§ Clause 11 (Searches for arms and illegal documents).
§ MR. R. POWER,
who had an Amendment on the Paper, in page 6, line 21, 1889 after "time," to insert "except between sunset and sunrise," said, that after the statement made by the Prime Minister on the previous night, he would not propose that Amendment; but would proceed to move the next which appeared in his name—namely, in page 6, line 21, leave out "three," and insert "one." The clause would then run—"Any inspector or sub-inspector so authorized by the warrant may, at any time within one month, "at any place within the proclaimed district, seize, detain, and carry away arms, ammunition, papers, &c, which he might find; and enter any house, building, or place, by force, if necessary, in order to execute the warrant. He hoped the Government would see their way to be able to accept this very reasonable Amendment. It must be remembered that the Committee had already granted the right of a general warrant, and he found that by the Act of ls75 a general warrant was only granted and used in special cases. If the Chief Secretary said it was necessary for a policeman to arrest any particular individual, a special warrant could soon be obtained; but no policeman would be able to enter the houses of the people unless he had a warrant. If the Constabulary considered it necessary to enter a particular house, having received information that illegal property was concealed there, they would only have to telegraph to Dublin, and they would receive a warrant in 24 hours. What he maintained was that a policeman had no right to go about the country with a warrant in his pocket for three months. Under the Act of 1875 a warrant only lasted for three weeks; and, under another Act, only for 10 days. Under the present Bill it was to be three months, and he hoped the Government would accept this reasonable Amendment to curtail the period to one month, which, in his opinion, was quite sufficient.
In page 6, line 21, to leave out the word "three," and insert the word"one."—(Mr. Richard Power.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'three' stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, he was very sorry on the part of the Government that he should be obliged to refuse an Amendment which had been moved by the hon. Member in such moderate 1890 tones. But, whatever view might be taken of the clause in general, the first two lines of the 1st sub-section and the whole of the 2nd sub-section were, in the opinion of the Government, absolutely essential and vital to the Bill. It was quite true that under the amended Peace Preservation Act of 1875 the period for warrants was reduced to three weeks; but by the Peace Preservation Act of 1870 the period was three months, and the warrant was, practically speaking, a general one. In those circumstances, the power to search for arms was extremely effective. Under the Act of 1875 it was less effective, and under the Act of 1881 the power had not been at all as practically useful as the Government could wish. It was absolutely necessary, in the present state of Ireland, that the Government should keep these provisions of the clause exactly as they were laid down in the Bill; and under no circumstance whatever could they think of altering them. He would mention one fact, which showed that no concession on this point could be made. It was of the utmost importance that the search should be made practicable immediately after the commission of an outrage. Every day and hour that were lost were of the greatest importance, and could never be recovered. Outrages took place in disturbed districts, which districts would be naturally proclaimed, and should be placed under this power of search-warrant; and if a warrant for search could only run for one month, and had to be continually renewed, pressure would be put upon the Central Government not to renew it. A district which was subjected to outrage and disturbance should be continually liable to search under a warrant as long as the state of disturbance and suspicion continued. On that point it was quite impossible for the Government to give way.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he thought his hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. E. Power) had not done harm in eliciting from the Government the statement which the right hon. Gentleman had just made; but he must confess that, as far as his own opinions were concerned, he did not depart from what he had stated yesterday—namely, that in his view, under the limitations indicated by the Prime Minister, the clause would neither do much good nor much 1891 harm. He had said so yesterday; and, so far as he was concerned, he had moved no Amendment last night, and had taken very little part in the discussion. If the Government continued to maintain the position that was taken up by the Prime Minister yesterday, he would advise his hon. Friend not to press the Amendment. There were two or three other Amendments down upon the Paper of a very reasonable character, which he hoped would commend themselves to the serious attention of the Government; and, as far as the provision was concerned of making the warrant run for one month instead of throe, he trusted the Government, on reconsideration, would see that really the matter did not amount to a very great deal. As soon as the Sub-Inspector got the warrant he would probably put it in force at once, because no man would be likely to keep suspected articles in his house; and, of course, nobody except the Government officials in Ireland would be so silly as to believe, when the searches were carried out, that they would find anything. As soon as the warrants were known to be issued, every man who might have had suspected articles in his possession would get rid of them; and the Government officials, on entering a house, would find nothing that would justify them in making a search. He would ask the Chief Secretary if the Government had any objection to inform Parliament periodically, by means of a Return, as to the number of searches carried out, and the amount of arms and ammunition seized when searches were made; and also, how many of these warrants had been issued? This was not, he thought, an unreasonable demand. He did not ask for details; but that at the close of the Session, or every three months, the Government should inform the House of Commons, by means of a Return, how many of these warrants had been issued, and with what result. Ho thought the three points of his demand were extremely reasonable. His objection to the clause had been grounded very much upon a night-search, which, he thought, could only be intended to harass and irritate the people. If the Prime Minister maintained the limitations he had indicated last night, although they had since been contradicted by one of his Colleagues, he (Mr. Healy) thought his 1892 hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. R. Power) would do well not to press the Amendment. If Returns were given, it would be sufficient to say that on such and such a day a search had been made, and what the result had been.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, the Government had no objection to consider the question of giving Parliament a Return of the number of warrants issued. Warrants were public instruments on so very large a scale that nothing could be said against the submitting a Return of them to Parliament. But the Government would not be prepared to give Parliament information as to the number of searches made, or of the result of those searches. All they could do was to place on the Table a Return of the warrants issued.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he thought it was a point the Irish Members had a reasonable right to press, and for this reason —that when the subject came up for discussion, Parliament should have some information as to whether the provision had been effective or not. He scarcely knew at present whether the Government intended to retain the provision of the Act of last year, or whether they intended to issue warrants under both Acts—that of last year and the present one.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
remarked, that in reference to these Returns, it would always be in the power of any hon. Member to move for a Return to be laid before Parliament if he desired to do so. Therefore, it was not necessary to deal with that matter at present. With regard to the question of the hon. Member as to retaining the power to issue warrants under the Act of last Session, he might say that it was intended to retain the powers given both by the Act of last Session and of this.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he would tell the hon. Member why. The object of this clause was to deal with secret societies; whereas the Act of last Session was a general one. It was not intended in any way to supersede the Act of last Session by the present measure.
§ MR. HEALY
said, his point was simply this—and it had not been answered by the right hon. and learned Gentleman at all—the Government had taken power to issue night and day-warrants. Would they issue both descriptions of warrant in future? Would they still continue to issue the warrants authorized to be issued under the Act of last year?
requested the hon. Member to confine himself to the Amendment before the Committee, which was simply whether the warrant should be for one month or for three.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the remarks of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary, in reply to the reasonable request of his hon. Friend the Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy), were not very consoling. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said it would be open for his hon. Friend to make a Motion for Returns. That was a mere quibble. Of course, it was open for any hon. Member to move for Returns. It was as much as to say that it was open to a child to cry for the Moon. Every one knew that such a Motion would only be voted down by the Government. He very much regretted the indisposition of the Government to give information in reference to the operation of the clause. With reference to the duration of the general warrants, he had hoped that the period of one month would be deemed by the Government quite sufficient for any purpose. As the Chief Secretary had informed them, there were in every county 10 or 12 Sub-Inspectors, under whose supervision the clause would be carried into operation. That was an exceedingly small area, and in the course of a month any Sub-Inspector would be able to sweep the district perfectly clean of concealed arms. The clause, therefore, could answer no useful purpose at all, and would merely enable the police to harass persons against whom they happened to have a dislike. Were the Sub-Inspectors to examine every house in a district, or only those which were suspected? When the right hon. and learned Gentleman was 1894 in a less belligerent frame of mind last year, he said he would split the difference and accept a fortnight or 10 days. If the general warrant authorized under the Act of last year was sufficiently operative by having 10 days for execution, why should the Government require three months, or even a month, now? Instead of being satisfied with 10 days, they were now asking for 30, or a period that was nine times as long. He hoped that his hon. Friend would press the Amendment, because he certainly felt that so grave a power should be limited as far as possible.
§ MR. O'KELLY
wished to point out that in any special case, the warrant, even if limited in its duration for a month, could be renewed by the Executive at any moment they chose. There was nothing to prevent them from doing that, and he failed to see what necessity there was for conferring upon them any wider power than that proposed by the Amendment. If there was reason to believe that arms or papers were concealed, the Government could renew a warrant or issue a new one whenever they pleased in any proclaimed district. There was, consequently, no necessity whatever to take a power in this clause for extending the warrant over a period of three months, although he could easily imagine how the existence of the warrant for such a period might be injurious to the interests and reputation of the person against whom it was issued.
MR. JOSEPH COWEN
presumed that the warrant would not be a general one, but that it would specify the distinct locality to which it applied.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, the Chief Secretary had given as one of the reasons why he could not accept the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for Water-ford (Mr. E. Power), and why he thought the warrant should extend over three months, that he was afraid pressure might be brought to bear upon the Executive Government not to renew it. Were the Irish Members to understand that a Liberal Chief Secretary would object to the people of Ireland bringing pressure to bear upon the Government not to carry out a harsh and severe law with the most extreme rigour? Was the warrant to be given for three months, so that the people might absolutely despair of being able to influence the Government? If the Government objected to such pressure 1895 as that, he did not see what form of Constitutional agitation was left to the Irish Party. He was quite at a loss to understand upon what ground the Amendment should be so persistently refused. Suppose that in the last week of the month the authorities considered it desirable to renew the warrant for another month, what was there to prevent them from doing so? Surely, if such a case arose, the Castle officials in Dublin could renew it precisely on the same ground as that on which they had granted it in the first instance. He could understand the refusal of the Government, if, after a warrant had been running for one or three months in a proclaimed district, it was proposed that no other warrant should be granted; but it was distinctly provided in the clause that—It shall be lawful for the Lord Lieutenant from time to time by warrant to direct the inspectors and sub-inspectors of constabulary for the time being' acting in any constabulary district, or any of them, to search for and seize in any proclaimed district, specified in the warrant," and so on.He could not understand, therefore, why the Amendment was not accepted.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he was not in the House when the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary made the statement that if the warrant were limited to a month, pressure might be brought to bear on the Executive Government in Ireland not to renew the warrant. He (Mr. Callan) was not aware of any part of the clause in which it was provided that there should be any notification or publicity given to the issue of the warrant. On the contrary, he was led to believe that when a warrant was issued by the Lord Lieutenant, the issue of that warrant was to be kept secret until it was actually executed. He presumed that the fact of a warrant having been granted was not to be made public, as such a step would simply defame a person's character, and it might be thrown in the face of a respectable farmer—"Oh, there is a warrant out for a search of your house. You had better take care." If the Lord Lieutenant wished to have a warrant, he was bound, as a matter of common honesty, to keep the matter secret, for two motives—first, that he might not give a warning to the presumed delinquent; and next, that the warrant in the hands of the police should not be used as a means of de- 1896 faming a man's character. What pressure, therefore, could be brought to bear upon the central authority not to renew the warrant, whether it was granted for one, two, or three months? He failed to see what right a warrant had to be in existence for three months. He presumed that the Lord Lieutenant would not issue a warrant except on representations actually made to him; and his own opinion was, that it should be on sworn information that the person making the representations had reasonable grounds for the belief that some of the articles referred to in the clause were concealed in the house of the individual against whom a warrant was applied for. Then, why should the warrant be for three months in the hands of the Inspector or Sub-Inspector? Was it likely that the suspected person would keep arms and ammunition in his house for three months after a search had been made? Were the warrants to be executed in suppositious cases, and not upon direct information? There was no part of Ireland which was more than two days away from the City of Dublin by return post, and a fresh warrant might at any time be telegraphed for and immediately obtained. Why, then, should it be asked for for three months? The fact was, that this was only one more instance of the intolerant, overbearing, and coercive policy of an unprincipled Administration.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, it seemed to him that the principal object of Her Majesty's Government was not the suppression of outrage and secret societies, but to oppress persons who were perfectly innocent. The power which it was proposed to put in the hands of the police was one of a most mischievous character, because, in point of fact, it meant that the Lord Lieutenant was to give authority to the Sub-Inspectors of police, for three full months, to do practically what they liked in regard to searching people's houses. He thought it was of the utmost importance that the Government should have some control over their subordinates, and that no renewal of the powers should be given to the Inspectors for a longer period than one month. As yet no one knew what would be the effect of passing such a clause, either in putting down outrage, or in detecting concealed arms that were intended to be used for any trea- 1897 sonable or malicious purpose. What had been the result of the operation of the Act passed last year? A number of useless arms which were in the possession of the people, hut which had never been intended to be used, were given up. Those who wished to use arms for the purpose of outrage would take very good care that they were not discovered. There was an illustration of this in the case of the town of Bal-lina. In that town the Sub-Inspector, a very officious gentleman, obtained authority from the Lord Lieutenant to search for arms, and he searched the places of business of various trades people, with the result that might readily be expected—that no arms were found. The same thing would occur under the present clause. It would only give power to irresponsible persons to interfere with and annoy innocent people. The right hon. Gentleman had talked of crape masks and similar articles; but surely the right hon. Gentleman knew, as everyone else did, that such things were of a portable nature, and could readily be concealed without fear of detection, and, as no one would be found using them, no punishment could be inflicted. His own opinion was that the Government desired to occupy as much time as possible over the Bill when they protested against Amendments of so moderate and so reasonable a nature. If the Government would consent to accept reasonable Amendments, their Bill would be passed with much greater facility, and in the end it would be quite as effective for the detection and punishment of crime in Ireland in one way as the other. In point of fact, the Irish Members knew very well that that was not the object with which it had been introduced, but that it was simply to be used as an engine for carrying on Party warfare.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 98; Noes 31: Majority 67.—(Div. List, No. 165.)
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he proposed to move the Amendment which stood on the Paper in the name of his hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. B. Power)—namely, inline 21, after the word "warrant," to insert "at any hour within sunrise and sunset." The 1898 clause, as it stood, gave power to the Lord Lieutenant—From time to time by warrant to direct the inspectors and sub-inspectors of constabulary for the time being, acting in any constabulary district, or any of them, to search for and seize in any proclaimed district, or in any part thereof, specified in the warrant, all or any of the following articles; that is to say, any arms, ammunition, papers, documents, instruments, or articles suspected to be used or to be intended to be used for the purpose of or in connection with any secret society or secret association existing for criminal purposes.The clause, as it stood, permitted this to be done at any hour of the day or night; but last evening the Prime Minister informed the Committee that he proposed to limit the right of search, as regarded arms, ammunition, papers, documents, &c, to the day time, and stated that, on the Report, a sub-section would be brought up to provide that the Lord Lieutenant should have power to direct that the police might make searches at night for the limited purpose of ascertaining whether there were any illegal and secret meetings going on; that this extensive power of search was to be strictly limited to that purpose, and that a house having been searched, and it having been ascertained that no secret meeting was being held on the premises searched, the search should then cease. It was also stated by the Prime Minister that the operation of the clause, so far as regarded a search for "arms, ammunition, papers, documents, instruments, or articles," should be limited to the daytime. He wished to point out to the Committee that the clause, as it stood now, had reference only to searches for "arms, ammunition, papers, documents, instruments, or articles," and had no reference to the further requirement of searching in order to ascertain whether a secret or illegal meeting was being held on the premises, except so far as arms, ammunition, &c, might be used in connection with a secret society or a secret association. He thought, therefore, that this would be the proper time to insert the Amendment. A limitation was to be placed on the clause in the direction promised by the Prime Minister last night, and he thought the Committee would agree with him that this was the proper time to do it. It was quite true that there was a further object which the Prime Minister desired to effect—namely, to give authority to 1899 the Lord Lieutenant to search by night for illegal and secret meetings. This was proposed to be provided for by a sub-section which they had not yet on the Paper, and which they understood had not yet been drafted. All ho asked, therefore, in view of what happened yesterday evening, was that the statement of the Prime Minister and the object of this clause should be made perfectly clear at that stage of the Committee.
In page 6, line 21, after the word "warrant," to insert the words "at any hour within sunrise and sunset."—(Mr, Parnell.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he quite understood the way in which the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) put the matter; but he (Sir William Harcourt) had had an opportunity of communicating with his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, who was obliged to be absent at that moment, owing to the pressure of Public Business, and the view taken by his right hon. Friend of the matter, and the one which his right hon. Friend had taken throughout, was that no alteration in this respect in regard to night-search was to be made at this stage of the Bill. Whatever modification of the clause that was to be made would be made upon an Amendment to be introduced on the Report. In his (Sir William Harcourt's) opinion, that would be the proper time on which to discuss the nature of the Amendment and its effect, and he therefore thought it would only be wasting the time of the Committee to enter into any discussion of the matter at the present stage of the Bill. That was not only his own view of the matter, but it was distinctly the view of the matter taken by the Prime Minister, and therefore he hoped that the Amendment would not be further pressed, but that the consideration of the question would be postponed until the Report.
§ MR. SEXTON
remarked, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary had very carefully confined himself to a literal view of the question raised by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). He (Mr. Sexton), therefore, arose for the purpose of putting a plain question to the right 1900 hon. and learned Gentleman. The Prime Minister had expressed himself so clearly upon the question that he had thought no further discussion necessary, and he had been disposed to look upon the Amendment of his hon. Friend as superfluous. But the circumstances showed that the precaution taken by his hon. Friend was by no means superfluous, because it now appeared that the Government were going to drop the question of that important Amendment for their own convenience, and leave it entirely till the Report. The assurance given by the Prime Minister yesterday was that searches by day might be made for arms, ammunition, and papers, but that the night-searches should be confined to secret and illegal meetings. They now found from other Members sitting on the Treasury Bench that the promise of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had been made disingenuously. The natural position of the Amendment was this. The Home Secretary thought last night, and led the Committee to believe, that the interpretation placed on the Prime Minister's words was not true. The right hon. and learned Gentleman did not condescend to say what the true interpretation was, and at the present moment it was a question depending between the Irish Representatives and the right hon. and learned Gentleman as to the meaning of the Prime Minister's words. Without conveying any assurance as to whether the clause would be used for carrying out searches for arms in the daytime, and for secret meetings at night, the right hon. and learned Gentleman now wished them to drop the discussion. In the absence of any statement as to what was to be done, he could not consent to take that course. There was a very important question depending upon the meaning to be attached to the words of the Prime Minister. There was clearly a contradiction between the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary, and hon. Members on that side of the House wanted to know what was the meaning that was now attached to the words of the Prime Minister, and whether the present clause was to be limited to day-searches for arms, ammunition, papers, documents, and other articles expressed in the first part of the clause, and not extended to searches in the night-time, or, as expressed in the 8th clause, "after 1901 sunset and before sunrise." He (Mr. Sexton) did not think it would be wise to give up the opportunity of discussing the question with the Chairman in the Chair. He (Mr. Sexton) and his Friends certainly could not walk into the trap so cunningly laid for them by the Home Secretary.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
wished to draw the attention of the Committee to the remarkable course which had been pursued in this matter. When the Committee commenced that day, the first Amendment on the Paper was an Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. E. Power), who was supposed to occupy a responsible position on the Benches below the Gangway, in the very same words as that which was now moved by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). But the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. E. Power) got up and said that, after what had passed last night, he did not think it would be proper to proceed with that Amendment, but that the matter should be allowed to stand over until the Amendments of the Government were moved. But what happened? An hour elapsed, and an Amendment identically the same as that which had been withdrawn by the hon. Member for Waterford, in the presence of most hon. Members now present, was proposed by the hon. Member for the City of Cork. It would be absolutely impossible to make progress with the Bill if this course was to be pursued.
§ MR. HEALY
said, the whole matter admitted of a simple explanation, and certainly what had occurred was scarcely creditable to Her Majesty's Government. His hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. E. Power) got up, at the commencement of the Sitting, and said that, after the undertaking given last night by the Prime Minister, he would not proceed with his Amendment. But the Irish Members had not expected, after the Prime Minister withdrew last night, that the Home Secretary would have thrown his right hon. Colleague overboard altogether. They took the right hon. and learned Gentleman to mean that; but when his hon. Friend got up and asked whether the Government stood to their guns or not, no answer was returned at all, and they found that the Government desired that the whole thing should remain in a nebulous condition 1902 until the Report stage of the Bill. Therefore, the Government had only to thank themselves for all that had occurred since. The position they took up now was very different from that which they took up last night. As long as they had a clear understanding from the Government that they would maintain the meaning of the words of the Prime Minister, they were willing to let the clause pass. But what did they find now? After the statement of the Prime Minister had been made last night, he (Mr. Healy) left the Committee, and did not return for some hours. When he came in he found a wrangle going on as to the words which had been used by the Prime Minister, and, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary had thrown his Chief overboard, what could they do but continue the discussion? He would read to the Committee the way in which the matter was reported in The Times, and it was similarly reported in The Standard:—Mr. Gladstone declined to accept the Amendment, but wished to take that opportunity of stating that the Government had, on consideration, decided to limit the operation of the clause. When the time came they should propose to give the police power to search by night only when there was a reasonable suspicion that a secret or illegal society was holding a meeting.The Home Secretary got up from the Treasury Bench last night, and, in answer to a demand from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the senior Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket), said that he could by no means accept the statement of his right hon. Colleague.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
remarked, that, as the matter was of some importance, he must be allowed to say exactly what it was that he did say. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) rose and stated that the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy) had put a certain interpretation upon the words of the Prime Minister. He 1903 (Sir William Harcourt) at once said that he did not concur in that interpretation, if it had been accurately stated, and he was equally sure that the Prime Minister would not concur in it. Since then he had had an opportunity of speaking to the Prime Minister on the subject, and he had only to repeat that, if the representation given by the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin last night as to the interpretation placed by the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy) upon the words of the Prime Minister was correct, then he did not concur with it, nor did the Prime Minister concur with it either.
§ MR. HEALY
said, that if that were really so, the whole thing was now put in a nutshell. He would read from The Times the statement which the right hon. and learned Gentleman was reported to have made—Sir W. Harcourt said …s to the construction which the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite said the hon. Member for Wexford and others had placed on the statement of the Prime Minister, all he could say was that if they placed that construction upon it, he could not agree in that construction, and he felt sure that his right hon. Friend (the Prime Minister) would not concur in it either.[Ministerial cheers.] He was delighted to hear those cheers. He presumed that the right hon. and learned Gentleman concurred in the accuracy of that report. He took it that the right hon. and learned Gentleman did so by his silence. He would now go on to see whether the Prime Minister had accepted his interpretation, and he would again quote from The Times report—
§ MR. HEALY
said, he was in possession of the Committee, and he was entitled to finish his statement. Ho had already been interrupted twice, and be had given way to the right hon. and learned Gentleman; but he now claimed the right of continuing his remarks. He would again read from The Times report—Mr. Healy thought that if the Prime Minister would bonâ fide carry out what he had said as to the way in which a search for arms or documents should he conducted, the clause on the whole, should be agreed to. All that the clause asked was that the police should have power to search for arms or documents. If it was to be understood that on the occasion of a search, chimney-pieces were not to be 1904 pulled down, nor clothing to be torn, nor decent women to he compelled to get out of their beds in the presence of police-constables, and that, if nothing was found, the searchers would immediately retire, he would vote for the Government against every Amendment that might be proposed against this clause.—Mr. Gladstone said, if he understood rightly the observations of the hon. Member who had just spoken, he had placed a correct interpretation upon the concession of the Government. The credit of the concession was due to his noble Friend the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who had examined the whole question with no infallible judgment, but with a sincere desire that Government should only ask from Parliament for that which was absolutely necessary. He understood the concession as it was understood by the hon. Member opposite.Now, that was only one portion of the report. He would take another to show exactly what transpired. They would see, again, in this portion of the report what really did occur. [Cries of" Order!"] Hon. Members opposite always called out "Order!" when the argument was going against themselves. Here they had another passage from the same debate, and it was made after the original statement of the Prime Minister—Mr. Healy agreed with the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Nolan) as to the importance of this concession. Would it be understood that the police, having made a search by night, and finding no illegal meeting, would withdraw from the premises?—Mr. Gladstone had no doubt that they would do so.He might ask what was the use of language? They were told that language was given to statesmen to conceal their thoughts, and it certainly appeared to be so, because he found the Prime Minister making a distinct statement and agreeing with the interpretation which had been placed upon it by Members like himself (Mr. Healy), and then they found the Home Secretary getting up in all his majesty and throwing over his Chief. That was exactly what it amounted to. Did the Home Secretary agree in the interpretation which had been placed on the Prime Minister's words? Either he did, or he did not. If he did, there was no difference between the right hon. and learned Gentlemen and himself (Mr. Healy) and his Colleagues, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman must withdraw from the position ho had taken up. The right hon. and learned Gentleman was prepared, a few moments ago, to rise for the purpose of interrupting him. He hoped the right hon. and learned Gentle- 1905 man would get up now and give the Committee some reasonable explanation as to the extraordinary and two-fold position the Government were taking up on the matter.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, the Government took no two-fold position in the matter. But the hon. Gentleman would see that accuracy in the matter was essential. What he had said that he did not concur in, and what ho had said his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister did not concur in, was the view taken by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) as to the interpretation placed by the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy) on the words of the Prime Minister. It was to that statement he (Sir William Har-court) had directed his observations. He had not directed them to anything the Prime Minister had said at all. He again repeated that he still maintained that position, and it was far better that the Prime Minister should state what he had said than that they should go on wrangling about what the Prime Minister did or did not say. The whole matter would be much more properly brought before the House on an Amendment of this clause upon the Report. The Prime Minister could then state the view he took of the question. He need not say that the Government were in entire accord upon the matter; but it was impossible to go into it then. He would not attempt to embark upon a discussion now in regard to what took place when he was not present. He therefore asked the Committee to proceed with the consideration of the clause, and to postpone the present discussion until the Report.
§ MR. BORLASE
said, the hon. Member for Wexford had stated that the whole question was comprised in a nutshell. It appeared to him (Mr. Borlase) that that was so, and therefore the best thing they could do was to go to a division on the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). Let that division be final, and let them hear no more of the question on the Report.
I must point out to the Committee that, although it is sometimes convenient for the progress of Business to have explanations when a misunderstanding has arisen, an answer having now been given by the 1906 Minister in charge of the Bill, the Committee should now return to the Amendments before them. The Committee cannot discuss an Amendment which is not before them. The proposal of the Prime Minister to bring up an Amendment to the clause on the Report is not before us, and we cannot discuss it.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, it was necessary for himself and his Colleagues to decide whether they were to press the Amendment or not, or to adopt the course recommended by the Home Secretary— namely, that the matter should be left over until the Report in order that a new sub-section might be introduced. The Committee had had several negative statements from the Home Secretary, and before they come to a conclusion upon a question of this sort it was very desirable to know what the mind of the Home Secretary was. What was his idea as to the shape in which the subsection should stand? What was his idea of the nature of the limitation to be provided by a future sub-section? That was the difficulty at the present moment. He had heard the statement of the Prime Minister last night, and he had perfectly understood it; but the Home Secretary had steadily refused, up to the present moment, to tell them positively what his own mind was. He would be perfectly satisfied to leave the matter to the Report, if he could obtain from the Home Secretary, who was in charge of the Bill, a declaration that he adhered to the words of the Prime Minister last night. He thought that was a reasonable request for himself and his Colleagues to make. If the Home Secretary could see his way to state that he abided by the words of the Prime Minister, he (Mr. Parnell) would be quite willing to withdraw the Amendment and to leave the matter to be settled on the Report, otherwise he should feel compelled to ask the Committee to divide upon the Amendment.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, that hon. Members on the Benches below the Gangway on the opposite side of the House had made repeated attempts, the object of which it was obvious to see, to distinguish between one Member of the Government and another. Ho would make no declaration on the matter at all. It ought to be understood, and it must be understood in that House, that the whole Government, 1907 and every Member of the Government, was responsible for the conduct of this Bill by the mouth of whomsoever they might speak, whether it was the Head of the Government or a subordinate Member of the Government, and these attempts to distinguish between one Member of the Government and another were, in his opinion, entirely unfair and unworthy of the hon. Members by whom they were made. He would, therefore, be no party to any declaration on the subject. Of course, whatever was said in that House by the Prime Minister, by his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary, by his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, or by himself, bound the Government, and the Government were responsible for it.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, he thought the fair and courteous manner in which the Home Secretary had conducted this Bill through the House up to the present moment entitled him to make the remark he had just made to the Committee. In regard to these clauses, he (Mr. Arthur Arnold) had been disposed to give Her Majesty's Government some support, at all events, because he felt they were clauses above all others in connection with the Bill which the Government had the best right to ask from Parliament under the present circumstances. But in regard to the Amendment, ho had great difficulty in deciding how he should vote, and it was for this reason that, in connection with this clause, his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary told the Committee that the Lord Lieutenant attached great importance to the search by day, but not the same importance to the search for arms by night. Now, Lord Spencer was the highest authority they could have on the matter, and if that noble Lord was deliberately of opinion that the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) might be accepted, and that it was not necessary to retain the power of a night-search, he (Mr. Arnold) did not see why the Amendment could not be accepted. He had understood the declaration of the Chief Secretary to be positive upon that point. At the same time, nothing could be more positive than the declaration made by the Home Secretary just now, that he abided by those words. It would, therefore, seem that there was some slight want of agreement between various 1908 Members of the Government. He (Mr. Arnold), before he gave a vote upon the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, wished to know from the Chief Secretary what was the precise meaning of the words he had reported to the Committee from Lord Spencer?
I must point out to the hon. Member that he is not speaking to the question before the Committee—namely, the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, that was exactly the point to which he was speaking. He understood the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to say, and it was so reported, that Lord Spencer had virtually assented to the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. All ho desired was that the right hon. Gentleman should tell them what was to be understood precisely by the expression of Lord Spencer, so as to decide the Committee in coming to a vote.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, the matter appeared to him to have assumed a position which was not convenient to those Members of the House who did not happen to be Members of the Party below the Gangway opposite. When he and other Members were asked to vote upon the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), they were bound to know whether or not the Government intended, by an Amendment on the Report, to meet that Amendment. If his right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary would get up and say that he (Mr. Rylands) had understood correctly that the Prime Minister last night did undertake that in regard to the search for arms and for documents, it should not take place during the hours of the night, he, for one, would cheerfully vote with the Government against the Amendment; but if his right hon. and learned Friend declined to give that assurance, he (Mr. Rylands) would be placed in a very unfair position. He certainly could not undertake to vote on this Amendment without understanding what the intentions of the Government were on the Report. It seemed to him that there was a sort of mysterious action in the matter. He believed there had been complaints made in certain quarters that the Government had conceded too much. He rejoiced that the Government had made concessions in regard to many of these clauses, and he 1909 thought that those concessions ought to receive from the Irish Party their due recognition. He believed it would be a wise concession on the part of the Government to act as he understood it was their intention to act in reference to the provisions contained in this clause. But to say to the House of Commons, "You must act blindfold, and you must give a vote under the present circumstances with a sort of indefinite impression that there has been some mistake as to certain expressions used," that was not treating the independent Members of the House fairly, and they would be justified in voting for the Amendment, which, as far as he was able to judge, was in accord with the opinion expressed by the Prime Minister last night. Unless the Government gave more explicit information—unless the Home Secretary was prepared to give an assurance that the Government would deal with the matter in the way the Prime Minister had already undertaken that it should be dealt with— and he did not distinguish between one Member of the Government and another —he should have some difficulty in arriving at a conclusion as to the way in which he ought to vote. At the same time, he was prepared to say that he regarded the Prime Minister as his Chief, as well as the Chief of the Government, and he knew that whatever the right hon. Gentleman had said he would adhere to. But unless the Committee had a statement from the Home Secretary that he intended to act in the spirit of the declaration of the Prime Minister, and to restrict the right of search for arms and papers to the daytime, he (Mr. Rylands), for one, would go without hesitation into the Lobby against him.
§ MR. MORGAN LLOYD
remarked, that his two hon. Friends who had just spoken (Mr. Arnold and Mr. Rylands) did not appear to him to have considered the statement of the Prime Minister and the Amendment now before the Committee, because he did not think for a moment anybody in the House understood the Prime Minister to promise to go as far as the Amendment went. Whatever the Prime Minister might have intended, it was perfectly certain that he did not intend that. What was the question now before the Committee? It was that the right of search should be confined to the day-time, be- 1910 tween sunrise and sunset. That was the day-time as ordinarily understood; but the sun might go down while it was still daylight, and was a Sub-Inspector to be supposed to set his watch by the almanack, and discontinue a search the moment the sun went down? What the Prime Minister meant was, that a search might be permitted to take place between certain specified hours in the daytime, such as from 6 o'clock in the morning until 8 or 9 o'clock at night. He hoped the Committee would support the Government in resisting the Amendment, whatever might be done on the Report. For his own part, he preferred the clause as it stood without any amendment, and thought it unwise to have any restriction upon the right of search at night. Those who possessed arms intended to be used for illegal purposes ought to be made to feel that they were not safe from a visit by the police during any portion of the 24 hours; and if it was thought that the police would use their powers harshly, that could be guarded against by general instructions from head-quarters.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, the speech which had just been delivered by the hon. and learned Member for Beaumaris (Mr. Morgan Lloyd) had really nothing whatever to do with the question the Committee were discussing at the present moment. The question they were discussing was not whether or not the right of search for arms should be confined to the day-time, because that matter had already been conceded by the Government. The hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) had put the matter fairly and temperately before the Committee, and he did not see why they should discuss the question with any appearance of passion, either on one side or the other. The Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) was that the right of search for arms, ammunition, and papers should be confined to the day-time, and the words of the Chief Secretary last night were, that the Lord Lieutenant had come to the conclusion that the power of search for arms and documents at night was unnecessary. Therefore, the Amendment of his hon. Friend only provided that a power which the Lord Lieutenant declared to be unnecessary should be given up, and the point at issue between the Government and the 1911 Irish Members was a very simple and narrow one. It was this. The subsection extended to the seizure of arms and the articles mentioned, by night as well as by day. But the Government had declared that they did not want it to extend to the night as well as to the day. If that were the case, why did the right hon. and learned Gentleman not consent to admit the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork? The Home Secretary said it was a convenient course to postpone the question to the stage of Report; but, in saying that, he was asking the Committee to postpone a matter which arose on this very clause.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
begged pardon, but that was not his statement; it was the proposal of the Prime Minister. It was agreed that the matter should be dealt with on Report, and at that stage only.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman had misunderstood his point. He had stated that the Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant had given up the right of search for arms at night, unless there was proof that an illegal meeting was taking place. Clearly, that right of search at night had been given up by the Government. The clause had nothing to do with illegal meetings; it related solely to the search and seizure of arms, ammunition, and other articles named, and, therefore, the question limiting the right of search for arms clearly arose here, and should not be deferred to the stage of Report. The Government had said they did not want the power of search at night, except on the conditions stated, and they had clearly conceded the point of the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, that words of his had been referred to frequently in the course of this discussion. He had not, however, in any instance felt ashamed of his words, nor did he regret having uttered them. The Irish Government were satisfied that they did not want the right to search for arms, ammunition, and documents at night-time. They were equally satisfied that when they should have reason to know that members of a secret society were gathered together— that men, in fact, had collected together to plan crime—the right of entry ought 1912 to be possessed by the Government, in order that the machinations of the evil-disposed might be defeated. That was the view he had expressed during the previous Sitting, and which the Government now maintained. Under these circumstances, as an important change was to be made in the clause on the Report, in order to bring it into conformity with the statement of the Prime Minister, the Government were quite determined not to be hampered by any material change made in the clause at the present stage of the proceedings on the Bill. The clause was important beyond the conception of Gentlemen who had not been engaged in the administration of Irish affairs. He did not speak from his own experience, for it would be ridiculous to do that; he spoke on the faith of conversations held with all the most important people concerned in Irish administration. The Government would not recede from the position that the question was of such importance that it must be considered as a whole, and, consequently, they could not accept any material Amendment at the present stage. The statement made on the previous evening seemed to him to have been as clear and straightforward as any statement could be. The Government asked that the question might be postponed to the stage of the Report, in the belief that they had a right to expect hon. Members would trust them. At any rate, the confidence of hon. Members on that side of the House ought certainly to be extended to the Government in this matter. He would beg hon. Members, once for all, to remember that while they might deem it to be their duty to criticize the Bill at, perhaps, great length, every day brought before him fresh reasons to show that the Irish Government, or that part of it which was behind the scenes, regarded the present situation, not with fear, but with the most deep and increasing anxiety. He was not using conventional words, but language founded on matters of the most serious importance, and he felt bound to say that every day by which the Bill was delayed added very seriously indeed to the responsibility of hon. Members who might unnecessarily prolong its discussion.
§ MR. PLUNKET
said, after the serious appeal of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, 1913 he should not detain the Committee on that occasion by making any remarks as to the course which Her Majesty's Government might think fit to adopt with regard to the abandonment of the right of search for arms, ammunition, and documents at night, and the powers which they thought it incumbent on them to take for the purpose of defeating the machinations of secret societies. But there was a second issue raised by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, and also by the speeches of the hon. Members below the Gangway on that side of the House, on which he desired to say a few words. It was as to the time at which the alteration in question was to be made. On that subject he had the clearest possible recollection, and he could mention, in connection with it, a circumstance that would doubtless recall it to the memory of the Committee. The Prime Minister distinctly stated that the time when the clause was going through Committee was not that at which he would make the alteration, which he was willing to concede, but that it should be done on Re-port. Upon that he (Mr. Plunket) rose and said that, at that moment, he should make no comment; that he reserved his right of speaking upon the subject, and that he presumed an opportunity for doing so would be accorded when the whole clause was put to the Committee. He had availed himself of the Motion to report Progress later on in the evening to say something on the subject; but it was distinctly understood that the proper occasion for fully discussing it would be on Report. He repeated that the Prime Minister had distinctly stated that the alteration indicated was to be made at the stage of Report, and not at the stage of Committee.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, this clause, as the side-title showed, provided for "searches for arms and illegal documents;" and, as the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant and the Government had given up the right of search by night, and only desired to retain the right of entry where they had reason to suspect that the meeting of an illegal association was going on, it necessarily followed that the clause would have to be amended, either on the present occasion or on the Report stage, in the direction which he had pointed out by his Amendment. The clause, as had been 1914 already shown, provided simply for searches for arms and illegal documents. Therefore, the right of entry, as regarded illegal meetings, did not come within [the scope of the clause at all, and it would be necessary for the Government to introduce practically a new clause, although they might call it a sub-section, in order to deal with that matter. He considered it was but a reasonable request to ask the Government to accept words with the view of making the clause now before the Committee what they desired it should be. But he had also asked the Home Secretary to make some statement as to what he considered the new clause would be, and he, in reply, said that the Government would be bound by any statement made on the Bill by the Prime Minister, the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, and by himself. Now, the right hon. and learned Gentleman had himself made no statement, and he, therefore, pinned him to the statement of the Chief Secretary, which they had just hoard, and which, in the absence of any dissent on his part, embodied the view which it was to be presumed he entertained. In the full confidence that the Government would carry out what they had stated last night, and what the Chief Secretary had just repeated, he would ask leave to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, he hoped the Government would be willing to accept the Amendment, of which he had given Notice, to the effect that the power of entry by force should be exercised only by policemen in uniform.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, the proposal of the hon. and gallant Member, that detectives should go about their work in uniform, was suggestive of the idea of a gentleman going out deer-stalking in a conspicuous dress. Why, under such circumstances as that, he would never get near the game. The clause was directed against secret societies, and it was impossible that the Government could agree to an Amendment which proposed that the officers who carried it out should be in uniform.
§ MR. MARUM
said, he proposed, by the Amendment he was about to move, that Parliament should show to the 1915 people of Ireland that some regard was paid to their religious feelings. As the unrestricted right of search in the case of churches, places of worship, and other houses connected with the religion of the country, would be regarded in Ireland as extremely objectionable, he begged to offer his Amendment to the favourable consideration of Her Majesty's Government.
In page 6, at the end of the Clause, to add—"Provided always, That no entry to search as aforesaid shall he made into any church or other place of worship, or any house of any clergyman of any denomination, or in any monastery, or convent, or nunnery, or school, except in the presence of a magistrate."—(Mr. Marum.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
trusted the hon. Member would not hesitate to withdraw his Amendment. He saw the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) about to take his seat, and, if his suggestion were adopted, it would doubtless facilitate the progress of the Bill. His objection to the exemptions proposed was that the principle had already been discussed and decided against on a former clause, when it was proposed to exempt, amongst other persons, the village doctor from its operation. It was not likely that the right of entry would be exercised in the case of the places mentioned, except for overwhelming reasons.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that he was the only Member who had succeeded in inducing a former House of Commons to appoint a Committee to inquire into the manner in which Conventual and Monastic establishments were conducted, and unless there had been some grounds for his Motion, he presumed that that House, which was certainly not inferior to the present House, would have rejected his Motion. He was quite as much impressed as was the Home Secretary with the necessity for expedition in passing the Bill now before the House. He had, however, risen in order to mention that during his researches he had found that the right of sanctuary was still claimed by these Institutions; and ho would beg the Home Secretary to bear in mind that, previous to the suppression of Monastic and Conventual establishments in the reign of Henry VIII, and during the long subsequent 1916 suppressions of these Institutions in foreign countries, that right of sanctuary was found to be attended with the gravest abuses, and to be fraught with the gravest public dangers.
§ Question put, and negatived.
In page 6, line 30, after the word "shall," to insert the words "produce and exhibit same, and furnish a copy thereof to the person (if any) in occupation of the premises which have been searched, or to anyone authorized to demand, and who shall demand same on behalf of such person, or of the owner of such premises."—(Mr. Mealy.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he thought it quite proper that the words in the Act of last year should be used in reference to the warrant, and that before the warrant was exercised it should be produced, if so desired. He should, therefore, be willing to insert, on Report, the words of the Act of last year, and he trusted the hon. Member would be satisfied with that assurance. The hon. Member would see that the production of the warrant was already provided for in the 3rd sub-section of the clause.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
said, he must point out to the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. R. Power), who had the next Amendment on the Paper, that the two first lines of the Amendment could not be put, inasmuch as they had, in substance, been negatived by the Committee on a division upon the Amendment of the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. T. C. Thompson). That being so, it would seem that the whole of the Amendment was inadmissible, because the latter portion of it covered the first.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the object of the Amendment he was about to move was to enable a person, whose property had been seized, to go before a Petty Session Court and satisfy the Court that the articles found had not been used for the purposes of a secret society or a criminal association; it was, further, to enable him, if he were dissatisfied with the decision of the Court of Petty Sessions, to appeal to the Judge of the County Court. It would be obvious to the Committee that a Sub-Inspector and a body of police might come suddenly into the house of a person, who had not the slightest connection with any illegal society or any intention to commit any illegal act, and take away his property —arms and other things—without good grounds. The right hon. and learned Gentleman would not deny that the property of perfectly innocent persons might be seized under this clause by an Inspector who, perhaps, proceeded on the vaguest and most unreasonable evidence or suspicion; and he was simply asking that the person so aggrieved might be allowed to go before gentlemen invested by Her Majesty with the commission of the peace, to satisfy them that the articles seized were not intended to be used for any illegal purpose. This, and the right of appeal to the Judge of the County Court, appeared to him to be most reasonable propositions; and, as the Government could not wish to punish innocent persons, he trusted they would be acceded to by the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
In page 6, line 31, at the end of the Clause, to add the words—" The person in whose possession any of the articles above mentioned may have been when seized, or any person claiming property in same, may within one month after the date of such seizure apply in the prescribed manner to a court of petty sessions sitting for the district in which such seizure took place, and which court shall consist of at least two justices of the peace, for an order that the articles seized should be delivered up to him; and if the court shall be of opinion that such articles have not been used, or intended to be used, in connection with any secret society or secret association existing for criminal purposes, the court may make an order that such articles be delivered up to the person claiming same. Any person finding himself aggrieved by any order of a court of petty sessions under this section may appeal from same to the county court judge for the county and division within
which such order was made, subject to the provisions of, and in manner prescribed by, the twenty-fourth section of 'The Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act, 1851,' and the county court judge, on the hearing of any such appeal, shall have power to confirm, modify, or reverse such order, or to make any other order in the premises which may seem just."—(Mr. Sexton.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, this was a search clause, and it was now proposed by the hon. Member for Sligo to make it subject to a double appeal. If that were done, the clause would be perfectly unworkable. The right of appeal had never been asked or conceded in connection with clauses of this kind which had been in operation in Ireland for many years. The Government could not possibly assent to this proposal. Although, perhaps, the hon. Member for Sligo would not share the good opinion he had of the Irish Government, he felt confident that, if it were discovered that a miscarriage of justice had taken place, in the sense indicated, every reasonable means would be taken to repair the error, and it would therefore be unnecessary, as well as inexpedient, to encumber the clause with the machinery suggested by the hon. Member.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, if the right hon. and learned Gentleman admitted that an innocent person ought not to be punished, it was difficult to see why he objected to the Amendment. How was the innocence of the person to be discovered unless it was by the means he suggested? It was obvious, in the case of a person whose arms or other property had been seized, that no step taken by him would be sufficient to counteract the action of the local police, nor was it likely that the authorities at Dublin Castle would willingly reverse that action. His proposition was that the person aggrieved should have an opportunity of calling into play that just and benevolent disposition which the right hon. and learned Gentleman had ascribed to the Irish Government. He proposed no more than that cases of the kind indicated should go before the right hon. and learned Gentleman's own magistrates; and he contended that unless this right of appeal were given to the aggrieved person, there was no other possible or conceivable way in 1919 which the accused person could draw attention to the fact of his innocence.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, he was quite unable to see why the Government could not agree to the proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo. If a man who was perfectly innocent of any illegal act or intention had his property taken away by the police, he had no right of appeal whatever. The Amendment asked nothing more than that a person so situated should be allowed to show that he was innocent, and that his property should not have been taken away. Such an addition to the clause as that could not possibly embarrass the working of the Act.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, he thought that although the right hon. and learned Gentleman said the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sligo would make the clause unworkable, his own opinion was that its effect would be to make the police more careful. He asked the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether he believed that any man connected with an unlawful society in Ireland, whose arms had been seized, would go before the magistrates and subject himself to examination? The idea was not to be entertained for a moment; and the right hon. and learned Gentleman would see that the only object of the proposal was to allow an innocent man from whom arms had been taken to say that those arms were not in his possession for an illegal purpose.
§ MR. GILL
said, the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument, that the adoption of the Amendment would render the clause unworkable was clearly fallacious, because the appeal asked for could not be made until the clause had operated—that was to say, until the house had been broken into and the property taken away. It was most desirable that an innocent man should have the opportunity of proving his innocence in the manner suggested for other reasons than those which had already been given. The Committee would know that the power had already been taken under Clause 9 of the Bill to arrest strangers in a proclaimed district under suspicious circumstances. Now, it might very well happen that a perfectly innocent person, whose house had been entered and whose property had been seized, might find himself the object of suspicion to a policeman in a 1920 proclaimed district where his business or avocations called him. Suppose this person to be arrested. Would it not be strong evidence against him if the police brought forward proof that his house had been searched by the police of the district where he formerly lived? He contended that, under those circumstances, the individual would have no chance of escape from the operation of Clause 9 unless he could show that his house had been searched unnecessarily; and there would be no means of his doing this except he could refer to the record of the appeal with which the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sligo would furnish him.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, he thought this Amendment might be described as one of the most simple and reasonable Amendments that had been proposed to the Bill. It asked nothing more than that after a man had been wronged he should have an opportunity of getting redress. Nothing could be more just than that a man, whose property had been injured and whose reputation had suffered by the wrongful action of the police in searching his house upon slight information or hasty suspicion, should be able to obtain reparation. He could not help thinking that the right hon. and learned Gentleman wanted to insure that the police should have the power of doing wrongs of this kind unchecked by the knowledge that the person whom they wronged would be able to get redress. If that were not so, what was it that the right hon. and learned Gentleman wanted? He presumed it would be admitted that the police might commit grievous mistakes in carrying out the provisions of the Act. Well, then, if the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not want to shelter the police, and insure that they should have no trouble after they made mistakes of the kind indicated, why did he not accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sligo? The right hon. and learned Gentleman had expressed his belief that if the Irish Government found that a wrong had been done under this clause, they would, of their own motion, make amends for that wrong. If, then, they were so well-disposed, no possible harm could result from the Government assenting to such a proposition as this. He appealed to the Committee not to regard 1921 the whole case as settled, because the Home Secretary said he could not accept the Amendment. In deciding a matter of this kind, they were not to be ruled by the opinion of any Member of the Committee; on the contrary, every Member of the Committee had the right to bring his own honest and independent judgment to bear upon the question at issue; and it was upon that ground that he invoked further consideration for his hon. Friend's proposal, which, for the reasons given, he held to be strictly conformable to the spirit of justice.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, the proposal of the hon. Member for Sligo was not a limitation of the clause, although it would, if adopted, exercise an influence over the police in making applications for search warrants without reasonable cause. As an illustration of the conduct of the police in matters of this kind, he would refer to a case in his own parish which occurred in 1848. At that time a Roman Catholic church was being built in the parish; his father and the son of a neighbouring magistrate acted respectively as treasurer and secretary, and, for the purpose of collecting subscriptions, a parish census was taken. Someone gave information that there was a secret organization in the parish; the police made a sudden raid, and carried away some articles. After it was discovered that the whole thing was a mistake, application was made for the return of the property; but it was never returned, because to have done that would have shown the absurd position in which the Government were placed.
§ MR. O'KELLY
said, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary, in refusing this Amendment, spoke of it as an Amendment calculated to interfere with the right of search, and as one which would render the powers conferred by the clause practically useless to the Government. He (Mr. O'Kelly) could not understand how the right hon. and learned Gentleman could reasonably take that view of the Amendment. It interfered with no power of the police to enter and search; but what it would do would be to compel the police to act with something like prudence and fairness, from a fear that their action would be subject to review. Who were the men by whom they asked the Government to allow the conduct of 1922 the police to be reviewed? They were men appointed by the Government themselves—men who were known to act in the interests of the Government constantly and continually — men who were, to a great extent, in the pay and under the power of the Government. It was to such a tribunal as that that they asked the Government to refer the action of the police. If the Government meant honestly to use this Bill simply against evil-doers, there could be no reasonable and logical objection to their affording the protection which was asked for in this Amendment—the protection that when a man's house was invaded, and his arms or other effects were seized by the police, upon one pretence or another, that man should have the right to go before a tribunal of the country and prove, or offer evidence to that tribunal to prove, that the weapons and articles seized had not been kept by him with a view of breaking any law. The protection afforded by this clause would not interfere with the power of the Government to deal with anyone connected with secret societies, or with anyone whose intention it was to break the law. There was nothing in the Amendment which would afford such people the slightest protection; but in it there were guarantees to the subject that this right of search should not be abused in the future in Ireland, as it had been so frequently abused in the past. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen, Members of the Committee, who were not so well acquainted with the history of Ireland as were the Irish Members, were unaware of the evils which had been brought on that country by abuses of this right of search. Hon. Gentlemen, perhaps, forgot that the origin of the Rebellion of 1798 was the abuse of a similar power conferred on the Yeomanry and the officials of the Government of that day. Through the use that was made of this power, the people were driven to desperation, and the result was that the Government had to deal with a very formidable rebellion. What was now feared was, that if this clause should be used in the same spirit in the future as it had been used so frequently in the past, it would become a means of promoting disorder, and provoking resistance to the Government; perhaps resistance of a very serious character; while they could achieve all that they required, or all that the Govern- 1923 ment had a right to demand, without conferring' this extra and dangerous power on the police and local authorities. The Government could take powers sufficient under this Bill to search for arms, ammunition, papers, documents, or articles they might think it desirable should be seized, without conferring an absolutely unlimited power upon the police —a power not merely unlimited, but absolutely without check or revision. What the Irish Members wanted was, that when a police-officer, acting with information, or without information, went into a man's house to search, if that man was convinced that there was no reasonable ground for such action of the police, he should have the right to go to the magistrates and put before them the reasons why ho contended that the police had no right to act as they had done. He (Mr. O'Kelly) would ask English Members, was that an unreasonable guarantee to ask for? He would ask them how, and in what way, would the right of review impede or interfere with the right of search? In what way could it interfere with the right of the police to seize any arms or documents that they might want to seize? The Government took up the position that this Amendment would impede their use of the Act; but, as a matter of fact, it would only impede them where they wished to use the Act dishonestly— where they wished to use it despotically. It would not hamper, in the slightest degree, the use of this Act in any case where it ought fairly to be used.
§ MR. ASTHUR ARNOLD
said, he hoped hon. Gentlemen opposite would allow them to take a division at once on this Amendment. The matter was extremely simple, he had been there the whole of the time it had been under discussion, he thought it had been exhausted, and that a result might very fairly be now arrived at.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he desired to make an appeal to the Government, and that was that they (the Government) should make, at least, a pretence of listening to the arguments advanced in favour of the Amendment by Members of the Committee. There was no Member of the Government present except the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland; and it, therefore, could not be said that they were paying due attention to the argu- 1924 ments advanced. He begged to move that the Chairman report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."— (Mr. Biggar.)
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, he did not think the hon. Member could be in earnest in this Motion. He was sure the hon. Member would not deliberately delay the Business of the House, especially considering the large amount of time which had been devoted, up to the present, to the consideration of this Bill. As to the statement that the Government were not listening to the arguments of hon. Members, personally he had been obliged, in the interests of Public Business—not in any way for his own purposes—to absent himself from the Committee; but betook it for granted that other Members of the Government had been present, and had attended to the arguments that were presented to the Committee by hon. Gentlemen who supported the Amendment. So far as he was able to form an opinion with regard to the Amendment—not having had the opportunity of conferring with his Colleagues—he did not think the Government would be able to accept the proposal. He wished to keep himself within the Rules of the House; but if he might be allowed to say so, he would observe that the hon. Member for Roscommon (Mr. O'Kelly) had put the case very strongly — to say the least of it—when he said the Government wished to use this Act dishonestly. If that were the case, and if the object of the Government were criminal, it would be idle to talk of introducing this Amendment. But that was not the object of the Government. Their object was to obtain from Parliament those measures which the Executive in Ireland considered necessary to restore peace, and to put down that disorder which everyone must admit had been for such a long time rampant throughout the country. The hon. Member said that an innocent man might be deprived of his arms and property—that was to say that the house of a man might be searched, and the police might seize arms and other articles which the man who owned them had in his possession for a perfectly 1925 proper purpose. In such a case a much shorter remedy than that suggested by hon. Members opposite was open to the persons who felt themselves aggrieved. They could apply to the Lord Lieutenant, who would, on being satisfied of their innocence, order the arms to be returned.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, if he found a man in possession of a jemmy at night in the neighbourhood of a house it would take a very strong argument to prove that that man was innocent of any evil intent. Under ordinary circumstances, however, he would rather assume that a person's intentions were honest.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, what were arms but articles? Surely the hon. Member did not suppose that the word "articles" in the Bill meant a pair of slippers or a dressing-gown. The Bill said—All or any of the following articles; that is to say, any arms, ammunition, papers, documents, instruments, or articles suspected to he used or to he intended to be used for the purpose of or in connexion with any secret society or secret association existing for criminal purposes.That was the character of the articles— it was not an umbrella, or a pair of slippers that would be seized, but articles used for the purposes of secret crime. It might be difficult, to some extent, for an innocent man to prove his innocent intentions if found in possession of these articles—just as difficult as it might be for a man to prove his innocence who was found in possession of stolen property that had come to him from other persons; still a person could do it, and was not prevented from doing it. The short answer to the Amendment was this. If a man was innocent and required these articles mentioned in the clause for an innocent purpose, in the event of their being seized, he would have little or no difficulty in getting them back by means of a memorial to the Lord Lieutenant—he would be able to get them back in that way in as many minutes as it would take him days to get them back in the way suggested by the hon. Mem- 1926 ber. He, therefore, hoped the hon. Member for Cavan would withdraw the Motion for reporting Progress; and, seeing that they had discussed this question at very great length, he trusted that hon. Members would now submit it to the arbitrament of a division.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he would withdraw the Motion. His only object in moving to report Progress was to get the right hon. and learned Gentleman to give some reason, or, at any rate, to undertake to give some reason, why the Government were so unreasonable as to object to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton). Seeing that he had been successful, he did not wish to press the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ DR. COMMINS
said, with regard to the arguments of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, they appeared to him (Dr. Commins) to be very short of the mark, in asking for power to seize—Arms, ammunition, papers, documents, instruments, or articles suspected to he used or to he intended to be used for the purpose of or in connexion with any secret society or secret association.The right hon. and learned Gentleman's illustration with regard to the "jemmy" was the most unfortunate one he could have drawn, because he must not forget the fact that there were 1,000 different purposes for which these articles, mentioned in the Bill, could be used besides the purposes of secret societies. People who got up secret societies did not label the articles they kept for the use of such societies, and there might be nothing to show the purpose for which they were intended to be used. A gun that might be used for the purposes of a "Moonlighter," or a member of any other secret society, might be suspected of being required for an unlawful purpose; but, seeing that the evidence upon which the police were to be empowered to seize such an article would be altogether extrinsic from the article itself, there should be some means of rebutting the evidence of the policeman, and showing that the article was required for a lawful purpose. But the clause did not give such a power. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland seemed 1927 to forget that the Arms Act already gave ample power to the police to seize all these things, and that that Act would not expire until October. Under that Act the police were empowered to seize all unlicensed arms or ammunition, or even parts of unlicensed arms, such as a gun cap or the broken lock of a gun. The provisions of that Act were sufficient to enable everything in the nature of an arm or in the nature of ammunition to be seized, while the Amendment would not interfere with that Act at all; but if articles were seized under the present section of the Prevention of Crime Bill, any mortal thing could be seized on the assumption that it was to be used for some illegal purpose. Books might be seized, papers also; iron might be seized from a smith's forge on the plea that it was going to be manufactured into pike-heads. There was not an article in the world that might not be seized. Clothing might be seized, because the police might say, "Oh, this clothing is intended to be used for disguises." House furniture might be taken, horses too, for it might be said, "Oh, these horses are to be used for the purpose of riding off to an adjoining county to attend a 'Moonlight' meeting." He did not say the Government would abuse this Act intentionally; but there were policemen who were off times over-zealous, particularly when large rewards were held out to them in order to tempt them on, or where it might be an object to them to show how extremely active they were in carrying out the views of the Government. The police might seize articles against which they could not bring a particle of direct evidence, but which it had been whispered here and there were intended for the purposes of a secret society—they might be guided by the hints and suggestions of informers. Under this section the police might, if they chose, go into a house without a warrant, search the place from top to bottom, and seize anything or everything. Surely, then, the power of questioning the propriety of a seizure should be given. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland said, "You can memorialize the Lord Lieutenant;" but what would be the use of doing that? An individual, in a communication to the Lord Lieutenant, might say, "They have taken away my horse under the pretence that 1928 I am going to attend a 'Moonlight' meeting. I am not a 'Moonlighter;' I am not going to any such meeting." The Lord Lieutenant would appeal to the police officials and would get a very different version of the story, and the Lord Lieutenant might prefer to place reliance upon their view of the case. He might say, "The police know more about it than this man would have it appear; I shall take their version—he cannot have his horse back." Let the evidence be adjudicated upon by the magistrates who sit in the district—that was all that the Amendment proposed. It proposed to give relief to persons who might be worried, harassed, placed in the most painful positions, and subjected to all the pains and penalties that the Act provided, up to six months' imprisonment, through no fault of their own, but merely on the suspicion of a policeman. It would give people an easy and summary way of reclaiming their property, and while it did that it would not in any way hamper the hands of the Government. What the Amendment would do would be to remedy the evil that must inevitably accrue from even the most guarded exercise of the despotic power of this clause.
§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
said, the Amendment was so reasonable that he could not see how the Government could think of opposing it. Its object was to enable the Government to return to a man what was strictly and properly his own. If a man had firearms for an innocent purpose, and they were seized under a mistake, they were strictly his property as much as anything could be a man's property; and why, therefore, should not a man have a legal way of obtaining back, through a legal tribunal, what he had been deprived of by mistake? Why should a person have to go hat in hand to the Lord Lieutenant, and say—"I want to get back what is mine?" There was a great deal in what had been said by his hon. and learned Friend (Dr. Commins) as to the extent to which seizures might be carried under this clause. Anything, for instance, that could be used for the purpose of disguise would obviously come under the clause. They knew that women's clothes might be seized, because female apparel was very frequently resorted to for the purpose of disguises by members of conspiracies. Men's clothes also might 1929 be seized, because cases were common at all times in which they had been used by women who went about disguised acting as the agents of secret societies. The Committee knew that the disguise of the Whiteboys was a shirt put on over a man's ordinary dress. Policemen might be over-zealous in their use of the powers committed to them, and he did not see how their zeal could be moderated, or the evil effects of over-zeal be remedied, unless in the manner proposed by the Amendment. The Government could have no object in wishing to keep the property of an innocent man, and they could have no motive in dragging such a person before the Viceroy unnecessarily.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, it seemed to him that the Government were particularly unreasonable in objecting to this Amendment; and he charged them with having wasted the whole day. What were the facts? Why, this Amendment, if carried, could not possibly do more than give redress to an innocent person; it could not benefit anyone who was guilty, and surely the Government would not say their object was to punish a person whether he was guilty or not. The contention of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, as had been pointed out by the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy), was not a sound one, for he had said, supposing a person was unfairly treated under the provisions of this clause, he could obtain suitable redress by sending a Memorial to the Lord Lieutenant. But suppose an innocent person, whose property had been seized, did send a Memorial to the Lord Lieutenant, what redress would he be likely to receive? What would be likely to occur would be this. The Memorial would be sent by the officials to Dublin Castle, to the parties against whom complaint had been made; these people would give their own statement of the case, and the man against whom the illegal seizure had been effected would not be able to defend his action, as he would not know what the case against him was. If, however, the matter were allowed to come before the Petty Sessions, the applicant would have the right of reply; and, if the case of the police was unreasonable, he would be able to show it, and then, in all probability, justice would be done. There was an- 1930 other very important thing connected with this matter, and it was this—the desirability of having the appeal heard without delay. If a Memorial, however, were sent to the Lord Lieutenant, there was no certainty at all that an investigation would take place, and that a reply would be received for weeks, and, perhaps, for months. But, if the party aggrieved had the right of appeal to the Petty Sessions, he could go before the magistrates at once and have his case heard. It was argued by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary that the appeal was unreasonable, and would give rise to too much litigation; but he (Mr. Biggar)hardly thought that would be the case. The magistrates might, through prejudice, give a wrong decision. Such cases often occurred, and it would, therefore, be only just that the aggrieved person should have the right of appeal. His hon. Friends would agree that the appeal should only be to magistrates in Petty Sessions—at least, he thought they would agree to that. He did not think that would be unreasonable.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the Government had objected to a double appeal; and to meet their views, if necessary, he would forego the preliminary investigation, and allow the matter to be settled by the magistrates at Petty Sessions. If the Government would allow that limited appeal against the action of the police, he (Mr. Sexton) would be prepared to withdraw the present Amendment, and to substitute another to carry out his object. If the Government did not accept that compromise, he could only think that they feared their action under this clause would be discredited, and that they, therefore, did not dare to allow it to be investigated before a public tribunal.
§ Original Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 42; Noes 168: Majority 126.—(Div. List, No. 166.)
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he begged to move as a sub-section at the end of the clause, the words—Monthly Returns shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament of all searches or entries made under the provisions of this section, giving the names and addresses of the persons whose premises have been searched or entered, with the result in each case.
At the end of the Clause, to add the words"(4.) Monthly Returns shall bo laid before both Houses of Parliament of all searches or entries made under the provisions of this section, giving the names and addresses of the persons whose premises have been searched or entered, with the result in each case."—(Mr. Parnell.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ THE ATTORNBY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, he was afraid the Government could not accept the Amendment, for this reason. There were numberless instances in which persons managed to evade detection and punishment, though the}' happened to be criminals. A man, whose house had been entered, although the police might not be sufficiently astute or successful to find compromising matters in it, might, nevertheless, be criminal; and such a person, who, if he succeeded in concealing the fact that instruments were in his possession for the purposes of crime, would be held up as an innocent man.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, this was a most reasonable Amendment, and he should not have thought that it would have been refused by the Government. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland said he did not consider a Return of these searches would at all answer the object he (Mr. Parnell) had in moving the Amendment, as the Return would be of a general character, the warrant being issued as regarded an entire district. The warrants would embrace the districts of a Sub-Inspector or Inspector of Police; but it was of the utmost importance that the Committee should have some information as to the action of the Government under this Bill. It was perfectly monstrous that every reasonable Amendment should be refused, and he must say that if the Government were to continue this system they must expect that the Bill would make but very slow progress. What was he (Mr. Parnell) asking for? Why, that Returns should be laid on the Table of the House, giving the names of persons whose houses were searched by night or by day. What could be more reasonable than that; and if the Government refused such a reasonable Amendment, what could they expect? They could 1932 only expect the Bill to be strongly opposed on Report, and Amendments to be brought forward and pressed against every section. The objection the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland made to the acceptance of this Amendment was of a most trivial character. He said that a man whoso house had been searched, though nothing might have been found there, might still be a criminal, but would bo held up as an innocent person. Nothing of the kind—he (Mr. Parnell) denied the right of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to suggest such a result. The name of such a man would figure in the Return as that of a person who had had a search made in his house. It would by no means follow that he was innocent if nothing of a suspicious character was found on his premises. The Amendment was a reasonable one, and he should press it upon the Committee.
MR. JOSEPH COWEN
said, he could not understand the objection of the Government to this very reasonable request. What the hon. Member asked was simply to know how far this power had been effective. The Government had given Returns of the persons arrested under the Coercion Act; but they had raised the same objection to presenting those Returns that they were raising on the present occasion. The objection was peculiarly an official one. One reason why the Amendment should be pressed was this—because it was one of the main accusations against the Act that its objects would be difficult of accomplishment. But if, by presenting these Returns, the Government could show a number of cases where houses bad been entered and arms or other suspicious articles had been found in them, it would be a strong argument in favour of these powers.
§ DR. COMMINS
said, the objection of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland was a very amusing one, and it reminded him of a phrase in use among schoolboys when they were detected in mischief. There was in use amongst schoolboys an old proverb—"Any excuse is better than none"—and the Government now seemed to think that any reason was better than no reason at all. As a matter of fact, there was no reason that could be given, and it looked very much like trifling with the Committee to say that where a 1933 man's house was entered, and nothing was found there, although that man might have been guilty of crime, to record the fact that a search had been fruitless would be holding him up as a very good character. What was there in this that even looked like an argument? It could not be of the slightest consequence to a man whether his name appeared in a Return or not; it would not give him a good character either with the police or with his neighbours; indeed, the mere fact of a man's name appearing in a Return of this sort would make it look as though he was a person against whom there was a well-founded suspicion. The fact of appearing in a Report would, to his mind, be damaging to a man's character rather than a rehabilitation of it, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to think. But the Government resisted the Amendment, and did not condescend to give a reason for so doing; and strong spectacles were not required to see why it was they did not give a reason. Language, it was said, was given to people to conceal their thoughts; but to the Treasury Bench it was apparently given to conceal argument and to conceal reasons also. The Government did not wish this House and the people of England to know how they were using, or misusing, the powers of this Bill. The people of England were in the habit of looking on such warrants as an invasion of liberty and family privacy; and they should, therefore, be informed, from month to month, how many of these invasions of liberty, how many of these invasions of domestic privacy, how many outrages on individual rights had taken place under the authority of this Bill. The Committee had heard a great deal lately about law and order; in fact, that had got to be used as a slangy phrase. There was a great deal that was unlawful and disorderly committed in the name of law and order; and if the people of England, and this House of Commons, only knew how Acts of this description were used in Ireland, he believed there would be far less welcome for measures of Coercion in this Assembly, and that English Governments would not be so ready to demand them. Unless some better reason were given against the Amendment, he trusted that the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Par-Bell) would press it to a division.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, there was another reason why the Government opposed this Amendment, and it was because they were afraid of having the failure of this clause exhibited. Under the clause as it stood they would publish the fact that, say, 500 searches had been made, and would leave the people of England to believe that the police had been zealous and active, and that they were effectually dealing with illegal practices; whereas, if the results of these searches were made known, it might be seen by everybody that 499 out of the 500 searches were vexatious and unnecessary. He was surprised to find such a reasonable Amendment as this refused, and if the Government persisted in their refusal he could only look upon it as for the reason that these searches would be carried out in a manner distasteful to the spirit of the House of Commons and the English nation. If that was not the reason, it must be because they were afraid of piling up hundred of cases of failure.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said, that, as he understood the Amendment, its object was simply to provide that cases of search occurring under this clause should be reported to the House of Commons. Well, he could scarcely conceive a more reasonable request than that, and if it was refused it seemed to him that the desire of the Government was that the acts which took place in Ireland under this section should be kept secret. Nothing more abhorrent to the English people, or more unfair to the Irish people, he could not conceive; and he wished to say that if the Government refused such Amendments—such reasonable Amendments as this—against which a Representative of the Government had given a reason that was absolutely worthless and would not hold water for a moment—they would be responsible for the delay which would take place in passing the Bill through the House. Let English Members put themselves in the position of Irish Members opposite. Supposing it was proposed to put such clauses as these in force against Englishmen, Members on those Benches (the Ministerial Benches below the Gangway), at any rate, would resist the proposal most strenuously. There was nothing but the commonest English fairness in the demand that those who were to be subject to the provisions of this Act should, by some means or other, have 1935 their cases shown to the public and the English people. If these Returns were allowed and it were shown that people whose houses had been searched had suffered deservedly, well and good; but if cases were shown where the powers of the Act had been misused under the arbitrary action of the police, where but in that House were they likely to have such abuses rectified? He did hope that the Government, who were followed by Members below the Gangway on their own side like a flock of sheep in the carrying out of these miserable clauses, would—always with the permission of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson), who seemed to be master of the situation, and the consistency of whose principles he admired, whilst he condemned the inconsistency of the principles of right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Ministerial Bench—yield to this very reasonable proposition, and not ask their followers to wade further into the mire of restrictive legislation. Do not let them punish persons who were innocent, and, by preventing publicity, prevent the application of a cure to any further possible abuse of the Act.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOE IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
said, the hon. Gentleman seemed to suppose that it was not possible, by means of Questions or Motions in that House, to have any and every grievance thoroughly ventilated. He would ask the Committee, from their experience of the Notice Paper from the first day of the Session down to the present time, to say whether there had been a single matter in the most remote part of Ireland, and concerning the most obscure person in the country, which, if it implied personal grievance, had not been brought before the House, and information demanded, and that demand responded to in every single instance? He was only appealing to the experience of the House. Whenever an answer on one of these personal matters had not appeared satisfactory to hon. Members, had it not led to debate in which every single case alleged against the Government had been gone into? To say that because this information was not given in the method suggested, that therefore the course of the Government was to be secret, seemed to him to be begging the question. Every Member who spoke from the 1936 Bench from which he was now speaking spoke under official responsibility, and official publicity was given to every statement he made. To say, therefore, that every case of grievance would not be investigated was hardly consistent with the fact.
§ MR. DILLON
said, he had failed to gather from the right hon. and learned Gentleman's observations what was the nature of his objection to this Amendment.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. W. M. JOHNSON)
You were not in the House when I stated them.
§ MR. DILLON
said, it did not appear to him to be a reasonable objection to say that it would make a man who might be guilty of crime, but on whose premises none of the articles mentioned in the clause were, on search, discovered, appear an innocent person if Returns were to be furnished. The right hon. and learned Gentleman told them they were in a position to ask Questions, and that they could obtain all the redress that was necessary for aggrieved individuals by interrogating Ministers, and insisting upon having full information. Well, he admitted that Questions had been put in that House with regard to a great many individuals; but, as a rule, no information had been elicited, or, at any rate, no satisfactory information. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had gone on further to say that in every instance where they received no information a debate ensued. Did the right hon. and learned Gentleman desire to see that system more generally practised? How would the House like it, supposing at Question time, in consequence of insufficient or unsatisfactory information being elicited from the Government, five or six Motions for the adjournment of the House were made? What would the House think of it, supposing there was a Motion for Adjournment every time an Irish Member received the curt reply to a Question—the stereotyped reply—"It is the Lord Lieutenant's pleasure," with no other reason being given? No; the Government would not give these Returns, because they knew that if they were published to the House this infamous Search Clause would be condemned for ever in the eyes of the English people. The Government knew perfectly well that if now the Irish 1937 Members could only rake up the way these Search Clauses had worked in Ireland for years past, that House, even as at present constituted, would refuse to pass these provisions into law. They would see the futility of such powers—they would see that crimes had never been prevented—they would see that, while these powers had been used to harass and humiliate the people, no "Moonlighter" or any other criminal had been arrested under them. If the Irish Members could carry this Amendment, it would put them in possession of proof that this clause was not the weapon which it was represented to be by the Government, but that it was futile for the suppression of outrage, and a most fertile means for creating exasperation and rage in the minds of the Irish people. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland had spoken of this clause as though it were a mere matter of course. He had said that a clause of this kind had been in force in Ireland almost continually since 1848. Well, he (Mr. Dillon) regretted to say that was so, and that was one of the reasons why the Irish peasantry detested English law, and why no British Government could ever get them to obey it. The right hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of this clause as though it were one that the Irish Members could not reasonably object to. They were not to object to a clause which allowed a rough and probably a bad policeman—and when he said that he did not speak of any of the men individually, because some of them he knew and respected, but there could be no doubt that large numbers of them were exceedingly rough and exceedingly bad men—to enter the home of any poor Irish peasant as it pleased him. They must remember that the houses of the poor in Ireland were of the humblest, often composed of a single room; and that fact ought to make it more sacred than the home of the rich man. Were they not to object to a clause which left the home of every peasant in Ireland open to be insulted by the police, who were often envenomed against these poor people, for reasons which he would not enter into? Were the Irish Members to be told that a law which would enable a policeman to go out in the night, break in the door of any poor peasant, take the inmates out of bed, and make the moat outrageous 1938 searches, was not an extreme law? Surely that was a monstrous proposition. The Irish Members wished to be furnished with an assurance that evidence of these cases of search would be laid before the House—evidence that they hoped would influence the future action of Parliament when a proposition should be laid before them for the repeal of this legislation— evidence which would show whether this outrageous clause was justified by the success of its working, or proved—as the Irish Members believed it would—to be as great a failure as the Coercion Act of last year. If the Irish Members could prove next year there had been 500 or 600 searches and nothing found, would they not have a strong case for the repeal of this clause? That was what they believed would happen; and if the Government believed that that was going to be a powerful instrument to enable them to seize on the weapons of murder, and the books of secret societies, why did they not give Returns, in order that Parliament might know what was being done? If they used this clause effectually, they ought not to be ashamed to come forward in the House and defend its continuance. If, on the other hand, it turned out a failure, why should they refuse the Irish Members the evidence that would put them in a position to argue conclusively against its continuance?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, it was really a most remarkable thing that after the Prime Minister had told them how desirable it was that this Bill should pass speedily, the subordinates of the right hon. Gentleman hindered its passage by refusing the most reasonable requests of the Irish Members and those hon. Members on the Ministerial side who agreed with the Irish Members in their suggestions. It seemed to him that if this concession was made it would benefit rather than injure the Government. They had been told, reasonably enough, by the Home Secretary that it would be perfectly impossible to employ policemen in uniform to make these searches, but that detectives would be sent out for that purpose. If that were so, it seemed clear that all sorts of rumours and stories would get abroad that there had been many more searches than actually took place. In England an Englishman's house was his castle; but in Ireland that clearly was not the case. But it did seem to him reasonable 1939 that if a detective was to be allowed to knock at the doors of an Irishman's house, and to say, "I have a right of way here to see if you have any arms," and if that detective searched the house, and did not find arms or anything else that came under the clause, some official record should be kept of such a transaction. Surely the public had a right to know what houses were searched, and how the Executive in Ireland were carrying out the clause. Ho confessed ho should like to hear the opinion of the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant on this matter. He (Mr. Labouchere) had listened with great respect to the observations which the right hon. Gentleman had so far had occasion to make with regard to this Bill—he considered those observations a great deal more practical than those which had fallen from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Homo Secretary, who seemed to have adopted the policy of "no surrender." He should like to hear the opinion of the Chief Secretary with regard to this clause, and as to whether he did not think it was absolutely necessary, and even desirable, in the interests of the government of Ireland, that this concession should be made. If the right hon. Gentleman considered it necessary that this concession should be made, the business of the Home Secretary would be to accept the view of his Colleague and adopt the Amendment. The Committee would then pass this clause. Yesterday the Prime Minister made a handsome statement with respect to the clause, and ever since that it had been the object of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite to proceed with the section in a conciliatory spirit. They desired to meet conciliation by conciliation, and to give the Home Secretary his clause. But for an hour they had been engaged in endeavouring to get from the Home Secretary whether or not he endorsed the action of the Prime Minister. It was not until they had exhausted an hour that the Chief Secretary got up and told them that the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary did intend to carry out the pledges that had been given, and specified what those pledges were. He (Mr. Labouchere) did not think that anyone could, with justice, say for a moment that either today or yesterday the Irish Members had been open to the charge of Obstruction. 1940 ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen said "Oh, oh!" but when a Bill, which it was admitted was intended to do away with the liberties of Ireland, and which was to last for three years, was brought into the House, it could not be expected to proceed with railroad speed. It was necessary that it should be exhaustively discussed. He was ready to admit that there had been exhaustive discussion, and he hoped there would still be exhaustive discussion; but he absolutely denied that there had been any Obstruction. He challenged any hon. Member to say to the contrary.
§ SIR HERVEY BRUCE
said, he had not, so far, opened his mouth on this question, though it was one which interested everybody in the country; but he could sit silent no longer and hear Representatives of English constituencies tell them that they were taking away from Ireland personal liberty, instead of endeavouring, as the Government had told them, over and over again, they were trying to do, to stop assassination and outrage. He should like to know how any of those Gentlemen who represented Northampton, Durham, or Sunderland, would like it if they could never go away from their places of business, or from wherever they might be, or from whatever they might be doing, without the protection of the police— without some officer to guard them from being murdered or assaulted—
The hon. Gentleman's observations are general with regard to the clause, and I would point out to him the Question before the Committee is simply an Amendment as to Returns.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, he had to point out that the last refuge of the right hon. and learned Gentleman in refusing this Amendment was really a very peculiar one. When asked to give his sanction to these Returns, so that hon. Members might have the whole action of the Government under this clause before them in a succinct manner, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said it was not necessary, that they could get all the information they wanted by putting Questions in the House. Well, he (Mr. Dawson) was sorry the Master of the Rules of the House was not present to hear that statement. Why, instead of having 60 Questions on the Notice Paper, as there wore one day not very long ago, they 1941 would be having 120. The right hon. and learned Gentleman was determined not to agree to the Amendment. According to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, it was determined to leave the clause a powerful instrument for the detection of crime; but, as a matter of fact, the effect of the policy he was adopting would be to render it an efficient instrument for the creation of crime. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had had only very scanty experience of Ireland; and, so far, the Irish people had no very particular reason to be enamoured of his administration; but—
§ MR. DAWSON
said, in view of the position he (Mr. Dawson) held as Lord Mayor of Dublin—representing, as he did, 200,000 people in the Irish Metropolis—he would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to deign to give them some information of the searches that wore being made, so that the vast police machinery that existed in the country might not be the means of causing new outrages by the arbitrary and outrageous manner by which they carried out the powers entrusted to them.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would answer the question just put to him. Perhaps the reason they had received no answer, or the reason the Home Secretary did not take part in the discussion, was that he felt that on this clause, at least, he was unable to come forward. It was said that if this Amendment was accepted it would render the clause unworkable; but were they to understand that the Government and the Attorney General for Ireland desired that in every case where a man's house was searched, whether arms were found or not, that man was to be considered guilty? He would ask the Chief Secretary—who would be the person who would have the carrying out of this Act—to give them the information they required. They asked for some solid reason for the passing of this clause and the rejection of the Amendment. He did not care what the object of this Act might be in the mind of the Government. They said it was for the prevention of 1942 crime—they asked these extraordinary powers for that purpose; and was it, then, too much for the House, who gave them these powers, to ask that they should be told how those powers were being carried out? He knew very well that the Government would be ashamed to give them the information, and that they wanted to be able to work in the dark. Hon. Members from Ireland were told that they could put Questions on the Notice Paper. Yes; he knew they could—Questions that would elicit little or no information. How were they to find out how the clause was worked? They were told that they could make Motions. So they could; but they knew that Motions were of no value whatever in that House. What they desired was that hon. Members should be able to find out whether the powers of the Bill had been carried out vexatiously, or whether they had been carried out properly and successfully.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, he heartily concurred with his right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland in the course he had taken in this matter. With regard to this Amendment, there ought to be no doubt in the minds of the Committee. The Government were prepared to give the number of warrants, and to specify the districts; but they were not willing to give any further particulars. This clause was directed against political organizations. Crime was a secret thing that worked in an unexpected manner; and in some respects it ought to be met with its own weapons. The police were responsible to their superiors, and their superiors were responsible to the Executive Government, and the Executive Government would do their best to suppress this crime. On no other occasion in Ireland—or, so far as he was aware, in England—had details of such procedure been required, and one great reason for not assenting to the proposal consisted in the speeches of hon. Members. What were the speeches that had been delivered? The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) said there was nothing more abhorrent to the English people than this right of search, and the hon. Member spoke of this as a miserable clause. This was not the second reading of the Bill, or he should be disposed to say a few words as to his own view as to the opinions of the English 1943 and the Scotch people; but he might say, without the evidence of hon. Members opposite, that he should have been glad to argue that that feeling was as strong in those parts of Ireland which had returned Liberal Members. If this strong language was used with regard to a right of search, and hon. Members talked of inquisitorial police pulling women out of their beds, and then asked for the details of those searches to be laid before the House, that would leave on the minds of the police the idea that the House of Commons wished them to restrict their searches which were under a clause, which was, perhaps, no less important than any other provision in the Bill for detecting and putting down crime, against which this Bill was a declaration—and he believed a very effective declaration—of war.
§ MR. SHEIL
said, he did not see that when these Returns were made there would be no secrecy. All that was asked for was that the searches should be set out in the Return; they would be well known in the district, and, therefore, there would be no secrecy. He and his hon. Friends wished to have, in that form, the number of searches made, and the only argument against that proposal was that by the Attorney General for Ireland, and he was very much astonished to hear that the Chief Secretary cordially agreed with the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The argument of the Attorney General for Ireland was that these matters could always be raised by Motions and Questions; but the right hon. and learned Member ought to have remembered that before Parliament met in February next the right of raising such questions would be taken away by the Rules of Procedure.
§ MR. MACFARLANE
said, he could not understand why the Government resisted this proposal. The Return would be little more than a Criminal Return, such as was laid before Parliament from year to year; and he should have supposed that the Government, having asked for these extraordinary powers, would only have been too glad to present Returns which would justify this clause. The Government was in a very invidious position in asking for the clause, and he should have thought they would have desired to produce Returns which would show that their demand for this clause 1944 was justified. He had the utmost respect for the Chief Secretary, but he could not understand that right hon. Gentleman's contention, because its effect would be to leave the police absolutely free. The Return would only show that there had been so many thousands of domiciliary visits with such and such results; and, if the anticipations of the Government were correct, the Return would fully justify their demand; and upon that ground the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) had suggested that there had been a waste of an hour because the Home Secretary refused to answer a plain question. The Chief Secretary, in consequence of that suggestion, had intervened somewhat early in this discussion and given his opinion; but that opinion was not fortified by a single argument. He had no desire that any criminal should escape from this or any other Act; but he had a strong desire that innocent people should escape unnecessary annoyance, and he appealed once more from the Chief Secretary to the Home Secretary.
§ MR. GRAY
said, the Chief Secretary seemed to thoroughly sympathize with the Home Secretary, and in that he had undergone a very material change since he had assumed his present Office, or else the anticipations of the Irish people, with reference to his advent to Office, were grievously wrong. The right hon. Gentleman said he was willing to give information as to the number of warrants; but did he really consider that such a Return would contain any information at all? What was the warrant which was to be issued? It was not to search a particular house; if it was, the number of such warrants would give some kind of information, but it was a general warrant for searching an entire district; and in that way one man might search one house, but another might search a great number of houses in the same district. The Return would give no information as to the manner in which the warrant had been used, or as to whether the powers of the Bill had been abused. The Irish Government were exceedingly ready, when it suited them, to lay voluminous Returns upon the Table; they presented large Blue Books, containing the fullest possible details of outrages or alleged outrages, even down to attempts to break windows or pull down walls. This they did not object to, nor did they 1945 object to the large totals of such cases which were to be used to the detriment of Ireland on the pretence that they were serious outrages; but when they were asked for information as to how exceptional powers under an exceptional Act had been used, they refused to give such information. The attitude of the Government in regard to this particular proposition made him more hopeless than ever with regard to any other portion of the Bill. They seemed to be determined to give no real consideration or concession to any arguments, no matter how well founded they might be. That was an extraordinary attitude for the Government to take up in regard to the only means by which the exercise of these extraordinary powers could be judged.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he had thought nothing could be more grotesque than the attitude of the Attorney General for Ireland, until he heard the speech of the Chief Secretary, whose argument appeared to resolve itself into this. One of the reasons why he could not accede to this Amendment was that speeches had been made in favour of it. A few nights ago the right hon. Gentleman gave as a reason for shortening the debates that when a Government had made up their minds it was no use talking, because they would maintain their position. That statement was intended to apply to Irish Members, and when he compared that speech with the right hon. Gentleman's speech to-day, he could only infer that the Chief Secretary desired to stifle debate upon this Bill. The Government would do whatever they had decided to do without hearing Irish Members. He referred to this matter for the purpose of protesting against that course, because the only inference he could draw from the right hon. Gentleman's speech was that he wished to stifle Irish Members by showing that it was no use for them to address the House. There was nothing more remarkable than the strong determination with which the Chief Secretary refused to give any facts in this case, although, on the night-arrests question, he voluntarily produced Returns to show that in 1870 a certain number of such arrests were made. On that occasion he (Mr. Sexton) had shown that the figures produced proved the opposite of the Chief Secretary's contention, and that of eight cases, seven were frivolous. The right hon. Gentleman 1946 seemed to have reconsidered the propriety of giving information; because, upon the clause relating to strangers, he forbore to give any information in regard to arrests; and now, on the Search Clause, although there were records in the Castle, he would not state whether this clause had been effective in past times. Why did he not refer to figures relating to any particular year to show how many searches the police made and how many were effective? If he had been able to show that this clause had been effective in the past, that would have been an argument for passing it now; but the inference, from his attitude, was that there was no evidence that this clause had been effective. What answer had the Attorney General for Ireland given to the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell)? He said, if records were made with regard to searches under which nothing was found, the men concerned would be held by the public to be innocent. If that was not importing a tone of low comedy into the serious Business of the House, he did not know what it was. If the police had a continual power of search, and could go as often as they liked and make searches, and never found any arms, would there be any presumptive evidence? There was a great difference between "not guilty" and "not proven;" and, although "not guilty" meant innocence, yet the Attorney General for Ireland said the Scotch "not proven" system was not equivalent to "not guilty." And, although the Attorney General for Ireland would not consent to give these Returns, he said hon. Members could ask Questions and make Motions. Irish Members were sick and weary of asking Questions— ["Hear, hear!"]—but if hon. Members thought that because they were weary of asking Questions they would cease to ask Questions, they were counting without their host, and making a great mistake. It was an intellectual comfort to ask Questions, even though no satisfactory answers were received. With regard to the Attorney General for Ireland, he should say that the utterances of a Sphinx were easier to understand than his answers. No doubt, hon. Members could make Motions; but the right hon. and learned Gentleman now opposed a general Motion, and the majority would follow him; so that to refer 1947 hon. Members to Motions was simply to refer them from one difficulty to another. The object of this Amendment was that Parliament should be able to take cognizance of the powers they granted; but the silence of the Home Secretary on the past effect of this clause convinced him that the object of refusing this Amendment was to put into the mind of every policeman a feeling of complete impunity—a feeling that he was safe from investigation and punishment, whatever he might do under the clause; and that whether or not he found arms, or ammunition, or documents, or instruments, yet, if he worked diligently and intruded into the houses of a great many people, and so created the feeling which the Government desired to create, he was quite free from investigation. If these Returns were granted the House would be able to see, first, whether any officer in Ireland exercised his power wantonly and without discretion, and then they would be able to see, by comparing the searches with the results, whether such an officer had acted on private pique, or anonymous letters, or without a due examination of the information given to him. The knowledge that this House would be able to criticize the action of such an officer would have a salutary effect. In the first place, by these Returns, Parliament would be able to do what it did with regard to every other Act. When the House passed an Act of Parliament the Government presented Returns from time to time, showing the operation of the Act, so that the House might judge whether the Act should be continued, repealed, or amended; but this Act was intended to be exercised in the dark, and it was intended to give complete impunity to the police; and, therefore, the Government did not wish any such information to be laid before the House. The House was entitled to know how many searches had been made, and to see whether the number had risen or fallen each year, and whether successful results had risen or fallen; and so to test whether the situation had become more acute or not. The Government were acting in this matter in a way which showed that they wore making a dupe of the House of Commons.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he was not referring to individual Members of the Government, but to the Government as a whole; and he submitted that he was entitled to criticize the Government as a whole. By refusing to lay on the Table from year to year evidence of the manner in which this Act was worked they were treating the House with contempt.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, he wished to know why the Government desired to keep the Committee in the dark with regard to this Act, as they evidently did wish. The Committee had a right to claim from the Government the fullest information upon every subject with which the Government had to deal, both at home and abroad. With regard to affairs in Egypt, the Government would give full information at the earliest possible moment to the House; and with regard to affairs in Africa, they were ready to give all the information they could, at the earliest possible time. Upon those matters, Blue Books and despatches were presented; but with regard to this most serious matter, as to the operation of this terrible Act in Ireland, the House was to be kept in the dark? Ho wished to know whether the House would submit to that. Did any hon. Member suppose that under this oppressive Act the most extreme and hurtful measures would not be resorted to against the people? Did anybody suppose the Act would be allowed to become a dead letter? Did not everyone know that the police would go to work, immediately the Queen's consent was given to the Act, to make raids upon the people, ravage their homes, and turn their places upside down? It might be very amusing to English Members that the homes of Irish peasants should be invaded morning, noon, and night, by the police, but it would not be amusing to the victims; and the feelings that would arise in their minds, through being subjected to such outrages, would, in one form or another, some day inevitably find expression. With regard to the Coercion Act, very minute Returns were laid before the House showing the names of the persons arrested, and other particulars, together, to some extent, with the reasons for the arrests. Why should not the same good example be adopted in this case? Why should not Returns be made giving the names of the persons whose houses were 1949 searched, and the results of the searches? Was that too much enlightenment to give to the House of Commons? Was it too much for the House of Commons to expect? Would the House be satisfied to leave all this work to be carried on in the dark? There was to be secrecy from first to last; there was to be impunity to the police to make searches and seizures, and to commit what might be in some cases outrages without any right of appeal against them, either for justice or compensation, for wrong and harm done to the people. That had been already decided. The police were to be free to make such raids as they chose, and do as much damage as they pleased to the people, and the people were to have no right of appeal against such treatment. Not only were the policemen to have their impunity, but the Executive in Ireland were not to be compelled to give any statement as to their conduct. What would happen under this state of things? If the Government wished to get up a rebellion in Ireland they were going the right way about it, by passing such measures as this under existing circumstances. Why should not light be let in on the conduct of the Government, so that the House of Commons, and England, and Europe, and America might see how they were dealing with the people of Ireland? If they were able to say that their acts would bear the light of day in Ireland, and that they were acting as a Government ought to act, why should they refuse this demand to present periodical Re-turns showing that they had done good under cover of this Act? It was said that Irish Members could challenge these results by Questions. He remembered that when the Coercion Bill of last year was being passed it was said they could challenge its operation upon the floor of the House, and he, being a young Member then, was foolish enough to suppose that meant something; but after further experience in the House, he found that it meant absolutely nothing, except that it was open to them to move a Vote of Want of Confidence in the Government. What was the value of a Question? The Question was placed on the Paper, and the Clerk at the Table revised it, and in many cases—he supposed quite properly—struck out what was supposed to be outside the Question. The Member might put his Question, 1950 but would receive a brief and curt answer from some Member of the Government, and upon that answer no discussion could be raised. So the matter ended, and that Irish Members were asked to consider as the means of challenging the action of the Government. When the Prime Minister was asked about this matter one evening, he said the Government were acting upon their responsibility, and hon. Members might bring them to account, if they chose, by moving a Vote of Want of Confidence; but that was a very safe challenge for the right hon. Gentleman to make. He urged the Committee to agree to this proposal, in order that they might know what was being done in regard to searching houses under this Act, and that they might know the names of the occupants of the houses and the results. What harm would accrue to the cause of good government in Ireland from having such information before the House? Would not every hon. Member feel himself better able to judge of the condition of Ireland if he had such Returns before him? And would not everyone be so much the wiser, and so much the more competent to judge of the right or the wrong action of the Government? It was undeniable that such information would be useful to Irish Members, and to Members on all sides of the House. Withholding such information was suspicious in the House, and dangerous in regard to Ireland. In every district in Ireland where searches were made the people would know very well what had been done. They would know where wrong had been committed—if wrong had been committed—and the feeling of exasperation resulting from that wrong would spread among the people, and the country would teeth with excitement. If wrong was done, and improper and cruel searches were made by the police, the knowledge of those searches would spread among the people, and the feeling created by those acts would be intensified by the fact that while such acts would be notorious in Ireland the House of Commons would be kept in ignorance of them. Was it desirable that the House should bo kept in ignorance of the working of this Act? Such a course would be a serious mistake.
MR. MAC IVER
said, he regarded this proposal as perfectly reasonable from any point of view. The House 1951 ought to be informed as to how little and how much the Government were likely to accomplish by this Act. He entirely distrusted Her Majesty's Government. The powers they asked for might be right and proper to place in the hands of an Executive which could be trusted; but to give this Government these powers was like placing firearms in the hands of children. The present Government had no policy.
The hon. Member must not speak in general terms of the Government, but only upon the Amendment before the Committee.
MR. MAC IVER
said, he thought the Government ought to tell the House periodically what they were doing, because he believed that one day they might be too lax, and another day too severe. He really believed that Her Majesty's Government had no policy and could not be trusted; and for these reasons he cordially supported the Amendment.
§ MR. P. A. TAYLOR
said, he regretted some of the observations made by the Chief Secretary, because they seemed to be wanting in the Liberal spirit which would have enabled him to meet the case of the Irish Members. He had been eager to hear what the right hon. Gentleman's opinion was, because, hitherto, he had been unable to gather any reasonable excuse for the refusal by the Government to give the Returns asked for as to the searches for, and seizures of, arms; and the observations of the right hon. Gentleman had convinced him of the reasonableness of the demand. What did the Chief Secretary say? He said what ought to be done was to put down crime, and that criminals were to be met with their own weapons. He (Mr. Taylor) should have thought that the mode in which they ought to treat criminals, however much it might be tempered with severity, would, at least, be one of justice, impartiality, and great care, in order that the wrong persons should not be struck at. The right hon. Gentleman, however, said criminals would have to be struck at with their own weapons, and that meant brutally, carelessly, and indiscriminately. The right hon. Gentleman also said that if this provision was not given as it stood, the police would not feel that they had the Government behind them. The restriction proposed, however, he thought 1952 a most desirable one, because, in extraordinary circumstances, such as those existing in Ireland, the far greater part of the injury was done by brutal and ignorant subordinates; and it was necessary that anything done by those subordinates should be made known to the public. Therefore, he thought the present demand most reasonable.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 57; Noes 242: Majority 185.—(Div. List, No. 167.)
§ On Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill?"
§ MR. REDMOND
said, he most earnestly objected to the clause. He had a full sense of the value of the eon-cession made by the Prime Minister; but that concession did not sensibly diminish his objection to the principle of this clause. The concession made by the Home Secretary had been frankly accepted by his hon. Friends, and, so far as it went, they gave credit to the Government for making that concession; but it was preposterous to suppose that because a concession was made upon one part of the clause they were not to strive to amend the clause upon every other portion which they thought objectionable. Their objection to this clause was twofold. In. the first place, they believed it was absolutely useless for the purposes for which it was intended, and upon that point they challenged the Government. This clause was similar to a power long possessed by the Government in Ireland; and before the Government could justify a claim for a renewal of that power they were bound to show that the power previously possessed had been efficient for the prevention of crime. Of that, however, they had had no actual demonstration; they had had no figures adduced to show that, in the past, this power had been of the slightest value in Ireland. Every man who desired to commit assassination would obtain the weapons for his fell purpose, no matter what powers the Government might obtain; and it was ridiculous to suppose that, by a clause of this kind, the Government would be able to disarm assassins in Ireland. Under the Arms Act of last year searches were extensively made in Ireland, and he did not know any portion of the coercive 1953 policy of the Government which had produced a worse effect in Ireland than the powers exercised under the Arms Act. Large bodies of police had gone over whole districts and searched every house within those districts, and yet there was no information to show that they had been able to lay their hands on any arms. The Home Secretary seemed to object to an Amendment that had recently been proposed for the purpose of having the names of men whoso houses had been searched, together with the result of those searches, presented to Parliament, on the ground that if the names of such men were submitted to the House it might be held that because the searches had been made without any result, therefore the men were innocent. Surely, if a search was made and no arms were found, the man whose house was searched was innocent, at all events, of the suspicion which the police entertained. The police, in such a case, would have acted on the suspicion that the man possessed arms; but if no arms were found, surely it was right to regard such a man as innocent. Every safeguard of the right of search, which the Irish Members had endeavoured to get inserted in the clause, had been refused. He could see no more reasonable demand than was made by them in the recent Amendment. As the matter now stood, this clause might be used by the Government entirely in the dark; they might search houses all over the country, and the House of Commons was to be kept in absolute ignorance of the manner in which the searches were carried out and of the results which ensued. It was intolerable that police officers in Ireland were to be armed with power to make searches wherever and whenever they chose, and they were not to be called to account by the Representatives of the people in that House. No doubt the police would be accountable, as the Committee had been told, to the Executive Government, and the Executive Government were responsible to that House. But, as had been pointed out by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), what was the use of the Executive Government being responsible to that House when that House, could not have information in its possession as to how the Executive Government carried out its powers? He and his hon. Friends objected to this clause, firstly, because 1954 similar clauses in the past had proved to be inefficient, and because they were justified by the history of the past in prophesying that the clause would be absolutely useless. But they had a second objection to the clause, and it was to be found in the irritating influence which its existence must have on the minds of the peaceable people of Ireland. The Irish Members were reproached the other night for opposing this Bill, and for not making some suggestions as to how crime could be suppressed in Ireland. There were no men who desired more than they did that disturbance in Ireland should be put down; there were no men more anxious than they to see the Government take a course of action which would tend in that direction; but it was because they knew that the exercise of the arbitrary power contained in this clause was one of the very things which would tend to create the state of feeling which produced crime that they opposed the clause, and found it their duty to endeavour in every way to amend it. The whole effect of a coercive policy in Ireland had, generation after generation, been proved to be in the direction of crime. Crime and outrage in Ireland this time last year was not half as terrible as it was to-day. What was the reason? The country was in a comparatively peaceable condition before the Government exercised the power of search and other arbitrary powers which were entrusted to them under the Coercion Act; the Government insisted upon obtaining their Coercion Act last year; they insisted upon depriving the people of the restraining influence of the action of their leaders; and the result was seen in the condition of Ireland for the last few months. He was very deeply impressed with the use-lessness of Irish Members speaking at all in the House of Commons. ["Hear, hear !"] Hon. Gentlemen cheered that remark; but could hon. Gentlemen know what the effect of that cheer must be on the minds of the people of Ireland? He and his hon. Friends were sent by the people of Ireland to represent them, and to endeavour, according to their lights, to get justice done for Ireland in that House; and when hon. Members cheered him when he said it was useless for Irish Representatives to speak in the House of Commons, did hon. Members not know that the effect of that cheer must be to 1955 convince the Irish people of the truth of the statement that Irish Members had no influence here, that the people of Ireland were, so far as the decision on and' Bill was concerned, practically unrepresented, and that Parliamentary representative government in respect to Ireland was nothing: hut a sham. The voices of Irish Representatives were unheeded; their endeavours to amend clauses like the present were voted down by English and Scotch Members; and when they expressed the belief that it was useless for them to advance their opinions in the House, they were met with the encouraging cheers of hon. Gentlemen representing English and Scotch constituencies. He warned the Government and their supporters that they were traversing the road at the end of which they would find anarchy, and murder, and assassination of a worse type than any they had yet met with. He was convinced that the operation of this clause would excite in the minds of the ignorant people of Ireland feelings more bitter towards England, and towards the Government of England which ruled their land, and over which they had no influence, than any they had yet entertained. He would say, in conclusion, that if he were a man who desired to bring about interminable discord between England and Ireland, if he were a man who desired by desperate courses to prevent the possibility of ever bringing about conciliation between the people of the two countries, he would support the Government in this Bill; he would support them in endeavouring to get the powers they sought under this clause. It was because he was anxious for the peace of his country, it was because he was ashamed of the excesses into which the Government had been able to drive his fellow-countrymen, it was because he felt keenly the present condition of Ireland, that on this occasion he spoke strongly. The Government were taking the worst action they possibly could, and he felt it his duty to oppose this clause. He wished his voice could be effective; he wished there were some means whereby he could make his opinions felt by the English and Scotch Members who were supporting the Government. He despaired of making any impression upon those Members; he felt that the opinions and arguments of the Irish Members had no weight with them; he felt they 1956 were determined to follow, once again, the Government along the path of coercion, and he could only say that a day would come—and it was not very distant—when those Members would find that the course they were now pursuing would not result in occasional assassinations in Ireland, but would result in a state of public feeling in that country which would make government a thing quite impossible. Although he did not desire to see the independence of his country obtained in that way, still the result might be one which would not make him regret the mad and infatuated course which he believed the English Government were now adopting.
MR. JOSEPH COWEN
said, the subject had been thrashed out during the prolonged discussions, and he had no wish to detain the Committee by any elaborate argument against the clause. Ho, however, wished, as an English Member, to record his protest against its irritating provisions. There was no clause in the Bill calculated to produce more bitter feelings against this country, and none less calculated to produce what the Government wished. English Members did not realize the effect of the operation of the clause. He was satisfied, if they only thought the matter over seriously, they would not support the clause in the manner they now did. The clause would be made the means of the greatest oppression by the police in the distant parts of the country, where there was no control over them; it would unquestionably be used vindictively and capriciously. He believed that persons acquainted with Ireland would admit there was no one thing the people protested against more determinedly and consistently in the coercive policy adopted towards their country than these powers of arbitrary interference in domestic arrangements by the police. A man could easily forgive an injury, and, if he was a generous man, he would soon forget it; but no man was ready either to forgive or forget an insult. And the police used the power that this clause conferred to insult worthy, well-meaning, inoffensive people. Like little Jacks-in-office, they strained their powers to magnify themselves and to punish those against whom they had, or supposed they had, a cause of grievance. The Irish peasantry, like every other class, had their faults; but 1957 they were the most virtuous people in the world; and it was an outrage upon their domestic life to have policemen breaking into their houses at midnight and subjecting their women and children to wanton indignities. The Prime Minister had made a concession on this clause. He recognized it fully; but he feared that when the concession came to be put into words it would be found that what the Irish Members meant and what the Prime Minister meant was somewhat different. But it was unnecessary to debate that now, as it would come up afterwards. While admitting the concession, he still resisted the clause, even with it. It did not strike at its worst features. The hon. Member for New Ross (Mr. Redmond) had complained of the blind manner in which English Liberals were supporting the Government on this Bill. He sorrowfully admitted the justice of the criticisms. It was to him, as an English Radical, a source of humiliation and astonishment to see professing Liberals trampling underfoot every semblance of the principles through which they had passed to power. But he knew it was useless remonstrating. They were hopelessly bound to the Government, and they would vote as they were told. They might as well sing Psalms to the parish pump as to apply arguments to the ruck of the Party that sat behind the Ministry. They had passed the region of reason and argument. They did not listen to what was said, and they did not take the trouble to understand either the Bill or the Amendments. They left the House nearly empty while the discussion was going on, and only crowded into the doors when the division bell was rung. The Whips told them whether they were "Ayes" or whether they were "Noes;" and, like a flock of sheep, they followed their Leaders either into one Lobby or into the other. It was a waste of time to try to convince them of the justice of the cause he was pleading; but, nevertheless, it was the duty of those who conscientiously believed that the Bill would make matters in Ireland worse instead of better, that it would promote crime instead of preventing it, to fight every section, and, if necessary, every line, to the last—to fight it honourably according to the Rules of the House and the regulations of gentlemanly debate; and to do that 1958 he, for one, was determined, come what might.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 259; Noes 45: Majority 214.1960
|Acland, C. T. D.||Courtauld, G.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Courtney, L. H.|
|Alexander, Colonel||Crichton, Viscount|
|Allen, H. G.||Cropper, J.|
|Allsopp, C.||Dalrymple, C.|
|Anderson, G.||Davenport, H. T.|
|Armitage, B.||Davenport, W. B.|
|Aylmer, J. E. F.||Davies, R.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||De Ferrieres, Baron|
|Balfour, J. B.||Dilke, Sir C. W.|
|Baring, T. C.||Dixon-Hartland, F. D.|
|Baring, Viscount||Dodds, J.|
|Barnes, A.||Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.|
|Barran, J.||Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Duckham, T.|
|Bass, Sir A.||Duff, R. \V.|
|Bass, H.||Ebrington, Viscount|
|Baxter, rt. hon. W. E.||Egerton. Adm. hon. F.|
|Biddulph, M.||Elliot, hon. A. R. D.|
|Blackburne, Col. J. I.||Elliot, G. W.|
|Bolton, J. C.||Emlyn, Viscount|
|Borlase, W. C.||Evans, T. W.|
|Bourke, rt. hon. R.||Ewart, W.|
|Brand, H. E.||Ewing, A. O.|
|Brassey, H. A.||Fawcett, rt. hon. H.|
|Brassey, Sir T,||Ffolkes, Sir W. H. B.|
|Bright, rt. hon. J.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Brinton, J.||Finch, G. H.|
|Broadhurst, H.||Fitz william, hn. H. W.|
|Broadley, W. H. H.||Foljambe, C. G. S.|
|Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.||Forster, rt. hon. W. E.|
|Foster, W. H.|
|Brooks, W. C.||Fowler, R. N.|
|Brown, A. H.||Fry, L.|
|Bruce, Sir H. H.||Fry, T.|
|Buchanan, T. R.||Gamier, J. C.|
|Caine, W. S.||Gibson, rt. hon. E.|
|Cameron, D.||Gladstone.rt. hn. W. E.|
|Campbell, J. A.||Gladstone, H. J.|
|Campbell, Lord C.||Gladstone, W. H.|
|Campbell, Sir G.||Glyn, hon. S. C.|
|Campbell, R. F. F.||Goldney, Sir G.|
|Campbell- Bannerman, H.||Gordon, Sir A.|
|Gore-Langton, W. S.|
|Carington, hon. Col. W. H. P.||Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.|
|Gower, hon. E. F. L.|
|Cartwright, W. C.||Grant, A.|
|Causton, R. K.||Greene, E.|
|Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.||Gregory, G. B.|
|Chamberlain, rt. hn. J.||Grey, A. H. G.|
|Cheetham, J. F.||Halsey, T. F.|
|Childers, rt. hn. H.C.E.||Hamilton, right hon. Lord G.|
|Clarke, J. C.|
|Clifford, C. C.||Hamilton, J. G. C.|
|Clive, Col. hon. G. W.||Harcourt, rt. hon. Sir W. G. V. V.|
|Close, M. C.|
|Coddington, W.||Hastings, G. W.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Hayter, Sir A. D.|
|Collins, T.||Henderson, F.|
|Compton, F.||Heneage, E.|
|Coope, O. E.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Corbett, J.||Herschell, Sir F.|
|Cotes, C. C.||Hibbert, J. T.|
|Hill, T. R.||Peel, A. W.|
|Holden, I.||Percy, Lord A.|
|Holland, Sir H. T.||Philips, R. N.|
|Holland, S.||Plunket, rt. hon. D. R.|
|Holms, J.||Porter, A. M.|
|Hope,rt,hn.A.J.B.B.||Portman, hn. W. H B.|
|Howard, E. S.||Potter, T. B.|
|Hlingworth, A.||Powell, W. R. H.|
|James, G.||Price, Captain Gr. E.|
|James, Sir H.||Pugh, L. P.|
|Jardine, R.||Pulley, J.|
|Jenkins, Sir J. J.||Ralli, P.|
|Jerningham, H. E. H.||Ramsay, J.|
|Johnson, rt. hon.\V. M.||Ramsden, Sir J.|
|Kennard, Col. E. H.||Rankin, J.|
|Kennaway, Sir J. H.||Rathbone, W.|
|Kingscote, Col. R.N. F.||Rendel, S.|
|Kinnear, J.||Rendlesham, Lord|
|Knightley, Sir R.||Repton, G. W.|
|Laing, S.||Richard, H.|
|Lawrence, Sir J. C.||Richardson, T.|
|Lawrence, W.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Lea, T.||Roberts, J.|
|Leake, R.||Robertson, H.|
|Leatham, E. A.||Rogers, J. E. T.|
|Leatham, W. H.||Ross, A. H.|
|Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.||Roundell, C. S.|
|Lefevre, rt. hn. G. J. S.||Russell, G. W. E.|
|Leigh, R.||Russell, Lord A.|
|Levett, T. J.||Rylands, P.|
|Lloyd, M.||St. Aubyn, W. M.|
|Loder, R.||Salt, T.|
|Lubbock, Sir J.||Samuelson, H.|
|Lusk, Sir A.||Schreiber, C.|
|M'Arthur, A||Scott, M. D.|
|M'Clure, Sir T.||Seely, C. (Lincoln)|
|M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J.||Severne, J. E.|
|Mackintosh, O. F.||Shield, H.|
|Macliver, P. S.||Simon, Serjeant J.|
|Makins, Colonel W. T.||Stanley, rt. hn. Col. F.|
|Mappin, F. T.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Mason, H.||Tavistock, Marquess of|
|Master, T. W. C.||Taylor. rt. hn. Col. T.E.|
|Matheson, Sir A.||Tennant, C.|
|Maxwell-Heron, J.||Thorn hill, T.|
|Mellor, J. W.||Tillett, J. H.|
|Milbank, Sir F. A.||Tollemache, hon. W. F.|
|Miles, Sir P. J. W.||Torrens, W. T. M' C.|
|Mills, Sir C. H.||Trevelyan,rt. hn. G. O.|
|Monk, C. J.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Moreton, Lord||Vivian, A. P.|
|Morgan, hon. F.||Vivian, Sir H. H.|
|Morgan, rt. hn. G. O.||Warton, C. N.|
|Morley, A.||Watkin, Sir E. W,|
|Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J.R.||Waugh, E.|
|Wedderburn, Sir D.|
|Mundella, rt. hon. A. J.||Whitley, E.|
|Muntz, P. H.||Wiggin, H.|
|Nicholson, W.||Williams, S. C. E.|
|Noel, E.||Williamson, S.|
|Noel, rt. hon. G. J.||Wills, W. H.|
|Northcote, rt. hn. Sir S. H.||Wilmot, Sir J. E.|
|O'Donoghue, The||Wilson, Sir M.|
|Onslow, D.||Wodehouse, E. R.|
|Paget, T. T.||Wolff, Sir H. D.|
|Palmer, J. H.||Wroughton, P.|
|Parker, C. S.|
|Patrick, R. W. Coch-ran-||TELLERS.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Pease, Sir J. W.||Kensington, Lord|
|Peddie, J. D.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Molloy, B. C.|
|Blake, J. A.||Nolan, Colonel J. P.|
|Byrne, G. M.||O'Brien, Sir P.|
|Callan, P.||O'Connor, A.|
|Collings, J.||O'Connor, T. P.|
|Commins, A.||O'Donnell, F. H.|
|Corbet, W. J.||O'Gorman Mahon, Col.|
|Dawson, C.||O'Kelly, J.|
|Dillon, J.||O'Shea, W. H.|
|Errington, G.||O'Sullivan, W. H.|
|Findlater, W.||Parnell, C. S.|
|Gill, H. J.||Sexton, T.|
|Gray, E. D.||Sheil, E,|
|Healy, T. M.||Slagg, J.|
|Labouchere, H.||Smithwick, J. E.|
|Lalor, R.||Storey, S.|
|Lawson, Sir W.||Sullivan, T. D.|
|Leamy, E.||Synan, E. J.|
|M' Carthy, J.||Taylor, P. A.|
|M'Coan. J. C.||Thompson, T. C.|
|Macfarlane, D. H.|
|Marum, E. M.||Power, R.|
|Metge, R. H.||Redmond, J. E.|
§ Clause 12 (Application of Alien Act to aliens in Ireland).
In page 6, line 35, after the word "realm," to insert the words "and which said Act is set out in Schedule 2 hereto.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. HEALY
said, the object of the next Amendment, which stood in his name, was to limit the operation of the Act from three years to one year. It was only fair that when the Committee were asked to consent to the revival of so old and rusty a weapon of coercion they should have some opportunity how it would be applied before they sanctioned its use for so long a period as three years. If at the end of a year the Government found it was necessary that they should still have the power to cause the expulsion of foreigners from the country, it would be the simplest thing in the world to include the Alien Act in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. The Government were well aware that the Alien Act was passed at a time of great public commotion. It was passed not in the partial manner proposed in this clause, but it was applied in 1848 to England as well as to Ireland. After the Home Secretary had made his speech on the second reading of the Bill, he (Mr. Healy) stated that ho would not have any very strong objection to the revival of the Alien Act, provided the renewal were extended to 1961 England as well as to Ireland; and if the Government would now consent to extend the operation of the Alien Act to England as well as to Ireland he would withdraw his Amendment. In London, under the very nose of the Home Secretary, Socialistic and Nihilistic secret societies existed; but, instead of taking any notice of them, the right hon. and learned Gentleman crossed over to Ireland, where there was no evidence at all of the incursion of these objectionable foreigners, to put the Alien Act in operation, leaving England completely out in the cold. No harm could possibly be done by the application of the Alien Act to England as well as to Ireland. ["Hear, hear!"] He was very glad to find the opinion of the Committee so strongly favourable to such a proposition. He did not know whether it would be in Order to propose an Amendment with that object —perhaps some English Member would take the task in hand, if such Amendment were within the scope of the Bill. Upon the statement of the Government that they were willing to extend this clause to England as well as to Ireland the Committee might fairly get rid of this discussion.
In page 6, line 36, to leave out from the word "for," to the word "Act," in line 37, and insert the words "one year."—(Mr. Healy.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'the same period as this Act' stand part of the Clause."
§ MR. MORGAN LLOYD
said, he did not rise to speak on this Amendment, but simply to inform the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Healy) that an Amendment providing for the extension of the Alien Act to England was the next in order, and would be moved by him (Mr. Morgan Lloyd) in due course.
§ MR. DILLON
said, this clause proposed to re-enact an exceedingly odious Statute which was passed in 1848. Now, the Alien Act consisted of eight clauses, some of which were very long. When the Government complained of the Irish Members discussing this Bill at considerable length, they seemed to forget that some of the clauses of this Bill were, in fact, Acts in themselves, and Acts of a very stringent character. The first point to which he wished to direct attention was that the Alien Act, which 1962 was a measure thoroughly odious to the Members of the then English Government, and opposed to the general traditions of the English people, was passed at a time when a large number of people in Ireland—
§ MR. HENEAGE
rose to Order. Had the hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Dillon's) remarks any bearing upon the Amendment, which had reference to the length of time during which the clause was to operate?
The hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) is aware that he cannot discuss the whole clause upon an Amendment; but I think he was only making a reference.
§ MR. DILLON
said, if the hon. Member (Mr. Heneage) had been a little more patient he would have seen he (Mr. Dillon) was strictly in Order. When he was interrupted by the hon. Gentleman, he was proceeding to point out that the Act, which they were now asked to re-enact for the space of three years, was proposed in 1848, under circumstances of even greater public: danger than Parliament was now confronted by. In 1848, when an attempt had been made to levy war in Ireland against Her Majesty, when it was notoriously known, and made public, that a large association of men in America had collected a large sum of money, with the avowed purpose of equipping an expedition and sending troops to invade Ireland, and when agents were being sent from revolutionary societies abroad to assist the insurgents at home, the Alien Act, designed to meet that extraordinary state of things, was passed for one year. Now, when there was no evidence laid before the Committee of any attempt to levy war against Her Majesty, when there was no attempt to equip a force to invade Ireland, when there was no talk of rebellion, and no fear of it, except in the minds of a few alarmists, they were asked tore-enact the Alien Act for three years. The Government were bound to show their reasons for such a proposal before they could expect the opposition to the clause to be withdrawn. He must, of course, submit to the Chairman's ruling; but he must confess he was somewhat surprised to hear the Chairman state that he was not entitled, on the question of the re-enactment of the Alien Act, to allude to the provisions of that Act. He heard the 1963 statement with surprise, because it seemed to him that, in considering whether the Alien Act should be renewed for one year or for three years, it was right and proper they should consider what the provisions of that Act were. One of the strong objections he had to the clause was that it would practically make Ireland similar to a Continental country when, some years ago, no man could enter or leave a country on the Continent without a passport. This clause would operate against travellers; and, therefore, it was important to consider whether so stringent a measure should be passed for so long a time as three years. There was another consideration which might influence the Committee in deciding whether they were going to put Ireland under the provisions of the Alien Act for three years, and that was the extraordinary way in which the Lord Lieutenant was called upon to act under the clause. If the Lord Lieutenant should have reason to believe, from information given to him in writing by any person subscribing his or her name, that for the preservation of the peace and of the country it was expedient certain aliens should be removed, he could order their removal. Such an arrangement reminded him of that which was in force in Venice some time ago, for there a man had only to subscribe his name to a strip of paper, on which it was shown that a certain person was dangerous to the public safety, and thereupon that certain person was deported. So, in the case of Ireland, an individual had only to write to the Lord Lieutenant, stating that he believed so-and-so was an alien dangerous to the public safety, and upon such insufficient grounds the Lord Lieutenant could put the Alien Act in operation. The Lord Lieutenant could require a man to leave the country within a limited time; but there was no statement in the Act as to what that limit of time might be. An alien might be required to leave the country within 24 hours; and if he did not do so, he was to be held guilty of a misdemeanour and subject to one month's imprisonment for the first offence, and 12 months' imprisonment for the second and subsequent offences. The Alien Act was an exceedingly odious and stringent Statute, and the Government were bound to inform the Committee on what ground 1964 they asked its re-enactment for three years, remembering as they must that when, in 1848, there was actually an attempted rising in Ireland, the Government of the day only asked that it should be enacted for one year.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
said, he differed from the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dillon), because he considered that this enactment would be of no use at all unless it was to operate for three years. Last year, on the third reading of the Protection of Person and Property Bill, he (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) ventured to make the remark that if any American citizens were arrested under the Act, no doubt the United States would insist upon a public trial; and he then appealed to the Government to introduce with respect to foreigners an Act like the Alien Act. He conceived that Foreign Governments would allow their subjects to be dealt with by the Common Law, but that they would not let them be dealt with by any law which mixed up the Executive with the administration of justice. Under the Protection Act, the Executive were mixed up to a certain extent with the administration of justice, inasmuch as the Lord Lieutenant might decide by what kind of tribunal the accused person was to be tried. What he wished to show was this—that the Government had considerable difficulty lately—at least so he understood—as to the American subjects who had been imprisoned under the Coercion Bill, and who had declined to be liberated on the condition that they should leave the country. Now, under the circumstances, and under the great public emergency of the time being, he conceived the Coercion Acts, though they might be harsh, were absolutely necessary to maintain the peace of Ireland; and he could not conceive, by any process of reasoning, how the Alien Act could be re-enacted for a shorter period than was now proposed in the Bill under discussion. He therefore trusted the Government would be firm on this subject, because the clause was one which was likely to protect them from very disagreeable misunderstandings, both with the United States and other countries. Later, when the time came, he should be prepared to support the proposal that the provisions of the Alien Act be extended to this country. As the case now stood, ho must differ with the 1965 hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon"), because the provision would be utterly useless unless it were made co-existent with the duration of the Bill.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he hoped they might now decide this point, whether it was necessary that the provision with respect to aliens should be co-extensive with the other pro-visions of the Bill. No doubt, this clause was a very unusual one; but the Government believed that a great part, he might almost say the greater part, of the mischief done in Ireland was due to foreign agencies. It was as desirable that these foreign agencies should be dealt with during the period the Government thought it right to recommend that this Act should remain in force, as that any of the other provisions of the Act should be proposed. The hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) had said that, in 184 8, the Alien Act was passed for one year. That was true; but at that time an Act of Parliament did not take a whole Session to pass. At that time the House of Commons were in the habit of dealing reasonably with the questions brought before them; but now a time had been reached when the arts—he would not say of Obstruction, he would rather use some less obnoxious term—when the arts of procrastination had been carried to such a point, that if it were desired to renew an Act, it must be reckoned that the renewal would occupy the whole Session of Parliament. That seemed a conclusive reason for extending the operation of the Alien Act to three years.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary was interesting, for it had brought a new term—namely, "procrastination"—within the region of political phraseology. A few days ago the right hon. and learned Gentleman professed great admiration for Earl Grey, who, speaking of coercive powers, had said that the Representatives of the people ought to have the earliest opportunity of revising and considering the exercise of such extreme powers. The Government of the Whig statesman whom the right hon. and learned Gentleman so much admired laid down the cardinal principle that, with reference to restrictions of individual liberty, the Representatives of the people assembled in the House of Commons should have 1966 the earliest possible opportunity of reexamining the whole subject, and of considering whether the extreme powers in the Executive had been wisely used. Would the Committee observe that this clause differed fundamentally from many of the other proposals in the Bill? Because, whereas many of the other proposals were for the enactment of powers which were, unfortunately, too familar to the Irish people, this clause was proposed in order to revive an enactment which was never resorted to except on one occasion, and that an occasion of extraordinary danger. The Alien Act was passed in 1848. Many parts of Ireland were then in a state of practical insurrection, and the Executive were confronted by an armed rebellion—the movement then was political and not social. Notwithstanding the extreme gravity of the occasion, the Government of the day simply proposed that the Act authorizing the removal of aliens should remain in force for one year, and to the end of the then Session of Parliament. That was following the maxim of Earl Grey; it was following the maxim which had governed English statesmen from all time. What was the proposal now before the Committee? Why, that Parliament, when it had once placed these extraordinary powers in the hands of the Executive, should not be able to say a word on the subject for three years to come. At this moment three distinct functions were possessed by the Government—namely. Executive, Legislative, and Judicial; and, surely, if it was only necessary to enact the Alien Act for one year in the presence of an open rebellion, why was it necessary to re-enact it now for three years, when the movement against which the Act was aimed was but a social one? He could not conclude his remarks without referring to the suggestion of his hon. Friend the Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy), that because there was a law about to be passed against aliens in Ireland, it would be well to extend the law to England. He (Mr. Sexton) was not of that opinion. Two wrongs could never make one right. It was a pity that aliens in Ireland should, because of the unfortunate dispositions of the English Government towards that country, be driven away; but he could never put that forward as a reason why aliens—peaceable and industrious men—in other countries should be sub- 1967 jected to the same treatment. He should, upon the broad principles of liberty, protest against the application of this clause to England, though it might be applied to Ireland.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, that an Industrial Exhibition was now being got up in Ireland. That Exhibition had been "Boycotted" in the most severe manner by the landlord class; and the deliberative effect of this clause would be to chase from Ireland, on mere information given to the Lord Lieutenant, anyone who sympathized with the present industrial movement. He had no hesitation in saying that one of the objects of the clause was to stop the Industrial Exhibition, on which the Irish people set such store; that this Act was one to stop the industries and enterprise of Ireland he was convinced. In the name of the industrial classes he must enter his protest against this clause and against this Bill. From an Imperial point of view this was a dangerous clause. He hoped that the aliens who were in Ireland would remain there, and he hoped that strangers would come from foreign countries to Ireland to support the people in their industrial enterprise, which many people calling them- selves Irish had refused to support. It would, indeed, be a perilous thing if the Government attempted the deportation of any such strangers.
§ DR. COMMINS
said, this clause proposed an experiment of a very dangerous kind. He would like to know how many Members opposite who blindly followed the Government had gone to the trouble of reading the Alien Act? He ventured to say, if a Return were laid on the Table of the House, it would be found that not five hon. Gentlemen had ever read that Act. Of course, it was not necessary that hon. Gentlemen should be acquainted with every expired Act; but surely it was requisite they should know something of an Act it was proposed to re-enact by a sort of side-wind, as in this instance. He would not say anything as to the extraordinary manner in which the Act 1968 could be put into operation by the Lord Lieutenant; but he would say that he doubted whether, in the present state of affairs, it was desirable, from an Imperial point of view, to open the door for further complications with foreign countries. If Parliament re-enacted this Act, it was just possible that America and France and other countries might take it into their heads to pass an Alien Act in order to expel from their countries any English residents they might consider troublesome. The arrest of three or four aliens in Ireland under the Coercion Act of last year had led to complications, the gravity of which they, in the House of Commons, had no conception. There was no doubt that complications of a very serious character arose between the Government of Her Majesty and the Government of Washington in consequence of the arrest of American citizens; and it was very probable that if the powers of this clause were exercised in regard to Americans, the complications under the Act of last year might be mere trifles in comparison with the complications which might arise hereafter.
§ It being a quarter of an hour before Six of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to report Progress; Committee to sit again To-morrow.