Crime was crime, wherever and by whomsoever committed. One illustration of the result of their efforts occurred in the South of Ireland, where the tenants were on fair terms with their landlord, but owing to the incitement they received from the Ladies' Land League, their landlord was obliged to obtain judgments and issue writs for possession. The writs had to be executed by the sheriff, and the sheriff required to be protected by a military and civil force. He should have thought that the last persons to aid in the incitement to crime would have been women. He could understand woman's mission to tend the sick and relieve the poor, the wounded, and the suffering; but he could not understand her plunging into political turmoil for the sake of amusement. One Hannah Reynolds, hearing that proceedings were about to be taken against some tenants at Bantry, went down there from Dublin. The sheriff succeeded in reaching the first house where the first writ was to be executed; it was executed; an arrangement was made, and the man was restored to his holding, and there was peace and quietness; but this person, managing to reach the other houses before the sheriff, persuaded the tenants to resist. She called on them—"Pay no rent; we will make you right about the land," a threat the magistrates well understood. She was brought before the magistrate, who required her to find sureties for her good behaviour, or be committed to prison in default. She would not be well-behaved; she would not enter into sureties; she went to prison, and applied to the Court of Queen's Bench, who decided that the magistrate was quite right, and that she was engaged in an illegal course of conduct, and that there was good ground for endeavouring to restrain the continuance of her acts. Could anyone say that she had not gone down to Bantry deliberately to set everyone by the ears? Another of these "angels of mercy," borne on the wings of popular enthusiasm, by name Bridget M'Cormack, arrived in the County Clare. She was charged with being a member of 819 the Ladies' Land League in Dublin, and going about the district in the interests of the League—that was, the ordinary Land League. She was ordered by Mr. Clifford Lloyd to give bail for her good behaviour, or be imprisoned for three months. A clergyman present in Court advised her to say that she came for charitable purposes; but she stood to her guns—a good deal more like trousers than petticoats—and had the courage to avow that she was travelling in the interests of the Land League. She might have obtained bail, but would not do so, and went to gaol. In her case, also, an application to the Court of Queen's Bench was unsuccessful. That Court saw no difference between the "Ladies' Land League," as it was called, and the Men's Land League. These females flew through the country, spreading dissension and plying their unlawful practices. They were, in fact, the Land League. He would read one of the placards which these "angels of mercy" of this Red Cross Society of Trouble distributed throughout Ireland. Wherever they went they smuggled, these placards with them, and secretly spread them everywhere thick as snowflakes. It began—To the people of Ireland. The Government of England has declared war against the Irish people—the organization that protected them against the ravages of landlordism has been declared unlawful and criminal. A reign of terror has commenced. Meet the action of the English Government with a determined passive resistance.For "passive resistance" read between the lines, as the result showed, "some active demonstration;" the "swifter and sharper" meant "powder and ball." The document continued—The 'no rent' banner has been raised, and it remains for the people to prove themselves dastards or men.Then, in large letters, were the words "Pay no rent." It did not say anything about the time being limited. It was plain, short, and simple. Then it continued—Avoid the Land Courts. Such is the programme now before the country—adopt it. It will lead you to a free land and happy homes; reject it, and slavery and degradation will be your portion. Pay no rent; the person who does should be visited with the severest sentence of social ostracism. Avoid the Land Court. Cast out the person who enters it as a rank enemy to his country and to his fellow-men. 'Hold the harvest' is the watchword. To do this effectually, you should, as far as possible, 820 turn it into money. Sell your stock when such a course will not entail loss. Make a friendly arrangement with your creditors about your interest in your farms. A short, sharp struggle now; no rent. Your brethren in America"—Yes; send round the hat. "Your brethren in America have risen to the crisis"—£20,000, the hon. Member for Sligo stated the previous day, was the measure of the amount for the month—and are ready to supply you with unlimited funds provided you maintain your attitude of passive resistance and pay no rent.He would ask the House, or any independent Member, wherever he might sit, whether conduct of the kind he had mentioned, or the distribution of documents such as that, was woman's mission?—for that was what they were engaged upon under the colour of charity. It was enough to freeze the very heart of charity. His belief was that the Land League was now working entirely through this Ladies' Land League. He believed that they were working at the instance of the Land League, and that the men, who were afraid to go in the van, were sheltering under the petticoats. ["No, no!"] Yes; he asserted it was so. [Mr. SEXTON: Not a bit afraid.] Well, all he could say was that if the hon. Member repeated out of the House what he said in it, he should consider it his duty to see whether he could not make him afraid. He believed that the men, who were afraid themselves to do the work, induced these women to do it for them. It was neither manly, nor brave, nor gallant of the men to pursuade women to act in this manner. But it was quite akin to the usual teaching of the Land League. At the Winter Assizes at Cork it was proved that some bailiffs were stripped naked by women and hunted for miles. If there was one thing in Ireland they were proud of it was the virtue and modesty of their women; but, under the teaching of the League, women were put forward by the men to tear from the bailiffs their last rag of clothing. He had lived all his life in Ireland, and he knew her people pretty well, and he had never heard of anything like this before. No man in Ireland who remembered her people in years gone by would any longer recognize them. They had become entirely demoralized. Their virtue had been sapped; the vilest motives had been put before them; the 821 very duties which religion inculcated had been swept away from them; and this had all been carried out by an unlawful and criminal conspiracy, which had ripened into an insurrectionary and revolutionary movement, in which it had become a struggle between the Queen's Government and the irresponsible government of the Land League. The law must be obeyed—let there be no doubt about this—and, as far as he was concerned, it should be; order must be preserved, the Queen's authority must be asserted, the supremacy of the law must be vindicated, and the people in Ireland must understand that, at all hazards, the integrity of Her Majesty's Dominions must and should be maintained.
§ MR. MACFARLANE
remarked, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had misrepresented the hon. Member for the Borough of Carlow with reference to the interview with the police officer.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, he would inquire further into the matter.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, he thought the House was greatly to be sympathized with because of the fact that the debate was not allowed to close after the speech delivered from their Benches on Tuesday evening. So far from throwing any new light on the subject, the speech to which they had just listened merely emphasized the misrepresentations contained in previous speeches and accentuated the unfairness which was their leading feature. All through the right hon. and learned Gentleman proclaimed his lofty scorn for pay. What did the Attorney General for Ireland care for such a thing as money? He could not for a moment be affected by such a paltry consideration. He (Mr. Sullivan) could tell the "bounding brothers" of the Legal Profession, who came into that House for the sole purpose of making it a spring-board from which to jump into pay and power, that they knew how to value the elevated morality which they inculcated in language like that to which they had just listened. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had dwelt in his speech on what he called "reading between the lines," and that accorded very well with what they had already heard—namely, that the language of various members of the Land League was not itself open 822 to censure, and that in order to make out a case against them it had been necessary to put different passages of their speeches together, and then to attach a meaning to them by "reading between the lines." How could any man stand the ordeal of a trial under such circumstances? Could even the Prime Minister himself do so? The debate on Tuesday evening was raised from the wretched condition to which it had been reduced by the two front Benches by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton). The whole contention between those Gentlemen was whether or not Ireland had been sufficiently flogged, and whether the flogging had been begun early enough and continued long enough. Right hon. Gentlemen on the Government side said that they had not punished Ireland earlier, because they had not got the whip in their hands. Then they were told by Members of the Opposition that they could have fashioned a whip in about three weeks. "No," said the Ministers, "the time had gone by when that could have been done;" and so it had. The time had gone for over, and would never return. During that contention the Irish Members on that side of the House were pained to find that one of the most earnest advocates for an early flogging, and a strong flogging, was a Member hailing from their own country. The senior Member for the University of Dublin claimed the character of a patriotic Irishman; but he never missed an opportunity for clamouring for further coercion of the people of Ireland. An ancestor of that right hon. and learned Gentleman opposed the passing of the Act of Union in the Irish Parliament with great ability and vigour; and when he found that the odious measure was likely to be forced through the House, he said if it should be so he would, like another Hannibal, take his children—and there were many of them—to the altar of his country, and make them swear vengeance on the destroyer of the liberties of Ireland. However, he afterwards thought better of it, and instead of bringing up his little Hannibals to the altar he charged them upon the public purse by finding them places in every department of Church and State. Today the descendant of one of these little Hannibals was not ashamed to declare that he objected to the untying of one 823 hand of Ireland because it would be used to untie the other; and he had the hardihood to describe the Irish Representatives in that House as "the common enemy." He did not think he need say any more of the patriotism or the public spirit of the Eight Hon. David Hannibal Plunket. Mr. Parnell had been arrested on three warrants—the first for intimidation, and the other two for treasonable practices. Where had been the justification for these charges? It could be found nowhere. It was clear from the words of the Chief Secretary himself that there was no justification. He had spoken of keeping the farms of evicted tenants empty by threats. Where was the treason in that language? There was none except in the innuendo placed on the words by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman took blame to himself that he had not sooner seen what was the meaning of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, the hon. Member for Sligo, and other Leaders of the Land League, who took, he said, great care in their mode of expression. They were brought within the purview of the Coercion Act, not for what they said, but for their "meaning," as translated by the Chief Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman, because acts of violence and outrage were simultaneously occurring in various parts of Ireland, pretended to trace a connection between the speeches of Mr. Parnell and others and those acts of violence; but the alleged connection between the speeches of the Leaders of the Land League and those outrages, which they much regretted, was a huge fiction evolved from the imagination of Dublin Castle. The history of the agrarian war in Ireland, caused by the conduct of bad landlords, had been long and dreary; it existed long before Mr. Parnell and his Colleagues were born; and, but for the action of the Land League, they contended that the disturbances and the outrages in Ireland would have been infinitely greater. Speaking at a large open-air meeting in Dublin, Mr. Parnell said—"We are warned by the history of the past that we must fight this battle within the limits of the Constitution." The Chief Secretary passed by those words very lightly, as being of no account; but every Irish audience knew very well all that was contained in that important statement, which did not need 824 to be expanded into a lengthy oration. The right hon. Gentleman held that hints and shrugs meant a great deal; and men were to be sent to prison for winks and coughs; while a sneeze, it was to be supposed, would shake the pillars of the Constitution. He called the attention of the House to the interview between Mr. Parnell and a reporter from The Freeman's Journal shortly after his arrest. In the course of that interview the hon. Member for the City of Cork stated that he had always been careful to avoid saying anything which could be construed by his audience into an incitement to violence or intimidation; but that the principle on which the Government was proceeding was that any advice or recommendation given by him or any other leader of the movement to the farmers or the labourers was intimidation. On the same occasion Mr. Parnell said—I had always been one of those who believed that it might be possible to use the Land Act in such a way as to secure substantial benefits for the agricultural classes of Ireland, and I opposed the more extreme Land League Party, who desired to reject it entirely at the recent Convention; but I was firmly convinced that the Act could only safely be used in an organized and systematic fashion, and that if the farmers were left without organization, assistance, and advice, the result would be as with the case of the Act of 1870—disappointment.That was Mr. Parnell's statement of his action in the matter, and he contended that it was more consonant with the whole character of his speeches and conduct than the strained and fantastic interpretation which had been put upon his language and his acts by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. No incitement from the Land League platform was half so eloquent to an Irish audience as the sight of a dismantled and ruined cabin, and an evicted and beggared family. The real inciters to disturbance and to outrage were the rack - renters and evictors. Their deeds, not their words only, were filling the country with confusion, and provoking to crime; but the enemies of the people were allowed to go "scot free" and to work their will, while their friends, who endeavoured to defend and protect them, were cast into prison. If the House had known the extent to which rack-renting existed throughout Ireland, he hoped that it would not have been so ready last Session to place coercive powers in the 825 hands of the Government. With regard to "Boycotting," he happened to be beside the hon. Member for the City of Cork when that hon. Gentleman made his first speech on that subject, when he put "Boycotting" before the people as a substitute for crime and outrage, and as being a comparatively mild and legal way of dealing with the men who made themselves obnoxious to the people. The hon. Member for the City of Cork urged that the system of outrage should be stopped; that such men should not be shot nor have their houses fired into, but that they should be simply left alone and shunned; that no dealings or intercourse should be carried on with them; and that that state of things would become more unbearable to them than any other. Now, the contention on the Treasury Bench was that "Boycotting" meant violence, crime, outrage and murder. So said the Chief Secretary, and he could say what he liked; but they denied it. They said his statements were incorrect. He supposed it would not be fitting to stigmatize them in any harsher terms. The model case of "Boycotting" was that from which the system took its name. In that case there was no murder, no outrage, no mutilation, but no one would work for Captain Boycott, no one would serve him; the people simply severely let him alone. This was the system recommended by the Land League. But it was not confined to the Land League. It had been closely followed by the constabulary. He held a letter in his hand from a highly respectable member of the constituency he represented, narrating how the constabulary had ''Boycotted" a car owner for refusing to supply them with cars to proceed on some mission of eviction. The landlords, too, had adopted the plan, not only in the country, but even in Dublin itself. A lady in County Clare had been "Boycotted;" she was in want of the necessaries of life, and her case had touched the hearts of the Government. Were there not thousands and thousands of tenant farmers in the country, industrious people willing to work, in want of the necessaries of life as urgently as Mrs. Moroney; and was it not because such a condition of things existed, and had existed, that the present agitation had arisen in Ireland? Why did not the tender feelings of the Government over- 826 flow for them? The great crime of which the Land League was accused was the issue of the "no rent" manifesto. The obnoxious passage in that manifesto was very short, and though it had been read before, he might repeat it. It was this—The Executive of the Irish National Land League advises the tenant farmers of Ireland to pay no rent until the Government restores the Constitution of the country.The plain meaning of that passage was this—no Constitution, no rent; and he did not think that advice would be neglected. He had read a list of Coercion Acts to the House the other night. Those were Acts which had been called for by the landlords in order that they might continue their system of robbery upon the people. But if they had known that with a suspension of the Constitution would come a suspension of the payment of their rents, they would not have been in such a hurry to cry out for Coercion. The Prime Minister's great charge against the Land League was that it attempted to strangle the Land Act—the infant Hercules, as he described it—which was to rescue the people from their troubles. But the Premier must remember that his infant had a baby brother—Coercion—and that twin brother was what was strangling it, and not the Land Act. It was a pretty Hercules indeed, with 60,000 soldiers at its back! The condition of Ireland had been described as indeed deplorable, because a tenant farmer could not discharge his just obligations and pay his rent without danger to life or property. But he would relate to the House what a young man had said to him as to the tenant farmer who paid his rent. He said that he did not so much blame the landlords for rack-renting—they had been brought up to believe that such was their right; but nothing could be too bad for the tenant farmer who turned against his own class when he knew how severe a struggle was going on. The Solicitor General for Ireland had denied that the Land League had any idea or project of purchase whatever; but the ''Appeal and Address to the Irish Race" adopted at the meeting held on October 21, 1879, at which the Land League was constituted, plainly showed that the idea of purchase, and not of confiscation and spoliation, was the foundation stone upon which the League was built, and upon which it stood down to 827 the present day. That document, which was the very initial document of the Land League, contained the following passage:—In formulating the demand of ownership of the soil by the occupiers in substitution for that of the landlords, the people of Ireland neither contemplate nor desire the confiscation of those proprietary rights which existing laws must necessarily recognize and protect; hut for the transfer of those rights to an industrial ownership. A fair compensation may be given to those who shall he called up to agree to such transfer for the settlement of the agrarian strife of the country, and for the supreme good of this people.The Solicitor General for Ireland must have had a copy of that document at the Castle, and should have read it before he calumniated those who supported the League in that House, and others who could not speak because they were in gaol. And the document dated November 5 in the same year set forth that the agitation for the reduction of excessive rents must be maintained, in order to bring the land to a fair valuation, and enable the cultivators to become the owners of their own farms on equitable terms. Those terms were set forth in a subsequent document, which provided for powers of ejectment, for the creation of a department of land administration, and the due conveyance of land thus purchased. He maintained that in every paragraph of the documents issued by the League purchase was fully and explicitly set forth. The Solicitor General should have made himself acquainted with these facts before he came to this House and defamed the members of the Land League and misrepresented them before the people of England. There was one class of outrages in Ireland which had not been referred to by the Government, and he doubted very much whether they were to be found in the Government Returns—these were the outrages perpetrated upon the people by the police and the magistrates. It would take a long time to describe the reign of terror, and pourtray the insults and injuries that were being worked out in Ireland by the police and magistrates in that country. In several instances, when nocturnal visits to houses were made by the police, women were obliged to dress themselves in the presence of the constabulary. It was well known that on some occasions the police who had been rioting through the 828 country were not in a condition of sobriety. On many occasions many of them were notoriously drunk, and perpetrated murders when their superiors knew they were drunk. Could the people submit to such conduct as that? If they raised their hands in self-defence they were accused of assault upon the police, and in many cases sentenced to long terms of imprisonment with hard labour; and if a countercharge was made against them, he ventured to say no policeman amongst the lot, no matter what injuries he might have inflicted, even if it was proved to be murder, would have a hair of his head injured by the law. On one occasion, when a policeman struck a young man who had been guilty of no offence whatever, a little boy called out, "The police are drunk;" whereupon the police struck him on the side of the head with a baton, and then they proceeded to break all the windows in the street. A woman who went to her window to see what the matter was, was also struck on the head, and a man was injured who ran to her assistance. It was inoffensive persons of this kind who were taken up by the police and carried before such magistrates as Mr. Clifford Lloyd, and were sentenced by them to three months' imprisonment with hard labour for assaulting the police. On the same occasion a man had his hand split open by a blow given by the police. These were specimens of the outrages which were committed by the police in Ireland. It had been proved that at Belmullet, in the county of Mayo, a poor girl was bayonetted by a drunken policeman while she was lying on the ground, and that her murderer used such force that he was compelled to press his foot on her body in order to withdraw his weapon. With regard to the police riots in Dublin, which had been so nicely and so smoothly referred to by the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland that night, the whole of the Dublin Press had teemed with accounts of the brutalities which had been committed by the police while under the influence of drink which their superiors had given them the opportunity of obtaining. On that occasion respectable men who were taking no part whatever in the affray, but were merely trying to get home, were struck to the ground and kicked by the police. 829 Even little children suffered at the hands of the police, and in one instance a little boy of 12 or 14 years of age, who had been looking on, was deliberately felled to the ground by a blow on the head by a policeman. The injury caused to the boy was so severe that he lost his situation, and he (Mr. T. D. Sullivan) thought it necessary to solicit some subscriptions for his family, of whom he was a material support. These, however, were crimes and outrages of which the Government took no notice. Then, again, the Irish magistrates appeared to be just as insolent, as offensive, and as brutal as the police. In a letter which had appeared in an Irish newspaper, a charge had been brought by a respectable man against Captain Lestrange, a resident magistrate of the county of Westmeath, to the effect that on one occasion he had, while in the public streets, applied the vilest epithets to the ladies of the Land League, and that charge Captain Lestrange had not ventured to contradict. These were the men who had it in their power to send hundreds of inoffensive people to gaol. He thought the great Liberal Government might take a lesson from Russia. The Correspondent of The Standard, writing from St. Petersburg at the close of last year, stated that The St. Petersburg Gazette said—The number of political arrests amounts to 1,500. All these cases have now been revised by the Minister of the Interior, who has found it possible to dispose summarily of one-half the number. It was found that many of the arrests were due to false accusations prompted by hatred, envy, and personal revenge.And so it was, he had not the slightest doubt, in Ireland at the present time. In nearly every case where the Irish landlords were being tried they were convicted of rack-renting their tenants for a long series of years. The system established by the landlords was debasing and demoralizing. The tendency of it was to make the peasants slaves and cowards. It made them afraid of the frown of the humblest under-bailiff or the under-bailiff's spy. Happily, that state of things was passing away. The Land League had brought another feeling into the hearts of the people, and no amount of coercion would drive that feeling out. The Attorney General for Ireland said that the Land League appealed to the basest and lowest passions. 830 Why? Because, apparently, these poor people strove to better their condition, to improve their habitations, which were not fit for pigs; to raise themselves from semi-starvation. Because the Land League told the people to take that view of things, they were told it appealed to the lowest and basest of their feelings. The Rev. Sydney Smith had said long ago that Irishmen, instead of crying "Erin go Bragh!" which meant "Ireland for ever!" should cry "Erin go bread and butter! Erin go pantaloons without holes in them!" But now when Irish Land Leaguers said the same sort of thing, they were accused of pandering to the lowest and basest passions. It was, it appeared, a crime on the part of the Irish peasant to wish to get a dinner. He did not know that this desire was confined to the Irish peasant. Occasionally even the Speaker retired into regions behind the Chair for the purposes of refreshment.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Member that the House is considering the Address to the Crown, and that the observations he is now making are wholly irrelevant to that matter.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, he had never disputed any decision of the Speaker; but he was endeavouring to meet the charges launched against the Land League from the Government Benches. He should only refer, in conclusion, to the subject of the American money. It had been said that the agitation was kept up in order not to interfere with the flow of money from America. No doubt, a large amount of money had come from America. Large amounts of money had come from America before the Land League was thought of. Then there were no compliments too high to pay to the Irish people who sent the money. Why? Because the money went to pay rack rents. But the Irish people in America grew tired of paying exorbitant rents, and they said—"We shall continue to send money to Ireland, but it will be to put an end to landlordism." In a speech in that House the other night, the President of the Board of Trade had said that he was not entitled to stand up and claim that every act of the Government in that time of trial had been wise, just, and right. He (Mr. T. D. Sullivan) said the same for the Irish National Land League. He did not assume, and could not assume, 831 that during that time of persecution and difficulty every act of the Irish National Land League had been wise, just, and right. If so much could not be said for the Government, a highly centralized organization, with all its Members perfectly under control from the highest to the lowest, how could it be expected that anyone would say it of the Land League, which was not so closely knitted together, and consisted of numerous branches throughout Ireland, without any connecting link between them except that of a common principle? He contended, however, taking it all in all, judging it by its proclaimed principles, by its actions—which, he claimed, must be dissociated from crime—the Land League had done a great and noble work for Ireland. It had taken slavery out of the hearts of the people. He honoured it for what it had done. He believed that it was destined to do still further noble work for Ireland, and from the bottom of his heart he wished success and long life to the Irish National Land League.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, the House had heard a good deal to-day upon the subject of Ireland, and he did not intend to trespass upon the time of the House by making any more remarks on that subject beyond this—that for many years Ireland had had but one grievance, and that grievance was that Ireland had never hitherto been really governed. For a long time past Ireland had been the battle-field for the Party controversies of Great Britain, and the result of that course had been that agitation had been encouraged to the utmost possible extent. What that had brought us to was the Land Act, which had been given as the reward of agitation, based even though it was on principles of Communism; and, to his mind, it had so strengthened the forces of agitation that nothing but the proclamation of martial law in the disturbed districts would help to solve the problem of Irish tranquillity. On the present occasion he wished to make one or two remarks on a subject that might be said, pace the Irish Members, to be even more important than that of Ireland, and to call the attention of the House, and, if possible, of the country also, to that portion of the Royal Speech that referred to the Army and Navy Estimates. He asserted that there now existed a strong feeling of anxiety in the country as to the con- 832 dition of our Military and Naval Forces, and that feeling of anxiety had been much increased in the course of the last few months by the present aspect of European affairs. Upon the military part of the subject he had but little to say, and he would leave that topic to more competent critics, merely observing that the "penny wise and pound foolish" policy that had been introduced with the civilian element that was now allowed to interfere with the management of the Army had brought about a condition of things under which the Government were trying to make two boys do the work of three men. The consequence was that, in spite of the skill and courage of their generals and the bravery of their officers and troops, they had met with great disasters where they ought to have achieved success. That was a matter on which the nation felt very strongly. As to the even more important question of the condition of the Navy, there was also a feeling throughout the country that it was not equal to the requirements of the Empire, and that in consequence the honour and interests of the British Empire were gravely imperilled. The present aspect of European affairs was such that no thoughtful and observant man would undertake to say that peace might not soon be disturbed; and he had no hesitation in saying that in the event of a great European struggle the condition of our Navy was not such as to justify the assertion that either the honour of the country could be maintained or that its safety might be relied upon. It might be asked why he adverted to this subject before the Estimates were brought forward; but the modern practice being to postpone the Estimates till August, the House never adequately discussed them. His noble Friend the Member for Chichester (Lord Henry Lennox) had placed on the Paper a Motion on the Navy; but it was to be feared that the custom of the House with regard to the Motions of private Members would result either in a thinly-attended debate or in a "count-out." The whole question was one of paramount importance, and he only wondered that his right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Wigtown Burghs (Sir John Hay), who had more than once placed it very lucidly before the House, should have hitherto spoken 833 in vain. After reading a recent speech by Admiral Sir Thomas Symonds, he felt that they were not as wise as their forefathers. That gallant officer, who was one of the best authorities on the subject, maintained that in time of war our whole iron-clad Fleet would very insufficiently protect our shores and our Colonies. We had now no vessels of great speed, and even our cruisers were deficient in that respect; in short, we had lost the relative superiority which we possessed at the end of the last century. Such a statement as that would have thoroughly alarmed the country two or three years ago; but he thought the existing state of affairs justified even more serious apprehensions. He asked the House to consider what was to become of our Colonial possessions if we were not able to defend them. We ought also to be in a condition to protect our enormous foreign trade, which, was the great source of the wealth of this country. The Government must have great confidence in their powers of assertion if they maintained that our naval strength was sufficient for this purpose. It was our financial policy that had brought us into our present condition. Our home supply of food was yearly diminishing, and we were more and more dependent on foreign countries for the food required by our people. We could only make sure of it by a large fleet of swift cruisers sufficiently armed to maintain our supremacy. At present, a combination of foreign nations against us might cut off our food supply, and we might find ourselves in the position of a starved-out city which had not the means of defending itself against invasion. He made these remarks in no Party spirit, for he blamed the late Government and preceding Governments quite as much as the present. Unfortunately, we had the habit of placing the control of our Military and Naval Forces in the hands of civilians, who, although they tried to perform their duties in a patriotic spirit, and were actuated by good intentions, did not understand the subjects with which they had to deal. There was abundant evidence of the highest authority to show that the strength of our Navy was not what it ought to be, considering the dangers to which we were exposed. Neither our honour nor our safety were properly secured, and the Government 834 were bound to take steps to remove any reasonable apprehensions.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, he rose in response to the appeal made to him by the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck), to confirm what had already fallen from him with regard to the Navy, and to urge that the provision made in the Estimates this year should be sufficient, which it had not been for 10 years. The figures oh which he made this assertion were those given by the Secretary to the Admiralty last year. It was at the present time a matter of general acceptance among the nations of the world that the power of a Navy was indicated by the number of its iron-clads. Now, measuring the Navies of England and France by that standard, what did they find? Of British armourclads there were non-obsolete 27, obsolete 20, colonial 3, and building 10—total 60. The French Navy showed the following:—Iron and steel vessels, 20; wooden, efficient, 20; wooden, obsolete, 11; building (armour-clad), 17—total, 68. These figures were official and authentic; they were admitted by the present Admiralty. Deducting from the French total 11 ships which were said to be "wooden obsolete," there remained 57 armour-clads, built and building, against 60 English. But then, two English ships were permanently stationed at Bombay and one at Melbourne, so that of efficient ships, obsolete and non-obsolete in design, France and England had an equal number—namely, 57. That was a state of things which he feared the country did not sufficiently realize, and which he was sure it would not approve. In the year 1869 the First Lord of the Admiralty stated that the English Navy to be efficient required an annual expenditure upon it of £12,500,000. Our annual expenditure, however, since that time had only been £10,000,000, with the exception of one year, when it was thought expedient to buy iron-clads, and when it rose to £12,500,000; and during that period, therefore, they were something like£25,000,000 behind with their Naval expenditure. He did not urge on the Government to spend the money; but he asked them to increase the building in the Navy, and to augment the Fleet of the country in a degree at least commensurate with its interests and importance. France, he supposed, found 835 it necessary for the sake of her maritime position to build just now 17 iron-clads, whilst we were building 10. The Government of the United States were moving in the matter of an Iron-clad Navy; and he again urged that it was necessary that this country should spend a sufficient sum upon its Navy to maintain our maritime supremacy. He would not further detain the House upon that subject, interesting as it was. Other opportunities would present themselves for discussing it; but he had thought it well to remind the House of a few facts which the Admiralty itself could not gainsay.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he thought it far more important at the present moment to look at the question of Ireland. That question had been treated by many ton. Gentlemen in that House; but the Irish Members were the only ones who had taken a practical view of it. They had proposed an Amendment to the Address. The Conservatives had not proposed an Amendment, and he was surprised that they should not have done so, considering the extraordinary language they held during the Recess, and also the somewhat modified but still strong language they had held in that House with regard to the Land Act. He presumed that they were afraid to challenge the Government openly on that question, and that they preferred to let off their pop-guns behind the Amendment of their Irish Friends. His object in rising was to give the Government a little friendly criticism, of which as yet they had had none. Such a course would not, perhaps, be very popular with his side of the House; but he could assure them there were many persons in England who took the same view as himself of the question of coercion. It was not necessary for him to prove that injustices had been committed, and for this reason, that injustices must always be committed wherever arbitrary power existed. The Prime Minister had spoken of "a private inquiry before God and man." It was absolutely necessary in a free country where justice was to be done between man and man that there should be a private inquiry, not "between God and man," but "between God and mankind." This was as the law existed in England, and he had no desire to change it. At the present time there were in Ireland five satraps who exercised un- 836 controlled power in that country. What manner of men these satraps were might be judged by the last appointment—namely, that of Major Bond, whose main qualification for the important and serious position which he occupied seemed to be that the magistrates of the great town of Birmingham said they had no confidence in him, and that the Watch Committee passed a resolution to dismiss him. He thought the question which the House ought seriously to consider was, Had the assurances given by the Minister who asked for the Coercion Act been kept in the mode in which the Act had been carried out in Ireland? Now, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, when he asked the House to pass the Coercion Bill, distinctly and specifically stated that he was not going to employ it against "Boycotters," or against Land Leaguers as Land Leaguers; and he did, in fact, begin to administer it in that manner. When the right hon. Gentleman went to Ireland he was a strong, stalwart Liberal—a kind man. So far as everything not relating to Ireland was concerned he, no doubt, was so still; but as regarded Ireland, the baleful atmosphere of Dublin Castle and the exercise of arbitrary power—always a demoralizing thing—had had a most terrible influence over the moral fibre of the right hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. Labouchere) was not surprised at it, for the right hon. Gentleman was simply no exception to the rule. The Chief Secretary said he had consulted his own conscience, and his conscience told him he must not arrest "Boycotters," and that he had secured his power by certain assurances to the House. He then consulted a lawyer, and asked the gentleman to appear for him before the tribunal of his own conscience. Then he discovered that the "Boycotting," which he previously thought to be nothing but exclusive trading, meant robbery, arson, murder, and Heaven knew what besides. He would now say a word as to the arrest of Mr. Parnell. That arrest was the most important of all; it was the only one discussed in that House, and the only one for which the right hon. Gentleman had given his reasons. The words quoted from Mr. Parnell's speeches upon which he took action were—"The spirit which has been raised in Ireland will never die." That meant, said the right hon. Gentleman, 837 that Mr. Parnell was stirring up the people into a conflict and a rising, and that they were to be backed up by American gold and arms, which were to be sent across the Atlantic for their use. For his part, he could not see that the words necessarily meant that. They might mean that; but there was not the slightest vestige of proof that they did. Mr. Parnell went on to say—"We are warned by the history of the past; we must fight within the lines of the Constitution." Then, said the right hon. Gentleman, Mr. Parnell did not mean what he said—a proceeding which re-mined one of the letters of Tiberius to the Roman Senate on the law of Majestas. But even that was not enough. Mr. Parnell committed the crime of being silent also. An address was presented to him, and because he did not reply to it, he was held to be responsible for everything in it. Another reason given by the right hon. Gentleman for Mr. Parnell's arrest was that he had demanded a reduction of rent. He had demanded the prairie value of 2s.; but in doing so he was only repeating a phrase which had been used by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Mr. Parnell was only doing what the late Mr. Stuart Mill did with the approbation of a large number of Members of that House. Mr. Stuart Mill founded an Association to take away from the proprietors of land in England the unearned increment of land. If that were done in this country rents would be reduced to about 2s. per acre. Another reason for Mr. Parnell's arrest was that he advised the tenants not to go into the Land Court; but Mr. Parnell had done this in consequence of what fell from the Prime Minister himself, who said that, in his opinion, rents would not be reduced by the operation of the Land Act. Mr. Parnell had certain test cases, with the view of ascertaining whether rents would be reduced or not; and he had a perfect right, after what fell from the lips of the Prime Minister himself that rents would not be reduced, to urge the tenants not to go into the Land Court until these test cases had been decided, in order that they might see whether there would be a reduction of rent or not. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) could not say that he put Mr. Parnell into prison because of the "no rent" manifesto, because 838 that would be too palpably putting the cart before the horse; but he intimated that the issue of the "no rent" manifesto justified the putting of Mr. Parnell in prison, and it was "the tearing down of the veil." If all those who were in prison had been arrested on no better grounds, then he held that they had been most unfairly treated. If the right hon. Gentleman had arrested Mr. Parnell for endeavouring to prevent men going into the Land Court, why had he not arrested the landlords? Mr. George Browne, an Irish landlord and a former Member of that House, had tenants who were in arrear. They served notices to go into the Land Court, and he immediately served notices on them for arrears, and let them know that he would act on them unless they promised not to go into the Land Court. So also Lord Rosse had a tenant whose holding was valued at £27, and his tenant on going into the Land Court was served with a notice demanding an increase of rent from £27 to £40. Mr. Parnell, had, in fact, done nothing more than a great many of the landlord class had also done, and why was he to be punished for that? The fact was, that the Liberals were in an entirely false position in Ireland. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: Hear, hear!] No; not from that point of view. He was glad to find the right hon. Gentleman had found a difficulty in defending his acts, because he believed that in his heart he was as much opposed to those acts as he (Mr. Labouchere) was. The President of the Board of Trade had said that one of the most important duties of government was to maintain law and order. But the Liberal Party had another principle—namely, that the laws were to be made by the people, and the difficulty in Ireland was that a Liberal Minister found himself under the necessity of maintaining laws which were not made by the Irish people. In order, therefore, to maintain laws for the protection of property they had to suspend laws for the protection of liberty. Ireland was represented in that House; but it was England, by a powerful majority, that made her laws. Did anyone suppose that if Irishmen had made their own laws there would have been any need of over 40 Coercion Acts in the last century, or that the Catholic Emancipation would have been delayed for centuries? There 839 could be no doubt that the Irish were not with us in Ireland. Lord Derby had admitted and regretted the fact that the majority of the Irish were opposed to our laws. The condition of Ireland was said to be better than it was a year ago. If so they must remember why that was the case. The Government said that the Land Act was the cause; but besides the Land Act they had had a Coercion Act, and there was at present an army in that country. The policy of coercion could not be discussed without discussing also the alternative—namely, Home Rule. The senior Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) had expressed regret and surprise at what had fallen from the Prime Minister in regard to local government in Ireland. He (Mr. Labouchere) rejoiced to hear those observations; but he felt no surprise. The right hon. Gentleman never made a speech which he (Mr. Labouchere) did not either hear, or, if he had not the pleasure of hearing it, which he did not read at the earliest opportunity. He remembered a speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman at Guildhall on the occasion of receiving a golden vase. In that Conservative institution—if he might so term it—the right hon. Gentleman announced Mr. Parnell's arrest. So much was made of that announcement that sufficient attention had not been given to what fell from the right hon. Gentleman besides. He said—Home Rule may be understood in any one of 100 senses, some of them perfectly acceptable and even desirable, others of them mischievous and revolutionary. With regard to local government in Ireland, after what I have said of local government in general and its immeasurable benefits and of the manner in which Parliament is at present overcharged by too great a centralization of duties, you will not be surprised if I say that I, for one, will hail with satisfaction and delight any measure of local government for Ireland or for any portion of the country, provided only that it conforms to this one condition—that it shall not break down and impair the supremacy of the Imperial Parliament.He might say, without exaggeration he believed, that that statement brought the question of Home Rule within the area of practical politics. He himself was in favour of Home Rule, and he accordingly was sincerely delighted to hear what the Prime Minister said the other day. He should be very glad if the right hon. Gentleman would bring forward some scheme which would unite those two 840 objects to which he had referred in that speech, and thus bring the matter within measurable distance of being law. Hon. Members must recollect that it was exceedingly difficult to reconcile Imperial control and local independence; but he did not think that that would prove an insurmountable obstacle to the right hon. Gentleman. He should be delighted to hear that the right hon. Gentleman had put an end to the terrible difficulties which were always occurring in Ireland by bringing in a measure to give to that country complete local government. It was not necessary to go to Hungary or Finland for illustrations. Let them look to the United States, where the problem of reconciling the central and the federal principles had been satisfactorily solved. If they were to give to Ireland the same rights which were possessed by the several States in America, he believed 999 out of every 1,000 Irishmen would be satisfied. He would only add one word. It had been said that America went with us in the present struggle with Ireland, and that it was only the Irish in America who took an opposite view. He did not believe that was so. He held in his hand a letter from Mr. Wendell Phillips, who was a man honoured in his own country, because he had opposed slavery when slavery was most popular. Mr. Phillips said we could never hope to see Ireland tranquil, and ought not to expect to do so, until we granted her some of the rights which we exercised ourselves. He had voted in favour of the Amendment of the hon. Gentlemen (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) on the ground that he always tried to return good for evil. He represented in that House a constituency whose motto was "Fiat justitia." The Irish Members—and they ought to be ashamed of it—did not help him to obtain the rights of his constituency; but, in return, he assisted them to obtain what he thought were their rights.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, the debate, or rather the debates, that had taken place in connection with the Address in reply to the Speech of Her Gracious Majesty had been of a prolonged and somewhat discursive character, and he could not say that Her Majesty's Government had contributed very much towards their curtailment. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, in the first of the speeches which he had de- 841 livered during these proceedings, had made a personal reference to himself, in connection with, a subject, however, to which he did not think he should be justified in referring in detail at the present time. The right hon. Gentleman had made him a personal challenge in connection with that important question, the protection of native industries. That was a subject that he should not be remiss in bringing under the notice of the House; and although he did not think that the present would be a proper occasion, he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman, after the distinct reference he had made, would, in connection with the re-arrangement of Public Business, consider the propriety of placing a day at his service. He would not anticipate the opportunity which he had no doubt the Prime Minister would readily place at his disposal; but he would rather propose to address one or two observations to the House upon that subject to which he had also referred, and which had just now been touched upon by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere)—he referred to the utterances of the right hon. Gentleman in connection with the subject of local government in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman, upon that subject, had spoken in terms which had given rise to some misapprehension, or, at any rate, to some differences of opinion. The hon. Member for Northampton had placed upon those words the construction that the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to advocate local independence in Ireland. [Mr. LABOUCHER: I expressed a hope to that effect.] The hon. Member says he only expressed a hope; but that hope was founded upon the words of the Prime Minister. He had no doubt that before the termination of the discussion the right hon. Gentleman would have succeeded in either satisfying that hope, or, on the other hand, in allaying those fears which had been raised in other quarters. The right hon. Gentleman, in a speech made some few months ago, had referred to him personally in connection with what he might consider a kindred branch of this subject. He (Mr. Lowther) had taken the opportunity of saying that, in his opinion, we must face the fact that a numerical majority of the people of Ireland were opposed to the connection with Great Britain. The right hon. Gentleman had taken excep- 842 tion to that statement; he was now quoting from the report of the speech delivered by the Prime Minister on the 27th of October. In that speech the right hon. Gentleman had not given an accurate account of what he had said; and he would, therefore, read what he did say. He said—It was naturally the object of those who were conducting the unlawful agitation in Ireland to make out that they were genuine legitimate Representatives of the Irish people;and then the right hon. Gentleman had gone on to quote some observations made by him (Mr. Lowther), in which he had said—I have never concealed ray opinion that the Land Act of 1870 demoralized the Irish people. The measure passed last year, with the merits or demerits of which I dc not now want to deal, had tended materially to aggravate the demoralization. Even if those Acts have been successful in temporarily allaying the agitation, my opinion will remain unchanged. As, however, their signal failure seemed now patent to the world, it is unnecessary for me to point to that. It cannot he too widely known that the Party led by Mr. Parnell commands the respect of the people of Ireland. Whigism outside Ulster is dead as Julius Cæsar. However disagreeable it may be to interested people in this country, we must realize that the measure now called law will have to be applied against the chosen Representatives of the great bulk of the Irish nation. That is one of my reasons for having always deprecated that short-sighted policy of handing the soil of Ireland over to the enemies of British rule. To send an army to support loyal subjects in the enjoyment of their vested rights is one thing, to maintain that army for the purpose of arresting the attempts of the virtual proprietors of the soil, who are at the same time the bulk of the population, is a different matter.He did not think his observations laid him open to the criticisms of a Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman said—I appeal for support and backing in our arduous undertaking. This is the answer we have to Mr. Lowther. The proposition which is here made is one with which we are entirely at issue. I absolutely protest against it.[Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!]I believe a greater calumny on the Irish nation—I do not say it was a wilful calumny—I believe a more gross or unjust statement could not possibly be made against the Irish nation.[Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] He (Mr. Lowther) was rather surprised at the particular spot which the right hon. Gentleman selected for making use of these expressions. The speech was al- 843 leged to have been made at Knowsley, and the right hon. Gentleman, who acquitted him of having made any intentional misrepresentation of the Irish nation, must have been making a sly hit at his host. The Prime Minister went on to say that in various counties the leading persons had called together well-affected men, and had rallied for the very purpose of arresting the Government in its work; and he added—I do not think any more remarkable manifestation has taken place than the discussions which took place in the Corporation of Dublin on the proposal to give the freedom of the city to Mr. Parnell. That was a subject of some personal interest to me, because I visited Ireland three years ago, and I had the honour of receiving by an unanimous vote the freedom of the city. When the Corporation declined to present the freedom of the city to Mr. Parnell, I looked upon that fact as of very great importance for two reasons. In the first place, the municipality of Dublin has always been a focus of national feeling. In the second place, the motion was made expressly on grounds which were intended to give the go-by to the position of one who was there to support law and order. I look upon it as a most significant and important fact that the motion was rejected.That was the evidence the right hon. Gentleman had brought forward in refutation of his statement. Of course, he (Mr. Lowther) was merely expressing his opinion founded on careful observation, and after consulting many who were in a position to form an opinion also; but the right hon. Gentleman appeared to have forgotten a very old adage, that it was not advisable to "halloa before you got out of the wood." What took place? The Corporation of Dublin, which had been described by the right hon. Gentleman as a focus of national feeling, had an opportunity to a slight extent of refreshing itself by contact with its constituency; and it also had the further advantage, during the interval that passed between the rejection of the motion referred to by the right hon. Gentleman and the time when the Corporation was again called upon to consider the question, of an experience of several months of the great remedial measures of the Government. What was the result of these advantages enjoyed by the Corporation? Why, this great focus of national feeling, whose expression of opinion had been quoted as distinct evidence that he (Mr. Lowther) had been guilty of gross calumny, by a majority far exceeding the slender 844 one on the strength of which the right hon. Gentleman had congratulated himself, inflicted what the right hon. Gentleman justly described as a blow aimed personally at himself and the cause of law and order. [Mr. GLADSTONE was understood to contradict this statement.] The right hon. Gentleman now said he did not describe the occurrence as a blow aimed at himself personally. But the right hon. Gentleman had certainly said that the subject was of some personal interest to him, and that the decision of the Corporation was of great importance, because it was intended to give the goby to the position of one who was there to uphold law and order. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Who?] He did not know to whom the right hon. Gentleman referred. He did not know who else but himself that the right hon. Gentleman could have meant. The right hon. Gentleman, who had alluded to the Corporation of Dublin as embodying national aspirations, must have been considerably perturbed when he found that the example of the Corporation of Dublin, instead of being repudiated with energy by other civic Corporations, was followed with alacrity. It was followed, for example, by the Corporations of Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Wexford, and other towns, who hurried to give the go-by to the position of one who was there to maintain law and order. He had dwelt upon this portion of his subject at some length in order to justify his assertion that, regret it as they might, they must recognize the solemn fact that the majority of the people of Ireland were opposed to the British connection. Why did he draw special attention to this matter? Because it was right that the House and the country should recognize facts as they were, and that no ideas should be allowed to go forth that the question of the integrity of the British Empire was to be dependent on local opinion in any one portion of that Empire. If the people of Kent or Cornwall objected to connection with the rest of the Empire, while he would respect their opinions they would have no influence on him; and he said exactly the same with respect to Ireland. ["Oh, oh!"] He did not expect that that would find unanimous approval below the Gangway. If it were proved that 90 per cent of the Irish people disapproved of British con- 845 nection, it would not have the slightest effect on himself or on any loyal subject of the Queen. The Attorney General for Ireland had with great force laid down the grounds on which the Government had based their opposition to the Land League; but, in his opinion, the right hon. and learned Gentleman had adduced some very cogent reasons showing that the salutary course of putting the League down should have been followed at a far earlier date. Among other quotations referred to by the right hon. and learned Gentleman there was one from a speech made by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), who had said—If the Land League is put down the people will be face to face with the forces of the Government.The right hon. and learned Gentleman appeared to consider those words most objectionable—
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
"Treasonable" was the word.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
Those words, which the right hon. and learned Gentleman considered treasonable, struck him as bearing a very strong resemblance to some other observations to which his attention had been called last autumn in the speech delivered on October 25 at Liverpool by the President of the Board of Trade. In that speech the right hon. Gentleman said—If the agitation of the Land League had been then suppressed the tenants of Ireland would have had no organization to fall Lack upon.It appeared to him that there was a striking family likeness to the words of the hon. Member for Sligo. In the course of the same speech the right hon. Gentleman said—"To stifle agitation at such a time would have been to have prevented reform." The right hon. Gentleman who had used those words, and who had the courage of his convictions, had not attempted any explanation which had removed the natural meaning and construction attached to them by ordinary mortals. What did the right hon. Gentleman mean by saying that the suppression of the Land League would have prevented reform? Did he mean to say that reform—by which it was to be presumed he meant the Land Act—would have been stopped if the 846 Land League had been suppressed? If the right hon. Gentleman did mean that—and he presumed that he did—he was justified in saying that the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues, although, doubtless, thoroughly detesting the action of the Land League, still utilized its outrages for the purpose of coercing Parliament into passing this revolutionary measure which otherwise Parliament would not have entertained. The First Lord of the Treasury on one occasion went out of his way to eulogize the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon), a Gentleman who had made himself rather celebrated by publicly endorsing the practice of mutilating cattle. [Cries of "No, no!" "Never!" "Quote!" and "Withdraw!" from the Irish Members.] As the accuracy of his statement was challenged, he must refer to its authority—namely, the report of a speech delivered by the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. The right hon. Gentleman was certainly reported as having made such a charge against the hon. Member for Tipperary.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
expressed dissent, and asked the right hon. Member to quote the words to which he referred.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
If the hon. Member for Cavan wished it, he would assume that those many paragraphs in the public prints which he saw containing accounts of the debate on this subject must have been inaccurate; but he certainly did see the statement that such a charge had been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary as regarded the hon. Member for Tipperary, and he believed it was a fact.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, that, as the right hon. Gentleman said he did not make that statement, he must have been misinformed; but he believed he had been misinformed together with almost every Member of the House. He believed he should be able before the debate concluded to quote the official records of the House. At present he would not say more than this—that the hon. Member for Tipperary, the hon. Member for Cork, and other Members of the House, were allowed to carry on the organization with which they wore connected without any interference with their personal liberty as long as they did not interfere with the working of 847 the Land Act. Now, that was an Act of which he thought there could not be two opinions. They had heard from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland that night an observation which confirmed a statement made by the President of the Board of Trade. He said it would have been impossible to have passed the Land Act if the Representatives of a great portion of the Irish people had not been in their places in Parliament.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
I beg pardon. I said it would have been impossible to have discussed the Land Act.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, the right hon. and learned Gentleman by that observation very much strengthened the case he was putting. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said it would have been impossible even to have discussed the Land Act in the absence of the Representatives of a certain section of opinion in Ireland, That being so, it was said that the reason that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary thought it necessary to take action in connection with the arrests of Members of the House was the knowledge that subsequently to their arrest there was going to appear a document like the "no rent" manifesto. [The ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND dissented.] Well, that had been said, and he was glad to hear the right hon. and learned Gentleman deny that it was the case. Well, the Government thought it necessary to interfere with the freedom of those Gentlemen. He was not going to raise that question then. They, no doubt, had good reasons for doing it then; but he thought they would have had far stronger reasons if they had done it many months before. But the "no rent" manifesto had been referred to on many occasions as being the worst act of the Land League. He must say, from his recollection of previous debates in the House, that, compared with the policy of Mr. Parnell in the previous Parliament, the "no rent" manifesto was a moderate programme. Until Her Majesty's Government entered into competition with Mr. Parnell in bidding for the support of a certain section of the Irish people the opinions of Mr. Parnell were comparatively moderate. In the last Parliament, at any rate, Mr. Parnell used 848 to advocate the reduction of rents to the level that was known as "Griffith's valuation." Of course, when the Government entered into competition with him he was bound to trump every card they played. It stood to reason that, if the land of Ireland was to be put up to Dutch auction and knocked down to the lowest bidder, it was a very rapid descent from fair rent to Griffith's valuation, from Griffith's valuation to prairie value, and from prairie value to no rent at all. He was bound to say the Land League could not claim the authorship of the policy of no rent. The Land League were guilty of piracy in appropriating as their own the doctrine of no rent. The first information Parliament had as to the propriety of the no rent theory was that which was contained in the Compensation for Disturbance Bill. That Bill established the principle that rent might be legally withheld for a period named in the Bill over a great portion of Ireland. It fell to his lot for a very different purpose to define the limits of what were called distress areas. Those distress areas to the best of his recollection included, speaking roughly, half of Ireland. Well, Her Majesty's Government proclaimed the doctrine for a limited period of no-rent over half of Ireland. The natural reply to that was the affirmance of that doctrine over the whole of Ireland. During the course of this debate it had been intimated that Her Majesty's Opposition had no policy with regard to Ireland, except that of coercion. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had frequently said "These Tories have no policy, but coercion." He was not himself ashamed of being called a Tory; but he could not accept the definition of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the policy of the Conservative Party. To hear the right hon. Gentleman and others who followed him one might imagine that throughout the whole course of the late Administration nothing was proposed with regard to the government of Ireland except measures of repression. What were the facts? The House, he thought, had heard almost ad nauseam that such was not the case; but, as subsequent to the repudiation of that charge he had heard it repeated over and over again, he thought it necessary to remind the House that during the course of the 849 last Government the only measure they introduced with regard to the repression of disorder in Ireland was a moderate addition to an enactment then on the Statute Book, which owned its existence to a Liberal Administration. During the time that his right hon. Friend the late Secretary of State for the Colonies (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) administered the affairs of the Irish Office many Acts were passed which conferred great advantages upon the people of Ireland. During the short time that he (Mr. Lowther) was collected with Irish affairs, the subjects which engaged the attention of Parliament, and in which the initiative was taken by the Irish Office, included coercion in no shape or form. The "upas tree" of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister was dealt with at the hands of the late Government, as were the questions of intermediate education, University education, and the pensions of those engaged in elementary education. All those were dealt with by the late Government. It fell to his lot, also, to introduce to the House of Commons a comprehensive measure in regard to the system of county government in Ireland. Owing to the pressure of other matters, it was true that that measure did not proceed to any great extent, although he must say that it proceeded to a far greater extent than any measure on that subject seemed likely to do in the present Session of Parliament. He had been twitted with the fact that the measure for the renewal of the Peace Preservation Act had been placed by him in a position of safety, and was not laid upon the Table of the House. What was the reason that that Peace Preservation Bill was not introduced into the House of Commons? Parliament was engaged at that time with the consideration of a measure with regard to the relief of distress in Ireland. Her Majesty's then Government had assumed a responsibility during the Recess as to which they were constitutionally bound to avail themselves of the earliest opportunity of asking the sanction of Parliament, and until that measure had received the Royal Assent no Ministers would have been justified in interpolating to the attention of Parliament any other legislation. He did not think the Prime Minister would for one moment contend that, with the assumption by 850 Her Majesty's Government of powers outside the Constitution, they would have been justified in asking Parliament to consider any measures which would have delayed the progress of the Act sanctioning what they had done. Then it might be said—why did they not bring it in before the dissolution of Parliament? When the Cabinet decided that an appeal should be made to the constituencies, they were bound to lose no time. If he were to accept the right hon. Gentleman's estimate of the time which would have been required to pass this Act—which he was far from doing—it would more than justify the conclusion at which the late Government had arrived. The Prime Minister had said that there was not sufficient time when he came into Office to renew the Peace Preservation Act before it expired. In that remark the right hon. Gentleman had misled himself and misled the House. He had forgotten that he had 10 days, according to his own calculation, to do it in. He would not analyze the number of days at the disposal of the Government within that time; he would merely remind the right hon. Gentleman of another statute. The first vote that he (Mr. Lowther) ever gave in that House was in support of a statute of a kindred character, but a far more stringent measure, which passed through that House on Saturday, then through "another place," and received the Royal Assent on the same day. No doubt, a great deal had happened since then. That, he need scarcely say, was a measure introduced by a Liberal Government, the right hon. Gentleman the present Prime Minister being then Leader of the House. Of course, he did not assume that any measure could be passed with equal facility at the present time; but this essential fact should be remembered. If the clock had struck 12 on the 31st of May, and the Act had then expired, its renewal could have been brought about without detriment to the Public Service. This was altogether unlike an ordinary renewal Bill, such as frequently passed as a matter of course at the end of a Session. Even if the Act had actually expired, no harm would have been done; it would have been well known throughout the length and breadth of Ireland that it was only a question of time. The moral effect of the Act would have remained; and, even 851 if it had taken the Government a month beyond the 31st of May to pass it into law, no serious injury would have occurred to the peace of Ireland. It was the very want of the moral effect of legislation of this kind which caused such a serious responsibility to rest on Her Majesty's Government. It was known throughout Ireland that the Act was not going to be renewed, and that the ground for its non-renewal was that Her Majesty's Government did not believe in the efficacy of measures of the kind. That was at once accepted as an invitation to disorder; and, if he were not mistaken, there was no Member of the Treasury Bench, except one or two, who did not amply regret the step taken by the Government at that time. What did the Government do with regard to Ireland? The late Government had in every way in their power dealt with what they considered the real wants of the country. He mentioned just now the education question, the relief of distress, county government, and other matters; but he was told they did nothing towards the settlement of the Land Question. But the present Government had not settled that question. The right hon. Gentleman talked of a final measure; but on the subject of land the late Government could not proceed far in. the face of the inquiry into the flagrant and manifest defects of the Land Act. A Royal Commission was appointed, and was sitting at the moment when the late Government left Office. It was conducting special inquiries into the state of agriculture in Ireland; and the Duke of Richmond's Commission was holding sittings in Dublin for the consideration of the question. The First Commissioner of Works, moreover, presided over a Committee appointed by that House to inquire into the failure of a very much vaunted clause in the Land Act of 1870. He thought that he had shown that the late Government had in no shape laid itself open to the charge, which had been very lightly and inconsiderately made, that they had neglected in any way the requirements of the people of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister said the other night he doubted if the Opposition would have supported a proposal for the renewal of the Peace Preservation Bill. [Mr. GLADSTONE: No.] The right hon. Gentleman was so re- 852 ported in The Times; but he was very glad to get the right hon. Gentleman's emphatic disclaimer. The right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his speech, proceeded to pass a most warm panegyric on the Chief Secretary. He (Mr. Lowther) was too familiar with the difficulties with which the Chief Secretary had to contend to grudge him one syllable of that panegyric, and he thought that anyone occupying that position required the cordial support of every Member on both sides of the House. But he thought the passing of a panegyric on a Colleague would be more appropriate if it were not accompanied by observations of a not altogether analogous character with regard to others who had held positions in official life. But the right hon. Gentleman said, or the Chief Secretary said, that the Government were entitled to be congratulated on having preserved the peace of Ireland without having shed one drop of blood. He could not lay his hand on the exact speech; but the words were in the recollection of the House. The words were "a drop of blood." Whose blood? Had the right hon. Gentleman entirely forgotten the blood of those of Her Majesty's loyal subjects who had lost their lives and suffered mutilation during the course of the last few months? The right hon. Gentleman was only thinking, he feared, of what he must call the disloyal element; and as to that element, he would ask whether it had any reason to congratulate itself upon what he could not help characterizing as the unfortunate vacillation of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the people of Ireland? What did the 400 or 500 persons who were now in gaol without trial think of the policy which had landed them in that position? He ventured to think that timely advice by the Government and prompt action on its part would have probably averted the fate that had now overtaken them. Then the Government congratulated themselves on the condition of Ireland, asserting that there had already been a change for the better. He could not find anything to confirm those optimist sentiments. A great deal had been said about the juries having returned to the discharge of their duties in Ireland. [Mr. BIGGAR: Packed juries.] He did not know anything about that, and he did not undertake the responsi- 853 bility of saying anything of the kind. They had been told that a great number of favourable verdicts had been arrived at, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland had described the manner in which the jury panels were dealt with. He (Mr. Lowther) did not think it was generally realized by the House that of all the measures passed by the Government there was scarcely one that had worked such unmitigated mischief as the alteration in the Jury Laws which was associated with the name of Lord O'Hagan. ["No!"] He repeated that the degradation of the jury panel had brought about unmitigated mischief. ["No, no!"] The right hon. and learned Gentleman's ideas of mischief and his might not coincide. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had congratulated the House upon the fact that after a vigorous exercise of the right of challenge verdicts were secured in a number of cases, which, in his opinion, showed a very decided improvement with regard to the spirit of juries in Ireland. He could not claim to be versed in all the technicalities of the Four Courts; but he did not think it likely that the country at large would draw any very great distinction between standing down and standing by. But, at any rate, after considerable efforts, juries, they were told, had been induced to give honest verdicts in certain cases. Special reference had been made to juries in the City of Cork, and the Attorney General for Ireland had repudiated the allegation that those jurors had been selected and ordered to stand by or stand down, he cared not which, on the ground of their religion. But he asked the right hon. and learned Gentleman a question, which had, to his mind, a far more important bearing on the administration of justice in Ireland—namely, whether those juries included any appreciable agricultural element? He asked whether the improvement which they were told had taken place in the spirit of the agricultural classes was proved by the agricultural element in the juries? But the Attorney General could afford him no information on this subject. Could it be denied that those juries in Cork were almost entirely composed of the urban element? It would be at least premature for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to speak confidently of the resto- 854 ration of public spirit on the part of juries in Ireland; and he confessed he should wait with much anxiety to see what action the rural juries took before he brought himself to believe that what had proved a monstrous farce, trial by jury, could be long maintained under present circumstances in Ireland. If, then, it was only after a vigorous exercise of the right of challenge in a purely urban element that convictions could be obtained, they were justified in asking whether the recommendations made by an influential Committee in the House of Lords could safely be disregarded by the Government? He might be told that he had criticized the acts of the present Government, but had not said what he thought should be done in view of the policy that had been adopted by the Government. No doubt, he might be travelling out of his proper path by entering into that question at all; but he should not be deterred from saying now what he had said 12 years ago in that House—namely, that all the plans that had been tried in Ireland had failed with the exception of one, but that one was a word which he did not like to mention in its integrity, because in its integrity it was misleading—he meant emigration. He objected to the first letter of that word. What he had always advocated as the only remedy for the state of affairs in Ireland was migration to other portions of Her Majesty's Dominions. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister would not take exception to that, because in the measure of last year he recognized the importance of that subject, but he thought in a very disproportionate manner. There were some who were so sceptical as to doubt whether it was ever seriously intended by the Government to give effect to that proposal; and he believed that the amount of money placed at the disposal of the Government by Parliament was so small that it might as well for all practical purposes have been omitted from the Act. What was the main course of the agrarian difficulty in Ireland? It was "land hunger." "Land hunger" was caused by the excess of the demand over the supply of land. They could not materially add to the supply of land in Ireland. Some persons had extravagant notions respecting the reclamation of waste lands. He thought, on the other hand, that it would 855 be idle to expect any great practical results from a scheme of reclamation. It might be done to a slight, but not to any great extent. If they wished to reduce the "land hunger" they must open up fresh tracts of territory. A very great prejudice existed in Ireland on that subject. In former days the letter "e" in emigration was properly used. The transportation, as it was called, of large masses of the population, without proper arrangements being made either for their transport or their reception on their arrival, did much to discourage a healthy movement of emigration in Ireland. He might, however, be accused of taking no steps to carry out this view when in Office; but he might tell the House that when in Office he was engaged in communication with most of the Colonies, and with Her Majesty's Agents, with a view to the development of a plan of that kind. The House was aware that the Government, from whichever side it was recruited, could not by themselves take up that question. The invitation must come from the Colonial Governments. It was a matter requiring very careful consideration and anxious negotiation before a proper plan could be submitted to Parliament. And the right hon. Gentleman who succeeded him in Office knew that those negotiations were not sufficiently matured to be brought before his Colleagues. They were bearing fruit in that able despatch of the present Governor General of Canada, which so clearly set forth the views of the Dominion Government on the subject. In conclusion, he would no longer stand in the way of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government. He was glad to think that they would have an opportunity of clearly and explicitly hearing the right hon. Gentleman's views on the important subject which he touched the other night. He trusted that, recognizing the extreme importance of all doubts being removed on so fundamental a matter, the Minister at the head of affairs would inform Parliament and the country whether or not he was prepared even to consider as a possibility any scheme for the disintegration of the Empire.
§ MR. O'CONNOR POWER
said, he should be under a very great obligation to the House if they extended to him its indulgence for a very few moments before the right hon. Gentleman at the 856 head of the Government rose to reply to the speech which had just been delivered. He did not rise with any Party feeling, or to achieve any Party object; but so much attention had been directed that evening to the question of the self-government of Ireland that he desired, in the first place, to address a few brief observations to the Prime Minister on that subject; and, in the second place, he believed he was bound, as a matter of courtesy, at all events, to offer a few observations upon the speech to which they had just listened. He agreed with the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) in thinking that the Prime Minister's declaration on the subject of Irish self-government was one of the most statesmanlike utterances in reference to the condition of Ireland which had been heard in the House, perhaps, for the last three quarters of a century. He merely wished to say, in reply to the challenge of the Prime Minister, that when he called upon the Representatives from Ireland to produce some plan of self-government which should be consistent in all its details with the maintenance of Imperial unity, he called upon them to act in the present stage of the controversy in a manner that, so far as he was acquainted with Parliamentary history, was without precedent. He was not aware that when the Prime Minister designed the establishment of religious equality in Ireland by the overthrow of the Established Church, he proceeded in the first instance by means of a detailed plan. He proceeded by means of abstract Resolutions, and when he got the assent of the House to the principle involved in these Resolutions, and when he knew that the House was prepared to discuss the question in detail, he then brought forward the measure which certainly had almost entirely established religious equality in their country. He might ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright), who took such a distinguished and honourable part in the Free Trade movement, whether before Free Trade was established in this country the advantages of that reform were not presented by means of abstract Resolutions? He might ask—How did Sir Robert Peel proceed in preparing the country for the acceptance of that reform? He might go back to the time of Catholic 857 Emancipation in support of his statement that the House should not be called upon to consider the question of self-government for Ireland until the English people had declared that the Irish people ought to have the management of their own affairs. While he said that, he would not hesitate for a moment in seconding the suggestion of the hon. Member for Northampton in reference to the self-government that prevailed in the different States of the American Union. Notwithstanding the declarations that had proceeded from the Irish Benches denying that it was any part of the Irish national policy to disentegrate the Empire, they had been accused by the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, that they entertained the fell purpose of breaking up the unity of the United Kingdom and the Empire at large. Now, there happened to be at the present moment no less than 40 Home Rule Parliaments in the United States, and the recent Diplomatic Correspondence between this country and the United States would support him when he said that whenever they touched America upon any question of international importance, and when the United States was brought into conflict in its international relations with any other Power, they touched a chord of patriotism which vibrated from New York to San Francisco. Would any man tell him that the United States would be enfeebled and less strong in case of war because the Central Government had sense enough to disembarrass itself from the management of local affairs? The Prime Minister was the first modern statesman who had used language on this subject upon which he (Mr. O'Connor Power) did not set, perhaps, as high a value from an Irish Nationalist's point of view as others did. He did not wish to commit the Prime Minister to anything one inch beyond what he chose to go; but he said that, taking his statement as a whole, and considering the present state of the country, it was one very valuable and one worthy of the serious attention of the Irish Representatives. But, at all events, in former times, when this question of the integrity of the Empire was under discussion, they had a declaration from a statesman whose name would never die. They had the testimony of Edmund Burke, who told them that a 858 cheerful alliance was a more secure link of connection than subordination borne with grudging discontent. Fox, in 1800, said—We ought not to proceed upon the abominable presumption of thinking that we can legislate for the Irish people better than the Irish people themselves.If the Prime Minister was ashamed of the language of Burke and the testimony of Fox, and if he could be frightened out of his manly and straightforward attitude with regard to this question by the threats of the ex-Chief Secretary for Ireland, then he would be a very different man from what he was taken to be by the people of Ireland and Great Britain. He thought the speech of the late Chief Secretary for Ireland might be summed up in one or two sentences. He objected to the policy which Her Majesty's Government had pursued in reference to the condition of Ireland, and about nine-tenths of his speech was devoted to denouncing his political opponents. While he was engaged in that terrible operation he received the hearty cheers of the Irish Members; but when he commenced to explain the Conservative policy which he would have substituted for the policy of Her Majesty's Government he received not one solitary cheer from the Irish Benches; and he (Mr. O'Connor Power) said, therefore, that if the ex-Chief Secretary was still intrusted with the conduct of affairs in Ireland he would have to encounter the great initial difficulty of having to carry on the government of that country without any moral or practical support from the great body of the Representatives of the people. One-tenth alone of the speech of the late Chief Secretary was devoted to a constructive policy, and what was that? He told them that he found fault with the Act of Lord O' Hagan, which put trial by jury on a constitutional basis, which relieved trial by jury from the stigma which at the memorable trial of Daniel O'Connell one of the most eminent lawyers in the Upper House cast upon it when he denounced trial by jury in Ireland as a mockery, a delusion, and a snare. That was the right hon. Gentleman's remedy, and he had yet another remedy—perpetual coercion. He objected to the Government because three weeks after they came into power they did not immediately perpetuate a policy of coercion. Failing 859 these, there remained the expatriation of the Irish people—emigration, as he termed it. In the time of the Famine years it might have well happened that emigrants left the shores of Ireland in numbers. Those emigrants were flung upon the shores of the United States like the wreck of some noble vessel that had broken down in a fierce storm. But the elements of that wreck had been brought together; they had been consolidated into a power which was now holding terms across the Atlantic by its support of the Land League, and that was what had come of the forcible expatriation of the Irish people. But the right hon. Gentleman would not send the Irish emigrants to the United States. Certainly he was a bountiful statesman. He would not allow the departing emigrant, taking the last look at the green fields of his country, the poor privilege of choosing his new home. He would deny him the privilege of choosing to remain in Ireland, for he would refuse to stop the policy of eviction; and he would deny him the poor privilege of selecting in what distant shore he should seek to establish his new fortunes. But all these were the proposals of political quackery. They had now heard the last of them. As one who had made no attempt to rouse the passions of his countrymen, he could tell the right hon. Gentleman, in the name of those whom he represented, that the Irish people who were now on the soil of Ireland intended to remain there. No matter what English Government was in power, no matter whether a Land Act was passed, or whether the justice of a Land Act was dispensed with, they were resolved to hold possession of the inheritance which God had given them. He owed an apology to the House for interposing between it and the Prime Minister; but having had some experience of the action of the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, he felt he should be wanting in his duty if he did not give expression to his strong dissent from his policy. He would, however, guard himself against bringing an accusation of the same kind against the great body of the Conservative Party. He recognized with gratitude the statesmanlike attitude assumed last Session by the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) when the discus- 860 sion of the Land Act was taking place in the House. He recognized the right hon. Gentleman's patriotism as an Englishman in his treatment of that measure, and, no doubt, he represented a large body of opinion in the Conservative Party, which had great and deep sympathies with Ireland. But the section of that Party represented by the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Lowther) was one which would perpetuate for ever the differences which had kept Ireland and Great Britain apart; and he prayed God it might never be in the power of that section of the Conservative Party to establish the long reign of coercion and misgovernment which had done so much to perpetuate the hostility between Great Britain and Ireland.
Sir, I think the House will be very generally disposed to agree that the speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for North Lincolnshire (Mr. Lowther) is a memorable speech. Let me advert briefly to one or two of the points contained in that speech. The right hon. Gentleman has availed himself, as he was well entitled to do, of the opportunity of self-defence, and of adverse criticism upon his opponents. Well, on the point of self-defence, how does the matter stand? In the latter part of October I referred to an appeal which I had presumed to make, and which I think, in the position I held, I was justified in making, to all classes and degrees of the loyal subjects of Her Majesty in the Three Kingdoms, to support the Government in the arduous conflict in which we were engaged in Ireland on behalf of law, order, and property. I could not expect, from a limited number of Gentlemen sitting in the House, or from those who follow or agree with them outside, any favourable response to that appeal; but I did expect from the right hon. Gentleman, not only as a Member of the Conservative Party but as the organ of that Party, with respect to Irish policy a different reply from that which I received when I adverted to the struggle into which we had entered, to the tremendous nature of the conspiracy which had been established, and which was then endeavouring to carry its objects by force and by intimidation. The right hon. Gentleman, called upon to give his support to the Govern- 861 ment in the performance of a duty elementary and common to all Governments, replied by saying that, in his opinion, it could not be too widely known that the person against whom we were acting received the support of the large majority of the people of Ireland, and that Mr. Parnell, who had just then been incarcerated, was the chosen Representative of the great bulk of that nation. [Cheers from the Irish Members.] I can quite understand the cheers with which they greet the repetition of those words; but what I wish to point out to the House is the manner in which the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, and the organ of his Party for their Irish policy, has answered to an appeal made to all loyal citizens to support Her Majesty's Government in maintaining the cause of law and order. I ask the right hon. Gentleman now, does he think that those words of his were calculated to strengthen our hands or to weaken them in the conflict in which we were engaged? It is quite obvious that by those words the right hon. Gentleman, at a critical moment, did his best to add force to the cause of those with whom we were endeavouring to contend and to decrease the force of those who, for the moment, were the representatives of every social interest and right. Well, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman has not been content with referring, I must say most ingenuously, to that subject; but, as the hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. O'Connor Power) has pointed out, he has likewise shadowed forth to us the policy which he thinks ought to be pursued for Ireland. He would go to Ireland, I suppose, to recommend to the people of Ireland the careful and studious observance of the law; but what liberty does he himself allow to himself in speaking of the law? The Land Act of 1870 and the Land Act of 1881 have been treated by other and wiser Members of the Conservative Party with perfect freedom of discussion, yet, notwithstanding, according to the rules of policy and prudence. But to those Acts the right hon. Gentleman points as the sources of deep demoralization. Upon this footing we take our position. But those Acts, which have caused such demoralization, were Acts to which the Party of the right hon. Gentlemen in this Assembly, when it had power and responsibility, 862 did not seek to offer opposition. The right hon. Gentleman boasts of what he did when he was in Office; but it is not very profitable, perhaps, to enter at great length upon a retrospect of his official history upon his rejuvenesence. To the people of Ireland there was one portion of the land legislation which carried no poison in it, and that was the legislation with respect to the clauses of the Act which were intended to promote the creation or extension of the body of small proprietors in Ireland. And what did the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends do on that subject? They offered every impediment and objection to the proposal that they could.
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. I said "He and his Friends;" I did not say "He." I will come to the right hon. Gentleman by-and-bye. Those who were there on the part of the right hon. Gentleman opposed any attempt to obtain an increased extension of the clauses of the Land Act, and then they opposed any step that might be proposed to be taken in this House for the purpose of giving effect to the proposal of the Committee.
§ MR. PLUNKET
If the right hon. Gentleman is referring to me, I may say that I was a Member of that Committee, and I took a prominent part in its deliberations, and on no occasion did I oppose the policy of the Government; but there were some small points on which I did differ.
That is the opinion of the right hon. and learned Gentleman; but he will admit that we have a right to form our opinion on the subject too. His acts are upon record; and I say that, in our opinion, he did in that Committee pursue the course I have described. But I will pass that over. Does the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowther) say that he favoured the adoption by this House of the Resolution by which the House declared its anxiety for an extension of those clauses?
The right hon. Gentleman may have assented to it as 863 a Member of a Government may not infrequently assent, and as the Members of the late Government were often in the habit of assenting, to propositions when they knew that the sense of the House was against them. But the right hon. Gentleman, unless I am much mistaken, objected to that Resolution before he assented to it, and after it had been passed he did nothing to give effect to it. I am speaking of the Resolution founded on the Report of the year 1878.
The Resolution was in 1879, and the right hon. Gentleman gave no indication of any disposition to give effect to it. As the hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. O'Connor Power) said, the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman goes much further than this. He not only denounces the Act by which trial by jury became a reality—and a constitutional reality in Ireland—but he declares that trial by jury in Ireland is a monstrous farce which ought not to be permitted longer to continue. He is prepared, then, to strike at the very foundations of Irish liberty.
I am very glad that I have given the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity of introducing a limitation into his speech.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
My remarks applied to a statement of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland in which he was dealing entirely with agrarian cases.
When the right hon. Gentleman spoke he did not found his declaration upon the statement of the Attorney General for Ireland, but in the most distinct terms he made the tremendous proposition which I am now glad to find he has thought it better materially to limit. I should like to know whether the proposal would be part of the policy of the right hon. Gentleman were he to succeed in the legitimate object of Parliamentary opposition, and if he were to resume the Office which he lately held? But that is not all. The right hon. Gentleman takes the most exact measure of the value he attaches and the rights he assigns to Irish opinion on Irish matters. No doubt, it was most gratifying to some 864 of the Gentlemen sitting in that portion of the House to hear the avowal of the right hon. Gentleman's opinion, which, in my view, is most libellous to the people of Ireland—the opinion, namely, that the action of the Land League represented the true sentiment and desire of the great mass of the Irish people. But the satisfaction with which that avowal was received must be somewhat qualified when the right hon. Gentleman tells us that he does not care a rush for Irish feeling, and that if 90 per cent of Irishmen are disposed in certain matters to express a particular view he is prepared to set that view aside whenever it trenches upon Imperial matters. In the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, Irishmen have no title whatever as Irishmen to be heard on Imperial matters. That, as it appears to me, is the doctrine of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
I must correct the right hon. Gentleman. I did not say that Irishmen had no right to be heard on Imperial questions. What I did say was, that I would not consider their opinion when it was in favour of the disintegration of the Empire.
I must again thank the right hon. Gentleman for having greatly and effectively limited the terms of his previous speech. There is no one here who holds that any of us is entitled to promote the disintegration of the Empire. As has been said by the hon. Member who has just sat down, the right hon. Gentleman has another remedy for Irishmen who are now in Ireland. If they do not like it they may leave it, and their leaving it is the remedy he recommends to us. It is his panacea for every evil. He is so far from contemplating with regret the vast expatriation which terrible necessity brought on Ireland in former times that he is prepared to administer more and more of this nostrum to that country; and he says that if you can get a sufficient number of Irish out of Ireland, the country will be comfortable, peaceful, and happy. This is a very remarkable exhibition of the Conservative, or what is called the Tory creed. It is most important and desirable that when the other Chiefs of the Party come to speak, they should, as I have been called on for distinctness upon a certain subject, show how far their views, with respect to 865 Irish policy, are the views of the Gentlemen by whom the right hon. Gentleman is surrounded, and afford an indication of the lines on which their Irish administration is hereafter to be conducted. Well, Sir, I am now about to submit myself to examination on a matter to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, and to which I think he was quite justified in referring—namely, the speech recently made by me—not, indeed, upon the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary (Mr. P. J. Smyth), but upon the general subject of what is called. Home Rule, and in particular to speeches upon Home Rule which have been delivered by two hon. Members of this House. Sir, my great difficulty in referring to the subject is that I feel that I might, perhaps, if one of the Resolutions it will be my duty to propose in a very few days were already in force, be liable to be arrested by you in the middle of my speech for what you would consider tedious and unnecessary iteration. So often have I repeated, upon so many occasions, the sentiments that I delivered last week, and so innoxious have they been deemed upon those occasions, that I own I am taken by surprise at the sensitiveness of the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket), who rose to take notice of the dangerous matter they contained. But I do not think that even his attack upon them would have succeeded in producing any excitement on the subject, had it not been followed by what was much more fatal—namely, the expression in remarkable language of the qualified approbation of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton). It is naturally felt that whatever the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sligo could approve must necessarily contain something objectionable and full of danger and mischief. Well, this is a subject on which I have very clear and distinct opinions—opinions which I have never scrupled to declare. They are not shared by many Gentlemen, probably, in this House. They may be considered of a speculative character. It is highly unlikely that I shall ever be called upon to take any practical part in any matter relating to those opinions; but I have the very strongest opinions upon matters in the nature of local government. I have the strongest objections to the tendency which I see constantly prevail to 866 the centralization of government, not for Ireland merely, but for England. I hold this tendency to be open to the gravest objection; and I will take it and press it at all points as a cardinal rule of policy, so far as I can, with regard to the general structure and safety of the Empire. I believe that local institutions—the institution of secondary authorities—is a great source of strength, and that in principle the only necessary limit to those powers is the adequate and certain provision for the supremacy of the central authority. I believe that when the demand is made from Ireland for bringing purely Irish affairs more especially or more largely under Irish control outside the walls of Parliament, the wise way to meet that demand is not the method adopted by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the senior Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket), who, if I understood him aright, said that anything recognizing purely Irish control over purely Irish affairs must be necessarily a step towards separation, and must, therefore, be fraught necessarily with danger. That I do not believe to be the wise or the just method of dealing with the subject. In my opinion, the wise and just method of dealing with it is this—to require that before any such plan can be dealt with or can be examined with a view to being dealt with on its merits, we must ask those who propose it—and this is a question I have universally put—What are the provisions which you propose to make for the supremacy of Parliament? That has been my course, and that is the course in which I intend to persevere. I am bound to say that I have not yet received an answer. I never heard in the time of Mr. Butt, or from the mouth of any other Gentleman, any adequate or satisfactory explanation upon that subject. And to this declaration of my opinions I have only one limitation more to add, and it is that I am not prepared to give to Ireland anything which in point of principle it would be wrong to give to Scotland if Scotland requires it; and that is a condition—that is a limitation—which I am sure Irish Members of the most popular class will be ready to accept. These declarations, regarded on my part as a formidable novelty, were made in Mid Lothian, the scene of so many of my misdeeds, and they were made in the Guildhall, which might 867 have been considered a more consecrated precinct, and also in Aberdeen. I cannot recall all the speeches in which I have adverted to this subject; but I have taken the pains to recall six of them—it seems to me a tolerable allowance. One was in 1872 at Aberdeen, when I was Prime Minister; one was in 1879–80 in Mid Lothian; and another was in the Guildhall, in 1881. But the three speeches made out of Parliament were balanced by three speeches made in Parliament. For in 1872, as Prime Minister, I made a reply to Mr. Butt precisely in the same spirit—in the spirit of the declaration I have now made, and in the spirit of the sentences I uttered last week. I made the same declaration in 1874, when I was not Minister, but Leader of the Opposition; and I made the same declaration in 1880, when I sat on those Benches as an independent Member. But perhaps I may be allowed to quote a few words which exhibit better than anything else the accuracy of my statement as to the spirit in which I have endeavoured to deal with the subject. My hon. Friend the Member for the County of Cork (Mr. Shaw), on the 27th of February, 1880, made a remarkable speech on this question. He made a proposition which I could not accept any more than I could accept the proposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary (Mr. P. J. Smyth) the other night. Professing himself an advocate of what he termed "Home Rule," he argued and pleaded for it in a spirit which won my sympathy and regard, and I did not scruple to rise in my place and use these words—I, of course, am not of the opinion professed by my hon. Friend upon the important question to which he refers; but I must say that the spirit of thorough manliness in which he approaches this question, and which he unites with a spirit of thorough kindliness to us, and with an evident disposition to respect both the functions of this House and the spirit of the English Constitution, does give hope that if the relations between England and Ireland are to become thoroughly satisfactory, the most important contribution to that essential end will have been made by my hon. Friend and those who speak like him."—[3 Hansard, ccl. 1587.]That was the spirit in which I received the declaration made by the hon. Gentleman as Leader—for at that time he was Leader—of the Home Rule Party of Ireland. Every one of the speeches to 868 which I have referred is, I believe, in complete and exact conformity with the opinions I have just read. And now I am afraid I must say a few words upon the leading point of attack made upon the Government in the course of this lengthened and, of necessity, greatly divergent debate. The attack which has been made with regard to the Sub-Commissioners who have been engaged in administering the Land Act has been continued. With reference to that attack, I must point out that those gentlemen are entitled to our confidence, only acting as they do in the discharge of their judicial duty, until they have done something to forfeit that confidence. The burden of proof is upon those who assail them. The burden, however, of presumption is not adverse to them, but is entirely in their favour, and there are two or three presumptive tests, all of which severally throw more or less light—and conjointly considerable light—upon their conduct. One of these is the nature of their treatment which their judgments receive upon appeal; and I understand that, as far as those judgments have been tested by appeal; the effect has been to confirm and sustain in general the proceedings of the Sub-Commissioners. If that is so, this is a point of great importance. Another presumption is the nature of the agreements made between landlords and tenants out of Court; because, although you may say, and justly so, that they are not conclusive proofs, yet they do afford a considerable presumption in favour of the proceedings of the Sub-Commissioners. No one has said that the nature of these agreements tend to show that the Sub-Commissioners are proceeding upon any other than judicial principles. But, Sir, there is a third test, and it is this—It is in the power of every man to go, if he likes, not to the Sub-Commissioners, but to the County Courts, a power which has been exercised by some suitors. But I have not yet heard either of two things. I have not heard that the County Courts were suspected of undue partiality to the tenants as to the working of the Land Act of 1870, and I have not yet heard that the proceedings of the County Courts under the present Land Act have indicated any difference of spirit and aim in the treatment of cases brought before them as 869 compared with the Sub-Commissioners. I say this, not in defence of the Government, but because the right hon. and learned Gentleman the junior Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) said that what the House was on-titled to expect was that the Government should make choice of the best men they could get to fill the office of Sub-Commissioner, and, if that choice were made, the Sub-Commissioners must stand or fall by their own merits. Of course, that is a matter upon which we are prepared to stand the fire of criticism, and I do not think the attempts to review the proceedings of the Irish Government induce us to imagine that our task will be one of very formidable difficulty. Then several hon. Members have adverted to the question of compensation, and it has been stated with perfect truth, as far as I am concerned, that I said if Parliament were, by an arbitrary Act, to reduce rents to Griffith's valuation, then there would be a case for compensation, because that reduction would be an act resting upon no principle of justice—an arbitrary act resting upon no principle that could be sustained. But this I must venture to point out—that it cannot be safely or justly assumed that when Parliament deals with the incomes of a class in such a way as to produce a diminution of their amount, that there a case for compensation arises. In such cases much has to be examined before that proposition is established; and I may quote an example very familiar in the earlier years of my Parliamentary life in proof of what I have stated—I mean the case of the Irish tithes. When that question was dealt with in this and in the other House of Parliament, with the full consent of the Conservative Party of that day, but without any consent at all on the part of the clergy of Ireland, and without the slightest regard to the vested interest of any one of them, 25 per cent was struck off the amount of tithes which each of those clergymen was entitled to receive in respect of his benefice. Nor have I ever heard any serious complaint of that proceeding, for it was founded, I apprehend, upon the belief that while this severe operation of mulcting was inflicted on the clergy of Ireland, it was an honest attempt on the part of Parliament to secure for them the remaining 75 per 870 cent, and to give that a stronger basis than it before possessed; and therefore I must say that, although I do not at all retract what I said with regard to Griffith's valuation, I am by no means prepared to say that a diminution of income brought about as the effect of legislation does in itself, and apart from examination of other portions of the case, constitute a claim for compensation. I believe Parliament has been acting as vigorously and as honestly in the interests of property, and has been endeavouring to give as much security to proprietary rights in passing the provisions of the Land Act of last year, as it did when it deducted 25 per cent from the stipends of the clergy in Ireland, in order to give them a better chance, or rather a greater certainty, of receiving the remaining 75 per cent. Then, Sir, come the questions of the administration of Ireland, and the administration of this Act by the Government. The noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) has referred at length, as have other hon. Members, to a speech delivered by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, and I have heard repeated by the right hon. Gentleman opposite the charge that "in some way or other," according to one expression, "Her Majesty's Government have used the Land League as a lever to obtain the Land Act;" in another form of expression, I think it was that "we tolerated the proceedings of the Land League in order to help us in obtaining the Land Act." Now, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has emphatically repudiated that construction of his speech, and I beg to echo that repudiation. I assure the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex—of course, I am not in any way imputing to him intentional misrepresentation—that there is not in our minds the slightest shred or shadow of any idea or consideration corresponding to that which he seems disposed to think we entertained. I do not hesitate to say that, in my opinion, it would be a great guilt, hardly to be too severely visited by any measure that Parliament could adopt, to compel any Executive Government to waive its duty in the maintenance of order and proprietary rights, for the purpose of promoting legislative measures, however good those objects might be in 871 themselves. I repudiate the doctrine, root and branch, from beginning to end; and I will make no terms with it, or entertain it in any way; and the true answer to this charge is not merely that we did not do it, but that we could not do it. If it is said that we tolerated the Land League, the meaning of that is that we allowed its operations to go on when we had the power to stop them by means of the Act for the Protection of Person and Property. [An hon. MEMBER: The Common Law.] Stop it by the Common Law! We tried to stop the operations of the Land League by means of the Common Law. We brought an action against the Leaders of the Land League, and we failed in that action; we did not believe it was in our power to stop them by the Common Law, and I believe any attempt to do so would have been a miserable failure, and that it would probably have ended in wrecking all law and order in Ireland. I understood that we were reproved for not continuing to apply the provisions of the Act for the Protection of Person and Property; but I cannot help observing that those who now reproach us with having failed to put down the Land League, whether by Common Law or by the Act referred to—that those who so reproach us in 1882 did not, to my knowledge, give us that advice in 1881. I am tolerably familiar with the debates of last year, and I have refreshed my own memory as well as I could by reference to the better memories of others; but it appears to me that this suggestion—I do not say it is not legitimately devised as part of the apparatus of political warfare that evokes it—does not in the slightest degree represent any opinion which was entertained, or which found vent upon those Benches during the long-continued debates of last Session. Moreover, there was good reason why it should not have found vent. I believe it would have been impossible for you to find fault with us for not taking effectual measures against the Land League without condemning yourselves; and although I do not pretend to condemn the inaction of the former Government—I make no accusation on the subject—but it appears to me that they make a great accusation against themselves, for the Land League was in full force during the time that they were in Office. It held between 200 and 220 meetings, 872 and professed the same objects which it continued to profess down to the month of October last. The right hon. Gentleman says that the declarations made by its Chiefs were at that time comparatively moderate. Sir, upon that point I entirely join issue with him. I am not going to canvass the declarations of any man who is not here to defend himself; but I maintain that the whole idea of proceeding to illegal combination, and the most violent and disloyal language in connection with it, had been used during the time that the right hon. Gentleman was in Office. For my own part, I well remember the impression which those declarations made upon me, and the confident expectation I had that the right hon. Gentleman and the late Government would, and must, exercise all the powers of the law, such as they were, for the purpose of vindicating it against such declarations. I think it was the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex who stated that we had made capital of the political prescience of Lord Beaconsfield, apparently referring to the letter of Lord Beaconsfield to the Duke of Marlborough, at the time of the Dissolution of the last Parliament. [Mr. R. N. FOWLER: Hear, hear!] The worthy Alderman takes it in at once. I suppose he recollects the letter of the late Lord Beaconsfield; that it was full of prophecies about the state of Ireland, which were afterwards fulfilled; that it pointed out the dangerous character of the Land League; that it referred to a social agitation that was going to be so widely spread, and that it warned us to prevent its consequences. He recollects all that; but, unfortunately, there is not a word about it in the letter. The hon. Member has, indeed, a marvellous memory; he remembers not only that which has happened, but that which has not happened, for the letter, in emphatic terms, only warns us against a great scheme for the disintegration of the Empire. Of the social agitation with which, since then, we have had exclusively to deal, it does not say one word. [An hon. MEMBER: The same thing.] It is not the same thing. The two things are absolutely distinct; and the reason why the letter to the Duke of Marlborough contained no reference whatever to this dangerous social agitation is that it is an entirely different thing from political dismemberment, which might take place 873 without social anarchy, as social revolution might take place without political dismemberment. On the 15th of March Lord Oranmore and Browne raised this question, and endeavoured to lay before the House of Lords the very dangerous condition of Ireland in respect of this social agitation, and Lord Beaconsfield, who replied, declined to recognize that in that aspect it was dangerous at all. He said that the expiring Act would be renewed; but he afterwards advised a Dissolution, which made that renewal absolutely impossible. ["No!"] I am bound to say, differing in this altogether from the right hon. Gentleman, that if that Act had been revived, it would hardly have had the slightest, probably no appreciable, effect whatever upon the subsequent course of events in Ireland. The Land League grew and throve under the Act, and in the month of May, 1880, when it had not expired, I believe that the Land League had become a power throughout the whole of Ireland. If there are any circumstances which might tend to qualify this view, I shall be glad to be made acquainted with them; but, so far from our being able to make any political capital out of this prescience, I shall be obliged to anyone who will point out to me the prescience in any shape or form. There was another very grave circumstance indeed, which we were naturally led to notice, and that was the course taken by the late Government with respect to certain trials. They instituted proceedings against certain persons, though not conforming to the doctrine on which we have endeavoured to act—namely, the doctrine of striking at the Leaders of the Land League. Still, they instituted certain trials; but in those trials they did not attempt to press forward with expedition. Now, that is a fact of the gravest importance. They did institute certain trials, but they did not choose to carry forward those trials with expedition to their consummation; and they, at least, saw nothing dangerous in the condition of the country with regard to which they felt themselves at liberty to deal so lightly. The charge, then, that we tolerated the Land League during the summer months of last year I meet, not only by observing that it was never then contemplated to undertake so hazardous and so Quixotic an enterprize as an effort to put it down by 874 the Common Law; but, likewise, that that advice was never given to us at the time. It would, I think, have been very bad advice at that time, and I doubt whether so shrewd a man as the junior Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) would have counselled his Party to adopt it. But that right hon. and learned Gentleman appeared to labour under one misapprehension, which I should like, if I can, to dissipate. I am bound to say I do not like to pass by his speech without noticing particularly the concluding part of it. The whole of it was a most able production, and the earlier part of it was the effort of a cool political gladiator using his weapons, I will not say unfairly, but effectively. In the latter part of his speech, however, I found matter to which I would refer as an absolute contradiction to the closing portion of the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend. I recognized in that latter part of his speech the patriot and the statesman, when he gave a luminous and impartial review of the state of Ireland. The right hon. and learned Gentleman recognized, in guarded terms—the very same description of guarded terms we have always been careful to use, as it was our duty to be careful—that there was improvement in Ireland. Still, he said this—that we had created a crisis in October, and he thought that I had admitted or stated that we created the crisis. I did nothing of the kind. What I said was this—that the Land Act had created the crisis in October. It created the crisis by compelling the promoters of the Land League to take choice between a good course and a bad one. It compelled them either to advance or recede, and they chose to advance; but by that advance they created for us a completely new state of circumstances. That new state of circumstances led to the arrests, which have been naturally enough the subject of much observation and comment in this House; but I own I am astonished at the misapprehensions which still prevail as to the causes of those arrests. There are Gentlemen who suppose that the Member for Cork City was arrested—and when I speak of him I only proceed upon the doctrine laid down the other day by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), that his name is synonymous with the Land League— 875 and that the others were arrested in like manner, because, instead of demanding a diminution of rent to the standard of Griffith's valuation, they were supposed to be demanding a diminution of rent to the prairie value. Undoubtedly, that was an important factor in the case; but it was no cause, and no part of the cause of the arrests. Then, it is again supposed that the arrests took place because of endeavours to persuade the tenants not to use the Land Act, but to set up test cases under the control of the Land League. That action was an important fact in the history of the whole transaction; but we could not possibly have been justified in directing any of those arrests on account of a mere extension of the purposes of the Land League, or the doctrines that had been professed by it. What we required was that if anyone were to be arrested under the Act he must be arrested because he was reasonably suspected of some crime punishable by law—Being an act of violence or intimidation, or inciting to an act of violence or intimidation, tending to interfere with or disturb the maintenance of law and order.These words, and these words alone, were the words under which the arrests were made. We did not believe, up to that time, that we could allege any case to Parliament that we had this reasonable suspicion of such persons individually. We then had belief, and upon that belief we have acted, and we are ready, of course, to be responsible for the acts which we have done. But then, when that was done, our position towards the Land League was fundamentally changed. When we were able to adopt this doctrine, that the Leaders of the Land League were, in our opinion and belief, guilty of crimes punishable by law—Being acts of violence or intimidation, or inciting to acts of violence or intimidation, tending to interfere with or disturb the maintenance of law and order"—
That is not the question before us. The question before us is the motives on which the Government acted, and not the propriety of the Government's action.
When we found ourselves in a condition—as we believe with justice—to hold that the acts done by the leaders and directors of the Land League amounted to crimes punishable by law and to acts of violence and intimidation, or intimidation, or inciting to such acts, the right hon. and learned Gentleman will at once see that then our whole position towards the Land League itself as a body was essentially modified; and we were then in a condition—I do not say to suppress the Land League, because I really do not know whether at this moment the Land League is suppressed or not—but to prohibit the meetings of the Land League and run all risks which we were then satisfied we might encounter without alarm. That is an account of our proceedings, which, in our opinion, could not be taken at an earlier period, or, again, could not have been properly delayed. Of course, it was our hope that when the Land Act passed we should be permitted to find ourselves in contact with a happier state of things. Sanguine friends and lovers of Ireland urged us to celebrate, as it were, the passing of the Land Act by a release of the whole of the "suspects." We did not think we should be justified in an act so daring—so daring, I mean, not in a sense adverse to the law, but as to the proclamation it would have entailed of the sanguineness of our anticipations. We thought it our duty to wait till we learnt from experience that we could, with safety, adopt that course. And, as is well known, when we thought it could be done with safety, no inconsiderable number of persons were released. But then we became cognizant of the fact that that fatal resolution had been taken by the Leaders of the Land League, which placed them in direct conflict with the law and institutions of the country, and made them directly responsible, for so we thought them, for the consequences produced; and we saw, after that doctrine of "no rent" had been propagated, that the fact of the payment of rent became a crime in the view of those whom I must regard as virtually the Leaders of the Land League. The hon. Member for Sligo, in a speech marked throughout by great ability, and, in part, a most touching speech, gave us a most pathetic account of the sufferings of himself and those who had been immured with him in Kilmainham. We most 877 deeply regret suffering or inconvenience of any kind, great or small, inflicted through our immediate agency upon any one of our fellow-subjects. But we had, Sir, to take into view other sufferings of a different order. What were the principles that these gentlemen had been sowing broadcast through the country? Here, in this House, we have had the speeches quoted, and we have found in them saving clauses provided as places of retirement, and to show that the law was to be respected; but while these clauses were few, the glaring and flaming letters of a general exhortation of the Land League went forth, not only to dissuade from paying rents, but to denounce the paying of rent, and to exhibit the man who paid rent as guilty of a social crime; and when we saw that these exhortations were followed by what I may call their natural, necessary, and inevitable results, then I say we had other sufferings to take into view. It might be very inconvenient for hon. Members to be confined in a small cell; but we had to think of those who, in the sanctuary of their own houses, for no offence except that of having discharged their legal obligations, were liable, sometimes to ruinous losses, sometimes to cruel alarms, sometimes to mutilation of their persons, and sometimes to death itself. These were the sufferings which we thought it our duty to avert by every means in our power. For that end we have laboured, and for that end we shall labour. None will rejoice so much as we when we can do that within the lines of the ordinary law in which we have shown from the very first our disposition and desire to trust. By whatever weapons Parliament may place in our hands, we shall endeavour to protect innocent lives and the persons and property of the people of Ireland against the cruel and destructive oppressions that are inflicted on them in the name and in conseqnence of the ill-advised action of her professing friends.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Sir Walter B. Barttelot.)
said, that, seeing the course the debate had taken, they could not but regret the great waste of public time that occurred on Tuesday night. That evening the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had made a most important 878 and eloquent speech, and the Attorney General for Ireland was quite ready to get up and answer him. He was brim full of matter—so full, in fact, that he could only deliver it in a speech three hours long to-night. Last year the Attorney General for Ireland gained for himself the distinction of having made the longest speech in a great debate; and this Session he had won for himself the distinction of having, so far, made the longest speech of the Session. The country would see by whom these debates were prolonged; and he should like to ask the Members of Her Majesty's Government why the three hours' speech of the Attorney General for Ireland was not made last Tuesday night, and why they allowed the debate to collapse then, when it must necessarily be renewed again, and might extend over another night in the present week?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
I can only say what I feel sure the hon. and learned Member is aware is the usual practice in the House—namely, that an important Member of the Government does not generally rise to answer an important speech just at the time hon. Gentlemen are going to dinner.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
expressed a hope that an opportunity would be given his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Gorst) for raising the question of which he had given Notice the other day
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate further adjourned till To-morrow.