§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir William Harcourt.)
§ MR. O'DONNELL
rose to move the following Amendment:—That outrage and disaffection in Ireland are due above all to the unjust and merciless eviction of upwards of 40,000 men, women, and children by the police and military forces of the Crown during the tenure of office of the Right honourable Member for Bradford.That the feeling of exasperation caused by this eviction of a whole population has been intensified by the conduct of numerous magistrates, police officers, and other officials in causing the slaying and wounding of men, women, and children without any subsequent punishment or trial for such slaying and wounding.That the assassination of two members of the Irish Government, which could not have occurred except through the criminal negligence of the Irish police as organized by the Right honourable Member for Bradford, and which has been universally condemned and deplored in Ireland, is no excuse or palliation for confiscating the safety and liberty of the Irish people.And that, under these circumstances, the proposed Prevention of Crime (Ireland) Bill can only act as a provocation to discontent, and as a fatal obstacle to good government, order, and tranquillity.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I thought to have had an opportunity of mentioning to the hon. Member that his Amendment as it stands can scarcely be put; that is to say, with regard to the three first paragraphs of that Amendment, because really they are not relevant to the Bill before the House. The last paragraph, however, is relevant; and if the hon. Member thinks proper to confine himself to the last paragraph of his Amendment it can properly be put.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he rose to speak against the second reading of the Bill. A good deal of the matter which had been inserted in his name as an Amendment was put down for the purpose of placing before the House as early as possible some of the exceptional points on which he and other Members of the House felt bound to oppose the Bill; but, of course, it was not his intention to insist on them as Amendments upon the present occasion. But, in face of the manner in which the public opinion of the country had been misled for the past few years with regard to the real cause of the disturbed condition of Ireland, he felt it necessary to take the earliest possible steps to place upon record at least a sketch of some of the reasons for which the Bill ought to be opposed. For the last two years the people of Great Britain had been kept in the dark with regard to the real condition of Ireland, and with regard to the real causes of the disturbances in that country. He referred especially to the period since the present Government came into Power, and since the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) took Office. At the same time, he did not mean to convey that the disturbed condition of Ireland began with the coming of the present Government into Office. On the contrary, the disturbed condition of Ireland was a heavy legacy to the present Government from their Predecessors. The late Conservative Administration had the greatest opportunity for dealing with the Irish agrarian question upon terms as easy as it was possible for an Administration to have, and they had let it slip unimproved. It was his contention that the disturbances in Ireland, the outrages and disaffection now existing in Ireland were due, above all, to the unjust and merciless evictions which were carried on in that country; and the pretext for those evictions was afforded by the distress, and misery, and want, and destitution produced by three seasons of exceptional badness, supervening on the chronic badness of Irish landlordism. He believed that in June, 1879, he called attention to the great distress in Ireland, and to the necessity of grappling by remedial measures with that great distress. The answer he received from the Conservative Chief Secretary for Ireland was of that character 963 which outside the House was commonly called flippant, but which in the House and on the Benches of Conservatives would be regarded as the statesmanlike tone to adopt when dealing with an Irish question. He was told by the Conservative Chief Secretary that the distress in Ireland was much inferior to the distress in Great Britain, and that whatever the Government intended to do they did not intend to bring in a Bill for the reduction of rents. Since then the Conservative Party had seen fit not merely to acquiesce in a Bill for the reduction of rents, but undertook to adopt the chief plank of the Land League—to propose to buy out the Irish tenants' holdings by means of advances by Parliament. He did not mean to impugn the good intentions of a great section of the Liberal Party, or the good intentions with which the late Chief Secretary had gone to Ireland; but the right hon. Gentleman was not the first Chief Secretary who had begun with good intentions and ended with being the mere tool and instrument of the coercionist party in Ireland. Considering the wholesale evictions inflicted upon a naturally excitable and impulsive people, could anyone wonder that these legalized outrages—for such he might call these evictions—provoked deeds of wild revenge and deeds of horrible and regrettable atrocity? The sum total of eviction of men, women, and children in Ireland in 1880 amounted to 10,657. They had to go back to the year 1854 to find a record of evictions superior to that of 1880. In 1854 the total number of men, women, and children evicted was 10,794, to which the record of 1880 was little inferior. In 1881, while still there was no remedial legislation applicable to the country, and while the right hon. Member for Bradford was egging on the Liberal Party to cast coercion before remedy, and only at the end of which the Land Act had begun its operations, the total eviction of men, women, and children amounted to 17,341. Although many families were allowed to return to their dwellings as caretakers, they knew well that if they did not accept the extortionate terms of their landlords they would again be evicted; and, as a matter of fact, thousands of men, women, and children were literally cast out on the roadside, only to find shelter in the ditch, the workhouse, or the huts erected 964 by the charity of the Ladies' Land League. In many cases coercionist magistrates prevented those huts from being erected, and the famishing mother and child were left to die by the roadside. Could they wonder, as men of the world, that a system of wholesale evictions of that kind, inflicted upon a people whom they declared to be excitable, should madden and excite them to deeds of wild revenge, and even to regrettable atrocities? If wholesale evictions had occurred under the rule of a Turkish Chief Secretary for Bulgaria, if 17,000 men, women, and children had been turned out in a helpless state on the roadside under his rule, they would have found apologists, both on the Liberal and Conservative Benches, for any outrages inflicted in retaliation by a people driven to desperation. Fearful as was the total of evictions in 1881, the record for the first three months of the present year was infinitely more terrible. During the first three months of this year 7,020 men, women, and children had been cast out. At the same rate, they should have a total of 30,000 evictions during this current year. They had to go back 25 years to find such a record of evictions as that. While the responsibility ultimately rested with the Government, yet it was the right hon. Member for Bradford, the eye and the ear of the Government in Ireland, who was, in an especial sense, responsible for the continuance of this résumé of eviction—the fruitful parent of outrage and revenge. During the two years of his administration the necessity for the vindication of the law in Ireland had been advocated in more or less eloquent tones from the Treasury Bench, backed up by the eloquence of the Front Opposition Bench; for the right hon. Gentleman, though nominally the Chief Secretary of a Liberal Administration, was, in fact, the Chief Secretary, and the Representative of the most ultra section of the Irish Tory fanatics. He wished to call attention to the remarkable effect of the system supported by the right hon. Member for Bradford. A sort of premium was set upon the commission of outrage; by a sort of horrible logic, the Irish people were led to the belief that the less they protected themselves by intimidation and outrage, the more liable would they be to eviction. In the South, in Munster, and in parts of Leinster, 965 acts of outrage and intimidation were rife. Ulster, on the other hand, was looked upon as a specimen of a law-abiding country. But they found this horrible lesson taught by the statistics of outrage and eviction. In 1880, in Munster, 4,075 men, women, and children were evicted; and outrage and intimidation did not diminish in that year or in 1881. The number of evictions in Munster in 1881, however, fell off to 3,965. In law-abiding Ulster, in which outrage and intimidation did not take place, the evictions during 1881 increased and multiplied. In 1881 nearly 6,000 men, women, and children were evicted in Ulster, and the only reward the people of Ulster got for their abstinence from outrage and intimidation was that a far larger number of evictions took place in their Province than in the other Provinces where the desperation of the people led them to cast aside law and order, and to band themselves together to intimidate landlordism from carrying out the sentences of eviction. What more demoralizing and horrible lesson could be taught? Mr. Arnold Forster, an adopted son of the right hon. Member for Bradford, recently published a comparison of evictions and outrages in the different Provinces in Ireland, with the object of showing that in the majority of cases outrages were the result of the innate ferocity of the Irish character, stimulated by the teachings of the Land League, because, as he pointed out, there were no evictions to account for most of the outrages in the districts in which they occurred. In this document Mr. Arnold Forster let them see the species of logic which directed the policy of his relative the Member for Bradford. The horrible lesson to be drawn from the facts adduced by Mr. Arnold Forster was this—that in the districts in which the people did not protect themselves by a recourse to the frightful resource of intimidation, evictions multiplied; while in the districts in which the outrages occurred evictions were less numerous. That was the lesson which the policy of the Chief Secretary for Ireland taught to the excitable and impulsive Irish people. The policy advocated by the Irish Party was very different. They asked that eviction should be prevented by remedial legislation; and they pointed out that the hand of the law-giver, by stopping the 966 operations of the crowbar-brigade, would, at the same time, deprive desperation of its stimulus, and crime of its true parent and author. He recommended hon. Gentlemen opposite to study and consider the facts stated by Mr. Arnold Forster, and to draw conclusions from them for themselves. They would read, in letters of blood and fire, the lesson that was to be drawn from the administration of the Member for Bradford. As he had already stated, the disaffection in Ireland was due to the 40,000 men, women, and children that were evicted during the administration of the right hon. Gentleman. The Times and other newspapers had remarked that such a state of things in Ireland must have been horrible to contemplate. In 1880 there were 10,657 evictions, and in 1881 17,343, making a total of 28,000 in those two years; while, under the stimulus of the rigorous and merciless policy of the Member for Bradford, 7,000 men, women, and children were cast out during the first three months of the present year, bringing up the total number of evictions to the end of March last to 35,000; and he felt sure that during April and May some 3,000 or 4,000 more would he added to the list. The House should bear in mind that these were evictions of tenants, and were independent of the consequential eviction of labourers and dependents; while the forces of the Crown where at the disposal of the harshest landlord in Ireland, in his horrible task of evicting the hard-working population of the poorest districts in the country. There was still another element added to deepen the popular exasperation. While there was no mercy for the people, they were also left without even bare legal justice. While starving men, women, and children were being cast out in thousands, there was complete licence of manslaughter and murder granted to the officers of the law. He was himself a personal witness of the brutality of the police in that city, where they were so worthless and inefficient to put down crime; but where they were so terribly competent to stop the Sunday promenade of the population. Granting the necessity of arresting the hon. Members for Roscommon (Mr. O'Kelly) and Tipperary (Mr. Dillon), were; hey not the darlings of the people, and ought not 967 some respect to have been shown to the feelings of the people in effecting the arrests? On the Saturday night when the hon. Member for Tipperary was taken off to prison the police were let loose upon the people. They kicked and drove, and charged them down the crowded streets of Dublin. On the following Sunday evening, while sitting in his hotel, he was disturbed by an uproar in the street. On going out he saw the mode that was being adopted to enforce loyalty to the Constitution. He saw a policeman of the C Division beating and kicking two little children, and when he asked a sergeant of police who was standing by to stop such brutality, his remonstrances were received with insults and threats. The charging mob of policemen rushed into the hotel, and the blow that was intended for his face fell on his hat, and he had preserved the hat as a monument of the régime of the right hon. Member for Bradford. The proprietor of the hotel was struck down by a blow in the face, and they only escaped by a more precipitate than dignified retreat up the staircase. The clearing of the streets went on, and the hospitals were full of victims of the brutality of the police—including women and children. After the streets were cleared a little, four gentlemen, himself among the number, went to the district station to complain of the conduct of the police. They were admitted without difficulty; but when they stated that they came to complain of the conduct of the police force in Sackville Street, the door was violently slammed in their faces. They afterwards managed to see the Inspector, who promised to look into their complaint. The case was proceeded with to some extent in the Dublin Police Courts; but a number of the brethren of the accused policemen gave unhesitating testimony that by a curious circumstance the members of the force, whose conduct was complained of, happened to have been at a different place at the precise moment when the alleged brutality occurred. The Corporation of Dublin, who were responsible for the peace of the city, sent a deputation to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary begging him to exercise some influence over the police. They received a reply worthy of Warsaw—"Clearing the streets can be no milk-and-water business." During three nights the police brutalities 968 went on unchecked; and on the fourth night a band of roughs, determining to revenge themselves somehow, smashed most of the windows in the public streets, without regard to the religious or political convictions of the owners. The mounted police who, on Saturday night, charged the people on the footways, and the other police, who batoned respectable people on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, were on that night, when real crime was being committed, conspicuous by their absence. But there were more serious charges to be made against the police still. The licence granted to the supporters of law and order by the right hon. Member for Bradford had often produced more terrible consequences than cowardly assaults on women and children. He heard the Prime Minister not long ago congratulate the right hon. Member for Bradford on the fact that his administration in Ireland was unstained by blood; and then he could not help wondering at the completeness with which the Irish Office must have kept the most essential facts of the Irish situation from the knowledge of the Head of the Government. At the very time when that congratulation was expressed, the public mind of Ireland was excited and inflamed by the cruel and cold-blooded murders of half-a-dozen people, including a young woman who was stabbed to death with cold steel by a brutal constable, and a poor old widow, who was killed by a buckshot charge, because, forsooth, the Constabulary were not overtrained in accurate firing. And on the very eve of that horrible and deplorable crime in Phœnix Park, Dublin, which had excited the reprobation of Ireland and of England, and in which a blameless man reaped the bloody harvest of another's sowing—the police force of the right hon. Member for Bradford were ruthlessly shooting down children, and a children's band, and filling humble homes with misery—aye, and with bitter wrath and cursings against the representatives of so-called law and order. When the news came to him on Saturday of that massacre at Ballina, and when he read the account of the conduct of the police in connection with the murders in the Phœnix Park, he was astounded at the colossal inaptitude of the police authorities, and wondered how, when they ought to have known that the worst elements of the population would be worked up by the 969 tidings of that brutality in Ballina, they could have let the messenger of peace enter Dublin without the slightest precaution or safeguard. He felt certain that when the news of the Ballina massacre—where only one of the victims was over 16 years of age—reached the desperate classes in Dublin, men in whose minds disaffection was a tradition, there was not an Englishman, however distinguished, or however innocent, who would be safe within dagger's distance of some of those men. The police of Dublin must have known for months that there were men in that city who were capable of political assassination; and yet on the morrow of the Ballina massacre they took no precautions to save Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Burke. In one of the very last Reports of the number of prisoners confined under the warrant of the right hon. Member for Bradford, the name appeared of Patrick Slattery, who was arrested on the 25th of July, 1881. On the 1st of June there was a universal eviction battue carried out at Bodyke, County Clare, on the estate of Colonel O'Callaghan. A large number of mounted police and Constabulary went to enforce wholesale evictions. Naturally, when a whole townland was to be made desolate, a sympathetic and excitable concourse gathered. When Father Murphy, the parish priest, arrived on the scene there had already been some danger of a collision between the people and the police; but he separated the parties, who were facing one another with resentful feelings, and pledged himself that, if the police maintained ordinary calm and restraint, even those cruel evictions should pass off quietly. It so happened that some beehives had been overset, intentionally or unintentionally, and the swarming bees made themselves more busy with the mounted force than suited the temper or the equitation of its members. While the bees were stinging the horses the people laughed, and the County Inspector, losing his temper—probably the same Inspector whose Shooting-on-Suspicion Circular had excited the just reprobation of Parliament—gave orders to the men to charge, and cut right and left. The parish priest said that the people were quiet and orderly at the time, and were only laughing at the horses of the police being stung by the bees. On that order, 970 however, being given, the people were attacked by the police, who charged and struck at all before them, and John Maloney was murdered. The attack of the police was aggravated in the extreme; and, not content with this, they captured several men, and led them along in front for the protection of the police and of the process-server against any chance stone that the infuriated mob might aim at them. They cut off the buttons of their trousers, that their hands might be engaged in holding them up and not allowed to be free; and in this way they were marched about for six hours. But what happened to Patrick Slattery? Upon the inquiry into the murder of John Maloney he came forward as a witness against the police. He named O'Grady at the Coroner's inquest as the man who struck Maloney, and afterwards pointed him out to Inspector Crane and to the County Inspector also. An English visitor saw the widow of the murdered man Maloney, and heard her speak of him as a good and peaceable man. She did not know till late that evening that he had been injured, and then she heard that the priest and doctor were with him. She went to him, but he never spoke or recognized her again. Here, surely, was a case deserving investigation and trial. The parish priest declared the people were peaceable when assaulted. Doubtless, on the authority of the right hon. Member for Bradford, the Attorney General for Ireland, labouring then under the conviction that everything connected with agrarianism in Ireland was "steeped in treason," issued a notice of refusal to prosecute, while the witness Slattery, the witness against the police, who had identified the murderer, was thrust into gaol without trial in that same month. Those cases were known throughout the West of Ireland, and wherever they were known they were little calculated to promote respect for law and order in Ireland. There was no punishment for the brutal police who attacked the people of Dublin, nor for the constables who murdered Ellen Macdonagh, or John Maloney, or the poor children at Ballina; and yet the Government expected to find the sympathy of the people on the side of the so-called party of law and order. They now proposed to introduce a Bill to abolish trials by jury, and to substitute 971 for trial by his peers trial before three salaried Government functionaries, all of whom had obtained their promotion by activity in Party warfare of one side or the other, both of which were hostile to the people. It proposed to place the people of Ireland under the government of Resident Magistrates, whose name was a misnomer, for they did not reside in the district, but were merely Government officials bitterly opposed to the feelings of the people; it proposed to give to the police who struck down the peaceful crowds in Dublin irresponsible power to search, and insult, and summarily arrest everyone in Ireland at the will of an eminent official of the Crown; and yet the Government thought that the Bill would tend to promote law and order. If the Government wished to have criminals brought to justice, if they desired the sympathy of the people upon the side of law and order, if they wanted the whole nation anxious to discover offenders and to deliver them up to the police, and if they desired witnesses to come forward and juries to convict, then let them remove the grievances of Ireland—the tyranny which weighed upon her; and not only let them remove coercion, but also those who committed crimes under coercion. Until they did that Coercion Bills would be useless, and men who, under ordinary circumstances, would be devoted to law and order would bind the whole nation into a tacit conspiracy against the law which punished the crime of the people, but absolved the crime of power. On the other hand, let justice be done. Save the people from evictions, and put an end to that which stained the rule of England in Ireland, and they would put a stop to both agrarian crime and remove intimidation. Hon. Members had expressed surprise that when an agrarian outrage took place in Ireland there was not the same indignation and horror expressed throughout the country as at the recent assassination of Lord Frederick Cavendish. Such feeling was too often checked and chilled at its source by the thought that possibly the lawless act was brought about by feelings of revenge against the men and the system which had made desolate his home, and brought death and disgrace into honest and harmless families. Until the danger of eviction was removed, and police murderers as well as Ribbon 972 murderers were brought to justice, coercion was useless. It would only aggravate the sore and spread the plague-spot; and after three years of coercion they would have to deal with an Irish race more exasperated than ever. Every day spent in coercion, and kept from the furtherance of remedial measures, was a day less for good government, and a day given to the cause of discord and of international hate, culminating in permanent danger in Ireland.
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
said, that although last year he opposed the Coercion Bill, he could not now take upon himself the responsibility of opposing the Bill before the House. He could not better express the reasons which induced him to adopt this course than by quoting the words of one who was long a Member of that House (Mr. A. M. Sullivan). Writing six weeks ago in condemnation of the Coercion Act, Mr. Sullivan said—There were thousands of honest Irishmen who would forgive much to coercion if it would only reach crime and stamp out the criminals. There were thousands who would bless the hangman's hands if he could execute justice on the murderers of Mrs. Smythe.He (Colonel Colthurst) was sure his learned Friend would have equally condemned those cowardly wretches who, in obedience to the "no rent" manifesto, had committed brutal murders in various parts of Ireland. He could not understand the position of those who condemned the horrible political murders in Dublin, and who never said a word, not the most perfunctory word, in condemnation of other murders, which, in his opinion, were more cowardly, more brutal, and more disgraceful. They had recently an explanation from the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) of the cause of agrarian outrages; and though they had good reason to know the inaccuracies of the statements of the hon. Member, on this occasion he certainly appeared to have surpassed himself. The hon. Member stated that he believed the outrages were mostly committed by small farmers with the intention of terrifying the larger farmers, and thereby preventing them from paying their rents, and leaving small farmers to the vengeance of their landlord——
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
said, he had not heard those words; but he would accept the correction. As far as his county was concerned, outrages were confined to a very small area; but in that area and in the county of Kerry the explanation of the hon. Member for the City of Cork would not do. There were no evictions; there was nothing said about evictions. The men who committed the outrages told their victims that they had to be punished for disobeying the "no rent" manifesto, or for intending to disobey it. They made no secret of it. In some cases they tortured and mutilated their victims for a supposed intention of paying their rent; but nothing was said about evictions. He did not deny that possibly the sons of some small and large farmers and their labourers engaged in these outrages; but the outrages themselves were not the spontaneous ebullition of vengeance or of rage on the part of these people. Anyone who made such an assertion libelled his countrymen. They were organized outrages by some society or another, whether the Land League or that society described by "Warhawk," in which he stated that the outrages of "Captain Moonlight" were committed by a society running alongside, but outside it; but which the Land League knew of, but were afraid to control. He asked again, who paid the money to defend "Captain Moonlight?" Who brought counsel down specially from Dublin? Certainly not the sons of small farmers or the sons of labourers; but some organization—some society—be that society what it might. As for evictions, no one could deplore more sincerely than himself those that had resulted from the distress of the years 1879 and 1880; but there was another class that had been caused by the direct action of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. Long before the "no rent" manifesto was issued, the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) advised farmers whose interests were being sold not to buy them in, but to allow themselves to be evicted, to trust to their friends in America, and to believe that the Land League must win in the long run. After this followed the "no rent" manifesto, which was a general call on every farmer, whether large or small, not to pay his rent. Could it be wondered at, then, that those who did follow this advice, on 974 finding themselves deceived and abandoned, with a miserable £5, £10, or £20 note doled out from a society in Dublin, should resort to outrage? With respect to the provisions of the Bill, he did not consider it part of his duty on the present occasion to go into them. Her Majesty's Government, in bringing it forward, said it was the best or the only way of coping with the state of things against law which existed. With regard to the system of compensation for murder and mutilation, he admitted its severity. The injustice had been mitigated by removing it from the Grand Juries to the Lord Lieutenant in Council; but he considered the principle altogether bad and unjust. He should not grudge compensation, for he hoped to be able in Committee to propose a clause making compensation retrospective, so that the victims of the "no rent" manifesto should have the benefit of the provisions. But he held that compensation for murder and mutilation should be levied on the whole county, and not merely on the locality. He hoped the Government would, at any rate, consider this point, and he knew that many Irish Members attached great importance to such a provision as a preventive of crime. It was a very painful task for him to vote for this Bill; but he considered it a paramount duty of Members from Ireland, at the risk of misconstruction and misrepresentation such as he had experienced in common with others, to look at the Bill solely on the ground of whether it was likely to repress crime and punish the criminals.
§ MR. RATHBONE
said, he felt that he had neither position or eloquence to give weight to his words. It was only because of the deep conviction he felt of the importance of what he wished to say in this crisis of our national affairs that he asked the attention of the House for a few minutes. It depended on the spirit in which they approached the work they were now engaged upon whether this Bill was really a Bill for the prevention of crime, or whether, in the words of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. O'Donnell), it was a provocation to further crime. It must not be in the spirit which had prevailed for the last few days that they were to approach this measure. In the face of a crisis such as they had before them, he would ask hon. Members to consider 975 what must be the effect of language that was used by men to whom the country naturally looked, for direction? There had been no accusation too absurd to be believed, no motive too base to be ascribed, by men whom, they had considered honourable, to men as honourable as themselves. He would ask the House whether, when they were now asked to place in the hands of the Government of the day such exceptional powers as they were asked to place in their hands, they ought not to approach the consideration of this measure without endeavouring to make more difficult the action of the law that was to be passed, but rather with more self-control and reticence than had been observed? Were patriotism and prudence to be overpowered by passion and Party, as they seemed to have been during the last two or three days? If so, he must say he trembled for the future of Ireland and for the character of this country. The present crisis which they had before them was a sad one, and an alarming one; but it was not without a prospect of hope, if they would only meet it as men and as Christians. He would venture to ask the aid of words which had much more authority than any he could use—those words which had been used by a lady—Lady Frederick Cavendish—who was entitled to be considered to speak with authority, because on her had fallen the most severe and crushing sorrow of these events. They were asked by her voice to be allowed to hope that out of the graves of the murdered statesmen might arise a different spirit in dealing with the question of Ireland. And would they be deaf to that voice? Certainly the way in which the dreadful occurrence was received by all Parties and by the nation was enough to make the heart of every patriot beat again with hope for the future of his country. Nothing could have been more noble or disinterested than the conduct of the Leaders of the Conservative Party; and the attitude of the nation, which might have been expected to be roused to violence and fury by such an act, was marked by like characteristics. Why should there now be a change? Why should they talk with violence, and make accusations of all kinds of base motives against one another, after having at last seen a ray of hope from the dreadful calamity? The murder of a 976 statesman of noble character, who went to Ireland under circumstances which appealed to the best instincts of the Irish population, had roused in that country a feeling which led them to see the natural results of the teachings which had been given there. In these circumstances there was among the Irish people a general revolt against intimidation and outrage, which, if used with statesmanship and consideration, might have led to the desired results. Yet, what was the language with which the crisis was treated? They said to these Irish leaders—he would not palliate their conduct in the slightest degree; but still these men saw clearly where their dangerous cries were leading them, and there was a desire on their part to turn—they said, not only to these men, but to the Irish people—"You have been accomplices with O'Donovan Rossa; you have been tainted with crime; you are now disposed to better ways; but we will take you by the throat, and, because you have been accomplices with O'Donovan Rossa, we will throw you back to your evil courses." Was that an act of statesmanship or of common sense, or dictated by any knowledge of human character? He urged upon the House on all sides to consider whether it was not discreditable to bandy about from Party to Party the basest accusations. For instance, they had had a proposal from the right hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) on a very difficult subject, which everybody interested in Ireland recognized as a subject which should be dealt with. It seemed to him there was no more hopeful prospect for Ireland than in that Motion. The Government very wisely saw in it an opportunity of combining both Parties in Ireland in the government of that country. But from the other side there came imputations that the Government were weak and foolish, and had to trust to the Conservatives and the Home Rulers for aid in governing Ireland. He held that they were wise in so trusting their opponents, and that any statesman who was unwilling to accept the assistance of hon. Gentlemen opposite would be unfit to govern. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] On the other hand, from Members of his own side of the House there came the accusation that the right hon. Gentleman was merely making a bid for the allegiance of the 977 violent Party. Such accusations were untrue, and were dishonourable, not to those against whom they were made, but to those who made them. It was said the Government had made mistakes. He would like to know what Government that had ever governed Ireland had not made mistakes; and, under these circumstances, it was not noble nor statesmanlike to spread all sorts of absurd stories. Surely the act of real patriots would be to believe in the more generous motive, for it was not by constantly imputing bad motives that they could meet the great difficulty of governing Ireland. They were proposing to give the Government of the day great powers; and was it wise that they should try to discredit the Government, and render those powers useless? He was certain there was in the Irish people that which was great and noble, and by founding their policy on their good qualities, in 10 years they could make Ireland one of the most easily governed, one of the quietest, if not one of the most prosperous, parts of Her Majesty's Dominions; but they could not govern Ireland unless they were prepared to put aside Party feeling. He did not mean to say it was not the duty of the Opposition to criticize; but that criticism should be offered, as it had been offered by some of the Leaders of the Opposition, in a fair and generous spirit. If for 10 years only Ireland could be governed with kindness, firmness, and justice, there would be no Irish difficulty. Was it Utopian to believe that there was sufficient patriotism in them to impel them to take that course? He maintained that it was not. It was not Utopian, but on one condition only—namely, that men would give the leaders of the country credit for having the same patriotism and sense of right which they themselves possessed. That was a faith which would remove even the great mountain of Irish discontent and Irish disloyalty.
§ MR. BRYCE
said, they ought to approach this measure in a spirit of calmness, and not allow any horror they might feel at the terrible crimes of the last few months and weeks to inflame their feelings or distort their judgment. What was the general character of this Bill? It was praised as being a very strong measure. He admitted that this was a time when strong 978 measures were necessary; but a measure ought to be strong in a right direction. History was full of strong measures and strong policies which had failed. Strong measures were tried in Ireland during the first 30 years of this century; but at the end of that time the condition of Ireland was as bad as before. Then take the Bill of 16 months ago—the Protection of Person and Property (Ireland) Act, which was still in force. That measure was worked by the late Chief Secretary with as much earnestness and concientiousness as any Minister could have brought to the work; but, nevertheless, it was a failure. At best, it only held at bay the forces of disorder. What was wanted was, that the present Bill should not be one striking out wildly, but should be directed to the root and heart of the evil. The great difficulty in Ireland was not the punishment, but the detection of crime—the discovery of the perpetrators of it. Take all the worst murders which had disgraced Ireland during the past 10 years, and the failure of justice had been due not so much to the juries as to the lack of evidence, arising from the fact that the police could not put their hands upon the guilty men; or, if they guessed at them, could not gather evidence sufficient to convict. What was wanted was a measure to make detection easier, rather than the multiplication of offences. Was this a measure which had that effect? He found only one provision specially directed to the detection of crime, and that was the power to make domiciliary visits. The difficulty of discovery was owing to the circumstance that the people were far too frequently in sympathy with crime. Therefore, the main object of our legislation should be to destroy that sympathy, and to range on the side of the law a people who, from past experiences, were apt to look upon English law and its officials as engines of oppression. They did not want any measure which would alienate or annoy what he might call the neutral party in Ireland, those who were neither such good citizens as to aid the law, nor such bad ones as to break it They wanted to place this neutral party, which was the majority of the population, on the side of law and order. To do so they must avoid any measures capable of abuse, or which would bear hardly on the well-intentioned portion of the population. This Bill would be 979 mainly administered by the resident gentry in Ireland, the Justices of the Peace and Resident Magistrates, who belonged by birth and sympathy to the landlord class. Now, he did not wish to say a word against the landlord class; but they were suspected by the people—an antagonism had grown up between them and the people. They had in Ireland, in fact, practically to deal with two nations—the aboriginal race, who were mostly Roman Catholic in religion, and the race, English and Scottish by origin, Protestant by religion, and the landlords usually belonged to the latter. As regarded trial by a Commission of Judges, he thought even the Leaders of the extreme Irish Party were of opinion it was a remedy which might be fairly proposed; but the difficulty had always been in finding evidence, and he was not sanguine as to the results. He could not think that in the great majority of cases much would be gained by the change. But in providing for trial by Judges without a jury the Bill placed political alongside of ordinary offences, and in this seemed to be the greatest objection to it. The habit had been formed in Ireland, during the evil days of the last century, of seeking to attain political ends by private crime, just as assassination had been resorted to in Italy and in Russia with the object of attaining political ends. The object of wise legislation should be to permit proper means of discussion, and not to interfere with Constitutional agitation, nor allow the people to find any sort of excuse for attempting to attain political ends by private crime. He doubted if they properly understood the halo of glory which in Ireland still unhappily surrounded conspiracy against the English Government. He believed the honest intention of English Ministers for many years past had been, as it now was, to do well by Ireland; but that was not understood in Ireland, and the feeling of the people was, consequently, still in sympathy with those who conspired; and, what was even worse, it tolerated crimes committed for agrarian or political ends. If that was so, the way to correct this evil was to draw a line between political and other crime. They all looked upon a man who committed a purely political offence in a different way from a man who committed a murder or an assassination. They condemned him, no doubt, 980 but they did not feel the same moral repulsion from him. Now, what did this Bill propose to do? It dealt with purely political offences as being of the same nature with ordinary crimes. The 7th clause contained extensive provisions against the right of public meeting, while the 10th contained similar provisions against newspapers. He did not justify either unlawful meetings or articles inciting to sedition, for he admitted that they ought to be punished, and, if necessary, with severity. But it was a dangerous thing to interfere with the freedom of public meetings. There was a great safeguard in allowing freedom of discussion in meetings—a Government could better learn what was stirring in the minds of the people, and it was far easier to pass severe condemnation on the man who, while open agitation was permitted, had recourse to secret conspiracies. It would have been, at any rate, better, though he did not say that it would have been wise, to take power to deal with criminal words used at public meetings or in newspapers in the clause which authorized the Judges to try without juries. Was there any further exceptional power required for that purpose? He believed it was a positive advantage to encourage open discussion and agitation rather than drive them underground. The real feelings of the people would then be ascertained, and it would be easier to govern the country than if the disease were driven beneath the surface. It might be said that those powers would not be abused; but that was the invariable argument when arbitrary powers were asked for. No doubt, they would not be abused by the present Lord Lieutenant or the present Chief Secretary. Nor was he speaking in a Party sense, for he was sure that either of the right hon. and learned Gentlemen the Members for the University of Dublin, if they were responsible for the government of their country, would not abuse such powers. But he would be sorry to intrust those powers to the right hon. Gentleman who was Chief Secretary at the close of the late Government (Mr. J. Lowther). Then, it ought not to be forgotten that the minor officials, who would be the chief administrators of this Act—the Resident Magistrates and Justices of the Peace—all belonged to a class out of sympathy with the bulk of the people, and, at the 981 present time, in a state of great exasperation. He had recently received letters from two gentlemen of high position in Ireland, and possessing intimate knowledge of the country. His correspondents, while not objecting to strong measures for the repression of disorder, expressed their belief that the present measure would fail, as the previous one had failed, because it would be administered by persons most of whom owed their positions to political and Party services or to private interest, and were, therefore, unfitted by temper as well as by insufficient legal knowledge to deal with political offences, and who also by class and tradition disliked, and were disliked by, the agricultural and trading elements of the population. He thought the clause which related to intimidation—Clause 4—was far too wide, and would prove dangerous. He hoped the Government would make some concessions as regarded public meetings and this Intimidation Clause and the Resident Magistrates, for there were other strong provisions in the Bill which, if well used, would suffice to answer the purpose in view. To hon. Members from Ireland he appealed not to renew those obstructive tactics, which they adopted last year against the Coercion Bill, and to make known the feelings of Ireland without unnecessarily prolonging the discussion. He knew that suggestions from English Liberal Members, however friendly, were ill received by Irish Members opposite. [Mr. HEALY: Hear, hear!] But that would not change the feelings of English Members, in so far as these feelings were friendly. They would act quite independently of how their overtures were received by hon. Gentlemen from Ireland. He believed they would consider this Bill in a fair spirit—in a spirit which altogether acquitted the Irish people from any participation in, or sympathy with, the horrible assassinations of last Saturday week; in a spirit which would seek to make this Bill effectual against crime, but as lenient as possible towards the quiet and well-disposed people in Ireland.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, that the hon. and gallant Member for the County of Cork (Colonel Colthurst) had quoted Mr. A. M. Sullivan in favour of the view that the Irish people would endure coercion if it would put down crime. But he thought Irish Members might be ex- 982 cused from voting for the Bill on any such grounds, when they remembered how completely the Act of last year had failed of its purpose. The hon. and gallant Member said that the responsibility of the Bill should rest with the Government. That was what was said last year. The hon. Member who had just sat down, and who had made a speech which, if made by an Irish Member, would have evoked criticism from Liberal Members, said he understood the Irish Members were not opposed to the tribunal of three Judges. He ventured to point out that the Irish Judges themselves were opposed to it, and therefore it was not surprising if Irish Members were not very favourable to it. It was manifestly absurd to give the Judges who were placed on the Bench for political services, the power to decide a charge of treason against the opponents of the Government. There was also a provision which allowed them to arrest a person for treason in England, and send him over to Ireland to be tried by the Judges; whereas, if he were tried in England, he would be tried by jury. He was very much opposed to that. He submitted that a provision which rendered a man liable to six months' imprisonment for attending a proclaimed meeting, the proclamation of which he might not have seen, as they were often only proclaimed on the morning of the meeting, was unjust. If they wanted to perceive how differently the English and the Irish people were treated, they would see it in the Intimidation Clauses of the Bill. It left the description of crimes which were to be intimidation wholly to the imagination of the Resident Magistrate. In the English Act passed a few years ago the acts of intimidation were set forth fully and specifically, and the magistrate could not go beyond them. In Ireland the magistrate, after imagining an act of intimidation, could imprison the offender for six months with hard labour. In England there was the option of a fine, and the maximum imprisonment was three months. Similarly, in the clauses dealing with illegal associations, the magistrate was left to his own imagination as to what constituted an illegal association, and the sentence was also six months' imprisonment. There was no appeal in any of those cases. If an appeal would involve 983 a trial before a jury he could understand this refusal. But the appeal would be to the County Court Judge; certainly not to a person who would set aside such a conviction without the strongest reasons. The effect of these enactments would be to strengthen the belief of the people in the utter hopelessness of obtaining justice from English officials. Aggravated assaults upon the person were, according to the first part of the Bill, to be tried before the Commission of Judges; in the second part before the magistrates. He did not know whether it was intended to give both tribunals co-ordinate jurisdiction. He was of opinion that the power of domiciliary visits would not only cause great irritation, but would prove just as fruitless as the power of search under the Peace Preservation Act of last year. It was said that they might depend upon the Irish Executive to carry out the Bill properly; but that was just what was said last year. Hon. Members had last year expressed the same confidence in the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Forster) which they now did in the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Trevelyan). What had been the result? The incidents of the last few days had at least been satisfactory in this respect—that they had shown up the late Chief Secretary in the light in which he had been long regarded by the Irish Members. Even if Lord Spencer or the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Trevelyan) were disposed to carry out the Bill in the most impartial manner they would have to depend a great deal upon minor administrators. The Lord Lieutenant and Chief Secretary would not be able to supervise all these minor administrators. They would have to depend for information upon a class of persons who were utterly opposed to attempts to seek popular right. The result would be that at the end of three months they would find the Irish people and the Irish Members as much opposed to the new Lord Lieutenant and Chief Secretary as to the last. The present Government had thrown away two grand opportunities. They had dashed by the Bill of last year the hopes formed by their accession to Office. Now, again, when some promise had been held out that the policy of coercion was going to be abandoned, and Ireland to be governed more in accordance with Irish ideas, and when the Irish people had 984 shown their disposition to meet the Government half way, the Administration brought in another Coercion Bill. Such legislation would only strengthen the hands of those who had no belief in Parliamentary action. Troublesome as the extreme politicians of the Irish Party might have been in that House, it was far better that the Government should have to deal with them, than find themselves face to face with men who had given up all hope in Parliamentary agitation, but not all hope in more forcible measures.
§ MR. R. T. REID
said, that hon. Gentlemen opposite had contended that previous measures of a similar character to that before the House had been tried and had proved unsuccessful; but they had not informed them of any specific substitute for such measures, except the suggestion of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce), that they should do something to make the people of Ireland sympathize with the law, and cease to sympathize with crime. If the people of Ireland could be made to sympathize with the law, then the Irish question would be settled at once. To state that what was wanted was some measure to obtain sympathy for the law did not give any solution of the difficulty. Measures of redress and of conciliation had certainly been tried during the present Parliament; and hon. Members opposite representing Irish constituencies must admit that, at all events, an attempt had been made to do justice to Ireland. He had still a strong hope that these conciliatory measures would eventually prove successful. The few observations he had to make were not intended to be hostile to some measure of this character, which he thought was necessary. It was, however, desirable that he should point out the remarkable change which the Bill proposed to make in the position of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. One of the great safeguards of liberty in this country was the provision which separated the Executive from judicial functions. In this Bill, however, it was proposed to invest the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland with judicial functions such as were not possessed by any English or Irish Judges. The Lord Lieutenant, for instance, was to be empowered to say, if he thought proper, that certain cases should not be tried by jury, but that they should be tried by a 985 Commission of Judges. It might be quite right to say in some cases that trial by jury should be taken away; but it was not a power that should be left in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant, be he whom he might. He thought that on that point, at all events, the Bill went too far. His principal objection to the Bill was that judicial and executive functions were mixed up in a way which was not consistent with Constitutional rules. The Bill, it was true, was going beyond Constitutional rules; but it should not go further than was absolutely necessary, and he failed to see how those functions to which he referred could not be performed by Judges or other impartial persons. He did not desire to advert to other defects, inasmuch as they had been pointed out by other hon. Members. He hoped that the Government would keep the Arrears Bill running on at the same time with this measure, in order that the House might not find themselves in the position of having conferred these extraordinary powers upon the Government, and of being unable to pass the Arrears Bill.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that it was little more than a year ago since Her Majesty's Government came forward with their policy with regard to Ireland—a policy based upon coercion and upon remedial measures. From the fact that, at the present moment, the House was asked to pass a remedial measure and a Coercion Bill, it was clear that the former policy of the Government had been a failure. He was not prepared to say that Ireland was not in a brighter condition now than she was this time last year, because the greed of the landlords had been abated in a large degree by the operation of the Land Act, and they were not now able to treat their tenants as though they were their absolute slaves. He rejoiced greatly that the Prime Minister was going to bring in an Arrears Bill, because it was to the action of the Irish landlords, in evading the spirit of the Land Act with regard to the arrears, that the outrages and most of the other Irish difficulties were due. He did not complain of the Government for bringing in one of the most stringent Coercive Bills that had ever been submitted to the House, in order to deal with the assassinations in Ireland, because it was only right that, in the present state of things in that coun- 986 try, greater powers should be conferred upon the Executive. What, however, he did complain of was that this Bill erred precisely in the direction that the previous one had done, inasmuch as it was not aimed solely at the actual perpetrators of outrages, but was directed also at hon. Members sitting opposite. In fact, he could see the trail of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) and of his policy in this measure. At the time the measure was framed the right hon. Gentleman was the guide, philosopher, and friend of Her Majesty's Government. In introducing his first coercive measure the right hon. Gentleman had stated that it was aimed solely at the village ruffians, and that he himself knew every village ruffian in Ireland. It soon, however, became perfectly clear that the right hon. Gentleman knew nothing whatever about them. His impression was that the right hon. Gentleman knew very little indeed about Ireland from the moment he assumed Office until the time he retired in dudgeon from his position, and came forward to justify himself by relating sensational private conversation, and told his late Colleagues that they were determined to pay black-mail to violators of the law, and to act in a dishonourable manner. He did not believe that hon. Members opposite were responsible in any way for the outrages that had been committed in Ireland. There could be no doubt that those outrages had been committed with impunity, because the majority of the Irish people had kept aloof from giving assistance to the Government. The Irish people felt that at the same time the Government were assailing the scoundrels they were assailing them. This was the necessary result of the Government attacking the moderate Party in Ireland as well as the ruffians. The great object of the Government ought to be to get the majority of the Irish people on their side to fight with them against these outrages. It had been said that the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his Friends did not represent the majority of the Irish people. For his part, he thought that, in the main, they did unquestionably represent the opinion of the vast majority of their countrymen. That being so, was the Bill likely to enlist them on the side of the Government? He did not think it 987 would. For his part, he was most anxious that the Liberal Party should co-operate with hon. Gentlemen opposite, and also that hon. Gentlemen opposite should co-operate with the Liberal Party. It was quite right that the Government should seek in every way possible to obtain the co-operation of the Leaders of the Irish nation. Certain Members on the Opposition side of the House had for some days past been discovering mares' nests as to bargains and compacts; but he thought that mare's nest had been thoroughly exploded by the masterly speech delivered by the President of the Board of Trade the other day. He did not know whether Mr. Clifford Lloyd, who had been in England at the time, had had anything to do with the framing of this Bill; but he thought it would do very little good, because it seemed to him that they were unable to catch these assassins; they were unable to obtain evidence when they did catch them, and he did not see what they would gain by appointing three Judges, who would probably insist on stronger evidence than a jury would in order to convict men whom they could not catch, and against whom they had the greatest possible difficulty in obtaining evidence. As long as the political and criminal elements were mixed up in this Bill he could not vote for it; and he trusted they should hear from the Prime Minister that he was disposed to make considerable modification of its more aggravating provisions. The Intimidation Clause, for instance, dealing, as it did, with what might be termed constructive intimidation, went much too far. A father who threatened to cut off his son with a shilling might be brought under its provisions. It was, of course, directed against "Boycotting." Now, undoubtedly, "Boycotting" had its bad features; but a system of exclusive trading was perfectly legitimate. He could not conceive that it was a crime for a man to go to a tradesman and say—"I will not deal with you, because I believe your actions to be unpatriotic." With regard to Clause 5, which punished those who took part in any riot or unlawful assembly, he thought public meetings ought to be encouraged rather than prohibited, so long as no disloyal or improper language was used; and he would, therefore, suggest that the clause should be made to apply to 988 riots alone. With reference to the clause dealing with unlawful associations, he thought that instead of the words "unlawful associations," the words "secret associations for unlawful purposes" should be inserted. Clause 9 gave the authorities the right to detain a person who was out after sunset. "After sunset" was perfectly monstrous, and he thought the Government ought to make the hour 10 or 10.30, an hour when persons were not obliged to be out on account of their reasonable occupations. The whole of the clause with respect to newspapers should be struck out. By that clause the Government were taking greater powers than were exercised even in the case of Napoleon III., because the French newspapers received three warnings before they were suppressed. He considered that the Bill gave far too much general powers to Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors, who were allowed to search whoever they liked. Let search be by distinct search warrants; and he thought it would be well to add to this clause a guarantee of indemnity for injuries inflicted in the carrying out of these search warrants. There had been cases of haystacks and other property being destroyed in the carrying out of these search warrants. He also took exception to the authority which was given to the Stipendiary Magistrates. He thought the arbitrary powers which it was proposed to confer on them would be better exercised by the County Court Judges, though it was a choice of evils. He also invited the attention of the Prime Minister to the duration of the Bill. Three years were too long a period for the Bill to remain in force. No doubt Lord Spencer was a man of kindly feeling; but who could say that he would be Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, or even that the present Government would be in power, three years hence? He could not imagine anything more horrible than that, say, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Lincolnshire (Mr. J. Lowther) should be invested with the powers of this Bill. The consequence would probably be that if the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister went over to Ireland he would be arrested and put into prison. The noble Lord the Leader of the Conservative Party had said he could not understand what distinction there was between the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. 989 Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). The opinion of the noble Lord was that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), instead of sitting on that Bench, ought to be in Kilmainham. He simply took that as an illustration; and he put it to the right hon. Gentleman whether it was reasonable that he should bring in this Bill with a chance of it, with its enormous powers, being administered by Gentlemen of Conservative views? He thought it was most undesirable. For himself, he believed they would never get to the bottom of the difficulty in Ireland until they recognized that the Irish had a right to exercise every species of jurisdiction in matters that seemingly regarded themselves. In fact, he was perfectly certain that some of these days they must give to the Irish a fair and legitimate Home Rule. He was sure the Prime Minister was anxious to do what was right. His admiration for the right hon. Gentleman was increased whenever he spoke of Irish matters, for his tone was very different from that of many of his Colleagues. Hon. Gentlemen opposite below the Gangway ought to take into consideration the position of the right hon. Gentleman, and that the great excitement in the country owing to the recent assassinations made it absolutely necessary for him to do something. Besides, all the Colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman were not as well-minded as himself. There seemed to be two currents in the Cabinet. There were some Members of it who desired to do everything they could for Ireland; but they were baulked by those of their Colleagues who were called Whigs. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] Well, he might be mistaken; but it appeared to him that though between the Whig policy and the Conservative policy there might be distinctions there was very little difference. The noble Lord the Member for Middlesex said yesterday that the Conservatives anticipated great and material assistance from their more moderate opponents. Well, they had heard a great deal about the treaty of Kilmainham; but he should like to know whether they were going to have a treaty of Bradford? He should like to know whether any overtures for what was called a "Coalition Government" had been made—that was to say, for a little bridge to be made in order to pro- 990 vide for hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side who shared the opinions of hon. Members opposite an easy way of going over? He should be exceedingly glad to see these Gentlemen go over, for they greatly weakened the Radical policy on that side, and they could be spared with considerable advantage. The right hon. Gentleman did not acquire power by their aid, but by the aid of the Radicals, who were perfectly willing and anxious to be true to the right hon. Gentleman, and he trusted the right hon. Gentleman would be true to them. He trusted also that the right hon. Gentleman would not allow himself to be influenced in his generous impulses by any advice on the part of Whigs or Conservatives, but would fairly see how far he could minimize the provisions of the Bill, and would tell them before the second reading what suggestions he would be prepared to accept, so as to save them from the painful necessity of voting against the second reading.
§ MR. MACFARLANE
said, he was sorry that the right hon. Member for Bradford was not present, for the few remarks he had to make he should like to make to his face. Though the right hon. Gentleman's name was not on the back, he looked on him as the real father of the Bill, which was due to the crimes which had arisen out of the exasperation caused by the rule of the right hon. Gentleman, who had been the Pharaoh of Ireland for the last two years. He would not attack the right hon. Gentleman; but he must say he did not believe that any man ever went to Ireland with such good intentions who did so much mischief in that time. The right hon. Gentleman brought on that country nearly as many plagues as Pharaoh brought on the land of Egypt. He was quite prepared to admit the difficulties in the way of the right hon. Gentleman; but he listened to bad advice when he went over to Ireland, and the milk of human kindness which was in him turned sour. The right hon. Gentleman had now left the Government. When Jonah went overboard he saved the ship; but this Jonah having gone overboard, was endeavouring to scuttle the vessel. The personal character of the right hon. Gentleman was never attacked; but the disclosures which he made of what might fairly be called Cabinet secrets must have been for poli- 991 tical purposes. In employing coercion against Ireland one thing ought never to be absent from the minds of English statesmen—their own part in producing the condition of things with which they had to deal. The Prime Minister was the first English statesman of this age who had endeavoured to do justice to Ireland; and he hoped Irishmen would not forget that much of the liberty they enjoyed, and of the security which the tenants possessed, was due to him. With the name of the Prime Minister he must couple that of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. John Bright), who had also done much for the people of Ireland. But, he would ask, what was the use of passing laws to try men who were never caught? There was no finer body of men as a military force than the Irish police; but as detectives they were, from their organization, necessarily defective. They carried their noses too high in the air to scent the criminal. If the assassins in the Phœnix Park had been captured, did the House suppose they would not be convicted by any jury in any part of Ireland? This Bill gave great power to the authorities in Ireland. The question was whether that power could be properly intrusted to those authorities. He believed himself that this Bill would create more discontent than already existed in Ireland. He was sure that the Arrears Bill would be a better Peace Preservation Act than the one now before the House. This Bill was not urgent; it could wait. It would not enable them to catch criminals. Nothing would enable them to do that but public opinion. Let them get public opinion on the side of the law, and then they would put down crime. Let the people of Ireland see that the law was intended to strike at criminals, and then they would respect the law. Let the people of Ireland see that the law was aimed, not at politicians, but at criminals, and then they would enlist the law-abiding people of Ireland on the side of the authorities. Did any man believe that the mass of the Irish people sympathized with the criminal class or with crime? They did not. If Her Majesty's Government would consider the effect of the Act of last year they would learn a very valuable lesson. Was it sympathy with crime, with murder, with treason, and with other offences that induced the mass of the priests and people to de- 992 nounce the Coercion Bill? There was no sympathy with crime; but it was because they knew that the Act was used for oppression that they denounced it.
§ COLONEL O'BEIRNE
said, he thought the Bill would be simply what it was intended to be—namely, a terror to evildoers. It was meant for the punishment of those whose crimes horrified the whole country; and he was sure that men who were unconnected with the commission of those crimes would not suffer from its operation. If he did not think so, he would not support the Bill. He deplored the necessity of bringing in the Bill, but deplored much more that a measure like it was not introduced last year instead of the Coercion Bill. He thought the great merit of this Bill—if one of so stringent a character could be said to have merits—was that a man could not be arrested and committed to gaol on mere suspicion. He would have to be tried by the Judges, who were well known to be impartial. The great object of the Bill was to free the people from the tyrannizing influence of secret societies, and to do that the inquisitorial powers which it asked were necessary. The provisions with regard to newspapers he fully approved. There could be no doubt that certain so-called National papers held up to public execration the most deserving men in the country, when high in authority, like the late lamented Mr. Burke and all the Castle officials. Men who read those papers, having no other instructions to go by, got to look upon as very pardonable those murders which took place recently in the Phœnix Park. These papers made light of the assassinations; and he thought that whenever public writings were directed to holding up officials to execration and contempt, the Government had a perfect right, and, indeed, it was their duty, to interfere, because it inevitably led to crime if the public were instructed by a Press of that kind. Therefore, he approved of that portion of the Bill. As to doing away with trial by jury, he was disposed to think there was not much in that beyond the mere idea, because it was impossible to produce any hardship or miscarriage of justice under a system which required the unanimous decision of three Judges to convict. He was not quite so favourable to the proposal to give the Lord Lieutenant full power of 993 control over public meetings, because the Lord Lieutenant might be a political partizan. The clause he did not quite approve of was that one giving complete power to the Lord Lieutenant to suppress public meetings. This power would be oppressive in the hands of a Lord Lieutenant who had a particular Party bias. They had had such a Lord Lieutenant in Ireland. He thought the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Donnell) confused the Dublin Metropolitan Police with the Royal Irish Constabulary, and that his strictures upon these bodies were too severe. The Irish police were a splendid body of men; and it was his opinion that if, seeing the loyalty and enthusiasm with which Lord Spencer was received, the chief of the police had made a display of police protection, he would have been denounced as mad, if not libelling the loyalty of the capital. He was sure the expressions of detestation in Ireland at the recent assassinations were genuine, and that if there was any feeling of satisfaction at them it was confined to a few persons in Dublin. Generally speaking, he approved of the Bill, because he believed it would enable the Government to cope with crimes such as that which had been committed in the Phœnix Park; and he was sure the Irish people would not object to give the Government sufficient power to drive the scoundrels who perpetrated such crimes out of Ireland. He might, to some extent, sacrifice popularity by voting for this Bill, as he intended to do; but he had more regard for conscience than popularity, and conscience told him he ought to support the Bill.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, that, knowing what efforts the people of Leitrim made to return the hon. and gallant Member for Leitrim, he was surprised at the bold statement of the hon. and gallant Member that he would support this Bill, which had been declared by one of its warmest supporters to be one of the most extreme Coercion Bills that had been brought forward during the last half century. The measure attacked the Press, and was to do away with trial by jury; and he was astonished that any Irishman should vote for these things. He very much disliked the action of the measure in enabling prisoners to be tried by Judges alone, and should certainly oppose the Bill, because he did 994 not think it was necessary. It was true there had been many murders in Ireland. He believed that there was not a Member of the House who did not deplore those murders. But if the House wished to do away with those murders, they had the power in their own hands, by passing such a Bill as the Arrears of Rent Bill, and amending the Land Act in the direction suggested last year. So long as the landlords could evict the people, leaving them upon the roadside to starve and to take their chance, so long would they have outrages in Ireland. He was as sure as he was of his own existence, that when the Arrears Bill passed they would be as free in Ireland from outrages as any other country in the world. He objected to the power which this Bill would give to two magistrates to sentence a person, without a right of appeal, to six months' imprisonment, with or without hard labour. The Bill proposed to give a right of appeal from the sentence of the three Judges who were to try cases without juries. Those Judges knew the law better than magistrates; and why should there not be a right of appeal from the two magistrates? There were many other things in the Bill of which he had to complain; but it would be more convenient to mention them when the Bill was in Committee. He thought the proposition that this Bill should continue in operation for three years was monstrous. The present Lord Lieutenant would not put the provisions into operation unnecessarily; but should hon. Gentlemen on the Conservative side get into power, they would revenge the passing of the Land Act and the taking of the power out of the hands of the landlords. He earnestly appealed to the House to give the Arrears Bill a chance. If within two months of the passing of that Act crime did not begin to decrease, then this Bill could be passed. He believed that it would be a mistake to urge on this Bill without passing the Arrears Bill at the same time.
§ MR. J. N. RICHARDSON
said, he would vote for the second reading of the Bill, but should reserve to himself the right of voting upon any Amendment he considered desirable in Committee. When the Coercion Bill of last year was introduced, instead of abstaining from voting at all, the probability was that, had he and his Colleagues been 995 older Members, they should have voted against it. The reasons were these—that they were returned—but, perhaps, he had better speak for himself alone—upon the cry of Land Reform. The Government attempted this in 1880; but, from circumstances over which they had no control, their efforts fell through, and then came the Coercion Bill. Although, perhaps, steps of some kind were necessary to support the law, still that measure was to arrest people on suspicion, and it was suspected that it was directed quite as much against political organizations as against crime. He endeavoured to show his constituents to the contrary; but, notwithstanding this, people thought and regarded the measure in the light of a power to enable the landlords to rack-rent tenants. The situation was now entirely altered. The tenant could now apply to the Court to get a fair rent; and he was protected, except under circumstances which the Arrears Bill would amend, from eviction. He had the right of free sale, and, therefore, with the Act of 1881 before them, he could conceive that the tenantry of Ireland would regard the Bill as a measure not directed against their just rights, or just agitation for procuring those rights, but against crime, outrage, and murder, which hon. Members opposite, just as much as he and all right-minded men, did deeply deplore. The crime which had struck terror into every Member of the House was but the last of a series of murders which had occurred on Irish soil. The position of the Gentlemen who lost their lives in the Phœnix Park had caused terror to take a deep hold on the public mind. He could not conceive that those two murders were one whit more atrocious than those previously committed. Therefore, he believed that the Government required some strengthening powers to enable them to deal with the state of affairs which had rendered Ireland a bye-word throughout the world. He felt bound—very reluctantly indeed—to vote for the second reading of this Bill. Some Gentlemen had alluded to the clause regarding the Press. It required one almost to screw himself to a point to vote for anything which appeared in any shape to be a muzzle of the Press. He had been in Russia—the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy) seemed to enjoy that remark—he had been in 996 Russia, and had been painfully impressed by the way in which the Press was supervised there; but, at the same time, one must look at it in this way. Here was a law about to be passed for the punishment of criminals who committed certain crimes. Was it fair and right and proper to allow papers to be circulated which absolutely incited to the commission of those crimes? He was not aware that anything he had ever seen in a Dublin newspaper, as suggested by an hon. Gentleman opposite, would cause him to make that remark. He alluded more to newspapers that came from abroad; and certainly he had seen incitements to outrage and violence in newspapers sent to this country from America, which no Government ought to allow to be circulated through this country. Notwithstanding the amusing picture drawn by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), he felt bound to support the Government in allowing this Bill to have three years' duration, and for this reason—that of two evils one must choose the lesser; and he was not sure that it was not one of the greatest evils to have unpleasant matters discussed in the House before long again. He hoped that during those three years the healing influence of the Land Act would have had time to act, and that the tenantry of Ireland would feel that in the law they had not an enemy but a friend. He knew that the memory of the Irish tenantry was retentive of wrong. Everyone knew that the Nonconformist tenantry of the North of Ireland had suffered under grievous wrongs in times past. They were not permitted to have their marriages celebrated by clergymen of their own persuasion. Those times had passed away. No Nonconformist could be a magistrate, or a Member of the House of Commons. The result had been that in the North of Ireland, as in the South, the British Government had no more dangerous enemies than the Nonconformists of the North of Ireland. Legislation had altered that. They had forgotten those bitter times, and now they were perfectly loyal to the British Crown. He hoped, when the healing influences of the Land Act had time to act, the memory of these bitter times in the South would be forgotten.
§ MR. REDMOND
said, he was sure there was no one in that House who 997 would not join in the hope of the hon. Member who had just sat down, that the healing influences of the Land Act would have time to act; but he felt that those who were supporting the passage of a measure like this were going the very worst way possible to work to enable the healing influences of the Land Act to operate in Ireland. The Land Act had been a failure, not only because it was defective in itself, but because it had been accompanied by coercive legislation. He looked upon the prospect this Bill opened for Ireland with dismay. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) had asked Irish Members not to repel words of conciliation from the Radical Benches. Their experience of the Radical Members during the present Parliament had not been marked by its association with words of conciliation; but if the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets were prepared to back up his appeal by opposing this Bill—which he avowedly regarded with little short of detestation—he would be glad to welcome him among those who were desirous of securing some shred of personal liberty for Ireland. The hon. and gallant Member for the County of Cork (Colonel Colthurst) had thought it right to mention circumstances that only tended to embitter the feelings and exasperate the minds of Members on that side of the House. They had had revived the old tale that the "no rent" manifesto was the cause of outrages in Ireland. Some time ago a remarkable list was published in the London papers giving the counties in which the "no rent" manifesto was supposed to have taken root, and to have received a powerful influence. It showed that in those counties where the "no rent" manifesto had exercised the greatest influence the number of outrages was less than in the counties where it had taken little or no hold on the people. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, in leaving the responsibility of this measure with the Government, could not shift from himself the responsibility that belonged to him as the Representative of a large and popular constituency; and, in giving even a negative support to the Bill, he was betraying the interests of those who had sent him to the House. The hon. and gallant Member had taunted them, in an unworthy manner, with having denounced the re- 998 cent assassinations in Dublin; but not having denounced the outrages that had been previously committed. The hon. and gallant Member, he presumed, must have spoken in ignorance of the facts; for they never spoke on any platform in Ireland without raising their voices against outrage of every kind. The fact was that the action of the Irish Members was misrepresented by the Press, and people were too willing to believe that they were not taking a straightforward course. That it was difficult for the Irish Members to insure the proper representation of their words and actions before the public might be seen from the fact that for his speech at Manchester, immediately after the lamentable outrage in the Phœnix Park, he had been attacked in the London Press for having mentioned Lord Frederick Cavendish, and omitted Mr. Burke, notwithstanding the fact that at the time of the delivery of the speech he was unaware that Mr. Burke had been assassinated. A letter which he wrote to The Times newspaper explaining this was not inserted in that journal, although it was one of the London papers that took the matter up. The present Bill he looked upon as one of so grave, complex, and comprehensive character, that he was afraid to enter into its details. The general principle of the Bill was the suppression in Ireland, not of crime, but the expression of public feeling, public sentiment, and open agitation. One object of it was to suppress crime, and another object was to suppress Constitutional agitation. No one would be more ready than himself to vote for any measure that would put a stop to outrage and crime; and if he could be persuaded that this Bill would stop such crimes as those of Phœnix Park, he would be willing to give it his support; but he believed that the only effect of it would be to increase the exasperating causes of crime in Ireland. The difficulty was to insure the detection of crime, not conviction. He had recently compared the judicial statistics of England and Ireland, and he had found that the average of convictions obtained in Ireland was only a few per cent less than the average in England. The difficulty was not to find juries to convict, but to find evidence that would insure conviction. Was it by the appointment of a Commission of Judges that 999 they would be better able to lay their hands upon criminals? If a Bill of this kind had been in operation, what better position would they be in to-day with reference to the Phœnix Park murders? But while this Bill was ineffectual, so far as it sought the suppression of crime, he very much feared that the second portion of it would interdict the free expression of public opinion. So far as it suppressed public opinion, it would tend to increase crime and render its detection more difficult. Many of the crimes committed during the past year had been the direct result of the policy of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). He held in his hand a letter from an eminent officer of Constabulary in Ireland, which, after a reference to affairs in Ireland, concluded with this remarkable statement, that—If Mr. Forster had remained in Ireland six months longer, he would have had the population divided into two large camps—one of them composed of landlords, Government officials, and Emergency men; and the other of assassins and secret rebels.He did not go quite so far as the contents of that letter, for he believed that a large class of Irishmen connected with the popular movement would not be driven into those desperate courses even by the policy of the right hon. Member for Bradford; but the expression of opinion which the letter contained was remarkable. When it was announced that the right hon. Gentleman had resigned his position, and the Government were about to adopt a new course with regard to the political prisoners, he looked with hope to the future of Ireland, because he believed the Government were going to put an end to the policy of suppression and coercion, and pay attention to the wishes of the people of Ireland with regard to the improvement and amendment of the Land Act. But it was with feelings of despair that he saw that because deplorable occurrences had taken place, the new policy of the Government had been revolutionized. It was no answer to tell him that this Bill was drafted before the occurrences in Phœnix Park, for if it was, the Government had no intention of forcing it on the country until they had legislated as to arrears. But now, forsooth, because occurrences had happened which had evoked in the country a feeling of universal abhorrence and regret, unparal- 1000 leled in the history of British rule in Ireland, the Government had chosen to bring forward a Coercion Act, and to tell the Irish people that they would redress their grievances, but must first deprive them of their liberties. There was no disguising the fact that this Bill deprived the Irish people of every shred of Constitutional liberty. The Chief Law Officer of the Crown in Ireland had stated it as his opinion that the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), and, he believed, certain other Members, were "steeped to the lips in treason." He had no doubt that that was the opinion of some of the Judges also. Therefore, when the Bill became law, the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his Colleagues could be sent to penal servitude on charges of treason, without the safeguard of trial by jury, by Judges who had been raised to the Bench for partizan services. Yet, while the Government proposed to place them in this position, they, at the same time, adopted their suggestions and proposals for remedying Irish grievances. The two positions were entirely inconsistent. The Irish Members were either the Representatives of the Irish people, and their opinions were worth considering, or they were arrant rebels, who ought to be hanged or sent to penal servitude. But the Government, while adopting their proposals with regard to arrears, called them traitors in the same breath, and introduced a Bill whereby it would be possible for the Judges to send them to penal servitude. But that was not the worst provision in the Bill. The most iniquitous part of the Bill was that which proposed to invest certain Resident Magistrates with power to convict and send men to prison for six months' hard labour for offences against that Bill—that was to say, for almost any action which a man might be likely to take as a representative of the people. To attend a meeting which the Lord Lieutenant thought improper; to say a word that might be construed as intimidation, or as inciting to intimidation; to pay or receive money on behalf of an association which was supposed to be in the remotest degree connected with a society that was held to be unlawful were constituted offences under that Act. The Prisoners' Aid Society in Ireland collected money for a laudable object; but to subscribe a 1001 penny to that society would be an offence against that Act, because one of its objects was to assist many members of the Land League. The network of that Bill was, in fact, so complete, that it would cover every sphere of public life and action in Ireland. If he believed that the measure would strike at the secret societies it should have his support; but he asked how they were likely, by suppressing open agitation, to hit the secret societies? Why, at the very moment when the right hon. Member for Bradford determined to suppress the Land League and put its leaders in prison the secret societies raised their heads. It had been remarked that it was strange that the assassins had not selected the right hon. Member for Bradford instead of Lord Frederick Cavendish. The reason was plain—there was not a man whose life was so safe as that of the right hon. Member for Bradford while he was in Ireland, because the men who were likely to commit assassination of a desperate kind, and who probably belonged to secret societies, saw in that right hon. Gentleman their best friend, and knew that while he remained as Chief Secretary to suppress Constitutional agitation, they would have time and opportunity for spreading their power and lifting their heads again. That Bill would, he believed, strengthen the power of secret societies and increase crime and assassinations, which were a disgrace both to the country which ruled Ireland and to Ireland itself. The measure, while it would weaken the hands of Constitutional agitation, would fail, as every Coercion Act had failed, either to break the spirit of the Irish people, or to teach them to look with more friendly feelings towards England. If the Government desired, by the golden link of the Crown, or by any other means, to preserve the rule of England in Ireland, they were going the very worst way to work, by passing that Bill. That rule must be based on trust in the people—on their goodwill, their contentment, and their prosperity, which could only proceed from just measures and concession to the national aspirations. For his own part, while he was desirous of seeing the English connection, so far as the Crown was concerned, maintained in Ireland, he rejoiced in his heart at every fresh evidence, like what they had in this Bill, of the utter incapacity of 1002 this Parliament to rule over Ireland. It proved to the world that the English, government of Ireland rested upon nothing but brute force; and it told the Irish people that they had only to remain true to the principles for which their forefathers had died, and their present fathers had suffered, and they would yet achieve the ambition of their lives—a free and self-governed nation.
§ DR. LYONS
said, in making a few observations on this Bill he was oppressed with a sense of intense responsibility, and felt himself speaking under the dark shadow and the depressing influence of that crime which had, unfortunately, stained Ireland within the last few days. He felt that the situation was one which undoubtedly called for exceptional legislation; and if, in his opinion, the measure introduced by the Government tended to strengthen the hands of justice, and to create new powers for the detection of crime, he should be the first to give it his most strenuous support; but he saw in this Bill dangers of no inconsiderable degree, and of a novel and startling character. He should only criticize one or two points of the Bill; but they were those which raised its main principles. He referred particularly to the 1st clause, which, for the first time for a long series of years, proposed—unwisely, as he believed—to annul trial by jury. Having the experience of the past before them, he was surprised that Her Majesty's Government should take this step in the present crisis in Ireland. The evidence given by the most eminent men before Committees appointed to investigate this question was decidedly hostile to any such change. It was established that after the years 1822 and 1823 a great many outrages took place; and it was deemed necessary to try agrarian offences by Special Commissions, without juries, it was true, but composed of magistrates, presided over by eminent Queen's Counsel, such as Lloyd, Torrens, and Blackburn. The most valuable evidence was to be found in the Report of the Committee of 1824, presided over by Lord Palmerston; and to any impartial mind the results were not favourable to the abolition of trial by jury. Mr. Serjeant Lloyd stated his belief that the Insurrection Act would have been more severely administered by juries, and was in favour of all the trials being by jury. Mr. Barrington, after- 1003 wards Sir Matthew Barrington, Bart., Crown Solicitor for Munster—a man of the very widest experience—before Sir Henry Parnell's Committee of 1832, attributed the improved state of Munster "to the vigorous and persevering administration of the law in its usual and ordinary forms;" and in that opinion, expressed in regard to a crisis of even more formidable proportions than the present, he (Dr. Lyons) fully concurred, as furnishing the true solution of the situation—for the percentage of convictions in the trials without jury was only about 16 per cent; while the percentage of convictions under the jury system in subsequent years was 44 per cent. That seemed to him an unanswerable argument in favour of trial by jury. Coming to more recent times, they had the evidence of men whose words were entitled to special consideration in that House. Mr. Justice Fitzgerald—a name which could not be mentioned without every mark of respect, and who, notwithstanding the allegations that had been made against him, was a most upright Judge—stated, in August last, to the Select Committee of the Lords on the Jury Laws—Except in one case, I do not know that I have any fault to find with the action of juries. In that case, a Roman Catholic head was broken, and an Orange jury would not convict. That, however, you will have to the end of time.Further on he said—I am in favour of upholding and supporting it" (the jury).Mr. Justice Barry, speaking on a suggestion of trial before three Judges without a jury, said—It is a proposal so startling and so novel that I am not prepared to give any opinion on it.Subsequently, he stated with reference to trial before two Judges without a jury—I think that would be a very unfortunate suggestion indeed. I think the Irish Judiciary has the confidence of the people. To do anything to destroy that feeling of confidence would be a great misfortune and disaster to the country; and I am satisfied that sending Judges down to try men without a jury would destroy confidence, and I do not think you could ever restore it again. I do not think that the Judiciary should be concerned with anything outside the ordinary course of Constitutional Law.He (Dr. Lyons) would only briefly, and in passing, allude to one conspicuous case of miscarriage of justice, which, it was 1004 well known, had totally destroyed the moral influence of a very able public functionary, and left a disastrous and indelible impression on the mind of the people of Ireland. The case was well remembered by all familiar with judicial history in Ireland, and needed no further reference. Another eminent Judge, also well known and respected in that House, who had a great knowledge of Constitutional Law—Mr. Justice Lawson—had expressed his disbelief in heroic remedies, and strongly stated the regret with which he should, view the total abolition of trial by jury—I am not in favour of heroic remedies. I should be very sorry indeed to recommend the total abolition of trial by jury, in consequence of this, what I will call exceptional, condition of things.And, further on, he says—At any rate, I would abide by the ancient lines of the Constitution as long as we can.Now, this testimony was very significant as showing the feeling with which the proposed change would be regarded in Ireland by some of the wisest and most experienced of the Irish authorities. A sense of justice was ingrained in the popular mind; but the (happily rare) errors of Judges and the sufferings of innocent persons were not readily forgotten. In the present condition of the country nothing was more important than to foster the confidence that was felt in the integrity of the Judges, as, if it once got abroad that they condemned men by exceptional processes, they would incur an amount of odium and actual hostility which would at once deprive them of all public respect and influence. In Ireland the judicial ermine must, in the words of M. Aurelius, be "dyed to the depths in justice." He, therefore, looked upon this proposal with the greatest dislike, and was sure, if any weight was to be attached to the opinions of the most experienced men, that the Government would before long find out the mistake involved in the proposed measure. The course that the Government were about to take would, he believed, deprive them of the sympathy and support of the respectable classes of the peasantry in Ireland, and would foster the creation of secret societies. To turn to a further part of the Bill, he did not approve of the great powers of summary jurisdiction sought to be given to the Resident Magistrates. He had the 1005 pleasure of knowing many of them. He knew they were men who might be trusted to discharge their duties fearlessly; but he could not forget that they had not the confidence of the people. He thought that the proposal that the Stipendiary Magistrates should always supersede the local magistracy was an unnecessary slur upon the character and independence of the latter, many of whom had devoted themselves with great zeal and discretion, as well as with perfect fearlessness, to the discharge of the onerous duties which devolved on them. Secret societies had not, he would fearlessly assert, in the majority of instances, the sympathy of the people of Ireland. Indeed, he believed that a very large proportion of the people were terrorized into supporting them, and that they would only be too glad of the opportunity of ridding themselves of what had become an intolerable incubus. It was of the utmost importance that having, as he maintained the Judges still had, the sympathy of the great bulk of the people, they should do nothing to weaken the hereditary respect which all Irishmen felt for the judicial office, from the days of the Brehon Law to the present hour. In conclusion, he would like to say, from being present on the spot, from a most careful observation of all that took place, that in his lifetime there never had been so remarkable, so widespread, and so profound an impression made as was created throughout Ireland in consequence of the late tragedies in the Phœnix Park. He had taken every possible means to test the feeling of the people, from the highest to the lowest, and he could bear testimony to the intensity of their emotions. If they took advantage of that feeling while it still lasted they had a fuller and a better opportunity of bringing round the whole body of the population to a sense of what was due to law, and of bringing the entire country into a haven of peace, than had been presented for a very long time. They had before them the example of a noble lady, who, forgetful of her own sufferings, and in a manner rarely, if ever, equalled in the history of any country, when all men were crying out for vengeance—when the cry of Ireland herself was that her sword might fall avenging and swift on the perpetrators of this black and foul crime—raised a voice, which to him seemed almost in- 1006 spired, over that of a wrathful and a troubled Empire. He said only what was true and just to his countrymen, when he stated that that voice had thrilled to the very inmost heart of Ireland; and he believed nothing could possibly have had so great and, as he sincerely hoped, so enduring an influence in restoring the people of Ireland to a full consciousness of all that was best, as that voice which they had heard coming from her who was willing to reconcile herself to the loss of her husband, if it should be for the benefit of Ireland, and prayed that the sacrifice might be accepted at the Eternal Throne for the good of that country, where she had lost the dearest treasure of her soul.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON
said, he rose for the purpose of asking from the Government an assurance which the country had a right to demand. It was proposed to prevent crime in Ireland by suppressing secret societies. The existence of a League of Assassination was the justification of the Bill; but the operation of the Bill was confined to Ireland. If the measure was to be effective, it must be co-extensive with the area which produced the crime. Secret societies, he regretted to say, existed over almost the whole of Her Majesty's Dominions. If they would provide machinery with which to grapple with these organizations it must co-extend with the organization which it was desired to put down. It was well known that these societies—he did not care whether they were called Fenian Societies or Leagues of Assassination—drew their money from New York, had their bank in Paris, and had branches in London and Liverpool. Ireland was not the only scene of their operations, and a Bill which would affect secret societies in Ireland only would hardly reach the root of the matter. They knew that town halls at Liverpool and Manchester had been threatened, Chester Castle had twice been in danger, twice that explosives had been put against the walls of the Mansion House, that Sergeant Brett was murdered in the streets of Manchester, and that the walls of Clerken well Prison were blown down. They sat in that House in comparative safety, not by the good-will of secret societies, but on account of the ample precautions of the police. Every Cabinet Minister had a policeman at his door, 1007 and even the harmless Members of the Opposition, he believed, were sometimes obliged to call for similar protection. Would it not be well for them to face these facts in their ghastly reality? If they realized them now they might be saved from the effects of a panic hereafter. What measures ought to be taken he would leave to the Government. But he would merely suggest that the Alien Act, which, under Section 12, did apply partially to England, should be made to apply altogether to England; for if miscreants were driven out of Ireland, surely it was hard that they should find shelter in England, and be able to find here a new base of operations. He would also suggest that the Lord Lieutenant's warrant should run in England as well as in Ireland. He implored the Government to give some assurance to the House that public buildings and the public men of England would be adequately protected against a conspiracy which aimed at the disintegration of the Empire, which carried on its work by assassination, which for two years had eluded the vigorous intelligence even of the Home Secretary, and which had successfully defied the Government of the Queen.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
Sir, in rising to make a few remarks on this Bill, I may say that no one, I will not say deserves, but more requires the indulgence of the House than I do. I find myself in the presence of men of great ability and eloquence in many quarters of the House, who have exercised that eloquence frequently on Irish matters, and in whose presence I am called upon to speak, and not only to speak, but shall soon be expected to speak with some degree of authority. I am not an Irishman, and that consideration weighs with me very much at this moment. I have only that general knowledge of Irish affairs which is possessed by every Member who has studied those affairs for the purpose of guiding their opinions, and not for the purpose of addressing the House; and the only consolation I have is that I have studied those affairs during the last 17 years, which have been most fruitful in measures either for good or for evil in the cause of Ireland, and am influenced by a genuine desire for the welfare of that country. Beyond this, I entered on my arduous post with nothing but a certain amount of adminis- 1008 trative aptitude and habit, which have been very much overrated by those who confided to me that trust. With these words of deprecation and apology, which must serve as the preface for everything I say and do as long as I hold this post—for I do not again wish to say a word about myself—I shall proceed to explain the views of the new Irish Government upon this Bill, and the spirit in which it is intended to apply it. The general view of the Irish Government is that it, like every Government, exists for the purpose of guaranteeing to everyone his political and personal liberty, and interfering with that liberty as little as possible, or not at all, and to carrying that principle as far as it can possibly be carried; but, at the same time, it exists for the elementary purpose of preventing one man from injuring another in his person, his property, his security, his comfort, and his life. The present Irish Government was disinclined, nay, absolutely averse, to use the law, or to strain the law in such a manner that any of its own opponents, even its most bitter opponents—nay, any of the most advanced of those who wished to change the existing order of things by peaceable means—should ever be anxious or uneasy as to what he should say in public or any action he might take. If it is a question of striking the Government or altering the existing state of things by Constitutional means, there is no latitude we shall not allow; but against crime and against incitements to crime the Executive of Ireland will wage unrelenting and unremitting war. And as the means of the last two years have proved to be inadequate, the Government of Ireland have accepted a Bill the essential provisions of which—I do not speak of any alterations that may be introduced upon it in Committee—they believe will ultimately be successful, and without which they cannot be successful. On one of the most essential provisions of the Bill I propose to say a few words. It is a Bill in which, on the whole, the points come in their order of importance. It is with the Preamble of the Bill that the Executive are much concerned, and when that Preamble is proved, of necessity many other clauses must follow. First of all, as to the question that the ordinary law is insufficient for repression and prevention of crime, I should like to give the 1009 House two or three figures, and in giving them I shall not enter on any Party question, because these statistics might give rise to deductions which might be brought against the two great Parties in the State. I will state simple facts. In 1869 the number of agrarian crimes amounted to 767; in 1870 they amounted to 1,329—a number greatly exceeding that of many preceding years. In 1870 the Peace Preservation Act was introduced. It was a Bill that did not differ in its general character from the present measure, except in two important particulars, of which I cannot disguise or attempt to minimize the importance. It is useless, in a House so conversant with these Bills, to go through the points of similarity between the present Bill and that of 1870. I do not speak now of the different processes by which the different objects were aimed at; but, in their main outlines, the Bills are the same. What was the result of the Bill of 1870? What events occurred coincident to that Bill? In 1871 the number of outrages fell by nearly 1,000 to 373. In 1872 they fell to 256; in 1873 to 254; in 1874 to 213; and in 1875 to 136. In 1875 the right hon. Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) repealed several clauses of that Bill, and, I think, very important clauses. He repealed the newspaper clause, the arrest after sunset clause, and the clause in regard to the arrest of suspicious strangers. From that time agrarian outrages increased. In 1876 there were 212; in 1877 there were 236; in 1878, 301; in 1879, 863; and in 1880, 2,596. Meanwhile, there was a subsidiary class of repressive legislation going on. The Westmeath Bill was introduced for the benefit of a single county which was much disturbed. It was a very short Act, introducing the power of arbitrary arrest, not for strangers, not for persons prowling about at night, but for everyone. The result of that Act was apparently a success. I have not got the figures by me; but, if I recollect rightly, the number of outrages was reduced from considerably over 100—I think from 132—to something under 40. I am not sure, however, of the figures. Encouraged by the success of the Westmeath Act, Government determined to deal with the great amount of crime in Ireland by a general Bill of arbitrary arrests that would resemble the West- 1010 meath Act. That Act has been enforced for about 12 months, and under that Act the outrages have risen to the appalling total, in the year 1881, of 4,439 agrarian outrages. It is evident something else is wanted. What that something else should be is recommended to us by the universal advice of those who are responsible for the peace and order of the country. It is a return to legislation of the nature of the Acts of 1870, but with a very important addition. It is necessary that there should be an addition to the Act of 1870. In the first four months of 1870 there were 1,161 agrarian outrages. In the first four months of 1882 there were 1,879 agrarian outrages. Stronger remedies, therefore, are required to deal with crime in 1882 than were required in 1870. Now, what are these remedies? They are remedies for the worst of all political diseases—a failure in the ordinary modes by which justice is administered in Ireland, and these modes have undoubtedly failed. In the year 1881 there were 17 murders. Pour accused persons were brought up for trial, but were not convicted; 5 were waiting for trial at the time of the Return; 8 were not brought up for trial, and none was convicted. In the cases of firing at the person, a very serious offence of the gravest sort, 16 were brought up for trial, but not convicted, and 6 are awaiting trial.' Forty were not brought up for trial, and out of 66 only 4 were convicted. [Mr. SEXTON: Four out of 16!] Four out of 66. Two very grave offences stand in a different position. In respect of manslaughter, there were 5 cases, of which 2 were brought to trial and not convicted, I remained untried, and 2 out of 5 convicted. In the case of assaults endangering life, 11 out of 26 such assaults escaped punishment by different channels, and no less than 15 were convicted; but when we come to the crime of firing into dwellings, out of 144 cases only 3 were convicted. When we come to incendiary fires, out of 356 cases only 2 were convicted. [Mr. MACFARLANE: How many were caught?] In dealing with figures as large as these very great exceptions and deductions may be made. It is quite impossible for me now to enter into these deductions, though I can quite understand that very powerful arguments can be made by hon. Gentlemen opposite upon them. Now 1011 these, with the exception of treason and treason-felony, are the only crimes which are submitted to the special tribunal. I leave it for lawyers to determine the character of that tribunal, and the manner in which its proceedings are to be regulated. It suffices for the Representative of the Executive in Ireland to establish, as I think, by incontrovertible figures, the urgent necessity for some change of tribunal. But besides these ostensibly grave and more shocking crimes, which, in a somewhat spasmodic manner, do receive some sort of punishment, there are minor acts which, though they are of the nature of crime, and lead to graver crimes, are hardly punished at all. Intimidation, which in some cases actually deprives men of property which is their due, and in all cases makes them lead the most miserable life which a human being can lead, a life of mental agony—intimidation practically escapes with impunity. Of 2,191 threatening letters, many of which, I allow, may have been practical jokes, but of which a very great number indeed were meant to give pain and meant to terrify the authors, 5 only were discovered. Out of 415 cases of intimidation by other means only 32 were punished; and it is really no wonder when we look at the nature of the processes by which the crime of intimidation are punished. In Ireland, as in England, there is, indeed, a summary jurisdiction in cases of intimidation; but that is ineffectual in Ireland, mainly for two reasons. The first is that the accused can claim to be tried by a jury, and the second that actual intimidation must be proved; and in Ireland the person intimidated frequently refuses to prove the fact. In view of these circumstances, the Bill proposes to empower magistrates to deal with those cases summarily, and to punish the offence with imprisonment and hard labour for six months. That is a clause upon which I conclude the Government will insist. As to certain details, as to who these magistrates should be, I know that during the week I have spent in Ireland the Irish Government is very willing to consider every suggestion that is laid before the House. What I cannot but regard as still more valuable is a suggestion which has been thrown out by men who, I venture to think, heartily sympathize with the people of Ireland. I am willing to agree that not the only 1012 cause of impunity is the defect of the tribunal. There are several other causes, of which the first is the difficulty of getting evidence. This will be very largely obviated by the 13th clause, which gives the power to Justices to summon witnesses under recognizances, and to hold a sort of independent inquisition, even when they have not got an accused person before them. Then comes Clause 14, which gives the power of detaining witnesses. Whether that clause is too strong or not is a question, no doubt, open to discussion, and will be hereafter discussed. But there is an extremely important clause on which, in some shape or other, the Irish Executive insist much, and that is the 11th clause, by which it is lawful for the Lord Lieutenant to direct by warrant the Inspectors or Sub-Inspectors to search, at all hours and under all circumstances, for the instruments and evidence of crime. One great cause of the impunity of crimes is the neighbourhood having no pressing interest in the prevention and detection of crime—that is to say, having no interest sufficiently pressing to counteract the terrorism that too often exists. Under these circumstances, the clause, directly by fine, and indirectly by imposing on the district the costs of the extra police, will give the timid, and even ill-disposed, an interest in the suppression of crime; it will become the duty of the Government of Ireland to attend to the suggestions of the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Macfarlane), and they have already recognized it their duty to do all they could towards the prevention and detection of crime, and to further increase the effectiveness of the police. On this point I do not wish to be misunderstood. There is no cause for any sudden change in the personnel of the Irish Administration. The very able administrator, Mr. Hamilton, who now holds the place of the late Mr. Burke, is far too cognizant of public affairs, has far too great a sympathy with the permanent officials of the country, to bring in the possibility of a clean sweep, or what may be called heroic remedies; and I venture to say that Lord Spencer and both his Secretaries entertain the greatest admiration and gratitude to the men who have borne the heat and burden of the day for the last two years both in Dublin and in the country towns, and who have worked 1013 bravely and strenuously, with little hope of reward, such as English officials usually expect. The gratitude of the country has been proved by the grant of a gratuity of £180,000 to the Constabulary, as a recognition of the extra exertions during the last arduous two years. I should like to read a short letter addressed to Mr. Hamilton by Sir Ralph Lingen. It says—Some means should be taken to make known to the Constabulary that they owe the Treasury's assent to the grant of £180,000 to Lord Frederick Cavendish, who bestowed the greatest pains on the study of their case, and one of whose last Papers in the Treasury—as far as I know, his very last—was on this subject. Had he not been murdered, the letter you had on the 10th would have gone to him as a confidential draft for final settlement. While they acknowledge the fulfilment of services of those engaged in preserving order in Ireland, the Government will strain their utmost nerve to see that as little as possible should be wanting in the organization of the Constabulary, and especially in maintaining the position of the Detective Force.Then comes the question of public meetings. On this subject the Government of Ireland holds a very strong opinion indeed. There are circumstances in which inflammatory meetings are just as much the engines of sedition as arms and ammunition. When a district is in a state of violent excitement, and especially when the excitement is directed against individuals and special classes, a violent public meeting is a terrible incentive to crime. The power of the Lord Lieutenant under these circumstances is doubtful, and at this moment litigation is actually pending. It is very doubtful, and the method of exercising it is dangerous in itself, because, in order to prevent a public meeting, it must be dispersed and prevented by force. The 7th clause proposes to give the Lord Lieutenant power to prohibit a meeting and enforce his order by punishment under the process of law enjoined under the Act. But the opinions which the Irish Government hold on public meetings have another side to them. Where a meeting is allowed to be held, where there is no objection on the ground of public safety to holding it, then the Government will be very slow indeed to take any action whatever on what is said at it. It is not the words, but the circumstances under which the words are spoken, and the intention with which they are spoken, that justify and call for 1014 interference. After careful consideration of the probable meaning of the speakers, the words spoken at Belfast on the 6th of May by Father O'Boyle and the Rev. Mr. Rylett were considered by Lord Spencer not such words as he thinks right legally to animadvert on. In this fact the noble Lord gives a pledge—and a very sure pledge—that the Government is making war against crime and not against opinion. If hon. Members will read these words carefully, and will read the context carefully, I think they will show them better than anything else the principles on which Lord Spencer proposes to govern Ireland. With regard to newspapers, you have here a most potent incitement to crime; and here there rests the same uncertainty as regards the law. The Law Officers advised that a paper containing matter of a certain class might be seized under Common Law. The Government ordered United Ireland to be seized, and there is in consequence an action proceeding against the late Chief Secretary and against Captain Talbot, the head of the Dublin Police, and I think, also, against a constable. Now, Sir, I do not think it can be denied that there are newspapers which absolutely poison the minds of the people with exhortations to crime and outrage, and with less odious, but not less dangerous, incitements to rebellion. Passages might be quoted from United Ireland that too well bear out what I say; but it is not on what is contained in the papers published in Ireland that I rely. In the first place, many articles to which great exception has been taken in this House and the English Press do not appear to me to exceed the bounds, I will not say of mild and moderate, but of political controversy. There are very few papers published in Dublin, and none of established fame, the printers and editors of which desire to go to unjustifiable excesses, and few, such as United Ireland, which cannot be said to always keep within bounds, or generally are kept within bounds by being published on, this side of the water. It is not to what is written in Ireland, but to what is read in Ireland, that we must look, if we are to judge of the necessity of making the law, not more severe, but more certain. Let anyone read The Irish World, let anyone read the atrocious sentiments in The United Irishman of 1015 Mr. O'Donovan Rossa, and he will allow that not only must such, papers not be allowed to circulate in excited times throngh an ardent population, but that some means should be found to frame a law by which such pestilent wickedness shall not be published on Irish soil. If the men who are in league with the writers of such stuff, the men who rallied round O'Donovan Rossa to spoil the unanimity of sentiment with which the Irishmen of New York would have declared their abhorrence of the recent crime, form a new organization for the purpose of crime, I claim it for the Government that they are right in asking, by the 12th clause, to have the power to remove these people before the crime is committed. Now I have gone through the provisions of the Bill. There are points, no doubt, which are susceptible of discussion and serious modifications; but, in the main, I believe it is a Bill carefully and effectively framed against crime, and not against liberty. The Bill is not directed against patriotic and public-spirited aspirations, in whatever direction these aspirations are directed. I am sorry not to see my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Joseph Cowen) here. It is not against the people with whom my hon. Friend sympathizes so deeply and warmly that this Bill is directed. I will give a specimen. In the month of October, 1881, in the county of Clare, the muzzle of a rifle was thrust through the window of a man named Molony, and the man was shot dead. The victim of this outrage had paid his rent, although violent notices had been posted warning tenants not to do so. In the county of Cork, on October 4, Patrick O'Leary, the son of a farmer, aged 22, was fired at by one of a party of men unknown, and died the next evening. The party numbered eight or nine, nearly all of whom were disguised. They visited the houses of several tenants, and asked the inmates whether they had paid their rents. In the King's County, on the 28th of September, A. Stewart was fired at and wounded by two men on the roadside. He had been helping to save the crops of a cousin who had been "Boycotted." In the Queen's County a party of labourers were driving along the public road, when they were fired at by men behind a fence, and six of them were wounded, 1016 two seriously; they had been working for two farmers who had been "Boycotted." Michael Walsh, a farmer, was fired at and wounded by one of a party of six or seven men, who had warned him and others not to pay rent. These are a few instances of cases of which there are hundreds and thousands distributed throughout Ireland. It is on the strength of these events that the Government believe it to be their duty to make a manful stand in defence of life, property, and private liberty. They deem it to be their duty to get this Bill passed, and have it put into administration without flinching. It is their hope and firm belief that when such is known to be their determination, it will be found that there are vast numbers—indeed, the vast majority of the people of Ireland—who are sick of the system of terror, and whose desire is to go about their daily work in peace, quiet, and safety, and that when this Bill becomes law, and is executed as the law ought to be, these people will, gradually and slowly, perhaps, but certainly and. cheerfully, rally round the Executive Government. Lord Spencer, during his last tenure of administration, was, I believe, popular in Ireland. Even on that terrible day of his recent entry, and still more during the trying days that succeeded it, there have been considerable proofs that the people are glad to have him back again among them. Many think, and I believe, that that popularity was in no small part due to the fact that Lord Spencer, during his late administration, won the sympathies of the loyal and the orderly by recommending and administering the Peace Preservation Act of 1870. Sir, popularity may come, or it may not come, to the Irish Government. In the present state of Ireland it is hardly what they can hope for; but in making war against crime and maintaining peace, everyone, however bitterly opposed to them, who is not associated with crime—and I firmly believe the hon. Gentlemen whom I know in this House, and whose private acquaintance I have long enjoyed, are not associated with crime—will know that, whatever be the result, they are doing their duty.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Trevelyan) had naturally asked for the consideration of the House on that his first appearance in his 1017 present responsible position; but, recognizing his high character and abilities, he (Mr. Gibson) was satisfied there was but little need for consideration; and he believed that there was no Member of the House, and none from Ireland, who would not desire to extend to the right hon. Gentleman the fullest consideration, entering, as he did, upon his Office in those anxious, troubled times, and to give him every opportunity of mastering the important details which belonged to his responsible duties before he was subjected to any criticism. The speech he had just delivered was evidence that he approached the discharge of his duty with a thorough sense of grave responsibility, and with an anxious desire to do to all classes in a distracted country like Ireland what he believed to be justice. It would be unreasonable to expect that he should lay aside or forget his political views; but he (Mr. Gibson) recognized with pleasure, whatever the right hon. Gentleman's own political views might be, in the short speech he had given them, his wish that justice, so far as it could be achieved by the Irish Executive, should be administered to all classes impartially; that the primary duty of Government to guarantee liberty and the protection of person and property would not be lost sight of, and that it should steadily make war against crime and incitements to crime. He (Mr. Gibson) had heard with satisfaction that the main essential details and principles of the Bill were decided upon some time ago. He was also pleased that it was not introduced a few days ago, because he thought it was eminently desirable that an important legislative proposal, of so grave and serious a character as that before them, should be presented to Parliament and the country with every possible indication of deliberation and forethought. Such a measure should not be introduced with anything that could indicate panic, exasperation, or revenge; but it should be simply presented as a measure honestly framed for the purpose of restoring order and preventing outrage, and to insure that if crimes were committed in the future they should not be committed with impunity. The hon. Gentleman had, he thought, rightly gauged public feeling in this matter; the public had the right to be satisfied as to the real position of affairs, because a correct understanding 1018 of them would furnish the best indication of the remedy. Painful facts had to be looked in the face, and not glossed over with a kind of denial which everyone would be glad of, if they could believe it to be true. There was much disloyal feeling in Ireland; it was associated with a strong feeling against law—first, because it was law; and, secondly, because it was English law; and he had yet to learn that English law, which, all the world over, was associated with the highest administration of justice, was not entitled to the fullest respect. It might be that often and for many a long day this disloyal feeling had remained dormant and torpid; but it could easily be galvanized into life. That was a fact which he thought was present to the mind of the right hon. Gentleman in the powerful remarks he had made, indicating the necessity of regarding the circumstances which surrounded public meetings. They all knew that words uttered on certain occasions might be perfectly innocuous; but that the same words, having regard to surrounding circumstances, might be attended with the greatest danger to the common weal. There was, as everyone knew, too much knowledge of the terrible state of demoralization in which Ireland was at the present moment not to justify the right hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. Gibson) was surprised to hear the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) go back upon the old story of the evictions, because it had been demonstrated, over and over again, that the crimes which had disgraced Ireland so long were not connected with evictions. ["Oh!"] The figures demonstrated with mathematical precision that there had been most crimes where there had been fewest evictions. That had been demonstrated in January last year by the Prime Minister, and the hon. Member for Dungarvan would do well to peruse his speech. One thing that had oppressed him (Mr. Gibson), in considering this matter, was that the outrages and murders had increased, not only in number, but in barbarity. A few years ago they would not have heard of the outrages on dumb animals, and murders like those of Mr. Herbert, for performing his duties as a juror, and of Mrs. Smythe, would have provoked a thrill of horror which he had not seen manifested. In many a village churchyard in Ireland innocent blood cried out 1019 for justice, and had, for many a month, been allowed to cry in vain. Recently they had had that hideous catastrophe in the Phœnix Park, a miserable piece of brutal savagery, of wretched butchery. It sent to an early grave the latest martyrs in the cause of law and order. That was a political execution carried out by savage methods. It was deliberately planned and brutally accomplished with cold-blooded directness. The assassins had, up to that time, eluded pursuit, protected by cowardice, by much terror, and, he blushed while he feared to say it, even by some sympathy. It was idle to utter platitudes on the subject, as the hon. Gentleman. (Dr. Lyons) had done that night; but the fact remained that four men, accompanied by a carman, had committed that crime in the daylight, and had not yet been arrested, and it was a fact that could not be passed over. It was said that these men were strangers—he wished to God they were; but if they were, would they not have been all the sooner found out and all the more readily given up? All the water in the sea or in the streams of Irish rivers could not wash Ireland clean from the shame of these brutal and cowardly murders as long as the assassins were not brought to justice. The condition of Ireland to which he referred had been its condition for a considerable time, and it was such as to clearly indicate how these things had been brought to pass. During that time the people of the country had been demoralized—they had been accustomed to murders; they had been accustomed to hear those murders reproved by a very tepid reproof; they had been accustomed to see the perpetrators of those murders get off with impunity, an impunity due either to the cowardice or to the sympathy of the public Why, therefore, he asked, should we not expect these familiar conditions of things to be repeated in connection with these last and most recent murders? He was glad that the facts of the case, and of the problem to be solved with regard to the government of Ireland, had been at last recognized by Her Majesty's Government. He should, however, not be doing justice to Irish feeling on this question if he did not repeat what had already been said that night by the hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. J. N. Richardson)—namely, that in many a family, and in many a household in 1020 Ireland, the sad and bitter feeling prevailed that their fathers, and the children, and sometimes the wives had been. shot down; and that but little sympathy had been expressed for them, while much apathy had been shown in the endeavour of the Government to bring the offenders to justice. The Bill might have been drafted when these persons were murdered; but it was not brought in. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, in introducing this measure, had expressed a hope that it would meet with ready acceptance at the hands of hon. Members. That hope was one that was entitled to the most respectful consideration by the House. No one could desire that the Bill should be in excess of the requirements of the occasion, while no fair-minded citizen would wish that the Bill should not be sufficiently strong to enable the Government to put a stop to these cowardly outrages. He had asked himself, what were the conditions of a Bill of that character; and whether that Bill would really enable the Government to cope with crime in Ireland? The Bill must be one that would grapple with crime, that would try to prevent crime; and, if crime was committed, would struggle to take away that impunity which developed and encouraged crime. A weak Bill would be absolutely worthless, and a strong Bill meant a real Bill. Would that Bill really cope with crime and with criminals? Did it jeopardize a single innocent man, or would any loyal, law-abiding citizen object to the possibility of inconvenience if it increased the probability of arresting crime? Without entering into the details of the measure at the present moment, he would touch briefly upon a few of its salient points. What the right hon. Gentleman had said with regard to the clauses referring to meetings was far more to the purpose than the arguments of those who objected to those clauses had been, and who had described the liberty of free speech as being in danger. There were meetings and meetings; and he trusted that the Government, while not damaging the Constitutional freedom of discussion, would have no hesitation in putting down meetings which would have a tendency to lead to disturbance and to encourage lawlessness. As to newspapers, he was glad to hear that some strong words had been used on the part of the Govern- 1021 ment that night, which indicated that, whatever modifications might be made hereafter, they would keep no terms whatever with the assassin Press that came from abroad; and that no sympathy would be shown with the horrible moral poison which was being sown broadcast throughout Ireland. With regard to the clause permitting searches to be made at night, he thought that, if the principle of no searches at night was established, it would be a principle encouraging those who, for good reasons, did not desire to be searched at night; but it would not lead to the establishment of law and order. As to the Summary Jurisdiction Clauses, to which reference had been made, it was one thing necessary, in the present state of affairs in Ireland, that effective and speedy punishment should follow upon the commission of plain offences; and no Bill dealing with that state of things would have much chance of effecting its object unless it considerably increased the summary jurisdiction of the magistrates. Objections had been raised to granting that increased jurisdiction—first, to the unpaid magistrates, and then to the paid magistrates; but, unfortunately, no hybrid race of magistrates existed who were neither paid nor unpaid. One of the most important and essential provisions of a measure of that character would be abandoned if that one was not retained; and if, in Committee, it was determined to water those powers down, it would be a great deal better to omit them altogether. It was suggested that the County Court Judges and Quarter Sessions might be vested with the power which it was proposed to give to stipendiary magistrates; but, if that were done, it would not be summary jurisdiction. Objection had further been made to the three years' duration of the Bill; but, if such an enactment was really necessary—he was afraid that it would be utterly hopeless to think of settling the country in a less time—it would be quite absurd to give it a shorter duration. Indeed, he should be only too glad to find that law and order had been restored in that time. It might, perhaps, have been well, as he had been led to expect, that some of the provisions of this Bill should have been so drawn that they could have been grafted upon the general law of the country. One of the great evils of Irish administration was that there had been 1022 a series of temporary Acts constantly renewed. It would, in his opinion, be a great deal better to recognize the chronic difficulties of Ireland, and to grapple with them by general legislation, for the whole history of the country demonstrated that some change in the general law was required rather than making those eternal temporary laws. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had said, the first portion of the Bill was obviously of the most extreme importance. That was the part which constituted the new tribunal and suspended trial by jury. It was grounded on the breakdown of the jury system in agrarian and disloyal cases, and everyone acquainted with Ireland knew that it was absolutely necessary in view of the scandalous acquittals which had taken place. The absence of evidence was often explicable by the certainty of an acquittal. Witnesses declined to come forward when they knew that their evidence would be of no avail, and that they would be liable to outrage. The suspension of the jury system would, he believed, be attended by the most beneficial results. It would act as a great deterrent of crime. When a real trial was waiting every criminal, and he knew he had got no partial friend on the jury, it would tend to encourage witnesses, and to discourage the cowardly perpetrators of cowardly outrages. Therefore, he regarded the suspension of trial by jury as, in itself, a step towards the restoration of law and order. The alternative method of the present Coercion Act could not be carried out for an indefinite period. It was repugnant to our notions to keep men always in prison without trial. It had been suggested that unanimity on the part of the jury should not be insisted upon; but all acquainted with Ireland knew that such a proposal was impracticable, and that the one thing which had saved great scandals was that unanimity. If unanimity had not been required, and one or two fearless men had not held out for a conviction, the result, in many cases, would have been an acquittal by a majority, instead of, as now, a simple disagreement. Therefore, the idea that that difficulty could be got over by the abolition of unanimity was a suggestion which showed that those who made it did not understand the conditions. If 1023 the new tribunal was to be efficient, it would require to be strong and to be trusted. He did not mean that it should, as of course, be trusted by what was called by some hon. Members "the people"—for a tribunal composed of three archangels would, in all probability, be denounced before the end of the year, but trusted by all right-minded and right-thinking men who wanted to see law and order restored. The Government proposal was of a very grave and serious character; it was that the new tribunal should consist of three of the highest Judges in Ireland. The Judges of Ireland, in his opinion, were entitled to be spoken of in terms of unmeasured respect. They were men, all of them, he was proud to say, his personal friends, of rare and exceptional ability. They were men of blameless lives; they had the highest sense of public duty, and discharged their important duties, amid great difficulties, fearlessly and loyally. Everyone knew the ordeal that public men in Ireland had to face. No matter who they were or what they were, they were accused of everything conceivable as regarded evil, and the Judges themselves did not escape that ordeal. They had been attacked sometimes; they had not been very much defended. This Bill proposed to put them in a position unquestionably of unpopularity, and which might be attended with danger. They lived in the country with their families and households, and it was obvious that the duties cast upon them must be attended with danger as well as unpopularity. Whatever they did they would be attacked and accused and reviled, and that was certainly a serious position in which to put men who wore the judicial ermine. With regard to the opportunities for attack, the fact that their salaries would appear in the Estimates would lay them open to prolonged attacks in that House—attacks which could not but be hurtful to honourable minds. That was a circumstance which he was sure had escaped the attention of the Government. He would not criticize this provision in any detail; he had no doubt the Government had given a good deal of consideration to the matter; but he hoped the result of such a proposal would be not to lessen the dignity and weight which surrounded the character of a Judge. By creating an exceptional tribunal like that they might have these 1024 men one week charging juries upon questions of fact, and the next acting as juries themselves. If that were a change in the general law of the country it would be different, because, of course, every Judge was bound to administer the law; but by the change proposed—and this was an argument against a very short Bill—they asked the Judges to assume that important jurisdiction for a period of only three years. He would, however, pass it by, and would say nothing further about it at present; but he was disposed to think that the clauses with respect to appeal would require immense consideration in Committee. If they made an exceptional tribunal of three of the highest Judges in Ireland they were bound to give to them entire confidence; but the Bill was so framed as to appear to indicate distrust of the Judges, for they were allowing appeals to be made not on the question of guilt, button the discretion of the Judge in passing sentence. It was a perfect novelty in our law to invite appeals in criminal proceedings in every case. He could understand giving appeals on questions of law, while enabling the tribunal itself to reserve questions of fact; but he could not understand what was proposed by the Bill. He did not think it possible to defend the proposal to give an appeal against the sentence pronounced by the Judges. The three chief Judges of Ireland might decide to give a man five years' penal servitude; and would it not be casting a slur upon the Bench to give an appeal, not as to the guilt of the man, but as to the discretion of the Judges? This Bill was so constructed that, practically, there must be an appeal in every case, because they said to the prisoner—"If you do appeal, you suspend your sentence," and they paid the cost of the appeal; so that, instead of swift and certain justice, they had dilatory and delayed justice. He hoped, when the Bill got into Committee, the clauses as to appeal would be carefully examined, with a view to enable them to work more smoothly. Then there was another point which he thought was open to question—namely, the bringing of the Executive into contact with the Judicial Body more than was necessary. He (Mr. Gibson) thought there should be something of system in the arrangement. This method of trial by Judges had been selected by the 1025 Government; but other methods had been suggested, and he supposed they were familiar to hon. Members. As Irish Judges, with their families, living in Ireland, might be in danger, it was suggested that the difficulty might be got over by selecting English, or Indian, or Colonial Judges. He would not make any remark on that suggestion. It had also been suggested that special commissions, presided over by Queen's Counsel, might be issued, as was done some years ago. As the persons who entered into that arrangement would do so with their eyes open, he would not criticize that proposal. Then it was said that it would be a less violation of Constitutional forms to give a trial in England with a Judge and jury than to give a trial in Ireland by Judges without a jury. As to these matters he would say nothing; he would only make this general observation, that in Committee the clauses in question would require examination and, perhaps, revision. He regretted not to see in the Bill a strong and clear power of changing the venue. That power should be given to the Attorney General, or some other person of equal responsibility. If such a power were in the Bill, the Executive of the day might see that they could deal with cases by changing the venue without the issuing of special commissions. Another thing had been suggested to him, upon which he had not made up his mind, but merely threw out as matter worthy of consideration. In dealing with a country like Ireland, it was always better to obviate criticism. If they were to have only this tribunal of three Judges, they would have criticism passed upon it; and it had been suggested that if the alternative were given to a prisoner of being tried, if he choose, at the Central Criminal Court, before a Judge and jury, much of the sting of criticism would be removed. The other clauses in the Bill he passed by; but he thought when so much was said, and easily said, with reference to coercion, it was desirable to draw attention most distinctly to the fact that there was no power whatever of arbitrary arrest throughout the whole of the Bill. It was also necessary to observe that there was no power to detain any man in prison without trial. Therefore, unless every Bill that was in the direction of maintaining law and order was to be called a Coercion Bill, 1026 he did not see why this Bill should be specially baptized with that name. He sincerely hoped this Bill would be a terror to evil-doers. Some legislation, deterrent, preventive, and punitive, was absolutely necessary in the present state of the country. He thought the Government was fairly entitled to ask for every fair support in carrying a measure framed expressly for the purpose of repressing crime and enabling, if possible, the present coercive legislation to be dropped. The administration of this Bill was, in his opinion, as important as its clauses. He was glad to hear the hon. Gentleman opposite, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, state that he would administer the Bill fairly and, of course, justly, but still with unflinching firmness. Every man who should vote for it had a right to hope and expect that when the Bill was enacted, it would be used to quiet and tranquillize the country, and that the House would show in the most unmistakable way that Parliament was determined to assist the Executive in its difficult and responsible duties.
§ MR. T. A. DICKSON
said, he had always been opposed to a policy of coercion both in that House and in the country, and no Member had been more persistent in denouncing measures of this kind than he had been; but he was sorry to say that he was compelled, reluctantly, by the recent terrible events which had occurred in Ireland, to vote for the second reading of this Bill. But, in voting for it, he should do so solely on the ground that it was a measure aimed at the suppression of secret societies. If he did not believe that this was the main object of the Bill, he should not support the second reading. He had listened that night to the remarks of the hon. Member for the City of Dublin (Dr. Lyons); and when he spoke of the terrorism of the secret societies which now existed all over Ireland, he (Mr. T. A. Dickson) felt convinced that the speech of the hon. Member proved the case of the Government and the absolute necessity for the measure. Would it be reasonable, or would it be fair to the House, to ask the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary to face the coming winter in Ireland without giving them power to deal effectually with secret societies and the repression of crime? They all knew 1027 that the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary were now in a position of danger and of difficulty; and when they heard it stated, as they had that night, by the Chief Secretary, as the responsible mouthpiece of the Lord Lieutenant, that the measures denoted in the Bill were absolutely necessary for maintaining the peace of Ireland, he, as an Irish Member, would be very slow to refuse them the power which they declared to be absolutely indispensable. He voted for the second reading of the Bill, because he had the most implicit confidence in the administration of the Act by the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary. He agreed with the remark made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson), that the Bill would be mainly valuable upon one point—that, while it might not succeed in punishing crime, it would be effectual in deterring from the commission of crime. He regarded that as one of the most important matters connected with the Bill. But, having said that he would support the second reading of the Bill, he wished it to be clearly understood that, in Committee, he should not vote for the clause by which it was proposed to extend its operation over a period of three years. He believed that one year of such a measure in Ireland would be enough; and he believed also that if, at the end of the year, the measure had not been found effectual in maintaining law and order and in restoring peace, a great deal more would then be required. He should, therefore, certainly vote against the continuation of the Bill for a longer period than one year. He should also oppose the power of summary jurisdiction being given alone to the Resident Magistrates, to the exclusion of the local magistrates. If the local magistrates chose to sit at petty sessions, and to sit in the Court of Petty Session, and did their duty there, the stipendiary magistrates should not be left to act alone; and he would be no party to a Bill which would exclude the local justices from the responsibility of taking a fair share in the administration of the law in the Court of Petty Session. If he read this Bill rightly—and he thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) had confirmed his impression—no man, under 1028 its provisions, could be imprisoned without a trial; and the Act itself would only apply to counties or districts which had been specially proclaimed by the Lord Lieutenant, and in which crime and outrage were known to exist. As far as he knew, those counties in Ireland where law and order had been maintained for many years past would be in no way affected by the Bill. He was bound to say that no Member of the House had rejoiced more than he had at the temporary relaxation of coercive measures by the Government. No one had more rejoiced at the release of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), and at the abandonment of the coercive policy of the Government; and he should not support the second reading of the present Bill if he could forget the fact that the conciliatory course of the Government had been followed by a crime which had left an indelible stain upon Ireland's honour. He could not forget the fact that that crime in Ireland had followed immediately upon the policy of conciliation being entered into. It was evident that a murderous organization existed in the country which only this Bill, or something like it, could grapple with. The Bill would deal a vigorous blow against such organizations; and he should, therefore, vote for the second reading, reserving the right of supporting in Committee such Amendments as he might deem necessary.
§ MR. A. ELLIOT
said, he intended to support the Government, not only on the second reading of the Bill, but in Committee also. It had occurred to him that it was a remarkable fact that so many hon. Members declared their intention to support the second reading of the Bill, but to emasculate the measure when it got into Committee. He entirely differed from those hon. Members on that side of the House who had apologized for certain portions of the Bill. Minor measures had been tried with but very partial success, and exceptional powers still being necessary, it occurred to him that it would be almost criminal folly to attempt by mere tinkering to remedy the very terrible state of things which now prevailed. No doubt, the measure was a singularly stringent one; but he had heard with the very greatest pleasure in the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan), that 1029 it was not only his intention to pass the Bill substantially as it was, but to act upon it vigorously when it became law. It must be remembered that the Bill was brought forward by the Government on its own responsibility, after very careful consideration. It was not a Bill brought forward in mere hot blood, because gentlemen whom they all knew and valued had been assassinated in Dublin. On the contrary, they had it on the authority of his right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, that the Bill was prepared, although it was not drawn up in detail, before those murders took place. The House, therefore, had every right to expect that it had been prepared after careful consideration, not with regard to the recent murders only, but to the terrible condition of affairs in Ireland for a long time past. When this Bill was brought before them, he ventured to think that the right course for loyal Members of the Liberal Party to pursue was to support it as a whole; but if, on the contrary, it was to be thrown upon the Table, and every Member of the Party who thought he could improve it was to pitchfork into it an Amendment of his own, and to pitchfork out every section he objected to, it was evident that before long they would find themselves at sixes and sevens, and instead of having a consistent Bill, thoroughly thought out by the best beads among those who sat on that side of the House, they would simply obtain a measure expressing the different opinions of a large number of hon. Members. He was glad to find that the Bill had been strongly supported by, at any rate, one hon. Member from Ireland—the hon. and gallant Member for the County of Cork (Colonel Colthurst). The hon. and gallant Member supported the Bill without hesitation, and without saying that in Committee he would be prepared to submit Amendments. There had been remarks made against the details of the Bill, which appeared to him to go to the very gist of the measure. For instance, to object to the summary jurisdiction provided by the Bill was to get rid of three-fourths of its advantages. If the Resident Magistrates were not fit to do the work, how were prisoners to be tried at all, and what were they to do? It was quite true 1030 that the Bill provided for the trial of the more serious offences by three Judges, and no substantial reason had been adduced why the summary power to dispose of minor offences should not be vested in the Resident Magistrates. One objection to the Justices of the Peace was that they were landlords. Another objection was that the punishment awarded to persons found guilty of the offences included in the Bill was of a terrible character. Now, what was the punishment provided for the offences against the Act? One of the offences dealt with was belonging to any unlawful association organized for the purpose of committing crimes. The punishment provided was a maximum penalty of six months' imprisonment with or without hard labour. It was almost laughable to represent such a punishment for such an offence as being of a very stringent nature. He knew that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) was unpopular in Ireland because of the good work he had done there. What was it more than anything else that had made the right hon. Gentleman unpopular? He believed it was the speech he delivered at Tullamore; and the gist and substance of that speech was that he denounced fearlessly, like an honourable and upright man, the cowardly and brutal outrages which had been perpetrated in Ireland. It occurred to him (Mr. Elliot), when he heard hon. Members discuss so calmly and coolly the horrible outrages that had occurred in Ireland, that no other assembly of decent men in England or Scotland, outside the walls of Parliament, would have been prepared to discuss them in so temperate a manner. They had again and again been asked in that House to be conciliatory to the Irish people. That was very good advice. It was perfectly right that they should not feel any resentment towards the Irish people; but he ventured to say that they were carrying Christian feeling rather too far when they were asked to be conciliatory towards criminals and assassins. If the question was one of peace or war between them and the assassins, he would unhesitatingly declare for war. It was said that it was a strong Bill, and he felt that it was; but he believed that the Government were responding, and were not doing one atom 1031 more than responding, to the strong and energetic feeling expressed by honest men of all parties throughout the country. The Members on his side of the House who had taken part in the discussion, one after another, had not adequately represented the feeling which prevailed in the country. In Scotland there was a detestation of these outrages, and not only of these outrages and these assassins, but of those who sheltered the assassins. He believed that any assistance given to the men who had perpetrated these brutal outrages would be visited with the detestation of all decent people in the United Kingdom. He had ventured to give utterance to these few words; and, on resuming his seat, he would ask the Government, although he did not think they required any exhortation after the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan), to persevere with the Bill, and not emasculate it, and not to lend a willing ear to the advice they had received from hon. Members on that side of the House, who certainly spoke with very little authority for the Liberals of the country generally.
§ MR. DILLON
, said the Bill was described as a Bill for the Prevention of Crime in Ireland. He believed that it would be more correctly described as a Bill for the Promotion of Crime in Ireland. The Preamble contained a false statement, and upon that false statement the rest of the Bill was founded. It was a false statement which had run throughout the whole course of the legislation of this country in endeavouring to deal with crime in Ireland; and any man who desired to understand what the ingenuity of British statesmen had devised for the last 800 years for preventing crime in Ireland—and which they had not yet succeeded in doing—would do well to study the Preamble of this Bill, and inquire whether the statement it contained was true or false. The words of the Preamble were these—Whereas, by reason of the action of secret societies and combinations for illegal purposes in Ireland, the operation of the ordinary law has become insufficient for the repression and prevention of crime, and it is expedient to make further provision for that purpose.The true way of putting the matter would be this—"Whereas, the ordinary law is too strong, and is too strong un- 1032 justly, the minds of the people of Ireland have been set against it, and a kind of combination exists among the people not to aid in carrying out a law which they believe to be unjustly administered against them." What he contended was this, that no law which the ingenuity of man could devise could prevent or put down crime in Ireland until they could get the minds of the Irish people on the side of the law. He must confess that he had listened with astonishment—although it was not the first time that he had been astonished at the attitude taken by English Governments—he had listened with astonishment to the unanimity with which men who called themselves English Radicals and Liberals spoke of the abolition of trial by jury in Ireland as a matter of course. They had heard that day from an influential Member of the Opposition, who might probably be called upon shortly to administer the Act in Ireland, that it was the avowed wish of the landlord class in Ireland, of whom he was the able spokesman in that House, to make this a perpetual law. [Mr. GIBSON: No.] He had understood the right hon. and learned Gentleman to complain of making the law a temporary one; and he had further understood him to ask that some provision of a permanent character should be engrafted on the ordinary law of Ireland. What he (Mr. Dillon) had been saying was that it did surprise him to find the extraordinary avidity with which English Radical and Liberal Members accepted the proposal to abolish trial by jury in Ireland. Hitherto he had always supposed that trial by jury had been looked upon as one of the most valuable securities of the freedom of the English people—["Hear, hear!"]—he repeated, of the English people, but not of the Irish people. With regard to the proposed abolition of trial by jury and the establishment of a special tribunal to try these cases, he desired to point out that, in endeavouring to make out a case for this proposal, although the right hon. Gentleman brought forward no arguments whatever in support of his case, the Chief Secretary for Ireland had omitted entirely to state what was the nature of the evidence as to the intimidation of juries in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman omitted to do so, because he knew that if the matter were 1033 inquired into it would be found that no case whatever existed. He (Mr. Dillon) was prepared to admit, and to admit frankly, that acquittals had occurred in. Ireland, and that there had been a failure to convict for minor offences with which the sympathies of the people strongly ran, which offences were of the nature of intimidation of a certain character—cases which came within the class generally known in Ireland as "Boycotting." He was prepared to admit that in offences of this character some of the juries had gone against the charge of the Judges and had acquitted the individuals charged; but was it not a well-known fact to everybody that the same thing had occurred over and over again in the course of English history? When a law had become unpopular, one of the means by which the people obtained the repeal of it was to refuse to convict. He could cite cases in which it was well known that English, Scotch, and Welsh juries had given their verdicts right in the teeth of the Judges' charges, because the people would no longer tolerate the law that was being administered. He would admit that in minor cases—and he would even go further and say it was possible that in some important cases—the juries had refused to convict for assaults upon process-servers and others who were engaged in putting the law in force; but he contended that these failures to convict were not the result of intimidation, but the result of popular sympathy and popular feeling against the law which was being administered. The object of this Bill was not to do away with the effects of intimidation, but to take out of the hands of the people the right to try the offenders. He wished to put a question to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland, and it was this—Had the Irish Government in their possession any evidence regarding the intimidation of jurors in Ireland? A very short time ago, a Member of that House went to him in the Lobby, and, in the course of private conversation, said, "Will you admit that the jurors are so intimidated in Ireland that they are afraid to convict?" Now, he challenged the Attorney General for Ireland, if he had evidence of a single case, or of two or three cases, of the intimidation of a jury or a juror, to lay it on the Table of the House for information. A single instance, or, at any rate, 1034 two, would be quite enough to satisfy the House, and would be a strong argument in favour of the Bill, in satisfying the House that there had been a failure of justice through the intimidation of a juryman. He would pass on now to that part of the Bill which specified the offences under the Act. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland said the Bill was directed, not against liberty, but against crime. But the acts which were enumerated as offences against the Act amounted to this, that anybody who said anything which the Lord Lieutenant did not think right was guilty of an offence against the Act. A sub-section of Clause 4 declared that—In this Act the expression 'intimidation' includes any words spoken or act done calculated to put any person in fear of any injury or danger to himself, or to any member of his family, or to any person in his employment, or in fear of any injury to or loss of his property, business, or means of living.He wondered very much whether under this classification would come a letter which he read in The Freeman's Journal six months ago, written by an Irish landlord, calling on the landlords to "Boycott" a certain well-known trader in Sackville Street, because he had dared to express an opinion that the landlords had not done their duty. The man proposed to be "Boycotted" was an Orangeman, but, being a man of an impartial turn of mind, he had turned round and denounced the landlords. But if this Act passed, and intimidation of this kind were sought to be practised, did any man sitting in that House believe that the law would be administered against the landlords of Ireland? On the contrary, they knew perfectly well that the landlords would be left at liberty to do what they always had done, and what they all had perfect liberty to do to-day—namely, to "Boycott" every man who went against them. He had lived in a county in Ireland, and had not only seen traders ruined, but he had seen a bank ruined, and "Boycotted" by a landlord, because the bank manager was not sufficiently civil to him. "Boycotting" had been an engine systematically used by the landlords and their agents. It was a common practice to send the bailiff round an estate, to order the tenants not to deal with certain shops, because the shopkeepers had not been sufficiently respect- 1035 ful to the landlord. He wished to know whether the clause would be enforced against landlords who "Boycotted" traders as it would be against the Irish people generally? Would the Irish landlord be put in the treadmill, if he sent his bailiff round to the tenants with orders that they should not deal with a certain individual, or with a certain bank? These were not suppositious cases, because, in the instance of the bank he had mentioned, he was perfectly acquainted with the fact himself. He was living in the town in which the bank was ruined and driven out of the town because the bank manager had offended the owner of the estate. Turning to the Bill, he thought the worst part of it was the Summary Jurisdiction Clause. It rendered all public action, throughout the whole country an utter impossibility. It would be used against the people, and not against the landlords; and the result would be that, so far from strengthening the law in Ireland, it would embitter tenfold the feeling implanted in the breast of every honest man in Ireland that the law was his enemy, and not his friend. If they asked for the real cause of the weakness of the law in Ireland, his reply was that they were to seek it, not in the failure of any statute, but in the general character of the law. This Act, enforced, as he knew it would be enforced, could have no other effect than to confederate the people in silent and secret alliance to defeat the law, because, in every line of it, they saw an attempt to impose on them an extraordinary yoke. The right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) spoke in very feeling terms of the danger to which the Irish Judges would be exposed. Now, could the right hon. and learned Gentleman point to any instance in Irish history in which an Irish Judge had been injured or had had an attack made upon him? [Mr. GIBSON: Yes; Lord Kilwarden.] He was not speaking of the case of Lord Kilwarden, which occurred 100 years ago, in a time of open insurrection. He asked whether there was any case to be found in the history of Ireland since the Union, in which any attempt had been made against an Irish Judge during a time of peace? With respect to the figures quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the new Chief Secretary for Ireland, he had often heard figures quoted in that 1036 House, but he had never heard such unsatisfactory statistics as these before. The right hon. Gentleman stated the number of outrages which occurred in the year 1870, and asserted that in consequence of the introduction of the Coercion Bill they decreased from 1870 down to 1875; but he forgot to say that the decrease was coincident with the increase of prosperity in Ireland. From 1870 to 1875, evictions fell off. The country increased enormously in wealth, and emigration fell off also. So greatly did the country increase in wealth that the people almost ceased to leave it. The right hon. Gentleman went on to show that between 1875 and 1880 outrages increased again; but he forgot to state that in 1876 agricultural depression set in, and that evictions increased to an enormous extent. In the year 1878 hunger first appeared in Ireland; and during the three following years large numbers of people were on the brink of starvation, and evictions were going on in such large numbers that they drew from the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government the eloquent speech which he was congratulated on delivering about two years ago. Therefore, these figures proved absolutely nothing. Like most figures introduced into the House in regard to Ireland, there was nothing, substantially, in them. It might be, that after the passing of this Bill—if the Government insisted upon passing it, cruel and dangerous as the measure was—it might be, that for some time outrages would decrease, and; no doubt, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary would get up next year and say, "Our Bill has been a great success." The right hon. Gentleman would, however, forget to tell them that the Arrears of Rent Bill was passed at the same time; and he would forget to say that the decrease of outrage, if there was a decrease of outrage, would be attributable entirely to the Arrears Bill, and not to the Prevention of Crime Bill. If they passed this Bill alone, his (Mr. Dillon's) belief was firm and fixed that outrages would increase in number and much more in atrocity. There was one thing which, horrible as the character of the Bill was, and ruinous as it would be for the future of his country, gave him quite as much anxiety as anything in the Bill itself, and that was the effect 1037 the Bill would have on the landlords of Ireland. The landlords of Ireland were gradually coming into a reasonable frame of mind. They were tired of the struggle; and the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) in reference to purchase, and the recommendations of the Committee of the House of Lords, proved what he said. The withdrawal of the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Westminster in the face of this Coercion Bill proved the danger he had pointed to; and if there was anything wanting to confirm the view he took of the danger, it was the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) that night. This Bill gave a promise to the House of another land war in Ireland, because the Irish landlords, with this Bill in their hands, would come forward again with their unreasonable demands. They were already beginning to think that they could go on tyrannizing over the Irish people with the aid of this Coercion Bill. The Government would find that opinion on the Opposition side of the House had been entirely altered with regard to the Purchase Clauses of the Land Act, and the Conservatives would now have succeeded a second time in getting the Liberal Party to do their dirty work. They would make the Government pass the Bill and imprison the Irish Members, as they did last year; and then they would turn round upon the Government, and hold up their hands in pious horror that innocent men should have been kept in prison so long. By-and-bye they would denounce the Government for the horrible character of the measures they had passed, when they wanted the Irish vote again. Having got a Bill, they would see that it was administered vigorously in Ireland. He had heard round him, during the last two nights, constant exclamations to this effect—"It is a very good Bill, but it is in wrong hands." In point of fact, the Government would have incurred all the odium, and by-and-bye the Opposition would do the work. He admitted, and he was not ashamed to admit, that in the face of this Bill, no Land League could exist in Ireland, no public movement could exist in Ireland. He was bound to tell the people so frankly. It was perfectly possible—he might even say probable—that after the Bill had 1038 been in operation for a year, the Government would say that they had triumphed and had reduced the people to quietness. But how had they liked the last two years?—because, as sure as they passed this Bill, they would have to do the work all over again; they would have to fight the Land Bill, to fight the Irish landlords, and to spend two years of English time in squabbling over Irish matters, until the House would sicken at the very name of Ireland. [An hon. MEMBER: They are sick of it already.] He heard an hon. Member say they were sick of it already. He believed they were. But would it not have been wiser to speak frankly and truthfully, instead of rushing into fresh coercion—to confess that they had made a mistake? The Coercion Act of last year had not settled the Land Question. He was coming over from Ireland to talk to the House of Commons frankly upon this question, when he was stopped and arrested. They were all now obliged to confess that they had made a mistake; and after two years of wasted time, after a period of disorder which he regretted infinitely more than they did, because it had dishonoured his country, and had not dishonoured theirs—after two years of wasted time, they were now sitting down to commit the same mistake as they did last year, to sow the same seeds of murder in Ireland. It might be that the Bill would keep the country quiet for the next two years; but, at the expiration of that time, they would have to begin again where they began last January; and until the Land Question was fairly fought out, the House of Commons would be obliged to listen, night after night, to the recital of the difficulties and troubles of the Irish people.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, the measure now before the House was the most severe and drastic measure which had been proposed for Ireland, since the date of the Penal Laws. They had often seen in print—and it had been quoted in that House from time to time—a list of the Coercion Acts enacted for Ireland since the date of the Act of Union. Many of them were severe, tyrannical, and repressive; but there was no doubt that this last performance capped them all. In this country, persons who succeeded in competing for prizes were sometimes rewarded with a blue ribbon, sometimes 1039 with a red ribbon, and occasionally with a belt, and were called the champions of their profession. The authors of this Bill certainly deserved the belt as the champion coercionists of Ireland. The recent occurrences in Ireland seemed to him and to a great many observers in this country to be a culminating stroke of crime. This last lamentable act of crime so shocked the feeling of Ireland that there was every reason to expect the outburst of horror and indignation which it created would have produced good results in the end. The current of Irish sympathy had commenced to flow in unison with English feeling; and at that moment, when the people of Ireland were taking heart and being of good cheer, just as they were beginning to see the dawn of a brighter day, and the dark clouds were lifting from over the country, the Government stepped in with this cruel enactment, which turned the tide of Irish sentiment again against England, and closed over the heads of the Irish people those dark clouds which were beginning to break and let in the light. It had been said that there existed sympathy with crime in Ireland. He admitted that there had been some degree of sympathy with some forms of crime, but with some forms only; and how this had arisen had been explained in the speech which had been delivered that night by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce). The hon. Member told them that sympathy with certain forms of Irish crime was only the result of Irish history; that it was the natural result of the tyranny and oppression which, for long ages, had been practised on the Irish people. Now, that was the plain and palpable truth of the matter. During the period in which the Irish people had been oppressed cruelly and tyrannically, in the name of the law, the name of the law naturally became hateful to them; and those who stood forth against the law won for themselves the sympathy and protection of the Irish people. How could it be otherwise? Against whom did the law strike? The law struck against the Irish priest, against the Irish schoolmaster, against the Irish patriot, against the people of Ireland altogether, and, consequently, the law became odious and hateful in the eyes of the Irish people. This feeling had not yet quite died away in Ireland; and 1040 those who in this day struck against the law were regarded as the avengers of the people, and not as their enemies. Law and order were words that would not have their true meaning in. Ireland until law and order were made conformable to the feelings of the people, and the requirements of justice in that country. Now, they were told that this severe and stringent enactment would not cause any hurt to innocent people; they were told it would only touch, hurt, alarm, and terrorize the guilty. But that he altogether denied. In the first place, if that statement were true, why should the Bill not be made to operate perpetually? And, again, if it were true with regard to Ireland, it would also be true with regard to England, and the Bill should by consequence be applied to England also. He said that delusive idea which was put forward in defence of the Bill was disposed of by the argument that if it would not hurt innocent people in Ireland, the same Code would not hurt them in England; and yet no such measure was going to be introduced there. The fact was, that the Bill, when it passed into law, would terrorize and torture innocent persons in Ireland, and it was in vain to say it would not. They had listened to a somewhat similar story when the Coercion Act of last year was passing through the House of Commons, when they were told it was to touch only the village ruffians and midnight marauders. These men, it was said, were well known to the police, the hand of justice would be laid upon them as soon as the Act was passed, and no well-behaved man had anything to fear from the enactment. But how different from this was the actual effect of the Coercion Act. They found by experience that it was the very reverse of what it was stated it would be. Was it not notorious that the real criminals had escaped? They had never been arrested—the village ruffians had never been imprisoned at all under the Coercion Act; but it was known too well that perfectly innocent men had been captured and thrown into prison under cover of a measure which they were told was not to interfere with innocent people, but was intended to punish the guilty only. Now, with regard to the measure before the House. Notwithstanding the speech of the Chief Secre- 1041 tary to the Lord Lieutenant to which they had just listened, when the Bill became law—when it passed from the House of Commons into the hands of Irish Judges and magistrates, it would reveal itself in its true colours. It would appear then as nothing less than an engine of tyranny and oppression; and he could assure Her Majesty's Government that if it were possible for the House of Commons to be deceived by the closing words of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, the Irish Members could not be deceived by them, because they knew by bitter experience how these things were worked in Ireland. He would detain the House for a few moments, while he referred to some of the provisions of the Bill. They were told in the first sentence that it was a Bill for the Prevention of Crime in Ireland. But, as it had been already styled by his hon. Friend the Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon), he preferred to call it—and he would undertake to prove the truth of their views on the matter—a Bill for the Extension of Crime in Ireland. Coming to the Preamble, he found it ran as follows:—Whereas, by reason of the action of secret societies and combinations for illegal purposes in Ireland, the operation of the ordinary law has become insufficient for the repression and prevention of crime, and it is expedient to make further provision for that purpose: Be it therefore enacted," &c.Well; but did not the Irish Members repeatedly tell the Government that they would have to deal with secret societies when they passed the Coercion Act? It was within the recollection of the House that this argument had been, over and over again, addressed to them by hon. Members on those Benches—"Suppress open and legitimate agitation in Ireland, and," they said, "as surely as the sun shines, you will have its place taken by secret societies." And, accordingly, in the very first line of the Preamble reference was made to the recrudescence of secret societies in Ireland. Then the Preamble spoke of the ordinary law being insufficient for the repression and prevention of crime. The people of Ireland had been subject, not to the ordinary law, but to extraordinary law. The Government had the Coercion Act at their disposal; but they made no reference to that in the Preamble of the Bill, That Act was passed on the alle- 1042 gation and assurance of the Government that it was to do this very work of suppressing crime and outrage in Ireland. How, then, could the Government come to that House and ask to be believed, when they used the same language with regard to this measure as they had used in the case of the Coercion Act? He could understand how a dishonest man sometimes succeeded in passing a "flash" note to a tradesman over his counter. He might do this once; but it would be very surprising to him if that tradesman allowed himself to be imposed upon a second time by the same or any other individual who presented a "flash" note. And so with regard to this Bill. The House ought not to be deceived again by the statements of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Looking into the measure a little further, he found that it dealt with the crime of intimidation; and, looking at its provisions, he contended that no man in Ireland would be safe in speaking, writing, printing, or publishing a single sentence of hostile criticism upon public or private men, if the measure passed into law. The words of the clause were—In this Act the expression 'intimidation' includes any word spoken or act done calculated to put any person in fear of any injury or danger to himself, or to any member of his family, or to any person in his employment, or in fear of any injury to or loss of his property, business, or means of living.He believed that to be a total suppression of public criticism in Ireland upon the acts of a large number of men; because, if hostile criticism of their conduct would not put them in bodily fear, yet it could be very easily alleged that it might cause them loss of property, business, or means of living. Therefore, he said that, under the terms of this clause, criticism of the public conduct of men who happened to be engaged in any line of business, or were in the position of landlords, would henceforth be very dangerous in Ireland. Then, there was the crime of aggravated violence against the person, which was one of the things to be dealt with by this measure. Now, crimes of that character were very common in other parts of the Kingdom than Ireland; he wondered that no special measure was brought in for their prevention in England, where, for instance, cases of violence against men, women, and children were of daily and hourly occur- 1043 rence. They were so numerous as to attract the attention of the Judges; and in the time of the late Government a Blue Book was published concerning them, which contained a large mass of evidence given by Chief Constables and others throughout the country. But, he asked, was there no law already in existence for dealing with these cases of aggravated violence against the person? Undoubtedly there was, and wherever evidence was to be had of the guilt of the offenders they could be punished; but evidence was indispensable, and must always be had, otherwise they could not be dealt with at all. They could not punish people on suspicion. The fact was that his observations were intended to bring to the minds of the House and the Government that these measures were more needed in England than Ireland; and he contended that the crimes in question ought not to have been entered in this Bill at all, inasmuch as they could be already dealt with under the ordinary law. The same argument applied to assaults "on any constable, bailiff, process-server, or other minister of the law," which, by sub-section (d) of Clause 5,were to be punished as offences against this Act. But these were offences already, and were always punished—if they were proved to have been committed—and, therefore, he contended that they should not have been brought in here. He came now to a still more dangerous portion of the Bill, which contained this clause—Every person who—(a) is a member of an unlawful association, as defined by this Act; or (b) solicits or receives or pays any money for the use of an unlawful association, as defined by this Act; or (c) uses any badge or ticket indicating connection with an unlawful association, as defined by this Act; or (d) knowingly takes part in the proceedings of an unlawful association, as defined by this Act, or of any meeting thereof, or of any meeting for the purpose of promoting the purposes of such unlawful association, or any of those purposes, shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.Now, considering what they had heard in Ireland from the Judges, magistrates, and other people connected with the administration of the law, he could not see how any political association whatever would fail to come within the purview of the Act. It would be impossible for them to escape from it, and the result must be that political associations in 1044 Ireland would cease to exist. Then, by Clause 8 (1)—In a proclaimed district, if a person is out of his place of abode at any time after one hour later than sunset and before sunrise under suspicious circumstances, any constable may arrest that person and bring him forthwith before a justice of the peace, and such justice, after inquiry into the circumstances of the case, may either discharge him or take the necessary steps, by committing him to prison or taking bail, to bring him before a court of summary jurisdiction acting under this Act, and if such person, on appearing before a court of summary jurisdiction acting under this Act, fails to satisfy the court that he was out of his place of abode upon some lawful occasion or business, he shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.Now, if this clause were to be put in force, it appeared to him it would be necessary that people who wanted to travel from one part of the country to another should be furnished with passports or safe-conducts, in order that they might do so without molestation. He did not see how labourers, who travelled about the country in quest of employment, could possibly escape arrest and detention under this measure. And what were the suspicious circumstances that would subject these men to arrest? These were not set forth in the clause; but hon. Members knew well that in Ireland the suspicions of magistrates, constables, and such persons were easily aroused, and he felt it would be but a poor defence against the penalty of arrest, detention, and imprisonment for a man to say he was travelling in search of work. Therefore, he suggested to the Government the propriety of issuing some sort of safe-conduct in the shape of a ticket, which a man travelling under the circumstances he had described might stick in his hat or pin to his coat, and which would carry him safely through the country in quest of his honest business. He passed on to Clause 10, having relation to the Press, which was as follows:—(1) Where after the passing of this Act any newspaper wherever printed is circulated or attempted to be circulated in Ireland, and any copy of such newspaper appears to the Lord Lieutenant to contain matter inciting to the commission of treason or of any act of violence or intimidation, the Lord Lieutenant may order that all copies of such newspapers containing that matter shall, when found in Ireland, be forfeited to Her Majesty; and any constable duly authorized by the Lord Lieutenant may seize the same;and so on through the remaining sub- 1045 sections of the clause. He said that if, after the passing of this Bill in its present form, newspapers containing political articles continued to exist in Ireland, they would exist simply at the mercy of the Lord Lieutenant. That was a condition of slavery the Irish Press might have to put up with; but, decidedly, they would be sensible of it, and would deal with the situation as best they could. What safety was there for the Press of Ireland? Any political article might move the mind of the Lord Lieutenant, according to his own temper at the time, or to the degree of pressure put upon him by constables, magistrates, and others, to believe that it was an incitement to treason or acts of violence and intimidation; and if he could find no proof in the paper of any such incitement, he had only to have recourse to the patent process, discovered lately by the Attorney General for Ireland, of reading "between the lines." So much for the future of Irish newspapers under this Bill. But he had something to say about English publications, and would trouble the House with a little specimen of the style of writing tolerated in England. In quoting a few passages to the House, he would not ask hon. Members to read between the lines, but simply to take the text as he read it to them. He held in his hand a pamphlet published by Mr. Chatterton, of 58, Cromer Street, Gray's Inn Road, W.C., to be had of all news agents, some portions of which were so gross and so indecent, and had, moreover, reference to the highest personages of the Realm, that he supposed the House would not only excuse, but commend him for not reading them. He passed over the reference to Her Most Gracious Majesty, as also that made to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales; after which, the paragraph went on to say—You Duke of Edinburgh; you Duke of Connaught; you Prince Leopold; you Princesses Royal Helena, Louise, and Beatrice; you"—But here he must really omit a portion of the text—who live on the labour of a suffering people; and you haughty aristocrats; you the bloated capitalists—the land and moneyed thieves of today—think, we say, before it is too late and repent of your misdeeds; disgorge the wealth you have only got by murder, exaction, robbery, and rapine of the most vile form; tremble in the knowledge that the day of retribution is fast approaching, when an oppressed nation will rise 1046 in the majesty and grandeur of their might, and sweep you, the curse and pest of every age, off the face of the earth, like so many rotten vermin as you are.Hon. Members would bear in mind that this was a piece of English literature. The writer went on to say—Oh, yes; sweep you off the earth, for only your extinction can cure our misery; but not by mad insensate action of one woman or man killing a King or a Queen, and becoming the victim of their own folly. No, you royal, aristocratic, and land and moneyed murderers; no, you robbers, investors, and violaters of all human law. Not so; but, by the just and righteous vengeance of an insulted, outraged people—slaying you, and striding over your rotten car cases as a justifiable reparation to an outraged nation.He should trouble the House with only a few more lines from this abominable English publication, which continued as follows:—And now, sister and brother industrialists, what is the remedy for such a state of things? Why, a war to the knife against the governing classes of to-day. War to your Queen of England; drag her from the Throne she fraudulently usurps from the people; stamp her out—exterminate the monarchical vermin one and all. War to those legalized thieves and murderers—your Lords and Commons. Clear your Parliamentary stable of the dry rot that is within—stamp them out. …. Oh, yes, workers of to-day, there is nothing left for you but to steel your nerves, dry your powder, sharpen your weapons, tighten your grasp, and drive the bright flashing steel clean through the quivering heart of your blood-stained foe.That was not taken from an Irish or an Irish-American newspaper, but it was taken from a pamphlet published in the City of London, and bearing the imprint of the printer. It was not against such papers that this coercive legislation was directed, but it was against Irish newspapers, which advocated the cause of Irish liberty and not assassination. Papers which had no sympathy with crime and outrage, but which advocated openly the cause of Irish independence, were to be exposed to confiscation at the will of the Lord Lieutenant, inspired as he was by Dublin Castle, and by the howling members of the landlord class from one end of the land to the other. They had heard Her Majesty's Government advised to carry on the Arrears Bill side by side with this terrible measure of coercion. No concession that could possibly be made by the House of Commons to the tenants of Ireland, or to any class in the country, would 1047 be taken by the Irish Members, and bartered against the liberties of the Irish people. The present measure was one which, rendered political life in Ireland impossible; it was a measure which rendered Ireland from end to end one large prison for men who had any sympathy with the cause of Irish freedom and the well-being of their country. He hoped his Colleagues would resist this tyrannical and cruel and destructive enactment to the last stage and to the best of their ability. He joined in the declarations which had been made from these Benches; he joined in the belief that this measure would not promote law and order. There was a kind of peace known as the "Peace of Warsaw." If they depopulated a country, if they made it a howling wilderness, they would get rid of crime and outrage; they would, no doubt, suppress all public action; but surely the last stage of the country would be worse than the first. This was not the way to promote peace and order. The right way was to adopt a policy of conciliation and justice when the Irish people were in a mood to co-operate with the authorities. When the Irish people were told that coercion was about to be withdrawn and abandoned, and that a better and a kindlier order of things was about to prevail, he asked did they not show that they reciprocated those kindly feelings? Was not the same feeling manifested throughout the length and breadth of Ireland? The brutal and detestable resources of coercion had been resorted to again; but Ireland would live through the battle; Ireland would fight it out and come out of it victorious, as she had done out of many hundreds of a like nature in her history.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be nowadjourned."—(Mr. Sexton.)
said, he would assent to the Motion, but hoped that the debate would close at the Morning Sitting to-morrow.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow, at Two of the clock.