§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I think the House is aware, Sir, why, in the absence of the two foremost men who sit upon this side of the House—men on whom has fallen not only the weight of public sorrow, but that of private grief—the task has devolved upon me to bring to the attention of the House this grave matter. I have much need to ask the indulgence of the House in the endeavour to discharge the difficult duty at a time when I feel, I am bound to say, more than usually unequal to it. I think, Sir, that upon this sad and solemn day, on which you—attended, I believe, by a majority of the Members of this House—have paid a signal tribute to the memory of a noble and generous life, which was lost in the service of his Queen and of his country—I believe, Sir, that on this day Her Majesty's Government would ill respond to the sentiments of this House if they approached this momentous subject in any other than a sober and a chastened spirit. I believe that these times, and those to come after us, will regard with respect and with admiration the temper in which this nation has confronted the blow, which it has felt to be not only a public calamity, but a national disgrace. And those, Sir, who are responsible for the conduct of affairs in England have only to imitate the example of her people in that dignified self-restraint, remote alike from the temper of revenge, from the spirit of panic, and from the impulses of passion. The task which we have before us is to heal a great and desperate wound; and, if I mistake not, there never was a moment so favourable as the present for that healing process. I believe that the sentiment of the Three Kingdoms under the rule of the Queen never beat more in unison than they do beat now in mutual sympathy with the same sentiment and a common sorrow. So far as I know, I think there can be none so unjust or wicked enough to doubt the sincerity of the indignation of the Irish people at a crime which has sullied their soil. All sorts and conditions of men in that country—without distinction of Party or of creed—have combined together to denounce this atrocious deed 463 and its authors; and this House, I believe, has faithfully represented the spirit of the nation when, in the dark eclipse by which we are overshadowed, the din of controversy has for a time been hushed, and the clash of contending parties has been suspended. Sir, if ever there was a time when we could approach any Irish question with a temperate and wise spirit—questions which have often been the battle-field of discord and contest—on which we can approach them in a spirit of conciliation and goodwill—I believe that time is to-night. Between the Irish nation and the people and the Government of the United Kingdom there is, and there can be, no quarrel. That the heart of the mass of the Irish people is sound, the voice that comes to us now from every Province of that land amply testifies. But we must not subject ourselves to any illusions in this matter. The deed at which we shudder to-day is not of an isolated character. Though the body of Ireland is sound, there is a fearful plague-spot upon it. I firmly believe that the Irish, no less than the English, nation desires that that plague-spot should be removed. There is, Sir, a cancerous sore in Ireland. The House will anticipate what it is of which I am about to speak, what it is that corrodes and corrupts Ireland's healthy frame. It is the sore which springs from the baneful venom of secret societies and unlawful combinations. To that foul disease it is necessary that the surgeon's knife should be applied. We have to cauterize and to extirpate it; and it is to that most serious subject that I have to ask the attention of the House to-night. It is not necessary that I should attempt any laboured proof of the existence of this pernicious evil. This poison that courses through the veins of the Irish social system is revealed in its effects. It breaks out into deeds which are alien altogether to the nature and genius of the Irish people—a people generous, warm-hearted, impulsive; excitable, perhaps, but who are not barbarous, nor cruel, nor savage in their nature. If that be so, what is the history of these midnight outrages and these daylight assassinations, these murders of undefended women and noble men? That is not the work of the mass of the Irish nation. They shrink from such deeds with horror, with dismay, aye, and what is still worse, with terror. 464 These felon and miscreant deeds are the work of secret gangs, of nocturnal conspiracies, of hired assassins. It is with these foul excrescences upon the Irish nation, which,like a mildew'd ear,Blasts its wholesome brother,that we have to deal, and to them I have to call the attention of the House to-night. It is these things which have brought us to the sorrow and shame which is upon us to-day; and with them it is the duty of all of us to grapple; and I think and believe that the Irish people and their Representatives will feel that to them, foremost of all persons, that duty belongs. The lot has fallen upon me of laying the views of Her Majesty's Government upon this subject before the House. It is not a grateful task; but in these days of difficulty and peril every man must perform, as well as he can, the duty which may devolve upon him, and I hope I shall have the patience and indulgence of the House. I regret the absence to-night, not only of those right hon. Friends to whom I have already alluded, but also that of another hon. Friend—the present Chief Secretary for Ireland. He is unable, from causes well known to the House, to be present here to-night. I wish to say that he has gone to Ireland with the spirit of a man who knows that the post of difficulty and danger is the place of honour. He has gone to Ireland with the same spirit which animated the noble breast which you, Sir, have assisted in laying in the grave to-day; and Lord Frederick Cavendish has bequeathed to his Successor that flag of conciliation and of peace which was intrusted to him by the Government. But I shall best discharge the duty which has fallen upon me if I endeavour, as plainly and as simply as possible, to lay before the House the nature of the evils with which we have to deal, and the remedies which the Government are prepared to recommend to the House to adopt for them. I have said that, in our judgment, the great source and origin of these mischiefs is to be found in those secret societies and unlawful combinations which have made the operation of the ordinary law insufficient for the protection of life and property and the punishment of crime; and that statement will constitute the Preamble of the Bill which I shall ask 465 leave to introduce. The first and the greatest of all evils in society is insecurity in the punishment of crime. Everybody knows that there exists a terrorism, a state of terror in Ireland, which has prevented juries from acting upon the evidence placed before them and according to their true convictions. That is the first evil with which we propose to deal, for such a state of things as that is calculated to undermine the very foundations of society. The ordinary juryman—we can hardly wonder, we can, perhaps, hardly blame him—wants the firmness to meet the pistol which is levelled at his back, the dagger which is levelled at his breast, the rifle which is fired into his house by night. We cannot allow justice to be paralyzed in this way; we cannot allow the retribution for crime to be baffled and defeated in this manner. [Laughter from the Home Rule Benches.] I hear laughter from certain quarters of the House; but, Mr. Speaker, this is no longer a laughing matter; it is a most serious one—one of the most serious that this House could be called upon to consider. The main cause of crime is the expectation of impunity—an expectation which in Ireland, at this moment, is too well founded—an impunity which is founded upon terrorism and its consequences. That being so, on those occasions and in those parts of Ireland in which it is impossible to find tribunals which can do justice and secure the punishment of crime, it will be necessary to find some body that shall have the firmness and authority to assert the law and lead to its just execution. The Government have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to create in Ireland for those occasions and in those places in which the ordinary law cannot operate a special tribunal. Then arises the difficult question—how is that tribunal to be constituted? Where are you to find the person capable of bearing so great a burden, so heavy a responsibility, and who will inspire confidence in the country? [Mr. HEALY: Hear, hear‡] In 1833, on the occasion of the Tithe War, when a condition of things arose very similar to the present, the Parliament of that day erected military tribunals. The Government have considered that solution of the difficulty, and have rejected the idea. It has been suggested that tribunals of this character might be 466 formed of persons gathered here and there, either from Ireland or from England, or from inferior stations; but, on consideration, we believe that a tribunal so constituted could not bear so heavy a responsibility. Well, where are we to look for a tribunal which could give confidence, and which could bear this burden? The Government have come to the conclusion that this responsibility could be nowhere cast except upon the highest and most responsible persons—the guardians of the law in Ireland. The Judges of the land, as a body, are the only persons who have the knowledge, who possess the authority, which is adequate to bear such a responsibility. I admit that it is an arduous and invidious—it may be, a dangerous—duty. [An hon. MEMBER: No‡] But, whether it be so or not, in my opinion, it is necessary to redress the balance of justice; if it is necessary to secure the safety of the State, we have a right to appeal with confidence to the patriotism of the Judges of Ireland. Indeed, I hardly like even to suggest, if Parliament were of opinion that that was a proper tribunal, that there would be no disinclination to accept responsibility; and if, in these days, any man in a public situation declined responsibility, why, then, we may indeed despair of the future of Ireland. Well, that being the nature of the special tribunal, we propose that, where the Lord Lieutenant is of opinion that a just and impartial trial cannot be had of persons charged with the following offences—treason, murder, attempt to kill, or with other crimes of aggravated violence, and attacks upon dwelling-houses—the Lord Lieutenant may, out of the body of Judges of the Supreme Court, appoint a Special Commission, in the first instance, consisting of three Judges. The Lord Lieutenant will be at liberty, of course, to select—probably from a rota—and send a direct Commission of three Judges. The Court will sit without a jury. They will decide the questions both of law and of fact, and their judgment shall be unanimous. Well, then, in order to give every security and confidence to this tribunal, we give in all these cases an appeal to the Court of Criminal Cases Reserved—I believe that is what it is called in Ireland—at all events, it is a body consisting of the residue of the Judges of the Supreme Court. I believe that the ordinary 467 quorum of that Court is five Judges, and upon the appeal the judgment will be by a majority of the Court; so that you will see that no man can be convicted, under these circumstances, without the assent of six Judges—three in the Court below, and three in the Court above. Well, we have another security. There will be an official shorthand writer, and the notes will go to the Court above; but the Court above may, if they think fit, hear other evidence and call other witnesses; so that, in point of fact, at their discretion, they may have a rehearing of the case, and thereupon the Court above may either affirm the sentence of the Court below or they may alter the sentence—that is to say, in the way of diminution and not of increase. There are other details with reference to that Court which I need not enter into now; but I may mention that, of course, Parliament will be asked to provide a proper remuneration for the work cast upon the Judges in this matter. Now, we saw ourselves compelled to seek for a special tribunal in these extraordinary circumstances, and we have endeavoured to find the best, the strongest, and the most impartial Court that we thought we could provide. That is the first part of our Bill. It is the part which is intended to secure the punishment of crime, which has, to a great degree, ceased to exist in consequence of the terrorism exercised on juries. Now I come to the second part of the Bill, and that I will describe as a provision not to punish crime, but to prevent crime, to anticipate the action of the criminal. These provisions are meant to defeat—if we can, or rather, I would say, to defeat, as we intend—the plots of those secret societies and their agents, those black conspiracies, those murderous deeds, which, as perhaps everyone knows, are prepared in nocturnal conclaves, which take place in the lairs, I may call them, rather than the homes, of these savage men. It is necessary to have the means of detection before the deed is done; and the clauses I am now going to refer to are not to be of general operation, but are to be in operation in districts which are to be proclaimed for the purposes of this Act. They will not be the proclaimed districts which belong to the former Act; but they will be proclaimed specially with reference to this Act. 468 The first of these provisions is one, I think, that the House will see is most necessary. It is a power to search for the secret apparatus of murder, for the daggers, for the documents, for the threatening letters, for the crape masks which are hidden, and which the police cannot reach; and unless the police have the power to enter houses and look for them the persons who make use of these apparatus possess practical immunity. This clause of search—which will be pointed directly to these secret societies, these unlawful combinations—will be practically the clause of the Act of 1870. The search will take place by day or by night; and by night it will be more necessary. It will be under the guarantee of the warrant of the Lord Lieutenant, in that case granted for a certain period. It will not be granted by the local magistrate, but by the Lord Lieutenant; and there will be the further security that it can be executed only by the Inspector or Sub-Inspector of the constables who assist him. The next provision for the detection of criminals, for the prevention of crime, is a clause for the arrest of persons who can give no account of themselves and are found prowling about at night. There will be a power to take these persons before a Justice, and the Justice, if not satisfied, will remand the case to the Petty Sessions. If a person can give no account of himself, then he will be guilty of an offence under this Act; and I will ask the House to bear this in mind, because the offences under this Act will come within the powers of the summary jurisdiction, to which I will later refer. Well, another power, which is very necessary, and which will operate by day as well as by night, is the arrest of strangers. It is well known that these deadly deeds, these murderous attacks, are not made by the residents in the place. They are not made by the men in the counties. The men are hired from a distance to do these deeds. They are not known to the police or to anybody about. They come to commit murder; they disappear as they have come. We propose to take power to arrest such persons and call upon them to give an account of themselves. There is another power which we think it is necessary to take. It is well known to this House that much of this deadly work is performed by foreign agents. We know that abroad there is 469 open advocacy of murder, of arson, of explosions of dynamite. We know that subscription lists are open for the assassination of men in public stations by name. Well, every country has a right to judge of the terms upon which it will admit foreigners within its borders. It is not for the emissaries of O'Donovan Rossa that the hospitality of England is offered. In my opinion, it is necessary for the public safety that a power of removing foreigners who are dangerous to the safety of society here should be taken in respect of Ireland. The exercise of that right is one of which no nation has any title to complain; and we propose, therefore, in respect of Ireland, to revive the Alien Act. These are the measures of prevention by which we propose to anticipate crime and forestall the foul deeds of criminals. Now, there is another root of this evil with which we must deal, and that is the instigation, public and private, of these criminal practices. Before these secret societies are formed the soil must be prepared in which they are planted. There must be pabulum in the minds of the people on which they are to feed; and we consequently must have some method for dealing with the modes by which this evil is created. Now, of course, the most important point in this matter is that of unlawful associations—those secret societies, those illegal combinations from which that evil springs. And we propose, first of all—and that is the most important part of the measure—that they shall be dealt with summarily, and membership in and participation in the acts of these secret societies will be an offence under the Act. The next thing which, in our opinion, it is necessary to deal with are offences such as riots, which cause intimidation, such as aggravated assaults, assaults on constables, process-servers, and other ministers of the law. These are likewise to be summarily dealt with, so that the punishment of those offences may be secured. Then I come to one, which is a most important element in restoring the operation of the law. We must deal with the question of intimidation. There will be in this Bill a clause—a very wide clause—in regard to intimidation, for which, also, the punishment will be summary, and I trust it will be found an efficient clause for that which has done more to demoralize society in Ire- 470 land probably than anything else. Then there must be, if tranquillity is to be restored in Ireland, a power to deal with unlawful meetings, which are dangerous to the public peace and the public safety. Power will be given to the Lord Lieutenant to act in this matter; and offences against the orders which he will be authorized to make will also be summarily dealt with. There is yet one other fertile means of debauching and demoralizing the public mind with reference to these crimes; and as we complain that in foreign States there should be newspapers inciting to crime, so we are determined that the mind of the people of Ireland shall not be poisoned by these incitements to crime. There will be a clause in the Act giving the Government power to forfeit newspapers of such a character; and it will be accompanied also, after the newspaper has been forfeited, by power to take caution money, and make the newspaper enter into recognizances not to repeat the offence. Now, these are the three principal heads of the Bill. First of all, security for punishment by a special tribunal; secondly, the provisions to prevent and anticipate the commission of crime to which I have referred; thirdly, provisions to suppress and repress the instigation to crime. Then there are some general provisions which are of substantial, but of minor, importance. There will be power given to Justices to inquire into crime, even where the criminal has escaped; there will be power to Justices to compel the attendance of witnesses who are about to abscond; there will be power to the Lord Lieutenant to appoint such additional police as he may think necessary in any particular district at the charge of the locality. There will also be compensation for murder and maiming of cattle, which will be levied on the district in which the offences are committed. Then, what is to give vitality to these provisions is the summary jurisdiction. I have pointed out that, owing to the terrorism which has been made to operate on the minds of juries, it has been necessary to have a special tribunal for the greater classes of crime; but with respect to those offences which may be regarded as in the second category, it is equally necessary to have a speedy and certain punishment; and, therefore, we propose to make the offences in this Act 471 to which I have referred, punishable summarily, and the Court of Summary Jurisdiction will consist of two stipendiary magistrates. [Ironical "Hear, hear!"from Mr. HEALY, and counter cheers.] There is one thing, also, that we hope in some cases—in most or many cases—it may not be necessary to resort to a departure altogether from the ordinary course of the law; but everybody knows that a case might be tried with more effect by a jury in a different county from that in which the crime was committed, and that the terrorism might be less. But I will reserve the question for further consideration whether those alterations which it may be wise to adopt in the jury system shall be included in this or in a separate Bill. Well, this measure is, of course, an extraordinary measure. [Ironical "Hear, hear!" from Mr. HEALY, and counter cheers.] It is devised for the purpose of meeting an extraordinary state of things. It is necessary that its duration should be such as to give a reasonable hope—I desire to say more than a reasonable hope, a probable certainty—that within that period it may extirpate and destroy this foul evil, and the duration of this Bill which the Government propose is three years. [Mr. HEALY: For ever.] Sir, these are the provisions of the Bill which I have to ask the leave of the House to introduce. I know that the remedy which we propose is severe—[Mr. HEALY: No, no!]—but the evil to which it is applied is one which is most grave. We have endeavoured to take every possible precaution in the Bill that the innocent shall not suffer by it. Sir, there may be, and there must be, under a system of this description, hardship and inconvenience to a community to which it is applied. That is a necessary—that is an inevitable evil. When any society suffers under some dangerous contagious disease, the measures of quarantine that you are obliged to adopt in order to stop its spread, and, if possible, to stamp out the disease, necessarily cause inconvenience and hardship. But if we mean to do anything, we must, regardless of hardship and inconvenience, endeavour to get rid of this foul miasma, which is felt, though it is not seen. We are not, I think, asking too much of the body of the Irish nation that they should endure these evils for the sake of self-preserva- 472 tion. I would ask any man in this House, I would ask any man in Ireland, whether he would not have endured the inconvenience of a domiciliary visit if he thought it could have averted the catastrophe which we all deplore to-day? No doubt, we are obliged to place immense responsibility and great authority—if you please, almost unlimited authority—in the hands of the Chief of the Executive in Ireland; but I think I shall say, with the general assent of this House—aye, and with the general assent of the Irish people—that if there be any man to whom it were safe to intrust such authority, it would be to the high-minded, the just, the firm, yet gentle hand of Earl Spencer. Sir, these are the measures which it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government to propose. It is a satisfaction to think that they are to be followed at the earliest period by measures of a different character, dealing with another difficulty in Ireland in respect of arrears of rent. But, for the present, we have a plain duty before us. I have to thank the House for the indulgence they have extended to me. I am deeply conscious of the imperfect manner in which I have been able to accomplish this task. Such as it is, I have laid before the House, as plainly and as clearly as I could, the proposals of the Government; and I have only to ask for them from the House of Commons that which I am sure they will receive—a calm, an impartial, and a grave consideration.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for the prevention of Crime in Ireland."—(Secretary Sir William Harcourt.)
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
Sir, I feel that at the present moment it is desirable that our observations on the statement made by the Home Secretary, and on the description he has given of the Bill which the Government propose to introduce, should be as brief as possible; because when we have the provisions of the Bill before us we shall have a better opportunity of making discriminating remarks upon them. Everyone must feel that it is a matter of sad necessity that some alteration should be made in the ordinary state of our law to meet the grave emergency which we have before us. We regret when we ever have to alter our law in order to make the administration of justice more 473 severe. But when the occasion calls for it, this House and Parliament have never shrunk from adopting measures which we have found and believed to be necessary; and I am quite sure that the state of Ireland at the present time is such that we shall not be wanting in the courage that is required for the application of appropriate remedies. This only I would venture to say—two things I would say. If we are to depart from the ordinary law, let us take care that the departure is of such a character as shall be effectual for its purpose. If we are to alter the law at all, let us take care so to alter it as to meet the evils with which we have to deal, and to meet them efficiently. I do not say whether in all points the statement of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and the Bill which he has described to us, do come up entirely to the requirements of the case. But, undoubtedly, he has placed before us many of the evils with which we have to contend; and it is fair to say that the remedies he has proposed are, at all events, intended and designed to meet them. The second observation I have to make is this—that it is of no use at all, but the contrary of what is useful, if, having passed a strong measure, you do not use it efficiently. In all these cases, fidelity and courage in the administration is more than half the battle; and I would urgently impress upon the Government the importance, when this Bill, or whatever Bill may be passed, shall have become law, of administering it with a serious consideration of the importance of firmness and decision. That is a very different thing from severity. I remember being told that I advocated severity of legislation, because I urged that the legislation, to be of use, should be used efficiently. I deny altogether that this is severe. I believe that true cruelty and severity consists in a slack and uncertain administration of the law. The first object you have to aim at is certainty of punishment and certainty of conviction. You will not obtain that merely by altering your Jury Law, or making other alterations, important and necessary as they are, unless you are so determined to administer the law as both to put it properly into execution and, above all, to convince the people that it is intended to put it into execution; because it is a secret feeling which exists—I fear in too 474 many parts of Ireland—that there is not sufficient firmness or determination on the part of the Government which leads to the commission of these crimes. My own belief is, that uncertainty and dread, demoralizing the country, above all things prevents the restoration of peace and order. We have to remember, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman said at the beginning of his observations, that, while we deplore, both as a national calamity and as a private grief, the terrible blow that was struck last week we have to remember, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman reminded us, that that is but one of a series of crimes with which this country has been horrified during the last two years, and we cannot draw a distinction between evils of the one class and of the other. In some of these cases that have been brought under the notice of the country, we have seen men who have been endeavouring to do their duty as administrators of justice, or as performing their part in the social system, murdered because of the courage with which they desired to execute the duties which were laid upon them. We have seen, also, that which is one of the saddest of sights—men of the humbler class, striving to be honest in their dealings, and courageously to resist the threats of those among whom they lived, subjected to cruel outrages, in some respects even worse than death. These are things which the people of England ought not to tolerate, and I am certain will not tolerate. Although we may be desirous to give the Government, and are desirous to give the Government of the day, all the support that we can give in the discharge of their Executive duties, and to give them such powers as they may convince us are necessary for the exercise of their authority, we must hold them responsible for the proper use of those powers, and the proper discharge of those duties which are assigned to them. I abstain intentionally from anything like detailed criticism upon any portion of this scheme. I do not know whether others may think it right to go into them now; but the Bill, I hope, will be placed immediately before us. It is of great importance that it should be laid upon the Table and introduced to-night. It is of great importance that it should be proceeded with as rapidly as possible; and I will conclude by merely asking the Govern- 475 ment on what day they propose to take the second reading?
MR. STAVELEY HILL
asked whether the action of the new Court would be retrospective? ["Order, order!"]
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, that whatever they might think of the character of this Bill when they saw it in print, he apprehended there would be scarcely any Member of the House who would be disposed to complain of it on the ground that it was inadequate to the occasion. He did not pretend to be well versed in the history of coercive legislation in Ireland, but believed that never in the history of that country had a measure more stringent and severe—["Oh!"]—been introduced than that which was now submitted by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. ["Oh!"] In answer to the exclamations of hon. Gentlemen opposite, he wished the House to understand most distinctly that he was not in the slightest degree complaining of the severity of it. Nothing, in his opinion, could be too severe to deal with the awful position of Ireland at the present time. He desired to reecho the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition that everything depended upon the determination which was displayed by the Government to use it; and it was because he was afraid there might be some doubt in Ireland, and some doubt, perhaps, in the minds of a certain section of politicians in this country, as to that determination on the part of the Government, that he had ventured to rise on this occasion. He had seen it stated in the leading journal of the day—The Times—["Oh!"]—he did not know whether hon. Gentlemen opposite were prepared to dispute that The Times was recognized as the leading journal of the day—[Cries of "Yes!" and "No!"]—be that as it might, he had seen it stated that there had been intrigues from within the Cabinet against the late Chief Secretary in the execution of his duties in Ireland. If this Bill was to be carried out with determination there must be no more intrigues within the Cabinet to hinder the performance of the duties undertaken by the hon. Gentleman now responsible for the conduct of affairs in Ireland. He desired to put a question to the two right hon. Gentlemen sitting side by side opposite. He remembered the statement made by the right hon. 476 Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and supported by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, that "force was no remedy." It was the belief of many that that statement had largely contributed—had contributed, probably, more than any other statement made by any public man in England, to the horrible state of things that existed at the present moment. Did they now adhere to that opinion or recant it?
§ MR. CHAPLIN
The President of the Board of Trade says "Hear, hear‡" Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman that he recants it?
§ MR. CHAPLIN
The President of the Board of Trade said "No." If, under these circumstances, he adhered to that opinion, he thought the right hon. Gentleman was bound to state to the House, in order that there might be no mistake, so long as he remained a Member of the Cabinet, how and on what grounds he justified his support of one of the most stringent measures ever introduced into Parliament. They ought to have some statement from the right hon. Gentleman on this point, so that there might be no mistake in Ireland as to the opinion of the Government at the present time. He was much mistaken if the former opinion expressed by Members of the present Government would not do much to interfere with the efficiency of the measure now introduced.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
Sir, I do not know whether my right hon. Friends intend to reply to the question which has just been put to them or not; but, at all events, before they do so, I will make a few remarks. Well, if they do reply, I say force is no remedy. Force is a strait waistcoat, but it is no remedy. It is an absolute necessity very often, and it was never more necessary than at the present moment. The hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) made a remark about myself; and, though it would be better that personal matters should be avoided, I am bound to take notice of it. The hon. Member is apparently under the impression that I was hindered in the administration of my duties by my Colleagues. We did entertain differences of opinion as to what should be done, and that is why I left them; but I am bound to state that I have 477 never been thwarted in one single act upon which the Cabinet were agreed. If there were any faults in that administration they probably lie more in myself than in anyone else. But I believe that, as the truth becomes known, in so far as anyone may care to inquire into it, these faults will not be found, considering the circumstances, to have been great. Now, with regard to this measure—which is, unfortunately, far more important than any personal matters—my right hon. and learned Friend who brought it in knows very well that I can only speak with the strongest possible approval of its general principles. I am glad that such a measure is brought in; I am glad that the Government is determined to make it their first and chief business to pass it without delay. I, like the right hon. Gentleman opposite, should like to see the exact wording of the Bill; but, judging from the statement—the very clear statement—of my right hon. and learned Friend, it seems to me very much to meet the difficulties, great as they are. There is one point in which I am anxious to see the exact words, and that is that part of the Bill which deals with intimidation and incitement to intimidation. My right hon. and learned Friend said that the worst symtom of the disease now before us—and said it with truth—is the prevalence and power of secret societies. But I must repeat what I have said in the House, that, hideous as are these secret societies, in some respects open intimidation is worse. I am anxious to see that the actual wording is sufficiently strong against open intimidation. There is no doubt that this is a very stringent measure. The hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire said it was the most stringent measure ever brought forward.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
My impression is that the hon. Member is right; and I believe that the time has come when, for the sake of liberty, we must have a strong measure.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
I hope that no hon. Member, after what has passed to-day, will provoke me into any retort. None of us could have expected to see what we have seen to-day—a nation mourning in a way in which our souls have hardly mourned before. I thought to myself, as I saw those enormous 478 crowds, all under the influence of strong emotion, as I saw the sorrowing relations, and especially that grief so deep, yet so nobly borne, almost like an angel—the grief of one to whom I can hardly allude—I thought to myself, what will happen of this? I believe good will happen. I believe that the conscience of England has been roused, and that there is a determination that Ireland shall no longer be terrorized by threats of murder or by these threats of lifelong misery; and I doubt whether anything but so striking and appalling an event could have thoroughly roused the conscience of England, and, I trust, of Ireland also. We have had many murders before, and to the men and to the women who have been murdered, and to their sorrowing relations, those murders have been as bad as this has been. Now, at last, men of stainless character, of high public service, against whom there could be no reproach, have been murdered, and the consciences of men have woke up to what murder is in a way in which they never woke before.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
We must remember this, and that is the reason why we must have this very stringent measure. These are the first political assassinations that we have had in our country for centuries.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
Perceval was assassinated by a man out of private pique—for private revenge. These are the first assassinations that we have had for centuries upon the ground, the avowed ground, of a political movement. Now, do not let hon. Members opposite suppose that I think they instigated these assassinations. But I do think that if they had set their faces as they now set their faces against these murders, we should not have had these murders. And what I say is this—by the side of the fact that these are the first and the only political assassinations that we have had for centuries, and that we have to search our history through to find out that there were any like them—I say that this is the first political agitation conducted by men of station, and, as we should have supposed, of character, in which there has been in- 479 citement to private crime, incitement to the ruin of a man, to the intent that no one should buy of him, that no one should sell to him, that no one should speak to him, that his life should be made one of wretched and continuous misery. Never was there such an instrument made use of in a political agitation before. Well, there are men who hardly know how to draw the line. There are men who say—"Yes; make a man's life absolutely miserable because he does not do what you think he ought to do—what you choose to think he should do. That is acknowledged to be right. We go further, and end his life altogether." There is no cause for great surprise that that should be so. That is the reason why it is necessary we should now have so stringent an Act as this, when the whole principles of liberty are at stake, to contend against these evils with which no terms can be kept upon any grounds whatever. If we do not pass such a measure as this, if we do not put a stop to political agitation, conducted as has been this agitation, there is an end of the freedom of the English and Irish people, and we shall be the slaves of any powerful and dictatorial and unscrupulous minority which can gather men to assist them to terrorize their neighbours into doing what they conceive ought to be done in public measures, and ought to be done in social relations. And, therefore, I am not surprised that the Government, seeing how the country has been woke up by these results of the teaching of late years, seeing that the people of Great Britain, and, I believe to a great extent, the people of Ireland also, are determined that this shall not last, that there shall be liberty, that there shall not be this terrorism, have resolved that an Act very stringent must be passed and must be carried out. I am glad that this Bill has been brought forward; and I end by saying what I said at the beginning, that, although this amount of force—and I do not know in our history whether we have ever brought such force to bear, or ever had so much occasion for it—this amount of force is absolutely necessary, it is not in itself a remedy for the evils of Ireland. But this measure must be passed first. There must be nothing to anticipate or take the place of stopping murder or terrorism; this must be done before anything else, and 480 upon this Bill being passed, if there are still grievances, though we have done much to relieve them, and if there are still helps which might be given to Ireland, I trust that the House will be willing to give them, and I am quite sure the country will support them in doing so.
§ MR. JOHN BRIGHT
Sir, the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) has put a question to me and to my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain). I rise to answer it, because the quotation which he made from a speech delivered at Birmingham was not spoken by my right hon. Friend, but by me. The hon. Member placed great reliance, no doubt, upon what he called a leading journal. I must advise him, when he undertakes to criticize the observations of Members of this House in a speech, that he should accurately have read the speech, and that he should have understood it. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) has quoted that which the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire alluded to, and has, I think, adopted it. I am ready to repeat it; and if the hon. Member would turn to the speeches which I have made upon this question, he would discover—and if he has read them and understood them, he must have discovered—that I have always said what I said then, that force is not a remedy for the discontent existing in a country, arising from causes which are such to produce discontent.
§ MR. JOHN BRIGHT
If the hon. Member has said that I have said that force is not a remedy against force, he would have entirely misquoted me. What I said was that, with regard to grievances of which I believed the Irish people had a just right to complain, force was not a remedy.
§ MR. JOHN BRIGHT
Of course. Force was no remedy for the grievances of which I was speaking. I will say that immediately after making that speech, or very soon afterwards, I was a Member of an Administration that proposed a very strong measure of repression for Ireland. It was clear, I think, not only from what I said, but from my subsequent conduct, that I made no reference to the question of violence in Ireland when I said that force was no 481 remedy. It was no remedy for the discontent of Ireland, and that was true; because not only the Administration sitting here, but Gentlemen on that side of the House, have all along admitted that whatever force you applied to put down violence or intimidation in Ireland, at the same time measures were required to allay the discontent of the Irish people. Well, so far in answer to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lincolnshire; and I hope that he will not trouble the House with a repetition of that quotation. I will make one observation about the measure which my right hon. and learned Friend has explained to the House. This Bill, whatever its severity, is directed in no degree against any innocent people in Ireland. There may be cases, and it is impossible not to feel that it is likely that there will be cases, in which some innocent persons may suffer. But the innocent in Ireland who wish to be innocent, and who wish the law to be obeyed, and who wish the country to be tranquil, will, I think, be willing to submit to such inconvenience as the Bill may inflict upon them. They will be amply compensated if the Bill has any effect in bringing about a settlement of the mind of Ireland, and that tranquillity which we all desire. The Bill is a Bill aimed not at political discussion, not at political opponents; it is a Bill aimed against crimes which in every part of the world are held to be crimes, and for the suppression and prevention of which Law and Governments exist. And I maintain, without exaggerating—I will use no words of exaggeration with regard to the present condition of Ireland—I say that if I were an Irishman, if I were a tenant farmer, honestly wishing to live by my industry, and to see the laws obeyed, that I should rather welcome the passing of a Bill even like this, if it would bring about a state of the country in which myself, and my neighbours and friends, and the farmers all over the country, could pursue their industrial avocations without the molestations to which they have been subjected. My own impression is, that the Bill as it will work—as I hope it will work if it should pass—will be found a measure of extensive and universal protection to all those persons in Ireland who wish to obey the law, and who wish the population and condition of Ireland to be as satisfactory as I hope some day 482 it may be—as are the population and condition of England and Scotland. It is with that hope that this Bill has been introduced, and from no love of force—from no love of disturbing the minds of the people of Ireland; but for the sake of enabling all honest men in that country to co-operate with the Government and the Law in arresting the demoralization which exists, and putting an end to a violence which hon. Members in every part of the House are willing to admit is a shame and a disgrace to any Christian country.
§ MR. PARNELL
Sir, I wish to join in the expression of my feeling as to the temperateness which has characterized the public opinion of this country during the last few days in reference to the terrible event of last Saturday. But I regret that the character of that public opinion has not been shared by the framers of this Bill—a Bill which has been described by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) as one of a more stringent and sweeping character than has ever disgraced the annals of English coercive legislation in Ireland. Ireland abhors the crime of Saturday. Ireland abhors all crime. But I deny that because such a crime, or because these crimes have been committed by a few, that, after having tested the specific of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford—a specific by which he could not even save himself, and which he recommended some 12 or 14 months since with just as much confidence as he now recommended this new nostrum to the House—I deny that because these crimes have been committed you are entitled to place the lives and liberties of the people at the mercy of partizan and political Judges—of the stamp of Chief Justice May—whom you were compelled yourselves to direct to withdraw from the presidency at a trial, an important State and political trial, because you did not deem him fit to preside at that trial, which only involved a punishment at the outside of two years' light imprisonment to those who might be found guilty, and to intrust to that self-same Judge the right of judging in cases involving the lives of the persons in question. You repose this confidence in your Judges, each and every one of whom are partizans who have been chosen for their political services. You 483 then pass on to deal with the lesser class of offences; and these offenders are to be handed over to the Clifford Lloyds, the Major Bonds, the Sub-Inspector Smiths, et hoc genus omne. I do not deny that no Government has ever been pressed so much to step aside from the straight path, and I do not wonder that they have so stepped aside; but the result they cannot foresee, and we cannot be responsible for. You are about to enter upon a new and untried path, and you cannot tell what the result may be. We, who know the people of Ireland, believe that it will result in tenfold—aye, and a hundredfold—more disastrous failure than the failure we see before us; and that your confident Statesmen, when they have to come to this House again, at the end of 12 months, for, perhaps, more stringent, more determined, and more desperate coercion—if such a thing were possible—than the measure which has been explained to us to-night, will have once more to confess that England has not yet discovered the secret of that undiscoverable task—the task of the government of one nation by another.
§ MR. LEWIS
Sir, I think the House and the country will be satisfied that, at this early period, the treaty understood to have been made between the Government and the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) has been dissolved. Only a week ago we were told from the Benches opposite that we might except to receive a very important communication from the hon. Gentleman upon the circumstances and conditions upon which he was released from prison. We see tonight that the first result of the entire change of front on the part of Her Majesty's Government has dissolved and broken the compact which was entered into. I think the country will be well pleased that the alliance has come to this sudden and happy termination. I have only one remark to make on the present occasion, and that has reference to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). The right hon. Gentleman appears to be of opinion that there has been only one murder in Ireland, and the only prominent feature in his mind was the grievous tragedy of Saturday last. He stated that the conscience and the mind of England had been affected and touched by that great event. Why, Sir, that which we have been complaining 484 of from these Benches is that for months past, notwithstanding that most grievous offences have been committed against life and property; that notwithstanding that for months past offences have been constantly added to the roll of crime, the conscience of Her Majesty the Queen—Her Majesty's Government—was not, apparently, in the least affected by them. It is only when personal grief and personal relationships were touched, the Government mind was changed, and they thought fit to entirely change their whole policy. On the first day of the week we were told that the clôture and Rules of Procedure were far more important than protection of life and property in Ireland; and now, simply because two more murders have been added to the many scores of others which have taken place in Ireland during the last 18 months, the whole policy and conduct of events by Her Majesty's Government are to be altered. We are still without the declaration of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) which we expected to receive, and we have not heard the Head of the Government, who is in possession of the documents; but it is time we should be informed of what is the effect and scope of the treaty between the Government and the hon. Member for the City of Cork, which has been dissolved and broken to-night.
said, he agreed with what had fallen from the hon. Member who had just spoken. The Government had at last been aroused by the murder of Gentlemen of high birth; and while far more terrible murders—the murder of the two bailiffs who were tied together, and of defenceless women—were passed by, stronger legislation was now thought necessary. It would be an unhappy day if the principle was established that men in high positions were to be murdered before the Government would act. It was impossible that night to criticize the measure; but he wished to mention one or two points referred to by the Home Secretary. In the first place, he considered the proclamation of districts a complete mistake. It was like excluding crime by shutting one door and at the same time opening another; and he had always observed that when a district was proclaimed, the neighbouring district, though peaceful before, rapidly became disturbed, and had shortly to be pro- 485 claimed also. He had nothing to say against the stipendiary magistrates, who did their duty most faithfully and very well. The great mistake which had been made was in centralizing the authorities in Dublin Castle, and in ignoring the local magistrates of Ireland. He was aware that the late Chief Secretary would probably deny that assertion; but the fact was proved by the behaviour of the police, who referred their reports to Dublin Castle, and looked there for instructions, instead of to the local magistrates. They—the local magistrates—alone possessed local information, and they alone could assist the Government. He wished to mention one other matter, and to ask the Government whether they had any intention of dealing with those open societies which, putting on the mask of loyalty, were quite as dangerous to the peace of Ireland as the secret ones were?
§ MR. DILLON
Sir, it is a considerable time since I have obtruded myself on the attention of the House, and were it not for the character of the Bill which has been announced to us to-night I should not have made any remarks on the present occasion. But the character of this new Coercion Bill, and, I may add, the character of the bloodthirsty speech—[Cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member must be aware that an expression of that kind is unbecoming and un-Parliamentary.
§ MR. DILLON
Sir, I withdraw the word. The character of the Bill which has been announced for to-night, and the character of the speech by which it has been supported by the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, have induced me to rise in my place to make one or two observations. There is one remark which was let fall by the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, to which I would earnestly wish to draw the attention of the House, and, were it in my power, to draw the attention of the entire English people, and of the civilized world. It is that for the first time in the history of our race have political assassinations stained the annals of our country. It is true, and God knows it is true, and God knows there is no Englishman who feels that stain so bitterly, and with so keen a sense of humiliation, as I do, and that people whom I represent in this House. But let me direct the attention of the House 486 to the fact that that stain rests upon our political history after two years administration of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford; let them beware lest, if they send another man to carry out a similar Act, that that accursed stain may not again sully the page of Ireland's history. [Cries of "Oh!" and "Name!"] Mr. Speaker, I would ask the hon. Members to be fair to me, and to clearly understand my meaning. I do not exaggerate when I say that I would willingly and gladly have risked my own life to save the life of Lord Frederick Cavendish, or any other Englishman who came as he came to our country, with a generous spirit; and if I speak these words of warning, I speak them for the purpose of averting the disaster, rather than for the purpose of encouraging it. I will not waste the time of the House by calling attention to the provisions of this Bill. The Bill has been characterized by two Members of this House as the strongest and most severe that we ever had in Ireland. I ask the Members of this House, is it not a sense of shame rather than of exultation they ought to feel that, after 82 years of English government in Ireland, we are met here to-night to pass the strongest measure of coercion that was ever passed for Ireland? I would ask even the Conservative Party, do we not read in that fact the condemnation of English government in Ireland? Is it that the Irish people are savages, and are irreclaimable? ["Hear, hear."] What profit can you ever expect from governing a nation which nothing conciliates, and which nothing will subdue? You have tried your hand at coercion for 82 long years; you have passed 50 Coercion Bills; and to-night you are assembled here to pass a measure which is worse than all that have gone before. All I can say is, you are the most hopeful Assembly of men in this world if you believe that this Bill will do what 50 of its predecessors have failed to do. The Bill is stringent, and, let me add, stringent against everything except the crime which it was brought in to reach. I did not hear in the Home Secretary's statement one single provision which, if in force hitherto, would have saved the lives, or added to the chance of the lives, of the unfortunate gentlemen who fell in the Phoenix Park last Saturday night. I was reminded, when I listened to that speech, of the 487 words of Lord Cowper, the late Lord Lieutenant of Ireland—words of evil omen, which he used in describing the mission which he had come to Ireland to undertake. "Our mission," he said, "is to drive Irish discontent beneath the surface." Too well he succeeded in his mission. I am not ashamed to acknowledge in the face of the House that I, and the men who worked with me, strove to bring Irish discontent above the surface. I strove, and I strove honestly, to keep Irish discontent above the surface—by rough methods it may be, but not by assassination, and not by murder. ["Oh!"] I challenge any man in the House or in England to say that, either in public or in private, by hint or by abstention from denunciation, I have ever given the faintest encouragement to any injury to a human being, much less to murder. There are provisions in this Bill against unlawful meetings, there are provisions in it against speeches, there are provisions against newspapers, there are provisions against every channel by which the public feelings of the people might be unloaded or discharged. It is a curious thing, after hearing these provisions unfolded, that I should have received a telegram from Ireland stating that the placard by which we endeavoured to assist the Government in tracking the murderers of Lord Cavendish, and which we have caused to be posted in every village in Ireland, has been torn down by the police as a Land League placard, because it bore our names; and when the police were questioned by the parish priest of Doon, in the county of Limerick, as to the reason why they so acted, they answered that they did it under orders of Mr. Clifford Lloyd. Why is it that the provisions which I have enumerated are put into the Bill? Is it because Ireland has risen up as one man to denounce this crime? Is it because our national newspaper has appeared with a mourning border? [Derisive cries of "Oh, oh!"] I see nothing to jeer at in the fact that this organ of assassination, as you call it, has appeared with a mourning border, within which it declares that until the murderers are arrested the stain cannot be wiped off Ireland's honour. And lot me tell you that all the detectives in Dublin Castle cannot do more to bring these murderers to justice than that statement in United Ireland. 488 You talk of strengthening the law in Ireland. Will you strengthen the law in Ireland by making it more hateful to the people, by making combination to refuse evidence more strict and unbreakable than ever? The Home Secretary made one statement which is quite true. He said this assassination is an isolated act. [Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT: I beg pardon. I said it was not an isolated act.] Sir, in that case I must reverse my statement, and say that the assertion of the Home Secretary was not correct. It is an isolated act, and until you understand that it is an isolated act you are not in a position to deal with Irish crime. The fact that you make such a statement proves that you have not the knowledge which would enable you to deal with Irish crime. I know something of the Irish nature, and I know something of Irish crime. [Ironical cheers.] I say I do know something of Irish crime; and who is there that lives amongst the people of Ireland—who is there that understands the feeling of the Irish peasantry—who does not know something of Irish crime? Who is there that understands, or pretends to understand, the peasantry of Ireland who will say here, without stating a falsehood, that crime and outrage has not the sympathy of the Irish peasantry? I state that because I know it to be a fact. I have refused to denounce outrages in this House, and I wish to be honest and to tell you truthfully why I have done so. The reason is, my denunciations would have had as little effect on the mind of the peasantry of Ireland in their past temper as water has upon a duck's back. They would not have believed that I meant what I said. If I did, it might be said of me that I denounced the outrages in Ireland for the purpose of gaining English popularity. When I knew that my words were ineffectual, I told this House a year ago, before I went into prison, and I tell them again, if I were placed in a position to say to the peasantry of Ireland, "I will bring you justice, I will bring you protection from outrage," I would undertake to denounce outrage and crime throughout the length and breadth of Ireland. But I would not mislead the House or the people of England, not pretending that I or any other man can effectually denounce crime in Ireland until I am in a position to say to the Irish people that I bring protection with me, 489 I said awhile ago that murder was an isolated act. It is an act that the Irish peasantry or the populace of Dublin have no sympathy with. It is an act the Irish people all over the world have proved they have no sympathy with; and let me add, if I might institute the comparison, that there is more sorrow to-day for that one crime in the heart of Ireland than in the heart of this country. If you frame an Act which is calculated to deal with such crimes as this, I, for one, though it is a dangerous thing for an Irish Member to say, will give it no opposition in this House. So bitterly do I feel the humiliation which our country has suffered, so bitterly do I feel the frightful position in which we have been placed by that foul deed, and so highly do I appreciate the spirit in which the people of England have taken this blow, that I would offer no prolonged opposition to a Bill which really promised to deal with the crime of assassination. But this Bill is aimed at every expression of public opinion in Ireland. It is drawn with a view of prolonging the policy which has resulted in bringing the first political assassination in Irish history upon the stage. It is a Bill which, to my mind, is calculated to bring disaster upon disaster, and to land us in a condition of things for which no parallel can be found outside the Empire of Russia. It is a Bill which, if you pass it, will leave no place in Irish politics for any man who believes in Constitutional methods. It will make our task an impossible one. My Colleagues and myself will be forced to leave the House. You may rejoice in that, and be glad to get rid of us. There are many Members in this House who, I am sure, would rejoice if we were out of it; but there is no one who so heartily desires such a change as I do. I hate my present task. I do not love this House, and the sooner I am out of it the better shall I be pleased. It is a solemn and serious question which awaits your decision. Are you going to take up anew the policy of the late Lord Lieutenant and of his Chief Secretary—that policy which must result in driving political agitation underground? The question is a grave one, for the answer given to it may seriously affect the future of England as well as that of Ireland. Passing from this, I desire to direct attention to one point which has been overlooked both 490 by the Press of this country and by this House. In the carrying out of the last Coercion Act the police were very active. They were praised over and over again in the House by the late Chief Secretary. They directed their operations to meetings of women which were held for charitable purposes; prevented meetings of children; they burst into the houses of innocent people, and nothing, however harmless, escaped their scrutiny; but, I ask, where were the police on Saturday evening in the Phœnix Park? I put to you this solemn question, to which I think the public opinion of England ought to demand an answer. Either the late Chief Secretary (Mr. W. E. Forster) knew that a secret conspiracy was on foot in Ireland, or he did not; either he knew that his own life was in danger, or he did not; either he knew that Mr. Burke's life was in danger, or he did not. Who was guiding the movements of the Dublin police during the interval which elapsed between the right hon. Gentleman's resignation and Saturday last? Who was responsible before England and before Ireland for allowing those two gentleman, after the speech we heard here a few days ago from the late Chief Secretary, warning us of the danger ahead—who was responsible for allowing them to go unprotected, unwatched, and unguarded, making it possible for the knife of the assassin to do its bloody work? This was the vigilance of the police—shameful; but much more shameful than to any one else to the Administration of Dublin Castle, which left them unguarded when they should have protection. I say he stands condemned to-day before England. Either he was ignorant, or he was not aware of these conspiracies. If he was ignorant, why was he holding them up as terrors to this House?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
Does the hon. Member suppose that I had the direction of the police after I left Office?
§ MR. DILLON
I am glad of that interruption, because it narrows the point at issue. The question I want to have answered is who was responsible? Certainly it was not Lord Spencer; it was not Lord Frederick Cavendish. Who was it, then, that had the direction of the police, and allowed these 491 gentlemen to go alone on that fatal night? I have only one word to say in conclusion. If you pass this Bill, you will be doing precisely what the assassins of Saturday aimed at. If you abandon that policy which opened up some hope to those who represent Ireland, and if you enact a measure of this kind, you will be carrying out the object of the assassins who struck at the life of Lord Frederick Cavendish. It is more than likely that one of their objects was to cut the ground from under our feet, and, by influencing the Government to proclaim martial law, to render Constitutional agitation impossible. Possibly they desired that the control of Irish politics should pass into such hands as theirs. And if you carry out the policy indicated to-night, you will be simply playing the game into their hands. Against men who commit such deeds as that of last Saturday one course only affords the slightest hope of being effectual. No measure of repression which human ingenuity can devise can prevent the commission of these atrocious murders. The history of Russia and of Italy amply prove that. The only weapon which promises to be effectual is the moral sentiment of a people passionately aroused in condemnation of such acts, and ranging itself on the side of the Government for the purpose of hunting down the infamous perpetrators of them. The Irish Members have recognized that truth. We have honestly offered to place this weapon in the hands of the Government. We have posted placards in every village in Ireland calling upon the Irish people to aid the Government in discovering the criminals. If the English people refuse the proffered weapon, and allow themselves to be blinded by panic, and to be carried into a course of stringent opposition, there will be no option left to men who hold my views but to give up Irish politics for the present in despair. There will be no public platform left for us; and, as I am not prepared to ally myself with assassins, I shall have no choice but to retire from political life, and look on with sorrow while two nations go forward in a course mutually and equally degrading and brutalizing—a course of brutal repression on the one side, met by savage retaliation on the other.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
was sorry to say that a sad and very bad night's work 492 for England and for Ireland had been done that night. Up to 9 o'clock in the evening the sentiment of the Irish nation was with the people of England. Up to 9 o'clock the heart and feeling and the conscience of Ireland were strongly in harmony and in sympathy with those of England, after the dreadful crime which was committed in Ireland a few days ago. From all that had reached him, from all classes of the people, from every part of Ireland, there was but once sincere expression of indignation and of regret for the calamity which had fallen upon the Irish nation. But all that, he was sorry to say, had now changed. In place of giving that feeling a trial—in place of giving that sentiment of the Irish race fair play for a little time, in order to see what effect it might produce on the condition of Ireland—the Government had now come forward and spoilt everything, throwing them back into confusion, and renewing the ill-feeling and war which had hitherto prevailed. The act of the Government had been emphasized and intensified by the inflammatory speech they had just heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). He (Mr. Sullivan) said, with all sincerity and with all the earnestness of his heart, that he regretted the delivery of that speech, knowing that it could have no effect in Ireland except to stir up the ill-feeling and bad blood which had been allayed by the sad occurrence which had taken place so lately in Ireland. The hands of the Irish people were extended to join those of the English people; their hearts were beating with sympathy with those of the English people; and, in a great degree, the hopes of the Irish were in unison with those of the English. All this had now gone, and they were thrown into a state of warfare and confusion, and the good feeling and kindly sentiments which were growing up had been completely trampled out. He had hoped for better things. He thought that the sentiment of Ireland at the present moment was all that could be expected or desired. Why not give it a few days' fair play in order to see how it would work? Why not try the experiment of endeavouring to ascertain whether the Irish people would not do all in their power to bring the perpetrators of this evil deed to justice? The effect of this measure would be to throw them off 493 the track. That, he believed sincerely, would be the effect of what had been done that night. War was declared by Her Majesty's Government, and the war-whoop had been sounded by the the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford. He (Mr. Sullivan) knew not what evil spirit, or what evil genius had thrown Her Majesty's Government into this evil course. He believed that the Irish Representatives would have instantly and willingly agreed in any measure that was intended to cure the evils of Ireland; but, as his hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) stated, this Bill would not strike at the root of the evil. It would not arrest the hand of the assassin, or take the knife from him. All that it would do was to hurt, to wound, and to exasperate innocent people who desired to be not the enemies, but the friends, of law and order in Ireland.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, he did not rise for the purpose of prolonging the discussion; but he was anxious to say a few words in reply to the speech of the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon). If he thought the hon. Member had justly appreciated the character of this Bill, then he would say that he felt there was much force in the remarks of the hon. Member; but he believed that the hon. Member had misconstrued the effect the Bill would have, and he regretted to hear the hon. Member express such gloomy anticipations. While it was perfectly true that this Bill was more stringent than other Bills which had been brought forward for some time past, it was not more severe in the sense of being a hardship upon the law-loving people of Ireland; and stringent as it was, he hoped it would be more effectual in putting down crime. He did not see that it would close the door to any reasonable political agitation, or to any fair mode of expressing the opinions of the people of Ireland. He believed that the Bill would have the almost unanimous support of the people of this country. No doubt, it would be open in Committee to discussion upon points of detail. But those were matters that would remain open for the future stages of the Bill. He had only to express what he believed to be the feeling entertained by many hon. Gentlemen in that House, who hoped 494 that the Bill would be effectual for the great purpose it was designed to accomplish, namely—the protection of life and property in Ireland. He, for one, could not see in any part of the measure, as explained in the clear and lucid speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary, that there was anything in it which any man who wished to abide by the principles of law and order need dread. It would not interfere with any legitimate personal rights, and he trusted that it would restore safety of life and property. He regretted the necessity for the Bill; but he believed that the people of this country were unanimous in their determination to maintain the law.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he sincerely hoped that when the news of the contents of this Bill reached Ireland, it would have no disastrous effect in turning back the universal tide of detestation of crime with which the land was filled. This Bill was a Bill which he hoped the Irish Party would allow to pass without an amendment, or attempt at amendment whatever, because it was superlative in its unmitigated brutality. It was a conclusive proof, before the whole of the civilized world, of the utter incapacity of England to legislate for Ireland, except in a state of panic. It was a reductio ad absurdum of Anglo-Saxon calmness of mind; it was such a burlesque of cruelty, such a serio-comedy of tyranny, as could scarcely disgrace the boards of a transpontine theatre; and he therefore hoped that the Irish Party would allow it to pass without any attempt to amend it. He had expressed his own earnest concurrence beforehand in a policy calculated to put down crime without exasperating the people—a policy calculated to prevent outrage without disgusting any lover of liberty; but this Bill might more properly be called a Bill for the extension of disaffection, and for promoting that disturbed disposition of mind which was the fertile parent of outrage. This Bill—and when he turned to the Government Benches he did not mean the Treasury Bench—this Bill was an Irish Tory Bill. The English Tories were a National Party. The Irish Tories were the venomous residuum of Cromwellianism. At the same time, the Representatives of that Party were, as a rule, the guides and the law-givers of the 495 English Tories of Imperial legislation however thank Heaven, they could dispense with both Parties. The provision with regard to the trial of such offences as treason and murder by an extremely select jury, picked out of the Irish Judicial Bench, might have a good deal to be said in its favour, if there was any right or power given to the prisoner to eliminate such jurors from the Bench who were still known to be incapable of giving an impartial opinion upon a political matter. He should like to know—and there were men who were conscientious according to their lights—he should like to know what verdict, in a political case, could be expected from Justice Lawson, or Chief Justice May, or Judge Fitzgerald? Judge Fitzgerald had been one of the most potent instruments for stirring up disaffection wherever he went. These gentlemen were all, doubtless, highly conscientious; they were exactly as conscientious as if the Government were to nominate the hon. Gentleman the Member for the county of Leitrim (Mr. Tottenham), or one of the hon. Members for the County of Tyrone (Mr. Macartney), who usually sat somewhere behind the Home Rule Members. Those hon. Members would act just as conscientiously if they were appointed to sit as Judges on an Irish political question. He admired very much the conscientious earnestness of the hon. Member for Tyrone; but he did not think a Judge of that stamp would be a very good juror in an Irish political case. Then there were powers of search by night and by day for the arms and instruments of murder. He wondered whether the search by night or by day would have discovered the knives that did their deadly work on Saturday evening last in the Phœnix Park. And the search was to be carried out upon the high guarantee of the presence of a sub-inspector of Irish Constabulary. What guarantee would be the presence of Shooting-on Suspicion-Circular Smith; or what guarantee would be the presence at a midnight search in a peasant's house, among a peasant's children, by Sub-Inspector Ball, who shot down children at Ballina like mad dogs? And there was a clause in the Bill providing for the laying of a blood tax on a district in which a murder had been committed—as if all the peaceful residents in the Strand were 496 to be required to pay compensation for an outrage committed on the Thames Embankment. Under such a rule, Earl Spencer would have to pay compensation for the murder of Lord Frederick Cavendish; although, perhaps, as Phoenix Park was Government property, the Irish Government themselves would have to pay the compensation. They had it on the authority of the right hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced the measure, that a number of these murders were planned and arranged by foreign emissaries, who, for the purpose of outrage and menace, struck down their victims in Ireland. For instance, he had seen it stated by papers in the Government interest, although he did not know that the information was any more trustworthy on that account, that certain assassins were coming across the Atlantic in order to murder a certain stipendiary magistrate in Ireland who had been especially selected by the right hon. Member for Bradford to be a brand of discord in the West. Now, suppose that that were true—suppose that some societies in New York or San Francisco had sent over these assassins to slay this magistrate in the West of Ireland, and, through the unsurpassable stupidity of the coercive police, the murder was carried out as easily and with as little supervision in the West on the part of the responsible authorities as in Dublin, then Her Majesty's Government proposed to lay a heavy blood tax upon the innocent people of Clare, by way of punishing the secret societies of New York and San Francisco. This was British legislative acumen publicly displayed. If the House would not recoil from the brutality of these provisions, it ought to recoil from their stupidity. None of them would have prevented the lamentable catastrophe of last week. There was not in the Bill a single line to provide for an intelligent non-political detective police in Ireland. Well, that was one thing they wanted in Ireland—a police that would put down crime and not put down liberty. But that was the one thing which the Government persisted in refusing to provide for the country. They persisted in approaching Ireland at the wrong end, and by this brutal Bill did all in their power to turn the public opinion against the Government of the country. As surely as they were sitting there that night, and 497 as surely as they detested crime in Ireland—["Oh!"]—with the exception of hon. Members who deemed it their business to protest—the Bill which had been introduced to-night would be quoted in the assassination Press, if there was an assassination Press, as a justification for outrage. He told the House that upon his responsibility as an Irish Representative. The Bill, he trusted, would be passed without an Amendment. In the first place, it was a Bill which could not be amended. It was a Bill rotten in its conception, poisonous in its development, and they could not amend it. If they put anything sound into it, if they engrafted anything remedial or healthy upon it, that healthy graft would be wasted and blasted by the general poisoning and corruption of the whole stem and trunk. [Laughter.] Hon. Members were laughing as they laughed during the discussions upon the Coercion Act—that fertile cause of outrage and crime, that worthless weapon in defense of law and order. This was another worthless weapon in defense of law and order. He expected that its authors, after they had passed it triumphantly through the House—a House composed of average British Legislators—would be ashamed of their work, and find that this brutal Bill was as worthless and as useless as many a brutal Bill which had preceded it. He deeply regretted that Her Majesty's Government should have brought in this measure. However, at the same time, having described this Bill as it deserved to be described, he trusted the Irish Party would work earnestly and honestly in the furtherance of remedial legislation without regard to this brutal legislation, which, after all, was only incidental to the sad necessities of their position as being governed by a superior race. ["Oh!"] He was indebted to the House for the calmness and impartiality which it displayed. The attitude Her Majesty's Government in regard to Irish policy showed that the action of the Irish Members was entirely justified. They had been warned last year that instead of bringing in their Coercive Bill they should have brought in a Land Bill. If they had done so, the crime which occurred last year would not have happened, but they would have had a year of peace, of deepening contentment, and of extending respect for the law. He appealed with confidence to the Tory 498 Party for the strongest confirmation of his opinion in that respect; and he would venture to recommend to the Liberal Party, with regard to their legislation, that as long as the English Tory Party followed its Irish Tory guides, they would not far wrong in doing whatever the Tory Party recommended should not be done, and in not doing anything to cause pleasure and satisfaction among the Tory Party. The Bill might be amended in Committee; but if it was to be amended the attempt must come from the English Members. At least, he trusted that it would only come from the English Members. If the House passed it in its present shape—if they passed it with three-fourths of its present contents—then, indeed, they would find it a plague-spot and a cancerous ulcer which would keep the political body of Ireland from becoming sound; and the action of the Irish electorate and their representative bodies, and the fellow-feeling of Irishmen throughout the world would alone be effectual in introducing a fundamental element of stability into the condition of Ireland.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
observed, that any Bill for strengthening the law, of an exceptional character, must necessarily produce, in the minds of those who were subject to it, a feeling of irritation and a feeling of dismay; but he thought that if the House was to pass a new coercive measure for Ireland, it was bound, first of all, to put itself right with that part of the Irish people who were suffering from the worst form of coercion—unjust eviction. He thought he had never heard in that House any sentiment which gave him more pain than the sentiment which had fallen from his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), when he said that all legislation of every kind, remedial included, must be postponed until this Bill was passed. ["Hear, hear!"] Did not those hon. Members who said "Hear, hear‡" and the right hon. Gentleman himself, know now that there were hundreds of innocent men, women, and children, starving on the hill-sides of the West of Ireland? Let the Government set themselves right in that respect. Had they not said that this wrong must, and should be, redressed? Was not the whole civilized world crying shame upon them, that they should admit that the law under which these things were done was wrong, 499 and should not take the earliest means of redressing them? He asked the House—he asked every man who had a heart in his bosom—[Laughter]—he did not wish to take hon. Members at their word, and to suppose that they had not feeling hearts in their bosoms—he did not think so badly of those who laughed—but he asked them to go only a short journey and to witness for themselves the sights to be seen in many parts of Ireland at this moment. They talked about the wretchedness in London. They talked about turning out the poor, so that they might be able to make better streets; but they did not know what it was to be turned out upon the wild wastes, in the midst of storm, and misery, and hunger, and wretchedness. Would they do nothing for these people? Would they fight this Bill, as it would be fought?—forthe note of fight had already been sounded in that House—would they leave the Bill to be fought, as it would be, clause by clause, probably line by line, and still leave these starving people where they were? What was to prevent the Government from introducing their Bill for dealing with arrears, and for stopping evictions, at the same time as this Bill? Were they so eager for vengeance that they could not think of mercy? There was another thing that ought to be remembered. Whatever Bill the House might pass of a further coercive character for Ireland, everything would depend on the character of the persons by whom the law was to be administered. He did not say it for the first time, and he would willingly not say it if he could help it to-night, but he had no confidence in the Resident Magistrates of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary knew this very well, for he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had told him so over and over again; and he knew, too, that he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had told him many other things, to which very little attention had been paid; but he was prepared to say this positively, that if what had been recommended to the Government had been done, the present condition of things would not have occurred. When this Bill should have been passed they would still have to rely, at least, upon the willingness of the people to believe in the justice of the law; and until they were able to do that they would have no peace between this country and Ireland. He 500 would not have made these observations if it had not been for the remarks which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). He thought it would have become the right hon. Gentleman much more to have insisted that the wretched people who had been under his care, and whose lives had been in his hands for the past two years—that these wretched people, whom he knew to be starving on the sides of the hills in the wilds of Connemara, and who were innocent of crime, should at least have some kind of remedial legislation applied to them. That would have been a course he should have expected the right hon. Gentleman to take; and he thought that the right hon. Gentleman was that night, perhaps, not altogether accountable for all that he had said. ["Oh!"] He was sorry to say there were hon. Gentlemen who always seemed to be on the watch for some chance expression, in order that they might put a low interpretation upon it. They knew, or ought to know—for they were Members of the House of Commons and gentlemen—that he alluded to the sad event at which the right hon. Gentleman had assisted that day, and which had probably so deeply moved the right hon. Gentleman as somewhat to have overpowered his judgment. He looked still for better things from the right hon. Gentleman. He looked to him still as the champion of the poor suffering people whose case he had described; and he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) would yet cherish the hope that the right hon. Gentleman would, in the course of the debate on this subject, and in his private communications with the Government, see fit to lend the weight of his great authority to the demand which he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) now made in the name of common justice, common humanity, common decency, and of common sense too, that the Bill for dealing with arrears and putting a stop to evictions should be brought in with as great celerity as this Bill had been that night, and that it should be pushed on with equal determination and rapidity.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he understood that this Bill was to be described as a measure for the preservation of law and order in Ireland. He thought it would be much better described as a measure for the better preservation in Office of 501 the Liberal Party. He remembered reading, two or three years ago, when the late Government were in Office, towards the close of their sixth or seventh Session, that they brought in a kind of dissolving Bill, which was described as a Bill for continuing and maintaining themselves in Office. He believed that if the present Government could preserve themselves in Office for six months by bringing in a Bill to proclaim martial law throughout the whole of Ireland, or to place Ireland under the dictatorship of the Lord Lieutenant, for the purpose of assisting them in remaining in power, they would gladly bring in such a Bill. Personally, he was not sorry that this Bill had been introduced, and that it was as stringent and as drastic as it was. His reason was that it would destroy for ever the last vestige of that absurd idea that there could ever be peace between Ireland and England. It would destroy the rubbish people talked about compacts and compromises; as if any one man had power to make compacts or compromises behind the backs of his Party, or as if that Party would tolerate them. So far as the Bill itself was concerned, he did not say that he either rejoiced at or deplored its introduction. Let them consider the pretexts on which the Bill had been introduced. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) said, with great truth, that the murder of Lord Frederick Cavendish had been preceded by other murders of equal horror. ["Hear, hear‡"] He thought those cheers, if the fact were really so, amounted to a condemnation of the Treasury Bench. He must say that, as far as he was concerned, he entirely concurred in the statement of the right hon. Member for Bradford. There had been previous murders of equal horror; but, of course, it would strike the public mind in Ireland that to kill a peasant was no great matter; whereas, if a lord were killed, they had a Coercion Bill introduced such as had not been seen since the days of the Penal Laws. That was the first interpretation that would be put upon the Bill. There had been murders of equal horror which had not been committed by the peasantry, but by the police. Those murders, however, he would not dwell upon, because the House was not fond of listening to any 502 condemnation of the police, and that charming body might be left to the protection of the House. Then let the House consider what it was they were attempting to strike at by this Bill. They were told that the Bill of last year aimed, not at secret societies, but at the Land League; they were told "that crime dogged the steps of the Land League." There was now no more a Land League, and now they were told that the Coercion Bill of 1882 was directed against secret societies. These things were apt to be progressive. In 1870, the Government of the day, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister was the head, passed a Coercion Bill. There was no Land League at that time, and not many secret societies, and the Act, therefore, was said to be directed against certain newspapers, in order to put down seditious writing. It was said that crime sprang from seditious writing, and the Act gave power to the Lord Lieutenant to establish la wand order by suppressing the newspapers and seditious writing. The Coercion Bill of 1881 was aimed at the Land League, an open movement. The present one struck at secret societies. When the Coercion Bill of 1885 was brought in it might be directed at revolution, because, as he had said already, these things were apt to be progressive. But what the Government really wanted to put down in Ireland was Irishmen. If they would only bring in a Bill to put down Irishmen, they would have no further trouble; and as there could be nothing too sweeping for the Treasury Bench to adopt, he would recommend them to bring in a Bill of that kind and pass it without delay. The present Bill was only to last for three years. The Bill of 1881, which had not yet expired, was only to last for 18 months. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright) told them that if only the House would pass that Bill it would be unnecessary, at the end of 18 months, to renew it, because Ireland would be completely pacified and contented by the beautiful and beneficent legislation which the Government were about to introduce; but he remembered very well having made the remark that it might as well be passed for ever. They were told by the Government last year—"Give us this Bill, and there will be no more 503 necessity for coercion." He challenged contradiction when he said that nothing which had occurred under the régime of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) had exceeded in horror what occurred in Sheffield in 1867. If any hon. Member would take the trouble to read the Report of the Royal Commission which sat upon the "rattening" at Sheffield, he would find that the crimes perpetrated under the auspices of Broadhead were of a far more atrocious character than anything that had happened in Ireland. But was there a Coercion Bill for Sheffield? Had they to expel from the House at that time the hon. Members for Sheffield on account of their strong opposition to the Coercion Bill for Sheffield of that day? Was it passed amid the cheers of the House; and had law and order ever since prevailed? Was that the case? Nothing of the sort The House did not appoint its Major Bonds and Clifford Lloyds as Resident Magistrates, but it appointed a Royal Commission; the causes which had led to the commission of outrage were removed, and nothing more was heard of outrages in that locality. But in regard to Ireland, the longer a man sat in that House the more hopeless he became. For his own part—and he had no wish to make the remark from any motive of disrespect—he would sooner address an assembly of Zulus, so far as information and sympathy were concerned, on the affairs of Ireland, than the very distinguished Assembly he had then the honor of addressing. Let them consider for a moment the provisions of the Bill. To begin with, the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary had stated that the main cause of disturbance in Ireland was that there was no security for the punishment of crime, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman attributed that want of security to the fact that juries would not convict, on account of the intimidation to which they were subjected. But did the right hon. and learned Gentleman preface that statement by any facts? Did he tell the House in how many cases juries had refused to convict in Ireland? Did he give any statistics of agreements or acquittals? Nothing of the sort. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said it was because the jurymen were afraid of the knife of the assassin, the dagger of the murderer, and the 504 pistol of somebody else, that they refused to convict; and that shots had been fired into their houses to intimidate them. Now, he (Mr. Healy) totally denied the assertion, and he defied the right hon. and learned Gentleman to give a single instance of the intimidation of a jury in Ireland. Yet it was to be remembered that it was upon that charge that the whole of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's case for the Bill depended. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that shots had been fired into the houses of jurymen. Let the right hon. and learned Gentleman produce his evidence and give the House his statistics. He (Mr. Healy) totally denied it. What they wanted in Ireland was evidence, and they could not get it. If evidence existed the police were unable to find it, and the consequence was that the criminals were never brought before a jury at all. He would tell the House more. With this wonderful police system in Ireland—with 12,000 police-constables—there were actually more police in any one year than criminals. Let the Government be open and candid, and tell the House whether they had ever yet furnished the Irish juries with criminals they could convict, or with evidence to justify a conviction. They had done nothing of the kind; and, under those circumstances, what was wanted was a Bill which should first supply the evidence that was to insure the conviction of the offender. He must say that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) was generous in his treatment of the Irish people as compared with the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary. The right hon. Member for Bradford reasonably suspected them without evidence, or on the evidence of his police, and gave them free quarters in Kilmainham. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary appointed three Judges to suspect them, and those three Judges would have the power of punishing the persons suspected by sentences of penal servitude, or even hanging; such punishments being really a trifle in future in Ireland. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had been careful in concealing from the House what the penalties were which this extra tribunal was to have the power of inflicting. Were they 505 penalties in accordance with the ordinary law? Would the three Judges? When they convicted under this Bill, have more powers than under the ordinary Statutes? The right hon. and learned Gentleman did not even tell them what the penalty for taking a moonlight walk was to him. The offence was one which was humorously described by Mr. Disraeli in the year 1874. Mr. Disraeli said, in effect—" You go out; you take a look at the stars, and a policeman coming up, says, what are you doing?' 'I am looking at the stars.' But the policeman says, 'No, you are not,' and takes you before the magistrate. The magistrate does not believe in stories of the stars. Astrology has never been very popular in his district; and he accordingly sentences you to fine and imprisonment." Now, he (Mr. Healy) wanted to know what was to be the penalty for these enormous crimes.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he thought that was a very extreme penalty for taking a moonlight walk. He thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman very? Well described it as an extreme penalty, and therefore he (Mr. Healy) would not attempt to add anything to the description. He would proceed to deal with the new commission to be given to three Judges. If the Government had brought in a Bill who went to no further extent than giving power to three Judges to convict summarily in disturbed districts, he should not feel inclined to offer opposition to the measure in the present state of heated English feeling. But who were these Judges? If they were ordinary Judges he would say, very well, let them have these powers for two years. There had been such a fuss and outcry made that the Government must do something, and it was only the natural penalty the Irish people must pay for being governed by English political Parties. Chief Justice May was a Judge of very great erudition as regarded law; but he was appointed because he was a "True Blue "—a man and a brother with the Conservative Party. What he objected to was that Chief Justice May and men of his kidney were to be in trusted with the carrying out of so severe a law in Ireland, Then, 506 again, there was Justice Fitzgerald—an admirable Judge—for whom the Irish people spilt their blood in the county of Clare years ago; and who would now, doubtless, reward them in return by spilling their blood at the command of the Government. ["Oh!"] If that was not the Bill, he was unable to describe it at all. It was a Bill to give hanging powers to three Judges on any evidence that might be trumped up before them. ["Oh!"] The hon. Gentlemen who cried "Oh!" might put what gloss they liked upon the Bill; but he (Mr. Healy) preferred to have his own opinion. One hon. Member (Mr. J. W. Pease) who was active in crying "Oh!" had just received a reward from Her Majesty's Government, and appeared to be about to rise at the moment he (Mr. Healy) caught the eye of the Speaker. No doubt, when the hon. Member proceeded to address the House, he would be able to earn his reward by the support he gave to the measure, and by putting in silken terms and honeyed phrases what he (Mr. Healy) had described as spilling the blood of the Irish people. He came now to the next part of the Bill, which dealt with the power of search. The power of search, they were told, was to be in trusted only to a person who enjoyed the possession of the Lord Lieutenant's warrant. But they all knew how difficult it was to get a warrant from the Lord Lieutenant. There had only been 970 warrants issued by the right hon. Member for Bradford; and it made little matter whether, in the course of carrying out those 970 warrants, females had been routed out of their beds by Inspector Smiths and Clifford Lloyds, in the middle of the night. That was only what the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) would call "a hateful incident." The Liberal Party had been in Office just two years, and there had already been two of these hateful incidents. One had lasted 18 months, and the other would last until long after the period when the Liberal Government would have gone into a quarter which he would not describe. The right of search, which, of course, the Government regarded as a proper right to place in the hands of the police, and which they, of course, said would not be wrongly used, was to be given to those worthies, the Sub-Inspectors, of whom the House had heard so much 507 already. It appeared from the statement of the Home Secretary, that this right was to be used for discovering the mask and dagger of the assassin. It was to be regretted that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had not provided himself with a complete list of stage properties, which he (Mr. Healy) advised him to do on the next occasion that he described what it was that the right of search was likely to bring to light in Ireland. But what was this right of search? It was the right of any policeman, who obtained the warrant of a Sub-Inspector, to annoy Irish citizens at any time of the day, night, or week, during the next three years; to enter and ransack their houses; to turn the occupants out of bed, and, as had been done under a warrant signed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), to compel decent women to dress themselves in the presence of the police. Then it appeared that persons who gave no account of themselves, and who were found prowling about at night, were to be brought before the magistrates. He had already, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford was in Office, referred to the description which had been given of this offence—namely, that of taking a moonlight walk. But, whatever might be intended, there could be no doubt as to the view which Mr. Clifford Lloyd would take of the matter. And then, again, the term "night" was vague. Did this mean between certain hours by Greenwich Time or between sunset and sunrise? If it meant the former, perhaps the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary would be in a position to provide the necessary number of watches regulated by Greenwich Time. But the effect of this provision would be that a man returning from market, say on Saturday night, might be met by a policeman for whom he had a dislike, and being suspected by that policeman of prowling about, would be taken before Mr. Clifford Lloyd, who would sentence him to be imprisoned for six months. Then the same power was to be taken against strangers. Irish Members had been invited in The Standard newspaper to make a penitential pilgrimage to Ireland for the purpose of denouncing crime; but were they to do so, they might come under the category of 508 strangers as well as "pilgrims," and be dealt with under the measure which the Government proposed to introduce. Even in the case of an American tourist, or that of a commercial traveler engaged in selling his wares, Mr. Clifford Lloyd would have the power of sending them to prison for six months. Power was also to be taken for reviving the Alien Act; but with this provision he had little fault to find, if it also applied to England, for he begged leave to point out that there were as many ruffians of foreign origin in England at the present time as there were in Ireland, and he thought the country would be well rid of them all. When, therefore, the Bill was in Committee he should invite hon. Gentlemen who now cheered his remarks to assist him in carrying an Amendment which he intended to move for extending this provision to England; and he hoped he could count on those sturdy Radicals opposite to follow him into the Lobby. The Bill was next to give power to the magistrates—Major Clifford Lloyd, Major Bond, Major Traill, and all the rest of the paraphernalia of military government in Ireland—to sentence people to imprisonment for what was called intimidation. But what did the Government mean by the term "intimidation?" They were perfectly familiar with Mr. Clifford Lloyd's view of what constituted that offence. That gentleman called it intimidation to put up a Land League hut to cover evicted tenants, which most people regarded as an act of charity, and which the people of Ireland called sheltering the homeless. Was it not true that Mr. Clifford Lloyd had sentenced a lady who erected a hut for this purpose to six months' imprisonment? Had not Mr. Clifford Lloyd enough power in his hands already; and if that were so, if he could put a lady in prison under the ordinary law already in existence, what need was there for this provision of the Bill? The Home Secretary was an able lawyer; he was said to be greatly skilled in ancient Law, and must have read the Statute of Edward III. He invited the right hon. and learned Gentleman to go into the Library of the House, and make himself thoroughly acquainted with the provisions of Statutes already in the hands of the Government, before he made the mistake of adding to them an Act of this kind, 509 Then, participation or membership in secret societies came under the provisions of the Bill. The Bill was not necessary for dealing with that, for the Government had already the power of giving people 10 or 20 years' penal servitude for membership in secret societies. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman would give people six months' imprisonment summarily, because Mr. Clifford Lloyd, and magistrates of that class, thought they were members of such societies, and would need no evidence. Here, again, what the right hon. and learned Gentleman wanted, as in the case of the three Judges who were to be appointed, was evidence, and so he placed this power in the hands of men who he knew would require no evidence. Under the ordinary law evidence was required; but these two worthy magistrates, Major Clifford Lloyd and Major Bond, required none. If that were not so, and it was proposed to convict and punish persons for being members of secret societies, they should consider what was the evidence on which these magistrates were to convict. Was it to be the evidence of informers like the man in the county of Louth, who swore that £100 had been offered him to shoot a Sub-Inspector, and who was scouted out of Court by the brother of Mr. Justice Keogh? The magistrates, under this Bill, would, perhaps, belles nice. Before the Bill became law, Irish Members would have something to say upon this question; and, unless some guarantees were given as to the character of the evidence that would come before men like Mr. Clifford Lloyd, this clause of the Bill would not pass quite so easily as the right hon. and learned Gentleman might expect. The next provision dealt with riots calculated to promote intimidation and aggravated assaults on constables. These were to be summarily dealt with; and, while upon this subject, he asked the right hon. and learned Gentleman if a provision of this kind would not answer admirably in the Cornish villages? Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman apply it to the peace-loving gentlemen who forcibly entered chapels and broke people's heads at Camborne? The next clause dealing with intimidation had been admirably described by the Home Secretary as a wide clause. The crime of intimidation had been invented by the right hon. 510 Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), and it had been well described by the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) as A B inciting C D to prevent E F paying rent to G H. Such was the crime that would, undoubtedly, require the "wide clause" of the right hon. and learned Gentleman for the purpose of dealing with it. But a clause of this description administered by men like Mr. Clifford Lloyd would put a stop to anything like public action within the sweep of his jurisdiction. No one even would be able to go down to his district to make a speech to his constituents asking them to vote for him or not to vote for his opponent, but Mr. Clifford Lloyd would consider it an act of intimidation. He thought it would not be a bad thing if the character of the men who would be dealt with under this clause of the Bill could be brought home to the minds of hon. Members; because, had the House had an opportunity of seeing the men whom the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford had sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment, he believed they would have been slow to pass the Coercion Act which gave him that power. But they had not seen the men against whom the right hon. Member for Bradford exercised his powers, nor would they see the men against whom Mr. Clifford Lloyd would exercise his power of dealing with intimidation. Next, there was a clause for dealing with newspapers inciting to crime. In the exceedingly lucid speech of the Home Secretary it was not stated who was to be the judge in these cases. Was this clause to be carried into effect by the Lord Lieutenant, the three Judges, or by Mr. Clifford Lloyd? The right hon. and learned Gentleman was singularly non-lucid on this point; and, therefore, before the Bill was allowed to be introduced, he thought they were entitled to further information. Perhaps the Home Secretary would also state the amount of the penalty to which these newspapers would be subject, and whether the fine as well as forfeiture was to extend to the New York papers, for instance?—because it was alleged that most of the intimidation practiced in Ireland came from foreign countries. The right hon. and learned Gentleman then proposed to give power to the Lord Lieutenant to send additional police to a district, and to levy an extra tax in con- 511 sequence upon the inhabitants. [Cheers."] had he been addressing a Zulu Legislature, it would not have been surprising if his remarks were received in its ignorance with loud cheers. But, would not the Zulus have been surprised to learn that the power now asked for the Lord Lieutenant already existed; that additional police were continually being sent to various districts in Ireland, and that those districts were made to pay for them? Lastly, the Grand Juries were to have the power to levy compensation for malicious injuries. Tomorrow he proposed to move a Resolution relating to Irish Grand Juries, which he contended were effete institutions. Although he did not object to compensation being awarded, he strongly objected to its being assessed by the Grand Jury. They had before them the statement of the hon. and gallant Member for Gal way (Colonel Nolan), which showed that when the Grand Jury in his district proposed a levy, they excluded their own estates, and made the tenants of the hon. and gallant Member pay the entire amount of the fine. If the proposal were that there should be a levy for malicious injuries to person as well as property, to be assessed by Grand Juries elected by the people, he should have supported it; but so long as Grand Juries in Ireland were chosen by the Sheriffs from amongst the magistrates and landlords, so long as the Sheriffs were appointed by the Government, and there was no popular check whatever upon their appointment, so long should he oppose a provision of the kind referred to. ["Oh, oh!"] Even if one were addressing a Zulu Assembly, it might be expected that on a Bill of this kind the statements of those who spoke on the part of the Irish nation would meet with some consideration. If it were doubted that he and his hon. Friends had the right to speak on behalf of the Irish nation, he invited the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister to dissolve Parliament, and then it would be seen who had that right. He would, before concluding his remarks, remind the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright), who stated that this Bill was not aimed at political discussion or political opponents, that he had made use of exactly the same words as were used by the Government last year 512 when they introduced the Coercion Bill. The Prime Minister told the House that the Bill was not intended to operate against the right to hold public meetings, that it was not directed against the Land League, that it was not directed against organization—against the right of association, or even the right to agitate against contracts; and Mr. Forster told them that it was directed against dissolute ruffians, village scoundrels, and midnight marauders. He was afraid the promise of 1882 would not be more scrupulously kept. As Irish Members were continually asked to disavow any association or any sympathy with crime, he would remind the House that when a questionable statement was made in Ipswich, and attention was called to it by the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Callan), the Prime Minister did not think it worth his while to throw over his followers. [Mr. R. N. FOWLER: Hear, hear!] He was glad he had the applause of the worthy Alderman; and now he should give the Conservatives a chance. At a meeting—he quoted from The Manchester Examiner and Times of Wednesday, May the 10th—held at Bolton, and which was presided over by the Rev. Henry Baxter, a London editor of a Christian journal—Mr. R. Pennington—in moving a vote of confidence in the Conservative Leaders, said—If Joe Chamberlain had been stabbed in the Park, he would have met with his just deserts.The statement was reported to have been loudly cheered; and he would like to ask if there was to be any Bill of this kind for Bolton? Point out to him anything within the whole range of what they called Irish intimidation equal to the statement of Mr. Pennington. Would the Conservative Leaders, in whom Mr. Pennington moved a vote of confidence, get up and denounce the statement of that gentleman? Of course, if they did, it might be said, as was said of some Members of the House, that their statements were mere hypocrisy and lip-service. In the future it would be the duty of Irish Members to let England govern Ireland as best she could; they washed their hands of the business. The Government refused to take the advice of Irish Representatives. They said he and the hon. Gentlemen with whom he acted did not represent the majority of the Irish people.
513 They challenged the Government, however, to dissolve. That would test the matter. In the future Irish Members would have to disavow and dissociate themselves from any responsibility with regard to the government of Ireland. On the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) he charged the responsibility for everything that had happened in Ireland during the last two years. To the right hon. Gentleman's policy the miserable state of the country owed. They told the right hon. Gentleman what would happen when once he took the first forward step on the path of coercion, "the primrose path which led to the everlasting bonfire." It had led him and his Party into a very serious quagmire; there were further dangers and difficulties ahead; and the Irish Members, while washing their hands of any responsibility for the government of Ireland, told the Government to "Pass their Bill and do their worst."
§ MR. J. W. PEASE
said, he rose some time ago for the purpose of deprecating what he might call a second reading discussion upon the introduction of a Bill. Of late years the House had got rather into the habit of adopting the plan—and, he must say, the rather dangerous plan—of taking a second reading discussion upon a Motion for the introduction of a Bill. During the present evening they had seen a number of points raised on the Bill that were not suggested by the right hon. and learned Gentleman below him (Sir William Harcourt) in introducing the Bill. Hon. Members below the opposite Gangway were really discussing a Bill, which at first sight seemed objectionable, without really having its provisions in their hands. When they began to deal with such delicate matters as the right to hold public meetings and the liberty of the Press, the whole question really depended upon the wording of a clause. Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on the opposite side of the House had, in very strong language, and in language which he had no doubt the House believed, deprecated the awful crime which was before every man's mind that evening; but let him remind hon. Gentlemen who sat on the Irish Benches opposite that whilst the House fully believed in their declarations when they joined with the rest of 514 the House in their horror, the House was convinced that there must be in their country a substratum, which he hoped hon. Gentlemen opposite knew but little of, hiding the men who had committed the dastardly crime of last Saturday, otherwise those men would have been discovered and brought to justice. He deprecated going into the clauses of the Bill until he had the Bill in his hand and saw what it contained. It seemed to him to avoid what he had always thought the worst feature of the Bill of his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster); it contained no power whatever to place men in gaol without a trial of some kind. He had thought his right hon. Friend would always have great difficulty in bringing either side of the House to vote again for imprisonment without trial. To have 600 or 700 men in gaol without trial was so repugnant to the general feeling of Englishmen, that he was glad the proposed Bill provided for some trial. He hoped the House would be content to allow the Bill to be brought in, reserving its judgment until they saw the exact wording of the clauses.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I do not propose to touch on any of the clauses of the Bill; but I wish to say that of the many painful debates which have taken place in this House with regard to Irish affairs, I doubt whether we have ever had. Greater pain than we experienced in listening to some of the speeches tonight. We have been startled and harrowed by the character of the calamity of Saturday last; but no sense of the fearfulness of that calamity was apparent in some of the observations that have been addressed to the House. But if the English people, and if this House, have been able to maintain a calm attitude, even under the provocation of that fearful crime, I do not think they will abandon that calm for any different attitude by reason of the speeches to which we have listened. It cannot be denied that those speeches were provoking enough; they have been directed against the dignity of this House; they have been directed against almost every institution which we cherish and which we love; contempt has been poured upon the whole of our administration; but that will not deter this House from pursuing this debate, and 515 pursuing this painful legislation. The hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy), in discussing some of the clauses of this Bill, made merry of the paraphernalia of those midnight outrages which have already shamefully disgraced Ireland. It is very well for the hon. Member to speak of stage properties, such as the mask of the assassin; but it is a very different thing to those who have suffered from those outrages, and to the relatives of those who may have lost their lives at the hands of these midnight marauders. The hon. Member speaks lightly of the moonlight walks. I should have thought the name of "Captain Moonlight" was connected with too many painful associations for the hon. Gentleman to speak of it so lightly. Such was the temper of the hon. Member for Wexford. I will say little of the speech—the bold speech—of the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon), who told us that he could not deny that the Irish peasant had sympathy for crime. I am glad that that was not said by any English Member. If that be so, if it is the painful truth that there is sympathy with crime amongst the Irish peasantry, I ask the House—is not legislation called for to deal with that frightful state of things? Can Irish Members come forward and make that painful confession, and still say that no legislation of this kind should take place? An hon. Member—I think it was the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon)—said that England, in view of these frightful difficulties, would wish Ireland to be cut loose from her. That time will not come. I believe that every English Member of this House, and a majority, at all events, of the Irish Members in this House, will say that England—I will not only say England, but Great Britain and Ireland—has had to confront dangers of this kind before, and will know how to deal with this Irish difficulty, and that neither menace from abroad, nor assassination at home, will deter us from our course. It maybe that the task will, week by week, month by month, and year by year, be more difficult; but the difficulty will be grappled with, and it is of no use for hon. Members to attempt to coerce this House by such menaces as we have repeatedly heard from the Benches opposite. And there is another course from which I hope this House will not swerve. Hon. Members opposite delight to say 516 that we are foreigners as regards Ireland. The hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy) dared to say that we had no more sympathy with Ireland than if we were a foreign country. As we shall not be moved in our desire to remain united with Ireland by fear, so we shall not grow less weak in our sympathy for Ireland by all that occurs; and though we may be told over and over again that we are foreigners, we shall so attempt to frame our legislation as to prove—and the Government have done their best during the last two years to prove—that we are alive to the interests of Ireland. But a few weeks ago—but a few days ago—the Irish Leaders said that they acknowledged the spirit in which the Government were dealing with Ireland; and because, when a fearful crime has been committed, the Government are trying to deal with the state of things which rendered possible such a crime, are hon. Gentlemen opposite going to say that the Government shows less conciliation, less sympathy, and less friendship with Ireland? Has not the Government toiled and worked for Ireland during the last two years? Has this House not worked for Ireland? ["No!"] The constituencies of England know whether sacrifices have been made for Ireland or not; the constituencies that have wished to see their own work done have consented that the whole time of Parliament almost should be devoted to redress Irish grievances. Legislation, so great and so vast in its proportions, has taken place in order to satisfy Ireland that Europe has been surprised at the magnitude of the efforts of England to redress her past wrongs towards Ireland. But in the face of those efforts, in the face of all that has been done, because the Government will not look on quietly while such crimes are being committed as those which we have seen, the Irish say that there is no sympathy with Ireland in England, and that they are foreigners in this House. [Mr. PARNELL: We do not say that.] The hon. Member for Wexford spoke of the absurd notion of creating sympathy between England and Ireland. Does the hon. Member for Wexford deny it? [Mr. HEALY had left the House.] The hon. Member made that statement, and I heard no cries of "No, no!" from his Colleagues. The hon. Member for Wexford, at the close of his speech, said that 517 if this legislation were to be continued he would not be responsible for what might happen. We do not want the responsibility of hon. Members opposite. It is for the Executive Government of Great Britain and Ireland to deal with this crisis, and it is not for hon. Members who have been steeped in treason.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
I rise to Order, Mr. Speaker. I ask you to rule, Sir, whether the right hon. Gentleman is in Order in alluding openly to a particular section of this House as being Members "steeped in treason?"
§ MR. SPEAKER
If the right hon. Gentleman used the expression towards any particular Member or body of Members of this House he was certainly not in Order.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I bow to the Speaker's ruling, and I withdraw the expression. But I will say this—that it is not for hon. Members who have signed a "no rent" manifesto, it is not for hon. Members who have threatened to do all they can to diminish the ties which bind England and Ireland together, it is not for them to undertake the responsibility for the government of Ireland. This country would indeed deserve to be looked upon with reproach and contempt if the Government were to ask the active Leaders of the Home Rule Party to be responsible for the peace of Ireland. We are here the Representatives not of England alone. We sit in the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; and, Sir, I trust that in the face of Europe, and for the sake of those who come after us, we may still be capable of dealing with this problem in a spirit of firmness, but, at the same time, in a spirit of sympathy with Ireland.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had attempted to persuade the House that this Bill was aimed at the prevention of crime, while the fact was that it was aimed at the liberties of the Irish people. He had hoped, when he came down to the House that evening, there would have been little or no necessity for the Irish Members to occupy the time of the House; and his hopes were strengthened when he heard the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary state that the present Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant was in Ireland for the purpose of pursuing a 518 policy of peace and conciliation upon which Her Majesty's Government had so lately resolved. They had, however, heard the principles of the Bill unfolded to them. Though he was not quite prepared to adopt the suggestion of his hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) and allow the Bill to pass without some attempt at amending it or rendering it less obnoxious, he could not help feeling that if it did pass in its present shape it would not be an unmixed evil. They had been longing that the day would come when the true character of English government in Ireland might become known to the peoples of Europe. They had been unable to make much impression, because the English Press was always between them and the ear of Europe. If this measure passed into law, then every nation in Europe would be able to see the true character of English legislation in Ireland. When the Coercion Bill, at present in force, was being introduced by the late Chief Secretary, the right hon. Gentleman told them, over and over again, that it was only intended to deal with village ruffians. They knew that under the operation of the Act the most respected and most trusted Leaders of the Irish people had been arrested. They were told now that the Bill now introduced was only intended to deal with secret societies and unlawful combinations. The Irish people knew full well that before the Bill had been in force six months not only secret societies and illegal combinations would be dealt with, but every combination which the Irish people might form for the advancement of their national rights would be interfered with. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary had told them that it was the intention of the Bill to confer trial upon Judges. He would like to give them the opinion of Mr. Justice Barry, a Judge whose opinion was highly respected even in legal circles in England. Mr. Justice Barry said—I am of opinion that the Irish Judiciary has the confidence of the people.And he went on—I think to do anything to destroy that feeling of confidence would be a great misfortune and a great disaster to the country, and I am satisfied that to send Judges to try men without a jury would destroy that confidence, and I do not think you could ever replace that confidence.519 That was the opinion of Mr. Justice Barry. Since the Irish Judge was now to be made Crime Prosecutor and Judge and juror, all in one person, he (Mr. Leamy) would suggest that the Government, in cases of murder, should enable him also to become the hangman. In fact, like Lieutenant Heppinstall, in 1798, a Judge might be made Judge, jury, gallows, rope and all. They were also told by the right hon. and taught Gentleman that, under this Bill, there would be power given to search for arms. They were told that power would be given to forfeit a newspaper that might incite to crime; and, after making that statement, the right hon. and learned Gentleman proceeded to say that power would be taken to bind over the editor of the paper in a sum of money not to offend in future. What he thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman was about to say was that power would be given to forfeit the paper, but that the owner would have the right of appeal. Under the Bill, also, the right hon. and learned Gentleman told them that policemen were to be empowered to search, houses for instruments of crime. The right hon. and learned Gentleman surely ought to remember it was only last year he brought in the Arms Act, which conferred almost similar power; and if they were to ask the late Chief Secretary what was the result of the searches under that Act, he would be bound to tell them that, in nearly every case, they were fruitless. If that was so under the Arms Act of last year, they had a right to suppose it would be so under the proposed Act. It was now also proposed to increase the summary jurisdiction of magistrates. He agreed with a hon. Friend that if summary jurisdiction in small cases were given to the highest Judges in the land they would have no reason to object; but to give summary jurisdiction to men who were not trusted by the people would be to place the liberties of the people in the hands of those men. They knew how the law had been administered by Mr. Clifford Lloyd; they knew how boys who whistled in Limerick had been sent to gaol; they knew how the most trivial acts on the part of the people might be construed into an offence against the law; they had seen hundreds of men sent to gaol under the present Coercion Act on sus- 520 picion of being guilty of offences against the law; they knew that when the present Bill came into force the men who had been sent into Kilmainham might very possibly be sent into penal servitude. The right hon. and learned Gentleman did not tell them whether, in case of summary jurisdiction, the ordinary right of appeal was to be allowed. A man might be arrested for strolling out at night; he might be brought before a Resident Magistrate—before a regimental officer who had left his regiment under a cloud, and this official would have the power to sentence the man to six months' imprisonment, and apparently there was no power of appeal. For these reasons, he ventured to offer his most strenuous opposition to the Bill. He would ask the right hon. and taught Gentleman not to be too sanguine of the effect of the measure. The right hon. and learned Gentleman ought to remember how the late Chief Secretary prophesied that if he got his Coercion Bill it would be unnecessary to arrest scarcely anybody; that the evil would fly out of the country at the mere mention of coercion; and that if he got the Bill, possibly in a month or two, there would be no necessity to put it in force. The present Coercion Act was a failure, and now the Government was introducing another. He would like to know what kind of coercion they would introduce this time 12 months? The proposed measure would strengthen the hands of the men, who were in favor of crime and outrage, and who were opposed to a policy of conciliation and peace; it would tie the hands of the men who desired to promote a policy of conciliation and peace in Ireland. How, on earth, could men go forth and ask the people to trust a Liberal Government when they had this measure in their hands?
MR. JOSEPH COWEN
said, that if the explanation of the Bill by the Home Secretary was correct, it was needlessly long. What was proposed might have been very easily accomplished in one clause, which could have provided that the liberties, lives, and property of the Irish people should be in trusted to the care of the Viceroy. He regretted that the Government had introduced such an unnecessarily stringent measure. He believed there was behind them, in Ireland, a force of public sentiment in favor of law and 521 order that had not existed for some generations past. That force would have been of great service in the administration of the law; but the Government had disregarded it. They had gone too far. There would be revulsion of feeling, and they would have to take the consequences.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I regret we have not the approbation of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen); but we have become used to it. There is no course that Her Majesty's Government could adopt which would please the hon. Gentleman. If we adopt a policy of conciliation, the hon. Member for Newcastle is silent; if we feel obliged to adopt measures of coercion we find him against us; and, therefore, we must console ourselves under a disapprobation that we must always expect. There are one or two points which have been raised to which I would like to refer. The hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) made a most impassioned speech. Deeply as I regret the opinions he entertains, and strongly as I differ from him in opinion, I have never failed to recognize the sincerity of his convictions; but, Sir, there was one thing that he said that I wish entirely to deprecate. When he was speaking of the placard in which he and friends of his had called upon the Irish people to take part in giving up to justice the assassins of last Saturday, he said that if we chose to reject the aid of himself and of his friends in such a task we must take the consequences. Sir, we have not rejected the aid of the hon. Member for Tipperary. In the present state of Ireland, the Government will reject the aid of no man.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I know we shall not have the aid of the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy). We know that he prefers, to the House of Commons, an assembly of Zulus, and, therefore, we have no right to count upon his aid. But I was speaking of a very different man—I was speaking of the hon. Member for Tipperary. The hon. Member for Tipperary has spoken, in language which I profoundly believe to be sincere, of his horror of this crime; he has declared that he desires to use all the efforts in his power to prevent such 522 crimes, and to lead to their detection. I believe that he is in earnest, and all I have to say on the part of the Government is, that much as they may differ from the hon. Member for Tipperary in his other opinions and his other actions, so far as his action or that of any other man in Ireland is taken upon the side of peace and order, so long as his voice is raised against crime and outrage, we, so far from rejecting his aid, hail his co-operation. I desire to offer that explanation upon what has been said by the hon. Member for Tipperary.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
Might I am allowed to explain, in the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary——
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
So far from the hon. Member for Tipperary repudiating what I have said, I rather gather from his gesture that he assented to my remark. There is another point which has been alluded to in this debate. It has been said that Her Majesty's Government have adopted a new policy in this matter since the terrible event of Saturday last. ("Hear, hear!"] Well, Sir, an hon. Member says "Hear, hear!" but I beg to assure him that is not the case. It has been stated before in this House—it was stated in the House of Lords several days before that lamentable event—that the Government had prepared and drawn up the lines of this Bill; therefore, the statement I allude to is entirely unfounded. That is a point upon which there ought to exist no misapprehension. The Government has been anxiously occupied with the condition of Ireland; and this Bill, in its main features, was actually drawn up and prepared before the event of last Saturday. Can anyone suppose that the Government have had time, since that terrible event, to prepare a Bill of this description? Certainly not. It is quite true that in the change that has taken place in the Executive Government of Ireland we have had to consult Earl Spencer upon the details of this Bill, and upon some of its principal enactments; but to say that previous to the assassinations of Saturday we had done nothing is a statement which is absolutely devoid of foundation. An hon. Member took objection to one of the provisions of the Bill—namely, that which places on a locality a charge in respect of compen- 523 nation for a murder or other serious crime which takes place there? He says—"Why don't you do that in England when a murder takes place?" The reason why this provision is inserted in the Bill is to create in the locality a disposition which does not exist in Ireland, but which does exist in England—a disposition to aid in the detection and repression of such offences. Well, Sir, some hon. Members have said that there is a strong feeling in Ireland in favor of order and against crimes of this description. I believe that that is the case with the great majority of the Irish people; I believe that if the cry against crime has been too little heard hitherto it is on account of the terrorism which a certain body of men has succeeded in establishing over the majority of the Irish people. But it is not against that majority that measures of this description are leveled. It is on account of the existence of a minority, which we cannot afford to despise, who have sympathy with crimes of this description, who are not disposed to assist in detecting or in repressing them, that it is absolutely necessary that the arm of the law should be strengthened. There is one other point which I am glad was disposed of by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster); but that the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) should have thought it worth while, on the ground of some paragraph that he had picked up in what he was pleased to call a leading newspaper, to state that the right hon. Gentleman had been thwarted in his policy in Ireland by his Colleagues in the Cabinet seems to me to show a want of experience in public affairs which I should not have expected in so high and dictatorial a politician. My right hon. Friend (Mr. W. E. Forster) was never thwarted in any of his acts of administration; but when he found that upon some serious points his opinion was at variance with his Colleagues he took the course that any honourable man would take in politics, and severed his official connection with them. Therefore, I think these statements ought not to remain Uncontradicted, because they are entirely without foundation. There is only one other point, and that is an important one. The hon. Member for Gal-way (Mr. Mitchell Henry) referred to the Bill relating to arrears. That is a 524 measure which the Government, while they had this Bill under consideration, were bound to keep in view. We attach enormous importance to the Bill on the subject of arrears, and we shall take the very earliest opportunity we can possibly find to bring that measure under the consideration of the House, with the hope that it will have a good effect on the people of Ireland if passed into law. The House will probably wish to know, in the event of leave being given to bring in this Bill, what course the Government proposes to take. It is quite plain that we ought to proceed as rapidly as we can; but the country must have time to see the Bill, and it will be impossible it can be circulated in time to take the second reading before next Thursday.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I am afraid not to-morrow. We shall endeavor to get it into the hands of hon. Members by Saturday; and, under these circumstances, I would ask the House to take the second reading on Thursday next. I am sure the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) is sufficiently acquainted with the difficulty of some of the points; and I am sure the House will feel that the recent event affecting the Executive Government in Ireland has made it very difficult for us to proceed more rapidly than we have. We have been in constant communication with Earl Spencer on the details of the Bill; but the Bill is now in a very forward state in draft, and we hope that it may be in the hands of hon. Members by Saturday. At all events, for the present, if the Bill is allowed to be introduced, we shall propose to fix the second reading for Thursday.
§ MR. R. POWER
said, he would reserve any remarks he wished to make on the Bill for the present; but he wished to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether this Bill would be retrospective in its action or not, and also whether the Government would take the Arrears Bill before proceeding with the Procedure Rules?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
replied, that, in regard to the Arrears Bill, in the absence of the Prime Minister, he could not say anything definite; and 525 perhaps the hon. Member would repeat his question to-morrow, when the right hon. Gentleman would be in his place. With regard to the question, whether the present Bill would be retrospective, of course any crime which had been committed, and which was brought to justice, would come under its operation.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he thought it would be time to consider that question when the present Bill had been disposed of.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he hoped the unusual course of refusing leave to introduce a Bill would not be adopted in this case. He made that suggestion with all the more confidence, because, when the Coercion Bills of last Session were introduced, he believed he spoke more strongly against them than almost any other hon. Member; and in making this suggestion, that no opposition should be offered to the introduction of this Bill, he reserved to himself the full right to oppose the Bill on the second reading, if, on a consideration of the Bill in its printed shape, it should be found to deserve opposition. He would also suggest to the Home Secretary that between now and next Thursday he should introduce a Bill to improve the blundering and imbecile administration of the police in Ireland, for he believed that the administration of justice had been more impeded in Ireland by the blundering and imbecile conduct of the Irish police than by anything else. On Saturday last a tragedy occurred in Ireland, of which every Irishman must feel ashamed until the perpetrators had been brought to justice. If they were not brought to justice, he could not conceive how any Irishman could resist any Bill, in any shape, intended to bring them to justice. At the same time, he hoped that measures would be taken to improve the Irish police administration, and that the present Chief Secretary would devote some of his energies and abilities to the detection of the anti-Irish-American crime which seemed to pervade certain classes in the City of Dublin; and that his efforts would not be directed, as those of his Predecessor were, to putting down meetings of ladies and children; but to 526 putting down the perpetrators and organizers of crime.
§ MR. WARTON
observed that the Home Secretary had said that the Government had not changed their policy in consequence of the tragedy of last Saturday, and yet on Tuesday week the Premier had stated that he meant to deal with arrears and the Purchase Clauses; but had said that the most necessary Business was that of the Procedure Rules.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 327; Noes 22: Majority 305.—(Div. List, No. 77.)
§ Bill to be brought in by Secretary Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT, Mr. GLADSTONE, MR. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL for IRELAND, and Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL for IRELAND.
§ Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 157.]