§ Clause 12 (Application of Alien Act to aliens in Ireland).
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. DILLON
said, that this Amendment was under discussion when the hour for adjournment arrived yesterday. He did not think Her Majesty's Government could charge the Irish Members with having unduly procrastinated the discussion upon the clause. The Alien Act, which the clause provided should be applied to aliens in Ireland, consisted in itself of a variety of clauses, and whenever its renewal had been proposed on previous occasions it had always been discussed at considerable length. It was originally proposed in 1793, and on that occasion gave rise to a long debate; and on every occasion since it had been opposed by all the most honoured names of the old Whig Party. The Home Secretary informed the Committee the other day that he was a follower of the Whigs of old, and that he was proud to call himself so. He (Mr. Dillon) wondered what the right hon. and learned Gentleman would say if he were to read to him the speeches of the Whigs of old on the Alien Act. Every name honoured in the annals of the Whig Party had protested in the strongest terms against this Act. On one occasion, when Lord Castlereagh introduced the Alien Act, 76 he was met with a dogged determination on the part of the Whig Party not to discuss its details at all, and one and all declared that, no matter What the details of the Bill were, they objected to it on principle, and under no circumstances would they condescend to enter into any criticism of its details. He (Mr. Dillon) intended on a proper occasion to quote the authority of all these great men, and he thought the Irish Members were entitled to ask, at least, that the Government should not add anything to the provisions of an Act which had been so strongly opposed by their own Party. When Mr. Pitt introduced the Alien Act of 1793, he asked for one year, and one year only; and he hoped, if Lord Castlereagh might be compared with Herod, that Her Majesty's Government were not prepared at the present moment to out-Herod Herod. Of course, if the Government were determined to carry the present clause, all the Irish Members could ask was that it should not create a precedent for doing what the British House of Commons had never done before. The appeal to the Government was not unreasonable—not to re-enact the provisions of the Alien Acts of 1793 and 1848, at all events, for a longer period than one year.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary had boldly and proudly avowed himself a Whig the other night. But he was in no respects like the Whigs of former days, because, although the Whigs of old entertained the greatest repugnance to discuss even the smallest details of this measure, there was no single detail of it which the Whigs of the present day were not prepared to enforce without the slightest repugnance. The right hon. and learned Gentleman proposed to reenact the Alien Act without giving any details at all, knowing very well that those who would follow him into the Lobby would not take the trouble to make themselves masters of its details. His hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) had referred to the opposition given to the Alien Acts when they were first brought in, and had pointed out how one and all of the Members of the Liberal Party had refused to discuss their details. He (Mr. Leamy) thought it was most desirable that the details of the Act should be before the Committee. He was satisfied that many 77 hon. Members would vote for the Home Secretary's proposition who had not read those details; and it was the first time in the history of attempts at legislation of this character that an Act which was not in existence now, and which was not to found in the Codified Statutes, was proposed to be re-enacted without any specification being made of what its precise details were. Of course, he knew it would be said that everybody was supposed to know the law; but he would like to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman how the people whom the clause would affect—namely, aliens residing in Ireland—were to know the law? Where were they to find it? They were unable to find it in the present Bill, and they could not find it in the Codified Statutes.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, that it was proposed to print the Alien Act in the Schedule to the Bill, and he had stated so already.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, he was not aware that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had made that statement. He certainly thought that the Act should have been set forth in a Schedule before the Committee came to discuss the Schedules, so that in discussing this clause they might have been able to make themselves acquainted with the details of the measure. They knew that the Bill was not intended to apply to England. This country would not be affected by it at all. It would apply only to Ireland, and hon. Members were hardly likely to look up old and musty Acts of Parliament for themselves in order to make themselves acquainted with the details of the measure. When the Act was last before the House—in 1848—it was pointed out that the powers proposed to be given to the Secretary of State were very large indeed, and that there was very little check upon the exercise of them. It was pointed out that accusations would be made in anonymous letters addressed to the Secretary of State, and that the Office of the Secretary of State would, in point of fact, have a backdoor for the reception of accusations and calumnies against individuals, upon the plausible pretext of securing the public safety, but, in reality, for the gratification of personal spite and vindictiveness. Hon. Members must feel that this was even much more likely to happen in Ireland than in England. In Ireland there 78 were men who had excited the hatred of some of their neighbours, and, under this Bill, they would be liable to be arrested and ordered out of the country if anyone chose to send a letter to the Secretary of State containing accusations against them. He was sorry to find that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright) was not in his place. In 1848, among the minority who opposed the application of the Alien Bill, were the names of Richard Cobden and John Bright; and when the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright) opposed the introduction of the Bill of 1848, the circumstances were very much different from what they were now, because Sir George Grey, in introducing the Bill, did so, not merely on account of the condition of Ireland, but on account of the condition of Europe and of the revolutionary tendencies which were exhibiting themselves in every part of Europe. Sir George Grey stated that Republican principles were spreading, and that the Government were anxious to put a stop to their spread in this country. At that time it was very well known that there was actual insurrection in Ireland against the Sovereign. Not only were there men in Ireland, but Irishmen in America, who were prepared, if they could, to overthrow the power and authority of the Queen, in Ireland, and, notwithstanding the fact that they had actual insurrection in Ireland, and that Thrones were tottering all over Europe, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster refused to support the introduction of the Alien Act. He should like to know upon what grounds the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to defend the introduction of the same measure now? He (Mr. Leamy) repeated that he was extremely sorry that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary had not already set forth the Act in a Schedule to the Bill. If the Bill were examined carefully, it would be found that it was a codification of all the Coercion Acts which had hitherto been applied to Ireland, with the addition of the abolition of trial by jury. The Alien Act was one which the country was familiar with for some years. For something like 30 years from 1793, it was renewed every year, and every Whig statesman of note, and every man con- 79 neoted with the Liberal Party, gave it a most determined opposition. Yet they now saw the Liberal Party coming in to-day to propose a re-enactment of the law at a time which was not to be compared, as far as danger to public safety was concerned, with 1848 or 1793. He knew perfectly well that the Government would succeed in carrying this clause, as they had succeeded in carrying the other clauses of the Bill. But the Irish Representatives felt that they were justified in making some kind of stand for the preservation of rights which were conferred upon the Irish people by Magna Charter.
§ MR. P. MARTIN
said, he was strongly opposed to the principle of the clause, and would support any Amendment that proposed to limit its operation. He was glad that his hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. Leamy) had called the attention of the Committee to the strenuous opposition the Bill met with in 1848 from every Leader of the Liberal Party. They were now considering the question whether they should limit the operation of the Bill to one year, and it was important, he thought, that he should bring under the notice of the Committee the emphatic and stirring words which were made use of in 1848 by the late Sir William Molesworth, and the well-considered opinions then expressed by the right hon. Gentleman who now filled the Office of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright). Mr. Milner Gibson was also one of the most strenuous opponents of the Bill in 1848, both on the second and third reading, and he divided—as far as he (Mr. P. Martin) could recollect without referring to the volumes of Hansard—against it in Committee, on the Amendments which were brought forward with the view of endeavouring to mitigate the rigour of the Bill. And, now, had they one single argument brought forward on the part of the Government which was not used when the Liberals opposed the Alien Act in 1848? It was said that they ought to trust to the Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, in 1848, criticized that contention, with much vehemence, as a contemptible and a childish argument. He (Mr. P. Martin) would not occupy the time of the Committee by referring to the pages in which the opi- 80 nions of the Leaders of the Liberal Party might be found recorded. He thought it was quite enough that the House should have full knowledge of the opposition the Act met with from Liberals of note and eminence in 1848. Nevertheless, it was only proposed on that occasion to pass the Act for one year. At that time a provisional Government existed in France, and he believed that there was a rumour, which was well founded, that some 40,000 or 50,000 Frenchmen in London were prepared to enter upon the path of revolution. It was under such circumstances, with a panic of this description existing at the time, that the Act was passed, but not without strong and energetic protests from the Liberal Party. Would anyone suggest for a moment that such a state of things existed at present in Ireland as existed in 1848? They all knew that at that time there were American cruisers, the captains of which absolutely announced their intention of landing on the Irish Coast, and the American and Irish journals openly and boldly announced their intention of uprooting the Government by force of arms. And in 1848 it was under circumstances of this kind that the Act was only passed for a period of one year. Then what ground was there for passing it now during the entire continuance of the present Act? He thought it was an unnecessary and arbitrary course on the part of the Government. They knew that the Alien Act was particularly abhorrent to the Irish mind, because Irishmen could not remove from their recollection the fact that under the old Alien Act of 1793 the first person upon whom the measure operated was a defenceless woman, the widow of Lord Edward Fitzgerald. Although the Government of 1793 made great pretensions that the Act would not be put into force so as to inflict hardship upon anybody, that lady was the first person deported from Ireland. He asked why the Government should insist on introducing a clause of this kind, that could only create irritation and ill-feeling in Ireland? The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department complained of the way in which the Bill had been procrastinated in its consideration by the Irish Members. But who were the persons who had in reality obstructed 81 the passing of the measure? It was Her Majesty's Government themselves by introducing clauses of an unnecessary kind, and refusing to listen to any proposals for mitigating their severity. What benefit was produced by passing the Act of 1848? There were Returns furnished after the passing of that Act to show the number of aliens who had been deported under the provisions of such an extremely stringent measure. It was a very valuable Return indeed, and was made to the House of Commons in the year 1850, on the Motion of Lord Dudley Stuart. It showed the number of aliens deported from England and Ireland under the 11 & 12 Vict. c. 20; and how many were there? None. Mr. Redington, the permanent Secretary, answered the Return by reporting that the number of persons deported under the Statute, in order to pass which all Constitutional liberty had been ignored, was exactly—nil. He (Mr. P. Martin) therefore thought that he was justified in protesting against the clause as altogether unnecessary. The Act of 1848 having proved so inoperative, what reason was there for thinking that the present clause would have a different result?
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the observations of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the County of Kilkenny (Mr. P. Martin), both on account of the arguments they contained and the facts they had brought under the notice of the Committee, deserved the respectful attention of the Government. He thought the right hon. Gentlemen the Chief Secretary would not venture, after perusing the speech of his hon. and learned Friend, at some future time to make the remark he was constantly in the habit of making, that the clause was a well - tried and well - proved weapon. He should like the right hon. Gentleman to apply that phrase to the present clause, seeing that, after it had been in operation for two years—in 1848 and 1849—the permanent officials in Ireland testified that nobody had been deported under it. If, therefore, it were said to be a well-tried and well-proved weapon, that would be the way of proving it to have been inoperative and useless. References had been made to the opinions of the Whig statesmen of the last generation. He believed that they did not object to coercion in general; 82 but the Whig statesmen of the last generation, and, perhaps, of two generations since, opposed the Alien Act on account of its interference with public liberty. He regretted that Liberals of the present day were pursuing an entirely different course. On a measure which struck a serious blow at public liberty and at the liberty of the individual, a Liberal Government even declined to reconsider their proposals, although it was abundantly proved that they were unnecessary, and that they had been inoperative when carried out on other occasions. In 1848, Parliament, not forgetful of its old traditions, only passed an Alien Act for a period of one year, although, as had been pointed out by his hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. Leamy), in 1848 Ireland was in a state of open insurrection, and a fierce and desperate armed revolution in Ireland was momentarily apprehended. It was because a revolutionary wave had passed over Europe that Ireland was considered dangerous, and it was thought that no alien from any country whatever should be allowed the right of residence there. What comparison was there between the present state of Ireland and its condition in 1848? Of course, he admitted that a very fierce conflict was being waged in Ireland between those who owned the soil and those who tilled it; but the utmost the Government could allege was that it was a social movement that was taking place in Ireland, and that there had been a popular combination. That was all the Government could allege, and he challenged them to show what parity there was between such a state of things and the state of things which existed in Ireland in 1848, when the Alien Act was last passed. He thought they ought to give some better reason for the introduction of this clause than that which had been given by the Home Secretary yesterday. In 1848 the Act was limited to one year; but in 1848 it was said the House of Commons was in the habit of behaving more reasonably than it did now, and that it did not take an entire Session to pass an Act of Parliament. That was a very good epigram on the part of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary, but it was altogether destitute of truth. He (Mr. Sexton) was not aware that, as a matter of fact, it did take an entire Session to 83 pass an Act of Parliament. In regard to this very measure, the Committee had only been engaged in discussing it for three weeks, notwithstanding the fact that it was a Bill which destroyed the entire liberties of a whole people. He invited the Home Secretary, therefore, to reconsider his statement, and to make it perfectly plain how it was that it took an entire Session to pass a single Act of Parliament. He (Mr. Sexton) was of opinion that there were very important reasons which should induce the Committee to pass this Amendment. What were the powers of the Alien Act? It was not all clear what an Alien Act was, and it might affect persons who were the children of Irish emigrants in America and who were not aliens at all. It would require a very strict legal inquiry in order to find out whether a man was an alien or not. In the case of Michael Boyton, now in Kilmainham Gaol, it was necessary to enter into a strict legal inquiry before the Government could satisfy themselves whether he was an alien or not. The Lord Lieutenant might make an order for the removal of an alien, and if the man did not obey it he might be imprisoned for a month under this Bill, or be placed in the hands of a Queen's Messenger and forced to leave the Realm. Now, this was so extreme a power that he was satisfied it would create great heart-burning between this and other countries, and it was only reasonable that such a power should be limited in its operation to one year. Considering that the foreign relations of the country in regard to Egypt might lead to a European War, it was surely not desirable, in view of the incapacity of this country to face any European Power in war, that the Government should complicate the state of affairs by provoking hostile relations with the United States. In 1848 the Irish element was not very powerful in the United States. Since that time 3,000,000 of Irishmen had been driven there, and now the Irish vote was too strong to be disregarded either by Republicans or Democrats. By passing this clause for a period of three years they would allow it to be in operation at the time of the next Presidential Election, and the question of the removal of aliens would be certain to come up at that Election. The Irish, vote was capable of turning the next Presidential Election, and it was 84 for the Home Secretary to consider whether he would or would not, by insisting on this clause being passed for three years, embitter the feelings of exasperation which the Irish in America entertained towards this country.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, the hon. Member who had just sat down said that hitherto the Committee had been only three weeks considering this Bill. He would remind the hon. Member that although they had been only three weeks upon the Bill, the Notice Paper showed as large a number of Amendments as those they had been able to go through during the whole time they had already been at work; so that they might presage from the Amendments that it would require a period of the same length to dispose of them. Unless Members, therefore, took a different course from that they had hitherto taken, much time would still be absorbed before the Bill passed into law. Then, again, he might point out that the three weeks spent upon the Bill had not been ordinary Government weeks; but they had been gained by sacrificing the rights of private Members, by occupying Tuesdays and Fridays, by occupying both morning and evening, by taking the whole of Wednesday, and by continuous labours which interfered seriously with legislation on every other subject. He, therefore, ventured to submit to the Committee that they must not merely consider the number of weeks they had been engaged upon the Bill, but that they must also very seriously consider whether in other Sessions they wished all other subjects to be excluded from consideration as they had been this Session by questions connected exclusively with Ireland. The hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had that day, as he had done before, drawn a comparison between the state of things in 1848 and the state of things existing now, and the hon. Member had pointed out that at that time they had to deal with a political revolution, while now they had only to deal with a social revolution. If he understood the hon. Member rightly, his contention was that in 1848 the situation was infinitely more serious than it was now. But there was one great contrast between the two movements. In 1848, no secret associations, no plans for operating with dynamite, none of those crimes which threatened us now in 85 secret had been developed, or, at least, developed to the same extent. If the movement in 1848 was a political movement, it was in many respects a movement more easy to deal with than the present one, which certainly was not merely social, but was also political. If the hon. Member maintained that the movement he was connected with was only social, there was another movement with which, he hoped, only a small minority of Irishmen were connected, and that was a political movement. Those assassinations which had been regarded with so much sorrow in Ireland were the result of a political and not of a social movement. Hon. Members would not dare to say that those assassinations were connected with a social movement. If they were so connected, with what movement were they connected? They were connected with a political movement, operating possibly through Irish-Americans or through aliens, but he hoped not through Irishmen themselves. Then, let them see whether they could not strike at these aliens through a clause like that which had been introduced by Her Majesty's Government. The hon. Member had dwelt on the danger which existed in 1848, and contrasted it with the danger which existed now. He (Mr. Goschen) believed the opinion of the majority of the people of this country was that we had now to deal with even a more serious state of things than that which existed in 1848, precisely because the movement was working through aliens and in the dark by heinous plots and base organizations, which might or might not be in combination with other organizations in other parts of the country. He wished he could accept the opinion of the hon. Member that this was simply a social movement, and that there was no political danger in it. But it would be idle on the part of the Government and the Committee to conceal the political danger, and they would be blind not to take all the measures they could to strike at the organizations against which the Bill was chiefly directed—organizations which he hoped for the credit of Ireland, as well as for the credit of Great Britain, were mainly conducted by aliens. If they could reach these aliens through this clause, they would do much to relieve themselves and Ireland of a great danger which 86 Irishmen themselves, he was sure, deplored as much as Englishmen.
§ MR. R. POWER
said, the right hon. Gentleman, for the second or third time, had complained of the waste of time which the Irish Representatives had occupied over this Bill. While the right hon. Gentleman was speaking, he (Mr. R. Power) took up the Paper now in his hands, and in the first page of it he saw there were eight Amendments, and out of these five had been put down by English Members. The English Members had taken up a very considerable portion of the time of the House up to the present moment, and on two or three occasions they had consumed by far the largest part of it. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to think that the state of Ireland to-day was considerably worse and of a graver and more dangerous character than it was in 1848; but he did not think the right hon. Gentleman could have very closely studied the history of Ireland or the character of the very powerful revolutionary movement which existed in that country at that time. To show the difference between the state of things then and now, he would read for the information of the right hon. Gentleman accounts of some of the proceedings in some of the Clubs of that time, and some of the resolutions which they had passed. He found that in Tipperary there was a meeting of five Confederate Clubs at Carrick-on-Suir, numbering 600 members in all. No persons, unless they were members, were admitted to the meeting, the object being to ascertain their strength in the event of an insurrection. At that meeting a resolution of the most revolutionary kind was passed, and the right hon. Gentleman could not, among all the speeches which had been made on Irish platforms during the last two or three years, and among all the resolutions passed at meetings in Ireland, point to a single speech or a single resolution as strong and as dangerous as the speeches that were made and the resolutions which were passed at that meeting. In another important county of Ireland the Irish Clubs met at Trim. Fifty persons were present. The usual speeches were made, and one member said he would endeavour to put down the Government unless they put him down, and if he were transported, there was others to put them down after he 87 had left. At Wexford there was a meeting on the 7th of July, at which very violent resolutions were passed, and Messrs. Dillon and Duffy urged the people to provide arms, and said they expected to see the police in the van of the Irish National Guards. At the same place a specimen of "a cheap pike for poor people" was produced, and modes of attack were suggested. In Cork it was reported that about 15 Confederate Clubs had been formed, and it was probable about 2,000 names would be enrolled in them; and he found the Lord Lieutenant writing at that time to the Government to say that he had nothing satisfactory to send, and that the accounts from the country were as bad as they could be. Surely the right hon. Gentleman, in the face of these resolutions and proceedings, would not say that the state of Ireland was more serious or more dangerous to England than it was in 1848. He had often heard quotations made from the speeches of his hon. Friends in Ireland, but none of them could be compared for an instant with the resolutions and proceedings which he had quoted. In fact, the strongest speech quoted in that House by the Home Secretary was the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), in which his hon. Friend had said something about a Unicorn. He (Mr. R. Power) contended that the present movement was entirely a social one. Ireland was by no means in the fierce and dangerous state that it was in 1848. He could not understand, therefore, why the Government of 1848 should have been content to pass this Alien Act for one year, and yet that it should be considered that three years were required now. The right hon. Gentleman said that it took a shorter time in 1848 to pass a Coercion Bill through the House of Commons than it did now. He (Mr. R. Power) was very glad that was the case, and he would explain to the right hon. Gentleman why it took a longer time to pass a Coercion Bill in these days than it did formerly. In former days the people were not represented in that House. Irish Conservative opinion was represented, and Irish Whig opinion was represented, but Irish popular opinion was not represented at all. He was glad that that state of things no longer existed, and trusted that his hon. Friends would use every power they possessed 88 within the Forms of the House to prevent the clause standing part of the Bill.
§ DR. COMMINS
thought he was entitled to say that amongst all the objectionable proposals made in the Bill there was none for which so little case had been made out as the proposal to renew the Alien Act, nor did he think there was one which would be more inoperative when the Bill passed into law. To begin with, what case was made out for the clause by referring to the Alien Act of 1848? The two situations were entirely different. At that time, and in the year 1793, there was no difficulty in recognizing as aliens the Emissaries of the French Republic who were trying to stir up rebellion in England. Their tongue, their dress, and associations, alike betrayed them, and the Government of the day had no difficulty in getting at them. Again, there was then something like open rebellion in Ireland. There were Confederate Clubs, numbering, as was supposed, 3,000 or 4,000, spread over Ireland, and their only need was that someone should come to drill them. The Mexican War had just terminated, and there was a number of Yankees who had learned a little of war in Mexico, some of whom did come over to Ireland and undertook to drill these Confederate Clubs. Therefore, at that time, there was not only a more pressing necessity for a measure of this sort, but there was no difficulty in ascertaining the men against whom it was to be carried out. But here the case was entirely different. He asked what statistics had been given to the House to justify the re-enactment of the Alien Act. They had not been told how many aliens there were in Ireland. Could the Government give the slightest information as to whether there were more than 100 aliens there? There was not a single piece of evidence before the Committee that there were any aliens of a dangerous character in Ireland at all. They had two questions to consider. Were there aliens in Ireland, and were they dangerous to the State? No doubt, there had been six or seven men of this class, who, on Land League platforms, propounded some peculiar social and economic theories; but these had all been looked up, and he failed to find evidence that there were any more of them. But supposing there were some of these Americans still in the country, how were these aliens to be identified? He had 89 shown, with regard to the aliens of 1790 and 1848, that there was nothing in the world easier than to identify them. But the alien who took part in an illegal society now, how was he to be identified? His dress would not betray him, nor would his speech do so, because he might be a man like Michael Boyton, of Irish birth, although an alien in law.
said, he must point out that the hon. and learned Member was discussing the principle of the clause and not the Amendment, which proposed to limit the re-enactment of the Alien Act to one year.
§ MR. HEALY
wished to ask a question on a point of Order. The Amendment proposed to limit the application of the Alien Act to one year instead of the period of three years. He asked whether that did not involve the whole question as to the Alien Act? He was unable to see how they could discuss the proposal with regard to one year without entering upon the question of the Alien Act as a whole.
§ DR. COMMINS
said, he was urging upon the Committee that the Act of 1848 was of such a kind that the shorter the time for which it was re-enacted the better. He would, however, conclude that argument as briefly as possible. There were difficulties in the way of the operation of the Alien Act which never existed before. That had been proved. And it would be almost impossible to put the Act in force without running the risk of complications and embarrassments between this country and America too shocking to contemplate. He repeated that the provisions of the Act were so difficult of execution, and so dangerous in themselves, that the shorter the time the better for which it was to be re-enacted. He could not admit that there was any necessity for the Act at all; but, on the supposition that it would be useful for the purpose of clearing dangerous foreigners out of the country, it would do that as completely in one year as it would in three, and, therefore, the longer period was, in his opinion, unnecessary. His view of the matter was, that the moment these dangerous foreigners—if any such existed—found that the eye of the police was upon them, they would clear out of the country without waiting to receive 90 any notice; and further, that they were not likely to come back again. That being so, it would be quite unnecessary to continue this Act unless it was intended to make it a prohibition against foreigners entering the country by making it dangerous for them to do so. There had been a most unfair argument adduced in support of this clause. References had been frequently made to events recently occurring in Ireland—to assassinations, the authors of which, together with their motives, were unknown. It was assumed, without an atom of evidence, that these acts were committed by Irishmen, and the assumption was pressed into the argument, by hook or by crook, by Her Majesty's Government, and almost every hon. Member who supported this Bill. It was used by the Government to show that they had information that they did not wish to disclose, and it was put forward by hon. Members, as it had been by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen), who, in speaking of the recent mysterious murder, said, in effect, to Irish Members on that side of the House—"Oh, you know all about it; and you know against whom this provision is directed, although it does not suit your purpose to admit it!" Now, he protested against this unfair and unmanly style of argument. If the right hon. Gentleman had any evidence to show that any hon. Member on those Benches had any cognizance of these murders, and was favourable to those unhappy occurrences, let him, like a man, say so; but he condemned this practice on the part of hon. Members, of insinuating what they were afraid to state openly, and, so to speak, sapping the reputations of others. He should support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wexford, on the ground that even if the re-enactment of the Alien Act were necessary, it would probably do all that was required to be done in a week, certainly in a year; and it was therefore unnecessary to keep it in force for a longer period.
§ MR. HENEAGE
said, he repudiated the charge brought against the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen), that he had attempted to insinuate more than he said. He was certain that the right hon. Gentleman would always state boldly what he had to say without having recourse to insinua- 91 tion. It was most unfair to put forward such, a charge in the absence of his right hon. Friend. With regard to the Amendment before the Committee, he thought the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down had answered his own arguments. The hon. and learned Member said it was unnecessary to re-enact the Alien Act for a period of three years, because the persons against whom it was directed would make their escape very soon after the Bill passed into law. Well, if that were so, it would not be put into operation, because there would be no aliens in Ireland to operate upon. For his own part, he regarded the clause as the most valuable in the Bill. It was valuable both for Ireland and England, and it would save the honest and loyal people of the former from the presence of those whom in their hearts they would be glad to get rid of. The clause would only operate against those foreigners who had no ostensible, or, at any rate, no honest way of getting a living, and, that being so, it would constitute a benefit rather than an injury to the persons concerned. It appeared to him that the clause would never really come into operation, because the persons it was intended to operate upon were not sufficiently brave to meet it, and, therefore, it would seem that there was no necessity for continuing the discussion as to whether it should remain in force for one or three years. If, however, the Alien Act required to be re-enacted in the present exceptional circumstances, he thought it should continue to run for the same length of time as the Bill of which that re-enactment was to form a part; nevertheless, he hoped, for the sake of Ireland, that all action under the Act in question would lapse before the Bill expired, and that, he felt sure, was also the desire of Her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. WARTON
said, it was only fair to Her Majesty's Government, who had come forward with a scheme for the repression of crime in Ireland, that their scheme should be looked at as a whole. Her Majesty's Government having declared on their responsibility that a certain provision was absolutely necessary for the repression or diminution of crime in Ireland, it was incumbent upon hon. Members to accept that declaration. It was absurd to say that the Government 92 were to be trusted with all the exceptional powers of this measure but one for a period of three years, but that in the matter of that one they were only to be trusted for one year. He repeated that it was only fair towards the Government that their complete scheme should be carried out. Now, with regard to the position taken up by hon. Members on that side below the Gangway, it seemed to him—having no inclination to judge Ireland more harshly than it ought to be judged—that, as an act of charity, one ought to assume that the crime committed in Ireland was the work of aliens. And that being his view, he could not understand why hon. Members below the Gangway were so anxious to espouse the cause of aliens. That they should do so seemed a mistake, because it might be supposed to be their interest to show that the crimes committed were committed by aliens. He knew that the horrible murders done in the Phœnix Park were repudiated by Irish Members on behalf of their fellow-countrymen, and that alone should be a reason for making them as careful as possible to throw the odium of them upon aliens. Why they did not do so he was at a loss to see. But again, from their own point of view, if the re-enactment of the Alien Act was to be for one year only, it would result, when that period expired, that in the event of trouble continuing in Ireland, districts which would otherwise not be proclaimed would have to be proclaimed, in order to bring suspicious strangers under the 9th section of the Act. He put it to hon. Members to consider what the effect of that would be. He agreed in the view expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Roscommon (Dr. Commins), that some of these aliens would run away when the Act was passed. On the other hand, he had a strong opinion of his own that when the limited period of one year had expired they would come back again. He did not like the idea of the Irish people being punished by this Act while aliens went free, and, therefore, recommended his hon. Friends not to persist in their opposition to the clause.
§ MR. METGE
said, hon. Members on those Benches had been accused from every part of the House of repetition in their arguments. It was not often that he occupied the time of the House; but 93 he was compelled, even at the cost of repeating some of the arguments already used, to reply to English Members who had just spoken. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) had risen a short time since, and, with all the authority and weight which attached to him as a leading Member of the Liberal Party, had argued at length that they were not in the face of a social but a political revolution in Ireland, and that this Act was to be extended, and its operation looked forward to with the hope of success in putting down that political revolution. He contended that, before the right hon. Gentleman got up to make that statement, and cause it to be transmitted throughout the length and breadth of the land, he should, at least, have furnished himself with some facts wherewith to support it. That argument had again and again been put forward by the occupants of the Treasury Bench, without a shadow of proof. Under such circumstances as these, he thought the charge that Irish Members repeated their arguments unnecessarily was somewhat inconsistent. He said, if the Government proved that there was a political revolution in Ireland, he would vote for the Bill at once. Again, the Chief Secretary had said that the persons whom it was wished to exclude were centres of political agitation. But, if that were so, why could the right hon. Gentleman not put his hand upon them at once? The hon. and learned Member for Roscommon had pointed out that there was now no means, as there had been formerly, of recognizing the persons whom it was said this clause was directed against. Did the Government mean to say that they intended to use the clause against a man because he was an alien apart from any suspicious circumstances that might surround him? His hon. and learned Friend had said that the clause would have the effect of preventing foreigners visiting the Dublin National Exhibition; but, in reply to that argument, the Government had stated that it was not to be supposed that the Act would be put in force in any tyrannical manner—that it would be used only against those aliens who were regarded with suspicion. But, if that were the intention of the Government, he asked why they could not avail themselves of the full powers which they already pos- 94 sessed of proceeding against aliens suspected of treasonable intent? Then the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) repeated the old and fallacious argument that a bad law might be justified by its being executed in a mild and considerate manner; and, further, that it might be also justified if it could be proved that it would only be used to a certain extent—that the whole of the power given to the Government would never be required. Those arguments had been repudiated over and over again by hon. Members on those Benches; nevertheless, they were as constantly repeated by the Members of the Liberal Party. Again, the hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton) had just told the Committee that they were to depend on the Government in this matter, and take this legislation as a whole. But, if that were so, why did the House go into Committee at all? They were in Committee for the purpose of improving the Bill, and trying to limit the powers demanded by the Government, as far as they considered it proper that those powers should be limited; and there could be no stronger proof that this was necessary than the argument adduced by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. R. Power), who pointed out that eight of the 12 Amendments to this clause, which appeared on the Notice Paper, were in the names of English Members. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) had, as usual, blamed Irish Members for the length to which the discussion on this Amendment had been extended; but he thought he was justified in answering that oft-repeated statement by the hackneyed argument that this Bill contained within itself at least five or six separate Acts, any one of which, if brought forward by a Conservative Ministry, would have been opposed tooth-and-nail by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. There was not one of those Acts which had not been opposed at different periods of our history by the Liberal Party to the fullest limit which the Rules of the House permitted. They had before them in one Bill a most drastic measure of coercion—an Insurrection Act—full powers to suppress public meetings in Ireland for whatsoever purpose they might be held; then they had the establishment of a practically absolute censorship of the Press; and 95 now they were asked to re-enact the Alien Act of 1848. Why, if they were to carry on the discussion to the end of the Session, he thought they ought not to be blamed. Irish Members were justified in using every means in their power to secure ample consideration of a Bill which, as he had already shown, contained within itself the substance of five or six Acts of Parliament.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had stated that after the passing of the Alien Act of 1848 no one was deported. Allowing that statement to be correct, it must be borne in mind that the object of this clause and the Act of 1848 were very different, and especially so in the minds of the public men who proposed them. The Alien Act of 1848 was passed under the influence of political apprehension and political feeling. No one who remembered Punch, and the other comic papers of the time, could doubt what that feeling was. The belief was that there were 50,000 French Democrats in London who might attempt to overthrow the Constitution and upset the Monarchy. In the course of the speeches which had been made in condemnation of the re-enactment of the Act of 1848, the Government were asked why they wanted to expose Englishmen to the machinations of these people? But it was not for political reasons that the present Government proposed that the Alien Act should be re-enacted. They believed that the crime committed in Ireland was hatched abroad; that those who brought the funds which subsidized the most serious crimes were aliens; and that those who had actually perpetrated, and intended to perpetrate, crimes of the blackest dye were aliens. He held in his hand a copy of The United Irishman, a paper which he had carefully avoided quoting when the clause relating to the Press was under consideration, because it would have been unfair by such means to raise the feeling of the House against papers published in Ireland. But the case was entirely different when it was a question of keeping out of Ireland people who really believed in The United Irishman. The issue of that paper which came to this country yesterday, contained absolutely the most atrocious piece of writing that he could conceive as coming from the human brain. It was stated in verse that the people who committed the 96 dreadful murders in Phœnix Park were Americans, and then, turning from poetry to prose, the editor said deliberately that if the English would not quit Ireland peaceably, every one of them should meet the fate of Cavendish and Burke. That was the sort of hideous balderdash which was actually published and read by the small knot of people who, on a distant shore, concocted the crimes committed in Ireland. He did not say that The United Irishman had got a public in Ireland. He believed and hoped it was not so. But it certainly had a public in America, and part of that public came over here for the purpose of carrying the sentiments which it proclaimed into execution. Her Majesty's Government, then, were persuaded that this clause was necessary, and that, being necessary, there was no reason for abridging the period of its operation. It seemed to him preposterous that the duration of the clause for the deportation of foreigners should be abridged, while the rest of the Bill, which affected the liberties of our fellow-citizens, was to remain in force for two years longer. The hon. and learned Member for Roscommon (Dr. Commins), who argued at some length against the clause, had said that all the good which could be got out of it could be obtained in 12 months—he believed the hon. and learned Gentleman said it might be in a month or a week—because as soon as the Bill passed into law with this clause in it, the people against whom it was directed would clear out of the country. That might be perfectly true; but what guarantee was there that they would not come back as soon as the clause expired? Again, if there was one part of the Bill which ought to be continued for the full period asked by the Government it was this clause, because they earnestly hoped that, the Act being wisely and justly administered, by the end of a certain time there might be a change for the better in the feeling of the class amongst whom agrarian crime was rife. But there was no means whatever of influencing the handful of scoundrels who subsidized and planned these horrible crimes; and, therefore, the best way of dealing with them was to keep them out of the country.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, at that moment he could not pretend to say if he were an alien or not. He believed he was not an alien by birth. The Government knew that a certain number of the most dangerous characters in and about Ireland were aliens.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 72; Noes 33: Majority 39.—(Div. List, No. 169.)
§ MR. MORGAN LLOYD
said, he rose to move an Amendment in page 6, line 38, to leave out from the word "Act" to the end of the clause.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; Committee counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. MORGAN LLOYD
said, he was obliged to the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Gill) for procuring him an audience, although he was afraid the hon. Member had not done it with the object of facilitating his (Mr. Morgan Lloyd's) moving his Amendment. The action of the hon. Member was, no doubt, a part of that system of opposition and obstruction which had notoriously prevailed on the Opposition side of the House below the Gangway during all their proceedings on this Bill.
§ MR. DILLON
said, he did not think the hon. and learned Member was entitled to say that a system of Obstruction had prevailed amongst the Members on the Opposition side of the House below the Gangway.
§ MR. GILL
said, he would ask the Chairman to request the hon. and learned Member to withdraw the statement he had made. He (Mr. Gill) had not drawn attention to the fact that there were not 40 Members present for the purpose of Obstruction; but, seeing that this was a very important Amendment, and that there was a very thin attendance of hon. Members, he thought it right to move that the Committee should be counted, in order that the hon. and learned Member might obtain a proper audience. As a proof that he had not acted in this matter with any intention of obstructing the progress of the Bill, he might say he had not left his place after moving the count, as was generally done when hon. Members wished to delay the progress of a Bill.
If the hon. and learned Member imputed Obstruction to the hon. Gentleman who has just risen, it is wrong, and he should withdraw the imputation.
§ MR. MORGAN LLOYD
said, he desired to withdraw any expression that, in the opinion of the Chairman, was one that he ought not to have made use of. He would accept the assurance of the hon. Member, and would repeat what he had said to his credit—namely, that he had moved that the Committee should be counted, in order to increase the audience to listen to the very short speech which he (Mr. Morgan Lloyd) had to make in moving this Amendment. There were two Amendments standing in his name—the first being in line 37, after the word "effect," to insert "throughout the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland." This Amendment he did not propose to move, as he thought it altogether unnecessary; but what he did propose to move was in line 38, after the word "Act," to leave out to the end of the clause. The object of the Amendment was to provide that the Alien Act should be revived in its entirety, without any limitation to Ireland—that the Act should come into operation over the whole of the United Kingdom. From the discussion that had already taken place on this clause, it appeared that strong objection was made by some hon. Members, particularly by hon. Members on the other side of the House below the Gangway, to the renewal of this Alien Act at all. The hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy) yesterday, whilst objecting to the revival of the Act, suggested that it would only be fair, if the Act was renewed at all, that it should be renewed with regard to England and Scotland as well as Ireland. Well, for once, he (Mr. Morgan Lloyd) was entirely agreed in opinion with the hon. Member for Wexford. In this instance he was agreed that the law applicable to England should be the same as that applied to Ireland, and he maintained that opinion for reasons which he should give immediately. But before he gave those reasons, perhaps the Committee would allow him shortly to explain the provisions of the Act. The Alien Acts, from time to time, passed by the Parliament of this country, were really Acts that were passed more for 99 the purpose of limiting the prerogative of the Crown than extending the power of sending aliens out of the country; because, in his opinion, there was no doubt that the Sovereign of the country had at all time power, by the Common Law, and by virtue of his Prerogative, to order aliens out of the Realm. That, he believed, was the old Common Law of this country. No doubt there had been a great and very proper disposition on the part of the people of this country to admit aliens to trade with us, and to live amongst us as freely as possible; and, for this reason, no Sovereign in modern times had exercised the Prerogative without the special sanction of Parliament. When Parliament had, from time to time, interfered it had passed Acts authorizing what the Sovereign had already the right to do, with certain limitations. Referring to the Alien Act of 1848, which was the only Alien Act they had to deal with at present, that Act, they would find, contained provisions which were most reasonable with regard to aliens as well as to the people of this country. It provided that the Secretary of State might, under certain circumstances, in England, and the Lord Lieutenant in Ireland, order an alien out of the country. But what were the conditions? They were, first, that an information should be laid. The person who gave the information had to sign that information and give his address; and on that information the Secretary of State in this country, and the Lord Lieutenant in Ireland, had to form his own opinion, and come to a conclusion as to whether the continuance of the residence of the particular alien who had been allowed to come to England or Ireland would be dangerous to the public tranquillity of a particular district. He must come to this conclusion, and, if he did not, he had no right, under the Alien Act of 1848, to issue his warrant in the matter. There was another condition, that the Act should not apply to any alien who had been resident in the United Kingdom for three years. That was another limitation of the ancient Common Law and the Prerogative. There were still further limitations—for instance, under certain circumstances, the alien, if he had reason to complain, or thought he was aggrieved, might apply to the Privy Council for redress. Under cer- 100 tain circumstances, the alien might, and, in fact, in all circumstances where the Secretary of State or the authorities had gone so far as to order an alien out of the country, the alien had a right to appeal to the Judges of the land. He (Mr. Morgan Lloyd) asked whether those provisions were not fair, and whether any alien or any Foreign Government would have any reason to complain against the law of this country if that Act had been a permanent Act? It seemed to him that, even if it were a permanent Act, it would not go beyond the law existing at the present moment in almost every Continental country. Well, it was proposed to extend that law to Ireland. Why, he would ask, should it not be also extended to England and Scotland? Wherever there was no reason to the contrary, the laws of the three countries should be similar—there ought to be no difference whatever between the law of England and the law of Ireland, except when it was absolutely necessary. He based his Amendment, first of all, upon that consideration. He saw no reason to think that there was any essential difference between the necessity for this Act in the one country and the necessity for it in the other. What was the object of reviving the Alien Act at all? There had been conspiracies on the other side of the Atlantic, conspiracies to commit crime in this country and in Ireland, and, for aught he knew to the contrary, to commit crime in Scotland. And attempts were believed to have been made by aliens in all the Three Kingdoms to commit outrage and crime. There were associations of men living on the other side of the Atlantic—men who were not fit to be named as members of the human family—who were concocting the worst crimes imaginable to be carried out by the worst and most dreadful means at the disposal of man, regardless of the innocent persons that might suffer through explosions and other outrages. Such men, he contended, were worse than pirates. Pirates had been called the enemies of the human race, but these men were worse than pirates; and, if it were possible for the human race to show that these people were not members of it, it would be a good thing, for they were a disgrace to humanity. These were the men who sent emissaries to this country, using 101 the inventions of modern science, using the various explosives that had only been recently invented against everybody who might stand in their way. These people expressed themselves at public meetings on the other side of the Atlantic as determined to get rid of the English Government from Ireland by every means in their power. They declared themselves the enemies of the English Government and the enemies of the English people. They expressed their intention to strike a blow against the English Government wherever they could. They threatened to burn London; they threatened to destroy the shipping of Liverpool, and they had used other threats of a similar description. And why these threats had not been carried out, or attempted to be carried out, was because those who made them had been unable to fulfil them. He asked, with those associations on the other side of the Atlantic in communication probably with some of the fraternity in Ireland and in London, and, he had no doubt, in other large towns—with all those communications going on, and all those threats—was it reasonable for the Government to give an opportunity to those foreign emissaries to come here and carry out their designs so far as they possibly could? It was the duty of the Government to protect the Queen's subjects against such attempts, and to assume the power necessary to enable them to do so; so that if they thought there was an emissary coming from New York to commit outrages here or in Ireland, they might be able to meet him on his way coming in, and send him back to the place from whence he came. The power had not been abused when in operation before, and he did not think it would be abused now. It would be less likely to be abused in England than in Ireland; but he did not think there was the slightest possibility of its being abused in either country. He should think the clause would be more perfect if extended to the whole of the United Kingdom. He believed that the effect of reviving the Alien Act, and limiting it to Ireland, would be more injurious to England and Scotland than if it had never been revived at all, because the result would be that foreigners coming over for the purpose of committing offences would know that they would have no chance of landing in Ireland. 102 They would know that they would be sent back immediately, and would, therefore, land in England and carry out in this country the very purposes they would otherwise have carried out in Ireland. It would lead to foreigners flocking into this country in order to effect their nefarious designs. If the Act were revived at all, in justice to the people of England, it ought to be revived so as to apply to the whole of the United Kingdom.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 6, line 38, to leave out from the word "Act," to the end of the Clause.—(Mr. Morgan Lloyd.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, he had very little to add to the arguments which had been so well put before the Committee by the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just moved the Amendment. Without consulting with anybody else, he (Sir John Hay) had given Notice of an Amendment of a similar kind. He represented the Scotch constituency which lay nearest to Ireland. They were within 20 miles of Ireland, and if the Bill was passed without that Amendment, they would become an Alsatia—they would be the place where all the aliens who had designs upon Ireland, and who were expelled from that country, would take refuge, with a view of returning to it when they could to perpetrate their evil designs—to carry out the object for which they had crossed the Atlantic. He, for one, would be perfectly satisfied with giving the Home Secretary (Sir William Harcourt) power, through the Lord Advocate or the Procurators Fiscal, to make the necessary arrangements under this Act; but it must be borne in mind that serious delays would occur through the necessity for communication on the subject of those aliens between the Irish Government and the authorities of the Home Office. He (Sir John Hay) respected the right of asylum, and the hospitality offered by England to all foreigners; but when that right and that hospitality were used by all the miscreants of the earth, in the interest of the country and for the restriction of crime, it was desirable that those people should be expelled from the country under the Alien Act that 103 was now about to be revived. For these reasons he would urge most strongly upon the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary the adoption of the Amendment, believing, as he did, that Scotchmen of all opinions would agree with him that that portion of the clause which the hon. and learned Member had just moved to omit should be left out, and that the Alien Act should be extended to all three countries alike.
§ MR. HENEAGE
said, he supported the Amendment because he believed that if there was any excuse for re-enacting the Alien Act the re-enactment ought to be made, like a blockade in time of war, complete and effectual. He believed that if the re-enactment were confined to Ireland it would never be either complete or effectual. This Amendment, if it were adopted, would do more to relieve the Irish people—the loyal and poorer classes—from the effect of the other stringent clauses than all the Amendments moved to other parts of the Bill, because he believed the great cause of all the evils they suffered from were those aliens who were imported into the country. If these people were effectually got rid of, a great deal that Ireland was now suffering in consequence of their action would be removed. He thought it desirable that the clause should be extended throughout the United Kingdom for these reasons, and because it would not in any way affect the peaceable and well-disposed. It was said that foreign merchants and foreign traders would be driven away from the country by this clause; but that he did not believe. The well-disposed would remain, and would not be interfered with here or in Ireland, the people in both countries would be a great deal happier, and feel greatly relieved by those who lived on disorder being driven from their midst. He did not believe the clause would be effectual in the case of Ireland unless it were applied to the Three Kingdoms. As it now stood, it would only really affect mischievous desperadoes who had evaded warrants there, and would drive them all to England, where they would be free to commit their misdemeanours. If these people evaded warrants in Ireland they would come over to London, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, and hide amongst the teeming thousands in these places, there to conspire treason and keep 104 Ireland, through their paid instruments, discontented and unquiet, besides disturbing the peace of England. He did not think it would be a kindness to the Irish people to ask them to endure this exceptional Act, and, at the same time, suffer the misery of having these idle and ill-disposed aliens—who subsisted on outrages, who promoted scares, and destroyed confidence—living close to them in another part of the United Kingdom. If we in England asked the Irish people to endure something for the benefit of their country we ourselves must not shrink from bearing any share of the inconvenience that might fall to our lot. He would put it on grounds which, though somewhat lower, still were fair and reasonable grounds. At the present moment it could not be denied that the extra duties the police were called upon to perform tended either to increase the numbers of the Force or to a large amount of extra pay being given to them. This was a question for the English taxpayer, and for those who were anxious to bring about a reform of the local burdens of the country. He believed that if these ill-disposed aliens, who, whilst themselves contributing nothing, increased, not only the Imperial, but local burdens of the country, were turned out of the United Kingdom, our local taxation would be beneficially affected. It would be a great relief to us, and he believed that the people would be received back with a very bad grace by America, or whatever country they belonged to. At a time when our Royal Family, our statesmen, and our public buildings had to be guarded, when it was notorious that sentries round the Government buildings, barracks, and military and naval depôts were doubled; when the police were put on extra duty, and the soldiery, in addition to double duty, were kept under arms in reserve; when Fenians were enlisting in our regiments, and large stores of arms were discovered having no ostensible owners, it was necessary that something should be done to reassure the public. It might be that we were under a scare; but whether or not that was the case, these things should not be tolerated if they could be put a stop to. He believed that a great deal of the present unsatisfactory condition of affairs could be terminated, and very easily, by extending the pro- 105 visions of this clause to England and Scotland. It was desirable for all parties that they should be so extended, and he trusted the Irish Members would agree with the Amendment before the Committee, as it was to the interest of the people of Ireland that they should do so. He believed that the English people were so anxious that peace and order should be restored in Ireland, and were so utterly ashamed of the present condition of affairs in that country, that they would readily submit to some inconvenience to bring about a more satisfactory state of things. All loyal and patriotic persons would gladly welcome the Amendment in the interests of their Queen and country, and for the preservation of law and order.
§ MR. DILLON
said, he did not share the views of the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy). He did not approve of this Amendment. The hon. Member who had just spoken had said English Members were anxious to make the law of Ireland the same as the law of England. Then, why not apply the whole of that Bill to England? He would take the right hon. and gallant Baronet (Sir John Hay) at his word, and withdraw his opposition to this clause if the Committee would include England and Scotland in the whole Bill. An hon. Member had said that there seemed to be an element of fear that if the clause passed in its present shape all the aliens expelled from Ireland would take refuge in England and Scotland—that England and Scotland would become places of refuge for all the desperadoes at present in Ireland. Did not Government know that there was hardly a revolutionary society in the whole of Europe that had not its head-quarters in this City of London? Would the Government be prepared, when they had this Act in operation, on representations being made by the Governments of foreign countries that revolutionary agents were at work against them in London, to expel the foreign emissaries who were domiciled in England. Russia, Italy, Germany, and France would ask them to expel from this country persons who were troubling them with plots and schemes infinitely more dangerous and deadly than the schemes of Irish-Americans in London, and in other parts of the United Kingdom. He was astonished to hear a Member of the Liberal Party speak of 106 the Alien Act as though, in his opinion, it ought to be made part of the permanent law of the United Kingdom. He did not wish to insinuate anything against that hon. and learned Member (Mr. Morgan Lloyd); but if he had not been a Member of that House whose character was above suspicion, he should certainly have thought that he had been unduly indulging in a course of conviviality. The hon and learned Member seemed to be of opinion that England and Ireland were overrun by desperadoes, who were plotting every kind of horrible crime, and that we were all of us in danger, at any moment, of being blown up. The hon. and learned Member said that these foreign emissaries in this country made use of explosives which had only recently been invented. What explosives did he mean? He (Mr. Dillon) had not heard of any of these things. He had heard of proceedings in Ireland which he very much regretted, and which he very much condemned. But when the hon. and learned Member spoke of explosives having been used which had only recently been invented in this country and in Ireland, his memory did not serve him as to what the hon. and learned Member meant. The hon. and learned Member had said that if the Alien Act were made part of the permanent law of the country, we should not in England be going further than the powers in force in every other country in Europe. Then, had England come to this, that she was willing to accept the laws in force in the Continental countries of Europe? If England were prepared to say that because the Continental Governments of Europe had acquired certain powers, therefore such powers should be conferred upon the English Executive, this country would have departed from the traditions of her past. But he could not help thinking that the hon. and learned. Gentleman was making a statement that any Englishman would, up to this, have been ashamed to make in that House, and that very few Englishmen would care, in the future, to endorse. What were the conditions under which the Home Secretary or the Chief Secretary for Ireland were to be entitled to expel an alien? They were, first of all, to have information laid by an individual who would give his name and address. But the hon. and learned Gen- 107 tleman forgot that that name and address was not to be made public. The letter or document giving information against an alien was, to all intents and purposes, to the man to be punished, an anonymous communication. How would the Lord Lieutenant be able to know, at the outset, the credibility of any person who chose to sign his name and give his address in giving information against an alien? Let them take an illustration of what would occur in Ireland under this clause. Take the letter which was sent by Lord Shaftesbury to Earl Cowper. Lord Shaftesbury stated that the late Mr. Burke had stated that Mr. Gladstone was responsible for all the crimes and outrages in Ireland. The late Lord Lieutenant (Earl Cowper), no doubt, would not credit that statement; but he said he knew the late Mr. Burke to have been a man of the highest respectability and honour. Supposing that person had written to Earl Cowper stating that a certain alien—whose whole means of living were connected with his residence in Ireland—was dangerous to the district in which he lived, would Earl Cowper have believed him? Unquestionably, and that unfortunate alien would, in all probability, have lost his means of living. There certainly must arise a very curious reflection in the mind of any English Member when he saw an hon. Member standing up behind the Treasury Bench of an Administration that called itself Liberal, and heard him speaking of the Alien Act in terms that he (Mr. Dillon) might almost describe as terms of affection—speaking of it as though he would have it the permanent law of England and Ireland. The hon. and learned Member (Mr. Morgan Lloyd) spoke of the Alien Act as merely a limitation in the Prerogative of the Crown. He spoke as though it were a Prerogative of the Crown which every Englishmen was ready to recognize to expel aliens. All he (Mr. Dillon) could say, if that were so, was that the Royal Prerogative had made a very considerable advance since the days of Fox. Speaking on a similar subject, Fox denied that it was the Prerogative of the Crown to expel an alien from the country; and, on the second reading of the Alien Act of 1848, some of the most honoured names of the Liberal Party had characterized that Act as almost identical with the hateful Law of Suspects passed in the Reign of 108 Terror. Sir William Molesworth had moved the rejection of that Act, and in the course of his speech had said that, as far as aliens were concerned, it would be a law analogous in principle to the famous Law of Suspected Persons of 1793, which for 33 years had been consistently and strenuously opposed by every man of eminence who belonged to the Whig or Liberal Party. Lord Lansdowne, Lord Grey, Mr. Fox, Lord Abercrombie, Lord Melbourne, Mr. Whitbread, Sir James Mackintosh, Mr. Baring, and a number of other men, including Lord Holland, all expressed their detestation of the measure, not in view of any particular clauses in it, but in regard to the whole principle of the power of expelling aliens under any circumstances and with any restrictions. In 1824, when the Alien Act was introduced for the last time, until it was introduced in 1848, Lord John Russell said he hoped that was the last time they should hear of such a Bill, convinced as he was that after the expiration of the Act they would look back upon it as a measure that ought never to have been passed. And Lord John Russell, it must be borne in mind, spoke at a time which, in the gravity of its dangers and its tremendous convulsions, was not to be for a moment compared with the condition of things at the present moment. ["Oh, oh!"] What he said was perfectly true. At the time at which Lord John Russell spoke, he was in face of the action of the Propagandists of the French Revolution, when the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended in England. Mr. Joseph Hume spoke against the Bill, and he found in the list of "Ayes" and "Noes" in the second reading of the measure—which no one would contend was less a necessity in 1848 than it was now—he found the names—not in the "Ayes," but in the "Noes"—of Mr. Richard Cobden and Mr. John Bright. The measure of 1848 was introduced at a time when there was open rebellion in Ireland, and when the revolutionary party was largely organizing abroad. How did it come, then, that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright) had so changed his opinion that he had now, when the times were much less dangerous than they were in 1848, fallen in love with the Alien Act? He (Mr. Dillon) was opposed to this clause for Ireland; and, for the same reasons, he 109 was equally opposed to it for England. English Members might suppose that Irish Members had as great a prejudice against Englishmen and English institutions as the English Members had against Ireland and its people. But that was not the case. He (Mr. Dillon) had a great admiration for England and English institutions. He had always believed that England was one of the first countries in the world; and he had no desire, although hon. Gentlemen representing English constituencies supported this Amendment, and expressed their willingness to forfeit their own freedom in order to punish Ireland, to be a party to that transaction. At the same time, he thought that nothing could be more preposterous and more absurd than to pass an Alien Act for Ireland whilst they left Ireland open. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members said "Hear, hear!" but his meaning was that there was but one way out of the difficulty, and that was, to revive the Alien Act for neither country. If they passed it at all, they would be in this difficulty—that they would have to free themselves from the assassins and members of revolutionary societies, who took refuge in this country from the Continental countries of Europe. For years past this country had afforded shelter to the scum of all nations, and England would find herself in an unpleasant situation if she attempted to alter her attitude in this respect. The best way out of the present difficulty was to abandon the clause altogether and leave Ireland and England free.
§ MR. ARTHUR PEEL
said, that the hon. Member who had just sat down, and the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), had on previous occasions asked the Committee to compare the state of things in Ireland at the present moment with the state of things in 1848, when the Alien Act was passed. The hon. Member himself had called attention to the fact that in Ireland in those days there was a political organization, and they were asked to compare the state of things then with the state of things now, when, according to the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy) and the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon), there was only a social conflict between those who tilled and those who owned the soil. He (Mr. Peel), for one, like other Members, had watched that struggle, and 110 had come to the conclusion that, although the agrarian difficulty might originally have been the root of this matter, they had long passed out of the region of agrarian difficulties and had entered the region of political organization, which was dangerous to the interests of Ireland and of the Empire. He thought that those who were asked to compare these periods should not forget to take into account this great fact, that between 1848 and 1882 the whole aspect and condition of things had changed; that the powers of attack had increased, in a far greater proportion than the powers of defence; and that it was very easy for secret societies to organize their plots, and to take such steps as rendered it very difficult for the constituted authorities, unless they were armed with fresh powers, to meet them. This was not a time to talk of Constitutional rights. When they were fighting with these secret societies, as he believed they were fighting with them, they were practically fighting with one hand behind their backs. It would be an evil day for this Liberal Party or for any other Party in that House, if the Executive Government showed an incapacity or a weakness to deal with organizations which took root in foreign countries, and found their stimulus and aliment in the soil of Ireland. As he read the Amendment it amounted to this. As the clause at present stood, it provided that if an alien were required by the Lord Lieutenant to depart from Ireland, it was to be a condition precedent, before he should be called on to depart from Great Britain, that this order of the Lord Lieutenant should have been made. He could conceive nothing more stultifying than to say that the Home Secretary should not have the same power on this side of St. George's Channel as the Lord Lieutenant had on the other side. It would be idle not to displace the ruffians and miscreants who might come and organize their plots in this country—it would be idle to leave these people untouched in Great Britain after we had warned them off the soil of Ireland. He could imagine nothing more ridiculous than to allow O'Donovan Rossa, for instance, to remain located in one of our large towns, regulating all his secret plans and conspiracies after having departed from Ireland. [An hon. MEMBER: He is not an alien.] True, he was not an alien; but 111 he was talking not so much of a particular man as of the class of which he was a type, with his cowardly propensities and utter disregard of the lives and sufferings of innocent people. He must say that, while he thought it was necessary for the due security of the peace and tranquillity of the Realm—and he was quoting the Preamble of the Act of 1848, that these provisions should extend to England as well as to Ireland, and that the Home Secretary should be armed with the same powers of initiative as they proposed to give to the Lord Lieutenant in Ireland—he must say that there were some provisions of the Act of 1848 that he should like to see relaxed in the interest of the individual; and, probably, if the Home Secretary saw his way to accept the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Morgan Lloyd), he might see his way to making some relaxation in the interests of individual liberty. He meant such a clause as this. In the Act of 1848 there was a clause which said that an individual was to be brought up before the magistrates, and, if he could not satisfy the magistrates as to his antecedents and belongings, he might be remanded from time to time and subjected to a month's imprisonment, or such longer period as the Judge—which term included Justice of the Peace—might award. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary might allow some limitation of the power of the Justice of the Peace to imprison at his discretion; but, with this exception, he thought it but a reasonable thing to say that on this side of St. George's Channel they should have the same power of dealing with and ferreting out all the ramifications of the secret conspiracy which they had on the other side. In this country, no doubt, the same arguments which were used in 1848 against the Alien Act would be repeated. He knew how difficult it was to argue on the side of repression, and how naturally all argument lent itself rather to the side of liberty, Constitutional usage, and freedom. That, he thought, must be admitted on all sides. The difficulty was to answer by argument objections to the course which everybody was convinced was necessary in the special circumstances of the case. Circumstances were not now what they were in 1848; and he must say that to talk of trampling on the rights and 112 liberties of the Irish people, and to speak of restricting their Constitutional freedom and liberty, as some hon. Members did, was an outrage upon ordinary language. When the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) asked them—"Why are you, and why is the Committee so generally in favour of this Alien Act; why do you look as though you loved it and cherished it, as though it were your friend?" He answered with the question—"Who have brought us to this?" They were not enamoured of these despotic proceedings. Yet, notwithstanding the authority of the 20 great names that the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) had read, they must be guided in their generation by the light of passing events, and they were not to be bound down by the dead form and absolute words of Constitutional liberty when they were, as he believed, face to face with a pressing danger, with a danger which threatened the peace and tranquillity of both Kingdoms. The hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) asked what was their reason for bringing in this Bill in 1882? Well, he could refer to no better authority in that House than the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland himself; for he took it that that right hon. Gentleman was the chief responsible officer of the Executive Government in Ireland. They had heard a great deal from the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) as to the state of things in which this severe Act had been introduced in the year 1882. But what were the words which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant used last night, and which he went out of his way to use? He said that those who were most responsible for the Executive Government in Ireland, those who were most behind the scenes—and the right hon. Gentleman used those very words—felt the most deep and serious anxiety in the state of things in Ireland, an anxiety that was growing in intensity every hour. In the face of a statement of this kind—a statement he was bound to accept—he could not hesitate to arm the Government with greater powers than they possessed, powers which he believed it was the right of every country to reserve to itself—namely, powers which would enable them to expel from their confines and frontiers everybody whom they be- 113 lieved to be animated, not with, mere hostility to the governing powers of the day, but animated with a desire to attain their ends by means which both God and man condemned.
§ MR. A. ELLIOT
said, he would ask the Committee to listen to only a very few words, in which he wished to ask the Government to resist the Amendment. In the eloquent speech they had just heard, the hon. Member for Warwick (Mr. Arthur Peel) had concluded by referring to words used by the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The Chief Secretary had told them that only those behind the scenes knew what a dangerous state of things existed, and on that representation he came to the House and asked for exceptional measures. Had the Home Secretary, or any right hon. Gentleman on the part of England or Scotland risen in his place to state, on his responsibility, that the state of things was so serious in England or Scotland that they must have recourse to this most exceptional measure? He, at any rate, had heard nothing of this kind. He had heard rumours—they all had heard them—he had heard the right hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Sir John Hay) declare that he, as a Scotchman, and all other Scotchmen, would feel more safe for a protection of this kind. He (Mr. A. Elliot) would venture to say that throughout Scotland there was no fear whatever of the ordinary foreigner who lived in that country. The ordinary foreigner who lived in Scotland was subject to the ordinary law, was liable, if he broke it, to be taken up and tried by a jury, and was certain to be convicted if the evidence was against him. That law was surely ample in Scotland for all loyal law-abiding Scotchmen. He did not think it necessary to refer to the great Constitutional authorities quoted by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Dillon). The Committee had to look at the circumstances of the case. Again and again it bad been shown that the ordinary law in Ireland had broken down, that they could not obtain convictions or evidence, that the terrorism was such that the ordinary law was powerless. But had a similar state of things been shown to exist in England? Was it not notorious that the contrary had been the case? And, then, let them look at another point in the matter. They had reason 114 to believe that in Ireland there was a large scheme in contemplation by a certain set of foreigners—Irish-Americans—but in England was any such thing known to be the case? They had heard rumours about intended outrages, about attacks upon barracks and on docks; but how were they to know they were not in danger in these matters as much from French and German subjects as from any other? It would not be difficult, if it were made worth, his while, to get even a British subject to commit almost any crime in the world. His hon. and learned Fiend (Mr. Morgan Lloyd) had referred to the old Common Law. But surely it was of no use to do that. The hon. and learned Member had said that a King could expel foreigners by his Prerogative; but he (Mr. A. Elliot) was proud to think that foreigners had been able to live in this country, subject to the laws of England, for many years, and that the Sovereign had never exercised any Prerogative in the matter; and he believed that the laws which had been strong enough to protect us against O'Donovan Rossa and his people were strong enough to protect us still. As this clause had been brought forward on the responsibility of the Government, on good cause shown, it was their duty to support the Government; and if the Amendment had been proposed by the Government, it might have been their duty to support that also. But that was not the case. The Amendment had been brought forward by a private Member, who had given them no proof of crime being committed or attempted in England; and no English or Scotch Member could point to a case where a foreigner was prepared to commit a crime and could not be punished by the ordinary law. Some of their Irish Friends opposite were taking a somewhat peculiar view in this matter. They said—"Let British citizens see what it was to suffer from coercive measures." But, surely, in taking up that position, hon. Members were disregarding the real point. He ventured to say that not a clause of this Bill could be justified except by the exceptional condition of things in Ireland at the present day. It was on account of that exceptional condition of things that he had supported Her Majesty's Government all through. But that state of things did not exist in England; and 115 before an hon. Member attempted to apply the exceptional measures to England that were necessary for Ireland, it was essential that he should come forward with some proof that the circumstances of the case required it.
said, he hoped the Government would be influenced by the eloquent speech they had heard from the hon. Member for Warwick (Mr. Arthur Peel), who, unlike the hon. Member who had just spoken, seemed to have looked at the exceptional circumstances of the case. One thing which was said by the hon. and learned Member who had moved the Amendment had struck him very much. He had said that in this instance he thought that the law of England and the law of Ireland should be the same. Well, he (Captain Aylmer) was one of those who thought the law of England and the law of Ireland should always be the same, and that one of the greatest disgraces upon the House of Commons was that the Statute Book, from 1801 down to the present day, was full of enactments specially applying to Ireland. He felt convinced that all these troubles would have ceased long ago, if successive Governments had endeavoured to consolidate the Union, instead of legislating for the two countries separately. He was astonished to see the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) opposing this Amendment, because that hon. Gentleman had always been in the habit of posing in the House as an Irish patriot who was solely interested in Irish affairs. It seemed somewhat strange that he should object to an Amendment which only concerned England and Scotland, and had nothing whatever to do with Ireland. If the hon. Member objected to the Alien Act being revived in the case of Ireland, he (Captain Aylmer) could understand it; but his present objection certainly seemed out of place with the character he always assumed; unless, indeed, he agreed with the hon. Member for Warwick (Mr. Arthur Peel) that agrarianism was not the real root and origin of the state of things that this Amendment was intended to grapple with. The hon. Member for Warwick said that agrarianism might have been the beginning of the agitation; but he (Captain Aylmer), for his own part, believed that agrarianism had been pushed to the front by those who had purely political motives. If 116 the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) had no sympathy with those who had ulterior designs, which were not agrarian, but were designs against law and order, he could understand him; but, under the last Coercion Act, they had seen newspapers which had been printed in Ireland, and which had been suppressed in that country, published in Liverpool within a few days of their suppression in Ireland. It had been said that foreigners had always been well received in England, and that was perhaps true. An asylum would still be found in England by respectable refugees. Any foreigners would be received into the country, and have the advantages of our English laws, as long as they did not interfere with law and order in the country. He did not believe that the Lord Lieutenant would be disposed to grant a warrant against any alien who conducted himself properly; but, as far as those aliens were concerned who did not conduct themselves properly, he (Captain Aylmer) should only be too glad if the Alien Act enabled the Home Secretary, or any other Minister of the Crown, to deprive them of the asylum they found in this country. It had been, and always would be, one of the points most against England on the Continent that our liberty in matters of this kind had run to excess. The hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) had spoken of the many eminent men who, in 1848, spoke against the Alien Act; and, amongst others, he had referred to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Bright). Well, all he (Captain Aylmer) could say was, that he sincerely trusted that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster—and the right hon. Gentleman would excuse him for saying it—would not be so foolish on this occasion as he was in 1848. There was much more danger from foreign plotters now than there was in 1848, because the improved means of communication had rendered the country more easily accessible. A man who, in the present day, concocted his plots one Sunday in America could dine on the following Sunday in England. It would be impossible to put down revolution in Ireland—and he feared that there was something akin to revolution existing there—if they kept the door open for 117 revolutionists on this side of St. George's Channel.
§ MR. WIGGIN
said, that, looking as he did, and always had done, on the Irish people as fellow-subjects, he desired to see the two countries governed on the same lines as far as possible; and he therefore supported the Amendment proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman. He would go further than that—he would adopt the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon), and say that he would support the whole Bill for England, if England were in the same demoralized state as Ireland, and if in England it were common to hear of cases of murder and outrage on human beings besides the maiming of cattle. If the whole country were permeated by secret societies, he was sure that every Member on the Liberal side of the House would be willing to support such a measure; and he would appeal to the patriotism of hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, if they were patriots, as they said they were, and say to them that if they wished to see law, order, and peace restored to Ireland, they should, in every way they possibly could, support this measure, in order to strengthen the hands of the Government and enable them to put down illegality and disorder. The hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) said he admired England and English institutions. Well, he (Mr. Wiggin) could say that he admired the Irish people—and he certainly admired the Irish ladies. However, he could assure hon. Members opposite that there was but one feeling in the country, and that was a desire to see Ireland in a state of peace and prosperity. There was no ill-feeling on the part of the English people towards Ireland. In fact, he ventured to say that if they were to go through the length and breadth of the land they would find that nine out of every ten people were admirably disposed towards Ireland. He was well acquainted with the political feeling in the neighbourhood of Birmingham. He represented a constituency in that district, and he could assure the Irish Members that gentlemen who were well known there as advanced Liberals, and who were staunch supporters of his right hon. Friends the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright) and the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. 118 Chamberlain) had within the last few days said to him—"Do all you can to support the Government, give them all the assistance you possibly can, and tell them to stick to their guns and carry their Bill." Of course, there were some exceptions; but he maintained that the vast majority of the people were with the Government in this matter. As he had said before, he had a strong affection for Ireland and the Irish people. He desired—and the English people desired—to see peace and tranquillity restored to that country. He disliked to see the two countries governed on different lines. He would give to Ireland as much local self-government as we had in England, if that was what the Irish people meant by Home Rule; but, at the same time, Parliament must strengthen the hands of the Government to put down crime, and as long as crime was rampant, the Government would, in their efforts to suppress it, have the support of the English people. He would not detain the Committee longer. He seldom spoke, but he felt strongly on this question. He knew that this question was animating the minds of the people of England of all classes; and he was glad to find the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister present, because he could assure him that what he had said was perfectly correct. He (Mr. Wiggin) had the pleasure of meeting most of the leading men in Birmingham, and he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that in all the feeling was strong that the hands of the Government ought in this matter to be strengthened in every possible way.
§ MR. O'CONNOR POWER
said, he was sure the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had excited the gratitude of Irishmen by the compliments which he had paid to their country; and he could assure the hon. Gentleman that, notwithstanding his professed admiration for the Irish ladies, if he visited Ireland he would do so without exciting any jealousy. [A laugh.] He simply made this observation to repel the insinuation that they were a jealous people, and certainly, so far as he was concerned, he was very much disposed to answer the appeal of the hon. Gentleman that they should consider the question before the Committee entirely on national grounds. He had listened very carefully to the discussion on the Amendment, 119 because he had felt disposed to be guided in his vote chiefly by what the majority of English and Scotch Members themselves thought on this question. He was considerably impressed by the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick (Mr. Arthur Peel); and if he could only agree with him as to the means to be adopted towards the end which he had in view, he should have no hesitation whatever in supporting, however feebly, his speech and walking in the same Lobby as the hon. Gentleman. But the Irish Members opposed the renewal of the Alien Act in Ireland on the ground that they did not believe that that was the best means for dealing with those aliens whose presence in Ireland might be calculated to endanger the peace and tranquillity of that country. From all he had heard from English Gentlemen of different political Parties, he was inclined to look on his own country with more hope than, perhaps, many descriptions of that country which they had heard in that House would warrant. He supposed it was generally believed that the atrocity carried out in the Phœnix Park some time ago was carried out by aliens. He was certainly one who shared that opinion; and he believed, from the cold-blooded audacity with which it was carried out, it must have been planned somewhere out of Ireland. He had heard it suggested that the wicked design was planned in the City of London. It might have been planned in London or in Paris, or in some other Continental city which was crowded with members of the International, the Dynamatic, or Communistic Organization, for he did not know what name to apply to it. It changed its name and its tactics, and that was the reason why it was dealt with by measures of this kind. Although, by this clause, they would enable the police officers to make a great deal of fuss, they would not enable them to lay their hands on the real criminals. It seemed to him that the only remedy for dealing with aliens, and dealing with all persons in the community in such a way as to strengthen the hands of the Government in the maintenance of public order, lay in an efficient police system. Take a look at the condition of Ireland. When the atrocity was committed in the Phœnix Park, the Government in Dublin was possessed, as it was 120 possessed now, with absolute power of arrest. It could arrest aliens as it could arrest ordinary citizens; and there could be no doubt whatever that if, through the inquiries of the police, the Irish Government at that time was made aware of the presence, in the City of Dublin, of persons who had come there to carry out this dreadful design, the Government would have exercised the power of arrest against them. Why did they not do it? Simply because they were not conscious of the men's presence. The revival of the Alien Act was simply a means of putting aliens on their guard; and the Government would have, in the last resort, to rely upon their police, and it was an efficient police, and it was an efficient detective force alone which could enable them to anticipate the machinations of these desperate people. They were told that the movement which the Government had to deal with in Ireland was no longer agrarian; they were told it was political. He ventured to think it was, perhaps, neither agrarian or political. As far as it was a dangerous movement, it was a Communistic movement; and it was the men who felt they were justified in allying themselves, no matter how remotely, with the Communistic associations on the Continent that were to be dreaded in Great Britain and Ireland—gentlemen who came forward with schemes for the regeneration of society, which schemes, he ventured to say, were just as impracticable as building a railroad to the moon. Some of the men, like the enthusiasts of all races and of all times, had grand ideas, undoubtedly, for the public welfare. Some of them were men who were actuated by pure motives; but men of that stamp were not aware of the terrible movement to which they were lending their support and sanction. That Communistic spirit, which was not exclusively agrarian, which was decidedly not political, had taken a strong hold of most of the nations of Europe, and an attempt would be made to propagate its doctrines. The way to cope with this spirit was not by repressive laws, but first of all by removing every just grievance of which the people of Great Britain and Ireland had to complain, and by winning the people to the side of the Government for the maintenance of law and order, by making them feel that the Govern- 121 ment was a part of themselves, and that its object was to promote their welfare and to faithfully represent their interests. For these reasons he was afraid he should have to wait for enlightenment as to the course he should have to pursue in the division on this subject. Perhaps it would not be unreasonable if an appeal were made to the right hon. and. learned Gentleman who was in charge of this Bill to announce what the policy of the Government might be in reference to this movement. He should be very glad to hear the Government's summing-up of the views which had been expressed on both sides of the House. He did not believe that the revival of this Act would increase the power of the Government over the aliens whom it ought to be their object to crush, and that while it would be calculated to create great irritation, and possibly to give offence to many foreign Governments, thereby involving this country in many complications, it would not materially or appreciably strengthen the power to get rid of desperate characters.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power) had made a very ingenious speech; but, strange to say, he was not convinced by his own arguments, and he concluded by saying that he should wait for further light before coming to a final decision. He (Mr. Gibson) could understand this question being regarded from an Irish point of view in reference to the whole clause, and he could understand Irishmen and hon. Members from Ireland saying that they were against the whole clause, that they would not deal, in any shape or form, with the restoration of law against aliens; but he must say he had seen very great logical objections in the way of hon. Members from Ireland now intervening on this Amendment, and saying that although it might be arguable to apply the law against aliens in Ireland, still they saw an objection to including England and Scotland within the prohibition. Was the case made out in any way that at present it was desirable there should be some restrictions upon allowing aliens to remain in Ireland? He ventured to think there were few people in that House who had listened to the arguments advanced during this debate, and who were acquainted with 122 the state of affairs in Ireland, who must not recognize that a vast proportion of the difficulties which now existed in Ireland arose from the presence of aliens. When appalling acts were committed in Ireland, it was at once said that they were the acts of aliens. It was the excuse that was used for endeavouring to free Ireland from the stain of crime; and, therefore, it was practically impossible to say that it was not wise and reasonable that there should be some restriction used for regulating the presence of aliens in Ireland. It had been pointed out by the hon. Member for Roxburghshire (Mr. A. Elliot) that no case had been made out for extending the Alien Act to England and Scotland. They must look at this question from a broad point of view; and, as was pointed out earlier in the debate, by the right hon. and gallant Member for Wigtown (Sir John Hay), were the Committee prepared to make the rest of the United Kingdom an Alsatia for the aliens who, finding it not safe to remain in Ireland, found it safe to withdraw to England and Scotland, and carry on their machinations here against the peace of Ireland? Had they no reason to complain after the very recent experience in England, and it might be in Scotland? Had they no reason to believe that those who were aliens in this country were somewhat abusing the right of asylum. The hon. Member for Roxburgh (Mr. A. Elliot) pointed out that the law had not broken down in England. That, of course, was a statement entitled to some consideration, if this was a criminal clause; but it was not a criminal clause—it was a preventive and safeguarding clause. This was a clause which merely expelled aliens whose presence might not be for the good of the country, and who might be a disturbing element in England as well as in Ireland; to expel men who did not exactly come within the grip of the Criminal Law—men who were not here for bonâ fide purposes, who were not here for asylum from their own country, who were not here for protection, who were not here for pleasure, who were not here for trade; but who were here for mischief. For the best purposes of the common Empire to which we all belonged, we would tell those aliens it was better for them to go elsewhere, where they might have possibly some legitimate pursuits. An expression had been 123 used more than once in the course of this debate that the right of asylum in this country should be protected. He hoped it always would be. He hoped that everyone who was acquainted with the history of this country would ever safely protect the sacred right of asylum that England had always held out to those who were compelled to leave their own country. But great care must be taken that this right of asylum was not abused, and that England was not made, and that Scotland was not made, and that Ireland should not be made a place for those who were aliens, retaining the right of their own citizenship, to break the law, and to encourage those who might otherwise live in peace to enter into lawless and treasonable courses.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
asked if the Amendment was within the scope of the Bill? The Preamble of the Bill stated that the Bill was intended for the prevention and repression of crime in Ireland.
It is rather late for the hon. and gallant Member to put this question. The Committee have already decided the following words:—That the Alien Act is hereby re-enacted, and shall continue in force for the same period as this Act.We have reached the word "Act," in line 37; and when an hon. Member proposes the omission of all the subsequent words of the clause, the Chair has no power to prevent that proposal being submitted to the Committee.
§ MR. WHITBREAD
said, that after all that had been said, and after the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Warwick (Mr. Arthur Peel), he should not have thought it necessary to say a word on this Amendment if it had not been for the speech addressed to the Committee by the hon. and learned Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power). He listened to that speech with deep interest. The power of speaking which the hon. and learned Member possessed compelled attention to him when he rose; and he would go further, and say that the manly independence the hon. and learned Gentleman had often shown during the last two or three years entitled him to the respect of the Committee. He listened with care to the hon. and learned Member's words, and he thought that upon the hon. and learned Member's words he could command his vote for this Amendment. What did 124 the hon. and learned Member say? He said—The great dangers to which you in England and Ireland are subject are the conspiracies of those foreigners engaged in Communistic designs.And he went on to say that—Your task should be, not to attempt to get rid of them, but to show to the people of Ireland that you make them part of the Government, that you are their friends, and that for them you would pass remedial legislation.Now, he asked the hon. and learned Member to be candid. What had this House been engaged in during the whole of this Parliament but in an attempt to give remedial legislation to Ireland? [An hon. MEMBER: Coercion.] Who was it who stood in the way of remedial legislation for Ireland? What was the great danger that was really foreshadowed, if they looked a little deeply into this question? [An hon. MEMBER: Coercion.] He would tell the hon. Member who interrupted him what it was. It was that the atrocities, the maimings, the murders, the disorder, and the disregard of all law in Ireland, might turn away from Ireland the feelings of England, which had been so lavishly, of late, poured out towards Ireland. Hon. Gentlemen might smile at that, but let them not mistake. It would not require very much to turn public feeling in England rudely against Ireland. They had seen the sacrifices that Englishmen and Scotchmen had made; how they, with grievances of their own, with questions of their own which had been long ripe for settlement, had consented to put them aside, year after year, suffering, as they had been, under bad trade and bad harvests—had consented to have their grievances set aside in order solely to do justice to Ireland. He had been a Member of that House longer, perhaps, than some of those hon. Gentlemen opposite who smiled at his words had seen the light in this world. He declared that never before had there been a Parliament so thoroughly determined as this one was, at the outset, to do justice to Ireland; and if hon. Gentlemen opposite were patriots, he appealed to them not to throw the good feeling of England away. There was a limit to the patience of England, and he entreated hon. Gentlemen from Ireland, if they valued their country, and if they 125 really set that store which they said they did upon the prosperity of their country, not to continue in the course, which he warned them was rapidly exasperating the people of England, and turning them from the Irish people. Parliament desired to give remedial legislation to Ireland; but who stood in the way? Why, those who were engaged in Communistic designs abroad; and in order that Parliament might remove any injustice that existed in Ireland, it was necessary that the Government should have full power to deal with those men. It was a sad blow to the Members of the Liberal Party that for one day, or for one hour, the proud boast of this country should belowered—namely, that these shores were open to the alien, and the foreigner, and the refugee of all countries. But they were prepared, in case of necessity, to make this sacrifice. They valued their House of Commons, with its Rules and its procedure, as they had known it all their lives. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had broken that down, and now the Members of the Liberal Party were prepared to alter that procedure, as they would be prepared to make a sacrifice of the proud boast he had referred to. He would tell the Home Secretary that, so far as his humble opinion went, if the Government should think fit to adopt the Amendment which had been moved, the people of this country would be ready to accept this Amendment. The hon. Member for Roxburghshire (Mr. A. Elliot) argued that the law was sufficient in England to deal with any crime that was committed in England. Yes; juries in England had no sympathy with crime, and happily had little fear of the consequences of doing their duty. But it was not against crime committed in England that this Amendment was aimed; it was against plottings in England. That was a point which his hon. Friend (Mr. A. Elliot) did not touch. He confessed it was painful to him to stand up and advocate the adoption by the Government of such an Amendment as this; but he had to remember that whilst they did not forget those Constitutional privileges, and those proud boasts of our freedom, they had a great task before them. They had set their hands to removing every injustice that could be complained of from Ireland; and they were determined, while they 126 would pursue this object to the end, they would pursue it with due respect to the maintenance of law and order.
§ MR. HORACE DAVEY
said, his hon. Friend (Mr. Whitbread) had spoken of the sacrifice that he and others were called upon to make of one of the proudest boasts of England. For his part, he was quite prepared to make that sacrifice if it was necessary for the peace of the country and the repression of disorder. Provision ought to be made to meet the case of an alien who should come here from Ireland before the publication in that country of an order of the Lord Lieutenant for his deportation, and also for the case of an alien who should come to some town on the English coast from America or elsewhere, for the purpose of either engaging in plots against the peace in Ireland or in England. Looking at it from this point of view, he fully recognized the necessity for the Amendment which it was proposed to make. He was prepared to vote for the Amendment, because he thought if they were prepared to re-enact the Alien Act, as they proposed to do by so much of the Bill as had already been passed, they would be giving it a faulty and half-hearted application if they saddled it with the proviso which was contained in the clause as at present drawn. He exceedingly regretted the necessity for any reenactment of the Alien Act. He exceedingly valued the proud boast of this country that its shores were open to every alien of every Foreign Power. But while we admitted an alien to reside here for any legitimate purpose, England had never felt bound or entitled to admit or harbour aliens, once those aliens came here to plot against the peace of the country which had given them shelter; and it made no difference whether they plotted against the peace of Ireland, or whether they plotted against the peace of England, or whether they used their residence in England for the purpose of plotting against the peace of Ireland, or whether they used their residence in Ireland for plotting against the peace of England. Therefore, if he looked at the question from this point of view, he could not help thinking that the proviso to re-enact the Alien Act for a limited time in Ireland alone would greatly impair the usefulness of the clause. He could quite understand the Irish Mem- 127 bers objecting to a re-enactment of the Alien Act at all, on the ground that it was unnecessary, and that it was an infringement of their liberties, and an infringement of the principle recognized of admitting aliens; but that was not the question at this moment. He could understand their taking that view; but he could not understand their saying that if the Act was to apply at all it must not apply to the United Kingdom as well as to Ireland. The Committee had got to that portion of the clause which provided that the Alien Act should continue in force for the same period as this Bill, and what was now being considered was not whether the Alien Act should be in force at all, for that had been settled, but the question was, assuming that the Alien Act was re-enacted, was it to apply to the whole of the United Kingdom, or only to Ireland? He could understand English or Scotch Members objecting to its applying to England or Scotland; but he could not understand Irish Members objecting to it. He could understand Irishmen objecting to its applying to Ireland; but he could not understand their objection to its applying to Great Britain. A great deal had been said in the Committee against special legislation for Ireland; but here Gentlemen were found supporting, by opposing this Amendment, such special legislation. What the Committee were asked to do was to extend this provision to the whole of the United Kingdom, and although that was a great sacrifice for English Members to make, they were prepared to make that sacrifice; and, so far as he was concerned, he should vote for the Amendment, and he hoped the Government would accept it.
§ MR. WARTON
said, he thought this debate had been distinguished not only by speeches of far more than ordinary interest, but by far greater consensus of feeling than he had ever before seen yet on any Irish question. He thought he was not misinterpreting the feelings of the Committee when he said that the immense majority of the supporters of the Government were in accord with Members on the opposite side in hoping that the Government would accept the Amendment. Whether he looked at the political view taken by the hon. Member for Warwick (Mr. Arthur Peel), or the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. 128 Whitbread), or recalled the cold passionless view of the hon. and learned Member for Christchurch (Mr. Horace Davey), the speeches of all those Gentlemen tended to the same result, and showed that the feeling of the Committee was almost unanimously in favour of this Amendment. Seeing that agreement of opinion on both sides of the House, it would ill-become him to refer now to the individual political statements and prophecies made in March, 1880, by the great Rival of that day to the present Prime Minister. He did not refer to them to cast any reflection on his political opponents, but merely to remind the Committee that the great statesman who had gone from us, who most accurately described the actual condition of Ireland in 1880, was the statesman who, of all men, was most sensible of the condition of Ireland, and alive to the terrible fact that the danger of the present time would be what was known as International Societies—that was to say, a community of crime throughout the world, which had been very much increased by the additional means of communication that now existed, and by the invention of science in chemistry and electricity, which had been turned to the vilest purposes by the worst class of men. These additional facilities, which were pressed into the service of the agents of wickedness, made the position now very different from that in 1848, when the Alien Act was passed. It was not to the point to compare any speeches made now by Irishmen with speeches made at that time. If the speeches made now by Irishmen were not nearly so bad as those made in 1848, the power of aliens to do mischief was now infinitely more than it was then. He hoped all hon. Members below the Gangway who had studied the Alien Act of 1848—and he would only say that it was as mild as it could possibly be to meet the exigencies of the case—and, therefore, he hoped he should hear no more of such arguments as those advanced by the hon. Member for Roxburghshire (Mr. A. Elliot). He would only add that the one great principle in every community which overrode all others was this—Salus populi suprema lex.
§ MR. BROADHURST
said, he was extremely sorry that the point of Order raised by the hon. Member for Galway had not been admitted by the Chairman, 129 and he could not for a moment but think that had there been any idea in the mind of the public that a part of the British Constitution was to be voted away in Committee without notice, half London would have been down at Old Palace Yard. [Sir JAMES LAWRENCE: No, no!] The hon. Member for Lambeth might say "No, no!" but he ventured to say that some thousands of that hon. Gentleman's constituents would have been the first to take part in such a demonstration. Nothing of the kind now proposed was necessary for this purpose. The hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread) had said it was not a question of crime committed in this country, for which he admitted there was ample strength of law at present, but that it was against the plotting of crime in this country that that proposal was directed. But could not crime be as well plotted in Paris as it could in London, and in New York as well as in Liverpool? Experience had taught us that it could be as well plotted in those places as in London, and there was no necessity for anything of this kind in England. There was no sympathy with crime amongst any class of our countrymen, whether they were rich or poor. The home of a poor labourer was such a police barracks in favour of order and the protection of life and property in this country as were the homes of the rich, and to apply a clause of this kind to England would be a disgrace to the House of Commons. What was to be done in a case of this kind? Was the Committee going to vote away, without Notice from the Government, and without any proposal from the Government, but on the mere suggestion of a private Member, rights which had existed for centuries? Were they going to destroy the home of asylum which this country had afforded to legitimate and proper refugees? He did not like sailing so near the point as the adoption of this Amendment would be, and he would not agree to it for a moment. He did not like to make pledges, for it was always unwise to pledge oneself too deeply; but if this Amendment were inserted in the four corners of the Bill, there would be an opposition throughout the country as strong as in Ireland, for it would be an insult and a piece of treachery to the people of this country, and would bring about the ears of the 130 House of Commons and the Government a hornet's nest. He sincerely hoped the Government would oppose with all the power in its possession so unexpected, so extraordinary, and so monstrous a proposition.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, he knew the hon. Member who had just spoken represented, to a considerable extent, the view of a very large portion of the trades unions and the working classes; but he thought he himself knew as much of the views of the working classes as the hon. Member opposite. The hon. Member was right in saying that the working classes had no sympathy with crime, or with any effort to create disturbance or disorder in Great Britain or Ireland; but he was also convinced that the people of this country would not regard any well directed effort to make crime impossible in Ireland with either indignation or any other feeling of anger. They would be entirely satisfied if those who made use of the right of asylum which was afforded by this country to persons in distress; but those people must be prevented from turning that asylum into a means of attacking the institutions of the country. The danger against which it was necessary to guard was the danger of conspiracy against our institutions, which were necessary to liberty. He desired to preserve that liberty, and to preserve the right of everyone to trade, to live and to work in perfect and absolute security; but the conspiracy which now existed in Ireland, and which was fomented by aliens from other countries, was a conspiracy against the liberties and the rights of the people both of this country and of Ireland. He did not believe there was a single workman in London who had the least sympathy with the men who resorted to London, not as a refuge for honest shelter from the consequences of political opinions which they might have held on the Continent, but for the purpose of concocting crime, and inciting those who were now concocting crime in Ireland. What was really the position of the case? It was proposed—and the Committee, he believed, were pretty nearly unanimous—to give powers to the Government to deport aliens from Ireland who might have resorted to Ireland for the purpose of conspiracy and wrong. As the clause at present stood, such men had only to slip across the Channel by one of the many 131 steamers passing between England and Ireland and so at once become safe, and by means of the telegraph and post-office they could carry on their business from this country. In London they could more easily be lost sight of; but they might be engaged in business respecting which it would be exceedingly difficult to obtain evidence. In this country he did not doubt that if charges could be brought against them, and established, English juries would convict; but the difficulty was to get evidence, although there might be abundant evidence to satisfy the Home Secretary that they were prosecuting business injurious to the safety of the country. Under these circumstances, it was for the good of the country, and for the good of honest and peaceable men, who desired to preserve the liberties of this country and the securities for honest labour and industry, that such men as these should be deported. He trusted that the Government would see reason to accept the Amendment.
§ MR. HOPWOOD
said, he hoped the Government would do nothing of the kind. If there was one sad moral to be drawn from the present state of affairs, it was the saddening and demoralizing effect of necessary restrictions of liberty; and it was painful to him to see how hon. Members were discussing this matter, as though a great principle could be departed from with insufficient reasoning and mere shreds of discourse. The hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst) had made a strong appeal, and he trusted much more to that hon. Member's knowledge of what the working classes felt than even to the knowledge of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith) who had given his view; and, at all events, the people of this country would feel that they were losing a principle which had been the proud boast of this country of giving asylum for the distressed all over the world—for those who were flying from oppression at home because of political offences. In 1848 the Alien Act was passed with the greatest misgivings, and this power was given for a year; but eloquent voices were raised against it, and the Representatives of the Whigs strongly defended this long-treasured principle of asylum being preserved. But now it was proposed, at this hour of the night, and by a side-wind, to gradually fritter 132 away this great principle, without warning to the people; and he hoped the Government, not having given any signs so far, would yet show that there were men on the Treasury Bench who still appreciated and would respond to the old feeling, and would say that what hon. Members were now pleading for was not merely a sentiment, or, at all events, if it was a sentiment, it was so ennobling a sentiment that it should be preserved. That sentiment gave the tone to all our feelings in defence of those institutions which we called liberty, and he hoped the Committee would stand by their old love of liberty, and not be deluded by reasons from the Conservative Benches into parting with what they so greatly valued.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) had contended that the extension of the provisions of the Alien Act to this country might involve the Government in difficult complications with foreign countries. He (Mr. Gregory) could not see that it would in the slightest degree affect our relations with other countries. The object of the Alien Act was solely confined "to the peace and tranquillity of this Realm;" it had nothing to do with our foreign relations. The right of asylum had been abused, and he confessed he should not be sorry to see it restricted. The incorporation of the Alien Act in this Act would have that effect. The Secretary of State, or the Lord Lieutenant, as the case might be, would have the power to remove an alien who it was alleged was in any way disturbing the peace and tranquillity of the Realm; but the alien would have the right of protest against his removal, and the Secretary of State would be bound to submit the matter to Her Majesty's Privy Council. Under no circumstances could the Act operate prejudicially to an alien who was not guilty of any practices subversive to the peace and tranquillity of the Realm. What, he might ask, would be the effect if this clause in respect to aliens were not to operate here? Why, that any person who desired to disturb the peace and tranquillity of the Realm had only to cross St. George's Channel and carry on his nefarious designs here. It was said the people of England had nothing to fear from the operations of aliens in this country. If the people of Liverpool, or Manchester, or even Glasgow, were 133 consulted on the subject, it would be found they would tell a very different story, and that there were fears and apprehensions recently entertained in those towns in regard to the practices of aliens which would tend to make the people of those places very glad to see restrictions placed upon the presence of aliens in their midst. Even in London itself the people had not been free from apprehension. There was evidence of the presence in London of men who were animated by motives which were subversive of all law and order. He could not help thinking that it would add very materially to the peace and tranquillity of England, as well as of Ireland, if the Amendment were adopted.
Sir, we have listened on this Bench with respectful attention and with great interest to this debate. Unhappily, all those who have addressed the Committee on this subject have spoken without any ulterior or collateral view of the merits of the case, and we thank the Committee for the assistance it has given us in that respect. From the moment that this Amendment appeared upon the Notice Paper, it was impossible that the Members of the Government should but feel that it had important claims to their favourable notice. It was evidently a flaw and imperfection in the operative character of the Act that it should be in the power of persons who had not been in Ireland, or of persons who, having been in Ireland, had not been the object of any initial process there, to come over into England, and from a position within a few hours of that country, and from which they might be in daily and almost hourly communication with Ireland, be enabled to prosecute their nefarious designs. With regard, therefore, to the efficacy of the Act, there is a strong primâ facie recommendation of the Amendment. I am bound to say I have always felt strongly and bitterly the force of the reproach which arises out of any inequality of the law, and especially of penal and restrictive law, between England and Ireland. To a certain extent, I have a predisposition rather to accept for England, if I can, a law which is necessary for Ireland, and which we intend to impose upon Ireland. I do not carry that proposition beyond a certain limit; but within a certain limit 134 it certainly in my mind exists. I abhor inequality of law in matters touching rights and liberties, and some length I would go, if I could, to avoid that inequality. I admit, however, that that cannot be made a determining consideration. Let me turn to the objections which have been made to the adoption of this Amendment. They have been three. The first was that the law was not required for our own internal purposes. No one can for a moment think of disputing that proposition. It was stated so clearly and so strongly by my hon. Friend the Member for Roxburghshire (Mr. A. Elliot). But then that argument, if admitted as a proposition, does not touch the case; because the whole strength of the case turns not upon the necessity of the proposed provision for any English purposes, but upon its necessity as an ancillary and auxiliary arrangement for the operative powers of the provision. So I must go further, and I cannot be deterred by that objection from the acceptance of the Amendment. Well, then I come to the point which has been so strongly put by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stock-port (Mr. Hopwood), and my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst). They have in warm terms—the warmth of which I cannot wonder at, and which I cannot complain of in the slightest degree—denounced the Amendment as one abandoning, in principle, what is called the right of asylum; but, Sir, I am bound to say that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gregory), who has just sit down, has shown in the most conclusive manner that although, undoubtedly, we may be called upon to make a certain amount of sacrifice, yet we are not called upon by the adoption of the Amendment to make the enormous sacrifice which my two hon. Friends pointed out. They appear to think that after the passing of this Amendment every alien coming to this country will remain here at the mercy of the Executive Government. Now, Sir, that is as far as possible from the fact. I have only to go a point beyond the hon. Member (Mr. Gregory), who has just spoken, and to call the attention of the Committee to the express words of the Act of 1848, which it is proposed to re-enact, and the Committee will perceive that every alien coming to this country will, if we adopt this Amendment, remain precisely as he was before 135 in regard to all his rights, in regard to his relations with his own Government, and to every foreign Government, excepting in the single case that he makes himself responsible for the machinations against the peace and tranquillity of this Realm. This has been declared by the legislators of 1848 in terms the most unequivocal—terms which are twice repeated in the Preamble. The opening words of the Preamble are—Whereas it is expedient for the due security and peace and tranquillity of the realm that provision should be made, for a time to be limited, respecting aliens arriving or resident in the Kingdom.For the due security of the peace and tranquillity of the Realm and for no other object, not for the due security and peace and tranquillity of any other country. This is a domestic purpose to which every country must give the first place in its estimation, and the fulfilment and accomplishment of which were really the features which made this country so desirable for aliens, for if we could not offer to aliens the opportunity of coming into the country, to be guarded by law and secured by law, the privilege of asylum would be a poor privilege indeed. In 1848 Parliament was not satisfied with the general declaration I have read; but in a later portion of the Preamble it bound the Secretary of State, or the Viceroy of Ireland, as the case might be, to proceed upon written information, and that written information was to go expressly into the particular case. The words of the Preamble were to the effect that for the preservation of the peace and tranquillity of some part of the Realm it was expedient to remove a certain alien or aliens who might be in that part; and, therefore, I put it to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Stockport (Mr. Hopwood), and my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst), that with the general right of asylum for aliens we are not called upon, by the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Morgan Lloyd), to interfere in the slightest degree. But, Sir, I come to the third point which has been urged against this Amendment. My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst) has strongly urged that this is an Amendment which it is now proposed we should adopt without Notice. That is not intended, I am quite sure, as a reproach against the 136 Mover of the Amendment. The Mover of the Amendment had done everything in his power to give Notice of his intention; but it is certainly quite time that the people of this country at large believe that we are engaged in considering an Irish Bill; I do not believe that at the present moment they have the least idea that any principle affecting the law and liberties in England is contained in this Irish Bill. The Government arrive at this conclusion. We feel bound to acknowledge the force of the arguments in favour of this proposition; but we also feel that it might not be right to ask the Committee to vote upon it at this time. In giving that declaration, I do not wish to reserve any locus penitentiœ on the part of the Government. We have heard the arguments; we have tested and ascertained in debate the opinions of the Representatives of the people; we are satisfied that the judgment of the Committee is largely, and in a greatly prevailing degree, favourable to the proposal. We think, however, that it would be only fair that, as the subject is one new to the country, some time should be allowed before we vote upon it. [Mr. BIGGAR: Oh, oh!] The hon. Member says "Oh, oh!" That may be his opinion. I am not going to ask the Committee to postpone the question until the next Parliament, or the next Session, or some remote period. I mean to do nothing of the kind; nor do I mean there to be any doubt as to what I have said. We accept the Amendment; but we think it fair that as this is an Irish Bill, and as the Amendment is one referring to the whole of Great Britain, we should not adopt the Amendment without its being known. I do not share the opinion of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst). I have the greatest respect for his authority; but I do not share his opinion as to the feeling which will prevail in the country. Still, we think we ought not to act in the dark, and our intention is to ask the Committee to allow the matter to be postponed until Report, which will arrive in the course of two or three days after the Bill has got through Committee. That is the course we intend to take, and, on the whole, we think that would be the best course the Committee could adopt.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
Sir, I am sorry that I did not hear the 137 greater part of this debate; but I must say that, having listened to the speech of the Prime Minister, I have heard that speech with the most unfeigned surprise. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman, from the beginning to almost the close of his speech, seemed to me to be one of the most conclusive and powerful arguments that even he has ever produced on any question submitted to the House. The right hon. Gentleman showed very plainly what, I have no doubt, has been impressed upon the Committee by other speakers—that this was a proposal, not made directly or primarily with a view to the condition of England, but with a view to the superior efficacy of this Bill for the administration of Ireland. He showed that it would be impossible to apply the new Bill, which we are now discussing, with proper effect to Ireland, if you left a loophole which is left by the unrestricted communication with England. He answered, as it seemed to me, with great cogency of reasoning, the objections made to the introduction of this clause; but at the last moment, and after he had brought the mind of the Committee up to see the importance of the proposal, he tells us that we must pause, that we are not in the position in which we can give a decided vote on the subject; and that, although the Government accepts the proposal and is prepared to stand by it, yet, because it is new to the country, it is necessary we should stop and consider it when we come to Report. I think that is a very false position to take. It seems to me that the Members of the House are elected by the constituencies to consider questions submitted to them, and to give their votes accroding to their views of the emergencies which may arise. If it could be said that the House was taken by surprise—if it could be said that the House required time to consider the proposal, I think it would be quite reasonable that full time should be given to those who are elected for the purpose of deliberation, to take into consideration all the points that might arise. But if the House has had full and fair warning, as it is admitted that it has had, in this case, if the House has had an opportunity of making up its mind on this subject, I think it is taking an altogether false position to say that we must wait for the expression of the opinion of the 138 country before we give effect to the conclusion to which we ourselves are brought. How are we to get at the opinion of the country? Is it to be by articles in the morning newspapers or by addresses from the various constituencies? It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman puts us altogether in a false position. If it be admitted that we have now reasonably considered the point, and if the Government themselves are prepared to admit the justice of the contention, I think that we should be taking an entirely false position, and it would display a want of courage on the part of the House, if we did not now decide the question. It is one of the great evils of the present time that there is a want of courage on the part of the Government. We hear expressions from Members of the House, who are dissatisfied with one proposal or other, and when it comes to the point of giving effect to their convictions by their votes they shrink back. I think we ought to set our faces against such conduct as that; and if we are convinced, as I am, by such arguments as those which the Prime Minister has addressed to us, that this is a right step to take, I think it is a step which we ought to take now.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he did not think that the charge which the right hon. Gentleman had brought against the Government in this matter was at all a fair one. The truth was that the Government, in considering this matter, naturally desired to learn the opinion of the House—to hear the opinion of the Irish and Scotch Members. The Government had had that advantage—one which he thought the right hon. Gentleman opposite did not enjoy—and, therefore, in that respect they had been able to test the opinion partially of the House. But the right hon. Gentleman must be aware that though the House was moderately full to-night, still it was only a fraction of the Members who had had the opportunity of considering this subject. There were Members who were not present on this occasion, and who probably would be very much surprised in the morning if they found that this question had been decided. ["Oh!"] That was a statement which was perfectly well founded in fact. This, no doubt, was a very important matter, and it was most desirable that nobody 139 in the House or out of it should have a right to say that they had been taken by surprise. The Government had shown no want of courage whatever; but he knew that the right hon. Gentleman and some of those who sat behind him would take up any stone to fling at the Government. That was no reason why, in a matter of this importance, they should embark in small Party personalities of that description. There was a very important matter to be determined, one on which the occupants of the Treasury Bench did not differ from Gentlemen opposite. Therefore, he was extremely surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have taken the opportunity of throwing every difficulty he could in the path of the Government. The Government thought that the best way of carrying this matter into effect was to give to everyone time to consider the proposition. They had distinctly stated what the view of the Government upon the proposal was. There would be, within a very brief and reasonable space, an opportunity for finally engrafting the decision upon the Bill, and he could not think that that decision would come with less weight because it was made with full knowledge and upon complete deliberation.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had put forward a most extraordinary plea for delaying the decision on this question. It was perfectly plain to him that the Government had got no policy whatever upon the subject. Last year he proposed this very measure on the third reading of the Protection of Person and Property Bill; but he was then overlooked by the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. W. E. Forster). He then questioned the Home Secretary on the subject. He stated at that time that he was convinced that the American Government would object to their subjects being imprisoned without trial. No notice was taken of his remonstrance; but the prophecy he then ventured to make had been carried out to the letter. On the 24th of April, having heard that remonstrances had been made by the American Government against the imprisonment of the American citizens under the Protection of Person and Property Act, he ventured to address a Question to the Prime Minister; but the right hon. Gentleman referred him to 140 the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who said he had nothing to do with the matter. In passing, he might say that it seemed to be the practice of the Prime Minister and the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to refer Questions one from the other. On the 24th of April he asked the Prime Minister whether the Government proposed to bring in any measure with regard to aliens on the lines of the 11 & 12 Vict., c. 20, and he was informed that the Government had no intention of bringing in such a measure. A few weeks afterwards, however, the Government brought in a Bill in which they introduced the very provision he had ventured to suggest to them. On the first day of this Bill he put on the Amendment Paper the Amendment which was now before the Committee; but he had withdrawn his priority in favour of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had now moved it, because he thought the Government might accept it more graciously from one who always sat behind the Prime Minister than from one who constantly sat opposite to him. In regard to this Amendment, it seemed to him that if that Bill was passed dealing with aliens who had plotted against the Government, there ought to be the same power of dealing with them in Liverpool as in Dublin; and he could not conceive why the Government should neglect the means they had of preventing conspiracies which might be arranged in any part of the country. Their objection could only be due to that cause. The Amendment had been on the Paper ever since the Bill was first brought in, and the whole country had had as much opportunity of judging of that Amendment as of any other of the Amendments proposed. It had never been argued by the Government that they ought to consult the country upon every item of the Bill; but because the right hon. Gentleman saw that the Amendment recommended itself to the common sense of the Committee, and because he wished to preserve the self-conceit of the Government, he would not accept the Amendment, and tried to preserve his pride by saying the Government must appeal to the country. The right hon. Gentleman had made a most powerful appeal to the Committee in favour of this Amendment, and made use of arguments stronger than anyone else could 141 advance, and in language that was more powerful and picturesque than any other Member of the House could command; but because the Government did not know where they were, or whom to consult with—whether to make up with the Radicals or Whigs, the Government now proposed to postpone the Amendment to the Report, in order that the Government might see how the cat jumped. The Government were in great danger in exercising any power against aliens, except under special provisions; and this evening the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs had informed the House that in Turkey, as well as in other countries, there was a law which enabled Governments to deal with and expel aliens. That law did not exist in this country, and the House did not want the Government to have power to expel foreigners for political misdemeanours in their own countries, or to give them up for rebellion against any Governments in their own countries; but what the House wanted was, that if an alien committed an offence, or conspired to commit an offence, against the Realm, then the Government ought to have the power to expel him, or to call upon him to give security for good behaviour. No foreign Government could object to that, but they could object to special legislation for their subjects. The foreigner did not not stand on all-fours with the native of this country; he could always appeal to his Government if he thought he was exposed to injustice; and on this ground he (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) appealed to the Government not to give way to the sentiment of false pride, but allow this Amendment to be carried without further postponement.
§ LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE
said, notwithstanding the rather excited declamation to which the Committee had just listened, he believed the Government had come to a wise conclusion in not attempting to decide this matter this evening. After all, what was the object of the stage of Report? It was to give an opportunity to the House to reconsider, after mature deliberation, any questions which, in the course of Committee, might have been unexpectedly brought forward, and which in Committee itself could not arise at a point at which the Committee would wish to have them finally settled. He would ask hon. Members who had been in Committee 142 this evening, and did not come down, like the Leader of the Opposition and the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir H. Drummond Wolff), at the eleventh hour, to tell the Committee, while they had not heard the arguments, yet they had fully made up their minds—he would ask the Committee whether they really thought this question, which had been brought forward in an unexpected manner to a certain extent, should be disposed of with a rush this evening? He did not mean to cast any reflection upon his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Morgan Lloyd), and all he meant was that to many Members the question was comparatively new. He believed the course recommended by the Government was far wiser, and that it would be better to wait and apply the old proverb—"When in doubt do nothing." He had always had a great respect for that proverb, and he believed that very often it might save individuals, and even Governments, from acting in a hurry. He did not desire to prejudge this question, but he certainly thought the Government were wise in asking for time to be fully informed on the matter. Nobody could have heard the debate without feeling that complicated issues were involved, and that the Committee and the House would gain time by some further discussion; and he appealed to the Government not to be hurried by the excitement of the moment, but to give time for the question to be fully considered and fairly placed before the country.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he thought the course taken by the Prime Minister would render him liable to the complaint of the Home Secretary, as against the opponents of the Bill yesterday, that there was procrastination. He himself was exceedingly glad that the Prime Minister had taken this course, because he had not quite made up his own mind as to how he should vote, although it was possible that he should arrive at a conclusion before Report was reached. On the one hand, he was entirely opposed to any powers being given to the Executive to remove aliens from any part of these Realms, whether England or Ireland; therefore, he should naturally vote against the Amendment. On the other hand, he could not help thinking it very possible that the strong feeling which existed in England against the Alien Bill might lead the English people, 143 when they saw that they themselves were included in this Bill as well as the Irish, to be anxious that the Bill should be repealed before the end of the three years. He had, therefore, to take these two views into consideration in order to decide as to the way he should vote.
MR. JOSEPH COWEN
said, he had persistently and systematically opposed this Bill; but he was not disposed to adopt a Machiavelian policy. He objected to this clause for Ireland and also for England. There was force in the observations of the Leader of the Opposition when he said the House was not to be guided altogether by people outside. Hon. Members were there as Representatives and not as delegates; and so far, at all events, as he was concerned, he exercised his right to vote as circumstances dictated, irrespective of outside opinion, and he did not doubt that the body of the House acted in the same way; and certainly he thought they ought to do so upon this question. But, although he said that, he agreed in the wisdom of adjourning the consideration of this clause, for this reason—not that the country might be asked to make up its mind, but that the House should have a further opportunity of considering the question. It was said that this Amendment had been on the Paper for some time. But there was a large number of Amendments on the Paper, and Members of the House of Commons did not pay attention to all of them; and they all knew that the Government had assented to very few of the Amendments; and, therefore, no one believed when this Amendment was on the Paper that the Government would agree to it. He thought even the supporters of the Amendment would agree that no harm could be done by adjourning its further consideration. If there was that strong opinion in its favour which was alleged, those in favour of the Amendment would get stronger support on Report; but if there was a strong feeling against the clause, then it would be fair that hon. Members not present in the House should have an opportunity of seeing and realizing its full effect. It should be remembered that the discussion had taken place in a comparatively thin House, and it was but reasonable that the decision should be delayed to another day. Thus far he agreed with the Government in the course they had 144 adopted; but he entirely dissented from them in asking for the clause at all. The right hon. Gentleman said it was not needed in this country because there was a general belief that crime, if discovered, would not go unpunished. Everybody admitted that, and the Home Secretary had had proof of that in his short period of Office, for there was a man now in prison, not for such an offence as this clause aimed at, but for expressing approval of assassination in other countries; he referred to the case of Herr Most, and he believed the same public spirit which sent that man to prison would send others to a like punishment for similar offences. Therefore, there was no necessity for this Act in England; but the point which would touch English people most was that by this clause one of their most cherished principles would be destroyed. Hon. Members might use arguments against or for what would be submitted to them; but the bulk of the people on this subject were moved by sentiment. It had been the proudest boast of Englishmen that, when men had been expelled from other countries for political principles, here they found an asylum. That right would be trenched upon by this clause. ["No, no!"] Hon Members said "No, no!" but he had listened to this discussion, and if he had not been conscious that he was in England he should have thought he was in an Austrian or Russian Assembly. The doctrines preached, the suggestions made, the principles enforced, would have found a fitting echo in the mouth of a Gortchakoff or a Metternich. The right of asylum was dearly cherished by Englishmen. The Prime Minister urged that men should be turned from the country who took action against the peace and tranquillity of the nation. He (Mr. Joseph Cowen) suspected that there were Gentlemen opposite who thought the peace and tranquillity of the nation had been disturbed by certain speeches in Mid Lothian. Was that a sufficient justification for depriving a man of an asylum in this country. This clause did not say that the right of asylum was to be denied to political partizans, but it included that. A great nation, whom we were glad to recognize as an ally, had recently mourned the death of a noble patriot. He had had the honour and privilege of that man's 145 friendship for 26 or 28 years; but he had known him denounced by the Press of Europe as an assassin and a murderer. That man could have been driven from these shores under a clause of this kind; but the first time he (Mr. Joseph Cowen) ever saw the Prime Minister the right hon. Gentleman was in the company of Garibaldi—a man who had disturbed the peace and tranquillity of many countries. Other men equally distinguished in the politics and literature of Europe would equally have suffered under such a clause. While he was satisfied with the wisdom of the Government in allowing this clause to be discussed at a later period, he exceedingly regretted that they had assented to it. The present Government came into Office pledged more than any other Government to Liberal principles; they had been in Office for three years, and during that time they had suspended the Habeas Corpus Act, they were at present passing a Bill which would take away trial by jury and the privileges of the Press, and now they proposed to re-enact the Alien Act. The hon. Member for Stoke did not incorrectly represent the sentiments of this country when he said that when this matter came to the knowledge of the people he believed the Government would find a feeling against them more bitter and determined than they had any conception of. By this Bill the Government would touch the keenest and most sensitive of national sentiments. Delay would give them an opportunity of discussing this question at a later period, although when it came up at a later period he should contest the matter in every way he could.
§ SIR JOSEPH PEASE
said, he thought that, if the Government felt that they were right in the course they proposed of confining the operation of the Alien Act to Ireland, the speech which had just been delivered must have shown that they were wrong in doing so. If there had been any doubts as to their course these doubts must have been confirmed by the speech of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Joseph Cowen). That hon. Gentleman was the man in that House, who, above all others, had been a determined opponent of this Bill from its very commencement. He had objected to every line, and although he now supported the Government in put- 146 ting off this question for further consideration, he did so in order that he might have another opportunity of again discussing this very question, and opposing it. He could well understand that attitude on the part of the hon. Member If the Committee had arrived, as he believed they had arrived, at a judgment which they believed to be sound, why should they not record that judgment? If it was found that an error had been made there would be opportunity, on Report, for reversing their decision. The hon. Member for Stoke thought this clause would be an unpopular one with the working classes of this country. He, however, begged to take an opposite view. He agreed with the eloquent words of the hon. Member for Bedford when he said that he believed we were on the verge, by procrastination in legislation, of driving the feeling of the working classes of the country against Ireland, and against those things which he, for one, wanted to see carried out in Ireland for the sake of the Irish people. He believed that the policy now proposed was the right policy to be pursued towards Ireland—namely, the policy of legislating also for England. He believed this clause would touch no honest foreigner in England—no man who came to this country for purposes of trade or pleasure, no man who acted from political motives of a sound and proper character. But it would, he believed, operate against those aliens who came to this country and were believed to have been engaged in assassination—those aliens that we all had been in constant dread of. Our public buildings had been threatened in almost all large towns in the Kingdom, and public authorities were kept in constant alarm. He believed the Committee had come to the conclusion to record their desire that the Alien Act should be applied to England under certain conditions, and he hoped the Government would refuse to postpone the consideration of this clause.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he thought the hon. Baronet, in his reference to the words of the hon. Member for Stoke, and the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Joseph Cowen), had quite misunderstood those hon. Gentlemen. He had misunderstood the force, the motives, and opinions represented by those hon. Members in denouncing this last instalment of tyranny. He, as an Irish 147 Member, was not altogether sorry to see this clause introduced for the benefit of Englishmen; but, in denouncing this last instalment of tyranny, English Members below the Gangway only professed to speak on behalf of the workmen of England, and he was not aware that a single word had fallen from their lips to lead the House to suppose that they were speaking on behalf of the brand-new Baronets of the Liberal Party. Of course, the important and lately reinforced class for which the hon. Baronet was qualified to speak would support him in his views. He could not but think that there was a great deal of truth in the reproach of the right hon. Baronet the Leader of the Opposition, when he suggested that there was a little cowardice in the present attitude of the Government. He thought there was a little cowardice in their attitude, and he hoped hon. Members would do all in their power to bring the Government up to the scratch on the present occasion. For his part, he thought Her Majesty's Liberal Ministry, which had so successfully covered Ireland with humiliation, and degradation, might well introduce for their own country a measure which would expose them to some of the same degradation. The proposal was to extend to England the Alien Act which had been applied to Ireland under this Coercion Bill; and they were told in words, which the hon. Member for Newcastle had justly said would not be unworthy of the servile orators of the Second Empire, that the Alien Bill was not in any sense hostile to the innate Liberalism of the English people. In carrying out the provisions of the former Alien Act, the punishment of persons was sought for offences committed against the laws of England; but there was this guarantee, that an alien became subject to the Constitution of England, subject to the equal laws, and the equal justice of England; and if he were accused of crime he had an Englishman's right to be tried according to the laws of England. Would that be the case under the present Bill? No! Under that Bill a man whom the Government were persuaded for any reasons was dangerous to the peace and tranquillity of the Kingdom would be suspected, but not tried; he would be judged in the Star Chamber, and hunted out of the country by a Government who were afraid to bring him 148 before a jury of Englishmen. That was the change which the Government were now introducing. Their oracles declared that no man free from crime would be liable to punishment in England under this extension of the Alien Law. But what guarantee had they that a feeble Government—say a Government even more feeble than the present—would not yield to the solicitation of some great Power, in the hour of National or Party emergency, and discover than an alien, who was an object of terror to a foreign mind, was plotting against the peace and tranquillity of England, when, in reality, he was only disturbing the slumbers of a distant tyrant. When this law was passed, and trial by a fair tribunal abolished in the case of an alien, where was the guarantee that he would be found guilty of having committed a crime against the peace and tranquillity of England? He would be brought before no jury—no witnesses would be placed in the witness-box against him; no publicity would guard that man, whose exile from England was the mandate of some foreign ally to the Government of the day. He certainly would not be able to support Her Majesty's Government were they to bring this matter to a decision on the present occasion. But this proposed law—this abolition of the most cherished privilege of Englishmen—was a matter at which Irish patriots ought not to feel sorry. It was only an illustration of the principle, that "when you do injustice to others, you will surely suffer from that injustice yourself;" those who become slave-drivers would find before many days had elapsed that the lash of the slave-driver was curling about their own shoulders. He had heard it said by one of the most distinguished political writers of this country that one of the first effects and the worst effect of despotism or despotic administration, even in a country so far distant as India, was that it tended to intermix in English society men whose views were necessarily coloured by the practice of despotism in Hindostan. Despotism had now taken up its permanent abode in front of the English shores, and it was easy to see that as the contamination of English despotism in Ireland became more close, so the contagion was becoming more effective. He congratulated the English Parliament on its rapid descent; he prophesied with confidence 149 that this would not he the last step that would be taken in the direction of this new departure; and he confessed that he should be sorry to find that the appeals of the hon. Members for Stoke and Newcastle-on-Tyne had had any substantial effect in checking the hand of the Government in this matter. He hoped that as they had degraded Ireland, so they would succeed in degrading and disgracing themselves.
§ MR. ROUNDELL
said, he regretted that he was unable to support the conclusion at which the Government had arrived with regard to the postponement of this question. It appeared to him that the sense of the Committee was clearly in favour of the Amendment. Moreover, they had heard from the Prime Minister that the Government accepted it; and the question before the Committee was whether they should decide upon the Amendment which had already received the sanction of the Government or postpone it to a future stage of the Bill. He was clearly of opinion, upon every ground of sound Constitutional principle, that the matter ought not to be postponed. He regretted to have heard the Home Secretary use the argument that the Committee was not at present sufficiently constituted to determine so grave a question, because it appeared to him that the House was largely constituted, more so than it had frequently been in determining many grave questions. But he went beyond that. He appealed to the practice of ordinary public life, and asked whether it was a valid argument to say that, because certain Members of the House happened to be absent, therefore those who were present were not entitled to decide? He had always understood that it was the first principle of public life that those who were absent should be bound by the decision of those who were present; and, on that ground, he held that no good argument had been advanced for the postponement of this Amendment. Again, for some reason which he was at a loss to understand, the Committee had been told that they must postpone the determination of this question until some authority outside the House had pronounced upon it. That he held to be a most dangerous doctrine. He contended that, as the Representatives of the people, they were fairly entitled to determine ques- 150 tions which came before them at full notice, as was the case with the Amendment before the Committee. Had time permitted, he would willingly have joined issue with the hon. Member for Newcastle, when he alleged that the opinion of the English people was against the re-enactment of the Alien Act. He differed from everything which the hon. Member had stated on that point. They could well understand that the English people were jealous of the right of asylum; but then that right of asylum was only extended to foreigners who were alleged to have committed political offences against their country; whereas, in the present case, they were dealing with conspirators, who had been justly described as making these shores the basis of their operations, and doing their best to aim a deadly blow at the integrity of the Empire. He had no sympathy with conspirators of that kind. He had heard several references, in the course of the discussions on this Bill, from the hon. Member for Newcastle and others, to the views of the English people. Now, he felt qualified to speak on that subject with some degree of confidence. A short time ago he had taken part in the election for the West Riding of Yorkshire, where he had the means of judging what was the feeling of the electors of a district which might be described as one of the most representative constituencies in the Kingdom. The result of his experience was a confirmed and clear conviction that the people of England were determined, come what might, to put down this foul conspiracy. He had been animated in the silent votes which he had given, and which he should continue to give, throughout these discussions, with a desire to do what lay in his power, without going beyond the necessities of the case, to arm the Irish Executive with the means of dealing a strong and decided blow against this most nefarious conspiracy.
§ MR. R. T. REID
said, they were all in favour of maintaining law and order in Ireland, and it was quite unnecessary for the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Roundell) to remind them of that duty; but what he deplored was that so many Members of the Liberal Party should, with such remarkable alacrity, vote the re-enactment of the Alien Act in England under circumstances in which 151 no fair notice had been given to the country. The terms of this Amendment, in the first place, did not clearly convey to those who were not thoroughly acquainted with the Act what was the subject-matter which the Amendment proposed to deal with. Moreover, they had had no intimation from the Government, until the last moment, that they were willing to accept this Amendment any more than other Amendments upon the Paper. That being so, he was satisfied many Members of the House had not the slightest idea that so grave a matter was being discussed at that moment in Committee. The Government, although they were of opinion that this Amendment should be accepted, were also of opinion that further time should be given for its consideration; and he was surprised that Members of the Liberal Party, who had taken an opportunity of announcing their views, should, in the absence of other Members, be determined, contrary to the wishes of their Leader, to press on the Committee to an immediate settlement of this question, instead of waiting for the stage of Report. He regretted most sincerely that, as at present advised, he could not agree with the conclusion of Her Majesty's Government. His respect for the Prime Minister was second to that of no man in the House; but the argument put forward by him was one was one that might be adduced tomorrow for the permanent re-enactment of that measure, which had been condemned by the opinion of most men.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he understood the Government to have thoroughly considered this question, and to have arrived at a conclusion that it was quite right that the Alien Act should be extended to England. Now, if the Government had solemnly arrived at that conclusion, he asked why it was they wished the question postponed? Did they mean that if they found the country not to be in favour of the conclusion at which they had arrived they would withdraw from it? They had stated deliberately that, in their opinion, the Amendment should be accepted; and, therefore, there could not be the smallest reason why the Committee should postpone their decision upon it. It seemed to be trifling with the Committee for hon. Members to get up and say that the country had not had an opportunity 152 of considering an Amendment placed upon the Notice Paper. Why, the Committee were considering the question at the present moment. It was their function to consider it, and they were not to be put off from deciding upon the question simply because it was a grave one, and because it was stated that the country had not had an opportunity of considering it. The Members of that House were bound to their constituencies to give their votes on every question which came before them when those questions presented themselves. The Government must have considered the question carefully before they gave the advice which they had offered to the Committee, and having given that advice, he contended that it was the duty of every Member to vote upon the question at once, in accordance with his own views. Under the circumstances, he trusted the Committee would not agree to a postponement of the question.
said, when he made a request to the Committee with reference to this subject he stated the views of the Government in unequivocal terms, believing, at the same time, that the request made was a perfectly usual one. He took the opportunity of saying, with respect to the speech of the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Roundell), that, in the first place, he had ascribed either to himself or to his right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, sentiments which they certainly never uttered; and he doubted whether the hon. Gentleman would have made that statement had he been for a longer time conversant with Parliamentary practice in matters of the kind. It had always been the practice to concede to the Government a large discretion, and even a large indulgence, as to the choice of the time at which they should invite the final decision of the Committee upon a point which materially affected the structure of their own Bill. He ventured to found that statement upon a rather wide experience. However, the request he had made had evidently been refused by the two right hon. Gentlemen opposite and the hon. Member for Portsmouth, who, by the way, were not present when the speech of the hon. Member for Stoke, upon which he partly founded his request, was delivered. It was certainly most compli- 153 mentary that the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon, not having heard the debate on this subject, should at once, without listening to what was said by anyone else in opposition, have expressed himself so satisfied with the force of his arguments that he was determined not only to vote for the Amendment himself, but to afford him an opportunity of giving that night a vote which he had expressed his intention of giving on a future occasion. That was so gratifying that he had only to express the hope that on other occasions the right hon. Gentleman might be disposed to accord him some portion of the same favour, and he should consider that one of the most noteworthy circumstances in his career. The right hon. Gentleman was also pleased to remark upon his want of courage. Without saying that the rebuke was undeserved, he certainly felt that if he were a political coward then, the limited span before him afforded him no hope of any improvement in that respect. The Government were asked why they requested this delay? It was certainly not in order that they might reconsider their judgment, nor that they might surrender their deliberate judgment to any sentiment out-of-doors. There were two considerations quite apart from these that appeared to justify and recommend their making to the Committee a request which he believed to be altogether usual and customary. One was in reference to the speech of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Broadhurst), who stated that great dissatisfaction would arise from the adoption of a measure of this kind on an Irish Bill, the country being under the impression that it was not to contain any legal provisions relating to England. Now, he wished especially to state that he desired to avoid any dissatisfaction arising from the wholly irrational idea that the present Bill was of an insidious character; and, that being so, the suggestion he had made could not be regarded as illegitimate. He thought that while they acted on their own judgment their action should be so timed as not to afford any solid or plausible ground for discontent. The other reason which operated in the Government mind was this—that although his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaumaris (Mr. Morgan Lloyd) had perfectly performed his part in giving Notice of 154 his Amendment, yet as his Notice came amongst a crowd of others, and there had not been the smallest intimation of the intention of the Government with respect to it, the Government deemed themselves not only within their right, but governed by their duty, when, out of respect to the Committee, they requested that its decision should be postponed until they had had an opportunity of weighing and considering the matter fully. He did not recede from the request he had made. The Government had expressed their sentiments on the merits of the Amendment, and were now entirely in the hands of the Committee. He hoped his hon. and learned Friend would be allowed to withdraw his Amendment; but if he were not allowed to do so, they must vote on the merits of the Amendment, without reference to those circumstances of time and place, to which, in conformity with usage, they were prepared to have accorded a large consideration.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, it was a mistake to suppose that the Amendment was necessary to extend the Alien Act, under this Bill, to Great Britain. The clause, as it stood, would apply the Alien Act to Great Britain, for it said—An order shall not be made directing any alien within Great Britain to depart this realm, except in the case where an order of the Lord Lieutenant has been made directing an alien in Ireland to depart the realm; but in such case an order may be made in Great Britain respecting such alien.It seemed to him, therefore, that the Amendment was not of that practical importance described by hon. Members around him. He did not, however, see why hon. Members from Ireland should object to the Amendment, which dealt only with England, if English Members desired it; or why English Members, who would revive the Alien Act so far as Ireland was concerned, should so strongly oppose its application to this country. His hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Broadhurst) had spoken of the feeling of London. Well, he (Sir John Lubbock) represented a portion of London, and he could not agree with the hon. Member in the opinions he had expressed with regard to the Metropolis. The Committee, he thought, under all the circumstances, might very well accept the Amendment of his hon. Friend.
§ MR. THOMAS COLLINS
said, the only question the Committee had to de- 155 cide was this. [Cries of "Divide!"] He was afraid, if he was to be interrupted in this way, he would be driven to the course of moving the adjournment of the debate. The question the Committee had to decide now was whether they ought to divide on the merits of this question now, or adjourn the division to the Report. If this discussion had come on in a thin House, at 9 o'clock, there might have been some ground for suggesting that the question should be postponed, and for saying that hon. Members had not had an opportunity of considering it. But when he saw the Benches so full he was led to doubt very much whether, oven on Report, they would be ever likely to get a larger number of Members together on the Bill. There was no reason whatever why, if this clause was to apply to aliens in Dublin, it should not apply to aliens in every other city in Great Britain who were believed to be in these nefarious and mischievous conspiracies. He agreed with every word that had fallen from the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Roundell) that the Committee had had ample Notice of this Amendment. Notice of it had been given in duplicate—by the hon. and learned Member who had moved it, and also by the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir H. Drummond Wolff). The country, therefore, must have had ample opportunity of knowing that a question of this sort would be brought before the Committee; but even if the country knew very little about it, Members of Parliament were not delegates, but were elected for the purpose of freely considering whatever questions might come before them. It was for them, and not for people out-of-doors, to decide questions of this sort. He hoped the Amendment would be pressed to a division, and that it would not be left to be considered on Report.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, he was only going to ask a question. He understood that this Amendment would be put before the clause; well, with regard to that, he wished to ask a question, and he desired to be informed whether he should put that question now, or after the division had been taken?
Not only the Committee, but the House, had this Amendment before them. It was on the Paper during the whole of the discussion on the second reading, and the Commit- 156 tee has had it before them for some time. No points have been raised, and I am of opinion that it is entirely within Order for the Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," to be put.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, that, although there might not be good reason for postponing the vote on this question until the Report, there was, at all events, good reason for postponing it until tomorrow. He would remind the Committee that it was only at about half-past 10 that the Government, to the astonishment of the whole Committee, in the most unexpected manner, and after having shown all the afternoon every appearance of being doubtful as to the course they should take, announced, for the first time, that they were going to take this very important step. The course they were adopting meant the re-enactment of the Alien Act of 1848 for the whole of the United Kingdom. Under these circumstances, and in view of the fact that only two Irish Members had spoken with regard to this very important change, the Committee might very fairly be asked to agree to the Motion to report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Parnell.)
said, he trusted the Motion would not be persevered in. The urgency was very great, and the Bill had been long delayed. He was aware that, from its character, much discussion was required and justified. He would not enter into any criticism as to the amount of discussion which had taken place further than to say that he should not, perhaps, be overstepping the mark in saying that the discussion had been very long. The proposal he had made earlier in the evening would have the effect of giving sufficient time to consider the question on its merits to those who had not previously heard the proposal itself, and were not acquainted with the decision of the Government. He could not think that any advantage would accrue from postponing the discussion for 13 hours—from 1 o'clock until 2 in the afternoon. The Amendments to-night had been sufficiently—he might, perhaps, say exhaustively—discussed, and in many quarters ably 157 discussed. A postponement for 13 hours would be a pure waste of time. Hon. Members below the Gangway opposite had refrained from unnecessarily interposing all the evening. He hoped they would not forfeit the title they had earned to credit for their moderation by insisting upon this Motion to report Progress.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, that, although the Amendment had been on the Table many days, the Government had not given an intimation of their intention with regard to it until a late hour this evening. The Committee was taken by surprise, and he thought that both hon. Gentlemen opposite and hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House—who had taken, comparatively speaking, no part in the debate—would be justified in supporting his hon. Friend's Motion, so that the decision should not be taken in a hurried and haphazard manner.
§ MR. HEALY
said, that, as the Committee were aware, if the Amendment were carried, it would defeat the putting of any further Amendments to the clause as it stood in the Bill. There were a number of Amendments to the latter part of the clause standing in the name of the hon. Members for Launceston, Limerick, and others; but these Amendments could not be moved if that now before the Committee were adopted, except in the shape and in the nature of Provisoes. He thought, therefore, it would only be fair that, as soon as this Amendment was carried, an opportunity should be given to hon. Members to put their Amendments in the shape of Provisoes. It would be very hard upon hon. Members if, in consequence of an Amendment with which they had nothing to do to another part of the clause, they should be prevented from bringing forward their proposals. The Government a while ago stated that they were unable themselves to come to a vote tonight, and would prefer to postpone the matter to the Report stage. Would the right hon. Gentleman have any objection to informing the Committee what guidance he was going to offer to his followers in the shape of his own vote? The Committee had refused to accede to the postponement of the matter to the Report, and he thought they were entitled to know what course the Government were going to take.
said, he had made a request, to which he still adhered; but that request had been refused. The only question, therefore, before them was to vote upon the Amendment on its merits. They had given their opinion upon the merits, and now it was only for them to vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he would not stand in the way of a division being taken, as a great many hon. Members had come down to vote on the Amendment. The Irish Members, he thought, were entitled to have an opportunity of stating why they considered they ought to oppose the Amendment. The hon. and learned Member for Christchurch (Mr. Horace Davey) had asked what interest the Irish Members took in this matter? Well, they would have an opportunity of expressing their views, and of replying to the hon. and learned Member, in the discussion on the question that the clause stand part of the Bill.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. MORGAN LLOYD
said, that, so far as he was concerned, he was entirely in the hands of the Committee. With regard to the appeal which had been made to him by the Prime Minister, he should be willing, although with some reluctance, to postpone the matter to the stage of Report.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 51; Noes 228: Majority 177.160
|Barran, J.||Lalor, R.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Lawson, Sir W.|
|Borlase, W. C.||Leamy, E.|
|Bright, J. (Manchester)||M'Carthy, J.|
|Bruce, hon. R. P.||Molloy, B. C.|
|Buchanan, T. R.||Morley, A.|
|Burt, T.||Nolan, Colonel J. P.|
|Buszard, M. C.||O'Connor, A.|
|Byrne, G. M.||O'Connor, T. P.|
|Callan, P.||O'Gorman Mahon, Col The|
|Corbet, W. J.||O'Kelly, J.|
|Dillon, J.||O'Sullivan, W. H.|
|Elliot, hon. A. R. D.||Parnell, C. S.|
|Flower, C.||Peddie, J. D.|
|Gill, H. J.||Power, J. O'C.|
|Grant, A.||Power, R.|
|Gray, E. D.||Redmond, J. E.|
|Hopwood, C. H.||Rylands, P.|
|James, C.||Samuelson, H.|
|Jenkins, Sir J. J.||Sexton, T.|
|Sheil, E.||Wedderburn, Sir D.|
|Sheridan, H. B.||Whalley, G. H.|
|Smith, E.||Williams, S. C. E.|
|Smithwick, J. F.|
|Sullivan, T. D.||Broadhurst, H.|
|Webster, J.||Cowen, J.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Dawnay, hon. G. C.|
|Alexander, Colonel C.||De Worms, Baron H.|
|Allen, H. G.||Dickson, Major A. G.|
|Allsopp, C.||Dickson, J.|
|Armitstead, G.||Dickson, T. A.|
|Ashley, hon. E. M.||Digby, Col. hon. E.|
|Aylmer, J. E. F.||Dilke, Sir C. W.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Dodds, J.|
|Balfour, A. J.||Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.|
|Balfour, J. B.||Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Baring, T. C.||Duckham, T.|
|Baring, Viscount||Duff, R. W.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W. H.|
|Beach, rt. hon. Sir M. H.||Ebrington, Viscount|
|Biddell, W.||Egerton, Adm. hon. F.|
|Biddulph, M.||Errington, G.|
|Birkbeck, E.||Estcourt, G. S.|
|Blennerhassett, Sir R.||Evans, T. W.|
|Bolton, J. C.||Farquharson, Dr. R.|
|Brassey, H. A.||Fawcett, rt. hon. H.|
|Brassey, Sir T.||Fenwick-Bisset, M.|
|Brett, R. B.||Ferguson, R.|
|Bright, rt. hon. J.||Ffolkes, Sir W. H. B.|
|Brinton, J.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Broadley, W. H. H.||Finch, G. H.|
|Brooks, W. C.||Findlater, W.|
|Bruce, rt. hon. Lord C.||Fitzwilliam, hon. H. W.|
|Burghley, Lord||Fletcher, Sir H.|
|Campbell, J. A.||Foljambe, C. G. S.|
|Campbell, Sir G.||Foljambe, F. J. S.|
|Campbell, R. F. F.||Forster, Sir C.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, H.||Fowler, R. N.|
|Carington, hon. R.||Fry, L.|
|Carington, hn. Colonel W. H. P.||Garnier, J. C.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. E.|
|Cartwright, W. C.||Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.|
|Causton, R. K.||Gladstone, H. J.|
|Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.||Gladstone, W. H.|
|Chamberlain, rt. hn. J.||Gordon, Sir A.|
|Chaplin, H.||Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.|
|Childers, right hon. H. C. E.||Grant, Sir G. M.|
|Gregory, G. B.|
|Clifford, C. C.||Halsey, T. F.|
|Coddington, W.||Hamilton, I. T.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Hamilton, right hon. Lord G.|
|Compton, F.||Hamilton, J. G. C.|
|Corry, J. P.||Harcourt, rt. hon. Sir W. G. V. V.|
|Cotes, C. C.|
|Courtauld, G.||Hartington, Marq. of|
|Courtney, L. H.||Hay, rt. hon. Admiral Sir J. C. D.|
|Cowper, hon. H. F.|
|Creyke, R.||Hayter, Sir A. D.|
|Crichton, Viscount||Heneage, E.|
|Cropper, J.||Herschell, Sir F.|
|Cross, rt. hon. Sir R. A.||Hibbert, J. T.|
|Crum, A.||Holland, Sir H. T.|
|Dalrymple, C.||Holms, J.|
|Davenport, H. T.||Home, Lt.-Col. D. M.|
|Davey, H.||Howard, E. S.|
|Davies, R.||James, Sir H.|
|Dawnay, Col. hon. L. P.||Jardine, R.|
|Johnson, W. M.||Porter, A. M.|
|Kennard, Col. E. H.||Portman, hn. W. H. B.|
|Kingscote, Col. R. N. F.||Powell, W. R. H.|
|Kinnear, J.||Ralli, P.|
|Lawrance, J. C.||Ramsden, Sir J.|
|Lawrence, Sir J. C.||Rankin, J.|
|Lawrence, W.||Rathbone, W.|
|Lea, T.||Richardson, T.|
|Leatham, W. H.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Lefevre, rt. hn. G. J. S.||Roberts, J.|
|Leigh, hon. G. H. C.||Rogers, J. E. T.|
|Leighton, Sir B.||Rothschild, Sir N. M. de|
|Leighton, S.||Round, J.|
|Lewisham, Viscount||Roundell, C. S.|
|Lloyd, M.||Russell, Lord A.|
|Loder, R.||Russell, G. W. E.|
|Long, W. H.||Salt, T.|
|Lowther, rt. hon. J.||Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.|
|Lubbock, Sir J.||Severne, J. E.|
|M'Arthur, A.||Simon, Serjeant J.|
|M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J.||Smith, rt. hon. W. H.|
|M'Intyre, Æneas J.||Stanley, rt. hn. Col. F.|
|Mackie, R. B.||Stanley, hon. E. L.|
|Mackintosh, C. F.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Magniac, C.||Stewart, J.|
|Marjoribanks, E.||Storer, G.|
|Maskelyne, M. H. Story-||Summers, W.|
|Mason, H.||Talbot, J. G.|
|Maxwell, Sir H. E.||Tavistock, Marquess of|
|Mellor, J. W.||Taylor, rt. hn. Col. T. E.|
|Milbank, Sir F. A.||Thornhill, T.|
|Mills, Sir C. H.||Tollemache, H. J.|
|Monckton, F.||Tottenham, A. L.|
|Monk, C. J.||Tracy, hon. F. S. A. Hanbury-|
|Moreton, Lord||Trevelyan, rt. hn. G. O.|
|Morgan, rt. hon. G. O.||Vivian, A. P.|
|Morgan, hon. F.||Walrond, Col. W. H.|
|Morley, S.||Walter, J.|
|Mundella, rt. hon. A. J.||Warton, C. N.|
|Murray, C. J.||Waugh, E.|
|Newport, Viscount||Whitbread, S.|
|Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.||Whitley, E.|
|Onslow, D.||Williamson, S.|
|O'Shea, W. H.||Willis, W.|
|Paget, T. T.||Wills, W. H.|
|Palmer, C. M.||Winn, R.|
|Parker, C. S.||Wodehouse, E. R.|
|Patrick, R. W. Cochran-||Wolff, Sir H. D.|
|Pease, Sir J. W.||Wortley, C. B. Stuart-|
|Peel, A. W.||Wroughton, P.|
|Pell, A.||Yorke, J. R.|
|Pemberton, E. L.|
|Percy, Lord A.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Plunket, rt. hon. D. R.||Kensington, Lord|
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Storey.)
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, there were no complications about the clause, so far as he knew, and he did not know why they could not go on a little longer.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, the proposition the right hon. and learned Gentleman was in reality making to them was, that 161 they should swallow the Alien Act of 1848 without any examination. The right hon. and learned Gentleman did not give them time to consider what the Alien Act was. Though the right hon. and learned Gentleman might be desirous of having the Act revived in its full effect, the Irish Members, at least, were anxious not, if they could help it, to allow the Act to be revived in an unlimited form. All the Amendments on the Paper had been disarranged by the course the Government had taken, and he considered it was absolutely necessary the Government should have an opportunity of considering the Amendments on the Paper.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, if there was any real desire to report Progress he should not oppose the Motion.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.