§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether persons who have been imprisoned in Ireland, on reasonable suspicion of treasonable practices, have been or will be released from prison without any assurance on their part to abstain from such practices; and, whether any assurance has been received by Her Majesty's Government from the leaders of the Land League that the No Rent Circular will be withdrawn?
Sir, when this matter was mentioned on Tuesday last, it had not been in my recollection, and I thought it might be well just to take a day to reflect on the subject, which I have done. The Question of the hon. 102 Member for Portsmouth (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) undoubtedly has reference to the fact, which, I believe, is well known to the House, that when the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) was arrested, he was arrested under two warrants—one of them referring to "reasonable suspicion," in the phraseology of the Act, and the other to treasonable practices.
I mean to say he is there under two warrants. [Several Irish MEMBERS: He was.] We are of opinion that the same considerations which justified and required the release, where the reasonable suspicion has had reference to what I may roughly call agrarian offences, also justify his release under the warrant for his detention on suspicion of being guilty of treasonable practices.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
The latter part of the Question has not been answered by the right hon. Gentleman.
It appears to me, Sir, that the intentions which are entertained in regard to the "no rent" circular, which are important, form a portion of the subject to which I have already adverted, when I stated that Her Majesty's Government had received information, tendered to them, which they deemed to be of great importance, and which justified and mainly prompted their conduct in the matter of the recent releases. I think the considerations which prevented me from entering upon any detail, and made me feel that it would be far more dignified and just on every ground that it should be left to these Gentlemen themselves to make, at the proper time, their own declarations, ought to lead me to request the hon. Gentleman opposite to await such declarations as may be made in this House by the persons to whose conduct the declaration refers.
§ MR. DILLON
I venture to ask the Prime Minister, in consequence of the answer which he has given, whether he 103 means to convey that any intimation was conveyed to him from me in reference to the "no rent" manifesto?
I have not heard the name of the hon. Member used in any information that has been conveyed to me upon the subject.
§ MR. O'KELLY
Mr. Speaker, I shall also take the liberty, with your permission, in consequence of the answer of the right hon. Gentleman, to ask him if he has had any notification from me or any communication from me in reference to this matter during my detention, in regard to the "no rent" manifesto?
§ MR. SEXTON
I also was a signatory to the "no rent" manifesto. I wish to know if my name was mentioned to the right hon. Gentleman?
No name of any of the hon. Gentlemen who have spoken has been separately mentioned in any intimation. [Mr. WARTON: Separately?] Well, it must be separately, must it not? But I am bound to say I have heard statements which appeared to me to include them. [Cries of "Name, name!"]
§ MR. DILLON
I can tell the right hon. Gentleman and this country that if my name was included, it was without my authority, knowledge, or consent.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
I beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman from whom he has received the statements?
The statements which I have received have been statements from Members of this House; and it will be for those Members of this House, one of whom I believe is not in his place now—perhaps the most important of them—to consider when they, or whether they, shall make declarations in relation to the subject-matter to which I have referred. In the meantime, I stand, in the face of the House, upon the declaration I have made, that we have had voluntarily tendered to us information with regard to the intentions and views of Irish Members, under the present circumstances of Ireland, which has led us to the judgment we have formed, and by that judgment we will stand.
§ MR. GIBSON
Mr. Speaker, I beg to ask the Prime Minister, if he means to convey that the hon. Member for the 104 City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) was one of the Members to whom he refers?
After what I have stated, and after the reference which I have made to the absence of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, I shall give no further answer.
Mr. J. LOWTHER and Mr. ARTHUR ARNOLD rose together. [Cries of "Lowther!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
, interposing, said, he understood that the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) rose to Order.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
That is so, Sir. I wish to ask you whether an hon. Member has any privilege or right, after a Question has been put and answered, to put a further Question on the same subject?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I am not able to say until I hear what the Question is. At the same time, I have to say this—that it is, however, undoubtedly, within the province of a Minister of the Crown, if he should think fit, to desire that Notice be given of a Question, or to decline to answer it in the public interest.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
I was only about to ask the right hon. Gentleman if, for the purpose of removing a misapprehension, he would state what was the nature of the communication to which he has referred?
I have been endeavouring distinctly to convey that, in my opinion, it is more dignified and more just to leave it to hon. Members of this House, who either are present, or will shortly be present, in this House, to make their own declarations upon that subject, rather than that those declarations should be conveyed to the House second-hand. What we are responsible for is the judgment we have formed upon the information tendered us; and as regards any explanation with regard to the materials of that judgment, I should think that common courtesy to those hon. Gentlemen dictates, on my part, that I should leave them, in the first instance at any rate, to be their own spokesmen.
§ MR. GIBSON
I have only one more Question, Sir, which I will take the liberty of asking the Prime Minister. He just now refreshed his recollection by reading a Memorandum, and I have to ask him if the communication he has referred to was oral or in writing?
I must say that I think when references of this kind are made, Gentlemen ought to know what they are talking about. I held in my hand a Memorandum on a totally different subject, the purport of which I was endeavouring to gather at the same time. I have to say that I shall give no further answer.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
In relation to the Questions which have just come from the Front Opposition Bench, I beg to give Notice that I will ask whether, in the "no rent" manifesto, it was not expressly declared that, on the restoration of Constitutional government in Ireland, the "no rent" manifesto, would be withdrawn, and would cease to operate; and, if I am in Order, I would ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman the late Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Gibson), in regard to the Question he has just put, whether he does not consider that that Question impugns the honour of the Gentlemen who signed the "no rent" manifesto, and whether he ought not to withdraw such imputations?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member puts a Question to the right hon. Gentleman which does not refer to a Bill or a Motion before the House, and, therefore, cannot be put.