§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Main Question [15th February]—[See page 98.]
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
in rising to move the following Amendment:—In paragraph 10, line 4, to leave out from the word "upheld" to the end of the paragraph, in order to insert the words—And we venture to express our earnest hope that the change of policy which has produced these results will he maintained, and that no further attempts will he made to purchase the support of persons disaffected to Her Majesty's Rule, by concessions to lawless agitation; and that the existence of dangerous secret societies in Dublin and other parts of the Country will continue to be met by unremitting energy and vigilance on the part of the Executive,said, he hoped Her Majesty's Government would receive this Amendment in the same friendly spirit in which it had been conceived. Captious critics might say that the expression as to a change of policy implied some censure on the past conduct of the Government; but they had passed the severest censure on their 415 own policy by the sudden and abrupt change which that policy underwent immediately after the murders in the Phœnix Park; and the expressions in his Amendment were less strong than the language of the Chief Secretary with regard to his former Colleagues. It might be said that the confidence expressed in his Amendment was tempered by a certain amount of anxiety as to the future conduct of the Government; but when they looked at the revelations which had recently taken place in the Kilmainham Court House, and saw the kind of associates the Government were at one time prepared to take into their confidence, in order to procure the pacification of Ireland, the House would admit that a little anxiety on the subject was not altogether misplaced. About Easter of last year the state of Ireland was in a position in which it was impossible to be left any longer. Agrarian outrages were proved to have increased not only in number, but also in atrocity; there were hardly any of the perpetrators whom the representatives of the law succeeded in bringing before a Court of Justice, and of those who had been brought before a Court of Justice there was scarcely one against whom a conviction had been obtained. The general terms in which the Chief Secretary had addressed his constituents in Scotland shortly before the re-assembling of Parliament had been referred to the other day by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), who asked for an explanation, which had not yet been given, of the right hon. Gentleman's account of the disorganized state in which he and Lord Spencer found Ireland when they went there last year. They were as follows:—When we went to Ireland in last May we found society profoundly disorganized; we found the hest elements in it depressed and the worst triumphant; and how should it be otherwise when, instead of the law being a terror to evil-doers, evil-doers wore a terror to all well-conducted persons?He would quote the specific words in his speech—There is no country in the world which would not go from had to worse so long as crime remained unpunished in proportion as it was disgraceful; and that was the case in Ireland. There were 17 agrarian murders in 1881, and no convictions; and during the first six months of 1882 there were 18, besides the massacre of the Joyce family, and there was no one punished; and no one would be punished under 416 the old system if his guilt were as clear as the day.Ho thought no language that had over been used in that House, on that (the Opposition) side of the House, nor the language used in the Amendment now before them, was anything like the condemnation of the Government's policy before the change in question that was conveyed in the words used by the present Chief Secretary in that address to his constituents. When the Government came to see at Easter last that things could not go on as they were then doing in Ireland, that some new departure would have to be made in Irish policy, there were two distinct alternative policies before them—first, the policy of attempting by additional legislation to strengthen the law so as to procure convictions. That was the policy which they had reason to believe was enforced upon his Colleagues by the late Chief Secretary (Mr. W. E. Forster). There was, however, a second alternative policy, which, unfortunately, for a time found favour with a majority of the Cabinet—the policy of employing those people who had been instrumental in the getting up of outrages in the task of putting them down. That was the policy which it was generally believed had been enforced upon the Cabinet by the right lion. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain). A difference of opinion soon made itself apparent in the conduct of public affairs. The hon. Member for Clare (Mr. O'Shea) began his negotiations with the Prime Minister and the President of the Board of Trade on the 8th of April; and by the 28th of April, a short while after the reassembling after the Easter Recess, the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen) put a Question to the Government as to whether they were prepared to release the "suspects." The then Chief Secretary stated that, if allowed to answer the Question, his answer would have boon that there were three conditions upon the occurrence of any one of which he would be prepared to release the "suspects"—first, that Ireland should be quiet; second, that there should be a Bill carried strengthening the power of the law; and, third, that there should be an assurance given to Her Majesty's Government by the "suspects" in Kilmainham Gaol that they would not break the law. The Chief Secretary had the 417 imprudence to communicate the substance of that answer to the hon. Member for Clare, and it found its way to the Prime Minister, who disapproved it. The 2nd of May came, and, instead of the answer being given by the Chief Secretary, it was given by the Prime Minister himself, for the reason that his Lord Lieutenant and Chief Secretary had resigned. The Prime Minister then stated to the House the second of the two policies which the Government might have pursued. He told the House that the "suspects" were released; that the Government did not intend to renew the Peace Preservation Act; and that all they intended was to bring in a Bill to strengthen the ordinary law in the administration of justice, which measure was to be postponed until the Rules of Procedure were passed. He was happy to say the right hon. Member for Bradford gave the hon. Member for Clare the answer which he thought should be given to the Question whether the Government would release the "suspects" or not. The right hon. Member for Bradford, on May 15 in the last Session, gave the following account of the transaction:—I told him I thought we could release the 'suspects' whenever Ireland became quiet; or when the Government got a fresh Bill passed; or obtained from them without any conditions whatever an assurance that they would not break the law.… I did not ask them to assist in keeping the law, but simply not to break it. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister did not approve of my giving that answer, and the consequence was that the Question was not answered by me, but by him."—(3 Hansard,  789.)On the 4th of May the late Chief Secretary was able to state to the House the reasons that had induced him to resign, and those reasons were that the Government had adopted the policy of the President of the Board of Trade—the policy of releasing the "suspects" and postponing further legislation for strengthening the law in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman gave his reasons on that occasion in the reverse order to that in which he had previously given them. He said there had been a hope held out in that House that if the Government settled the question of the arrears upon a certain basis, then the Party below the Gangway would cease to obstruct the law. He thought that the House was now in possession of a well-defined con- 418 trast between the two policies which had been conflicting in the Cabinet for some little time, and in which that of releasing the "suspects" and delaying an alteration in the law had, unfortunately, gained the upper hand. The right hon. Gentleman also implied that the support of the Home Rule Party had been purchased, because he said—The price paid will be a weakening of the powers of Government, not of this Government merely, but of any Government, to perform its first duty of giving protection to life, liberty, and property, and doing it without any arrangements with those who threaten to defy the law."—(Ibid. 116.)The attitude taken by the Prime Minister upon this matter he had never been able to understand. He knew that, somehow or other, the support of the "suspects" in using their influence for the re-establishment of law and order was acquired; he knew from the language of the right hon. Member for Bradford that it was acquired by purchase, and that a price was paid for it, and he had always supposed that the price was the Arrears Bill. But he knew, also, that the Prime Minister had never liked to have the matter discussed in that way. He (Mr. Gorst) had, therefore, avoided, in speaking in the right hon. Gentleman's presence, the use of the word "Treaty," and in the right hon. Gentleman's absence now he would not use that word. His belief was that the Prime Minister, on the occasion when these arrangements were made and this price was paid, was in reality a dupe; and that there existed at that time a sort of "inner circle" within the Cabinet, very much in the same way that the "inner circle" of the" Invincibles" existed in the Land League. And he believed, too, that the "inner circle" of the Cabinet had also its "Number 1." He was willing to believe, until the contrary was proved, that the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), who was the head of the Land League, was ignorant of the designs and machinations of the "inner circle" of the "Invincibles;" and until the contrary was proved he was willing also to believe that the Prime Minister was equally ignorant and equally innocent of the machinations of the "inner circle" of his Cabinet. It was a remarkable coincidence that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford was the 419 primary object of both these organizations. One organization aimed at his physical assassination, and by the providence of God he escaped their wiles; the other organization aimed at his political assassination; and both of them were so far successful as to drive him by their action out of the Cabinet He hoped, however, that his political reputation had not suffered. If there could be a doubt or a difference of opinion as to the mode in which the support upon which the Government relied had been obtained, there could be no difference of opinion, and there could be no doubt, as to the character of that support itself. The late Chief Secretary placed before his Colleagues a Memorandum on the 30th of April, two days before his resignation, in which he said that the substance of what was promised by the hon. Member for the City of Cork was that the conspiracy which had been used to get up "Boycotting" and outrages would be now used to put them down. He also gave his Colleagues the most distinct advice as to the character of Mr. Sheridan. Mr. Sheridan was brought forward as an illustration of the kind of assistance which the hon. Member for the City of Cork would be able to give to Her Majesty's Government. What the hon. Member was to do was to secure the assistance of Mr. Sheridan. The Cabinet were warned what the character of Mr. Sheridan was. This was the language of the Memorandum—This man Sheridan is a released suspect, against whom we have for some time had a fresh warrant, and who under disguises has hitherto eluded the police, coming backwards and forwards from Egan to the outrage-mongers in the West. I did not feel myself sufficiently master of the situation to tell him (Mr. O'Shea) what I thought of this confidence; but I could not do more than tell others what he had told me.Those were the people who perpetrated the Lough Mask murders and exterminated the Joyce family at Maamtrasna. The Chief Secretary on the 15th of May said—It gave me a sort of insight into what had been happening which I did not possess before—that a man, whom I knew, so far as I had any possibility of knowing, was engaged in these outrages, was so far under the influence of the Member for the City of Cork that, upon his release, he would get the assistance of that man to put down the very state of things which he had been promoting."—(Ibid. 791.)420 Such was the effect produced upon the Chief Secretary by the mention of this man Sheridan as a person who was to give his support to the Government and that they were going to receive his assistance that he said—I was very sorry I had had anything to do with the matter, and I determined that from that moment I would have nothing more to do with it.Again, he (Mr. Gorst) was willing to be lieve that the hon. Member for the City of Cork was the dupe of Mr. Sheridan. The country and the House of Commons were listening with some anxiety for the explanation which the hon. Member might think fit to give. Until he heard that explanation, or until the hon. Member refused or neglected to make any disclaimer, he was ready and willing to believe that he was the dupe of this man Sheridan and did know his true character. But the House and the country had a right to a disclaimer and an explanation from another person besides the hon. Member for the City of Cork—he meant the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary, who had accepted the assistance of this man Sheridan, the assassin of his Colleague. In his usual exaggerated and random way the Homo Secretary said that he accepted assistance from everybody in the cause of law and order in Ireland. "What even of Mr. Sheridan?" said someone, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman replied at once—"Yes; I know nothing of Mr. Sheridan." There he had exposed to the House his inaccuracy, because a fortnight before he had had the Memorandum from his Colleague the Member for Bradford, telling him all about Mr. Sheridan. "I know nothing about Mr. Sheridan," he said, "I have not heard of him in my life." There he wrote himself down "incompetent Home Secretary," for Mr. Sheridan had been going about in disguises between England and Ireland, and a warrant was out against him in the hands of the police, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman ought to have known as much about such a matter in England as the Chief Secretary did in Ireland. And then the right hon. and learned Gentleman further said—If he is likely, whoever he may be, to be found ranging himself on the side of peace in Ireland, I am very glad to hear of him—I am very glad to hear of any man who has taken any part—whatever part it may have been421 —even in the attempt to assassinate his Colleague—In causing disturbance and disorder in Ireland, that he is ready to take part on the side of peace and order."—(Ibid. 855.)He was quite willing to extend to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the same charity that he had shown to the hon. Member for the City of Cork, and to believe that he did not then know what he knew now. Now, the Home Secretary knew that Sheridan visited the "Invincibles," in Dublin disguised as a priest, and calling himself "Father Murphy;" and he knew now that he had been out in the Phœnix Park looking for Mr. Forster in order to make his acquaintance.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. and learned Member, but perhaps it will come from me rather better than from anyone else. When he states that my right hon. and learned Friend knows these things, although they have been stated in Court, there is no proof of them, and we only have our own idea as to their truth.
observed, that when a witness was called for the Crown in a Court of Justice the Advisers of the Crown must believe the evidence he was going to give. It was open to the Home Secretary to make inquiries and to inform himself whether Mr. Sheridan was present with the "Invincibles" in Dublin disguised as a priest, and to inform himself whether he was out in the Phoenix Park looking for Mr. Forster in order to make his acquaintance, and whether he said that he would see about sending arms to the "Invincibles" when he got back to England, and whether he made preparations in the country for the "removal" of Mr. Clifford Lloyd and others. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman found that that was the part taken by Mr. Sheridan in the affairs of Ireland, let him say that if he had known it on the 15th or 16th of May, when he made his speech in the House and insisted on welcoming Mr. Sheridan, he would have repudiated him with indignation. The policy of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford had been rejected by the Cabinet, and the policy of releasing the "suspects," who had got up outrage and disorder, deliberately accepted. He should like to call the attention of the House to this—that in the dreadful 422 crime which wag committed in the Phœnix Park there was nothing new. It was true that the victims were more illustrious than any who had previously fallen in Ireland; both were known and respected by large numbers in this House, and one of them—Lord Frederick Cavendish—was, he might say beloved by everyone in the House. That was why they were so much more horrified by the murders in the Park than by any which had previously occurred in the recent history of Ireland; but there were humbler men who had lost their lives in precisely the same way, and from precisely the same causes; and the death of those humbler men ought to have produced as great an impression on those who were responsible for the government of Ireland as that of the victims of the Phœnix Park murders. He would remind the House of the murder of the Huddys, and of Martin Rogers on the 3rd of December, 1881—a poor feeble lad with only one arm, whose helplessness, as the Judge said, ought to have been his protection. He had come down from Dublin to serve writs, and he was battered to death with stones by five men in the presence of a large number of people, not one of whom interfered to save the poor lad, and only one of whom ventured to give information to the police. This humble lad lost his life in the same way, and from precisely the same causes, as Mr. Burke and Lord Frederick Cavendish; and in the sight of God his life was as precious as theirs, and his blood should cry to the Government with as much force as theirs. However, the effect of the tragedy that took place on the 6th of May was that on the 8th of May the Government abruptly, suddenly, and completely changed their Irish policy. They abandoned that of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, which they had previously adopted, and they took up that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, which they had previously denounced. Instead of postponing any measures for strengthening the law in Ireland, as they had determined to do, until after the Procedure Resolutions had been adopted, they immediately brought in a Bill unexampled in its severity in the whole history of the country—a Bill far more severe than that of the right hon. Member for Brad- 423 ford—and they passed it into law. It was that determination on the part of the Government to enforce the administration of the law and to punish offenders? which had led to the improvement in the social condition of Ireland that was referred to in Her Majesty's gracious Speech; that was the reason why agrarian crime had sensibly diminished, and why the law everywhere had been upheld. It was for the continuance of that firm determination to maintain the law, and to trust to its maintenance for the pacification of the country, instead of to the assistance of agitators and the disaffected, that he proposed his Amendment. Now, he observed that whenever Liberal Ministers addressed themselves to the discussion of the state of Ireland they seemed to regard agrarian outrages as a kind of disease or plague which ensued from no causes whatever, and for which there was no remedy, the fact being that an increase of agrarian outrage in Ireland invariably accompanied the advent of a Liberal Ministry to power. The same phenomenon had been repeated over and over again. There were inflammatory speeches, there were concessions to lawless agitation. There were measures passed which the Government called remedial measures, and all the time the number of agrarian outrages had increased week by week, month by month. Then came the reaction, and next followed coercive Acts for the repression of outrage, more severe than had ever been adopted before. The late Mr. Butt, as long ago as 1871, exactly described the Liberal theory of Irish government by the Liberal Ministry. Addressing a meeting at Glasgow on the 14th of November, 1871, he said—If we have any grievance to bring before the English Ministry," he ought to have said Liberal Ministry, "and Parliament, we are actually to get up another insurrection in order to get justice. This is the lesson we are taught. A few years more and some other grievance will arise. Are we again to awaken the slumbering friendship of Mr. Gladstone, or some future Gladstone, by a second insurrection?In the years 1866, 1867, and 1868, which were years of a Conservative Administration, the number of agrarian crimes in Ireland was 87, 123, and 160 respectively. In 1869, the first year of the Liberal Administration, the numbers sprung up to 767; and in January and February of 1870 the numbers were 424 267, and 271, each month being considerably in excess of either of the years of the Conservative Administration. In 1870 the Peace Preservation Act was brought in, and it was succeeded by the Protection of Life and Property Act in 1871, and those Acts remained in force until the end of the Conservative Government. In 1880 precisely the same phenomenon was repeated from precisely the same causes. In January, 1881, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford came to the House and gave a most extraordinary account of the increase in agrarian crime. He said that, exclusive of threatening letters, 719 crimes, out of a total of 1,253 for the entire year, occurred in the three months of October, November, and December, 1880—that was to say, that two-thirds of the total agrarian outrages occurred in the last quarter of the year, and 58 per cent of those were exclusive of threatening letters. And he observed that the outrages in December had been as numerous as those in the months of October and November preceding. There, again, they had a Liberal Government pursuing its old policy. Then came the Compensation for Disturbance Bill, the Land Bill, and the Arrears Bill until the same result followed. The state of Ireland became intolerable, and then the Government came down to the House and again brought forward coercive measures, those of 1881 and 1882, the strongest yet applied to the country. Why, the Government talked of agrarian outrages in Ireland as if they were entirely unconnected with their policy. There had been two occasions in the memory of everyone then present in which the advent of a Liberal Administration to power had been followed immediately by increase of outrage, consequent on the measures that had been passed and the remedial legislation that had been promised. He did not believe that any persons in any position, except noblemen and gentlemen of high connection and official position, could have possibly survived two disastrous failures. He believed that any professional man who had given such signal proofs of his incompetency would be ruined for life; that if a village cow doctor had made errors in the treatment of a virulent disease calling for such painful and drastic measures he would be hunted out of the place by an indig- 425 nant populace. He believed it was only those who possessed the commanding positions of the Heads of the great Liberal Party, who could twice excite the worst passions of the Irish people by profligate promises and unequal legislation, and could then repress the people whom they had themselves stimulated into pacification by coercive measures, which were a disgrace to our reputation as a free people. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving his Amendment.
In paragraph 10, line 4, to leave out from the word "upheld," to the end of the paragraph, in order to insert the words "and we venture to express our earnest hope that the change of policy which has produced these results will he maintained, and that no further attempts will be made to purchase the support of persons disaffected to Her Majesty's Rule, by concessions to lawless agitation; and that the existence of dangerous secret societies in Dublin and other parts of the Country will continue to be met by unremitting energy and vigilance on the part of the Executive,"—(Mr. Gorst,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Although it is my duty to follow the hon. and learned Gentleman, I can assure the House—and, as we are speaking here to a larger audience even than this House, I can assure the country—that in dealing with these grave matters I will not endeavour to imitate the spirit or the tone of the speech which we have just heard. I do not pretend to be a judge of matters of taste; but there are some things which are even higher than matters of taste. I should have thought that a man who claims to be a member of the English Bar would have known that he had no right in a speech to found himself upon the evidence in a trial which is not concluded. That is a thing which, not only by the Office I hold, but by the Profession to which I am proud to belong, I feel myself absolutely precluded from entering upon. [Laughter.] Yes; that is a lesson which the hon. and learned Gentleman should also learn. As to matters of taste, it is proverbial that these are not to be disputed upon. And whether it is becoming the dignity of this Assembly that one of its Members should compare the Government of the Queen—charged, 426 as they are, at this time with responsibilities, the burden of which many can understand—that he should compare them to a band of assassins, that I must leave to the taste and judgment, not only of the House of Commons, but of any society of English gentlemen. As for what the hon. and learned Gentleman has been pleased to say of myself personally, I can assure him it is one of the smallest of the burdens have to bear, though those burdens are not light. The hon. and learned Gentleman thought fit to charge me with having deliberately, and with knowledge, accepted as an associate a man who I knew was engaged in attempts to assassinate one of my Colleagues. [Mr. GORST: No.] My right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, with an indignation which is natural to his warm and generous heart, gave himself the unnecessary trouble to get up and repudiate such an aspersion as that. I do not care to waste the time of the House by defending myself against charges of that description. [Mr. GORST: I never made them.] It does so happen that both last year and the year before, from accidental circumstances, the charge of two Irish Bills fell into my hands; and the House is as well able to judge as I am whether the course that I have pursued in these matters deserves the imputations that have been cast upon it by the hon. and learned Gentleman. The hon. and learned Gentleman has been pleased to say that I am an incompetent Home Secretary. Well, I am afraid that is the nearest approach to accuracy and truth made by him in his whole speech. It is a very grave misfortune to the country at this moment to have an incompetent Home Secretary. But I think the hon. and learned Gentleman should have drawn the proper conclusion from his statement, and have brought forward a Motion for the removal from the Councils of the Queen of a Home Secretary whom he declares to be incompetent. I pass now from the taunts of the hon. and learned Gentleman, which are not, I think, worthy of my attention, or the attention of the House, to something more deserving to occupy our time. The hon. and learned Gentleman, with that accuracy which characterizes him, says that this Motion is a Motion intended to be friendly to the Government. I think that struck the note of the character of his speech. He 427 approves the recent policy of the Government, since May 8, but condemns all their policy before that date, and then stands forth as the champion of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford. That is the most remarkable inconsistency I ever knew. He stated at the end of his speech that any professional man would deserve to be dismissed for incompetence under whose hands the condition of Ireland became? what it was before last Easter. Now, to whom does he address this remark? [An hon. MEMBER: To the Government.] Yes, certainly. The hon. and learned Gentleman says all the faults we committed resulted from our not following the advice of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford; although up to last April his was the advice that we followed. ["No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite say "No, no!" but they know better. That is because, I suppose, they accept the hon. and learned Gentleman's account of those Cabinet secrets with which he is so well acquainted. There have been times, it appears, when we were very much exercised upon the subject. Cabinet secrets have got out, and really the acquaintance which the hon. and learned Gentleman professes as to what goes on in the Cabinet leads me to think, somehow or other, that the hon. and learned Member must possess a Cabinet key. He has given us an account of what goes on in the interior of the Cabinet. [Lord RANDOLPH CHUHCHILL: In the inner circle.] Yes; in the inner circle. I am glad to see the good taste of the noble Lord, whom, I am bound to say, so far from receiving any assistance in those measures for restoring peace to Ireland, we always found our strongest and most constant opponent. In 1881, when my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford brought in his Bill for protecting life and property in Ireland—[Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: I offered my support to the Government. Very much like the support of the hon. and learned Member opposite, and in the same spirit. In 1881 the noble Lord said—"Do not let us have any of this severe legislation;" and on the second reading of the Bill he said—"Do not let it be retrospective, and let it expire in April, 1882," by which means the hon. Member for Cork and his Friends would have been re- 428 leased earlier than was actually the case. It fell to my lot afterwards to introduce the Peace Preservation Bill in Ireland, and my most constant, vehement, and effective opponent was the noble Lord. And when that Bill, which was intended to restore peace and tranquillity, was proposed for a third reading, the noble Lord said that he was there "to give it a parting kick." That was the sort of assistance we received in our endeavour to restore peace and tranquillity in Ireland. And it is from those Gentlemen these taunts come and by whom these attacks are made. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that there was a change of policy. He approves the present conduct of the Government and disapproves of what it was under the administration of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford. We, of course, are responsible for both policies. One is my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, who was responsible for the policy up to last April, and is not responsible for it since, and the other is my right hon. Friend the present Chief Secretary, who is not responsible for the policy before last April, and is responsible for the present policy. But as regards the rest of the Government we are responsible for both policies, and we have no desire to dissociate ourselves from that responsibility. I wish that to be clearly understood. There was one other thing that was true in the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech besides his remark as to my incompetence, and that was his observation that the state of Ireland in last April was such that it could not be allowed to continue. That I believe to be true; and it was in that belief that we found it absolutely necessary to proceed on lines different from those which we had followed up to that time. The measures taken before April to stop crime in Ireland had, I admit, failed. That I frankly and entirely admit. It is too notorious to admit of a moment's doubt on the subject. Whatever was the cause of the failure of the law, I accept the responsibility of the Government for it altogether. There were two causes of failure under the system that had been pursued up to last April. The first was an administrative failure, the other was a legislative failure. The administrative cause of failure was the deficient organization of the Irish police; and all the circumstances which have since come to our knowledge con- 429 vince us that that was one of the main reasons why we could not effectually stop crime. The responsibility for that deficiency, if accepted by the Government, must equally be shared by the preceding Government. When we remember the accounts given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Lincolnshire (Mr. J. Lowther), and by Lord Beaconsfield, of the condition of Ireland when they left Office, we may think it a very serious administrative misfortune that the organization of the Irish police should have been as defective as it was. Both Governments may, I think, accept the responsibility for not putting that Force earlier on a proper footing. If you call that a change of policy, I give the hon. and learned Member the benefit of it. What Lord Spencer has been able to do, what my right hon. Friend (Mr. Trevelyan) has been able to do, in the suppression of crime in Ireland, has been aided by the services of a man who deserves the recognition of this House and the gratitude of the country—Mr. Jenkinson, the head of the Criminal Department in Ireland. It horrifies one to think what the condition of the police in Ireland must have been when armed gangs of 15 or 20 men could go about with impunity in the presence of the police. That was the reason why up to April the repression of crime was not so efficient as it ought to have been. I will now pass to the second reason, which was that, when it was obvious that measures must be taken to repress crime, the most appropriate method of legislation was not adopted. If you like to blame us for that, we must be blamed; but the blame must be shared by the whole House, for nobody proposed any other remedy. It was assumed, in fact, that the Protection of Person and Property Bill was an appropriate remedy, and that if we only had the summary power of arrest it would be sufficient to put down crime. My right hon. Friend who had charge of that measure said—"We can discover the persons who commit these crimes—these village ruffians; we know them; we can put them in prison; we can put down crime." That turned out not to be so. The men were shut up; more men were shut up time after time; yet crime went on increasing. It was never suggested—nor did it occur to anybody—that that measure would have failed 430 so completely as it did in suppressing crime. The consequence was that the shutting up of these people did not sensibly diminish crime. On the contrary, the more people were shut up, the more crime increased. But from what quarter did the first proposal to release the "suspects" come? If I am not mistaken, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Wigtown (Sir John Hay) was the first to put down on the Paper a Motion for the release of the "suspects." [Sir JOHN HAY: And to suspend Jury trial.] That was his proposal. It shows that, in his opinion, the method adopted was one not calculated to succeed. Well, Sir, was my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford of a different opinion? Not at all. He thought that a different legislative method must be adopted. It was one of his own conditions. We all thought so. We all thought there was no chance of suppressing this crime, or dealing with it successfully by the Act as it then existed. We were all agreed about it. Talk of Parties in the Cabinet! The Bill was all prepared. I do not say it was exactly. [Ironical cheers.] I hope I have done nothing in this House to disentitle me to its credit. The Bill was substantially the one which I had the duty of conducting through this House, though it was different in some material particulars, [ironical cheers.] If hon. Gentlemen will have the patience to wait till I have done, I will tell them to the best of my recollection what they were. I think the Alien Clauses and the Search Clauses were increased in severity; but, generally speaking, it would be an accurate statement to say that before the resignation of my right hon. Friend, and before the murders in the Phœnix Park, the Government had resolved that they must try a different method of procedure. There was nothing to condemn, I think, in that. We had tried one experiment, with the general concurrence of the House. It did not succeed, and the Government thought proper to try another experiment, which has very well answered the expectations of those who are responsible for it. Then, as I expected, we have had the old story of the "Kilmainham compact;" and though, the Resolution does not say a word about it, I knew as soon as I saw it on the Paper that its only object was to 431 bring out the "Kilmainham compact." I have nothing new to say on this subject. There is nothing new to say about it. What we always have stated is this—that, in our opinion, we have no right to keep a "suspect" in prison if we have reason to be satisfied that when let out of prison he would not be dangerous, but safe. That principle was acted upon not only in reference to Members of Parliament, but to other persons—those very men who, like Sheridan, had been in custody. My right hon. Friend let Sheridan out. Why did he do so? Because he had reason to believe that he was safe. [Mr. W. E. FORSTER dissented.] Afterwards there was a warrant out against him. The hon. and learned Gentleman has found fault with me for not taking measures for his arrest. Why am I supposed to know anything about it? The hon. and learned Gentleman says, because there was a warrant out against Sheridan. But the warrant did not run in England. It was a warrant under the Peace Preservation Act, and could only be executed in Ireland. And this is the lawyer who comes forward to give me elementary lessons in my duties. I should have thought the hon. and learned Gentleman would have been ashamed to make such an elementary blunder. Now, Sir, I have no doubt my right hon. Friend arrested Sheridan because he thought he was dangerous, and he let him out because he thought he was safe. Afterwards, when something else made him think he was dangerous, he issued a warrant to arrest him again. All that I knew about him was that he had been mentioned upon this occasion with reference to the release of the "suspects." All I can say is that Mr. Sheridan's name played a very small part in the transaction referred to. I had my right hon. Friend's concurrence in the entire accuracy of the statement I made at the time. We had no right to keep men in prison if we had assurances of their good conduct if we let them out. My right hon. Friend was of that opinion also. I believe hon. Gentlemen opposite said it was scandalous and disgraceful that we should hold any communication with those men in prison. Certainly they will not have any support for that statement from my right hon. Friend the Member for Brad- 432 ford. Talk of there being two parties in the Cabinet! The moment that it was communicated to the Government that these men were willing to give assurances that the law should not be broken in future, we were all entirely agreed. If they would give right, proper, and sufficient assurances we were agreed that they should be let out of prison. The right hon. Member for North. Lincolnshire said we made secret communications behind the back of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford at Kilmainham, and I am sorry to say he has never had the grace to apologize for that statement, in spite of the denial of my right hon. Friend, who said it was untrue. [Mr. J. LOWTHER: How does he know?] How do you know? The statement is absolutely untrue. And I say that upon the honour of a gentleman who is as honourable as himself. It is a remark for which he ought to apologize. He should take the course he ought to take. Sir, there was no communication made to the prisoners in Kilmainham except with the full knowledge, aye, and under the actual direction, of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford. [Mr. O'SHEA: Hear, hear!] Who was it that gave leave to my hon. Friend the Member for Clare (Mr. O'Shea) to go there and communicate with the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell)? Why, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, of course. Why did my right hon. Friend give that leave? For the purpose of ascertaining whether the assurances were satisfactory or not. We are charged with having conspired with bands of assassins to destroy the political reputation of my right hon. Friend. There is one man in this House who, I know, will repudiate such a charge as that with greater indignation than any other man, and that is my right hon. Friend himself. He knows that we acted together as loyal friends and Colleagues, and he will tell you that every man amongst us believed so. In the House, when another Member of the Fourth Party got up and charged us with infamy and with misconduct on the 16th May, my right hon. Friend said—It was, no doubt, an honest difference of opinion between me and my late Colleagues; and I do not think that such a difference of opinion is, in the slightest degree, open to the strong charges made, and which I must be allowed to 433 say are not so much calculated to do good in Ireland as they are to be of some advantage to Party contests here."—(3 Hansard,  867.)That is the language of an English Gentleman and of an English statesman; very different from the language of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham. I ask, what was the difference—the unfortunate difference—which took place between ourselves and my right hon. Friend? There is no question about it. I have stated it in this House before, and my right hon. Friend has accepted the accuracy of my statement. On the 4th of May he gave his reasons for his resignation. He gave them—as he was sure to do—with the most scrupulous accuracy and entire respect for himself and his Colleagues. He stated that, in his opinion, the "suspects" might have been safely released on one or other of three conditions. I do not know whether the hon. and learned Member for Chatham adopted the later statement, made on the 15th of May; but I am taking the earlier one. The first condition was a public promise on the part of the "suspects"; the second was quiet in Ireland; the third, fresh powers to the Government. Quiet in Ireland was, unfortunately, a condition which it was vain to hope for. The other conditions were a public promise and fresh powers to the Government. As to the third condition there never was any question. The public promise he denned in this way—I mean a public undertaking, or promise, to make no further attempt to set up their will, or rather their law, against the law of the land; and, under no circumstances, to aid or abet, or instigate to intimidation, to prevent men from doing what they had a right to do."—(Ibid. 110.)If my right hon. Friend obtained that promise from the suspects, he was of opinion that they ought to be released, because he said that these conditions were not sufficient. If the assurances that these gentlemen gave were not, in his opinion, sufficient, it was apparent that my right hon. Friend was agreed that they ought to be released on some conditions. It is, therefore, all rubbish to talk of our having gone against the opinion of my right hon. Friend in communicating with these gentlemen respecting their release. My right hon. Friend was the principal party to those communications. It is all nonsense to say that we ought not to have accepted 434 the assurances of the suspects. My right hon. Friend was as willing as we were to accept the assurances. There was one difference, and one difference only, between us, and that was whether the assurances that were actually given were sufficient or not. We thought they were; he thought they were not; you may argue the matter as much as you like, and you will never make more of it than that. That was the exact difference that existed between us—neither more or less. It was for that reason, in order to obtain those assurances, that my right hon. Friend sent or authorized the hon. Member for Clare to go to Kilmainham. What he said on the 15th of May was—Whenever I had reason to hope, or believe, or had any sort of expectation, that the result of the visits would be such a promise of good behaviour as would enable me with safety to recommend the release of persons detained, I was very glad to promote such visits."—(Ibid. 789.)The hon. Member for Clare was in the hope and expectation that he would receive assurances which he would regard as sufficient; but my right hon. Friend thought differently, and therefore he has always used the term with regard to it which we have not accepted. My right hon. Friend regards it as a Treaty, and he did not object to the Treaty. But as regards the making of the Treaty there was no objection, only that the Treaty would not accomplish the object he desired in fulfilling the conditions, which, he thought, ought to be fufilled. I really do not know what else there is of substance in the speech of the hon. and learned Member to which I have to reply. He spoke about our having associated ourselves with Sheridan. We never did associate ourselves with Sheridan. I am not very conversant with his movements; but I believe I am correct in saying Sheridan has never been in Ireland from that day to this; I dare say he thought it was not a safe place for him. On the night of the 16th May, when my right hon. Friend spoke on this subject, he said—"I was of opinion, and am still, that the Irish people will consider the course you have taken a very great weakening of the hands of the Government in Ireland." Has it weakened the Government in Ireland? Have the hands of the Government in Ireland been weaker or stronger 435 since the release of the suspects? That is a practical question. Were the hands of the Government strong before that event? Nobody says more strongly than the hon. and learned Member for Chatham that they were as weak as they could be, and that we ought to have been dismissed as incompetent professional men, in consequence of the condition of things which existed; but he is good enough to say that now it is only the Home Secretary that is incompetent; and he passes eulogiums upon the existing Government of Ireland. Then, have we by our policy? weakened the hands of the Government in Ireland? We have done nothing of the kind. We abandoned, as we were obliged to abandon, a system of procedure that had failed—[Mr. COWEN: Hear, hear!]—and we have substituted a system that has proved thoroughly efficient, which has been, in my opinion, well considered in its legislation, and firmly carried out by the Executive. If this is so, what is the meaning of this Amendment? What is the object of this Amendment? Do you or do you not intend by it to pass a Vote of Censure on the Government? If you do, why have you not the courage to say so? This is a new policy on the part of the Opposition on the Address. We have seen two great questions challenged. We have seen the foreign policy of the Government in respect to Egypt challenged by an Amendment from the Party below the Gangway and supported by the Front Opposition Bench, who have not the courage to bring forward a Motion upon the gravest matter that can be. Is the same policy to be pursued upon the Irish policy? Are we going to see the Front Opposition Bench, which considers itself entitled to pass a Vote of Censure upon the Administration, skulk behind this Amendment of the lion, and learned Member for Chatham? If we are to be condemned by you, why have you not produced this Motion yourselves? Is it possible that what you desire is not to take upon yourselves the responsibility, but at the same time to assist proceedings which might have the result of paralyzing and discrediting the Executive Government in Ireland? Is it possible that at such a moment you have any other object than to fling dirt upon the Government in circumstances of gravity which you well 436 know, and the responsibilities of which you well understand; and that you are trying to snatch a miserable Party advantage in condemning a Government, whose action, as you say, you approve, by going back on bygone transactions which you never challenged at the time by a direct vote? You have had the opportunity, and you have never taken advantage of it. Are you going to take advantage on an occasion like this, 10 months afterwards, to endeavour to damage the influence and destroy the authority of the Government in Ireland? It is a matter the House should gravely consider. The right and the duty of an Opposition are to criticize as severely, and condemn as strongly as they please, the conduct of the Government of which they disapprove; but in moments such as this it is your duty either to condemn or to support us. If you chose to condemn us, and if the House supports your opinion, I should say for nrj'self—and I think I could say for my Colleagues—we shall accept with satisfaction release from the burdens of responsibility which it is hard to bear. [A Laugh from the Opposition] You may laugh; but I am speaking what I know. I am speaking of the responsibility. I say nothing of the perils which weigh upon us day and night. If you think you can discharge the task better to the advantage of the country than we are doing, it is your duty to say so, and it is your duty to accept that responsibility. We do not challenge you to it; but I invite you to take that course. If you do not take that course, I say you are doing the most injurious thing you can possibly do in keeping in Office a Government—especially the Government in Ireland—which, at the same time, you are labouring in every way to weaken and discredit.
§ MR. GIBSON
Sir, the closing observations of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir William Harcourt) were couched in a very different tone and animated by an entirely different spirit from those with which he opened his speech. He endeavoured to present to the Party of which he is so eminent a Leader the aspect of a great Party debate; and, having first rebuked those who are opposed to him for not having proposed a Vote of Want of Confidence in the Government, he 437 then accuses us of being parties to an endeavour to snatch a miserable Party advantage by paralyzing the Executive Government. That was not even a paraphrase—it was not even a caricature—of the terms of the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), to which I would ask—what it claims—the fair and candid attention of every hon. Member, before they say that it does not contain a true statement of plain facts as to the history of Executive Government in Ireland during the past year, and whether it does not also contain an exhortation to avoid a path which is now universally condemned, and to follow one which the Government themselves proclaim a wise and fitting one to pursue. It is absolutely essential that in the progress of this discussion there should be references to the state of Ireland; and in considering the state of Ireland from the point of view which is brought into prominence at this moment by the terms of the Amendment, it is necessary to consider the position of the Government and the position of the governed; and in doing that, having regard to the disclosures of the last few days, it was impossible to leave out of view all reference—I admit it should be a cautious reference—to the startling and appalling revelations which have been made in Dublin during the past week. It is impossible, and it would be absurd to expect that we should be able to refrain from referring to, or excluding from Parliament all that with reference to which the Press is filled, and of which every man is speaking in the street and in society. I repeat, I admit that the references ought to be cautious and circumspect. I listened carefully to the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham; and, having myself some professional training and knowledge in these matters, I did not notice that he said anything calculated to prejudice the accused persons, or prevent them getting a fair trial. Certainly, that was not the object he had in view. However that might be, having regard to the terms of his Amendment, it was certainly also essential and, in the highest degree, legitimate that he should substantially refer, in connection with the state of the country, to what is known as the "Kilmainham compact." 438 I will not, however, use a word which is calculated to give offence, and I will call it the "Kilmainham transaction." As to the particular evidence which has been given at Kilmainham, I decline to go into it. It is not necessary, for the purpose of the observations I desire to address to the House, that I should do so; but I may say, in passing, that the evidence given by Carey, although not to be observed upon in its bearing on the prisoners and others, must, I suppose, be assumed to be adopted by the Government as substantially accurate. That evidence, which has been impressed upon all our minds, necessarily throws back a lurid light on the Kilmainham transaction, and it is impossible for anyone in this House to avoid calmly asking themselves what everybody in the country is asking—"Was it wise or prudent, even for an hour, to have been involved in that unfortunate transaction?" You may call that moralizing, if you like; but we are entitled, with the light of our present knowledge and experience of what then took place, and what has taken place since, to point out that that is an occurrence which never again in the Executive history of this country should have a parallel. I myself do not now go in detail into that transaction. It is familiar—painfully and disagreeably familiar—to every hon. Member of this House. We are acquainted with the letter of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), but I do not go into that. We are all familiar also with the way in which that letter was read and the omission of a most important portion of it. The matter has been observed upon somewhat lightly and with great mildness considering its gravity. I am aware that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain) said, in a previous debate, that the matter had passed from his mind—that there was another passage besides those that were first read—and had made little impression upon him. That was not, however, the position of the mind of the Prime Minister, for, to use his own words, within half-an-hour of receiving the letter from the hon. Member for the City of Cork he made a memorandum that he thought that passage so liable to public comment, and so open to obvious construction or misconstruction, that he thought it necessary 439 to guard himself, in a letter, from having it assumed for a minute that he was a party to it, or that it was intended in any way for Party purposes. I can well recollect the observations made last May by many hon. Members on his own side of the House against the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), when he insisted upon having the letter read in its absolute integrity. Although every Cabinet Minister must have had an opportunity equal to that of the right hon. Gentleman to be familiar with its phraseology, of course they may say, as the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade said, that they forgot that passage. I thought it very remarkable that the right hon. Gentleman should have forgotten the omitted portion; but he, however, did not think it of sufficient or any importance. I accept the explanation; but what strikes me as more strange is that the Prime Minister, upon whose mind the passage had made such a tremendous impression that within half-an-hour he recognized its importance by making a memorandum upon it, was not struck by the fact of the passage being omitted when the letter was read. In making a short retrospect of this transaction, it is important to bear in mind what has been referred to as the Memorandum circulated in the Cabinet by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, as to his understanding of the conversation which passed between him and the hon. Member for the County of Clare (Mr. O'Shea). That is a matter the gravity and significance of which cannot, I think, be overstated. It was circulated as the belief of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford—I care not whether it was accurate or not—and was submitted to the Cabinet as the belief of their Adviser on Irish affairs, that the offer made was that the person or persons who had been engaged in the organization or conspiracy which had been used to get up outrages should be used to get rid of them. That was the offer made to the Cabinet. [Mr. O'SHEA dissented.] The hon. Member for Clare shakes his head. Well, he may shake it off if he likes, because, so far, for the purposes of my present argument, I am a hundred miles away from the hon. Member for Clare. I am not saying that was the arrangement; but I am 440 saying that this was the version given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford. I am now dealing with the knowledge the Cabinet had derived from a Memorandum submitted to them by their own Adviser on Irish affairs, and that Memorandum, accurately or not, stated, in terms, that the offer made to them was this—that the organization formed for the purposes of getting up outrages would be used, if that offer were accepted, to get rid of outrages. That offer—which, to my mind, was a most damning offer—was allowed to be discussed as a proposition proper to be entertained by a British Cabinet. But to prevent the possibility of doubt, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, who had ample and complete knowledge of the question, exceeding, it may be, the knowledge of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, stated to the House, as an illustration of the character of the organization, that Sheridan, whose services had been specifically offered to the Government, a released "suspect," against whom a fresh warrant had been issued, and who was one of the outrage-mongers of the West, was connected with it, and was in the habit of going about disguised, directing its operations as regarded the promotion of outrages. That is a specimen of the kind of organization offering to treat with the Government. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department has dealt with this case with his usual force and ability, but he has failed to satisfy any fair mind. He has given no explanation of why the Cabinet did not indignantly—as the Prime Minister felt called upon to do in reference to the promised support of Liberal measures—repudiate the aid and co-partnership of the outrage-mongers in doing the work of the Government, which was to put down outrage. I make no comment on the right hon. and learned Gentleman's statement about his being an incapable Home Secretary for not knowing of Sheridan's position. He had, at all events, the means of knowing it. He was warned in the Cabinet by the Memorandum of his Colleague. But, again, this made so little impression on the President of the Board of Trade that he thought nothing at all of Sheridan. I should like to know what the right hon. and learned 441 Gentleman did think was of importance in that document. He thought the promise of Liberal support so worthless that he did not notice it. [Mr. CHAMBERLAIN: I did not say that.] Whatever may have been the state of mind of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, the Prime Minister, in a speech of unexampled brevity for him, admitted his knowledge of Sheridan. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Maidstone (Captain Aylmer), on the 16th of May last year, put this pointed Question to him—When he and the Cabinet came to the decision that the three Members could no longer he kept in prison on account of reasonable suspicion, were they then in possession of the conversation between the hon. Member for Clare and the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, in which it was stated that he had such control over Mr. Sheridan, who had instigated riot in the West of Ireland, that, if released, he could induce him to put down the outrages."—(3 Hansard,  832.)The Prime Minister's answer of unexampled brevity to that Question was "Yes, Sir." With the Cabinet informed of these facts, with the Prime Minister compelled to admit the fact, in the briefest form of affirmation, that he knew the offer was made that the outrages should be put down by Sheridan, it was impossible to avoid the grave conclusion that, in this matter, the Cabinet, with reckless readiness, and with almost criminal negligence as to the machinery they were adopting, did consent to avail themselves of a criminal organization, for the purpose of carrying out their policy—did consent to avail themselves of the aid of a certain criminal who was pointed out to them, and who, having been an outrage-monger in the past, was the man to put them down in the future. I am well aware that the excuse may be made, and it has been made by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, that if the Government had known in April all that they know now, they would not have been a party to the employment of Sheridan—they would have taken care to repudiate him. Well, what did they know? [Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT: We were not a party to it.] That is what we have to decide. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has appealed to his own professional connection with the law. I should like to know how a client would fare, even with the right hon. and learned Gentleman's 442 powerful advocacy, if it were admitted that a memorandum was given to him desiring him to act in a particular way, and that he did so act, but that he was not a party to the statement in the memorandum? What did they know in April that is different, except in degree, from what they knew now? Did they not know in April that, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford, Sheridan was going about in disguise organizing outrage?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
What I said was, that we did not accept Sheridan. We did nothing with regard to Sheridan. The suspects were released. As to Sheridan, nothing was done.
§ MR. GIBSON
The right hon. and learned Gentleman forgets the debate that occurred here at that time. It was not suggested that the Government themselves were to come into direct contact with Sheridan; but, as was pointed out by the then Chief Secretary, the offer was that the hon. Member for the City of Cork, who knew Sheridan, would employ him upon that mission, and the Government allowed it. I pass from this topic, asking this question—Did the Government ever through any agency, in any speech, or in any letter, indicate to any person on the face of the earth that they did not desire that the hon. Member for the City of Cork should, when he was released, make use of the services of Sheridan for the restoration of order in Ireland as was suggested? I do not desire to go into the knowledge which the Government had as to the antecedents of the three Members of Parliament whom they had imprisoned and released, and as to their connection with different organizations; but the conduct of the Government is, at all events, open to this observation—that when persons, no matter what their position might be, whether hon. Members of this House or not, have been imprisoned for even one day, and have been detained under warrant, some charged with intimidation and others with treasonable practices, it is an error to look to them to support the law for the alleged breach of which they have been kept in confinement. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has endeavoured to excuse and to explain away the change to which I am now pointing, the truth of which he has not denied; but I would indicate my views of the 443 change, and how it occurred. As we all well remember, many individuals, not only in this House, but throughout all the country, viewed the Kilmainham transaction with shame, with surprise, and with a storm of indignation. It was the general opinion of the Press of this country immediately after that transaction occurred that the Government was on its last legs, and the Ministry was spoken of with indignation and contempt. What was it, then, that brought about a great change in public feeling? It was the murders in the Phœnix Park and the introduction of the Crimes Act which rapidly followed upon them. It was those murders which enabled the Government to change their front and to bring in the Crimes Act, thereby receding from a policy always wrong, essentially false and foolish, and which they found would be certain to cast them out of Office if persisted in. No doubt a change in the policy of the Government occurred after those murders; and, indeed, the right hon. and learned Gentleman has not attempted to deny the fact—on the contrary, he had admitted that two changes then occurred—the one legislative, and the other administrative. One change, the right hon. and learned Gentleman says, affected the police, and he is pleased to say that I shall support his assertion with regard to that body. I, for one, do not support it. From the time that I was first connected with the Executive Government of Ireland, and as long as I have taken part in public affairs, I have always regarded the Irish police as a splendid body of men, loyal in themselves, and admirably organized and administered, and certainly not subject to the comments which have been made upon them so freely by the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
This is a very important point, and I certainly do not wish to be misapprehended with regard to it. I never said a word against the men who form the Irish police. I believe them to be the finest body of men in the world. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, if he remembers my words correctly, will see that I was referring simply to their organization and to their staff. I cast no aspersion on them, for that would be most unfounded.
§ MR. GIBSON
I never thought that was the case, and I am glad to have given 444 the right hon. and learned Gentleman an opportunity of stating clearly that he had no desire to cast any reflection upon the personnel of the Irish police, whom I regard as being loyal, firm, and good men, entitled to public support and approval. I may, however, remark that during our term of Office I never heard it stated that we had any difficulty in carrying on the affairs of Ireland owing to the defective organization of the police in that country; neither am I aware, at this moment, that any vital change has been made in it. What is this brand new organization of the Irish police on which the right hon. and learned Gentleman prides himself? I know nothing of it. It has never been submitted to this House, and it has not been effected by any Act of Parliament, nor does it appear in any administrative Minute. Then the right hon. and learned Gentleman proceeds to praise certain public servants, and among them Mr. Jenkinson, who is certainly a most high minded and most capable public servant, for his activity and zeal. But we must not forget that Mr. Jenkinson is working with weapons which were not at the disposal of his predecessors. He is administering the Crimes Act, while his predecessors had to administer an Act which the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself admits was not very effectual in its operation, seeing that it acted very inadequately and unfairly. I do not go into the history of the previous Act. I may say that I was of opinion, and am of that opinion still, that there was a time, shortly after the passing of that Act, when, if it had been administered with firmness, courage, and resolution, it would have worked well. I will not, however, go back over that matter. The right hon. and learned Gentleman asserts that these changes which I have referred to do not practically indicate any change whatever in the policy of the Government. I must, however, maintain that the time of the introduction of the Crimes Act indicated a vital change in their policy. The hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) was perfectly right when he declared that the Government had originally intended to bring in the Crimes Bill after the Procedure Rules had been passed, and that the change in the determination of the Government, as to the date of the introduction of that measure, was brought about wholly by 445 the Phœnix Park murders. The right hon. Gentleman had asked, in a triumphant tone, whether the release of the suspects had weakened the Irish Administration. I ask, on the other hand, whether any sane man would believe that, if the suspects had been released and the Crimes Act had not been passed, the state of Ireland would have been what it is at the present moment? The truth is that the radical change was in the time of the introduction of the Crimes Act, and in the character of that Act. It was introduced immediately, and it is that Act alone, and not the release of the suspects which has made Ireland liveable in now, and which has enabled the Government to undo the demoralization which was caused by the Kilmainham compact. But I must turn to another point. I paused for a moment before I rose, in order to give others an opportunity of addressing the House upon this subject. I thought it probable that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford might desire to speak upon the subject, although I can well understand why he might wish to defer his observations for a time. I looked, however, specially to the hon. Member for the City of Cork to rise and offer a statement with regard to this question. Indeed, I am satisfied that this debate cannot be closed in anything like a satisfactory manner unless we have some clear statement and some explanation, or, at all events, some speech, from the hon. Member for the City of Cork. I have myself avoided up to this, and I shall continue to the end to avoid, making any reference to a single one of the disclosures which have been made in Dublin within the last few days. We do not want these disclosures to tell us many of the charges which have been made in the Press, on the platform, and in this House against the Land League and its leaders; but I think that, in the circumstances of the case, it is incumbent upon them, if they think it has a character to defend, to come forward and to state what their views are with reference to the present state of things in Ireland. I have always stated, both in and out of this House, that the operations and the machinations of the Land League were remorseless, cruel, and cowardly. They were directed, not only against the landlords, whom they have defamed and 446 robbed, but against their poorer and humbler fellow-countrymen, whom they tried to dragoon into their ranks. It has been well pointed out in the Press, within the last few days, that out of 57 agrarian murders which were perpetrated in the year 1881 and the first eight months of 1882, only five were committed upon landlords; while, out of 145 attempts to murder, only 10 were directed against landlords, leaving the horrible majority of 135, which were directed against the humbler people, for whose sake it was said they were fighting. In a letter from Mr. Arnold Forster, which has recently appeared in The Times, it is pertinently stated that it was upon the poorer, the most defenceless, and the most thoroughly Irish section of the population that the Land League waged an unrelenting war, and whom it mutilated, murdered, robbed, and terrorized in the interest of their miserable unwritten law. Something like that statement has been made in this House, and I should be glad to think that there was some explanation to be given that will tone it down. Perhaps the hon. Member for the City of Cork will give it to the House. At all events, we might be given some explanation upon the sordid topic of money. We know that the Land League are charged with having sustained "suspects," even those suspected of murder; we know that they have paid the expenses of some elections; we know that they could afford to start a newspaper; and it has been openly asserted that they have subsidized crime. Is it not time for very shame there should be something in the shape of a balance-sheet published of this secret service money. I read some six or seven weeks ago that a sham offer was made of a sham audit, saying that certain persons, who were intimate friends of the treasurer and the organizers, would be appointed to audit it. We have not been favoured even with that bogus audit of a balance-sheet. From time to time publicity has been demanded, and the parties who could give information have been challenged and taunted. I ask in the face of recent disclosures, intensifying tenfold the previous demands for the publication of that balance-sheet, is there no one who, for his own credit, will demand that some statement as to the disposal of this secret service money shall 447 be submitted to the honest consciences of his country? I should be glad to know from someone where the money has come from—it must have come from some place—which has subsidized these horrible butcheries which have disgraced Ireland. We know, from a speech recently delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant (Mr. Trevelyan), what part some articles and speeches may have had in fomenting outrage. One portion of that speech contained his views in a pithy and brief way. He said—Articles and speeches are just as much part of the machinery of murder as sword-canes and pistols.Are we not, therefore, entitled to have from every part of the House repudiation of language that may lead again to outrage, as it has done in the past? The morning after the frightful catastrophe of the Phœnix Park, a Manifesto was issued, signed by three well-known Gentlemen—the hon. Member for the City of Cork, the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon), and Mr. Davitt; and that document closed with the statement that—Until the murderers of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Mr. Burke are brought to justice, that stain will sully our country's name.What efforts have the Land League and its friends made to remove that foul and appalling stain on the honour of their country? It has been stated in the Press that it had been proposed to the Treasurer of the Land League to offer £1,000 reward for the discovery of the murderers. The Treasurer did not comply with that request. The recent disclosures have, more than ever, called for some statement as far as may be of indignant disclaimer, at all events, from those who only can give that contribution to the public conscience in this grave crisis. If this agitation had been Constitutional, it would have been innocuous. In the Provinces, its methods were "Boycotting," outrage, and sometimes murder; in Dublin, the knife and the bullet. Its objects do not appear to have been very high—to secure or prevent the payment of money—sometimes black-mail, and sometimes plunder, aided all through by a vast secret service fund. The veil has now been rudely torn away, and every man 448 in this country who reads the papers can read, with painful clearness, the horrible machinations which kept the people of all Ireland in a fever, and which exposed its public servants to jeopardy and sometimes to death. Opposed to law and to loyalty and to liberty, that agitation must expect to be harshly judged, and every man whose name at any time has been mixed up in its organization must expect to come in for severe criticism, unless he repudiates its baser transactions. It is one of the most painful and degrading things possible for an Irishman to read the words in which the acts of these bodies are wrapped up—"patriots making history"—butchery covered with the euphemism of "removal." It is a blasphemy on the name to call movements like this "national." We are told by some, even now, that if the cause were taken away there would be a cure for these appalling murders. The cause that should be taken away would be the immunity that so long existed to render these things possible; and anyone who, in the face of the present crisis, looks for any other cause for these murders, exposes himself to the charge of palliating the crime and apologizing for the criminals. What is the present state of Ireland? Outrages are unquestionably fewer; but it is due to the Prevention of Crimes Act. It is idle to be looking about and imagining other causes, which can hardly deceive those who imagine them. I do not know whether the hon. Member for the City of Cork intends to move the Amendment, of which he has given Notice, on the Address; but it is, unquestionably a tribute to that Act, and if he does, he may depend upon it he must listen to its terms being criticized with no ordinary severity; because he has put an Amendment on the Notice Paper of the House of Commons that I am not sure he would like to commit to speech or writing outside the House. The facts in the past two years speak for themselves; but the law is now a terror to evil-doers, and I would ask those who assail its administration how they would have administered it; how they would have coped with crime stalking through the country; and how they would have answered that cry to heaven for justice on the shedders of innocent blood? A hellish organization has to be coped with, 449 not against landlords, as we are told, but against the people; not against landlords alien in creed, but against Catholic families of the oldest Irish blood. They it is who have suffered the most. The first execution that took place in Dublin after the passing of the Crimes Act caused great attention. It looked as if a desperate attempt was made on that, the first occasion when justice had overtaken one charged with a terrible crime, to discredit the Judge and the jury. [Mr. PARNELL: The Judge discredited himself.] I paused after the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had spoken, in order to give the hon. Member for the City of Cork the earliest opportunity of rising. I would have much preferred speaking after him; but when I sit down, or later in the debate, he can take part in it, not by interjection, but by the fullest explanation. What is the present state of feeling in the country? This is as grave, important, and serious a question almost as that of outrage. The Prime Minister came back to Office, honestly and sincerely believing that he came back as the Heaven-born Minister to regenerate Ireland, and that he understood and had sympathy with the country; but, looking back upon the record of the last three years, he must feel that many of his best hopes have been baffled, and that many of his kindest and strongest ambitions have been bitterly disappointed. A fortnight ago I was speaking elsewhere. I then read extracts from an Irish newspaper, The Irish Nation—a paper that is well known and is written with considerable ability. I have not the extracts with me now, so I can only speak from recollection. It stated that at no time was there a bitterer feeling in Ireland toward England than at present. I think the next sentence went on to give the dates of 1862, 1867, and 1874, and then went on to state that even in those years those feelings were not stronger. But if you want an index to quote as to the state and character of the public spirit among many of the numerically strong classes of the country, you may find it in the fact that the man Carey, who was examined at Kilmainham Police Court on Friday and Saturday, was elected a member of the Dublin Corporation—[Mr. T. D. SULLIVAN: For Trinity Ward]—mainly because he 450 had been, a "suspect." ["Oh, oh!"] Well, that is the ground I have heard given for Carey's election, and I have also heard that at a private meeting of the Liberal members of the Corporation, to elect a Lord Mayor, that man was within three votes of being chosen. ["Oh, oh!"] I do not know whether that is true or not, but I have heard it repeatedly in conversation within the last few days; but some hon. Members of the House who belong to the Dublin Corporation can clear up that matter for us. Then, again, at present there is a vacancy for the county of Westmeath, and one of the candidates for it is Mr. Harrington. What is the claim that he puts forward in his pithy address? He says that his only claim to represent the county of Westmeath is the fact that he is a defendant in a Government prosecution. That is at present the phase of public feeling and of public life in Ireland, which you must realize and understand before you proceed to theorize and dogmatize on the matter. Within the last few years you have largely penalized the position of the loyal, and largely encouraged the disloyal; you have, in turns, prosecuted and confederated with those who are guilty of sedition; and, at last, in a supreme moment, you are driven to pass a Prevention of Crimes Act to restore things very much to the state in which you found them when you came into Office. Now, in preventing national shipwreck, you will be supported in Ireland loyally by the Party of law and order. You are entitled to their support—you are not entitled to, and you cannot expect, their gratitude. The man who has fanned the flame cannot expect to be held as a guardian angel when he comes to extinguish the conflagration which he has largely helped. The present condition of affairs in Ireland cannot be cured either easily or shortly. Disloyalty, treason, hatred of England, are not the birth of yesterday, although their present boldness, or rather audacity and intensity, have been immensely stimulated by the events of the last two years. The real object of this disloyal movement is separation from England. The Prime Minister himself realized that fact in a great speech which he made about a year and a-half ago not in this House, but I think in Lancashire—when he paid that— 451The leaders of this movement were marching through rapine to the disintegration and dismemberment of the Empire.From time to time, yielding to sudden impulses and sudden promptings, he has forgotten and cast aside that declaration; but he deliberately put it forward a year and a-half ago, and it contained a great and pregnant statement of the truth. If you question the authority of the Prime Minister on that point, you can hardly question that of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, when he used in Cincinnati, on February 23, 1880, the words which I have quoted before in this House, and which cannot be too much impressed on the mind of the country. The hon. Member for the City of Cork said—None of us, whether we he in America or in Ireland, or wherever we may he, will he satisfied until we have destroyed the last link which keeps Ireland hound to England.
§ MR. PARNELL
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman state out of what report he is reading the passage in question? I certainly have no recollection of it.
§ MR. GIBSON
I have read it from a report of my own speech made in the last debate on the Address. I am re-reported fully in Hansard, and no doubt it is familiar to the hon. Member for the City of Cork.
§ [Mr. PARNELL interposed. Cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. GIBSON
I am in possession of the House. I put this proposition to the hon. Member—if he asks me what report I read, I will read the words again—None of us, whether we be in America or in Ireland, or wherever we may he, will be satisfied until we have destroyed the last link which keeps Ireland hound to England.If the hon. Member for the City of Cork tells me that he did not use those words in America, and does not endorse their meaning, I withdraw the statement.
§ MR. PARNELL
I asked the right hon. and learned Gentleman to state from what report he is quoting. I think that is a fair question to put, because he called upon me to deny the accuracy of the passage.
§ MR. GIBSON
I must leave the House to judge. Now, to prevent all possibility of misunderstanding, I repeat that that is a portion of rather a longer 452 quotation from the same speech, which I made deliberately in my place in Parliament a year ago, and which is to be read in Hansard; and the only answer the hon. Member gave is this—that his curiosity is sufficiently on the alert, that he would like to know where it is reported.
§ MR. PARNELL
The right hon. and learned Gentleman made a quotation in my absence, while I was in prison, and when I was not in a position to answer it. I am not responsible.
§ MR. GIBSON
I will endeavour to find out one of the numerous papers that reported the speech, so that I may be enabled to send it to him, and so satisfy the hon. Member. Now, some Radical supporters of the Government—a class for whom I have a great respect—sometimes talk of being true to their principles, and say they must go on making legislative changes to the bitter end. There is surely a time for everything; there is a time for being consistent to principle, and a time to be consistent with prudence. I read a speech lately made by the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Herbert Gladstone). I hardly know whether the hon. Gentleman is now in his place. Oh, yes! he is there. I read that speech with surprise and regret. I say deliberately that, in my opinion, it was a gratuitously mischievous speech; and, with a considerable knowledge of Executive Administration in Ireland, I further say that if the hon. Member was not relying on his name, and on the impunity and importance it would give him, he dare not, as a subordinate Member of the Government, have made that speech. Again, I say, that as far as his name goes—for as regards its influence it is his name and not his position that is to be considered—a speech more calculated to be mischievous, and to interpose obstacles to the administration of affairs in Ireland, could not be uttered. For the most junior and most subordinate Lord of the Treasury to presume to come forward and criticize the Administration of Ireland, one of the most complicated Departments of the Government, without the sanction, and, I dare to say it, without the approval of those who are answerable for it, was a piece of political license utterly unknown before in our public affairs. Will the hon. Member venture in this House to make the same speech? I will venture to ask him these 453 questions. Did he speak that language with the sanction, or against the sanction, of the Irish Government? Did he believe or know that he was strengthening or weakening the hands of Lord Spencer or the Chief Secretary? Was there reason to think that they would desire that speech to be made, or the reverse? And if he cannot answer those questions, I would further ask whether it can be denied that in making that speech he was interposing obstacles to the good administration of Ireland in a time of extreme difficulty, and that he was doing that which, in the case of anybody else, would have brought about very summary treatment? If Radical Gentlemen who make such speeches, and talk of being true to their principles, would merely take the trouble to live in Ireland for six months, they might learn to be a little prudent; if they would condescend to read for a month some of the national literature which stimulates agitation, they might acquire a little caution. I read the recent speech of the present Chief Secretary for Ireland—a Liberal of the Liberals, without a stain on his escutcheon—a speech which, I must say, although differing from the right hon. Gentleman on many things, showed a statesmanlike grasp of some, at least, of the difficulties of the problem now before him; and can anybody living in England, and outside of the difficulties of that problem, take upon himself the fearful responsibility of saying, after reading that speech, that he knows the case better than the Chief Secretary for Ireland does? If in the face, then, of the impossibility of reconciling the irreconcilable—in face of the present state of feeling that exists in the country, you have further serious and disturbing legislation to propose, you must tend to keep up the ferment, you must tend to prevent the settling down of the country, and to prevent its attaining the security and the repose which may prevent it from rapidly drifting to a worse point. You have strong forces upon which to rely in Ireland, if you know how to do it. There are many classes who are loyal, regardless of all Party, who were loyal in the past, and are loyal to Ireland and the Empire. There are many classes, not to be found in one political Party alone, who are true to the cause of law and order. There are many who, animated by the highest instinct of 454 patriotism, believe that the greatest boon for Ireland now is to assist the advent of capital, and to give that repose and security which alone will cause capital to come to the shores of Ireland. If these great facts are recognized; if agitation is kept within fair, Constitutional limits; if legislation of an experimental and trying character is postponed, at all events, for the present; if justice is fearlessly and impartially administered; if the Government of Ireland is administered with energy, with courage, with justice, with sympathy—then I myself would hope that in a few years this country would find that Ireland would again become prosperous, peaceable, and, I trust, loyal.
§ MR. WARTON
said, he thought the eloquent speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down required an explanation from at least two hon. Members in the House, the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) and the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. H. Gladstone). It also contained lessons which might be studied with advantage by all. He had always felt that one great fault committed in that House was that the Government were not called to task in 1880 for their refusal to re-enact the Peace Preservation Act. When outrages were increasing, not by dozens only, but by hundreds, when they ought to have summoned Parliament together and at once passed some measure to reestablish the pre-eminence of the law, and to protect the sufferers, they did nothing. Last year, upon a trumpery question of Procedure, they were called together for an Autumn Sitting; while in 1880, or again in 1881, when such terrible deeds were being enacted in Ireland, no remedial measures were suggested. And what meanwhile was the attitude of the Government towards the Land League movement? One Member declared that there must be a Land League, while the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster gave it as his opinion that force was no remedy. The present state of Ireland was entirely due to the policy of the Government, and the Home Secretary was unfair in endeavouring to fasten on the Conservative Party any share in the failure of the Protection Act. It was not the duty of the Opposition to suggest a policy, but to support the Government in the crisis in which they found themselves. This was done, 455 and it could not he made a charge against them now that they had not suggested some other course. He was perfectly ready to admit the good conduct of the Government whenever they showed any vigour. For instance, he fully recognized the ability and perseverance with which the Home Secretary carried his Bill through Parliament in the last Session; but the efforts of the Government were made too late. Had the Prime Minister turned his attention to the Irish difficulty instead of to Procedure, which he seemed to have on the brain, many of the evils which befell Ireland would have been averted. The right of search under that Act was made stringent by the operation of the majority of that House which defeated the Government. It was absurd to look for burglars in the daytime. He was of opinion that Ireland could never be happy and prosperous so long as agitation was fostered by remedial legislation. And he would like to ask, had the Government made up their minds or not? Had the finally made up their minds to have no more Irish legislation than they had already? Had they any more Arrears Bills in view? Had they any more Land Bills? Was this continual agitation to be stimulated from time to time by fresh conciliatory measures held out to the agitators? He asked the question in the interest of Ireland. He earnestly hoped that they would have some pledge before the debate closed that the Government did not intend to bring forward any more measures of the description of the Land Act. He had listened with pleasure to the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson), in which he had said that, notwithstanding its present state, he did not despair of the future of the country. He (Mr. Warton) was sorry to say he could not share in the right hon. and learned Gentleman's hopes, if legislation of the kind they had had was to continue. If there was to be any hope for Ireland the policy of confiscation must be abandoned. COLONEL NOLAN said, he was very glad to have the opportunity of following the hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton), because he had imparted more calmness into the debate than some of his Predecessors on the same side of the House. The Amend- 456 ment of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), which had been moved in a brilliant and sarcastic speech, of course was not meant to be seriously taken by the House. The very words of that Amendment were more or less sarcastic, and such as it was impossible to adopt. But there were other reasons why they should not agree to such an Amendment. In fact, it stigmatized the whole action of this House during the last few years, and if they adopted it, it would be equivalent to declaring that measures had been passed in this House by lawless majorities in order to purchase support. He did not for a moment think the hon. and learned Member himself fancied that the Amendment would be adopted. Then, what possible meaning could there be for his appearance at this moment? They knew that the country generally was greatly excited by the trials going on in Ireland, and no doubt the Amendment had been put forward with the object of raising an anti-Irish feeling. [Mr. TOMLINSON: No, no!] But the whole Conservative Party were not centred in the hon. Member, although he said "No, no!" on their behalf. He maintained that the Amendment was introduced to make as much political capital for the hon. Member's Party as possible out of the present excitement, caused by the trials in Dublin which recalled the memories of the dreadful murders in Phoenix Park, and if it was supported even by a considerable minority, such an exhibition of feeling would be in the highest degree injurious to the true interests of Ireland and the Empire generally. Ireland was very much in want of legislation, and any such Amendment as this introduced into the Address to Her Majesty would make the people of Ireland believe that nothing was to be done for them this Session. It was rather curious that none of those who had spoken had dwelt upon the present economic condition of Ireland. This was a very important point, and if the Amendment was adopted, it would be a formal repudiation on the part of the House of doing anything to mitigate the distress which existed, and which should be met by the Government. He was afraid that the amount of the distress was very much undervalued in the House, and had been so in the Address, and on the part of the public; and for 457 this reason—that it was of a different type from any which had yet taken place. This distress arose from a short potato crop and the want of employment for labourers in Ireland. The Board of Guardians with which he was connected believed with him that there would be very great distress in May and June. It probably would not be for along period, or amongst the larger holders of land, but amongst the smaller holders, and those occupying no land at all. Unless the Government took early steps to meet it, it would very seriously affect the country, and cause very great evils. The hon. and learned Member (Mr. Gorst) and others who thought with him were very desirous that the Government should not grant any concessions to lawless agitation. Ireland was, undoubtedly, grateful for the legislation which had been given; but he would remind the House that while the agitation was of a quiet and lawful character very little indeed was conceded. Mr. Butt always proceeded on Constitutional principles, and conducted no agitation; but all this resulted in no concessions. The present Government always intended to do something for Ireland, and when they took Office were steeped to the lips in promises; but what was obtained was in consequence of the agitation conducted by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). However, as he said, he hoped that the Amendment would be rejected by a very large majority, for if it was not, they could scarcely look for legislation upon such questions as County Boards, and other useful measures. They could not hope for any very large Irish measure this Session; but there was much useful legislation that might be carried. The Amendment, he believed, was simply an attempt to take advantage of the passions which had been stirred up in the English mind, and naturally so; but he trusted that the House would take a calm and steadfast view of the situation, and reject the Amendment, thereby showing that, even in the midst of passions, they would not shut their eyes to useful legislation for Ireland.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, he had not the advantage of listening to the speech of the Home Secretary, nor did he hear the whole of the violent and inflammatory speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin. Some portion of the 458 latter speech he did hear, and he could not remain silent during the debate. Not only did he consider it to be what he had described it, but he thought the time of its delivery badly chosen. The present was a time of great excitement and of strong feeling, and all wise men in that House or elsewhere should endeavour to allay those passions. It was the duty especially of a legislator to conduct himself in a manner befitting a legislator, and not in the style of a mob orator. What was the meaning and intent of all the noise and passion which had characterized that speech? Was it not to try and intimidate that House from doing anything whatever in the direction of concession and conciliation for Ireland? It was an effort to induce the House to do nothing but let coercion take its course—to do nothing but to allow free play to the prison and the halter. It, therefore, ill became a Gentleman occupying the responsible position of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to address himself to the Business of the House in such a temper and in such a spirit. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had referred to the Assassination Committee and to the evidence of a man named James Carey, who he had led the House to believe was returned to the Dublin Corporation as a patriot and a politician. Nothing was further from the fact, This man was not known in Dublin beyond some limited circle, and he did not become a candidate upon any political grounds, but merely as a working man who practically understood such matters as paving and draining, as he proved by discovering bad workmanship in the case of a Scotch firm who had obtained a contract in Dublin. But this James Carey represented Trinity Ward—the ward which contained within its very centre Trinity College—and so he could share with the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself the privilege of being called the Member for Trinity. James Carey's name had been very unfairly introduced, and he hoped it was without due deliberation; but the object was to defame the Dublin Corporation, and to throw scandal upon a body of Members in that House. That the intent of the right hon. and learned Gentleman was to prevent any remedial measures for Ireland was shown by the ferocity with which he precipitated himself upon the hon. Member for Leeds 459 (Mr. H. Gladstone), who recently had had the courage to speak words which, young as he was, were words of wisdom, and who had the insight to see further than older men into the heart of the Irish Question. The eyes of the hon. Member for Leeds were not darkened, nor was his heart corrupted by the meanness and trickery of Party warfare in that House; he had uttered words which had produced an excellent effect in Ireland, and it was to be hoped that he would not be intimidated from speaking his mind upon the Irish Question by what had fallen from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. From him he turned to hon. Members behind the Government, and asked them to oppose amelioration or concession. This was the policy which had produced all the evils in Ireland. Was there no need of reform in Ireland? Was the present policy attended with such happy results that there was no need of inquiry? Were the people so content with the existing state of things? They were told that the conduct of the Government towards Ireland was that of a man who had set fire to his house and thon took credit for putting it out. There was a great deal of truth in that remark; but it applied to both Parties, who got up disaffection and rebellion in Ireland and then put them down in blood. He asked the House and the people of this country to give ear to the weighty words spoken by James Carey in Kilmainham Courthouse, when he said that he joined the Assassination Committee when the country was in a bad state, when coercion was in full force, when the popular leaders were in prison, and anyone might be put into prison—at a moment when he despaired of obtaining redress by Constitutional means; and he added that but for that the Committee would not have had so many recruits. These words bore the stamp of truth; they echoed the feeling of hundreds and thousands of Irishmen, and proved that it was misrule which had driven men into these confederacies. What brought the Assassination Committee into existence, which was alleged to have instigated these fearful crimes, which every Irishman as every other man of whatever country regarded with feelings of horror? The Coercion Act was its mother, and the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) might claim its paternity. 460 The lesson which the terrible deeds of the Assassination Committee conveyed was that instead of coercion it was a different treatment which Ireland required. The late Coercion Act had done harm. The present Coercion Act would do more. As long as human nature was what it was so long would coercion and oppression lead to reprisals which all right-minded men would deplore. It was the old story. He would ask lion. Gentlemen who wished to form a correct idea of the past and present of Ireland not to be led away by passion, but to read the history of Ireland by Mr. Spencer Walpole, published within the last month or two. The book was not written for Party purposes. The author stated only plain facts, leaving the reader to draw his own conclusions. Speaking of the state of things between 1760 and 1768, Mr. Walpole said—The grievances of the peasantry and farmers were refused a hearing, and the policy of coercion was carried out, with the natural result that the mischief of discontent was driven in upon the system to grow into disaffection and rebellion.The world knew now that coercion was not favourable to the interests of peace in Ireland, and that it only prepared the ground, and sowed the seed of greater evils. Some time it would be their duty to read to the House extracts from the speeches for which men had been sent to prison. There was no safety in Ireland for men who criticized the acts of the Administration or the policy of the Government. The only safety they could have was if they choose to turn Tory and mount a Conservative platform. Then they might abuse the Government to their hearts' content; they might criticize their policy, describe the Land Act as confiscation and plunder, and charge them with setting the house on fire in order to put it out again. Let, however, a man not speak from any standpoint of Party, attempting to get from the cold shades of Opposition to the sweets of Office, but speak as an Irishman who washed to do his share towards alleviating the griefs and misfortunes of his people—the Executive would take his words up, put the gloss of a Castle lawyer upon them, and send him to prison for so speaking. They had been told that evening that a gentleman would be upon those Benches in a short time, sent there 461 by the farmers of Westmeath to represent them. He was now lying on a plank bed undergoing sentence for an alleged attempt to intimidate those same farmers. A falser charge could not be imagined; but to be charged with anything by a lawyer who had been sent from the Castle was to be sent to prison. He had been by the side of Mr. Harrington when he made the speech for which he was now suffering. The tendency of the speech had been kindly and sympathetic with the farmers and people of the county. He knew Mr. Harrington had no desire or intention to intimidate any man. No one had seen any intimidation in his language except three or four policemen. Why had they not brought up some of the farmers alleged to have been intimidated? [Mr. BIGGAR: Hear, hear!] No one save two or three brilliant and highly intelligent policemen had been brought up to testify that his words had been words of intimidation. Absolutely there had been only one word on which the Government founded its case; that was the word "agitation." The Government had chosen to put a man on his trial for using that word, and the result was that he was undergoing two months' imprisonment in Mullingar Gaol. He would ask the House of Commons to keep its temper and its judgment clear in the matter, and to go along the true path for ending the troubles in Ireland. That path was but the path of coercion or the suppression of public liberty, but was the path of justice to the people. They had been told not to give any extension of the franchise to the people of Ireland until they were assured that they would not make a bad use of it. That was a sort of excuse which might go on for ever. They might as well prevent Irish boys from learning to read and write, because they might turn their knowledge against the Government. There was no doubt that amongst the many foes that British power had in Ireland the most potent were the 26 letters of the alphabet. They asked only for what was just and fair in Ireland. They pleaded for no immunity for criminals. They asked if crime was to be punished as it ought to be that the injustice and oppression which bred that crime should be dealt with also. He hoped that, notwithstanding the inflammatory appeals of Gentlemen like the 462 right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson), the House of Commons would be wise and just enough to read the lesson aright and do justice.
§ MR. TOMLINSON
said, it appeared to him that the speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. T. D. Sullivan) might have been addressed to the House on the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) rather than on the Amendment now before the House. It did not seem to him (Mr. Tomlinson) to be exactly germane to the matters which the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) had brought before them, and which had been so admirably dealt with by the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson). He wished to say that, because of the manner in which the hon. Member (Mr. T. D. Sullivan) had alluded to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech, of which he admitted he had only heard a portion. Under those circumstances, he (Mr. Tomlinson) thought he was not justified in referring to that speech in the way he had done. He considered that somebody on that side of the House should reply to the suggestion which had been made by the hon. and gallant Member sitting opposite (Colonel Nolan), that the Amendment was brought forward with the object of making capital for the Conservative Party. Seeing the forbearance which had been shown during the anxious period through which the country had passed in reference to Irish affairs, it was hardly fair that hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House, who brought forward Resolutions in favour of preserving law and order, should be charged with endeavouring to secure mere Party advantages. The answer which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had given to the hon. and learned Member for Chatham might be described, in technical and legal language, as consisting of confession and avoidance. The right hon. and learned Gentleman excused the failure of the Government on two grounds—firstly, on the ground of inefficient organization of the police force; and, secondly, on the ground of legislative failure. The first had been so ably dealt with by the right hon. and learned 463 Member for the University of Dublin that it was unnecessary for him (Mr. Tomlinson) to refer to it again; but with regard to the second ground of excuse, he might remark that, if proper measures were not employed for preserving law and order in Ireland, the Government was clearly to blame. The Secretary of State for the Home Department had endeavoured to throw the blame on the House, and had contended that, if the Conservative Party disapproved of the measures which were brought forward, they ought to have opposed them at the time. The reason the Conservative Party did not oppose those measures was that they were proposed by the responsible Government, and it was the duty of those who were unable to take Office themselves to acquiesce in the view put forward by the Government of the day in the course of its administration. But there were many occasions when the Opposition did not scruple to express anxiety and hesitation with regard to that measure. He might allude to the action of his learned and honoured Predecessor, Sir John Holker, whom he had heard, in thoughtful and eloquent language, express his anxiety that the Government should be so administered that hundreds of men were detained in prison without trial and without any charge being made against them. On one occasion the hon. and learned Gentleman remarked that it was a state of things unexampled in the history of the country. The Party on that side of the House, however, could do nothing but acquiesce in a proposal so brought forward by the Government of the day The Secretary of State for the Home Department had asked whether the release of the "suspects" had caused an accession of outrages. Well, it so happened that some of the worst outrages took place before the "suspects" were released; but the only one which brought the country to a real sense of the gravity of the situation took place afterwards. He (Mr. Tomlinson) would ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman, if he were in his place, whether the noble Lord, who was so much respected in that House, and who was the victim of so foul a crime (Lord Frederick Cavendish), went to Ireland to increase the power of the Government in regard to coercion? He (Mr. Tomlinson) believed he went there in the vain belief that conciliation was 464 still the remedy for Irish troubles; and that it was not until the terrible crime of which he was a victim occurred, the Government became conscious that a strong measure of coercion was required. To say that the Government had such a measure ready, and yet to propose to postpone it until after the Procedure Rules had been considered, showed that the Government was really not in earnest. They were told in Her Majesty's gracious Speech that the condition of Ireland was improving. He sincerely wished he could agree with the sentiment; but when they considered the revelations made last Saturday, and when they read in the newspapers that a crowd of Irishmen cheered the prisoners as they went from the Court, he felt that he could not concur in that paragraph. He thought that the gravity of the situation in which they found themselves ought to free them from any charge that the Motion before them was brought forward for purely Party purposes, and that no hon. Member ought to impute such motives. He should be sorry to support the present Motion on any ground of that character. But he did hope that there would be such a feeling shown in favour of the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham as "would convince the country that they, as a Party, had acquiesced in the Government proposals from patriotic motives; and that if they had abstained from embarrassing the Government, they did not approve of all their measures, and did not refrain now from expressing their opinion concerning them.
§ MR. STUART-WORTLEY
said, that the abstention of Liberal Members from the debate was very significant of the way in which the Government and their supporters had lately been in the habit of meeting charges of the extremely serious nature of that which formed the gravamen of his hon. and learned Friend's Amendment. The Government stood charged with having purchased the support of persons disaffected to Her Majesty's rule by concessions to lawless agitation; and the way the Government seemed to think it right to meet it was with their supporters to stand by and do their utmost to secure the collapse of the debate. That, at best, was a crafty and disingenuous policy, and one which would not recommend itself much to the constituencies. 465 The Government deceived themselves a good deal if they imagined that the proceedings of to-day would escape the public observation. This was not the first time that the supporters of the Government had tried what might be called a malicious silence, in order that the issue before the House might be taken in a manner deceptive to the public, as not representing thoroughly the true sense of the House on the subject in hand. The Government, when a charge was made, had other ways in which they were given to meeting it. It had been found convenient for the Home Secretary to meet the present charge in the old familiar way of entirely ignoring its exact nature, inventing a completely different charge, and expending enormous energy and superabundant eloquence in destro3'ing this different charge. What was it that the indignation of the Home Secretary was so laboriously vented on? Upon the charge that the Government had knowingly accepted the services of men who were guilty of assassination conspiracies. No such charge was dreamt of. All the charge which was made was that the man Sheridan, of whose services the Government availed themselves—and they would continue to say availed themselves, despite the almost jocular denials of the Government—was a man who they always said the Government ought to be careful in their dealings with, and of whom their own Colleague in a formal Memorandum stated that he had information that he had been engaged in the promotion and manufacture of outrages in the disturbed parts of Ireland. No one knew better than the Home Secretary that the charge now made was quite distinct from the charge that the Government had, in May last, knowledge that Sheridan was engaged in conspiracies that it was now supposed he was then engaged in. The Home Secretary seemed to him (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) to be in doubt somewhat as to his line of defence. He first resorted to the weapon he had alluded to, of overstating the charge against himself, in order that in argument he might dispose of the excess, and so seem to be disposing of the whole. He then asked—"Why should not the Government have availed itself of the use of Sheridan?" But they asked—Did they or did they not make use of Sheridan? Both lines of defence 466 had been adopted. Why, the Home Secretary was not ashamed to shelter himself behind a technical plea for availing himself of the services of Sheridan—the plea, namely, that he had no official knowledge of him, for the warrants under the Protection Act did not run in England. That was a defence which he (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) was glad to see commended itself very little to the feeling of the House, and evoked a very feeble cheer from Government supporters. Could not the Home Secretary reflect that what Sheridan was said to be engaged in was an offence against part of the Common Law of both England and Ireland, and he could have been arrested for it in England without any suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act? The Home Secretary had knowledge of the career of this man, and he was bound to beware that Sheridan did not transfer his base of operations to England, where, if he had been caught, he might have been brought to justice without the intervention of any exceptional legislation or departure from the ordinary course of law. Ever since the resignation of the late Chief Secretary, it had been practically idle and puerile to deny that the Government were fully prepared to avail themselves of the services of this man Sheridan. The Government were charged in the Amendment with errors in their policy towards Ireland; and it was almost impossible to overstate the gravity of those errors, and the nature of them had over and over again been made known. Two illustrations occurred to him which might yet serve to bring home to the minds of those who doubted something in the nature of what it was they meant. The House was already familiar with the memorable words in which the Prime Minister expressed his opinion as to the ultimate cause that led to the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. At a subsequent period, those words received an equally familiar commentary or gloss, and since then it had not been lawful for anyone to say that an attack on a prison in England was the final occurrence that caused the Disestablishment of the Irish Church. But, however, he (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) found the same thing repeated in the last month by the Secretary to the Treasury, speaking to his constituents at Liskeard, where he said distinctly that the Dis- 467 establishment of the Irish Church was because the discontent of the Irish people culminated in an attack on an English prison. That was one way in which Ireland had been allowed to have expectations. Another supporter of the Government used the argument that the present state of things would not have come about if the Conservative Government had dealt with the difficulty by even a moderate Land Bill. Well, it seemed to him that, either knowingly or unknowingly, arguments such as that served well to reveal the vice that seemed to pervade the system of Irish government. Once they admitted there should be a moderate Land Bill at one time and an immoderate Land Bill at another, they admitted the whole of the charges of his lion, and learned Friend. It meant that when the country was filled with agitation and turbulence, then they would bring in a confiscatory Land Bill; but while Ireland was peaceful, they contented themselves with a much smaller measure of what was called justice to Ireland. He could not conceive anything more calculated to disabuse the Irish people of the idea that the Imperial Government treated their claims with justice. They had been told that night that this was an Amendment of an embarrassing nature, and that the House should not entertain it, for although it conveyed censure upon the Government it had not been moved by the recognised exponents of the policy of the Opposition; and, lastly, they were told it ought not to commend itself to the judgment of the House, because it related to bygone transactions. But how could they criticize a Government without causing embarrassment. The more a Government deserved criticism the more it would be embarrassed; and how could they direct criticism to their future policy? They must criticize bygone transactions; and had a Government never been upset on a Motion originating in the action of an independent Member? Why, the existence of a Government had often depended on the Motion of a private Member. They on that side of the House had cause to be grateful to his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham; and if there was any doubt on the other side as to this Amendment receiving the support of all Conservatives, that doubt would soon be dispelled. There would 468 be no division in their ranks as to their duty to support the significant words of his hon. and learned Friend's Amendment.
said, he was somewhat surprised that when attacks were made on the Irish policy of the Government, hon. Members opposite should listen to the charges in silence, and not have a word to say in reply. Considering the great ability of the Home Secretary, he was disappointed at the answer given by the right hon. and learned Gentleman—tho only answer they had yet heard—to the charges brought against the Government. He had never listened to a speech which fell so short of the occasion. The right hon. and learned Gentleman was obviously put forward by the Government as their best foot; but if he were their best foot, he thought the country would not be satisfied with the progress the Government had made. The Home Secretary started with the admission that the Government were responsible for the policy pursued in Ireland before last April, and that this policy had failed to put down crime; and he adduced two reasons for the failure. The first and, as he said, the main reason was the deficient organization of the police; and the second was that when it became obvious that crime must be put down, the most appropriate legislation had not been resorted to. These two admissions went a very long way to make out the case brought against the Government on that side of the House. He would briefly deal with these two allegations. As to the first, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said the fault was not confined to his own Government, but was equally shared by the late Administration. An obvious answer was that, at all events, the previous Government found that the organization of the police was amply sufficient for the good government of Ireland in their time, and the present Government were three years in Office, with crime increasing every day, before they discovered that the organization was deficient. With regard to the most appropriate legislation not having been adopted, the right hon. and learned Gentleman ventured to say that for this the House rather than the Government were responsible, just as he said the late Government were to blame for the deficient organization of the police. But, 469 he would ask, did the right hon. and learned Gentleman seriously expect the country to accept these excuses? The House was next told that the Government had made up their minds before the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) left the Ministry to carry the legislation which was subsequently proposed. "The Bill," said the right hon. and learned Gentleman, "was all prepared." He would deal with this point by-and-bye, and, in the meantime, he would like to say one word in reference to the Kilmainham Treaty, or negotiation, or transaction, or whatever it was to be called. All hon. Members were aware that before the Kilmainham transaction took place there had been some other transactions, which were not forgotten. They remembered what was called the Errington Mission. That, too, had been denied; but he thought that impartial historians would hereafter treat the Errington Mission and the Kilmainham Treaty as undoubted facts, and might also, perhaps, compare the temper which prompted the Prime Minister in these transactions with the temper which prompted the Goddess Juno, when baffled in her intrigues during the Trojan War, to exclaim in her vexation—Flectere si nequeo superos Acheronta movebo.Which, from the mouth of the Prime Minister, might be freely translated thus—If I can't Lend the Pope, I'll square Parnell.The Home Secretary had mentioned three alternative conditions on which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford relied. The first was that the Government should receive from the "suspects" who were about to be released a public promise to be of good behaviour. The assurances given were, said the Home Secretary, satisfactory to the Government, but they were not satisfactory to the right hon. Member for Bradford. Upon that point alone they were told did any difference of opinion exist. But when those "suspects" re-returned to the House, they ostentatiously informed the House that they had given no assurances whatever, and intended to give none. So far the answer of the Home Secretary to this Amendment was eminently unsatisfac- 470 tory. The second alternative was that the peace of the country should be assured. But the Home Secretary had said, with great pathos, that that was an impossible condition. The third condition was fresh powers to the Government. Upon that question we were told there was no difference of opinion in the Cabinet. Thus the question was reduced to a narrow compass, and the inference was, if the explanation of the Home Secretary was accepted, that there was not the slightest reason why the right hon. Member for Bradford should have left the Government at all. The Home Secretary had endeavoured to show that there had been no change in their Irish policy, and his whole speech had been a defence of everything they had done from the beginning to the end; but if the policy of the Government had been right throughout, why did the right hon. Member for Bradford leave them? If the Government were of opinion that everything they had done was right, that was the best possible reason why the House should affirm the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend, and see that they did not do the like again.
MR. LYULPH STANLEY
said, he must express his regret that at a critical time when they ought to be trying to improve the state of Ireland, and strengthen the hands of those who were doing their very best for the country, they should be wasting their time in mere recriminations about the past, the discussion of which could serve no object save the revival of hostilities between the two great Parties in the House, and the advancement of the aims of those who were the enemies of all good government and order in Ireland. The Amendment before the House was a distinct Party attack. The revelations of the last few days had, no doubt, made a great many people think that as a matter of policy the view taken by the late Chief Secretary of the state of Ireland in May last, showed a truer appreciation of the situation than perhaps did that of his Colleagues at the time. That was a very natural conclusion to draw from the evidence laid before the House; but it was a very wide step from that to accusing the Government of having purchased the support of the disaffected by concessions to the lawless agitation. The difference between the views of the late Chief Secretary (Mr. W. E. 471 Forster) and the Government with regard to the measures to be applied to Ireland was mainly a difference in point of time. It was an affectation to say that the Amendment was intended to encourage the Government in pursuing a right course in Ireland. In his opinion, the Amendment was not only a Vote of Censure on the Government, but it was couched in about as insulting words as could well have been chosen. All were agreed that stronger measures were necessary, but they disagreed as to their order; and was it on a point of this sort that people who were prepared to give a candid consideration to other men's motives were to be allowed to assume that those who had the responsibility of Government were lost to all sense of honesty? He did not suppose lion. Members opposite expected to get a majority; but apparently they were going to allow the lion, and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) to keep up a debate for one or two nights, and say as many nasty things against the Government as they could. No doubt, those who were supporters of a Government were likely to have a more generous appreciation of what was the duty of that Government than people in the position of critics; but they might fairly ask whether it was a wise thing at the opening of the Session in which there were so many important questions to be discussed to be squabbling over matters that had been already fully debated, and had only now been revived by startling revelations, which ought to have the effect of uniting all Parties? At a time like the present, the Government were surely entitled to the generous consideration of all Parties of the House.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
said, he agreed with the hon. Member who had just spoken that the Motion could lead to no practical result. They ought to confine themselves to the consideration of the essential issues involved in the Amendment, and ought not to prolong the debate merely in order that one political Party might gain an advantage over the other. There was, however, one portion of the hon. Member's speech which he regretted. The hon. Member seemed to imagine there was a Party in that House which did not hold the interests of law and order in the estimation in which those interests ought to be 472 held by every patriotic Member. On an occasion when they were invited to emancipate themselves from considerations of Party, it would be better, as a mere matter of courtesy, to assume that every Member of that House was actuated equally with every other by a desire for the maintainance of law and order. But lie wished the House seriously to consider the effect of the Amendment. With the exception of a single word in the Amendment, and regarding it as a purely abstract proposition, he entirely agreed with it. But when it was said—No further attempts will be made to purchase the support of persons disaffected to Her Majesty's rule by concessions to lawless agitation,The word "further" took the Amendment out of the category of ordinary Amendments, and elevated it degraded it to the level of a distinct Censure on Her Majesty's Government. And he agreed with the Homo Secretary, that if the Conservative Opposition meant to propose a Vote of Censure they had not adopted the regular method. They should have moved a distinct Resolution of Censure, separating it from all other questions which were involved in the Amendment now before them. He was opposed to any Government purchasing the support of disaffected persons by concessions to lawless agitation, and if Her Majesty's Government had done so a distinct Motion to that effect ought to be made by the responsible Leader of the Opposition; but the House ought not to be asked to adopt so many distinct considerations as were involved in the Amendment. Moreover, if this Amendment were carried, it would be taken to mean that a limit must be put on all remedial legislation. Ireland would be told that because in 1881 Parliament devoted so much of its time and labour to passing a great measure of agrarian reform for Ireland, that country was not to look to this House for any more remedial measures; and he could not conceive a declaration which would have a more disastrous effect upon the temper and political condition of the people of Ireland. On the contrary, he would ask the House to act in the spirit of some observations made by the noble Lord at present the Leader of the House. The noble Lord, in a speech he had lately delivered in Lancashire, had said— 473The Irish people are only 5,000,000 out of a population of 35,000,000 which inhabit this Empire; but the government of these 5,000,000 presents problems by the side of which all the other problems with which we have to contend in the government of our 35,000,000 sink into insignificance, although we have difficult questions to solve in relation to our Foreign, our Colonial, and our Indian affairs. I believe that the difficulty and embarrassment of every one of them would be immensely lessened if once we were relieved of the strain which tests the faculties of our best men in dealing with the complicated difficulties of unhappy Ireland.Now, what had been said since the beginning of the debate that evening to enable the House to grapple with and solve the complicated difficulties of the Irish Question? If the discussion was to be conducted in the essentially partizan spirit which had hitherto characterized it, the result would be the embittering and intensifying of Party warfare, while it would bring no good to the people of Ireland, who were mainly concerned. As an Irishman he objected to see his country over and over again made the battle-field for English factions. He was not willing to see Ireland used as a shuttlecock by English politicians in order that Gentlemen appealing to forces outside might recommend themselves to the acceptance of the country as persons peculiarly qualified to administer its affairs. If a distinguished Member of the Government felt justified in describing, as the noble Lord had done, the condition of Ireland in the 83rd year of the legislative Union, assuredly the time had come for English politicians of all shades to ask themselves whether there might not be something in the policy pursued by the Imperial Parliament towards Ireland—something common to both Parties—which was in the main responsible for the difficulties which existed in the government of Ireland. The noble Lord was not free from the sentiment which prevailed among large classes of people in this country that it would be dangerous to continue in the path of reform in the present condition of Ireland. The noble Lord was bound to admit that British rule had not been successful in the past, and was not successful at present, and yet he used these words with respect to the extension of the principle of self-government to Ireland—It would be madness, in my opinion, to venture to give Ireland more extended self-government unless we can receive from the 474 representatives of the Irish people some assurance that this boon would not be misused for the purpose of agitation, and for the purpose of weakening the authority and the power of the Government.Of course, the noble Lord did not mean that any Irish Party who thought they were justified in weakening the power of the Ministry would not be entitled to use all the advantages which self-government would give. He rather referred, not to the Ministry, but to the Imperial Government or the Executive; and if that were the proper interpretation, then he would say that any assurance from Irish Representatives on that head seemed entirely unnecessary, for in any scheme ever put forward they always gave the assurance, whatever it might be worth, that they had no desire to impair the authority of the Imperial Parliament, or to weaken the bonds by which our united Empire was held together. The noble Lord further said that the question of Ireland was in the main a question of administration. So far as it was the purpose of the Government to maintain order and put down crime and outrage he agreed with the noble Lord; and he on a former occasion said that the question of the discovery and punishment of criminals was a question of police. If they had an efficient police organization they would have been able to follow up and capture, and finally punish, the perpetrators of crime and outrage without suspending any one of the guarantees of Constitutional liberty, which should be the common property of every portion of the United Kingdom. He was glad, however, that they had had other expressions as to the policy of the Government with regard to Ireland. The recommendations of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade would, he ventured to say, prove in the course of time to be nearer to the dictates of a sound statesmanship than those reactionary doctrines which were, unfortunately, sometimes heard in unexpected quarters. He heartily agreed with the President of the Board of Trade when he remarked that so long as Ireland was without any of the institutions of local government worthy of the name, and so long as nothing was done to cultivate a sense of responsibility among the people, so long would the seeds of discontent and disloyalty re- 475 main. Until something was done to make the people of Ireland—not of one class, but of all classes—responsible for the maintenance of law and order in that country, future history would testify that their efforts would not be attended with such success as would guarantee the permanent tranquillity of Ireland. They had heard also a description from another Member of the Government of that embodiment of Irish administration known in Ireland under the name of "the Castle." He did not intend to weary the House by repeating what he had said upon the evils flowing from the Castle system, and it would suffice to say that he still adhered to his remarks so far as they applied to the question of administration. He had not joined in attacking the personnel of the Irish Administration, and although he was aware of the severity with which subordinate officials had applied the Crimes Act, he was not disposed to do so now. Indeed, he would admit that, taking into consideration the terrible responsibility devolving on the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary, and the obligation which rested upon them to maintain peace and order, he did not think that much greater success could have boon expected from persons placed in their position. Whilst admitting this, he did not admit that they possessed any peculiar qualities which made them better fitted to administer Irish affairs than Representatives of Ireland placed in similar responsible positions. The Chief Secretary, in his speech to his constituents, had explained the difficulties of his position, and he would ask the House to consider the multifarious and multitudinous duties of the position. He was candid enough to acknowledge that the work was too great for the ability or energy of any single man, and they should best appreciate the difficulties of the position by endeavouring to bring about such reforms as would bring the law in this respect into harmony with the wants and experience of civilized communities. Let hon. Members who were impatient of Irish legislation consider the evils of the present situation, and what it cost Parliament in time and labour to keep up the present system. Let them consider also what it cost from an economic point of view to keep 30,000 armed men in Ireland, besides the cost of the 476 Constabulary. He supposed that they spent annually £4,000,000 or£5,000,000 to maintain there the physical and mechanical part of the Government. Bearing those facts in mind, and the account given of the government of Ireland by one of its most responsible Officers, they should ask themselves if the time had come when no further concession should be made to agitation in Ireland. He could not understand the tone of solemn despair with which the Irish Question was approached on the Conservative side of the House. He was well aware of the gravity of the present situation, and he believed that the present state of things could not be suffered to continue. The situation was painful almost to a point beyond endurance alike to all classes of the Irish people. It was intolerable to all on either side of the Channel who desired to see good government maintained without sacrificing public liberty, and who desired to preserve freedom of speech without endangering public order or weakening the authority of the Imperial Parliament. But, notwithstanding this, no single step in advance could be taken towards the real solution of the Irish problem unless they were willing to lay aside Party prejudices and deal with the question in a candid and outspoken manner. No doubt, the Chief Secretary for Ireland would that evening read a record of diminishing crime; but he hoped that the Chief Secretary would not then think that he had entirely vindicated his Irish administration. No one could more rejoice at the diminution of crime and outrage than those who, like himself, had felt the burning shame and disgrace of such atrocious methods of political action. But the Chief Secretary was not a chief of the police, but a statesman responsible for the government of the country, and he had to show, not merely the capture and punishment of so many criminals, but what he had done towards removing the causes, the deadly operation of which had produced the crime which all Ireland had such reason to deplore. Let them put down crime and outrage and assassination with a strong hand and an iron heel if they would; but, in the name of the bitter experience of the past, let them not imagine that in doing this they had succeeded in solving the Irish problem—let them not think that 477 maintaining order in a state of siege was the highest effort of Government and the noblest attainment of statesmanship. There was something far beyond and above all this required in order to get at the root of the Irish Question, and in a country where, he did not hesitate to say, men had been driven mad by the mere contemplation of past iniquities. He ventured to follow in the footsteps of the late Mr. Butt, who was quoted by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham, and to affirm that the true cause of Irish disaffection had been the indifference of Parliament to the wrongs and grievances of the people of Ireland until the country had been brought either by secret combination or open agitation to the verge of civil war. If the necessary condition of reform in Ireland was perpetual agitation, it was clear that the country had to choose between perpetual agitation and perpetual denial of justice. If the machinery of legislation could be put into motion only by the power of agitation, it was clear that agitation, however dangerous it might be, would go on in that country and legislation would follow in the unsatisfactory manner in which they had witnessed—in leaps and bounds. He so far sympathized with one sentiment contained in the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He would say the setting up of the rule of force, as something calculated to give impetus to legislation on the one hand, and to maintain order on the other, constituted in itself the very negation of Constitutional government. The determination of the Irish Government at the present moment was not to be diverted from the pursuit of the organizers and perpetrators of crime, and in this respect their conduct would, he was sure, receive the hearty approbation of all quarters of the House; but he would protest against the tendency which he had noticed in many places to confound the legitimate aspirations of the people with the designs of those inhuman desperadoes who aimed at the overthrow of civilized society. Fortunately for the character of Ireland, the present was the first time in her chequered and troubled history in which a body formed for the purpose of political assassination had found a footing on her soil, and he rejoiced to think it was destined to 478 be the last. Hon. Gentlemen would, however, remember that many countries which had attained a high state of civilization had frequently been stained by political crimes of the most horrible character. The United States at the time of the Civil War, Germany and Russia in later times, and France and Italy in the periods of their great excitement and in the days of revolutionary frenzy, had equally been stained by brutal crimes, and the demon of political assassination had presided at the councils of political maniacs and desperate conspirators. If, unfortunately, that demon had momentarily taken possession of the capital of Ireland, he looked confidently to its speedy exorcism by the vigorous assertion of the majesty of the law. If hon. Gentlemen would pardon what they might consider to be an exhibition of the national pride, he would say that he looked not less for that result to the force of the native virtue of the Irish race. He would appeal to their own experience of the better nature of Irishmen. They had seen them in many walks of life as honest and industrious workmen; their women virtuous; and their sons brave and valiant soldiers. These represented the true Irish people, and not the miserable gang of miscreants who, acting upon foreign example, and instigated by foreign gold, had cast a stain upon the country. It was not from the teachings of modern Socialism, but from the memories of a peaceful law-abiding nationalism, that Ireland drew her inspiration even today, and although her head might be turned by the day dreams of the Socialistic delirium her heart was pure and brave as of old. The spirit which had actuated the patriotism of Grattan and O'Connell had not been banished from the land which they had served so faithfully and well. He could appeal to that spirit even now, and ask the House to look forward to the prudent and Constitutional development of their principles, and to a time when the foul deeds of oppression and conspiracy alike should be buried in a common oblivion, and when, on the basis of equal rights and Constitutional government, and under the guardianship of law, order, and liberty, Ireland should take her proper place in a really united Empire.
§ VISCOUNT LYMINGTON
said, he thought that hon. Members on the Con- 479 servative side of the House wore somewhat illogical in their remarks upon coercion. The Liberal Party were first abused for having attempted to govern without coercion, and for not having adopted strong measures at first; and then because the Liberal Party had been obliged most reluctantly to resort to coercive measures they had been assailed for forsaking the principles which they advocated in Opposition. The hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) had observed that it was the habitual practice of Liberal Governments to make unwise concessions to Irish agitation; but he believed that they had acted rightly in endeavouring to govern Ireland without coercion. He believed, further, that the remedial legislation of the Government was in no way affected by recent disclosures. The crimes which were being brought to light pointed to a desperate spirit among a certain class of persons; but it was impossible to suppose that Ireland could be settled by the mere putting down of criminals. After they had done that, after they had maintained the majesty of the law and vindicated individual liberties and the sanctity of life itself, there still remained the difficulty how they were to deal with the Irish Question—how to assimilate English rule to Irish ideas. There were rumours in the Lobbies and in the newspapers of projects for disfranchising Ireland; and it was hinted that the only way of governing Ireland was by the sword. He believed the true policy was to proceed, not by concessions to agitation, but by wise legislation. He had always been one of those who had maintained that, while it was essential that the Land Law of Ireland should be reformed, it was also necessary that extraordinary powers should be intrusted to the Government in order to give a fair chance to the peaceful progress and development of that country. The strained relations of landlord and tenant and the very exceptional condition of agricultural affairs in Ireland had rendered it just and expedient that they should interfere with the otherwise sound and reasonable principle of freedom of contract. As the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War had once expressed it, it had been requisite to find a modus vivendi between the Irish landlord and tenant; so, on the other hand, they had 480 to devise, in the extraordinary powers which had been intrusted to the Government to put down crime and outrage, some means by which the loyal and law-abiding people might be enabled to pursue their industry in peace and security. That was why the Liberal Party had supported coercion; but they would have been in a very different position if they had opposed, as the Party sitting opposite had done, every measure of concession to the Irish tenants. He believed that the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his Friends had never been the leaders of popular opinion in Ireland. They had connected themselves with a movement which contained, certainly, elements of a popular and legitimate character, but which was also allied with many elements of disorder, and instead of being able to control that movement they had been carried away by it and made its slaves. He had always held that it would be futile to attempt to make any compact with men like the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his Friends, who had no real power to carry out such engagements. Those Gentlemen were committed and bound to a policy of open hostility to the Government, not because it was a Liberal Government, but because it was an English Government. He had listened with interest to the remarks of the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power) in reference to local government in Ireland. With the spirit of those remarks he fully agreed; for he felt that while they had, as in Ireland, the personal functions of Royalty entirely abrogated, the people untrained in the habits of local self-government, and the avenues of popular and official distinction in Ireland so often divergent, the condition of the country could not be completely satisfactory. The Grand Jury system in that country and other matters might be defective. While those questions might have to be dealt with in the future, it would, he thought, be unwise for independent Members, regardless of the political and social condition of the country, to press them forward inopportunely. The proper time and occasion for introducing any such legislation should be left to the determination of the responsible Ministers. It must be remembered that different legislation was necessary for different parts of Ireland. In Ulster, for 481 instance, fair, just, and equitable legislation would supply all the needs of that Province; but such was not the case in some counties—in Galway, for instance, where, out of 39,077holdings,over20,000 were under £4 in value; or in Donegal, where 21,330 out of 38,098 were equally small. The only real and practical remedy for districts of this hind was a well-considered system of State-aided emigration. It was a mistake to suppose that the feelings of the population were universally set against emigration; on the contrary, many showed an inclination to accept any chance of leaving the country which was offered them. It was useless to rely on public works or on outdoor relief to remedy the evil. By so doing, the Irish people would only become demoralized, by national money squandered in buying off a crisis which would re-appear at the first recurrence of a bad season. But, whatever remedy might be suggested, he would appeal to the House to discuss the question in no bickering Party spirit, but steadily and fairly look the question in the face, and not give way to panic. They must remember that, for better or for worse, they were joined to Ireland, and until they had made her contented and happy they would always have at their doors a source of weakness. That was the reason why the introduction of Party spirit was to be avoided. The question of Home Rule must stand on its own merits; and he was willing to admit that if the Liberal Party, or whatever Party might be in power, were to listen to the language of panic, and to treat Ireland as a nation of traitors and criminals, and govern it without a Constitution, a Party would arise in England—the Radical Party—who would raise the question of Home Rule. He hoped that hon. Members on both sides of the House would endeavour to join in strengthening the hands of the Government, not because they belonged to one political Party or the other, but because it was the Government of the Queen; and then, perhaps, the discussion might be fruitful in eliciting instruction upon Irish affairs.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, he hoped that the noble Lord would excuse him if he had been unable to follow him through the very interesting speech which he had just delivered; but he must confess fully and freely that, 482 for his own part, he had been quite unable to catch the general drift of his remarks, and when he did, they seemed to have no bearing whatever on the question immediately before the House. He ventured, however, to ask the indulgence of the House if he again addressed them, for, although he was technically entitled to speak, he thought it his duty, as he was speaking for a second time, to claim their indulgence before doing so. It appeared to him that since the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary, the discussion had altogether wandered away from the principles put forward by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst). The hon. and learned Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power), in the course of his remarks, was understood to say that, but for a certain particular word in the Amendment, the word "further," he would have found no difficulty whatever in supporting the Amendment by his vote. Now the word "further" clearly expressed the unchangeable conviction on the part of the Conservative Party that there was an attempt made last year to do a certain thing, and although they believed that the time had gone by when that event would be visited by a Vote of Censure in the House, still at the same time it was impossible to raise the whole question of the Irish policy of the Government without also mentioning that circumstance. It was a conviction that there was a compact, or whatever it might be called, on which the House of Commons had never pronounced any formal opinion, because it had never been given the opportunity, but which, for all present purposes, had rather passed out of use in that House. The only word in the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham to which objection had been taken by the hon. and learned Member for Mayo was the word "further," and therefore he did not think that if the hon. and learned Member for Mayo agreed with the general spirit of the Amendment, he ought to be deterred simply by the word "further" from going into the Lobby with his hon. and learned Friend. The hon. and learned Member made one further remark. He appeared to think that this Amendment invited the Government to put aside the question of legislation for Ireland altogether, and to rely solely for 483 the future on coercion for the prevention of crime; hut he could assure him that as far as the Mover and as he himself were concerned—and they were the only two people in the House for whom he could speak—no such idea had ever entered into their minds. It was not the meaning of the Amendment that no legislation for Ireland should be considered except that of a coercive kind. He would remind the hon. Member of a great saying of Sir Robert Peel's that it was not the business of a physician to prescribe until he was called in; but he could imagine, and had pictured to himself, measures which would largely advance the prosperity of Ireland, and which, if proposed by the Government, would be considered in a single-minded and most respectful spirit by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) and himself. He would now, if the House would allow him, refer in a few words to the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had altogether mistaken a remark which had been made by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham, and that remark appeared to have cut very deeply into the mind of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. It was to the effect that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was an incompetent Home Secretary. The right lion, and learned Gentleman had taken that remark too seriously. He could truly say that his hon. and learned Friend intended that remark as only a little bit of chaff. No one would recognize more fully the conspicuous abilities of the Home Secretary, or the satisfactory manner in which he had hitherto discharged the duties of his position, than his hon. and learned Friend; nor if they had any criticism to pass upon his conduct, would they be inclined to summarize them in so extremely brief and uncomplimentary a manner. But the right hon. and learned Gentleman, in saying that if the hon. and learned Member for Chatham wished to state to the House that he was an incompetent Home Secretary it was his duty to make a Motion which would have the effect of removing him from Office, had forgotten that if the present Amendment were carried, it would amount to a Vote of Want of Confidence in the Government, and would, therefore, lead to the removal of the Home Secretary from 484 Office. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, too, had severely rebuked his hon. and learned Friend for having alluded to the evidence given by Mr. Carey with respect to Mr. Sheridan and "Mr. No. 1," and had said that it was unbecoming in the hon. and learned Member as a Member of the English Bar. He (Lord Randolph Churchill) was not in a position to decide between the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his hon. and learned Friend; but he would remind the Home Secretary, and those who had cheered that part of his speech, that earlier in the evening, when the hon. and gallant Member for Dover (Major Dickson) referred to those gentlemen, the Home Secretary, replying with great indignation, alluded to them as "those culprits." That was afar stronger expression, he ventured to say, although not a Member of the English Bar, and a much more unjustifiable one, seeing that neither of these two parties was committed for trial, than anything that fell from his hon. and learned, Friend. Another remark of the right hon. and learned Gentleman which struck him very much was that he agreed with that one single portion of his hon. and learned Friend's speech, where he asserted that in April last the situation in Ireland was intolerable. But he did not quite understand that the situation in Ireland was intolerable to the people of England, and everyone except those connected with the Government, because of the crimes which disgraced Ireland. But their contention was that the state of Ireland was intolerable to Her Majesty's Government because the action of the Irish Party interfered with their Procedure Resolutions. Therefore, what was intolerable to the Government was not the condition of Ireland, but the irreconcilable attitude of the Irish Party, who had contrived to let the Government see that their Procedure Resolutions were in the deadliest peril, and that their business in Parliament would be actually arrested and stopped unless some change was made in their policy. The Home Secretary—who, he was glad to see, had just returned to the House, for he could not say how much he regretted that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should have missed the remarks he had made—had made one statement, he ventured to say, which surpassed in inaccuracy anything that had yet fallen from the 485 Treasury Bench. He said that the cause of the unfortunate state of affairs in Ireland was the inefficient organization of the Irish police. That was the great difficulty, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, with which the present Government had had to deal. The statement was a very remarkable one, and in making it the right hon. and learned Gentleman assumed that he was supported by the right hon. Gentleman on this side of the House who been engaged in the former administration of Ireland. In that, however, lie was deceived, for the right hon. Gentleman directly disagreed with him. He would remind the Home Secretary that this extremely inefficient police, which had been the cause of all the difficulties of the Government in Ireland, were the police which put down a far more serious and dangerous crisis than the Government had had to deal with—the Fenian rebellion. It was this police which furnished Lord Mayo with an inestimable quantity of the information that enabled him to bring to trial and to convict almost every single Fenian that had anything to do with that rebellion. It was this police which put down the most dangerous rebellion, without any exception, that Ireland had seen since the days of 1798. He believed that under the late Government there was no cause to find fault with the Irish police; at least, there was no cause for any Member of that Government to get up in the House of Commons to stigmatize that body with being inefficient, and as being the only difficulty to deal with. That brought him to the course the Government had lately adopted. What was the advice which the police of Ireland gave to the Home Secretary and his Colleagues when they came into Office with respect to the renewal of the Peace Preservation Act? There was not a single Inspector or Sub-Inspector who, when consulted by the late Government, did not say that the administration of Ireland was impossible without that Act; and yet the present Government, who knew as much about Ireland as the Mace on the Table, practically told the police that their information was not worth anything at all, and that they did not intend to be bound in the least by it. He did not wonder, if the Government treated the police in this manner, that they should now complain 486 of the inefficiency of that body. The Home Secretary admitted that the Coercion Act introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) had been an utter failure; but he said that this failure was not to be laid to the charge of the Government. It was to be laid to the charge of the House of Commons, and more particularly to the Opposition. The Home Secretary had singled him (Lord Randolph Churchill) out for attack in this matter; but he denied that he was in any way responsible for this failure, because he predicted that failure plainly and strongly in the House. He (Lord Randolph Churchill) ventured to say on the second reading of that measure that he supported it with reluctance and distrust, that he was confident that the efficient administration of the ordinary law would have saved the House of Commons that Bill, and that "he was certain that they would have indecision and timidity, and consequent injustice and protracted coercion." That being the case, the Home Secretary would, he hoped, acknowledge the injustice of the attack he had made, and also admit that in this prediction, as in all his (Lord Randolph Churchill's) other predictions, he had been perfectly justified. With respect to Mr. Sheridan, the Home Secretary, after a long and involved answer, said that after all this was a perfectly unimportant matter; but he (Lord Randolph Churchill) noticed that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford shook his head when that statement was made; and as the employment of this Mr. Sheridan by the Government absolutely brought about the disagreement between the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford and the Government which led to the resignation of the right hon. Gentleman, he could not help thinking that the Home Secretary was trying the patience of the House a little too far when he said that the matter was one of no importance. The Home Secretary also loftily repudiated the assertion that there had been an inner circle of Members in the Cabinet who had endeavoured to compass the political ruin of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford. But shortly after the murders in the Phoenix Park an authoritative statement referring to the re- 487 signation of that right hon. Gentleman appeared in The Times, which he wished to recall to the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir William Harcourt). The Times had never, to his knowledge, made itself the channel for the communication to the public of idle gossip, and rarely published any statement except on good authority. [Mr. LABOUCHERE: Oh!] That laugh betrayed a little professional jealousy. He repeated that The Times did not make itself the channel for the communication of idle gossip, and, that being so, he thought there was good reason to believe that the statement which he would read to the House must have been made either directly or indirectly by the authority of some right hon. Gentleman opposite. The Times, in the article to which he referred, said—The history of this transaction (the circumstances connected with the resignation of Mr. Forster), though its details may be decorously veiled, is perfectly understood by the public. Mr. Forster was the victim of an intrigue, which was worked from within the Cabinet, and which was industriously developed outside through organs and organizations.Then perhaps the President of the Board of Trade would inform the House who had inspired the remarkable series of articles which had appeared in an evening paper, and which assailed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford with a virulence unexampled since the days of Junius. To his knowledge the articles in question had for long been the subject of comment among the Radical Party below the Gangway. [An hon. MEMBER: I never read them.] It had been insinuated by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary that a right hon. Gentleman on the Front Opposition Bench was not an English Gentleman, because he had stated that the right hon. Member for Bradford was the victim of an intrigue within the Cabinet. But with the support given to that statement in The Times, and bearing in mind the articles which had appeared in the evening paper to which he had already referred, he (Lord Randolph Churchill) ventured to say that the assertion was one which might be made with the utmost confidence by any Gentleman. The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Lyulph Stanley) and others had told the Opposition that they must deal with the past. If the time of the 488 House of Commons were being occupied with the delivery of elaborate essays on the reign of Queen Anne, that admonition would be just; but the past with which they were now dealing was the past of yesterday, and was a legitimate subject for criticism. Though Parties in Opposition might be judged by their promises, Governments could only be judged by their past. But the object of his hon. and learned Friend was not so much to attack the Government for their past, as to obtain a guarantee for their future conduct. The Liberal Party had learnt a terrible lesson in connection with the question of Irish government; and the Opposition, by their Amendment, wished to make sure that the lesson would not be hastily forgotten. In 1880, when the present Government came into Office, they advised the Crown to inform Parliament that they intended to rely no longer on exceptional measures, but on the good sense and loyalty of the Irish people. That policy continued with more or less variation and vacillation until 7 o'clock on May 6, 1882, on which dark day it came to an end. It had been persevered in through the whole of 1880, momentarily abandoned in 1881, when the Coercion Bill was introduced, obstinately recurred to in 1882, when the "suspects" were released from Kilmainham, and when the Government informed the House that they intended to rely upon the loyalty, not of Her Majesty's subjects, but of the Irish National Land League. But on the 7th May there was a sudden awakening; then there was a startling change. For more than two weary years Her Majesty's Government had witnessed, to all appearances quite unmoved, the ravages of the "Moonlighters," the "Boycotting" of peasants, terror, outrage, and crime of every description, which was gradually enveloping the whole of Ireland. Lord Mountmorres had been murdered, when returning from the magistrate's bench, shortly after the present Government came into Office. A whole host of other assassinations followed each other in quick succession up to the moment when they culminated in the assassination of Mrs. Smyth, in the month of April, 1882, while returning from attendance at the Holy Communion. But all these horrors produced but little effect upon the minds of Her Majesty's Government, and on 489 the 4th of May Her Majesty's Government concluded a compact with the powers of lawlessness and crime. But when, at 7 o'clock on the 6th of May, 1882, the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, a Member of that House, one of their most respected Colleagues, and the son of an English Duke, was struck down in the Phœnix Park—then, and only then, did they realize the true nature of their policy in all its hideous-ness. Of Lord Frederick Cavendish, whose name would long be remembered in that House with affectionate veneration, it might be truly said that while in his life he rendered good service to the State, by his dying he brought good to the people of Ireland, and was the cause of restoring the first elements of order to a land long distracted by anarchy and terrorized by unpunished crime. Certainly, there was then a change—a change so large in its proportions that the outrages, which had previously numbered 500 and 600 in a month, had sunk to 50 and 60 a month, and even less—a change so marked in its character that it caused the Government to abandon all their Procedure projects, to throw aside their whole scheme of legislation; in the words of the Prime Minister, to recast and reconsider all their arrangements—a change so striking in its effects that "Boycotting" had almost vanished from the land, Moonlighters had ceased their depredations, and, for the first time since the present Government came into Office, men were able to go to and fro upon their affairs without fear; and, for the first time since the present Government came into Office, they were enabled to inform Parliament, through the Queen's Speech, that the law had been everywhere upheld. But what torrents of blood, what cataracts of terror, what oceans of misery had overwhelmed Ireland before this change could be effected; and the Opposition had a right to ask Her Majesty's Government to consent to the insertion in the Address of a paragraph, expressing their earnest hope that the change which had produced these results might be maintained, and that no political exigency should ever again induce the Government of the Queen in Ireland to rely upon lawlessness and crime. Certainly, there had been a change in the summer and autumn and the winter of 1880, and in the spring of 1881 Her Majesty's Government and 490 the Irish National League were political allies; and in the summer and autumn and winter of 1880, and in the spring of 1881, the Irish Land League had for its leaders Sheridan of Tubbercurry, and James Carey, town councillor of Dublin. And, on the 4th of May, this arrangement of parties culminated in this appalling fact—that at that moment the chain of Government in Ireland ranged from the Prime Minister and the noble Lord on the Treasury Bench, from the Lord Lieutenant in the Viceregal Lodge down through all the forces of magistrates, military, and police, to Sheridan of Tubbercurry, and James Carey, town councillor of Dublin. And in all this horrid picture this was the most horrid feature—that the power on which, on the 4th of May, the Government chiefly relied for the restoration of order was not the genius or the eloquence of the Prime Minister, not the abilities of the noble Marquess and his Colleagues, not the tried experience of Earl Spencer, not the forces of all their magistracy, military, and police, but on the influence, secret or otherwise, legal or otherwise, which might or might not be exercised by Sheridan of Tubbercurry, and James Carey, town councillor of Dublin. These were the ultimate resources of a Liberal Administration; these were the great twin brethren who were to bring the Liberal ship safely into port; and on the 4th May they put into practice with a vengeance the Prime Minister's new idea of making the humblest Irishman a governing agency. And the most curious point of all this was that now, when they appeared to be about to bring to justice the perpetrators of many a foul assassination, their success in the matter was not to be attributed to their having won the hearts of the people of Ireland by their remedial legislation, nor to their executive skill, but simply and solely to the information furnished them by their quondam ally, James Carey, town councillor of Dublin. It was a marvellous example of the Prime Minister's theory of making the humblest Irishman a governing agency. Certainly, there had been a change; and, animated by every emotion and every painful reflection that could legitimately stir the minds of public men in a more or less responsible position, they prayed the Crown that that change might be maintained, and they demanded from 491 Her Majesty's Government an assurance and guarantee to that effect. The Government talked about an improvement in the social condition of the Irish people. What sort of an improvement was it? It was simply nothing more than a decrease in agrarian crime. He should like to know from the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, or any other Minister of the Crown, if there was any improvement in the feeling of Ireland towards the people of England and Scotland? Would they not be prepared to admit that the hatred towards England and Scotland was far more intense and malignant and widespread than ever it had been before in the present century? Was it not a terrible sign of the times to find that the prisoners at the Kilmainham Court House, charged with the commission of assassination, were daily cheered by the Dublin mob? What was the state of things when the Government came into Office in 1880? In 1880, the people of England were watching the state and condition of Ireland with generous sympathy. Large sums of money were freely subscribed in all parts of the country towards the relief of Irish distress; and he could state confidently, from his own experience of that distress, that in many homes in Ireland there were feelings of gratitude springing up for the liberality of the English people. But now, after three years of Liberal rule, not only had they increased the detestation in Ireland of everything connected with England; not only had they made the name of Ireland a bye-word and a reproach in Europe, but they had also made the very name of Ireland, to stink in the nostrils of the English people; so that if there were a famine in Ireland, at the present moment, it would be extremely difficult to make the tide of English charity flow thither as freely as before. He said this because he felt that the generosity of the English people was so large and so justly renowned, that nothing but a very powerful and intense feeling of animosity could arrest it. Then, if that were so, was it possible that there could be a more crushing criticism upon the policy of the Government? Was it possible that anything could produce in the mind of anyone more gloomy forebodings for the future of the Union? Agrarian crime might pass away, and the law might again be everywhere 492 upheld; but this main result and effect of their policy would not pass away. It would continue to paralyze and defy ail the efforts of all their Parliaments and all their Governments, and would rankle for generations and for years to come in the minds of the Irish people. Amid all these misfortunes, there was one method which, in conclusion, he would like to put before the House, and which he would venture to recommend to the Government as a means by which they might render the task of governing Ireland easier, not only for themselves, but for those who might have to come after them. That was that the Government should choose this moment and take this opportunity for speaking out freely and fully, and announce to the House of Commons and the country the nature of their policy, and what, after all their bitter and mortifying experience of the last three years, was now their intention with regard to Ireland. He ventured to make an appeal to the noble Marquess the present Leader of the House of Commons. The noble Marquess was more closely connected with Ireland than almost any man in that House. He was connected with that country by the vast estates which were the appanage of his race; he was connected with it by a long and prosperous administration of its affairs, and he was connected with it by the bitter memory of an irreparable loss. The noble Marquess was one of the few—perhaps the only statesman—in whom the people of this country were prepared to repose a large and generous measure of public confidence. He would appeal then to the noble Marquess to speak out on the matter, and to inform the House of Commons, and England and Ireland, whether the utterances of the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Herbert Gladstone), which had attracted so much attention in that House, and which had been alluded to by his (Lord Randolph Churchill's) right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Gibson), were to be regarded as the "harebrained chatter of irresponsible frivolity," or whether they truly reflected the tendency of Liberal legislation. If so, was the noble Marquess prepared to take a prominent part in promoting that legislation? The Junior Lord of the Treasury, the Private Secretary, and the son of the Prime Minister, had condemned the present system of go- 493 vernment in Ireland in the severest terms. He had avowed himself in favour of the widest measures of local self-government; in other words, he was in favour of Home Rule. [Cries of "No, no!"] Hon. Members who cried "No!" were extremely bold in denying the statement attributed to the hon. Member for Leeds when the hon. Member himself was in the House, and was not prepared to contradict those statements. It surely might be supposed that the hon. Member knew much better what his own opinions were than those hon. Members who cried "No." The hon. Member would say whether he (Lord Randolph Churchill) was right or wrong in regard to the statements he had attributed to him. He said that the hon. Member for Leeds had avowed himself in favour of Home Rule; and he had, on more than one occasion, he (Lord Randolph Churchill) regretted to say, held up the landowning class in Ireland to execration. The hon. Member was a Colleague of the noble Marquess, and by the name which he bore he was an important Colleague; and they had a right to appeal to the noble Marquess to know whether he repudiated, or whether he accepted, the views of the hon. Member for Leeds. Much depended upon the answer which the noble Marquess might give. He would go further, and say, that upon the noble Marquess giving an answer, or refusing an answer to the question, the peace of Ireland largely depended. If the noble Marquess repudiated, as he (Lord Randolph Churchill) firmly believed he did, the views of the hon. Member for Leeds—if he was prepared to resist their application in a practical form to Ireland, then it appeared to him (Lord Randolph Churchill) that there were no reasons why he should not accept the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham, which was put forward, not only with the approval and on behalf of the Tory Party, not merely on behalf of the Imperial Parliament, not merely on behalf of the people of England and Scotland, but mainly on behalf of the unfortunate people of Ireland, who had been so long distracted, misgoverned, and oppressed. But if the noble Marquess refused to respond to that appeal, if he declined to accept even the spirit of the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member, then he (Lord Ran- 494 dolph Churchill had no hesitation in saying that as sure as they were sitting there agitation in Ireland would recommence, disorder ere long would reign again, and the events of the last three years would be but as a chapter—aye, only as a page in the story of Irish wrongs.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Sir, the noble Lord who has just sat down (Lord Randolph Churchill) has explained to the House what is his view of the character of the Amendment moved by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst). For my part, I wish to judge that Amendment by the spirit of the speech which accompanied its introduction. The hon. and learned Member for Chatham stated, when it was introduced, that he hoped the House would meet it in the spirit in which it was moved; but the speech in which it was moved was a speech in regard to which I do not think I am using too strong words when I say that it did not represent the gravity of the situation, and that it was not conceived in the spirit one would expect the subject to be dealt with at a time when we were having what the hon. and learned Member himself called "the revelations of the Kilmainham Court House." We had to deal with that speech, and I asked myself, as many other Members no doubt did, on what question are we really engaged to-night, and with what motive has this Amendment been moved? Why is this peculiar Motion made? At what moment is it moved? The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock rebuked the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) just now, because he said the right hon. and learned Gentleman had gone out of his way to denounce the Land League.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
I did not say that; I never said that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had gone out of his way.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Yes; "gone astray," or words to the effect that he had wandered out of his way. That is not so very far from what I said, and I will put it that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had wandered from the subject. What, then, was the subject? Has not the noble Lord wandered from 495 the subject, in order to bring every charge he possibly could conceive against Her Majesty's Government with regard to other transactions? Have not other hon. and right hon. Members who have spoken wandered from the Amendment, in order to rake up as many transactions of the past as they could, so as to be able to throw odium upon Her Majesty's Government, and possibly, not, perhaps, intentionally, to increase the difficulties which right hon. Gentleman sitting on the Front Bench have to confront at this critical moment? We have heard what these difficulties are. I ask, then, at what moment is this Amendment introduced? What has suggested the Amendment? It was not on the Paper on Thursday or Friday last; it was put on the Paper after the proceedings at the Kilmainham Court House on Saturday. Why was it put there? It was put there in order to rest arguments, either by inference or speech, upon what one hon. Member opposite called the "disclosures," and another the "revelations," that had been made. How are the Government, at a moment like this, to deal with a situation put before them in that way? How can they either assume or contradict the statements that have been made? Have they not to fight with their hands tied? I am no lawyer, and I do not know how far it is right to make the statement which was used, that the Crown was, at all events, bound to assume the truth of the evidence of their own witnesses. How far that applies to the Representatives of the Crown in their representative and political capacity I do not know; but what I do know is, that if the Front Bench had ventured to form or pass any criticism upon the revelations made in the Court House of Kilmainham on Saturday last, they would have laid themselves open to censure from all parts of the House. I say, therefore, that this is scarcely a moment to invite the Government to discuss the results of these revelations. Let me put it in this way. If it should result that all that has been put forward is not true, should this debate have taken place? I say, then, this debate is premature under the circumstances of the case; and I would ask if it is likely to be for the advantage of Ireland—for the advantage of justice—or will it lighten the work of the Executive in Ireland, that 496 we should be discussing these matters at the present moment? Is it a fit moment to choose, when all our hearts and minds have been stirred by what we have read? I think that is a consideration that ought not to be omitted. It appears to me that it is not a very agreeable spectacle that the hon. and learned Member for Chatham and his Friends should not have been able to wait even until this trial should have been finished before finding themselves called upon to take the Government to task as they have done to-night. [Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR.: Why did you not wait?] I am not aware that I have endeavoured to cast a slur upon anyone; but what I maintain is that, at the present moment, we are not ripe for the discussion that has been initiated. I wish to put the case in this way. Is it not better that hon. Members on all sides of the House should wait until the law has decided—until the trial has taken place—before they embark in a discussion of this kind? Therefore, I ask, why this haste? I have in vain looked for an expression, even from the hon. and learned Member for Chatham, or from the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), of congratulation of the Government upon their apparent success in discovering some of the circumstances under which these crimes have been committed. They assume the truth of the evidence, because the whole of their case is based on this—that the disclosures are true; and, nevertheless, they have not one word to say to congratulate the Executive Government on the firmness with which they have been able to carry out their search for the assassins. They do not say—"We will rally round the Executive Government and support them;" but, before they have time to know the whole case, they have endeavoured to fasten an attack upon Her Majesty's Government. That is altogether inconsistent with the feeling I have, that we ought not to prejudge the case, and that we ought to distinguish between a preliminary investigation and the official trial that has yet to take place. My case is this—and it is one which makes me speak somewhat warmly in expressing my judgment of the course taken by hon. Members opposite—it appears to me that the middle of an unfinished transaction of the law is precisely the 497 time when it must be embarrassing to all parties that the subject should be discussed in this House; and this Motion, forced on Her Majesty's Government by hon. Members opposite, is made at a time when the whole feeling of the country has been aroused by what we have read. We have to go back upon other transactions, and to discuss the degree of responsibility which attaches to one man or another, before we can really be in full possession of the facts of the case. I trust that in deprecating, as I venture to deprecate, this discussion, it will not be suspected that it is because I am lukewarm in the cause of law and order. Hon. Members know that I have not been afraid at any time, in this House, to speak my mind on that subject, and if I thought that pressure ought to be put on the Executive for more vigour in that direction, I should not shrink to join in putting such pressure on them; but I say that the moment is ill-chosen, and I do not believe that the public of the country will believe that, before they are themselves able to form a judgment, it is right that a Motion of this kind should be placed before the House of Commons for its consideration. The noble Lord says that it is in order to obtain pledges for the future. Will that "take in," to use a vulgar phrase, any hon. Member in this House? We have heard many hon. Members opposite—and I believe they have done so with conviction and with earnestness—bear witness to the admirable firmness with which Earl Spencer and my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Trevelyan) have discharged their duties. Do they think that these Gentlemen require the stimulus which the noble Lord pretends to apply to them? I do not think that they require any stimulus at all. It appears to me that they are discharging their duties in a manner which is commanding the confidence of the country; and I regret that the Conservative Party, at this moment, instead of suspending for a time all Party conflict, should think it right to seek to embarrass the Government, and almost to divert public attention from the course in which it ought to be directed, by putting a Motion of which the object can only be this—to make an attack upon the Government, and thereby, so far as they can do it, to weaken the force of the Executive Government at a moment 498 when, above all others, it is important that the hands of the Executive Government should remain firm and strong and undisturbed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Sir Herbert Maxwell.)
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I think the hour is somewhat early. It is not usual to conclude debates of this kind, especially when we have such important Business still to dispose of, at so early an hour. If the hon. Member who has moved the adjournment of the debate desires to make any observations, I believe that the House will be glad to hear him, and that they would ask him to proceed with those remarks at once.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I think it is impossible that this debate can be finished to night; and, therefore, I am of opinion that this is only a reasonable hour, considering that we have to meet in the morning at 12 o'clock, for adjourning the debate.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
hoped that the noble Marquess would consent to the Motion, which he thought was in accordance with the New Rules. In his opinion, those Rules were intended to facilitate a Motion for Adjournment at that hour.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
My noble Friend has no desire to enter into a contest with hon. Members opposite; but I must remind hon. Members of the practice of continuing the debate on the Address for a great number of days, and occupying a considerable part of the commencement of the Session, is a novel practice. I think that in this single Session we have already had more days taken up in the debate on the Address than was formerly the case. I may remind hon. Members that it is impossible for us to burn the candle at both ends; and if the House is disposed to spend a great part of its time before Easter in prolonged debates on the Address, it is really taking away that time which ought to be given to the transaction of the real Business of the House. I do not rise on the part of my noble Friend to oppose the Motion for Adjournment, but I do hope that hon. Members will take these matters into consideration and reflect upon them.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.