§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Main Question [5th February].—[See page 52.]
And which Amendment was,
In line 62, after the word "us," to insert the words "but humbly to assure Her Majesty that the recent policy and conduct of the Executive in Ireland have not tended to the interests of tranquillity or contentment among the Irish people, and particularly to deplore the wanton prohibition of legal and constitutional public meetings throughout Ireland, whereby the exercise of the right of free speech has been practically extinguished in that Country; also, to condemn the Irish Executive for having permitted bodies of magistrates to make with impunity public declarations applauding the conduct of Lord Rossmore (an ex-magistrate superseded for disturbing order, and for provoking ill-will and strife between different classes of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland), which public declarations have directly incited Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland to illegal acts, disorder, and violence."—(Mr. Partiell.)
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, he proposed to deal with the conduct of the Government in connection with the Orange riots, and of certain Government officials. Considerable discontent had been expressed by Irish Members at the disgraceful Orange riots that had taken 1610 place, but he entirely disagreed with every one of his Friends in the matter. He found no cause of complaint at all. On the contrary, they were to him the cause for the greatest jubilation. Up to the present time there had existed in England a belief—although it was an absolute myth—that the Orange Party in Ireland was composed of the entire population of Ulster, and that the larger proportion of the Ulster men were anti-National in every sense of the word. For a very long period an attempt had been made to persuade the House and the people outside that the Orange faction in Ireland was a very small faction indeed; that its principles were of the most selfish character; and that their loyalty was, perhaps, more selfish than that of any other section of Loyalists in the whole of Europe. But that attempt was always met with the most absolute denials. Ulster Members above the Gangway had told the House, over and over again, that they really represented not only the sound and educated opinion of Ireland, but the entire loyal population of Ireland. He was, therefore, exceedingly glad that these riots had taken place in Ulster, for it had disillusioned the country. The House of Commons now realized for the first time what the Orange faction was. They realized that it was composed, in the first place, of a certain number of landlords holding strong political opinions. The motive power of that body was selfish in its very essence. When he read of the first Orange riot he feared that the Government should stop the Orange proceedings, and thus prevent the Orange myth being exploded. This debate was a proof of the weakness of Orangeism. He regretted that the Chief Secretary for Ireland had spoken so early in the debate. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had been anxious to get through his explanations at the earliest possible moment, and he avoided everything connected with the subject of the Amendment. Since then Members of the Government had been content to sit upon the Treasury Bench and allow what had been described as a faction fight to be fought out between the Representatives of both Parties in the House. The Solicitor General for Ireland had yet to speak, and he desired to ask him whether the Government admitted the right of any person in Ireland 1611 to make use of language such as that which had been quoted as used by members of the Orange Party, and acknowledged to have been used by them. Unless some answer were given to the question the natural inference would be drawn that there was one law for the people of Ulster and another for the people of the rest of Ireland. He understood the difficulty which the Government had in the matter of the magistracy, and in all probability, if they acted as was desirable, they would have to deprive fifteen-sixteenths of them of the Commission of the Peace. There was yet another matter connected with this subject to which he desired to draw attention, and that was the conduct of Mr. Jenkinson, the permanent Under Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant. Mr. Jenkinson at present held the position of adviser to the Lord Lieutenant, and was practically the administrator of Ireland. It would be within the memory of the House that when Mr. Jenkinson was appointed some question was raised as to the reasons given by the Chief Secretary for his appointment. At that time he remembered distinctly a letter was read by the Chief Secretary from Mr. Jenkinson from which the House was given to understand that he had taken the post as a matter of duty, and was practically sacrificing himself to duty. He (Mr. Molloy) always had doubts of Mr. Jenkinson, but, from what had taken place of late in Ireland, they all knew that Mr. Jenkinson practically ruled Ireland, and that was the reason he intended to deal with him. He had often felt the greatest sympathy for the Chief Secretary in the position he occupied. He very often had to defend incidents with which he had nothing whatever to do, and over which he had no control. Mr. Jenkinson was the gentleman through whose hands all the correspondence, all the complaints, and all the official matters passed, and it was notorious that the mind of that gentleman, of whom, at the time of his appointment, the Chief Secretary boasted so loudly, was a gentleman whose mind was not of the character which one would call judicial, was warped and prejudiced to the last degree. As a rule it was easy to make such a statement, and difficult to prove it; but he should hesitate to make so broad an accusation unless he felt justified in 1612 doing so. He stated distinctly that at the present time it was well known in all circles in Dublin that Mr. Jenkinson was nothing more nor less than an official intriguer for his own benefit. Even The Evening Mail, a Dublin journal, far from being of a National character, but entirely in favour of the dominant classes, condemned his appointment. He had been recently intriguing and bargaining with another official that he might get his place, but he supposed this was not an unusual thing in Dublin Castle, but rather was one of the traditions of the place. What he objected to was the fact that Mr. Jenkinson was getting into his own hands, not only the power and emoluments of the post he held, but was gradually absorbing the government of Ireland, and no greater evil could befall the Government than this. It was true that the Lord Lieutenant issued proclamations, &c, in his own name, but in reality Mr. Jenkinson was not only his adviser, but was largely responsible for what was going on in Ireland. He (Mr. Molloy) did not know Mr. Jenkinson, and had never seen him; he had nothing to say against his private character or honour; he was merely referring to his official capacity. As an instance of one of his intrigues, he might mention the Constabulary Bill last year introduced into that House. Mr. Jenkinson, as they were perhaps aware, retired from one branch of the service on a pension of £1,000 a-year; and, without going into the question of pensions, he might still say that he thought they were only intended to be granted to persons who had become so infirm as not to be able to further work in the public service. However, when the Constabulary Bill was mooted, Mr. Jenkinson, as Chairman, Captain Slacke, now a divisional magistrate, Mr. Theod, Royal Irish Constabulary, now also a divisional magistrate, and Mr. Ross, of Bladensburg, constituted themselves as a Committee to consider the Bill. It recommended the pay of Mr. Jenkinson to be £2,200 per annum, with £200 additional for horses and forage, and that of the divisional magistrates to be £1,000 per annum with allowances. This Report was submitted confidentially, and was seen only by the Lord Lieutenant and the divisional magistrates, to whom copies were sent. The Law Officers were not even consulted. It was 1613 believed that a secret Circular was sent to the county inspectors, asking them to get up a memorial in favour of the Bill, which they declined to do. It was simply absurd to say that Mr. Jenkinson was sacrificing himself—he was simply looking for a higher position than he now occupied, and was not the pure-minded patriot which he had been described to be.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, he felt bound to say that he had no recollection of having made any statement of the kind with regard to Mr. Jenkinson, although he did make such a statement with regard to Mr. Hamilton.
§ MR. MOLLOY
accepted the correction. He would only add, in conclusion, that he hoped the Solicitor General would answer him two questions—firstly, whether the same treatment which had been accorded to the Orangemen after their meetings in Ulster would have been shown to others in like circumstances in other parts of Ireland; and, secondly, if not, why should Orangemen be exempt from the punishments which were inflicted on others in case of disturbances arising at their meetings? He did not much care whether an answer was vouchsafed to him or not, for the minds of the people of this country were now opened to the fact that the loyalty of the Orange Party was only selfish class interest, and the desire to retain a supremacy which was passing out of their hands.
§ MR. CORRY
said, the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) described the speech of the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power) as a speech of tight-rope dancing; and he thought he must be thinking of the Leader of his Party when he made such a reference to that class of performance. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) undoubtedly, in many instances in that House, showed very great talent and tact in his tactics; and anyone reading his Amendment would think that his chief invectives would have been against Her Majesty's Government, and especially against the Irish Executive; but instead of that it was a tirade of abuse against the Orangemen and Loyalists of Ulster. The hon. Member knew more about Orangemen than many who were more closely associated with that body. He (Mr. Corry) was not an Orangeman, but he was proud to say he 1614 had a very large number of them in his constituency, and the more he knew them the more he honoured and respected them. He could not agree with the hon. Member for the City of Cork that it was the rejection of the Irish Registration Bill by the House of Lords which had induced the National League to hold meetings in Ulster. The hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) came nearer the mark, when he said that the resolution to hold those meetings had been come to on account of the Monaghan Election. He quite admitted that that election was one of the circumstances which led the people of Ulster to make up their minds that they would not allow it to be made a precedent for other elections in that Province. He was himself very much surprised at the result of the Monaghan Election, but much more surprised that the Government candidate was able to poll less than 300 votes. When the National League resolved to hold meetings in Ulster the people of that Province began to consider what was the best means of meeting them on their own ground. It was the inhabitants of the district—not the landlords—who made up their minds to oppose them, or at least to hold counter meetings, in order to show that the feeling of the Province was not that which the Nationalists would lead the public to believe if meetings were held by them alone. The result was to bring out the loyalty of Ulster in a very marked way. He was, unfortunately, from home at the time, or else he would have felt no hesitation in taking his share of the responsibility for those counter-meetings. The hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) went so far as to say that the time would come when Ulster would be all National like the other Provinces. He could tell the hon. Member for Longford that, especially in Belfast and that neighbourhood, they were never deluded by the Home Rule cry. They knew that it meant the Repeal of the Union, and they resolutely set themselves to oppose the dismemberment of the Empire, and would do so to the end. He was very strongly of the opinion that when a successor of the hon. Gentleman came to write the History of our Own Times, it would be found that the hon. Member was not a very good prophet. The hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) had asked the Govern- 1615 ment to withdraw their troops, and let the Nationalists and Orangemen fight it out. If the Government accepted that challenge, he would undertake to say, on the part of the people of Ulster, that the first meeting held by the Nation alists in that Province would be the last; but he did not think the Government would act upon the advice of the hon. Member. The Nationalists had a very small following in Ulster, though, no doubt, among the large population of the Province there were men who would be glad to get as much as they could of other people's property and as much power as possible into their own hands. [Mr. HARRINGTON: The landlords.] The recent proceedings in Ulster proved that the Nationalist Party had but a very slender footing in that Province. When their meetings were held in the South and South-West they were followed by crime and outrage, and the Ulster men were determined not to permit that sort of thing. It was due to the fact that the hon. Members for Westmeath, Mallow, and Monaghan used language in the House of the same character as they used out of it, that the English and Scotch Members were acquainted with the words and opinions that were poured into the ears of the Irish people. He (Mr. Corry) had observed that the visits of the Leader of the National Party to Ireland were few and far between; and that, except on some great occasion, as, for instance, the presentation of a large sum of money, he was very seldom induced to visit that part of Her Majesty's Dominions. Hon. Gentlemen who were Members of that Party had taken to themselves the name "Nationalists," and, so far as he was concerned, they were welcome to it; but, looking at the state of the country, he did not think they were entitled to any such designation. He should like to know what those hon. Members had done for Ireland, how much capital they had expended in the country, and what interest they had taken in the introduction of manufactures? Their action, it was evident, had created discontent, and that had been followed by outrage. He gave credit to Lord Spencer and the Chief Secretary for the manner in which they had performed their arduous tasks, but at the same time he held a strong opinion as to the action of the Government in the case of Lord Rossmore. 1616 Greater urgency was shown in that case than was exhibited in the case of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), who was not removed from the Commission of the Peace until he was a prisoner in Kilmainham. The Government, therefore, had either become more vigilant, or some other cause must be assigned for their action. He might say that in Ulster the people held a very important position, and as one of the Members for the capital of that Province he could assure the House that they did not intend to lose that position if they could help it. The instances given yesterday by the hon. Member for Monaghan showed that justice was fairly administered in Ireland, both upon Nationalists and Orangemen; and he was perfectly sure that no charge of unfairness in the administration of the law could be brought against anyone in the North. If the Nationalist Party were to come to Belfast, and only conducted themselves in a quiet and lawful manner, he was quite sure they would not be molested or interfered with.
§ COLONEL O'BEIRNE
said, he trusted that the Land League Party would learn from this debate that intimidation was a game two people could play at. If they had their way, such a thing as differences of political opinion in Ireland would have been inadmissible, and a state of things would have followed which would have made the country simply intolerable. He hoped they would profit by the lesson they had recently received. The Chief Secretary had spoken of the improved condition of Ireland; but that condition was, in his opinion, entirely deceptive, and he believed that the right hon. Gentleman had given an exaggerated idea of the peace and contentment which existed in the country. The contentment was all on the surface, and the Irish people would never be satisfied with the settlement of the Land Question on the lines laid down by the Act of 1881. The subject of leaseholders, of whom there were 70,000, especially wanted dealing with. If the Chief Secretary could speak of the improvement of the country after the withdrawal of the Coercion Act, his statements would be relied upon; but at present there was no doubt that the condition of Ireland was due to the operation of that Act. An opinion had been expressed that the magistrates who ap- 1617 proved of Lord Rossmore's action should have been removed from the Commission of the Peace; but, considering that there were so few persons in Ireland having the necessary qualifications of a magistrate, some difficulty would be experienced in the administration of justice if they were relieved of their duties on the Bench. At the same time, he could not say that they did not deserve to be removed. Much less difficulty would have been experienced if the Government had dismissed the Lord Lieutenants who were connected with the meeting. He could not approve of the passive and inactive manner in which the Government had dealt with Irish affairs, and thought that their conduct in regard to Ireland during the Recess had been vacillating and inconsistent. That term could be applied with much more truth to their Irish policy than to their action in Egypt. Some meetings had been prohibited, some had been permitted; and for the difference there was no apparent reason. It was simply absurd for the Chief Secretary to say that a large military force would be required in each case. Fifty policemen would have done it. The Government ought either to have permitted all or suppressed all meetings; but, instead of that, they acted on no fixed principle whatever.
§ MR. PLUNKET
said, he should not like the debate to close without expressing the view which he took of the transactions under discussion. He did not intend to deal at all in detail with the controversy as to the supersession of Lord Rossmore in the Commission of the Peace; neither did he desire to speak at length of the action of the Government in suppressing some meetings and permitting others in Ulster. He merely recorded his own opinion that the conduct of the Government in dealing with Lord Rossmore was harsh and unjust in the extreme; and in regard to their action in suppressing some meetings and permitting others—thus running a terrible risk of very serious consequences—he could not see on what principle they could vindicate their consistency. He was satisfied, for the present, to adopt the condemnation which was passed upon the conduct of the Government in these respects by his right hon. and learned Friend and Colleague (Mr. Gibson) on the first night 1618 of the debate. Nor would he go into the details of any of those other transactions in Ulster which had been fully, and, he thought, satisfactorily vindicated by hon. Members from that Province. What he wished to explain were the action taken and the views held by numbers of loyal men outside Ulster. For his own part, he deeply regretted that any circumstances should have arisen in which the Loyalists in the South and West of Ireland should have been found in controversy with the Executive; he did not care to which political Party that Executive belonged. These men—Grand Jurors, petty jurors, men of official positions, and men not in official positions—had, during the last three or four years, been found supporting the Government through thick and thin, and often at the peril of their lives. It was an unfortunate circumstance that even for a time they should have been forced into the attitude of protesting against the action of the Government. He trusted such circumstances might not occur again, and that what was passed might soon be forgotten. But some advantages had arisen out of recent events in Ulster. It had been demonstrated that a large proportion of the population of that Province, embracing all classes of society, from the highest to the lowest, were absolutely resolved to resist every attempt to sever the Union of the Three Kingdoms. The hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power) found it convenient yesterday to speak of what had happened in Ulster as a mere faction fight; it had, indeed, been the misfortune of all Ireland in recent years that she had been divided into two hostile camps by the action of the Government. Recent events had, however, on the other hand, drawn together in the South and West Provinces, as well as in Ulster, many men who were previously separated by differences in religion and politics, but who were now bound together in a common cause, for what they believed might very soon be a struggle for political existence. Was it not a strange circumstance that in those protests which had been signed by magistrates in different parts of Ireland they found old political antagonists, Whigs and Tories, joining together cordially for the purpose of protesting against the action of the Liberal Government against Orange Leaders? 1619 Was it not a strange thing that numbers of Roman Catholics in Roscommon should be found joining with the Protestants for that purpose? The hon. Member for Mayo tried to represent the Loyalists as well as the Nationalists as only small sections of the people; but he should like to ask him this question—how many Members did the hon. Member suppose would be returned at the next General Election by the South and West of Ireland in opposition to the extreme Nationalist view? Was it not a fact that, with the exception of the thorough-going Conservatives, and, perhaps, one or two Whigs in Ulster, the wave of Nationalist sentiment would sweep Ireland from end to end? The speech of the hon. Member for Mayo was listened to with rapt attention, for it was a skilful piece of rhetoric; it not only gave intellectual pleasure to hon. Members on both sides of the House, but it seemed also to give great solace and satisfaction to the Treasury Bench, as it indicated that at last one advanced Nationalist had been converted by the beneficent legislation of the last few years. He was sorry to dispel the illusion, but he must give it as his opinion that, although the piece was excellent, and the acting was admirable, and although in this arena a great success was achieved, in Ireland it would be played to an empty theatre. There was no audience anywhere in Ireland at the present which would feel sympathy with those views. For his own part, he deeply regretted that things had come to that pass, but it was madness for the Government to shut its eyes to the real state of the case and the dangers which that state betokened. He was not an Orangeman; so far as Orange institutions were inspired by religious exclusiveness he had no sympathy with them; and there were some pages in their annals he would gladly see torn out of the book of Irish history; but with all their faults, in the controversy of today, as between Orangemen and Nationalists, the former had his entire adherence. There had, he knew, been epochs when Orangemen had borne themselves in a way he could not approve; but he also knew that whenever rebellion was attempted or threatened in Ireland, they had been found willing and ready to support, not merely with words, but also with physical strength and courage, the established Government. 1620 Again, as he considered the history of the last few years, on the one hand he saw, among the followers and supporters of the Land League, agitation, conspiracy, bloodshed, plunder of the rich, and oppression of the poor; and on the other side in Ulster he saw tranquillity, order, the absence of crime, and the union of all classes in mutual respect and in observance of the law. But when he looked forward to the further development of the Separatist movement, and feared they had not by any means seen the last or worst of it, he felt that it was mainly on the solid loyalty of Ulster that they must rely for resistance to that movement. He was not speaking only of the Orangemen, whose numbers he did not know, but of all the loyal men in Ulster, who had proved, and would again prove, that they were neither to be coerced nor coaxed away from their loyalty. In the South and West there were hundreds of thousands of loyal men, of Catholics as well as Protestants, who were as devoted to the Union as the Orangemen of Ulster; but they were scattered thinly amongst overwhelming numbers of those who had joined the Separatist movement, and their influence and votes were lost. [Cheers, and cries of "Monaghan!"] Well, he knew that in Monaghan Parties were supposed to be more equally divided, but he did not see what that interruption had to do with his argument; but, as Monaghan had been mentioned, he would say that he believed a great deal of this excitement which had occurred in Ulster had grown out of the Monaghan Election. When the hon. Member (Mr. Healy) came to Monaghan, he sunk, to a certain extent, the Separatist character of his programme. He went entirely upon his offers and proposals about land, which were happily described yesterday by the hon. Member for Mayo as "modern Socialism." The Government candidate received very few votes; but the Loyalists of Monaghan were not at all deceived or carried away by the Nationalist candidate's representations. It was true, the hon. Member received a small majority of votes, but the body of the old Conservative phalanx of Loyalists stood firm, and rejected the bribe offered them. Immediately the hon. Member for the City of Cork changed his hand altogether, and proclaimed that he had won the North 1621 of Ireland for the Nationalist Party, and then commenced the campaign in Ulster, of which they had read and heard so much. What was the feeling which instigated those Orangemen to take the course which they adopted? Great efforts had been made to prove that the instigation was wholly on the part of persons in high position, who had none but selfish motives for their action. He was glad that there had been an opportunity in that debate for Members from Ulster to prove convincingly that the movement had been entirely a spontaneous one. The question in their minds was one of self-preservation. Devotion to the connection with England, and their opposition to every proposal of separation between the two countries, was with them a political instinct. For they knew that their civil and religious liberty was at stake, and that if the Nationalist Party attained their ends, a Celtic claimant would rise up for every rood of Ulster ground, and that farmers in whose families holdings had been for centuries would be imperilled in their homes. He would remind the House that that protest against the programme of the Nationalist Party was by no means the first which had been made by Ulster men. These were the same men who had gone to the Southern and Western Provinces to assist loyal men to stand their ground against the oppression of the Land League. He had himself seen them on Captain Boycott's farm, when the Land League was at its height. He could quite understand what tidings those men took to their homes when they returned; tidings of outrage, cruelty, torture of men and women, murder undetected, not only of landlords and men in high positions, but humble men like themselves—farmers shot at through their windows, their families scattered about the hearth; herds and labourers dragged out of bed and shot on their own thresholds. Doubtless, as they told these stories, they swore that, so long as they had voice to utter or strength to resist, that vile conspiracy should never get foothold in Ulster—the one spot on Irish ground on which the blood-stain had not fallen, where outrage had not entered, nor treason triumphed. And if they swore this deeply and fiercely, he could not find it in his heart to blame them for it. However, he would not say more on that sub- 1622 ject. He would next refer to the view taken by the Government of the present state of Ireland, and the particular measure of legislation which they proposed for the present Session. The Government seemed to be perfectly content with the present state of things, and to look forward with confidence to the future. The important measure which they proposed was one for the extension of the franchise, which would have the effect of practically throwing the whole electoral power into the hands of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, if he should still lead his Party. The Franchise Bill, until it was followed by a Redistribution Bill, would efface and silence the loyal Party, who formed more than a third of the population of Ireland. As to the present state of Ireland, he did not wish to underrate the improvement which had taken place, nor did he desire to minimize the good effects which had been brought about by the Lord Lieutenant and the Chief Secretary, to whom great credit was due for their firm, and patient, and vigorous administration of the law. The Land Act had been passed, and, much as he opposed it, it was his duty, as a good citizen, to make the best of it. He rejoiced that there had been an improvement in the observance of covenants, and the payment of rent and other just debts. But, on the other hand, the condition to which, in many instances, the landlords had been reduced was one of great misery. He was not referring to the reduction of their rents—that was a controversy of the past; but to one thing which had been specially promised when the Land Act was passed. The Prime Minister admitted last year that they had been called upon to make great sacrifices, and that further sacrifices which would be inconsistent with justice ought not to be demanded of them. They were promised in 1881 that, at all events, there should be no reduction in the capital value of their property; and provisions were inserted in the Land Act to secure a market for those who might wish to sell their estates. But those provisions had proved a dead letter, and at the present time the interest of the landowners was absolutely unsaleable. This result was not owing to the effects of agricultural depression, because the tenant's interest was never so valuable as now. He had been informed, on good authority, that in the 1623 present year the landlord's interest would, in many cases, be absolutely sacrificed by forced sales to land jobbers. Encumbrancers had not pressed their claims; but in the face of falling markets they could not be expected to show much more forbearance, and unless something was done within the present year, numbers of estates would be disposed of in the Landed Estates Court for a mere nominal price. He was glad to think that there was in progress a movement among men of different political Parties with a view of having some steps taken which would enable that part of the Land Act to be worked fairly; and he trusted that the Government would honestly consider the case, which was one of the most cruel and undeserved hardship which had fallen on the landlords of Ireland without any fault whatever of their own, and in the teeth of promises and assurances which were made to them by Ministers of the Crown when the Land Act of 1881 was passing through Parliament. He was extremely glad that as to the decrease of agrarian outrages the country continued to show signs of improvement, and so long as the law was firmly administered he had no doubt that the improvement would continue. At the same time, no one who knew the country well could deny that to a great extent, if not altogether, the tranquillity at the present time was due to the enforcement of a strong Coercion Act; and that, if the pressure of that Act were removed, things might soon begin to wear a different aspect. He would read a few passages to the House, which would enable them to form an opinion on the subject. The Rev. Mr. Ryan, in a speech delivered on September 2, 1883, said—Verily the calm which succeeds the storm was fast disappearing, and, despite the operations of the Crimes Act, a new life, and a new spirit, and new hopes were gradually taking possession of the people…… The retrogression which was said to have set in after the agitation was, as Mr. Healy happily stigmatized it, 'hacking for a bound'—that is to say, it was only setting back in order to take a running jump towards the goal of Irish independence.The following was an extract from another speech, delivered by Mr. Davitt on the 4th of February of the present year:—The struggle against Irish landlordism.—The struggle which commenced four years ago for the overthrow of Irish landlordism, root and 1624 branch, is still carried on. Although, owing to the coercive laws which have been passed, it is not proceeded with as determinedly and vigorously as two years since, you must not conclude that the struggle has ceased, or that we have grown weak in our purpose to carry on that movement until the iniquitous system of land tyranny is completely destroyed.It was evident that Mr. Davitt regarded the comparative tranquillity of the present moment, not so much as the result of the satisfaction at the Land Act, but as the consequence of the Crimes Act. However, there was another element in the present state of Ireland which seemed to him to be even more formidable, especially having regard to the legislation with reference to the franchise with which they were threatened in the present Session. He was afraid it was true—and he said it with the deepest sense of the seriousness of what he uttered—that never in the memory of living men—perhaps never in this century—liad there been such widespread and such distinct expectations of the realization of those dreams and hopes of National independence which it had been the object of all our great statesmen of both Parties for the last 50 years to turn the people away from. He knew it was very acceptable to Members of that House, wearied with the troubles of Ireland, to think that when tranquillity existed on the surface all was well, and to believe that this Nationalist agitation was not really of a serious or a dangerous character. If, however, we might believe those Nationalist Leaders who spoke or wrote for the great masses of the Irish people, nothing could be more clear and distinct than that they had attained to enormous influence and power in Ireland. But he did not depend solely on the expressed opinions of the Nationalists. Lord Carlingford, who probably of all the present Ministers had the most close personal acquaintance with Ireland, said in Liverpool last month—The truth is that in Ireland nobody cares much about Home Rule. As I understand Home Rule, it means the ingenious system of Federalism, the creation of superintended legislation, with carefully-defined and limited functions. It is not what the dangerous or active Party in Ireland care for. No system of the kind is ever alluded to in Nationalist circles and speeches; it is always Ireland as a nation, the harp without a crown. What is wanted is either literal or virtual separation, and that is exactly what we in Great Britain have a moral right to refuse.1625 Yes; and if they Lad a moral right to refuse it, was it wise for them to do everything in their power to exaggerate this movement to the utmost extent, and to give it a double or a treble power? Was it wise at such a time to throw into the hands of the Leaders of this Separatist movement an overwhelming and swamping influence in the constituencies of Ireland? He did not know whether hon. Members had been led to forget this by the daring and adroit tactics of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), and the way in which he had introduced the Amendment to the Address now before the House. The hon. Member had contrived for the moment, and in view of the approaching Franchise Bill, to shift his attack entirely from the Government to his loyal fellow-countrymen in Ireland. Not long ago there was a banquet given in Dublin on the occasion of the presentation to the hon. Member of a considerable sum of money. On that occasion there was a large assemblage at the Rotunda, but there was a total absence of the well-to-do classes of society. ["Oh, oh!"] He had gone through the list of those who were present, and he asserted that positively as a matter of fact. But there was an enthusiastic gathering of the representatives of Irish democracy. On that occasion the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) said—We carry on a combat in an alien Parliament. We can give back the English Government blow for blow, hate for hate; and so, I trust, we will pursue our course—patient, relentless, untiring.The same hon. Member also said—We shall establish in this land once more a Parliament, which shall be no successor of the Parliament of the Pale—no pale echo, miserable and subservient to the Foreign Assembly, but which shall be the free and independent expression of a democratic people determined to work out to the end the destiny of this grand old nation.And what did the hon. Member for the City of Cork himself say?—Beyond a shadow of doubt it will be for the Irish people to determine at the next General Election whether the Tory or Liberal Ministers shall rule in England. If we may not rule ourselves, we can, at least, cause them to be ruled as we choose;and he concluded—This generation shall not pass away until it has bequeathed to those who come after it the great birthright of National independence and prosperity.1626 In the face of these distinct declarations and frank avowals on the part of the men who, at the present moment, had sole audience of the great masses of the people of Ireland, he asked the House most solemnly whether to throw additional power into the hands of the Leaders of that movement would not be an act of the most amazing and the most culpable folly that had been ever committed by the Government of this or of any other country? It was not his intention that evening to enter upon the subject of the coming Reform Bill. As he had already said, he accepted with gratitude and satisfaction the improvement which had taken place to some extent in the condition of Ireland; but he had also pointed out circumstances of a very grave character, and of very formidable omen. He was perfectly certain that if the issue were put plainly even now to the people of England whether they would encourage or tolerate the further growth of this Separatist movement, leading on, as it must lead if successful, not only to civil war and ruin in Ireland, but likewise to the breaking-up of the strength, the greatness, and the power of this Empire, there was still sufficient public spirit, sufficient political instinct, and there was undoubtedly ample strength and courage in the English people to resist and to defeatthose objects. But he was afraid that, in obedience to Party tactics in that House and the exigencies of the Government, the Representatives of this Party in Ireland, whose proceedings and whose purposes he had been describing, might be admitted within those walls in overwhelming numbers, and that, through this hasty act of legislation, the Government might facilitate and give a speedy success to a movement which they all declared they were willing, if the issue were raised openly, to resist in the last resort, if necessary, by force of arms. He appealed very seriously to the House, and, as far as he could, to the people of this country, to consider that, although the present state of Ireland was comparatively tranquil, those grave dangerswere underlying that tranquillity on the surface, and that they might very easily be developed into the most formidable proportions.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he was sure the House must have listened with great interest, and, perhaps, with equal amaze- 1627 ment, to the protestations of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Plunket) upon the deleterious effects of an Irish National Party in the House of Commons. Not many years had passed since the great regret of the Party represented by the right hon. and learned Gentleman was that the Irish National Party was not strong enough in combination with the loyal Gentlemen who sat above the Gangway to change the Government of the United Kingdom. [Mr. PLUNKET: No.] Considering this, he certainly thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman's protestations savoured somewhat of strangeness. He believed that if the right hon. Gentleman's terrifying prophecy proved true, and if, at the next General Election, there was an overwhelming representation of Irish National feeling in the House, the most direct result of that apparition would be to quicken the desire of Her Majesty's most Conservative Opposition to enter into terms of profitable negotiation with the Irish National Party. A great deal had been said about the virtuous indignation of the Conservative Party in Ulster, and also the Orange Party in Ulster, at the appearance of Nationalists at a meeting held there. Had they forgotton the Tyrone Election not many years ago, when the Irish Nationalists deliberately started a candidate with the charitable purpose of preventing the success of a supporter of the Liberal Party? Later still, had they forgotten the County of Derry Election, when the Nationalist voters and the Orange voters marched to the poll together in order to oppose Porter and fair rents? On that occasion it fell to his lot to share with redoubtable Orangemen the duty of bringing up the allied voters, and the common regret of Orangemen and Nationalists was that their union did not succeed in defeating the Representative of the policy of Her Majesty's Government. If the like emergency were to arise, he was certain that all the declamation which had been heard from above the Gangway on the Opposition side of the House would be just as completely forgotten in the future as similar declamation had been forgotten in the past. The right hon. and learned Gentleman who had last addressed the House pointed out the evils which would befall the propertied classes in Ulster if the Irish 1628 Nationalists succeeded. But what could those who wished this evil to come about do better than to maintain in the House of Commons a Party actuated by a desire to avenge a terrible wrong, and ready by any means in their power to punish the propertied classes who refused justice to Ireland? He (Mr. O'Donnell) now repeated what he had said in the days of Isaac Butt—that the safest, wisest, and most Conservative policy—using the phrase in no Party sense—as far as Ireland was concerned, would be to allow the Irish people to look after the prosperity of their own land, and not to insist on their sending into the Imperial Parliament a hostile army who, if they could not do any good to Ireland, could, at any rate, in some dark day do an infinity of harm to England. He looked upon Orange excesses as the results of delusion and deliberate deception. The ignorant Orangemen were taught by those whom they were accustomed to respect, and who, he thought, were also their paymasters on a recent occasion, that it was their duty to oppose in a riotous and tumultuous manner their Catholic fellow-countrymen, not only from other parts of Ireland, but from Ulster itself. The persons who were to blame for that were, in the first place, the deceivers of the ignorant Orangemen, and, secondly, Her Majesty's Government. His own belief was that if a single clear intimation had been given to certain noble Lords and estated gentlemen that they were within an equally measurable distance of picking oakum as were the poor cottiers in the South and West of the country, there would not have been the semblance of an Orange riot from one side of Ulster to another. As an Irish Nationalist, he was very anxious occasionally to play the game of equilibrium, and he regretted the success which had attended the tactics of Her Majesty's Government in so thoroughly hoodwinking the Orange Leaders and the Conservative Party, and in leading them to the most disastrous fall which they had experienced in Ireland for many a day. But while he congratulated the Government upon the cleverness of that move he must condemn them for its unscrupulousness. There were, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Plunket) had said, many passages in Irish history which the Orange Party would be glad 1629 to have erased from the annals of the country. Taking the worst picture of the excesses of the Land League ever drawn in that House, even by the horrified imagination of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) when smarting under the sting of compulsory resignation, they would not have even an approach to the murderous horrors of Orange activity during many years in the North of Ireland, when it was directed against the weak and comparatively defenceless Catholics in that part of the country. Why, the ancient name of that Society, "Peep o' day Boys," was a remarkable and significant designation. At the peep of day, while the dawn was breaking, or ere it had broken, while the Catholic family were still slumbering under the humble roof-tree, the terrorists and outrage-committers came stealthily to the door, sometimes putting a torch to the roof-tree or bursting in the door, and proceeded to hamstring the father and to beat and bruise and torture the other members of the family, and in the excesses of their mercy giving them so many days to clear out "to hell or to Connaught." All these facts were contained in a document which hon. Members might consult. [An hon. MEMBER: Where?] In the Report of the Royal Commission of 1835 or 1836. Those were the dark pages which he could agree in thinking it would be well to pluck out of Irish annals; but, while arraigning the misconduct of the Orangemen in the past, he did not forget to glory in one event, and that was the occasion when loyal Orange Lodges united as one man in the last years of the last century, and in the first years of the present, against the cursed Act of Union, which every true Irishman must only curse. The vast majority of the Orange Lodges at this time were ready to maintain the liberties which Grattan had won. There was still some hope of the Orangemen of Ireland. The object of the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for the City of Cork was to expose, above all, the shameless inconsistency of Her Majesty's Government, and in that sense he, for one, would support it. If only the Irish Nationalist Party continued to enlarge according to circumstances, the area of its operation and the circle of its allies; 1630 if, looking on the Irish nation as a whole, welcoming the alliance of every class which loved Ireland, above all things steering clear of every unworthy prejudice, carrying out to the letter and in practice those noble declarations of toleration which were conspicuous in the speech of the hon. Member for the City of Cork; if the Irish National Party would proceed on strictly National lines until it gathered every Irishman into the National fold, then he should make the confident prediction that the present generation would not pass away without bequeathing to its successors the realized heritage which they derived from so many generations of freemen—free, even though struggling—and resolved, in spite of so many unsuccessful struggles, never to rest until a National Irish Parliament, without the control or the yoke of any English Minister, governed Ireland in the Irish capital.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, that after the eloquent and statesmanlike speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power) he did not think he ought to trouble the House at any great length. A great Liberal statesman, Castelar, the Spaniard, had said—I toll you order is like air, while liberty is like food—that it is possible to live hours, even days, without food; but without air it is impossible to live even for five minutes.Those weighty words should be his text in then addressing them. Orangeism had been on its trial, so to speak. Orangeism was instituted at a time when the Scotch, Dutch, and Huguenots, principally composing William's Army, were the sharers in the confiscations then made. And many of them—most of them holding Puritanical religious opinions, hated the old holders of the soil, almost all of whom were Catholics, with an intensity and intolerance ever found in a wrong-doer or a fanatic. It was, indeed, a sad day for the mass of the Irish people, though he was not prepared to deny that those who had struggled hard for their strong opinions were not entitled to maintain them, and that they might not feel justified in raising the institution of Orangeism as a bulwark against James Stuart, who, in his early days, he (Sir Patrick O'Brien) had heard Irish Catholics call by an expression of a stinging but not polite character. He was not there to fight the 1631 ancient battles of the Stuarts, for he pitied those men who in times past were induced to fight for such a cause. In making that allusion to remote history, he wanted to say that he had hoped that in that House, as elsewhere, Irishmen, instead of opening up stories of direful and fearful wrong, would have directed their efforts to other labours. He believed that for the last 100 years fair men of all Parties in Ireland had done their best to put down the demon of religious bigotry; but what had occurred now? Noblemen and gentlemen of high education had so far forgotten their position as to think that, by means of what he had thought was a discarded agency, they might suppress in Ireland what they considered a Communistic and revolutionary movement. It would have been wiser in those influential men in the North of Ireland to have restrained their own excited opinions and those of their followers, and to have been a mollifying force in the government of society; and to have left to the stringent law in existence the suppression of seditious meetings and utterances if they had taken place. That that should have occurred was greatly to be deplored; but in all times of great political excitement there were instances on every side of gross blunders, and even of great misdeeds perpetrated by the leading men on both sides. For his part, his name and religion would make him look upon the Orange Institution as a badge of his country's slavery in the past; and, now that they had relieved themselves of the difficulties connected with the free exercise of religious opinion, he had thought that the raison d'être of that Society would have passed away; and that there would have been no more of those bickerings and heartburnings and excited opinions leading often to outrage. It might be said that the object was not to bring forward recollections of a bad past, but to prevent seditious speeches being delivered; and to prevent incitement to murder and outrage being carried out. But did it, he asked, lie with that Party, who par excellence distinguished themselves by the name of the Constitutional Party, to interfere in an unconstitutional manner with meetings which should have been left to the stringent law that had been passed within the past three years, for the suppression of any of those outrages or seditious utterances that took place? 1632 He had heard that it was the vaunt of those who professed Orange principles to say that they were, above all, the supporters of the Imperial Union. He was astonished to hear the hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. Macartney) in that respect claim Ulster as belonging to his Party, and endeavouring to break that Union which it was the boast of his Party to preserve. It might be said that these opinions appeared to be in favour of the Government. He might be called a "Government hack," as he had often been before, for what he was saying; but for favours past or favours to come he owed little allegiance to Her Majesty's Irish Government. When the Land Act was passed he wished to see it successfully administered; and it occurred to him to recommend to the Government for some of those appointments of Sub-Commissioners members of his own constituency, capable men, but influenced by no partizan feeling. He sent the names of four men to Earl Cowper and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster); but they were not appointed. He repeated it in the case of Earl Spencer and Mr. Trevelyan; and none of those men were appointed. A local vacancy occurred in his own county, and he nominated a man of undoubted character; but he was not appointed. Did they think it was from any miserable feeling that he might derive kudos from those nominations? No; he merely mentioned the fact to justify the statement that he was not a Government hack. He knew the people believed that, in the Land Act, they had received a boon beyond their utmost expectation. That Act was, no doubt, capable of amendment, especially as regarded the question of leaseholders; but he did protest against a journalistic syndicate in that House, who endeavoured to prevent the Land Bill passing, but feared, at the last moment, to carry out their views by throwing out the Bill, and now were broadly flaunting it about the country as their sole peculiar and entire achievement. If there had been intimidation in the North, it did not lie in the teeth of some people to cry out loudly about it. They could all remember the lines taught them at school, which were fairly applicable to the position of hon. Gentlemen opposite below the Gangway— 1633Verum parcite dignitate Lentuli, si ipsæ pudicitiæ—si famæ suæ, si dus aut hominibus ullis unquam pepercit.For his part, he was as much an opponent of intimidation, or attempting to trample upon men's private consciences and convictions in the South as in the North. Hon. Gentlemen might yet learn that, with the operation of the Ballot, they would not, even with the aid of the local Geslers, find themselves in a favourable position at the declaration of the poll. Self-interest, no doubt, was one of the strongest feelings of the human heart; and the Irish farmer, having obtained great results in the past, would naturally wish to progress still further, and would ask himself how best could he forward his object? but, at the same time, he knew there were many farmers in the country and shopkeepers in the towns who were sick of the payment of what might be considered black mail, and resented the impudent and dictatorial assumption of despotic authority by paid individuals, their inferiors generally in education, means, and manners. He much doubted that the farmers' vote would be always cast to continue this system of social tyranny. For his own part, he had a record that, although he might be called names fit for children at school, contained no promise he had broken, or not preserved, or one vote he had refrained from giving when he believed it was in the interest of those who sent him there; and, therefore, whether he came back to that House or not, whether he was sent into exile as most of them on that side of the House were told they were to be, he still would maintain that in that House he had always been true to the faith that was in him. Why were Liberal Irish Members unceasingly reviled? Why was no kind word ever spoken of them? He would tell them—it was because there was in Ireland a great company of trumpet blowers. They had often heard of one man blowing his own trumpet, but now they had an orchestra. One man was termed Demosthenes. He turned round, immediately embraced his neighbour, and said—"Coke and Black-stone were nothing to you." The two rake up another, and recognize in him the last remaining preserver of the fire of Irish culture—"the poet of the century." They had seen this in the streets. They had read it in the papers—the 1634 papers paid for by the American dollars. The very men who wrote the copy praising themselves were paid by the Bonanza silver that was sent them by Mr. Egan. That sort of thing was con. temptible. How long was it to exist in the country? They heard that there were no longer to be any landlords; but hon. Gentlemen forgot that no country in Europe or America was without them. He had heard great praise given to hon. Gentlemen in their initiation of the grand system of "Boycotting," with its attendant blessings. But it was like other things. There was nothing original in it. In a small town in a small Department in the North of France, near Peronne, the ancient Vermandois, there had existed for 300 years this "Boycotting," this mutilation of animals, this outrage on unoffending people—even in France, the country of peasant proprietors and no landlords. He had read that, in an address by the Procureur Impériale, M. Sombreuil, on the opening of the Court at Amiens in 1864. There was everything that had occurred in the late proceedings in Ireland foretold in that address. With regard to the "No Pent Manifesto," of which they had all heard, that document had appended to it the name of one who had greater influence in Ireland than anyone, except, perhaps, the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). He did not now speak of "the lieutenants" of that hon. Member, as some called them, or of the journalistic syndicate, as others termed them. He himself designated them a Convention, who, although not prepared to use the guillotine, were quite ready to massacre character. Mr. Davitt's name was appended to the "No Pent Manifesto;" but his signature was a forgery. [Laughter.] The joyous laugh of the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Harrington) seemed to stick in his throat. Mr. Davitt ought to be a happy man, because he could say that by no action of his had poor peasants been evicted and turned out on the highway or left shivering in a shanty. He had said what he had to say without fear, favour, or affection. He regretted that in the struggle that was now taking place old friends should be separated. It had been the dream of his youth at least to be one of those who would endeavour to remove in every way religious distinctions, to make men friends when 1635 they met, without inquiring or caring what was their religion. They had unfortunately had a system of recrimination and of name-calling and abuse; but some men's shoulders were broad enough to bear this. Anyone who received unjust opprobrium in a cause he believed to be right would regard it as a favour bestowed upon him rather than a nuisance. He was one of those who had spoken with pride of all his countrymen. In literature, in arms, and in art, Irishmen, Milesian or Cromwellian, Williamite or Catholic, had played no ignoble part. If William's troops on Namur's wall gained the laurels that were that day emblazoned on the standards of the Royal Irish, their countrymen could, with equal pride, glory in the recollections of Ramillies, Landen, and Almanza. He cared not what men said for the passing moment, whether their motives were pecuniary, selfish, or otherwise; time would create higher and better aspirations. His own desire both in and out of the House, as long as he lived, was to be able freely and frankly to express his opinion, with but one hope—that every class of Irishmen should cease to revile one another, and should treat each other as brethren.
§ MR. LEWIS
said, that it would be no part of his duty to answer the wild statements of the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell). The hon. Member had talked of his wish to preserve the equilibrium of Parties; but the Members of the Conservative Party in Ireland did not seek the alliance of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and were never more glad than when they found themselves in a different Lobby. Before referring to the Amendment he desired to say a few words with regard to the covert allusion in the Queen's Speech respecting the extension of the county franchise to Ireland. That question had been before the constituencies in England in the last elections, but not before those of Ireland. If they looked at every election address issued by Liberal candidates in Ulster at the last General Election, with the single exception of that of the defeated Liberal candidate for Belfast, they would see that all were silent on that point; even at Derry County most recently not a syllable had been said about it by the Solicitor General for Ireland in his address, though he knew that the 1636 measure would be brought forward a few weeks after his election, and when he had to refer to it in his speeches he did so most gingerly and slightly, although it was to be one of the chief questions of the Session. The fact was that the respectable Liberal Party in Ireland thought the extension of the franchise as objectionable as the Conservatives did. As regarded the Amendment, he cordially agreed with the first part, but would change the word "recent" into "whole;" for the Government could not have done more than they had to disturb the loyal portion of the Irish population who bad many things of which to complain. In the first place, they had been discouraged by the direct encouragement given by the Government to the Land League; the disorderly had been encouraged and crime allowed to go unpunished, while the Government refused to throw their ægis of protection over those who were loyal. In the second place, the Supreme Judge of the Land Court was a man who had published seditious poems, and these had been re-edited and reproduced when he was on the Bench. Though he himself had not signed the Memorial which so many of his fellow-magistrates had signed with regard to Lord Rossmore, he thought that the Government had unjustly and recklessly brought down punishment on a man whose only offence was that he was resisting the disloyal, and who had thought he was doing the best under the circumstances. With regard to the disturbances at Derry, the visit of the late Lord Mayor of Dublin to Derry had taken place under peculiar circumstances. In the first place, the meeting he was to attend and the lecture which he was to deliver were originally to have been in the National League Rooms. So long as the Corporation Hall was not to be used for the purpose, there had been no desire on the part of the Orangemen to interfere; but when the daring step had been taken of asking for the Corporation Hall, which was the property of the citizens, in which to carry out the Nationalist operations in Derry, it was no wonder that there had arisen a great feeling of indignation. He would appeal to the hon. Member for Dungarvan whether he had not often attended meetings in Derry without being disturbed in any 1637 way? Coming to the most remarkable speech of the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power), he thought it was a most able, eloquent, and even statesmanlike speech; but it showed that during the past few years a vast change had come over the hon. Member, whom they all recollected as one of the most extreme of the Nationalist Party in that House. They had heard from that hon. Member on the previous day such expressions as the "unity and integrity of the Empire." Why, these were odious words to the hon. Member a few years ago. Like former Leaders of the Irish Party, the hon. Member now found himself stranded and left ashore by its new and more adventurous Members, and doubtless his intercourse with Parliament and English society had toned down the hon. Member to a moderate politician. He (Mr. Lewis) could assure the House that in spite of all the Government had done they had failed to dispirit those who were loyal; they would only stimulate them to further efforts, and if the Nationalists appeared again in the City of Derry they would have a very warm time of it. There was not the least intention there to haul down the British Flag and to substitute for it the harp without a Crown. Peace reigned within the borders of Derry until outsiders came to interfere, and they were quite right in objecting to the promulgation by strangers of "National" or Fenian doctrinos.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, he was not surprised at the remarks of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, with reference to the franchise, for there was no doubt if the franchise were extended to Ireland, the hon. Gentleman would not again be returned for Londonderry. He (Mr. O'Sullivan) should strongly support the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. He considered that the Lord Lieutenant had specially abused his powers by quartering extra police upon districts free from crime and charging them with their maintenance. In his own county he knew of three cases in which the police were employed, not for the purpose of repressing outrage, but to keep evicted tenants out of farms. The landlord had evicted the old tenants and refused to re-instate them, though the tenants had offered to pay any rent that chosen arbi- 1638 trators might fix, or even permit the Land Court to assess it. He must also complain of the way in which the Compensation Clauses of the Crimes Act had been worked. He knew of cases where persons who had sustained very slight injuries had received as compensation more money than they had earned during their entire lives.
§ MR. MOORE
said, there was no doubt that a feeling of expectancy and unrest prevailed among the people of Ireland, and that all the coercion and repressive legislation would be of little benefit to the country at large until the Government definitely stated the limits to which they were prepared to go on the question of peasant proprietary. He agreed with the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) in deprecating the uncertainty which prevailed on the subject of the Land Act. Whatever schemes the Government might or might not have, they should say decidedly what they intended to do, in order that the people might quietly settle down and employ themselves on their farms. He was glad to see the proposed enlargement of the franchise, and he believed the exercise of that privilege would have a beneficial effect on the people. The right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin had spoken about the danger of enfranchising large classes in Ireland; but he would ask which Party had done all in its power to keep these classes in ignorance, and unfit to fulfil the duties of citizens? It was with pain that he saw such a respected Member of the House as the right hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) go over to Dublin and taunt the Irish people with the fact that they were poor, and ignorant, and lived only in mud cabins. It was because these people were neglected and degraded that he wished to help their condition, and was anxious to extend to them so important a privilege. When the franchise was extended it was to be hoped that the poor labourer, whose lot was so bitter now, would be able to make his voice heard, and that something would be done to deal with those important questions which were now pressing for settlement in the towns. When, however, he came to consider the Irish Magistracy, he was bound to say that he thought the Government might have exercised much 1639 stronger measures towards them. Vigorous language might be used in the House by persons who were avowedly prosecuting an agitation, or by those who denounced the agitation; but such a case as that was altogether different from the position of those who were the sworn defenders of law and order. The Government had, in his opinion, acted with weakness in dealing with the Irish magistrates who had used violent language. The Government ought not to be strong merely in suppressing disorders, but also in the administration of justice. Greater care should also be exercised in the selection of magistrates. At present it too often happened that the only qualification expected from candidates for the magistracy was, not mature age, nor discretion, nor acquaintance with the law, but the mere possession of so many acres of land. He could not help censuring the Government for the attitude they had taken up in regard to the Irish magistracy in neglecting to initiate a new policy in dealing with this subject. The number of Roman Catholic magistrates as compared with the Protestant magistrates bore no comparison. In the whole county of Fermanagh, out of 77 magistrates, there was only one Roman Catholic. In Tyrone, out of 169 magistrates, there were only six; in Donegal, out of 137, there were only nine; and in King's County, out of 104, there were only 11 Roman Catholic magistrates. It was almost impossible to get a Roman Catholic on the Bench, whilst the shopkeepers dealing with the squire were pitchforked into the position. He asked the Government to look this matter in the face, and sweep away this partizan Bench. They lived in dangerous times and could not look back. To deal with the question properly, however, he would advocate that the recommendations by the Lord Lieutenants of counties should be abolished, and leave the nomination as well as the appointment in the hands of the Lord Chancellor. The Government should be strong enough to take decided measures of this kind.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
desired to say a few words in regard to the proceedings in Ulster during the autumn and winter of which so much had been said. Reference had been made to him in the course of the debate. He was prepared to justifiy every act which he 1640 performed and every word which he uttered. Great misconception existed in the House as well as in England and Scotland regarding the condition of the Province of Ulster, to which he wished alone to confine his remarks. This Province had to be considered not only as regards itself, but also in relation to the three other Provinces. Ulster had a poorer soil than any of the three other Provinces, and it had a less genial climate. It was inhabited by a population loyal, industrious, contented, and, above all, living in harmony one with another. The majority of the population were Protestants; but not only was that the case, but the landlords, the largest employers of labour, the large shopkeepers, and every person of wealth in Ulster were Protestants, and it was only among the smaller shopkeepers and farmers, and the poorer classes generally that Catholics were to be found. This was the reason, much as he deplored the fact, that so few Roman Catholics were made magistrates in Ulster. What were the Lord Lieutenants of counties to do in the circumstances? The Lord Lieutenants did not recommend men to the Lord Chancellor on account of their religion, but of their capacity for administering the law. The question to be considered was whether the gentlemen possessed the position and qualities which would enable them to administer the law with impartiality and justice. [A laugh.] Hon. Members below the Gangway might laugh; but it was a fact that his noble Relative, who was Lord Lieutenant of a county, had been unable for many years past to find properly qualified Roman Catholics whom he could recommend as magistrates. On the occasion of a similar complaint with regard to the county of which his noble Relative was Lord Lieutenant, he told the hon. Member by whom the objection was taken, that if he or any hon. Member who was supposed to represent Roman Catholic feeling in Ireland would give him a list of those whom he considered qualified to be recommended to fill the post of magistrates, he would undertake to forward their names to his noble Relative, and if inquiries justified the appointment he would be happy to appoint them; but not one name had been mentioned to him. He had, therefore, been unwillingly bound to come to the conclusion that owing to the impo- 1641 verished condition of the Roman Catholic population of the district there were no persons fitted by their position to hold the office of magistrate. He also wished to state, that at a time when the rest of Ireland had been under the terrorism of the Land League, the population of Ulster had remained peaceable, loyal, and contented; and it was only, by the action of agitators like the Rev. Mr. Flanagan that ill - feeling had been raised in certain districts between class and class, and between religious denominations. What was the state of things now? Why it was only the other day, when the murderer of Carey was executed, the Roman Catholic population celebrated a mock funeral of the "heroic martyr," as they termed the murderer, and went down on their knees round the pretended coffin while representatives of hon. Members in that House collected considerable sums of money from these poor starving and deluded people. It had been said that the loyal inhabitants should have taken measures to oppose the Land League meetings of 1881; but they were not at that time fully acquainted with the objects of the League, and they could not have attempted to put them down by force, seeing at that time that Her Majesty's Government itself was paralyzed throughout the greater part of Ireland, and that the Land League ruled supreme over three-fourths of the country. All that the loyal portion of the population could do in the two instances mentioned of contested elections in Ulster was to steer their own course and endeavour to return their candidate if possible. Notwithstanding that the Land League was suppressed, its results were plainly visible throughout the whole of Ireland. Did the House suppose that the people of Ulster were not intelligent enough to observe what was going on under its influence in the other three Provinces in Ireland, and, indeed, in the capital of Ireland itself, which at the time was under the Mayoralty of the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Dawson)? Judge O'Brien, speaking from the Bench, described Dublin as—Presenting a very painful picture. Trade was in a bad condition, and everyone who could carry their fortunes elsewhere were flying from the city.Dublin, since the last municipal election, was under the sway of the hon. Member 1642 for the City of Cork and his Friends, and what said one of the Dublin magistrates on taking his seat one morning after Christmas?—I have a nice state of things before me this morning arising out of Christmas festivities. Such brutality and such violence I do not think I have ever heard of before.He would contrast that state of things with the condition of Derry in the Province of Ulster, and for that purpose he would quote the words of the Recorder of that place. He had said—Gentlemen, nothing can be more gratifying than to find such a calendar as this in such a large and populous town as Derry.… Your city bears a most favourable contrast to many towns in which it has been my fortune to hold sessions, and it is with the greatest possible pleasure I congratulate you on on the calendar now before me.The Recorder then went on to comment on what had occurred during the visit of the hon. Member for Carlow. The House, however, had had all that to a certain extent before them; but the hon. Member himself and the House were aware that it was in that prosperous state of things in Derry that the hon. Member made his visit there. As to the election of the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy), the people of Ulster considered they were disgraced by the return of that hon. Member, on account of his connection with the Land League and its pernicious doctrines. He (Lord Claud Hamilton) was the last person to say one word against an hon. Member who showed such marked ability as the hon. Member for Monaghan; but he could not help saying that his election had sent an electrical shock throughout the whole of Ulster, and all that had since occurred in that Province might trace its origin to that event. The objects of hon. Members below the Gangway were plainly evident to anyone. They proceeded to found branches of the League and societies and organizations, which gradually spread throughout the districts where meetings had been held, until at last, by means of "Boycotting" in outlying districts, they brought everyone into the folds of their net. Now, those hon. Members had before them the programme of Her Majesty's Government, who had told them that they intended to bring in a measure for the extension of the franchise. The object, then, was that before that measure became law the National 1643 League should be firmly established throughout Ulster, and that when there was an appeal to the constituencies they might return from the Province of Ulster Members who would sympathize with them and who would accept the hon. Member for the City of Cork as their Leader. They would then come forward to Her Majesty's Government, or whatever Government was in power, and say, presenting an almost unbroken front to the Representatives of England, Scotland, and Wales—"Here we are, representing the so-called people of Ireland. We demand Home Rule. We demand separation. [An Irish MEMBER: No, no!] We demand a National Parliament." In Ulster they were not unaware of the objects of those Gentlemen, and they had some little notion of what a National Parliament meant for them. What had the Prime Minister said of the hon. Member for the City of Cork?—A man who has made himself beyond all others prominent in the attempt to destroy the authority of the law and to substitute an anarchical oppression exercised upon the people of Ireland.What, too, were the objects of the Land League, which was now defunct, but which had been resuscitated under the name of the National League? Of that organization the Prime Minister had said that the immediate object proposed was rapine, and that it was to be carried into effect by intimidation caused by threats of danger to life, of violent destruction of property, and of ruin resulting from the withdrawal of employment. The intention, the right hon. Gentleman added, was to march through rapine to the disintegration and dismemberment of the Empire. With those expressions from the Prime Minister the Loyalists of Ulster cordially agreed. Though the Land Act at first caused a convulsion in Ulster, it had now been accepted as the law of the land, and the decisions of the Commissioners were acquiesced in both by landlords and tenants. The greater number of cases were now being settled out of Court, and landlords and tenants, Protestants and Catholics, were living hamoniously together, trade was increasing, and prosperity was everywhere apparent. Such was the moment which hon. Members below the Gangway chose for interfering in Ulster. All that 1644 that Province wanted was to be left to take care of itself and to develop its great resources. The Chief Secretary had suggested that the Loyalists of Ulster ought to have held their meetings on days subsequent to those on which Nationalist meetings were held. The reason why they did not adopt that course was that they were in earnest and not playing. What would have been the use of allowing seditious speeches to be delivered and of postponing counter-demonstrations until after the mischief had been done? What was the use of locking the stable-door after the escape of the steed? The Loyalists of Ulster desired to prevent the dissemination of evil, wicked doctrines among their peaceful people. After appealing in vain to the good feelings of hon. Members below the Gangway, they determined to see who were the stronger, who really represented the wealth, responsibility, and education of the Province. Hon. Members below the Gangway had said that at the meetings which were held their Party were in the majority. If that was so, they must have been terrible cowards; for if they were in the majority, why did they call for the aid of the police and military? As a matter of fact, the followers of the hon. Members were a miserable minority. He could not agree with the Chief Secretary that the state of Ireland now could compare favourably with the state of almost any country in Europe. Though a happy calm had come over Ireland the seeds of disaffection were still present there, and if the Coercion Act were abrogated, there would be renewed disturbance. He trusted, therefore, that the Government would not diminish the stringency of the powers which Parliament had placed in their hands. The only way to insure peace and prosperity in Ireland was by prohibiting absolutely the outdoor meetings and processions of both parties. So long as members of the Land League were allowed to hold their meetings undisturbed by the Government, and to make speeches which loyal men listened to with pain and regret, so long would there be disorder, discontent, and crime, and increasing hatred on the part of the people towards England. But if, with a firm hand, the Government put down for a certain time all meetings and processions, no matter 1645 whether of Protestants or Roman Catholics, they would adopt a course which would recommend itself to every loyal and sensible man in the Kingdom. In conclusion, he would say, that though looking to the past he had very little faith in the Government, yet he hoped under existing circumstances they would, without fear or favour, carry out the law placed in their hands. He spoke not only for the Protestants, but for the Roman Catholics of Ulster, for there were loyal Bishops and priests of the Roman Catholic Church who were utterly uncontaminated by the doctrines of the Land League, and if let alone they would endeavour to do what they had done in the past—inculcate good feeling and fellowship between their flocks and the Protestants, and then they would have Ulster the pride of the country. Representing as he did the majority of the people in that Province, he must say they had little faith in Her Majesty's Government. This was no political struggle so far as Ulster was concerned, it was a National movement, and the people of Ulster only asked that they might retain what they had received from their fathers, a right to remain citizens of an integral portion of the Protestant United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and to enjoy the rights and liberties which were guaranted to them by that citizenship. It was not much to ask, and he appealed on their behalf to those hon. Members who represented English and Scotch constituencies to assist them in that great struggle. They relied upon the justice of their claims; but if hon. Members turned a deaf ear to their entreaties, they had still themselves to fall back upon, and when he said that he spoke with a full knowledge of their determination and their strength.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. WALKER)
Sir, I owe an apology to the House for venturing, thus early in my Parliamentary career, to take part in its debates; but as, in the course of the debate, the remarks on the action of the Irish Executive have naturally extended into matters of which my official position gives me some little knowledge, I do not think I should be discharging my duty if I were to abstain from taking some part in the discussion. I must remember that I am speaking on the Amendment of the hon. Member for 1646 the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell); but, first, I must observe that it is no part of my business, speaking on behalf of the Irish Executive, to interfere in those bitter controversies which, since the debate commenced, have been carried on by the Irish Conservative Members who sympathize with the Orangemen, and those Irish Members who sit below the Gangway—controversies which have absorbed a great part of the debate. It is the duty of the Irish Government to rise superior to all these controversies, and to steer an impartial course. There is also another controversy in which, I think, the Irish Government have no part to take. I certainly listened with great interest to the able speech of the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power), in which he vindicated the course he has taken; but we have no part in that controversy. It lies between the hon. Member for Mayo and the hon. Members who sit behind him; but, perhaps, I may not be wrong in saying that when the personal animosities excited shall have passed away, the speech of the hon. Member may afford matter for calm reflection to Irish Members who take an interest in the affairs of that country. The Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork was sufficiently comprehensive; but the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy), in his able speech, travelled over far wider ground, and assailed the Government on various minor points, and for alleged acts of partizanship towards Orangemen, some of which, even at this late hour, it would not be unbecoming of me to notice. Indeed, I feel that there are one or two that it is my duty to mention. The hon. Member for Monaghan assailed the Irish Government for partiality in reference to the case of a man named Matthews and his associates, who were recently tried in Dublin. Now, what was the action of the Government in regard to those men? It was this. Matthews was the editor of a paper circulating in the county of Tyrone, a county full of strong party feeling. He was naturally a man, being the editor of a paper, who held a position with respect to which prejudices might be awakened. He and his associates were charged with a most serious offence—namely, that of setting fire to a building in which human beings were at the time. What was the action of the Irish Government? By 1647 the power conferred on them by the Crimes Act, in order to obtain a fair trial, they changed the venue.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. WALKER)
I am showing that the action of the Government was impartial from first to last, and that their first act was to secure an impartial trial. There followed a conviction and a sentence, and is the Government to be impeached for the action of the Judge over whom the Executive had no more power or control than any Member of this House? It is the very essence of justice that they should have no control over him. Because the hon. Member says that too light a sentence was passed, is that to be charged to the discredit of the Government?
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. WALKER)
Nobody knows better what sentence ought to be passed than the Judge who heard the trial; but, be the sentence too light or too heavy, it was the action of the Judge, over whom the Executive had no control, and no blame can be attached to the Irish Government in the matter. As I understand the complaint of the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy), it was against the Judge, and not against the Government, and I cannot see why the conduct of the Irish Executive should have been imported into the matter at all. Another charge has been made against the Government in regard to the selection of juries and the conduct of the High Sheriffs. Now, hon. Members should remember that the High Sheriffs have no control whatever over the selection of juries, and that it is a mere mechanical operation. There was one other topic alluded to in the speech of the hon. Member for Monaghan—namely, the question of the Irish magistrates. No doubt it might be better, and would be better, that the Irish magistrates should have a larger number of men among them whose feelings were in accord with those of the people among whom they administered justice; but if persons of that character are not appointed, it is not the fault of the Irish Executive. Let proper men be submitted to the Lord Lieutenant and to the Lord Chancellor; and if such cases 1648 should arise, the Gentleman who fills the high Office of Lord Chancellor would not be sorry to exercise his inherent power. The Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork comprises three subjects. The first is, that the action of the Irish Executive has not tended to produce tranquillity and contentment among the Irish people. That is a matter which must be judged by results, and I look for those results in the social and material condition of the people, in the way in which they have discharged their legal obligations, and in the absence of crime. The bulk of the population of Ireland consists of tenant farmers and of an agricultural population; and I ask what now is the condition of the tenant farmers compared with what it was? Will anyone deny that the tenant farmer is now better fed, better housed, that he has a greater stake in his farm and better security for his property and for the products of his industry? Not only that, but he has a stake in the order and well-being of the country which tends to make him a loyal and contented man. Further, having a stake in the country it is obvious and, indeed, it is well known that the people of Ireland have discharged their legal obligations within the last year, with a faithfulness and punctuality quite equal with that of the English tenants. As to the state of crime, I will ask the attention of the House to a few figures in reference to the last three years. I give the figures for each of the three years. In 1881 there were 4,439 agrarian crimes and 17 murders; in 1882 there were 3,433 agrarian crimes and 26 murders; and in 1883 there were 834 agrarian crimes and two murders. Whatever may be the cause of such results, they furnish ground for congratulation and for grateful acknowledgment to any Government that has produced them, and they are not to be got rid of by any notions such as those expressed by the hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien), whose speech I heard with pain, or by the arguments of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson), who said that capital has been banished from the country and that land has lost its value. I say that I heard the observations of the hon. Member for Mallow with regret and pain. I do not question his sincerity, 1649 but I disclaim his being the exponent of the views of the tenant farmers. With reference to the remarks of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin, when he spoke of the non-return of capital, he must know that it would take more than a couple of years to allure back capital after it has been driven out of the country. When my right hon. and learned Friend spoke of the value of land, I think he was answered by an observation which has been made to-night, that there never was a time when land, accompanied with the possession, has reached a higher value. My right hon. and learned Friend attributed these results to another cause—namely, the operation of the Grimes Act; but my right hon. and learned Friend should have remembered, that the same year as that in which the Crimes Act came into operation, there also came into operation one of the most beneficent measures which was ever given to an agricultural population—namely, the Land Act of 1881. That Act struck at the root of discontent in Ireland. It may be, as was said by my right hon. and learned Friend, that the Crimes Act struck at the surface of crime; but a measure like the Land Act, which strikes at the root of discontent—and discontent and crime have generally gone together in Ireland—is more likely to produce enduring contentment and enduring tranquillity. There is every reason to hope that that has been the case. The hon. Member for the City of Cork complained of the wanton prohibition of public meetings. Now, the whole force of his argument is contained in that word "wanton." What is the fact? Why, that since the Prorogation of Parliament last Session 15 meetings have been prohibited. It would have been easy for the Government to have suppressed the whole of them; but the powers conferred upon Lord Spencer were powers which had to be exercised within the limits of the Constitution, which invites, as well as sanctions, free discussion. I quite accept the doctrine laid down in this House last night by the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) that it is our duty to maintain liberty, as well as order, and that the Constitutional rights, which it is our duty to maintain, are not to be invaded unless the Government have reason to believe that the 1650 holding of a public meeting would be dangerous to the public peace and the public safety. Each meeting had its varying incidents to be considered—its varying dangers to be appreciated and anxiously weighed before the meeting was allowed to be held. It is very easy to criticize the action of the Government after the meetings were held; but I may inform hon. Members that each case as it arose was carefully weighed, and all the circumstances attending it carefully considered by the Irish Executive. We received reports from all who were able to give us information; and as to the fault found with the Government for suppressing one meeting and permitting another, once you give credit to the Executive for the honest exercise of their powers the suppression of one meeting and allowance of another show that in each case they exercised the discretion invested in them, because if, on the one hand, they had permitted all the meetings, or, on the other, they had prohibited them altogether, they would have been open to the charge, on the one hand, of sacrificing Constitutional right to a personal desire to avoid responsibility, and, on the other, of gambling with human life in the way in which my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin has so inconsiderately charged us. In Ulster seven meetings have been held and five prohibited, and there was no reason why meetings should not be held in Ulster, unless they were likely to be dangerous to the public safety. The noble Lord the Member for Liverpool (Lord Claud Hamilton), who last addressed the House, told us that the position of Ulster was such that it was not to be invaded by the doctrines of the Nationalist Party. Then, why were not the Orange meetings held at another time and upon another opportunity, and why was danger courted by convening Orange meetings at the same time and place as the Nationalists' meeting? I admit that the noble Lord may very rightly have disliked anything that in his view threatened the integrity of the Empire; but were those doctrines to be supported best by holding meetings at a time when they could not be hold without danger to the public peace and the public safety? The meetings that we prohibited in Ulster were prohibited for precisely the same reasons they were prohibited in 1651 other places. A meeting was prohibited in Newry because the county had been proclaimed, and information was given that 500 armed men were going to attend; and at Garrison a meeting was prohibited because a proclamation had been issued inciting to civil war, and calling upon the Orangemen to remember what had occurred in 1689. What the Government disapproved of in the action of the Orangemen, and in my opinion rightly disapproved of, was the manner in which the Orange meetings were got up. We do not complain of Orange meetings being held under certain circumstances, but we do complain of their being held at improper times and places; and we complain further of the language used at them, and the manner in which they were convened. The remarks of the Prime Minister have been frequently appealed to in justification of the action of the Orangemen, remarks in which the right hon. Gentleman commented upon the apathy of certain classes in Ireland, and called upon them to support the office of the law. There is no complaint of apathy now; but the complaint is that a certain section of the Orange Party has embarrassed the office of the law, and when the encomium of the Chief Secretary for Ireland is referred to, instead of placing patriotism above Party, for party reasons have been too ready to place Party above patriotism. In regard to Lord Rossmore, I will only say a few words, in order to meet the argument of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin. It is natural that Lord Rossmore's friends should have defended him with the loyalty they have exhibited. I do not blame them for that; but I think the course of the debate will have satisfied every impartial man that, whether you call the conduct of Lord Rossmore an error of judgment, or a grave indiscretion, or a rash disregard of law and the duties of his office induced by political feelings, I think most men will admit that he was rightly dismissed by the Lords Commissioners from the high office which he occupied. It is said that Lord Rossmore is a young man. That may be true; but he was not too young to receive and fill the responsible office of magistrate, which charged him with the duty of administering the law to those beneath him in station, and mostly differing from 1652 him in politics and religion. It was the duty of Lord Rossmore as a magistrate, when the Rosslea meeting was not proclaimed, to deem it a legal meeting; to trust the Executive, and, by his example and counsel, to prevent the public peace from being in danger. But what did Lord Rossmore do? He used his influence, as Grand Master of the Orangemen, to organize a counter-meeting of some 5,000 armed men, appealing to their strongest political and religious feelings in a placard calling upon them to oppose the rebels to the utmost. The right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin has founded arguments in favour of Lord Rossmore more ingenious than candid on an incident for which Lord Rossmore was not dismissed, while he has passed by those matters for which he was dismissed. Now, let there be no confusion. The Nationalist meeting was held on one hill and the Orange meeting on another, sufficiently far apart to prevent collision. Lord Rossmore chose and insisted upon taking a route which would bring him into close and dangerous proximity with the rival meeting. It has been said that he got no warning, but, on the contrary, a sort of assent from Captain M'Ternan; but that is a point which the Lords Commissioners held to be immaterial, and was not the matter for which he was dismissed. As I have stated, it had been arranged with the authorities that the Orangemen should not march by a route which would lead them into dangerous proximity to the rival meeting. The noble Lord the Member for Fermanagh (Viscount Crichton) said that was the arrangement made with him, and that he took the route indicated. But what did Lord Rossmore do? He was in command, and he admits and justifies his action in leading his men beyond the point which had been laid down as the point of divergence, knowing that he would consequently get to a point which would bring him in dangerous proximity to the hostile meeting, and that the result, in the event of a collision, would most probably be the loss of life. In a speech made by Captain Barton, on the 4th of December, that gentleman said that—He was a Fermanagh magistrate, and he was within six yards of Lord Rossmore, at the head of the brethren at Rosslea, and they ran straight up to the rebels.1653 Further on, he added—That the Orangemen were not ready at that time, because they were engaged in cutting sticks for themselves. They had revolvers most of them.The noble Lord the Member for Fermanagh and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin took up the second incident, and justified the conduct of Lord Rossmore in regard to it. But these thousands had been massed on the road, and had passed the point of divergence, and the point of danger when Captain M'Ternan first interfered with Lord Rossmore. Captain M'Ternan says that he allowed Lord Rossmore to proceed, because turning back then would have been impossible; but is it suggested that Lord Rossmore would have turned back? It is plain that he would not. He says himself that—It was perfectly true that Captain M'Ternan heard expressions of determined opposition and of a violent nature from those in close proximity to him when this step was proposed.but when Lord Rossmore had refused Inspector Trescott at the point of divergence, would he have obeyed Captain M'Ternan afterwards? Whether Captain M'Ternan or Lord Rossmore is right is wholly immaterial. The dangerous route had been chosen, in spite of the law; the danger of collision had already become imminent, and all the harm was done. A complaint is made by my right hon. and learned Friend that Lord Rossmore was not given a copy of Captain M'Ternan's Report. But the Report was wholly immaterial. The Lords Commissioners had given Lord Rossmore the benefit of the doubt. They took it that Captain M'Ternan was wrong, and that Lord Rossmore was right, and they did not dismiss him for anything that occurred there. It is quite plain, however, what Lord Rossmore's view was. It was this—I was leading a body of 5,000 Orangemen. We were able and if necessary, willing to take at a run the hill on which the Nationalists were assembled; and we would not turn from the direct path of our own meeting, whatever might be the consequence, nor at the interference of any peace officer, because that would look like retreating before our enemies.That is obviously what Lord Rossmore did; but my right hon. and learned Friend says—"Put yourselves in Lord Rossmore's place." We are not, however, 1654 all of us Grand Masters of Orangemen. If there is any Grand Master here, he might do, perhaps, as Lord Rossmore did; but if any magistrate is appealed to, who is not influenced by Party feelings, he would say at once that he would have acted as a magistrate with loyalty, and would have obeyed the law. It is not sufficient to have loyalty on one's lips; it is not sufficient for any subject, much less a magistrate, to obey the law only when he likes to do so; and Lord Rossmore, in command of 5,000 men, most of them armed, set an example which, in a magistrate, was of most evil consequence. A painful duty was forced upon the Lords Commissioners. They exercised a wise discrimination in distinguishing between the man in command and those whom he led—the man who set the example and those who followed it. And as regards the action of those who have, I think, most inconsiderately expressed approval of Lord Rossmore's conduct, the Lord Chancellor rightly distinguishes between overt acts and general expressions of opinion, being quite prepared to deal with any magistrate who does as Lord Rossmore did. And now I will say a few words as to the Dromore meeting on the 1st of January, and the death which happened after it. I do so because my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) said that it lay on the Government to do everything they could to satisfy the relations of the poor man whose life was lost; and because, further, in his speech he said it appeared to him that the death was caused by a policeman acting for himself without orders. I shall speak from official documents as to Dromore. The Orangemen there numbered from 5,000 to 7,000 men, and they were accompanied by bands and banners. They were sashes, and were armed with sticks and revolvers. The National meeting was composed, to a large extent, of women and children, and the two meetings were to take place outside the village. There was a force of 1,200 men to preserve order, and they were under the charge of three of the most experienced Resident Magistrates which Ireland possesses—Major Blair, Mr. Thomas Hamilton, and Mr. Thynne. Two roads led from the village. They were nearly parallel, but at a certain point they 1655 intersected each other. The object of those who were charged with the preservation of the peace on that day was to prevent the two bodies from meeting at the point of junction, because if they did meet a fatal collision would undoubtedly take place. The Nationalist meeting being over first, the Nationalists reached this point half-a-mile in advance. They would thus have got clear away if the Orangemen had not been determined to prevent them. What happened? At a place called the Rectory the disturbance first commenced. The noble Lord the Member for Fermanagh (Viscount Crichton) alluded to it as some trifling stone-throwing; but, as a matter of fact, some 2,000 Orangemen rushed across from their own position through planted grounds, and at once attacked their opponents. They were intercepted by the police and Cavalry, and with difficulty repelled. It was not necessary then to read the Riot Act. I may here read the Report of one of the three Resident Magistrates, who says—The Orange Party at this time were very violent and defiant, and necessitated the police to use their bâtons and the butts of their rifles freely to repel them.The Nationalists passed on towards the junction, the passing of which would make them safe; but the Orangemen rushed across from their position, and, running parallel, retarded their advance. When the Nationalists had just reached the junction, the Orangemen broke over the fields to bead them; the Nationalists retreated to a hill a little off the road, and stone-throwing commenced. The consequences might have been fearful; and it was of the utmost importance, in order to save human life, that the Orangemen should not be allowed to reach the critical point of junction. The main body were yelling, throwing stones, and firing pistol-shots. Mr. T. Hamilton read the Riot Act, and ordered the Cavalry to charge up the road, and to drive the Orangemen back on to their own road. But then the Orangemen broke into the fields right and left, and attempted to reach the Nationalists. Major Blair saw the danger, and, seeing that a collision was inevitable, and having remonstrated with the rioters to no purpose, he read the Riot Act a second time, and then ordered the police to advance with fixed swords and clear the fields. They did advance in single 1656 rank and carried out the order, and in its execution a wound was inflicted which cost the life of this unfortunate man. I may here read the Report of Mr. T. Hamilton upon the subject, which was presented on the 24th of January last—The whole time occupied by this riot during which Giffen was stabbed did not exceed 15 or 20 minutes; but a riot more dangerous or threatening during the time it lasted I never witnessed, during a very large experience, or an occasion which more fully justified and called for very strong measures for its repression, on every occasion that offered during the day as well as that time. The Orangemen seemed most blood - thirsty, and seemed determined to attack the Nationalists, and but for the large force at our disposal, they would undoubtedly have come into deadly conflict, and, armed as both parties were with sticks, stones, and revolvers, very much more calamitious results than Giffen's death would assuredly have taken place.That is the Report of the Resident Magistrate.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. WALKER)
Mr. Thomas Hamilton, but there is a Report in almost the same terms from the two other Resident Magistrates. An inquest was held. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Trevelyan) has already referred to the inquest, and the facilities afforded by the Executive for the examination of the officials; but the lawyer who appeared for the next-of-kin and friends of the deceased man, refused to examine them. A mixed jury returned a verdict by a large majority, which simply stated the cause of death, but imputed no blame to anyone. A demand is now made upon the Government that there should be a further inquiry, and if the policeman who inflicted the wound can be found, he should be prosecuted and punished. It was said by the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) that there was no precedent for this not being done.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
I said there was no precedent, so far as I knew, of an inquest being hold on the death of a man caused by the interference of the military, and no official evidence being called.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. WALKER)
In the case of each of the similar events which unfortunately took place at Dungarvan, 1657 Ballyragget, Ballina, and Bellmullet, an inquest was held with a different result from the open verdict of which I am now speaking. There was no inquiry in those cases, and therefore there is no precedent for inquiry in this instance.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
There was no official evidence given; there was no counsel in attendance to examine the witnesses, as in a case of murder, and the Government took no evidence.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. WALKER)
Sir, the Crown were not conducting that inquiry. It was an ordinary Coroner's Inquest, and it was left open to the witnesses referred to, to give evidence if they were asked to do so. I think the House will say it would be in the last degree unfair to such a body of men as the Royal Irish Constabulary, who in trying times have had to discharge their difficult duties, and for the last five years, through insult, temptation, and danger, have discharged them so loyally and well, if for one moment it were to go forth that their acts were to be impeached, and a man, say, tried for his life, if an injury is inflicted when carrying out the orders of their responsible officers after the Riot Act has been twice read. Sir, I think on the Dromore meeting I have responded to the call of the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin. We can hardly hope, in his words, to mitigate the bitterness of the grief of that young man's relations. I read in the public Press that, when his father first saw him, he broke out into passionate regret that his son had stolen away so far from Portadown, without his parent's knowledge, to such a meeting. Sir, I would suggest it for the calm consideration of hon. Members opposite, who were the players who there gambled with human life? I ask them to reflect whether any purpose can be served by such action of the Orangemen, and whether it may not tend to produce a passing sympathy with their opponents. In testing the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), I look back to the period when Lord Spencer took Office, and contrast it with the present; and I ask the House to say that the satisfactory results are due to his wise, just, and firm administration. I think the House will give the Irish Executive credit for this—that, as before the 1658 Recess so during it, under difficult circumstances and assailed by two parties from opposite quarters, they have been actuated by an honest desire to secure public peace and protect property and life, and that their honest efforts have not been without success in securing the objects to which this Amendment refers—"tranquillity and contentment in Ireland."
MR. J. LOWTHER
said, as a prelude to the very few observations with which he proposed to trouble the House, he might be permitted to take the opportunity of congratulating the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down and the House at large upon the fact that he had been added to its councils. He should not attempt to follow the hon. and learned Gentleman into the old story of Lord Rossmore, nor should he trouble the House by repeating observations which he entirely agreed with, and which had been addressed to the House from that side, on the subject he had referred to; but he would like to point out what appeared to him to be a very serious feature in the language of Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech from the Throne with reference to Ireland. In the language of that Speech, he regretted to say, there were undoubted signs of that ineradicable self-sufficient optimism which had characterized those documents for some time past. He must own to feeling not a little surprise at the way in which the terms were selected with regard to this matter of Ireland. Her Majesty was made to refer to the last two occasions on which Her Majesty addressed the House upon this subject. He did not quite understand whether that reference extended to the Royal Speeches delivered at the opening of the two last Sessions, when the same optimist language was as usual employed; but he need hardly remind the Prime Minister that upon one of the occasions referred to—namely, two years ago, when he (Mr. J. Lowther) had protested against the use of such misleading expressions, very few weeks elapsed before a tragedy took place which all but a very small number of Members of that House had always united in deploring; and he should have thought that recent history would have convinced Her Majesty's Government that, in using language of the kind he was referring to, they deceived nobody, although, unfortunately, 1659 there was too good a reason for thinking that they deceived themselves. Now, the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down, following the example set him, spoke of the improvement which had taken place in the state of Ireland. He (Mr. J. Lowther) said that that improvement was essentially unreal. The hon. and learned Gentleman quoted statistics, and, before he resumed his seat, he asked hon. Gentlemen on those Benches to consider what was the state of Ireland at a certain time, and to compare it with the present condition of the country. And what was the time to which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred as the period when the state of Ireland was indescribably bad? It was when Lord Spencer went to Ireland in the capacity of Viceroy; but the hon. and learned Gentleman forgot that for two years before Lord Spencer had been a Member of the present Cabinet, and was, together with his Colleagues, responsible for having brought Ireland to a state worse than that of any civilized country on the face of the Globe. Without pursuing with minute criticism the subject to which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred, he would point out that, although the Prime Minister, who, on all previous occasions similar to the present, had distinctly taken exception to the statement he made, that the large majority of the people of Ireland were bitterly and intensely hostile to the British rule, the right hon. Gentleman no longer interrupted him with a contradiction.
MR. J. LOWTHER
The right hon. Gentleman said it was not his business to contradict him. In that he fully concurred; but he would ask why it was his business to do so on former occasions? He would not invite the right hon. Gentleman to be guilty of what he himself described as a breach of Order; but he reminded him that on various previous occasions he lost no time in contradicting him when making a similar statement. The hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power) made yesterday a most able speech, and one of the most interesting that he had heard addressed to that House; but what did the hon. Member for Mayo 1660 represent? He represented his own undoubted ability, and nothing more. It was perfectly well known, as he had stated on a former occasion, that Whiggery outside Ulster was as dead as Julius Cæsar. The Prime Minister used to appeal to his hon. Friends behind him as representatives of the feeling of the people of Ireland; but the right hon. Gentleman now knew that they represented no Party at all in Ireland. It might be a matter of regret to some that it was so; but he confessed it was not to him, because he knew that those hon. Gentlemen, while professing to hold comparatively moderate views, were at the same time ready to co-operate in subversive attacks upon property—that was to say, they were prepared to go in for sheer robbery, and fur schemes which the right hon. Gentleman described as partaking largely of the character of public plunder. They found that hon. Members representing what was called the National Party in Ireland had invariably, and with few exceptions, succeeded in obtaining the favourable ear of the electorate; and it was perfectly notorious, that, with insignificant exceptions, throughout the North, the South, and the West of Ireland, those gentlemen who represented the Government policy had no chance of obtaining a seat in that House. In fact, the condemnation of Her Majesty's Government now extended to all the Provinces of Ireland. He had said the North, South, and West—nobody ever talked about the East of Ireland—so, perhaps, Her Majesty's Government might think there was a corner in the country in which their policy was not generally condemned; but he was himself at a loss to find where that corner was. The Government having during the last four years administered all affairs of State with one object mainly—that of catching the Irish vote, must now have discovered that they had signally failed. And he did not speak of that vote in the limited sense in which at the moment it commended itself to the Prime Minister; he was speaking of the insidious and. pernicious appeals which had been made to that most sinister element of the political body—what was called the Irish vote in the English constituencies. The policy of the Government had been almost entirely devoted to that sinister object, and they now had the consolation 1661 of finding that in Ireland all classes of the community were arrayed against them. They had separated themselves for ever from the sympathy of the propertied and intelligent classes in Ireland, and they had made a bid for what the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) tersely described in an earlier portion of their proceedings that evening, but which he (Mr. J. Lowther) would only refer to as the classes who were certainly not at the top of the social tree. But the fact remained that the policy of Her Majesty's Government had not succeeded in attaining the object for which it was ostensibly framed. One word as to what the policy of the Government had been; the House need not be alarmed that he would go into the subject in any detail. The policy of the Government had been mainly the transferring of the principal portion of proprietary rights in Ireland from classes which were, speaking generally, well affected to the British connection to those who were determinedly hostile to British rule. That might be statesmanship—but they lived and learned. He had been surprised to find that an amount of virtuous indignation had been aroused in the breast of no less a person than the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), and he thought also the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), at certain doctrines which had been freely propounded in this country by Mr. Henry George. Now, the difference between the policy of Mr. George and that of the Government was simply that Her Majesty's Government took away, speaking roughly, 25 per cent of property from persons to whom it did belong, and gave it to those persons who happened to have hired the land for a twelvemonth, and who had entered into solemn contracts to give it up at six months' notice. Mr. George took a larger portion of that property, say 100 per cent—he believed he was willing to take 150 per cent of it, if it were possible to do so—and handed it over to the community at large, who, as far as he could see, had neither more nor less claim to it than the favoured few to whom the Government handed it. The Prime Minister had reminded him that Parliament was responsible for the measures of the Government. He 1662 (Mr. J. Lowther) deeply deplored that the Government, under the auspices of the right hon. Gentleman, had succeeded in making Parliament an accomplice with them in the perpetration of the proceedings to which he was referring. Now, what was likely to be the result of that legislation? When the next pinch of poverty came upon Ireland, would the people of that country be the better off for the measures which the Government had passed? He was now speaking of the subversive land legislation of the Government, and he asked, what security had they that rents under the new system would be better paid than they had been before? What reserve of capital would there be on which the occupiers of land could draw? That he entirely failed to see. Various remedies had been suggested for the state of affairs in Ireland; but he must say with regret that he could not share the confidence with which some of his hon. Friends on that side of the House approached the subject of what was called peasant proprietorship. He confessed he did not believe in it one bit. Although in his judgment it might be quite right to enable those persons who were prepared to incur some self-sacrifice in order to become owners of land; to facilitate their ridding other people of property—which was not certainly an enjoyable possession—he failed to see that any good was likely to accrue from artificial attempts to create a state of society which had not been naturally called into existence, and he regretted much that he could not agree in the opinions of his hon. Friends on that side of the House, who appeared to think peasant proprietorship a panacea for all the ills of Ireland. But throughout the long discussion which had taken place, embracing as it did almost all the real and imaginary ills of Ireland, and suggesting almost every possible remedy, he regretted that not one word had been said about that which was the only available remedy for the distressed state of the country. He need hardly observe that he referred to the question of emigration. He was aware that a large amount of prejudice existed in some quarters upon that subject. It was well known that the Government had had great pressure put upon them to deter them from carrying out projects which had 1663 been submitted from infiuenential quarters. He trusted, however, that Ministers would not imagine that they were justified by the silence of Parliament in considering that the public interest on this subject was one whit diminished. Time would not permit him to go into the question fully; but he reminded the House that proposals had been made to the Government, not by doctrinaires or crotchet-mongers, but by representatives of combinations which were perfectly well able to make good their opportunity to carry out the projects they suggested, projects which, if carried out, would prove a substantial relief to the over crowded and congested districts in Ireland. They had heard a good deal about the work of Mr. Tuke. No one could approach the work of Mr. Tuke from a more impartial standpoint than he did. Mr. Tuke belonged to a politico-religious community with which he (Mr. J. Lowther) had absolutely no sympathy, therefore, he was not likely to be prejudiced in any shape or form in favour of any work projected by Mr. Tuke; a work, however, which he must express his opinion had been the means of achieving most valuable results within the far too limited compass in which it had unfortunately been confined. He thought the Government were incurring a very grave responsibility in declining to avail themselves of the most valuable suggestions which had been made to them by the Hudson's Bay Company, and the North-West Land Company, and the other combinations on the other side of the Atlantic.
§ MR. PARNELL
rose to Order. He wished to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman was in Order in introducing the question of emigration upon the present Amendment to the Address?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I hardly think the right hon. Gentleman is out of Order. The Address is before the House as well as the Amendment.
MR. J. LOWTHER
said, he did not wonder that the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) desired to burke any reference to the subject of emigration. They were told yesterday that there were persons who were most desirous of perpetuating the sources of agitation, and he was afraid the hon. Gentleman had shown that he was not altogether to be excluded from that category. He would 1664 not say more on the subject of emigration. He had said enough, he hoped, to convince the Government that they would not be justified in any longer declining to avail themselves of the invaluable opportunities which had been presented to them. And if he might, in conclusion, offer one word of advice to some of the Irish Members associated with the hon. Member for the City of Cork, it would be this, that those who could not conscientiously approve of the remedies to which he had referred, should remember that there was one remedy for the state of affairs in Ireland which had not been mentioned during this debate, and which, indeed, had never been mentioned seriously by any person in the House. A demand might most reasonably and fairly be made upon the English Parliament to redress that grossest of all the acts of injustice which England had been guilty of towards Ireland—namely, the stamping out of the Native Irish manufacturing industries by the then British Parliament. It had always occurred to him that the destruction of the manufacturing industries in Ireland was a great wrong and injury, which Parliament might be very fairly called upon to repair. He might be asked how he proposed to redress that great injustice? Why, Ireland at the present moment possessed within its limits the means of acclimatizing the most valuable manufacturing industries; and he need not remind the House that the water-power and other agencies there pre-eminently fitted the country for some of the most important manufacturing industries. If he were asked how he would enable such industries to be called into existence, he would at once say that he himself would not approach the subject in any way handicapped by any prepossessions in favour of a one-sided commercial system—a system which, he might say, in passing, had been scouted throughout the length and breadth of every country in the world except this, and which was rapidly losing the great bulk of its believers, even within the comparatively limited area covered by these Isles. He ventured to say that if the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, instead of robbing Peter for the purpose of adding temporarily to the contents of the pockets of Paul, were to propose some means whereby capital could be directed to Ireland, and order could be preserved 1665 until that capital could obtain a footing in that country, he would be conferring upon the Sister Isle what he had never done yet, and what he (Mr. J. Lowther) feared the right hon. Gentleman was never likely to succeed in doing—namely, some permanent good. He should suggest the establishment of manufacturing industries under a system of State aid by means of bounties. ["Oh, oh!"] He reminded the House that without some assistance from the State—and he could not conceive any other way in which State assistance could be given—without such assistance it was absolutely impossible for manufacturing industries to be established at the present time in Ireland. Agriculture was the sole industry of Ireland, and it would do no permanent good to take a portion of the available agricultural capital from one man's pocket and put it in another man's pocket. He would not re-argue the question whether such legislation as the various Land Acts was a wise step or not—he would content himself with simply pointing out that it would not succeed in bringing fresh capital and fresh wealth into Ireland. By a judicious development of the resources of Ireland, and by a prudent encouragement of the manufacturing industries, some permanent good towards the promotion of the prosperity of that country would be secured. So long, however, as Free Trade doctrinaire opinions were paramount in the English Parliament he warned those who wished to obtain an increase of Ireland's wealth and prosperty—prosperity not merely in a political sense—that they would never succeed in attaining their ends. He thanked the House for its kindness in allowing him to make those observations; and, in conclusion, he would only say that while he did not intend to take any part in the Division upon the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork—he could not see he should do any good by so doing—he must enter his most emphatic protest against the unaccountable levity with which the subject of Ireland had been treated in Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech from the Throne.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, so much new matter had been introduced in the discussion that he begged to move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Colonel Nolan.)
said, he hoped that the House would not agree to the Motion now that the debate had very nearly reached its close. The full expectation of the House had been that the debate would terminate to-night, and that they would be able to take the Report of the Address to-morrow evening. Unless that were done, the three first weeks of the Session would have passed before the preliminary proceeding of voting the Address had been concluded. That, he thought, was a state of facts which showed that if the House was really in earnest in the desire to confront the important legislative Business it had to transact, and which had been commended to it from the Throne and by many independent Members of the House, it was necessary some limit should be placed upon the debate—not that he wished to stop discussion, but he meant some limit in point of days. He hoped hon. Gentlemen would continue the debate this evening until it should reach its natural close. He remembered well the words in which the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Cork first referred to his own Amendment. When, on the first night of the Session, the Government were appealed to to allow the proceedings to close at 10 o'clock, and not to force on any debate prematurely, they at once acceded to the appeal; and the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Parnell) assured them that though he and his hon. Friends were anxious for a full and fair opportunity of discussing the matter of his Amendment it was in no obstructive spirit that the Amendment was proposed. The hon. Gentleman gave the House reason to believe that the discussion would be confined within reasonable limits. He (Mr. Gladstone) hoped hon. Gentlemen would act in the spirit of those expectations which they justified the House in entertaining. He thought the House would feel that they had a day's work before them to-morrow on the Report of the Address, and that if at the close of the third week they completed their preliminary proceedings there was no indication of haste.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he should support the Motion for the adjournment of 1667 the debate. Seeing that he was refused on two different occasions during the Recess an opportunity of addressing his constituents, and seeing that the reasons which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Mr. Trevelyan) had given for suppressing the meetings he (Mr. Biggar) had hoped to address were of a most incorrect nature, he desired to state the real facts of the case at a reasonable hour of the night. It was unreasonable to require him and his hon. Friends, who were peculiarly interested in the recent action of the Irish Executive, to address the House at this time of the night (12.50). He therefore trusted the Government would assent to the proposition of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan).
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister was quite correct in saying they were now approaching the end of the third week of the Session; but it must be borne in mind that very little time had been occupied in the discussion of Irish affairs. When the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) moved his Amendment to the Address he rose at an hour not much later than that at which Business was ordinarily commenced; but on the three occasions since then on which they had discussed the large and important questions affecting Ireland they had only had fragments of Sittings at their disposal. Only one full Sitting had been occupied in the consideration of the Amendment now before the House. On the second night of the debate he (Mr. Sexton) was not able to rise to resume the discussion until half-past 9 o'clock, so that on that occasion there were only three hours occupied in the consideration of this question. After that the debate was not resumed until yesterday—there was an interval of nine days—and yesterday they only occupied five hours. To-night the hon. Member for King's County (Mr. Molloy) did not rise, owing to certain interruption, until 8 o'clock. They had only had one full Sitting, one Wednesday and two fragments of Sittings; in other words, the whole discussion relating to the policy and government of Ireland had, up to the present time, at the end of the third week of the Session, only occupied time equal to two full Sittings of the House.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, he himself had been alluded to in a most pointed manner by some hon. Gentlemen who had spoken to-night, and he was most anxious to have a fitting opportunity of replying to their remarks. It would be useless to give any contradiction at this hour (12.55) to the allegations which had been made, besides which the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. Walker) and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Mr. Trevelyan) had failed to answer satisfactorily the different points which had been raised in the course of the debate. He relied upon the fairness of the House to afford him and his hon. Friends an ample opportunity of meeting the personal attacks which had been made upon them.
§ MR. WARTON
said, that, as the Prime Minister had ceased to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, they could not be surprised that he had forgotten his arithmetic. They had not yet arrived at the end of the third week. The end of the third week would be next Monday, and the Prime Minister forgot that in addition to the Vote of Censure which occupied five nights, a day had been devoted to the consideration of one of his hobbies—the Grand Committees. Making allowance for those two interruptions, it could not be said they had spent three weeks in the consideration of Her Majesty's Gracious Speech.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, it was, of course, the desire of the Government to get rid of the discussion on the policy of the Government of Ireland as soon as possible, with the object of getting to the Business which awaited the consideration of the House. He, of course, sympathized to a considerable extent with that desire; but he was bound to say that he did not think the conduct of the Government in attempting to close this debate prematurely was calculated to further the particular object in view. A great number of his hon. Friends desired to speak upon this Amendment—many hon. Gentlemen representing Irish constituencies had not spoken yet, while those who had spoken felt very much dissatisfied with the entire absence of any reply on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Mr. Trevelyan) to the case which had been presented. Undoubtedly, they would be very strongly tempted, if the debate was closed to-night, to re-open the dis- 1669 cussion on Report; whereas if the debate were allowed to follow its natural course they would not feel themselves justified in again going into Irish matters on the Report stage of the Address. He put it to the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister whether, under the circumstances, he really thought that any time would be practically saved? To-morrow night most likely it would be possible for the Government, after the present debate was closed, to take by the consent of the House, which was usually given under such circumstances, the Report of the Address; but if, on the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman persisted in closing the present debate to-night, which he had the power to do owing to the large majority at his back, it might be necessary that the Irish Representatives would feel themselves obliged to re-open the question on Report. Looking at the matter from the most disinterested point of view, and feeling with the Prime Minister that it was desirable to get to the important Business which awaited them after the disposal of the Address, he thought it would lead to the economy of the time of the House, and to the furthering of Public Business, if the Government gave an ear to the foreible arguments of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), who had pointed out that they had only had one whole Sitting and three bits of nights since the Session opened for the discussion of Irish matters.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) says we have only had one day and parts of three days for this debate. Well, considering that we are still in the debate on the Address, it seems to me that that is a very large and a very unusual amount of time to devote to what, after all, is only one part of the Address. If hon. Members will refer to what has occurred in previous years they will see that the debate on the Address seldom used to exceed three days; and to give three days, or one whole day and a portion of three others, to one portion of the Address only, is surely a very ample allowance of time. If all sections of hon. Members occupied part of four days in discussing those parts of the Address in which they are interested, the Address would, practically, exhaust a large part of the Session. Under these 1670 circumstances, if there is anything more to be said on the subject which has been before the House to-night I cannot do better than to recommend to the consideration of the Irish Members a couple of lines of their poet Moore, to the effect that—The best of all ways,To lengthen our days,is to take it out of the night. I should be inclined to agree with the Irish poet, and would advise hon. Members, if the debate they wish to continue is shortened at the commencement, to lengthen it at the end of the Sitting. That the debate on the Address should finish this week, for the convenience of the House, and the proper transaction of Parliamentary Business, everyone, I think, will admit. I do trust that hon. Members will be disposed to take this view of the matter.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 40; Noes 113: Majority 73.—(Div. List, No. 18.) Question again proposed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Mayne.)
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he had had some experience of Motions for Adjournment and of the small means by which Her Majesty's Ministers endeavoured to save time, and he must say he had observed that there was no method less favourable to their project than an attempt to stifle free discussion in the House. The present Ministry was especially fond of trying to stifle free discussion in and out of the House, but they had hitherto lamentably failed, and he had no doubt that on this occasion they would be no more successful than they had been on former occasions. If the House would agree to the adjournment the debate would be finished at a moderate hour to-morrow evening; but if they did not agree to the adjournment the result would be, as suggested by the hon. Member for the City of Cork, that this question would have to be raised at the next stage of the Address, with the probability of speeches which had been already spoken being repeated. If the proposal made to the Government were agreed to, only a limited number of Members could take part in it. His 1671 hon. Friend and Leader (Mr. Parnell) said he had no intention of recommending an Amendment on the next stage of the Address if an opportunity was given to finish this debate to-morrow morning. If, on the other hand, the Government held out firmly, and refused to allow au opportunity for discussing this Irish question to-morrow afternoon, the result would be a debate which would not last only part of one evening, but perhaps the whole of two evenings, on the Report of the Address. He did not by any means hold this out as a threat, but as a possibility, and as his experience of what had taken place on former occasions. There could be no harm in the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister taking into consideration the possible circumstances which might arise if he pursued a course not calculated to conciliate his opponents.
I must say I am greatly disappointed at what has occurred—the disposition shown to force a prolongation of this debate, seeing that we have been sitting here for three weeks, but have not yet commenced legislative Business. I have gone over the facts of the case, and I find that not two, but parts of five Sittings have been devoted to Irish Business on the Address, the fifth being that on which the hon. Gentleman the late Lord Mayor of Dublin (Mr. Dawson) drew attention to certain occurrences in Londonderry. That is a scale of discussion which is fatal to the transaction of Business, and to which I wish to record my protest on behalf of the large majority of this House. It really should be understood by the country that a small minority of Members—["No, no!"]—yes; that a small minority of Members—not composed of one Party exclusively, I admit, but assisted by some Members of position above the Gangway opposite—are determined to carry on a system under which the proceedings on the Address before the Report are made of themselves to occupy a tenth of the Session. Practically, there is a tax of one-tenth of the Session laid on the overburdened time of the House and deducted from its power. I must say that, after what fell from the hon. Member for the City of Cork on a former occasion, I am extremely surprised, and greatly disappointed, at what he has just said. It is not in our power to bind the House to 1672 take the Report of the Address tomorrow evening. He has given us an expectation that what remains to be said in this debate may only occupy a small portion of the evening. I hope—I can only express a hope, for I cannot bind those who are absent at the present moment in respect of the proceedings of to-morrow—that the House, on consideration of the circumstances, will consent to take the Report after the reply to the Address to-morrow evening. It is stated that only a portion of the evening will be occupied with the Address; and with these prospects before us, and depending in some measure upon those not now present, I would propose that the Motion for the adjournment of the House be withdrawn, with a view to assenting to the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question again proposed.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned," put, and agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.