HC Deb 19 August 1886 vol 308 cc91-157
COLONEL KING-HARMAN (Kent, Isle of Thanet)

(who were the uniform of a Lord Lieutenant) said: In rising to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to thank Her Majesty for the Most Gracious Speech which Her Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament, although I am not able to ask the indulgence which is usually accorded by the House to the Mover of the Address, on the ordinary ground that I am a new Member addressing it for the first time, still I crave the indulgence which the House always accords, on the ground that although I have on more than one occasion addressed the House I have never set myself up as a speechmaker, and I have never unduly occupied its time. I feel that in moving the Address on this occasion I have a task before me which might tax the abilities of a much more able and practised speaker than myself. Sir, Her Majesty's Gracious Speech is brief; very brief indeed; but I think the reasons for that brevity are not far to seek, and that they may be found within the limits of the Speech itself. In introducing the Address which I have the honour to move, I do not intend to trespass long upon the patience of hon. Members.

Sir, it will be noticed that no question of foreign policy arises in the course of Her Majesty's Speech, and this, I trust, will be satisfactory to the House generally, and especially to hon. Members who sit opposite. It points out, in my humble opinion, that the foreign policy of this country, inaugurated by great men who have gone before and carried out with foreign countries, and especially with the nations of Europe, with hardly an exception, for many generations, the policy pursued by Pitt and by Palmerston, and a short time ago with marked success and ability by Lord Rosebery, still continues, and I hope will ever continue, to meet Her Majesty's approval. It also shows that, in spite of exceptional difficulties in Burmah and other portions of Her Majesty's Dominions which might otherwise have claimed the serious attention of the House, the administration of Lord Dufferin and the other Plenipotentiary Ministers to whom the conduct of affairs has been entrusted commands the confidence of Her Majesty.

The question of Supply occupies the foremost place in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech. When I say that the Estimates shortly to be laid before the House were framed by the late Government, and that in all the discussions which took place in the last Parliament on Votes on Account, or other cognate matters, these Estimates received the support of right hon. Gentlemen who now hold the Seals of Office; and when I say, further, that the Estimates and Votes on Account have never, to an appreciable extent, been opposed by any section of the House in the last Parliament, I hope we may anticipate that no long time will elapse before the House will grant the Supply which is pointed out in Her Majesty's Speech as being necessary. Although no duty of the House of Commons is more important than that of carefully criticizing any measure or matter relating to the taxation of the country, it is also, when that duty has been carried out, manifestly the duty of the House to vote the Supplies necessary for the service of the country, and to do so with, as little delay as possible. From the Notice given by my noble Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer I hope there is every reason to anticipate that this will be the case, and that the Session which we are now entering upon will not he a very long one. The nation requires rest after the arduous and serious political struggle in which it has been engaged for so many months. Hon. Members on both sides of the House may reasonably hope for some interval of relaxation, and for a clearly marked-out time which they may devote to businesses and pursuits other than political ones.

It appears to me, also, that it is only just and reasonable that some little time should be afforded to Her Majesty's Government in which they may consider the state of affairs, foreign and domestic, and weigh carefully the measures which they may see fit to introduce in a future Session for the peace, prosperity, and welfare of Her Majesty's subjects abroad and at home. In the latter category the question of Ireland stands pre-eminent. As Her Majesty has reminded the House, the late Parliament was dissolved in order that the opinion of the nation might be taken upon grave questions with regard to the government of Ireland, which were placed before the House by the late Government. The constituencies have responded with no uncertain voice in support of the opposition which the present holders of the Seals of Government offered to the proposals brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone). Sir, I am glad that Her Majesty does not at present recommend that Parliament should proceed in this Session to pass measures for the government of Ireland other than those which suffice for the preservation of peace and order in England and Scotland. I am convinced that Her Majesty's Advisers have carefully considered the state of Ireland, and that they are thoroughly aware of the responsibility which they undertake in attempting to govern that country, for the present, at any rate, by the ordinary processes of the law. Sir, it is my belief that the ordinary law of the land, if carefully and firmly carried out in a perfectly strict and impartial manner, will suffice for the preservation of peace and order in Ireland. I am, however, aware that that depends very largely upon those whose counsels have of late had such great weight with the larger portion of the population of the three Southern Provinces. The responsibility, therefore, as to whether Her Majesty's Government shall continue to rely upon the ordinary law for the preservation of law and order in Ireland rests upon those Gentlemen in a very great degree. If, unfortunately, evil counsels should prevail, and the agitation which has flourished so long in Ireland should be continued with the effect of prolonging the state of anarchy and misrule, I feel sure that the Government will not hesitate to call Parliament together, and submit measures by which the supremacy of the law may be maintained. I trust, Sir, that such a necessity may not arise. I am an Irishman, and I have lived in Ireland during the terrible times through which we have passed. But in all the dreadful scenes I have witnessed I have, nevertheless, never despaired of the future of my country, and I do not despair of it now. I have seen its people misled and driven into evil courses by years of agitation and misrule. I have witnessed, with deep sadness, the ruin which has been spread over every class of industry in the country during that dreadful time. I believe that I now see an awakening—a great change in the country, and an earnest desire for the restoration of law and for those securities for peace and order without which no country can possibly thrive or prosper. I believe that the people are at last aware that the conflict with law and order has driven them under the thrall of a despotism more cruel and tyrannical than any under which any civilized people has ever suffered. I believe that Her Majesty may rely, at any rate, on this feeling, for the present, for the experiment of governing Ireland in future upon the same laws and provisions which suffice to secure the peace and prosperity of the rest of Her Majesty's Dominions. Sir, history shows that Irishmen, when firmly and fairly governed, are as capable of becoming good and faithful citizens as the inhabitants of any other country in Europe. But they must be fairly and firmly governed, without prejudice on the one hand, and without vacillation on the other. In the past revolutions which, made their mark on English annals the loyalty of Irishmen, often to a falling cause and to their own ruin, is a matter of history; and I would ask hon. Members where would be the record of our history if the valour, bravery, loyalty, and devotion of Irish soldiers were expunged from it? Even during the late troublous times the loyalty and devotion of the Royal Irish Constabulary, a body recruited from the midst of the Irish people, has been beyond all praise. [An hon. MEMBER: Belfast!] An hon. Member says "Belfast." I will not allude to Belfast, because we have been told that a Commission with great powers is immediately to be issued, and also because I have reason to believe that the question of Belfast will be brought before the House by an Amendment to the Address. But I am glad that a searching investigation will take place, and I rejoice to hear that the Commission will have power to take evidence on oath. I will not also allude to the terrible state of the Southern counties of Ireland—such counties as Cork, Kerry, and Clare—because I believe that it has been brought about by circumstances which are only present and passing—circumstances which, I believe, a Government at once firm and willing to act would find no great difficulty in controlling. I look forward to a time, not far distant, when Ireland, under a firm and just Government, will be as prosperous and, for its own interests and welfare, as attached to the Union as any portion of Her Majesty's Dominions. Sir, in my opinion, the agrarian difficulty is at the root of the Irish Question, and that difficulty will be greatly met by an extension of peasant proprietorships. But, to attain this, confidence must be restored in Ireland, crime must be punished, and honest men must be allowed to reap the reward of their industry. The influx of capital, at present driven from Ireland by crime and violence, must be encouraged and brought back; persons must be made to feel that they are secure in the investments they make, that crime and outrage must be punished; and if coercion, so called, be required, it will not be used to coerce honest and law-abiding citizens, but to protect them from coercion bred in a foreign country, and followed up by an agitation which crushes out the life-blood of the people. The country will then become prosperous. Sir, I have dwelt thus much upon Ireland, because I believe that upon the conduct of their Irish policy depends, not only the stability of the Government, but also the welfare and almost the existence of the British Empire. I have spoken, Sir, as briefly as I could; but I have spoken in singleness of heart, with a true love of my country, and with true loyalty and devotion to the British Empire. I trust that I have spoken no word which can give offence. I thank the House for the indulgence with which it has listened to me, and I beg to move that the humble Address of which I have given Notice be presented to Her Majesty as an answer to Her Most Gracious Speech from the Throne. That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to thank Her Majesty for the Most Gracious Speech which Her Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament: Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that Her Majesty has summoned us to meet at this unusual season of the year for the transaction of indispensable business: To thank Her Majesty for informing us that the Session of the last Parliament was interrupted before the ordinary work of the year had been completed, in order that the sense of Her Majesty's people might be taken on certain important proposals with regard to the Government of Ireland, and that the result of that appeal has been to confirm the conclusion to which the late Parliament had come: Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that the provisional nature of the arrangement which was made by the last Parliament for the public charge of the year renders it inexpedient to postpone any further the consideration of the necessary financial legislation: Humbly to thank Her Majesty for informing us that the Estimates which were submitted to the last Parliament, and were only partially voted, will be laid before us: To thank Her Majesty for informing us that, at a period of the year usually assigned for the Recess, and after the prolonged and exceptional labours to which many of us have been subjected, Her Majesty abstains from recommending now, for our consideration, any Measures except those which are essential to the conduct of the Public Service during the remaining portion of the financial year: Humbly to assure Her Majesty that such Measures shall receive our prompt and careful attention.

MR. J. M. MACLEAN (Oldham)

Sir, on rising to second the Address which has been moved by my right hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel King-Harman) I feel myself placed in a condition of some embarrassment, which causes me to make a special claim upon the indulgence of the House. On similar occasions I have noticed that it is usual for hon. Members who discharge this honourable duty to speak upon almost any and every topic—they "survey mankind from China to Peru; "they discuss all manner of questions, whether relating to home, or foreign, or Imperial policy, in which Englishmen can possibly be concerned. But on this occasion my range of observation is necessarily restricted by the severely businesslike character of the Speech from the Throne. I think it would be impossible to imagine any Speech more directly to the point, or one which stated the cause for which Parliament is called together with more admirable brevity and clearness. The Government are evidently of opinion that, although technically this is the first Session of a new Parliament, yet, in reality, we have only met here to continue and complete the work begun in the Session of the short Parliament of 1885. The correctness of that view is guaranteed by the language used in the Speech from the Throne before the Dissolution of the last Parliament, because at that time Her Majesty told us that she released us from our labours before the completion of the regular work of the Session in order that the opinion of the nation might be taken on the Irish policy of the late Government. We have now come together to complete that necessary work. We all know that the financial business of the country is greatly in arrear. Votes on Account have been taken which might have enabled the Government to delay the meeting of Parliament till October; but I believe Her Majesty's Advisers have thought it more compatible with the situation, and more straightforward towards the new Parliament, to call it together at once, in order that those Votes which have been reserved for discussion, and particularly the Irish Votes, might be submitted forthwith to the House, and that Irish Members might have a Constitutional opportunity of giving their opinion on the voting of money for carrying on the government of Ireland in its present form. Sir, I feel convinced that the country is thoroughly in accord with Her Majesty's Ministers as to the propriety of the course they are now taking. To judge from the language used in the newspapers, and from the Ministerial elections which have taken place—Lord Salisbury explained, at the meeting at the Carlton Club, the reasons which induced him to call Parliament together—from all these sources we learn that the country is desirous of a period of rest. And this is only natural, because both Members and constituencies have been engaged for 12 months in incessant political agitation. We have felt the severe strain of the work, and especially those who have had to go through two contested elections; and it is natural that we should now have an interval of repose, in which to recruit our exhausted energies, to recover our tempers, to find a variety of occupations and amusements for our jaded minds and bodies, and thus to lay up for ourselves a fresh store of health and strength for the Parliamentary campaign, which will be arduous enough next year.

I have tried to think from what quarter of the House objection might be taken to the moderate programme set before us by Her Majesty's Government. I turn to the Benches occupied by the followers of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). We have heard a great deal during the last few days of the sentiments of that hon. Member and his supporters with regard to the present situation of affairs, and I see that one of the best known of his followers has spoken in a most enthusiastic way of the great moral victory which his Party has lately achieved. Sir, it is always a great consolation for men who have suffered a great material defeat to say that they have won a great moral victory; but it is satisfactory to hear from the speeches made in that quarter that the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his Friends are of opinion that, by pursuing the course of Constitutional agitation in which they are engaged, under the auspices of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), they may very soon succeed in attaining their ends. I see that one of those hon. Mem- bers believes that Home Rule will be granted to Ireland with the goodwill of the English people within the limits of one year. [Cheers.] Hon. Members cheer that statement. It may be right or wrong; but, if that is their opinion, it absolutely precludes them from having recourse to a policy of defiance and exasperation, and compels them to continue in accord with popular sentiment in this country, and to give such facilities as they can for the carrying on of the ordinary and indispensable business of the country in the proper way.

Now, Sir, we have not had an opportunity—we shall have the opportunity during the debate—of knowing what is the judgment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian upon the programme of the Government; but we have heard a good deal lately from the hon. Member who puts himself forward as the spokesman of the sadly diminished following of the right hon. Gentleman; we have hoard from the senior Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) much about what he thinks should be done in order to assert the vigour and policy of the Liberal Party. The scheme of that hon. Gentleman appears to be this—civilly to bow out of the Liberal Party everybody who does not agree with him. It is perfectly natural that we, on our part, should not be disposed to baulk this inclination; on the contrary, the Government would, I believe, readily grant, at ordinary times, every facility for carrying out such a design. But I will put it to the hon. Member that, in the interval of a few months, he may be enabled so to perfect his plan as to carry it out with less risk of the recurrence of that terrible miscarriage which was the result of all his diplomatic efforts to heal the breach in the Liberal Party of the last Parliament. Now I turn to the large Party of Unionist Liberals who follow the noble Marquess the Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain), and remark that we know from their public utterances that they are willing to give a loyal support to the Government in carrying out the programme now put forward.

It only remains for me to say a few words as to the policy of the Conserva- tive Party. We are asked what that policy is. It is not for me to indicate it; it would be presumptuous for me to form a forecast of the speech which the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Lord Randolph Churchill), who now occupies his rightful position as Leader of the Tory Party in this House, will no doubt make later on in this debate; but I think his speech might well be a free English rendering of that well known French phrase, J'y suis, j'y reste. The Government are perfectly justified in taking up that position; because what is it that the Unionist Party has lately done? Why, they have repulsed a most dangerous attack upon the citadel of the Constitution. If those who have been thus repulsed wish to renew the attack, well, then, it is for them to make the next move. We have the mandate of the country to justify us in saying that all we have to do is to maintain the Union as it now exists, and to take care that the law is strictly, consistently, and, at the same time, generously administered in all parts of the United Kingdom. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Members opposite seem to doubt that we have any mandate of that kind. I say that the verdict given by the constituencies is a splendid vindication of free discussion and popular government. We can all remember the scene in this House—for on whichever side we sit, or whatever misgivings we might have had as to the tendency of his policy, we were accustomed to look to the late Prime Minister as the most illustrious of living Englishmen—when the right hon. Gentleman brought forward his great scheme of Home Rule and placed it before the House. Whether we regard the magnitude of the issue, the reputation of the principal actors in the drama, or the completeness and effectiveness of the stage accessories, I think it will be more memorable in Parliamentary annals than even that pageantry of the impeachment of Warren Hastings in Westminster Hall, which Lord Macaulay has described for us in such glowing colours. The right hon. Gentleman put forth all the energies of his mind, all the resources of his eloquence, to strike the popular imagination; and he appealed more especially to the generous emotions of Englishmen by inviting them to co-operate with him in a great work of justice and humanity. When we think of the magnetic and almost magical influence which he has in raising the enthusiasm of the people, I think we may almost be surprised that he did not carry with him the whole country. But many hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House helped us to make a splendid protest against that policy; those hon. Members did splendid work in educating the public mind; the Irish policy of the late Government was thoroughly discussed and threshed out by the people during the autumn; and the verdict of the people, which I believe to be final and irrevocable, was given. The Home Rule Bill, in my opinion, is dead; I do not think the right hon. Gentleman opposite will attempt to revive it; and if he does not, no meaner spirit is likely to step in to accomplish what he has left undone. I say that the verdict of the constituencies is a signal vindication of the policy which has been adopted by the two great political Parties in this House in the enfranchisement of householders in boroughs and counties during the last 30 years. Many hon. Members used to look with grave misgivings upon those Acts; but we know now, after the great trial to which the Democracy has been exposed, that they possess the same common sense, the same sobriety of judgment, the same patriotism, the same Imperial instinct, the same tenacity of purpose which have always been the distinguishing features in the national character of Englishmen. If I may say one word more about the policy of the Government, I will venture to refer to a statement which the right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. John Morley) made not long ago. Whatever difference of opinion there may be as to the administrative skill of that right hon. Gentleman, we all admit that he is perfectly unrivalled in the art of coining expressive phrases. I think that his alliterative jingle about "manacles," which now excites so much admiration among the most extreme section of the Irish-American Party across the Atlantic, is a phrase which the right hon. Gentleman must himself regret to have uttered, because it did the grossest injustice to the policy of his opponents. But there is another phrase uttered by him which explains the policy which Her Majesty's Government have now in view. The right hon. Gentleman said he wanted to secure power at Westminster and order in Ireland. Well, that is the aim of Her Majesty's Government also; but they do not wish to secure it by the same means; they do not wish to banish the Irish Members from this House, and thus give an outward and visible sign of the disruption of the United Kingdom. They are quite content to work on either with those hon. Gentlemen or against them, and to make the best of the government of Ireland. They mean to do this—to uphold order in that country; and to take care that the lives, the liberties, and the property of the humblest citizens in Ireland shall be safe, whether it be in Belfast or in Kerry.

Before concluding, I should like to say one word with regard to the notice which appeared in the newspapers—to that in which the hon. Member for the City of Cork invited his followers to be present here to-day, on the ground that the state of public affairs is grave and pressing. Sir, the state of public affairs is always grave and pressing in the case of an Empire which, like England, has such vast and world-wide responsibilities. Not only is the state of public affairs grave and pressing with regard to Ireland; but it is grave and pressing with regard to other matters. Ireland is, no doubt, an interesting country; but, after all, it is not the most important part of the British Empire, and the English people expect Her Majesty's Government to consider other matters, of great importance to themselves—they expect Her Majesty's Government to be able to devote some time to the urgent and pressing questions affecting the trade and commerce of this country.

Then, again, with regard to foreign policy; we know that our rivals and enemies in all parts of the world have shown great activity in recent years, and that it is absolutely necessary that the Government should keep constant watch upon them. I do not think Foreign Governments are likely to have less respect for England, when they find that the Government can devote as much attention to administration as to legislation, and that this "land of settled government" does not require to effect a change in its Constitution every six months.

Finally, there is the great question which has attracted the attention of the English people for some time past, and which Lord Salisbury the other day handled with generous sentiment, and, at the same time, with statesmanlike discretion—I mean the question of Imperial Federation. In that question there are, I admit, difficulties which are not dreamed of in the philosophy of after-dinner speeches. Not the least of these difficulties is the consideration that, in the interest of British taxpayers, the power of the sword must never be separated from the power of the purse, and that those who wish to control the Imperial policy of this country must be prepared to bear a fair share of Imperial burdens. But these and other difficulties exist to be overcome by statesmen. For my part, I am disposed to share the hope, expressed, I believe, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, in his great speech on the Home Rule Bill, in which he pointed to the possibility of finding the solution of our Irish difficulty in a system of federation; and I think that we might thus, perhaps, to apply the famous words of Canning—"Call in a new world to redress the balance of the old." But, be that as it may, we know that the sentiment of our race throughout the world is now strongly in favour of binding together the Mother Country and its Colonies and Dependencies in a closer and more effective union; and the achievement of such a task would indeed be an Imperial work, and one worthy to engage the attention of English public men. Sir, I have the honour to second the Motion of my right hon. and gallant Friend.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That, &c."—[See page 96.]

MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)

said: Sir, I am sure that no one will question either the right of the two hon. Members who have addressed the House to assume the duty which they have discharged, or the ability which they can bring to the discharge of any duty which they may undertake. At the same time, Sir, I cannot help saying that I am glad to say that it forms no part, according to usage or according to the convenience of the office I have now to discharge, to comment in detail upon the speeches in which the Address has been Moved and Seconded. In particular, with regard to the speech of the hon. Member the Seconder (Mr. J. M. Maclean), while I am sincerely indebted to him for the favourable and too flattering remarks with which he was pleased to refer to me personally, I own there were two points that struck me in that speech to which I should like to refer. One phrase I will observe—and which I regret he uttered—because I think it must have fallen from him inadvertently. The hon. Gentleman spoke of "our rivals and enemies in all parts of the world." "Well, Sir, I confess, without wishing to take an over-sanguine view of the state and relations of civilized nations, I do cherish the hope that we have not at any rate got rivals and enemies in all parts of the world. I followed the hon. Member with great sympathy in that portion of his speech in which he referred to the labours to which we have been subjected, and the state of exhaustion to which we have been reduced. I entirely followed him in that portion of his speech; but then I must confess that I was somewhat surprised when I found that, instead of manifesting this exhaustion, and avoiding topics of controversy, and encouraging brevity of debate, the hon. Member, though he did not "survey mankind from China to Peru," nevertheless undertook, I think, the much more arduous task of stating in full, and as if by authority, the policy of the existing Government, and undoubtedly gave to his remarks, as in a certain degree also did the Mover of the Address, a polemical and provocative character. Well, Sir, my sincere desire and intention and duty on this occasion, is to avoid all subjects that are properly speaking of a controversial character, and in that respect I have perhaps an advantage over the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I have very few remarks to make upon the Speech from the Throne. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Address (Colonel King-Harman) began by referring—in terms extremely courteous and considerate as towards the hon. Members on this side of the House—to the foreign policy of the Government. Anything that I have to say upon that subject will be disposed of in a moment or two, and I hope it will not be conceived in a different tone. With regard to Burmah, I express much regret to find circumstances reported from time to time which would appear to indicate that far greater difficulties have been experienced in connection with that country than were anticipated at the time of its annexation. But, Sir, I am well aware that the first Government of Lord Salisbury, in deciding on that act of annexation and announcing it to the world, had questions of an arduous, and difficult, and delicate character to deal with, and undoubtedly I should be very far from taking advantage of anything that has happened for the purpose of justifying an adverse verdict on their conduct until there is information before us of a nature to justify and require such a verdict. With respect to foreign policy generally, I infer from the absence of notice of it in the Speech from the Throne that there is no question at present before the Government of a grave or alarming character; for if there had been such question, no doubt they would have thought it fit and necessary to refer to it. I would go one step further, and say it was with very great satisfaction that, during the first Government of Lord Salisbury, I found myself able to follow not only with acquiescence, but in general with decided approval, the measures which that Nobleman had taken, in the Office of Foreign Secretary, for the defence of the honour and interests of this country, and for the maintenance of the peace of the world. I venture to express the hope, after the intervention of the six months during which we held Office, that the time has perhaps arrived when a great public advantage may be found to have been achieved in the attainment of something like a continuity in the foreign policy of the country, which, undoubtedly, will prove exceedingly conducive to an increase both of our legitimate influence, and to the peace and welfare of the civilized world. The reference to Ireland in the Speech is very brief, and the reference to the Elections is one of which I can make no just complaint. It is perfectly true and undeniable that the verdict of the country, as expressed in the Returns to this House, has tended "to confirm the conclusion to which the late Parliament had come" with respect to the Irish policy of Her Majesty's late Government. The hon. Gentleman obliges me to say a word upon that subject, and one word only it shall be. He expressed his opinion that even I, the ringleader in all the mischief which he thinks has been done, should never again attempt to produce the measures which were introduced on the part of the late Administration into this House. I will go so far towards meeting the hon. Member as to say that certainly, in my opinion, the conduct of the great question connected with the policy of this country towards Ireland is a matter that ought under all circumstances, where it is possible, to remain in the hands and under the primary responsibility of the Government; but if the hon. Gentleman supposes that anything that has happened has produced the slightest change in my convictions with regard to the basis and principle of that policy, I cannot afford him the slightest encouragement or smallest ground for such a supposition. I do not wish to press forward the course of events with undue haste. I hope we shall remember on this side of the House what is due to a Government which has just assumed Office; but I must say that all that has happened, instead of weakening, has confirmed me in the strong belief that we did not err in the main principles of the measures we recommended to this House. It is, perhaps, not now the time for me to anticipate the answer that may be made to the hon. Member's announcement of the irrevocable character of this verdict of the country—it is not now the time or place for me to dwell on a different anticipation; but, so far as my convictions are concerned—and I hope that my actions will ever follow my convictions—I felt it necessary to say the few words I have addressed in answer to his appeal. The retrospect of the Irish Question is, I think, stated in the Speech from the Throne with perfect fairness. I must say a few words as to its prospects; and what I am now going to say as to its prospects in the hands of the existing Government will not, I hope, transgress the line that I have laid down for myself. I do not desire, or intend, or think it to be controversial; but I am aware that it is an unhappy condition of human life occasionally to provoke by paying a compliment, and I am not certain how far the compliment I have to pay will be acceptable to those for whom it is intended. On reading this Speech—I am not referring to what it contains, but to what it does not contain—my first impression is an impres- sion of decided satisfaction. Although we are believed to be at issue, and I fear still at issue, upon principles of some depth and breadth, yet I cannot but bear in mind the position in which we stood six months ago with regard to the principle of what I will not call "coercion," but what I may call "a repressive policy for Ireland," and the very marked difference from the position in which we now stand, and the mitigation which this change appears to me to indicate in the views, intentions, and temper of Her Majesty's Government. It will be borne in mind that, on the 26th January, it was found necessary to announce—and announce in terms of great decision—in this House the intention of Her Majesty's Government to introduce a strong measure of a repressive class, as being absolutely required and called for by the existing condition of affairs in Ireland. Evidently that view of the state of Ireland was not abandoned by the Conservative Government on their retirement from Office, because, on the contrary, reference was made on various occasions to the condition of Ireland, as requiring immediate and strong handling on the part of the Executive. On the 4th of March last, a Motion was made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Dublin University (Mr. Holmes), who represented Ireland in this House at the time, on the part of the Party now in Office, in which he went the extreme length—for it certainly was an extreme length—of saying— That this House is unwilling to entertain Estimates for the Civil Establishments in Ireland before being placed in possession of the policy which Her Majesty's Government intend to pursue for the restoration and maintenance of social order in that country. At that time we had been five weeks in Office; and the right hon. and learned Gentleman was prepared to go that length, although he is now one of those who are inviting us to use expedition in voting all the remaining Estimates. The right hon. and learned Gentleman at the time was prepared to refuse Supplies, because, within a period of five weeks from the assumption of Office, we had not produced our measures to the House. I dare say he will have an opportunity of explaining these matters in the course of the debate, and I do not wish to draw from him a premature explanation. But his action was not a solitary action; it was the action of his Party. The noble Lord who is now the Leader of the House (Lord Randolph Churchill) then expressed— The strong conviction he entertained of the necessity for the suppression of the National League for all the purposes of law and order. And the right hon. Gentleman, then the Leader of the House (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), distinctly affirmed the Motion of the right hon. and learned Member by a short speech, which he made after the division on the Adjournment, in which he described it as a "protest against the betrayal of the country." It certainly was a strong proposition, and I only quote it to show the strength of the convictions with which it was then connected as to the necessity of repressive legislation for Ireland, that non-production of such legislation was declared by the right hon. Gentleman to be a betrayal of the country. Nor was the opinion abandoned for a considerable time after the Motion of the right hon. and learned Gentleman; for the most dismal accounts were given by noble Lords, now Members of the Cabinet. On the 2nd of June, in the House of Lords, speaking with reference to the condition of Ireland—to the condition of Ireland as it then stood—Lord Cranbrook, for example, said— The people are suffering torture; they are losing property through your neglect; those tenants who are honest men are afraid to pay their rent through your neglect, and the landlords are impoverished. And Lord Ashbourne, whom I need not quote in detail, speaks in much the same sense. Therefore, we had at that time a very strong conviction announced in this House on the 26th of January, and long afterwards consistently maintained, and strongly urged, involving the necessity of the immediate application of repressive measures to Ireland. Now, I am sorry to say that, so far as we take the test of the diminution of crime, there has been no change which warrants a different view at the present time from the view which might have been taken in January last. The latest Returns that I have is the Return for June and July of agrarian crime compared with the Return for December and January—the two months preceding the present period compared with the two months preceding the notice of a great repressive measure. In December and January, the crimes—apart from threatening letters reported to the Constabulary—were 110; in June and July they were 124; and I am sorry to say that the agrarian crime of the last 12 months in Ireland has, undoubtedly, presented a more serious character than that which had marked it during the two preceding years. It is more serious in this important respect—that, whereas in those two years the crime of agrarian murder had been almost effaced, within the last 12 months the agrarian murders amount, I think, to no less than 10. Now, Sir, do not let it be supposed for a moment that I think there is a state of things in Ireland that justifies the introduction of repressive measures. I think nothing of the kind. But what I wish to observe is this. The persons of great authority now at the head of the largest Party in this House, who felt an overwhelming necessity for repressive measures in January last, and who continued to urge for some months that such measures would be necessary, have now abandoned the opinion, and meet the House without any indication of an intention to introduce them; and, on the contrary, allowing for what the noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill) has said with regard to a Prorogation, after the close of the discussion on the Estimates, point to the intervention of an interval before any measures or any policy as to the state of Ireland are to be introduced. Now, Sir, in my opinion, in proportion as we move away from the state of readiness to adopt coercion in legislation, we come nearer to the essential, vital, and necessary principles of a sound policy of separate self-government for Ireland. I have therefore to express my satisfaction—not as a matter in any way of reproach—I heartily express my satisfaction that there appears to me to be a greater approach to unity on this important subject of repressive legislation for Ireland—a greater approach to the unity of principle and feeling in this House at present, than existed six months ago. And now, Sir, with respect to the Prorogation of the House, and the interval which possibly may elapse before Her Majesty's Government make their proposals with reference to Ireland. The Seconder of the Address stated indeed that they had nothing to do but to maintain the Union and administer the law. That is a very simple view of the condition of Ireland, because we have been for the last 86 years maintaining the Union, and I do not suppose there is any Party in the House—at least I do not suppose that either of the two Parties which have been connected with the administration of the law of Ireland—will for a moment allow that they have not, at all times, done their best to administer the law. I think that, in that respect, the hon. Gentleman the Seconder of the Address can hardly have embraced the fulness of the intentions of Her Majesty's Government. I am persuaded that, especially after what I have said with regard to their indisposition to adopt measures of coercion, measures of repression—I am persuaded that Her Majesty's Government take a very different measure of their own duty, and of the necessities of the case. That on which I am now going to offer a remark is simply the question of the time when they will be in a condition to make known to us their general view, and to lay before us such proposals as they may think it their duty to introduce. Sir, a fair time ought to be allowed; but I think the House will feel with me that that time ought not to be unnecessarily prolonged. The Opposition on that subject were, six months ago, extremely rigid. If I remember rightly, it was with the utmost impatience that I could be allowed to beg of the House a period of six weeks, during which six weeks we were in the midst of all the Business of the Session, and not with the leisure of a Recess—during which six weeks we were to undertake the formation of two Bills as complex, perhaps, as almost any Bills that have been laid before the House for a great number of years. Well, I thought we were rather severely, and I believed harshly, pressed at the time, and I do not propose to retaliate; but I do propose to say that it appears to me hardly consistent with political prudence—I do not wish, to raise it as a subject of sharp difference of opinion at this time, and I certainly do not think of anything like moving an Amendment to the Address on the subject—but it does appear to me that it would not be consistent with political prudence to contemplate the adjournment of all declation of Irish policy so long as until the month of February, when Parliament usually meets. There are two considerations which seem to me to support that view of the case, independently of the fact that it can hardly be thought that so long a period is necessary for the consideration of the case, at a time when our minds have all for the last 12 months really, I might almost say, been considering little else. The first of these considerations is that this is a question not of general policy, not of mere legislative improvement, but of social order. Both sides of the House, during the last Session of Parliament, were completely agreed in that view of the case. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes) urged his plea on the ground that the condition of social order in Ireland was most urgent, and required immediate attention. That we never questioned for a moment. The question was between the different modes of dealing with social order in Ireland. We proposed a mode—differently, perhaps, from the majority of the House—which we thought the only certain and effectual mode; but we never questioned that it was a matter of social order which was before us. Well, Sir, the matter of social order is from the very nature of the case a matter of urgency. I remember very well when Sir Robert Peel took Office in 1841, after the rejection of the Whig Government—and I am not sure, Sir, that we did not meet on the very same day of the month of August, 45 years ago, as that on which we are meeting now—after he obtained the residue of Supply he was allowed an interval until February to frame his measures. But his measures were not measures connected with social order. There was no question of social order at issue at all. They were measures entirely of commercial policy. The Corn Law of the year 1846 had become, perhaps, a subject of controversy which might be said indirectly, at least, to involve social order; but in 1841, and for years after, it was a pure question of legislative improvement, with regard to which there was not the smallest argument for deviating from the arrangement of the time with respect to the proceedings of Parliament. I own that it appears to me that it would be a great responsibility—especially as we have seen that whatever urgency there was in the state of Ireland six months ago has not in any manner been abated—it would be a very great responsibility to pass into the winter and through a large portion of the winter before taking this House into the confidence of Her Majesty's Government, and calling attention to this most grave and most absorbing question. There is another consideration which meets me in the same direction, and it is this—I believe, although agrarian crime has not diminished in Ireland, yet I do believe that we have in the general feeling and sentiment of Ireland at this moment a temperate disposition of the public mind, more disposed to discourage everything of the kind than probably has been the the case for many, many years past. I should be very sorry if a period so favourable were allowed to pass away. And, Sir, there is that other question to which reference has hardly been made, but which cannot be absent from the mind of anyone who touches Irish matters—namely, the question of the payment of rent. The condition of Ireland with regard to the payment of rent has, I believe, upon the whole, not been for the last 12 months in a very satisfactory condition. I speak of it as relatively to other times, and I speak of it also as relatively to the payment of rent in England and Scotland, where there has been a disposition to pay; but nobody can say on the other side that the state of circumstances has been altogether satisfactory. Well, we approach in November a great and important period for the payment of rents in Ireland. The circumstances of harvest are uncertain. Though a good crop is in the ground, the actual weather prognostications do not allow us to form the most sanguine anticipations—at any rate, the most certainly sanguine anticipations as to what may happen. We know the opinion that prevails in Ireland—that of, at all events, a large portion of the community, in consequence of the changes in agricultural values—that there is a difficulty in maintaining the judicial rents. I am not qualified to give an opinion on that subject for myself, and I give no opinion. What I wish to impress is, that we have at the present moment a season singularly favourably in Ireland for the dealing with any real political exigencies of that country, and that we should lose all our advantage were we to pass into a different state of things with regard to the payment of rents. Were there to be anything like a general resistance or any revival of the doctrines hostile to rent under the influence of the passing circumstances of the moment, an immense addition would be made to the complications of this question, and it is extremely desirable, as it appears to me, to forestal those complications. Now, Sir, I have no intention of raising any issue upon this in the form of an Amendment to the Address. I have no intention of even pressing at the present moment for a declaration from the Government. What I ask from the Government is that they will take fairly into consideration these matters, and will examine carefully the question whether the general considerations do not make it extremely desirable that before the close of the present year they should if they are able to do it, as I imagine they would be able, to place before the House their views of the policy for Ireland and the measures which they may think it proper to bring in. Sir, it appears to me to be a proposition which one may fairly argue without introducing into the debate anything of a polemical character. The issue before the House is extremely grave, and the opinion, I think, of nearly the whole House is agreed on that; and that the Irish Question, whatever view we may take of it, is the question of the hour, and we must endeavour to apply to it some satisfactory solution, or some approach to a solution, which may have the effect of improving the actual position. Independently of its vast importance from other points of view, it is of the utmost possible moment in reference to the object we all most cherish—namely, of placing this House iii a position to maintain its efficiency and its dignity, and to address itself to the enormous arrears of legislative duty which the circumstances of late years, and most of all, perhaps, the circumstances of Ireland have tended to impede.


In endeavouring to reply to the remarks which have fallen from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and in endeavouring to lay before the House a clear and full statement of the views of Her Majesty's Government in the present conjunction of public affairs, I trust that I may receive, not in any way on my own account, but on account of the importance of the affairs with which I will try to deal, some measure of the patience and indulgence of the House of Commons. I fear it will be necessary for me to trespass, although at an inconvenient hour, for some little length of time; but it will be my object, as far as possible, to condense and to render concise the remarks which it is my duty to make. It is, at any rate, one of the most pleasant privileges of anyone filling the position which I have the honour to hold that, before addressing himself to the more difficult and less pleasant portion of his task, he may, with the general concurrence of the House, as on almost all occasions, offer to the Mover and Seconder of the Address the congratulations of the House on the manner in which they have discharged their duties; and I feel certain that on the present occasion I shall not be in any way transgressing the rights of my position in offering to my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend, the Mover and the Seconder of the Address, the thanks of the Government, and the congratulations of, at any rate, a very large portion of the House who listened to them, on the skill, tact, and ability with which they discharged duties "which are always difficult. I do not propose to follow, at any great length, the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down in the remarks which fell from him, because I fancy that the general statement of the views of the Government which I shall have to make will, to a great extent, answer many of his inquiries and comments. Certainly, we have nothing whatever to complain of, and no severe comments to make on the speech which the right hon. Gentleman has delivered. It certainly was to me an enormous relief to listen to that speech, because, from sources of information which are not naturally always well-informed, we had been led to believe that an onslaught of a more than usually terrible character was to be made upon the Treasury Bench under the Leadership of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman will understand the appalling nature of that apprehension even to the stoutest mind. But that heavy cloud has passed away. In fact, there is nothing which calls for special notice in the speech, of the right hon. Gentleman with the exception of two or three isolated remarks on matters omitted from the Gracious Speech from the Throne. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to the state of affairs in Burmah, and he appeared to imagine that the Government were experiencing greater difficulty in bringing that country into subjection and order than they anticipated when they assumed the responsibility of recommending its annexation. Well, I have been somewhat responsible for recommending the annexation of that country, and I can most truly state to the House that the difficulties experienced have in no degree whatever exceeded my anticipations. I never imagined that Burmah would be reduced with ease. I never expected that it would be reduced to order except after a considerable period of time. It took no less than 10 years to reduce Lower Burmah to order, though its state of civilization was more advanced; and, no doubt, though the skill of our agents is greater now than then, we must look forward to a long period before public order is established in the country recently annexed. Then as to another point, the inference which the right hon. Gentleman drew as to the omission from the Speech of any reference to foreign affairs that no grave or alarming question was now under the notice of Her Majesty's Government with regard to these matters in an absolutely correct inference. It was evident, from Lord Salisbury's remarks at the Mansion House the other night, that there is nothing in the state of foreign affairs which should seriously disquiet the minds of Her Majesty's Ministers. In the various affairs of this Empire there are always difficult and complicated questions arising out of our relations with foreign countries; but at present there is nothing, so far as I am aware, abnormal or unusual which would call upon us to depart in any way from the assurance with regard to foreign affairs which was given in the last Parliament in the last Queen's Speech. I will now proceed, if the House will allow me, to state the views of the Government on what the right hon. Gentleman called rightly and properly the question of the day—I allude to the question of Ireland. But before stating in any detail the views of the Government on that question, I may, perhaps, be permitted to remark upon the somewhat doubtful compliment which the right hon. Gentleman permitted himself to use towards the Government and Gentlemen on this side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman congratulated us on the difference of our attitude now and that held last January. He said there was a remarkable difference between the attitude we now held with regard to social order in Ireland and the attitude which the late Conservative Government took up on the 26th of January last. The right hon. Gentleman could not account for that change of attitude. He said that as far as the figures of crime go there is no reason for the change, and he could not imagine any satisfactory explanation of it. But, Sir, has there been no change in the position of the Irish Question since January last? Why the largest, widest, and most momentous change which has ever taken place has come over the Irish Question since that date. Since the 26th of January the right hon. Gentleman has taken the lead of the National Party in Ireland, and to the cause of the Repeal of the Union the right hon. Gentleman has brought over for the first time a very large majority of a great historic Party. Is that, Sir, no change? Well, how does that affect, and how does the Government consider that it affects, the state of social order in Ireland? There has been long an Organization in Ireland which aims at the Repeal of the Union, and that Organization is worked from time to time by methods which this House has regarded as treasonable and criminal. But since the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends assumed the lead of the National Party in Ireland, since they have made themselves responsible for the actions and the policy of that Party, are not the Government right in presuming, at any rate for the time, that the methods of political agitation which are familiar to the right hon. Gentleman and are regarded as Constitutional in this country may be adopted by the Party which has hitherto been slow to adopt them? I do hold that the Government are justified in assuming that the close, intimate, and indissoluble connection which now exists between the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) warrants the conclusion at which they have arrived. The right hon. Gentleman welcomed, somewhat sarcastically, what he called our readiness, for the first time, as he seemed to imagine, to depart from the constant resort to coercion. The tendency of the right hon. Gentleman to move away from the course of coercion is of very recent growth. I have never observed, nor have the Irish Members I believe observed, any reluctance on the right hon. Gentleman's part to resort to coercion. Indeed, it was admitted by them that there was a greater reluctance among the Tories to resort to coercive legislation when they were in Office than had been displayed by the Party to which the right hon. Gentleman belongs. Then, the right hon. Gentleman went on to remark as to the time when the next Session of Parliament should commence, and he was kind enough to give us the benefit of his advice on the subject, and he also contrasted the treatment he had received from the Tories when in Opposition with the treatment which he is so generously and magnanimously prepared to mete out to us. I do not wish to deprive the right hon. Gentleman of any gratification he may derive from the contemplation of his own generosity. But I cannot, nor can my Colleagues generally, quite agree with views which the right hon. Gentleman holds. There is undoubtedly much that may be said, considering the great arrears of Public Business and the many important subjects with which Parliament would be asked to deal, in favour of Parliament meeting earlier than in February next. But, after a careful review of the situation, after having convinced ourselves of the overwhelming necessity that whatever proposals the Government should make for the development of prosperity and order in Ireland should be proposals based upon immense consideration, and also bearing in mind the enormous strain to which Members of Parliament and the public generally have been put, from a political point of view, over since the great Reform controversy, Her Majesty's Government have come to the conclusion, apart from the occurrence of something either in home or foreign affairs which might necessitate an earlier recourse to Parliament, that it would not be wise, nor is there anything in the state of the country which demands, that we should cause Parliament to meet before the ordinary period in February. I have only one more comment to make on the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I cannot pass by altogether without notice the tendency of the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman as to the possible non-payment of rents in Ireland. I regret he should have thought it his duty to make those remarks. I do not think that the making of them squared altogether with what appeared to be the tendency of the rest of his speech; and certainly the tendency of such remarks is extremely curious when you consider that they fell from the very author of the Land Act of 1881—an Act which the right hon. Gentleman, as the Head of the Government and his Party, solemnly guaranteed as a final settlement of the Land Question in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman now anticipates, and apparently does no vex himself with the anticipation, that the judicial rents levied under that Act may not be paid by the tenants of Ireland. Having offered that remark to the House, he states that he is not qualified to give an opinion on the subject. If that is so, it is greatly to be regretted that he should have touched on the subject at all. Why anticipate a state of things which would be most formidable, when the very anticipation from such an authority as the right hon. Gentleman might produce that very state of things which we should all so deeply deplore. And now I will ask the House to attend while I explain, as concisely as I can, the views of the Government on the Irish Question. I will deal with that question in a manner which has become by usage familiar to Members of Parliament. I will deal with it as it presents itself to the Government under the three aspects—social order, the Land Question, and local government. There is this difference, at starting, between the late Government and the present Government. The late Government were of opinion that these three questions were indissolubly connected, and their policy was to deal with them all by one measure. The present Government do not believe that the three questions are indissolubly connected, and they propose to treat them to a very large extent as totally separate and distinct. Social order we intend to treat as a question absolutely by itself. The Government are distinctly of opinion, and will not shrink from expressing it, that there is nothing in the law or in the government or in the administration of Ireland which would warrant or excuse any serious disturbance of social order. I go to the Land Question, and I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that it has only recently been the subject of large legislation, and that we certainly have been led to hope that it would be a final settlement of the question. [Cries of "No!"] I was led to hope that by the author of that great measure. With regard to the question of local government, we wish to treat it as a question for the United Kingdom as a whole. But I come back to the first head of the subject—namely, the present state of social order in Ireland. The House might be interested in one or two figures as to crime in Ireland generally. The right hon. Gentleman himself quoted a few; but they were of a slightly misleading character. I take the total agrarian crimes for the first six months of this year, and compare them with the total for the first six months of last year, and I find, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, that there is an increase, not inconsiderable, of agrarian crime. The total for the six months of this year is 551, while the total for the first six months of last year was 399. But that increase is almost entirely due to one part of Ireland alone. I allude to the county of Kerry. If you subtract the figures of crime in the county of Kerry from the total amount of agrarian crime in Ireland, JTOU will find that there has been a reduction, or, at any rate, no increase; but if I take the year 1881–2—a period when the right hon. Gentleman was in power and was at the head of affairs—if I take that period as what may be called a standard of acute disturbance of social order in Ireland, I find that, whereas the total of agrarian crimes for the first six months of this year is 551, in the first six months of 1881 it was 2,310. It is absolutely necessary for the right comprehension of the question that you should not only compare one period with another, but take great periods of disturbance and compare the present time with them. That is a general view, and although I think that many would agree—perhaps no one would disagree—that the amount of general agrarian crime in Ireland is larger considerably than it ought to be under a settled state of things, still, I do not know whether, considering all the crises that Ireland has gone through, the present amount of agrarian crime is as serious as might have been expected. But there are two parts of Ireland to which these remarks do not apply. There are two parts of Ireland which have been specially disturbed, and where the disturbance is acute. I allude, in the first place, to the greater part of Kerry, and to parts of the counties of Cork, Clare, Limerick, and Galway; and I allude, in the second place, to Belfast, which has been a scene of great disturbance. In the districts of the South and West disturbance has become not only acute, but chronic; it has even excited the strong disapproval of the Nationalist journal in that part of the world. In Belfast the disturbance has not yet become chronic, and the Government are determined that it shall not become so. There have been serious riots in that town ever since the 6th of June—riots which have excited the utmost pain and anxiety in this country—which have led, I regret to say, to a serious loss of life, no less than 25 persons having, I believe, met their death—[An Irish MEMBER: More!]—besides many women and children and innocent persons being seriously injured. They have been accompanied by a great amount of damage to private and municipal property, and they have been followed by an arrest of business and of industry from the effects of which, I fear, the town will suffer for many a long day. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary has informed the House that it is the intention of the Government to order a searching inquiry into the origin of these riots. [Ironical cheers and laughter.] I trust that the hon. Members who are indulging in those manifestations will not think that I am the least insensible to the hint they convey; but I cannot help hoping that if those manifestations are to be indulged in to any great extent they may at least be placed before the House in a definite and intelligible form, by which the opinion of the House upon those insinuations and imputations may be elicited in a distinct manner. But I turn to the question of what the Government have done for the suppression of the riots, and my right hon. Friend has instructed me to tell the House that the latest accounts from Belfast are of a very reassuring character, and that the best authorities are of opinion that the state of excitement is subsiding, and that there are prospects of a speedy restoration of order and tranquillity. The Government have not been idle even during the short time in which they have been in Office. A great number of persons have been arrested; 230 rioters have been arrested, of whom 146 have been summarily convicted, 43 sent for trial, 29 remanded, and only 18 discharged. I think that those figures will show that Her Majesty's Executive is doing its duty; but I am also authorized to add that if the number of rioters who are committed for trial should be sufficient to warrant the step, a Special Commissioner will be sent to Belfast to try them, as was done, I believe, after the great riots of 1864. But not only have the Government endeavoured to stimulate the energies of the Executive so far as the resident magisterial portion of the Executive are concerned, but the town has also been occupied by a large force of military which is in direct charge of the General Commanding the Northern District of Ireland. The military are in Belfast not for ornament or show, but for action if required. Many of the officers have been invested with special magisterial power, which would enable them to take immediate action in an emergency. There is also a very large force of police concentrated in the town, and those police will be maintained in Belfast until complete order and tranquillity are restored. Will the House permit me to make one passing observation on the Irish Police? The House is no doubt aware that accusations of a very serious kind have been very freely made from certain quarters against the Royal Irish Constabulary in relation to their conduct at Belfast. I utterly decline to discuss for one moment those accusations. There may or there may not have been individual instances of indiscipline or individual instances of reckless anticipation of orders. If those instances are proved before the proper tribunal, the individuals convicted will be punished by the proper authorities; but this I am prepared to say, that the Government will not countenance nor tolerate for one single moment any hostility, overt or concealed, against the Constabulary of Belfast. I rejoice to hear from my right hon. and gallant Friend the Mover of the Address his expressions of confidence in the Royal Irish Constabulary. We are in cordial agreement on that point with him. We are aware that the Royal Irish Constabulary have a great and glorious record of service rendered to the State during many years, and in many periods of great anxiety and public danger. The Government are sensible of the great value of that record, and they are perfectly confident that the Force, as a whole, is still animated by all the traditions of its history and origin. The Government rely on the Constabulary, and they will support that Force in the effective discharge of its most difficult and sometimes delicate duties. But if there is any portion of the inhabitants of Belfast who allow themselves to be under the impression that they can safely, or with any amount of impunity, indulge in violence or hostility against the police, those parties will make a most serious and fatal error, for which they will probably have to pay the heaviest penalties. But, speaking generally about Belfast, I believe I am expressing the sentiments of the Chief Secretary and of the entire Government, when I say that we are resolutely determined to restore and to maintain order in Belfast, and to shrink from no responsibility which will enable us to attain that end, and to attain it without delay. I now ask the House to allow me to direct its attention to the disturbed districts in the South and West of Ireland. The cause of those disturbances—which, as I have said, have become chronic and acute—is due to secret intimidation, "Boycotting," and "Moonlighting." I will give to the House the figures relating to "Boycotting" and "Moonlighting" in general. There has been a very serious increase in crime in Kerry. It has increased in the first six months of this year, as compared with the first six months of last year, from the total of 65 agrarian offences to a total of 135—more than double. "Boycotting" in Kerry and Clare, which in July, 1885, had only reached the number of 62 cases, in the present July has reached 124. "Boycotting" all over Ireland does not show the same serious augmentation. In 1886 the cases wholly or partly of "Boycotting" all over Ireland are 890, compared with 533 in 1885. But it is in Kerry where this feature of "Boycotting" outrages and "Moonlighting" shows itself in the most unpleasant form, and the House will be curious to know the number of persons who are under the special protection of the police in Kerry, as it will illustrate very forcibly the state of terror which obtains in the "Boycotted" part of Ireland. In July, 1885, there were 145 persons who required protection, and 292 policemen were employed in that duty. In July, 1886, the number was only 56, the police occupied being 107.

MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-on-Tyne)

Have you the figures for the whole year?


I am not making comparisons between different Administrations. I am endeavouring to depict to the House the extent of crime in Kerry. To show the number of police who are taken away from their duties in order to protect people, I may mention the case of Lord Kenmare, a most amiable, estimable Irish nobleman, the respected late Colleague of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. For the protection of his person, his residence, farms, &c, 38 constables were specially employed. For the same purpose, in the case of Miss Thompson, a landowner in Kerry, 32 constables were engaged. [Mr. PARNELL: Give us the evictions.] This will show the House pretty clearly what the state of affairs is in that part of the world; and, judging from the small number of arrests that have recently been made, and the growing boldness of criminals—for instance, a few days ago, in open daylight, a police patrol was fired upon—Her Majesty's Government are unable to be absolutely certain that the Executive machinery is as sufficient as might be wished for the detection and prevention of crime in that part of the world, or altogether as adequate as the circumstances of the case require. In 1871 the right hon. Gentleman opposite had to deal with a similar state of things in the county of Westmeath, and for that purpose he proposed a secret Committee to take secret evidence, and on the Report of that Committee he suspended the Habeas Corpus Act, and the result was a very serious diminution of the crime and disorder in Westmeath. But Her Majesty's Government are anxious—in fact, are resolved—to satisfy their minds fully on the point which I previously mentioned to the House before going into extreme measures. They are going to make a very resolute effort, either by means of the agencies well within their power, to force the "Moonlighters" and criminals to desist from their lawless courses, or to take such measures as will inevitably bring them to speedy justice. With that view, Her Majesty's Government have decided to appoint a special military officer of high rank and varied experience to the command of the disturbed districts, with such powers as we believe will enable him to organize arrangements for the restoration of order and for the cessation of the reign of terror which there prevails. This general officer will be directly responsible to my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary; and the officer whom Her Majesty's Government have selected, and who has consented to undertake the duty, is Sir Redvers Buller. Speaking generally and specially, both with regard to the disturbances of social order in Ireland and in those districts I have named, and with regard to Belfast, it is the absolute determination of the Government to use to their very utmost all the existing powers of the ordinary law—to use to their very utmost all the machinery, whether magisterial, police, or military, for the purpose of restoring or maintaining order—the first duty of the Government of every civilized community. But, Sir, this I can pledge the Government to—that at the very first moment that the Government becomes conscious that they are not fulfilling that which they regard as their highest duty, and that further power and strength are necessary—at that moment they will come to Parliament and lay their case before it, and claim with all confidence from Parliament such legislation as they may deem to be necessary. I now come to the Land Question. With regard to the Land Question in Ireland, the Government are aware that various allegations are being put forward with great vigour and great assurance from many quarters as to the condition of the Irish Land Question. We are informed, or we hear it said, that judicial rents under the Land Act were fixed at a great deal too high a rate; and we also hear it alleged that the fall in the price of produce has rendered tenants unable to pay those judicial rents, even if they had not been fixed too high; and we are told that there is now, or will soon be, a general failure to pay rent in Ireland. Her Majesty's Government are by no means satisfied that there is any serious reason for any one of these allegations. Her Majesty's Government are not prepared to admit that the judicial rents fixed by the Commissioners were at any too high a rate. The Government are further of opinion that it is quite possible the fall in the prices of produce—I allude especially to the fall in the staple article of Irish produce, butter—may be due quite as much to careless or defective manufacture, or to adulteration, as to any general depreciation in prices. Then Her Majesty's Government assume, as I think they are bound to assume, that the Commissioners under the Land Act in fixing judicial rents for so long a period as 15 years left ample scope for any exceptional fall in prices. ["No!"] Well, that is the assumption of Her Majesty's Government. But, Sir, I speak with regard to the present purpose of the Government and the view they take of the present position of the Land Question, and I say that for all present purposes we take our stand on the Land Act of 1881, which was declared by its authors to be and accepted by Parliament as a final settlement of the Land Question. That Act, as supplemented by the Arrears Act of 1882 and as amended by the Land Purchase Act of 1885, Her Majesty's Government regard as a very valid and binding contract, which was made at that time between the State on the one hand and the landlords and tenants of Ireland on the other, and the policy of Her Majesty's Government will be to see that all legal obligations and all legal process arising out of that Act are strictly enforced and perfectly carried out so far as such action can come within the province of an Executive Government. If there are any persons in this House who are of opinion that there will be by the Government any interference with or suspension, by legislation or the neglect of executive action, of the right of landlords to recover their land in the event of non-payment of rent, they fall into great and serious error. We are told that if we adopt the policy of that kind there will be a general movement all over Ireland in the form of a passive resistance to the payment of rent. I take leave, in conjunction with my Colleagues, to disbelieve that statement altogether and to disregard that menace. With regard to what the farmers have acquired under the Act of 1881, they have obtained a right possessing a distinct money value, which right the Government are equally bound to regard, and we do not believe that the farmers of Ireland would consent to take part in any such scheme as threatened, or would consent to sacrifice or imperil those rights. Nor do we think that the movement in favour of non-payment of rent of 1881 has any chance, under present circumstances, of being generally repeated, in consequence of the great change which has come over the farmers of Ireland since that time. That is the statement of the policy of the Government with regard to the Land Question in Ireland at the present time. At the same time I would wish to add this further. It has been brought to the knowledge of Her Majesty's present Government that a very large number of Members of Parliament on both sides of the House and in both Houses have always entertained very serious doubts as to the economical soundness of the machinery for the valuation of rents provided by the Act of 1881. Doubts were expressed by many Members of his Party as to the economical soundness of the system of double ownership, described with matchless force of eloquence and satire by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian in 1870. Many Members of his Party, of the moderate Liberal Party, doubted this part of the Land Act of 1881. We hold that the machinery of that Act was imperfect and of a rough and ready character, and that if it did contain anything of good, whatever good it did contain was damaged, impaired, and tainted by the violence, outrage, and crime in the midst of which, and in consequence of which, it was created and brought into operation. The advocates of that Act looked upon it as being of a temporary character. The noble Lord the present Member for Rossendale (the Marquess of Hartington) made a speech in Lancashire at that time in which he described the character of the machinery as most temporary, as being what he called a modus vivendi, and as intended to tide over the period which was to elapse, and must necessarily elapse, between the disestablishment of the system of double ownership and the establishment of a system of single ownership. Now, Sir, Her Majesty's Government are strongly of opinion—after all that has passed in connection with this Land Question and in view of the very conflicting and strong opinions freely expressed from many and various quarters—that the time has arrived when they ought to have at their command for their guidance in the future, authentic information of a distinctly official and weighty character as to the working and the present position of the Land Question in Ireland. Her Majesty's Government are aware that a great and widespread Organization has endeavoured, not without success, arbitrarily to control the working of that Act for their own ends, and they are aware that, at any rate with regard to a great part of Ireland, there does not exist at the present time perfect freedom of action in the rural community with regard to the sale or the cultivation or the hiring of land. Her Majesty's Government are, moreover, further aware that a general depression of trade and agriculture has affected England and Scotland most severely, and a great portion of the civilized world, and may be inferred to have produced some effect upon the land system of Ireland. Her Majesty's Government are also aware that many landlords in Ireland have felt it to be their duty to make large reductions to their tenants, particularly reductions of rent, which have not been hitherto made the subject of judicial arbitration; and they are aware that there is a general disposition amongst the tenantry to claim still further large reductions. I think the House will agree that these are matters which, though they are matters of imperfect information, are still matters of grave moment and concern to the Government and to Parliament; and that, as regards the future, they are matters on which authentic official information are absolutely essential to Her Majesty's Government. Sir, with that view, and at the same time asking the House, in order to avoid all misapprehension, to bear in mind the remarks which I venture to make as to the policy of the Government with regard to the right which may have been acquired and con- firmed under the Act of 1881 at the present time—bearing those remarks in mind, the Government have decided to appoint a Royal Commission?—[Opposition and Home Rule laughter]—which shall during this coming autumn and winter investigate with all care and knowledge and experience the Land Question at present obtaining in Ireland. [Laughter from the Opposition and Home Rulers.] I do not know why the project of the Government should excite derision either above or below the Gangway opposite; but I freely confess that there is an enormous and great advantage on the side of hon. Gentlemen opposite as compared with hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House. We do not possess the enormous advantage which they possess of intuitive knowledge; and we are of opinion that with regard to so vast a question as the Land Question in Ireland all official authentic information which can be obtained is absolutely necessary before any policy can be finally determined upon. And that was the view of hon. Gentlemen opposite a few years ago when they determined to deal with the Land Question. ["No!" from the Front Opposition Bench.] Certainly—the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a Member declined to deal with the Land Question in Ireland until they had appointed a Commission to furnish them with the information on the subject. I only make these remarks because I fail altogether to understand the derisive cheering of the right hon. Gentleman. The terms of reference to that Commission have been naturally to the Government a subject of the most anxious care and of the most prolonged and protracted deliberation. The names of the Commissioners we are not yet prepared to state to the House. Indeed, Sir, I will frankly state that the view of the House generally with regard to the subject-matter of inquiry will be of use to the Government before deciding on the final selection of the Commissioners. But this will be the principal anxiety of the Government, that the Commission shall be in the main an Irish Commission, and that all the chief parties and views in Ireland shall be fairly represented upon it; and I may say that any representation upon that point from any section of Irish Members will be received by Her Majesty's Government with all respect, and will receive from them full and as favourable consideration as possible. But, though we are not able to state the names of the Commissioners, perhaps the House will allow me to read to them the terms of Reference; because the terms of Reference, with the remarks which I have ventured to inflict on the House, will explain with some completeness the views of the Government on this question, and will, moreover, indicate the ultimate object of their policy on the Land Question in Ireland. The terms of Reference are these. The Commissioners will be appointed to inquire to what extent, if any, and in what parts of Ireland the operation of the Land Act of 1881 is affected either by combination to resist the enforcement of legal obligations, or by an exceptional fall in the price of produce; also to inquire to what extent there exists any general desire among tenants to avail themselves of the provisions of the Land Purchase Act of 1885, and whether the operation of that Act might be expedited and extended, especially in the congested districts, by providing security through the intervention of Local Authorities for loans advanced from public funds for the purchase of land, and to report whether any modifications of the law are necessary. I will venture to point out the leading features of that Reference. The Commissioners are directed to inquire into two specific matters in the first place. And the object of that has been to a considerable extent to narrow the range of operations, so that their proceedings may not be too dilatory and protracted. We confidently hope that the Report of this Commission may be furnished to the Government before the close of next spring. But a serious mistake will be made by any who think that the Government contemplate any further dealing with the Land Question in Ireland in the direction of any revision of the rent by the interposition of the State. That is altogether apart from the policy of the present Government. We are rather bound to the other solution of the Land Question in Ireland—single ownership—which was undoubtedly the main object of the Act of 1881. It is the main object of the Act of 1881; it is the main object of the Act of 1885, which was concurred in by all Parties in the House; and it was the main object of the Bill introduced by the right hon. Gentleman opposite in the last Parliament. The system of single ownership of land in Ireland, we believe, may be the ultimate solution of most of the difficulties of the Land Question; and though Her Majesty's Government will not be prepared, as far they are at present informed, to extend the liabilities of the State, as provided under the Act of 1885, they may be prepared to submit to the House proposals, if additional securities should be provided in the shape of Local Authorities. They may be prepared to submit proposals to the House for an additional outlay of public money. Well, Sir, there is one more subject on which I am anxious to speak to the House; but I fear I have already spoken at great length. There is another matter on which the Government are also resolved to acquire full and authentic information. It is a matter on which much has been said and written during many years. It is the question of the development of the material resources of Ireland. The constant allegation made by men of all Parties in Ireland has been that those resources have been neglected by the people and by the State, and that the capacity of Ireland for maintaining a much larger population even than she at present maintains is undoubted if those material resources could be developed by the infusion of capital into Ireland. On this question Her Majesty's Government propose to utilize the autumn and winter by procuring the very best authentic information. [Opposition laughter.] I really would appeal to hon. Members opposite to allow me to place these views before the House without more interruption than is absolutely necessary for the relief of their feelings, for the simple reason that interruption causes me to detain the House longer than I would wish. But I was saying that the Government are desirous to obtain on that subject the best authentic information at their command, and to procure it by a particular method. The Government have determined to appoint a small Commission of three Gentlemen, who, by their position and standing and experience in engineering, scientific, agricultural, and contracting circles, will be able to give, after full examination, conclusive information to the Government on that most disputed point. The exact terms of the Reference to that Commission are not yet drawn, and the Commissioners themselves are not yet selected; but the Government were anxious to place this portion of their policy without delay before Parliament, and I can state to the House the main lines of the inquiry which the Government contemplate. The Gentlemen who will form that Commission will be appointed to inquire and advise whether, by the outlay of public money, and upon what reasonable terms, the material resources of Ireland can be developed, and the energies of her people stimulated, and private enterprize attracted into that country. Our inquiries will divide themselves into three convenient and distinct channels. The Commissioners will consider the possibility of the creation of a great deep-sea fishing industry on the West Coast of Ireland by the construction of harbours of refuge, and the connection of those harbours with the main lines of rapid communication. The Government express no opinion as to the possibility of such a work. [Home Rule laughter.] But it is not a proposal to be derided. If such a thing were possible, and could be carried out, it would be worth a great effort and some risk on the part of Parliament; for it would undoubtedly, if successful, remove what has always been, and must always be, a source of intense anxiety to an Irish Government—namely, the extremely precarious position of the population on the West Coast, a population, I will say, than whom none is more deserving of the sympathy and support of Parliament. On this branch they would be especially directed to examine the railways, tramways, and road communication all over Ireland; and the Commissioners would be specially directed to examine the capacity and the management compared with that of other countries of the system of railways now in existence, in relation more particularly to the facilities afforded by those railways to the public generally, to private enterprize, and to private traders in particular. The third main branch of the inquiry will be the question of arterial drainage, and whether those great drainage works which prosperous agriculture would seem to require for those great river phenomena of the Shannon, the Bann, and the Barrow are not far too considerable to be attempted by the re- sources of single localities, and whether such large arterial drainage ought not, and could not, be remuneratively undertaken by the State for the benefit of the community at large. I now come to the third question—that of Irish government, on which I can only say that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to devote the Recess, which we hope will be one of due length, to the careful consideration of the question of local government for all the Three Kingdoms. When Parliament re-assembles in the beginning of February next year the Government are sanguine that they will be prepared with definite proposals on that large question. Their object will be, as far as possible, to eliminate Party feelings, and to secure for the consideration of the question as largo an amount of Parliamentary co-operation as can be obtained, so that, whatever settlement may be arrived at, it may not be regarded as a great political triumph of either Party, but rather in the nature of a final, durable, and lasting settlement. On this question of local government I have nothing to add. We are perfectly certain to fall into no errors on account of any hurry or undue haste. No amount of taunts, or jeers, or denunciation will make us budge one inch from our determination. At the same time, I may remind the House that it is not altogether without guidance as to the mind of the Government on this question. The Queen's Speech of January last announced the introduction of a Bill with regard to local government in England as well as in Ireland, and considerable progress had been made with the details of that scheme when the Government were roughly and incontinently ejected from Office. Speeches made at the time by those who are Ministers now would, I think, throw a good deal of light in the direction in which Her Majesty's Government will probably work. Nothing has occurred since which would lead us in any way widely to extend the limits of the policy we then laid down. On the contrary, everything that has occurred since then has tended to confirm and strengthen us in the view we then took on the subject of local government. The great sign-posts of our policy were at that time and are still equality, similarity, and, if I may use such a word, simultaneity of treatment as far as is practicable in the develop- ment of a genuinely popular system of local government in all the four countries which form the United Kingdom. That is really all I have to say to the House as to the views of the Government upon the Irish Question. I have stated, I believe, fully and frankly the main outlines of our present policy. The principal basis of that policy is undoubtedly the restoration and the maintenance of social order in Ireland, and of individual freedom to the widest extent which social order will permit. To that end we are determined, at all cost to ourselves as individuals and as a Government, to adhere, relying on the support of a great English political Party. On that foundation our policy reposes; but there is yet another, a deeper, stronger, and wider foundation—I mean the verdict of the British people as delivered with no doubtful sound at the recent General Election. The verdict of the people we take to have been clear, resonant, and unmistakably in favour of the maintenance of the Legislative Union between the two countries and of the supremacy as it exists now of the Imperial Parliament and of the full and effective sovereignty of the Queen over the whole of the United Kingdom. That verdict, for the purposes of the Government, we take to be what Lord Salisbury called it, a final and irreversible verdict, the finality and irreversibility of which cannot be in the smallest degree impugned except after another appeal to the country. On that final and irreversible verdict we, as a Government, take our stand now. Upon it we base our policy, not only for Ireland, but for the United Kingdom and the British Empire as a whole. By that policy so founded we, as a Government and as a Party in both Houses, will stand or fall.


said, that the speech of the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if it had failed to prove anything else, had proved mainly one fact—that Her Majesty's Government, during the short time that had elapsed since their accession to Office, had not succeeded in realizing the gravity of the responsibility which rested upon them, and the many duties which inhered in them in relation to the government of Ireland. The unexcited tone of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's speech would, no doubt, satisfy the feelings of the average Englishman; but in Ireland the news that so many Commissions of Inquiry on so many subjects were proposed to be appointed would excite not only deep disappointment, but an emotion of actual despair. It was absolutely cruel on the part of a Minister of the Crown to rise in his place at this critical period and tell the people of Ireland that after all these years nothing could be done for them except the appointment of fresh Commissions to inquire into the condition of the country. Commissions of Inquiry had been the perpetual solace of the Irish people; but there was a general sickness and disgust in Ireland at such a policy, in the wake of which anything ameliorative had rarely followed. He repudiated the notion that the Government had nothing to do for Ireland except that advised by the hon. Member the Seconder of the Address (Mr. Maclean)—namely, to stay in Office reaping spoils whilst neglecting duties. From such a fool's paradise the Government would find themselves suddenly and energetically awakened. The policy of Ministers—the policy of procrastination, of putting off the evil hour, based as it was on the fancy belief that the result of the polls had given them warranty, would prove in its effects worse than absurd—it was self-destructive. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had tried to make out that the verdict of the people of Great Britain was complete and irrevocable against Homo Rule. But a complete verdict against Home Rule would mean, as he understood it, that the great majority of the inhabitants of Great Britain and Ireland had declared distinctly against it. That was not the case, for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was composed four distinct States—namely, England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland; and of those four States three had declared emphatically and unmistakably in favour of granting to the people of Ireland a restitution of their right to rule themselves. Therefore he concluded that the verdict was inchoate—far from complete. England had no right of arrogating to herself the claim of over-riding the representative rights of the remaining three nationalities. As a matter of fact, it was only a small majority of the people of England who were preventing Ireland from enjoying that which they would enjoy when the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been relegated to a more obscure Bench in that House. There were rumours of Home rule agitation in Scotland, and the wishes of the people there would not be lessened by the mode in which the aspirations of the Irish people were put on one side by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It appeared that the Chancellor of the Exchequer wished to put off the evil hour; but he knew quite well at the same time that it was folly to talk of Home Rule as being dead and buried, especially when Scotland and Wales and Ireland had very largely and emphatically set forth the policy of Home Rule. The right hon. and gallant Member the Mover of the Address (Colonel King-Harman) had stated that he had noticed symptoms of the Irish people beginning to tire of agitation; but anyone who knew the people of Ireland thoroughly, and who knew also the organization that had been at work to promote the cause of Home Rule, must say that the result of the late Elections had tended to intensify the energies of the Nationalists everywhere. The Irish people were never more determined and more eager in the struggle than they were now. They were not now fighting alone and without hope. The hon. Member the Seconder of the Address had stated that it would be the desire and intention of the Tory Party to propose some scheme for knitting more closely together the component parts of the British Empire; but they were neglecting the opportunity which they had in their power for uniting more closely the people of Ireland and the people of England. The federation of which the hon. Gentleman had spoken was impossible without first giving a Legislature to Ireland, and perhaps, also, to Scotland. The quietude of Ireland had been remarkable during the whole course of this agitation; but the Government must not think that this extreme quietude had been due to a growing desire on the part of the people to be temperate, or to a more satisfactory state of things between landlords and tenants. The Irish people had made great sacrifices, and had put up with even extra acts of injustice on the part of the landlords, in order that the country might remain quiet during the struggle, and so that the men who were working for their cause in that House might not be prejudiced. The farmers could not get anything for their corn, and they asked how, then, could they pay the same rents as they paid when prices were high? The noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government would probably find, even before the Commissioners were appointed, that it would be necessary to take some stops to prevent the landlords from exacting impossible rents; and if that was not done, the noble Lord would not have so long a Vacation as he imagined, and when Parliament mot again in February it would not be with a people ready to meet them halfway they would have to deal, but with men the fiercest passions of whose hearts would have been aroused. The noble Lord lacked all feeling of responsibility with regard to Ireland. His character was to come to the front, no matter by what means. He knew nothing about Ireland, and therefore he had no better remedy to propose than the appointment of a Commission which would suggest relief some time after the people had been evicted. He hoped the noble Lord, having recovered from the intoxication of feeling himself for the first time Chancellor of the Exchequer, would do something more than appoint a Commission. In his opinion, it was not unlikely that the Belfast riots were the result of the language of an aspirant to the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer. Until the Chancellor of the Exchequer went to that town all was quiet. It might be an awkward thing for the noble Lord if he went there now and was asked by the victims of the advice he had given what compensation he was prepared to give them for the losses they had sustained. One of the very first Gentlemen who ought to be called before the Commission to give evidence as to the origin of the riots was the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself; and the Commissioners who were to inquire into the origin of those riots ought to be called upon, to decide whether a Minister of the Crown was not as liable, for using language inciting to riot and bloodshed, as any other citizen.

MR. HARRIS (Galway, E.)

said, he had been in strong hopes that the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have announced the determination of the Government to bring forward some strong measure of relief for the people of Ireland. Considering the pre- sent state of the farmers throughout the country, it was extraordinary that a policy of delay should have been adopted. He was afraid such a policy would result in something very serious in Ireland. The appointment of a Royal Commission had proved to be quite useless; and if they wanted really to relieve the distressed peasantry of the West of Ireland something very different should be done. Loyalty was the result of amicable relations between the governed and the governor. If the Irish people were deprived of a rule which would be at once smooth and just—if, in fact, they were not governed according to their own moral lights and aspirations, naturally a political friction, a state of disorder, would result. But for this coercion would be no remedy, because coercion would not be applied effectively until either the local government the Irish people desired had been tried and had been found to fail, or, at least, Constitutional methods had been applied to existing institutions, buttresses as they were for supporting the privileges of an aristocracy which had constantly endeavoured to outride the common sense of the country and found to be wanting. He did not approve of any appeal to sectarian spirit in Ireland, yet he recognized that this factor had a good deal to do with the difficulty of that country. He would conclude by asking the Government not to be blinded by foolish objections to Home Rule, and to cease to support the props of the minority in Ireland, in the Press, and on the platform, who had earned for themselves the epithet of disloyal.

MR. MURPHY (Dublin, St. Patrick's)

I listened to the speech of the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as, I am sure, did every other hon. Member, with the greatest interest, on the occasion of his début to-night as Leader of the Government in this House. I also listened to the noble Lord with anxious eagerness to learn what was the policy which the Government proposed for my country. I am certainly surprised that the noble Lord has not been better able, with his great abilities, to disguise more skilfully than he has succeeded in doing the policy of Her Majesty's Government in regard to Ireland. That policy I take to be simply to do nothing whatever, but to avoid the Irish Question, and, in the meantime, to enjoy the sweets of Office. That seems to me to be a fair representation of the noble Lord's speech from beginning to end, and to be the first and last object of Her Majesty's Government. The whole burden of the speech of the noble Lord was the institution of a succession of Commissions of Inquiry. The noble Lord has promised to consider and inquire into everything. The noble Lord's Government with regard to Ireland may be fittingly described as a Government of Consideration and Inquiry. We have already had Commissions of Inquiry without end into all the subjects into which the noble Lord proposes to inquire in the coming winter, and what has been the outcome of them? We have had occasionally, in times of depression and distress, employment doled out through the Board of Works to a starving population, and a number of useless officials have been appointed to superintend them. The noble Lord desires to dangle bribes before the people of Ireland, and these Royal Commissions, of which the people have already had more than enough. Such a proposal is one which neither does credit to the noble Lord nor to his Government. The Government in Ireland in former days bribed the Legal and other Professions to a very considerable extent. Even the middle classes were bribed by honours and privileges; and now, by a large expenditure upon useless works, it is proposed to bribe the working classes. I do not think that anybody in Ireland is likely to be deceived or taken in by such a proposition as that. The question of the hour in Ireland is the question of land evictions, and the noble Lord almost gave that question a complete go by in his speech. He stated that it was not proposed to consider the question of rent in Ireland at present, but that it might be desirable to consider the Purchase Clauses of the Land Act at some future day. We all consider that that is a desirable thing to do; but we cannot forget that while the noble Lord is now in favour of lending English money for the purchase of Irish land upon security, by no means as good as that which was offered when the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was before the House, there has been no one who has denounced more strongly the policy of pledging British credit for the purchase of Irish land. The noble Lord now proposes that there should be an extension of the Purchase Clauses of the Land Act, and that facilities for the purchase of land should be given on the security of certain local rates. The Irish people, through their Representatives here, were willing in the last Parliament, in connection with the Prime Minister's Bill, to give the credit of the whole country—a pledge which they would willingly and cheerfully have kept—for the purchase of the Irish land. But the noble Lord and his Party, and the Irish landlords, got their last chance; they refused to take it, and the opportunity has now passed of ever getting a similar pledge from Ireland. Never again will the Irish Representatives agree that the rates of Ireland should be pledged to help the landlords out of their difficulties. I have said that this question of evictions in Ireland is the question of the hour. There are Gentlemen with extreme Radical views, such as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), who gave so much aid to the noble Lord's Party in bringing them into power, who proposed in the last Parliament the introduction of a Bill to restrain evictions in Ireland. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman in particular will impress upon the Government, with whom he must naturally possess so much influence, the necessity of carrying out now the view which he expressed then. To my knowledge, in the South of Ireland evictions are being spread broadcast over the land. In one instance, within my own knowledge, in a certain Poor Law Board, of which I happened to be an ex officio member, a resolution was proposed by the Chairman of the Union, who belonged to the landlord party, which was in a majority on the Board, which prevented the Relieving Officer from reporting to the Poor Law Board any notices of eviction which might be served. I think that shows the way in which these evictions are likely to be scattered broadcast throughout the land. The time, however, has passed by when the people of Ireland are likely to sit still under a system of wholesale evictions, and allow themselves to be driven into the workhouses and the emigrant ships, as in former times. I am satisfied that if steps are not taken immediately to stay this iniquitous process of eviction the ultimate result must be coercive measures. I trust that the noble Lord and Her Majesty's Government will not allow any time to be wasted before they take this question of rents and evictions into their serious consideration, together with the question of the sale of the tenants' interest for arrears of rent for nominal sums. The decision of such questions ought at once to betaken from the landlords and placed in the hands of gentlemen who are capable of dealing with them impartially. The people of Ireland now know something of their power, and it is most undesirable that any hesitation on the part of Her Majesty's Government should lead to further agitation, trouble, and turmoil in that country. The noble Lord, in his remarks with regard to what the Government proposed to do in reference to the future of local government in Ireland, said, that during the autumn and winter there will be inquiries into that subject also. It is apparent, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government are not likely to err through undue haste. He also expressed his opinion that when this great measure of local government which is to be introduced has been passed, as he expects it will be, by a large majority of the House, if not almost unanimously, there will be a final and lasting settlement of the Irish National difficulty. Now, I want to know if the noble Lord had any arriére pensée when he made that remark? He knows very well that no mere appointment of Vestries or County Boards, or such measures as seem to be contemplated by himself and his Party, are likely to be final or lasting. The Irish Party, in the last few months, have gained an immense amount of strength to the national cause, and they are not likely to entertain anything but the highest hopes from the future. I would, therefore, tell the noble Lord that he makes the greatest possible mistake if he thinks that any settlement of the Irish Question likely to be of a lasting character will be obtained by any measure one whit below that which was offered to the last Parliament by the late Prime Minister. Though I sat in the last Parliament, this is the first occasion on which I have addressed the House; and with these few remarks I beg to thank the House for the patience and attention with which they have listened to me.

SIR THOMAS ESMONDE (Dublin County, S.)

It appears to me that there can be no question as to the character of the commission with which the Irish Members have been entrusted by their constituents, and the nature of the mandate which they are asked to lay before Parliament. We have been returned to this Parliament for the purpose of asking for the restoration of our nationality. That is the main principle for which we contend, and the main object with which we have been sent here. Nevertheless, although that fact is well known to Her Majesty's Government, in the Speech of Her Majesty, which has been read to the House to-day, I have not been able to discover any declaration of the intentions of the Government in regard to the Irish National Question. I therefore think I am justified in asking for an express intimation from the Government as to what their intentions are, especially in regard to one pressing question—namely, that of evictions. There can be no doubt that in a great many cases the present rents imposed in Ireland cannot be realized. The judicial rents were, for the most part, fixed at a time when the prices of produce were much higher than they are at present, and when the seasons also had been much more favourable to the tenant farmer. This year, although the crops have been better than in former years, there is considerable apprehension that it will be impossible to save them properly; and, if that be so, the farmers will be unable to realize a profit from the land, and will undoubtedly be unable to pay the rents which have been judicially fixed. The consequence will be that in many instances steps will be taken by the landlords to carry out evictions; and unless steps can be taken to stay evictions in the coming winter the Government must be responsible for any disturbances that may take place. There is another matter which I desire to bring under the notice of the House, and that is the extraordinary change which has taken place in the sentiments of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Address (Colonel King - Harman) in reply to the Speech from the Throne. Not many years ago the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was quite as advanced a Nationalist as any hon. Member who sits below the Gangway on this side of the House; and if the House will permit me I should like to read an extract from a speech which he made some years ago—I believe in 1877—in seconding a Motion for the appointment of a Select Committee to consider the question of Home Rule and the establishment of an Irish Parliament. In the course of that speech the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said— The affairs of one parish in this country were not determined by the majority in another parish, nor those of one county by the majority in another county; and, therefore, he could not understand why Irish affairs should he determined by the majority in a Parliament sitting in London. …. He was quite aware that there were numbers of men in Ireland who confounded Home Rule with separation from England, but he kept the two subjects apart in his mind; and he reminded those who mixed them up together that the first body of men who spoke up for Home Rule were principally Protestant Conservative gentlemen. …. There were many Irishmen of considerable intelligence and influence who would limit their demand by saying—'Give us a local Commission for Ireland who can legislate for us on such subjects as Railway and Gas Bills.' But he did not acquiesce in that limitation—far from it. If, however, the Committee, after a full and fair investigation of the subject, decided that Home Rule to that extent only should be granted, he asked that that might be granted first, and then they could discuss the other points afterwards."—(3 Hansard, [233] 1751–2.) It appears that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has very much changed his opinions since then, and it speaks well for the sincerity of his conversion that he is able now to move an Address in reply to the Queen's Speech which utterly ignores the important questions which are now so greatly exercising the public mind in Ireland. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman, in the course of his speech which he delivered in opening this debate, told us, among other things, that Ireland requires rest. He said that if Ireland were given rest from agitation everything would come right, and all the grievances of the Irish people would dwindle away. There can be no doubt that Ireland requires rest and quiet; it cannot be denied that the agitation which has been carried on for so many years has been a serious strain upon the resources of the country; but I can assure the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that the Irish people, although they are anxious for peace and rest, will never accept less than peace with honour. They were perfectly prepared to accept the measure which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) lately introduced, and would have accepted it as a final settlement; but, owing to the action of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, that measure was defeated, and those who were anxious that the people of England and Ireland should join together in a better union—a real union of friendship and interests, and not a union made effective by brute force only—were disappointed. But, on the other hand, we may derive consolation by recollecting that no great Constitutional change was ever brought about without some preliminary reverses. If the measure of the right hon. Gentleman has proved a failure, we are consoled by feeling that it is only the beginning of the fight; and, although we have been told by the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Maclean), who seconded the Address, that we have received a material defeat, we do not believe that we have received any material defeat at all. On the contrary, we believe that the introduction of the Home Rule Bill is simply the beginning of the real ending, in a satisfactory manner, of the question we have assembled in this Parliament to consider. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Address evidently fears very much that the agitation in Ireland will continue. He is perfectly right in that opinion. So long as the Irish people have grievances, so long will they agitate; and if hon. Gentlemen opposite are anxious to spare Ireland and the Empire the evils which follow from continued agitation, they will concede to the Irish people those Constitutional rights of which they are now bereft. I think it is much to be regretted that Her Majesty's Government have not given us some more explicit indication of their policy with regard to Ireland. They have promised a number of Commissions, which may probably be appointed at some indefinite period. These Commissions are to inquire into the state of Ireland, into the Land Question, and various other matters. We wish to know when they are to be appointed, how they are to be appointed, of whom they are to be composed, and what the exact course is that is to be taken? But we are left in entire ignorance; and I would venture to express a hope that before long Her Majesty's Government will take some more decided action and take the House more completely into their confidence.

MR. CLAXCY (Dublin County, N.)

I feel that hon. Members who sit on this side of the House are bound to express some surprise at the silence which has been maintained throughout the debate upon the opposite Benches. I believe I am justified in speaking for many Members who sit on this side of the House when I say that we do not intend the debate to collapse for want of speakers, and do not intend to allow the Irish Question to fall into the abeyance into which the Party opposite seem desirous of putting it. There are many interesting speakers on the other side of the House whom we are anxious to hear. There is one right hon. Gentleman whom for the last half-hour we have been expecting to rise—I allude to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for East Birmingham (Mr. Matthews). The record of that right hon. and learned Gentleman is a singular one, and is likely to attract the attention of both sides of the House. We are anxious, for instance, to hear him explain when it was that he ceased to be a Home Ruler. He was a candidate for the borough of Dungarvan in 1874, and the principal pledge which he gave on that occasion was that he would support in full the programme of the Home Rule League. Not only did he promise to support that programme, and to satisfy the national sentiment, but a few days after he joined the League he gave a generous subscription of £30 towards its funds. I should like to know when the right hon. and learned Gentleman changed his opinions, or whether he has changed them at all, and if he has ceased to be a Home Ruler? Perhaps the action of the right hon. and learned Gentleman may form part of the policy of surprise which Her Majesty's Ministers may have in store for us. Perhaps the appearance of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary on the Treasury Bench may be taken as an indication that what Her Majesty's Ministers say in their speeches is not meant to be what the public understand it to be, and that there may be an attempt to bring about a complete change of front on the Home Rule Question. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman who proposed the Address said one thing in which I entirely agree, although I do not usually agree with him in anything. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman said that the Irish people wanted to be governed "firmly and fairly." I quite agree in that; but I will ask what signs are there that we are about to obtain for Ireland a firm and fair Government? Let me take the action of the Government in the steps which have been taken for the suppression of the Belfast riots. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary found, when he came into Office, a Proclamation, the object of which was to prevent the possession and use of firearms in the town of Belfast. I would ask what steps the Representatives of this firm and fair government have taken to put that Proclamation into force? Has there been one single search for arms; has one single man been arrested for the possession of arms; or is one single man to be prosecuted for the possession of arms? As a matter of fact, there has been complete inaction in this respect on the part of Her Majesty's Government. Is this total neglect to carry out the Viceregal Proclamation a sign of firmness? If it is, firmness is a very different thing from what we ordinarily understand by the word, and I very much doubt the capacity of right hon. Gentlemen opposite to be firm in anything whatever. Another sign of firmness, I suppose, is the total indifference the Government have displayed in reference to the language employed by loading Orangemen in Ireland on the subject of the Belfast riots and the action of the authorities. [A laugh.] The hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Johnston) laughs at that expression; but although he may not have spoken in violent language of the action of the Irish Constabulary, he knows that some of his constituents in Ulster have freely applied to the representatives of law and order the term "Morley's murderers." The hon. Member for East Belfast (Mr. De Cobain) declared in a public letter that they were a set of Invincibles, and even worse than Invincibles, employed to carry out the work of assassination. I should have expected that Her Majesty's Government, whose duty it is to support the Royal Irish Constabulary, would have taken some notice of these expressions, and that, at the very least, they would have undertaken the prosecution of the hon. Member for East Belfast. I do not, however, believe that they will do anything of the sort. They are too deeply involved themselves. Another sign of firmness and fairness is to be found, I suppose, in the reception by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary of the Mayor of Belfast. If there is one man in Belfast who, beyond all others, except the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is responsible for the bloodshed, murder, and pillage which have taken place in Belfast it is the Mayor of that city. It was his bolts, nuts, and rivets that were flung at the police; it was his foreman who supplied the weapons of war; it was his establishment which contributed every day during the existence of the riots the greatest number of rioters. Yet this man was received at Dublin Castle, and consulted as to the best means of suppressing the riots. If the right hon. Gentleman had the courage of his convictions,—perhaps he has none—or, at least, the courage of his language in this House, instead of sending for the Mayor of Belfast to consult as to the best means of suppressing the riots in Belfast, he would have initiated his accession to Office by depriving that gentleman of the Commission of the Peace; and by that means he might have convinced all who were responsible for the murder, and bloodshed, and pillage which have taken place, that they would no longer be allowed to administer justice in that community. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Address spoke of a policy of fairness as well as a policy of firmness. Are we to look for a policy of fairness in an incident which occurred almost immediately after the Government came into power? A trial took place four or five days after the accession of the right hon. Gentleman opposite to the Office of Chief Secretary, and after the accession of the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Holmes) to the Office of Attorney General for Ireland. A man was charged with firing at the police with intent to kill. Persons who witnessed the firing gave evidence of certain acts which, according to the law laid down by the Judge, constituted a felony. The evidence was perfectly satisfactory to the mind of the Judge; nevertheless, the man who was charged with committing the offence was not convicted, but al- lowed to escape soot free. The gentleman who acted as chief town prosecutor, although he is usually glib and brutal enough of tongue, in this particular instance allowed the opportunity to escape, and refrained from delivering a single opening sentence in explanation of the charge. Then, again, the persons who were entrusted with the constitution of the jury allowed the jury to be packed with Orangemen. There were placed upon it 11 Protestants and Orange Catholics. If this is an example of the fairness with which the law is to be administered in Ireland, all I can say is that the meaning attached by the Government to the word "fairness" is very different from that ordinarily intended. The noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced to-night a policy of Royal Commissions. There is to be a Commission on the Land Question, a Commission on Trade and Industry, a Military Commission, and some others. I only wonder that he did not announce a Commission on the weather, or on the effects of the Atlantic currents on the Coast of Ireland. All I can say as to these Royal Commissions is that the proposal is calculated to insult and exasperate the feeling of the Irish people. We are sick of the policy of Commissions. There is not a single Irish question, from great national questions down to the smallest question, which has not been discussed by Royal Commissions ad nauseam, and yet those inquiries have had no practical result whatever. What was the case with regard to the Land Question? Forty years ago the Devon Commission inquired into the state of that question; but it remained unsettled, and 30 years elapsed before any steps were taken to improve the condition of the tenantry of Ireland, though that condition was declared by the Devon Commission to be a scandal to the civilized world. I think that there was one part of the speech of the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer which will astonish some of the people of Belfast. The noble Lord announced the determination of the Government to put down rioting in Belfast, by whomsoever committed. The Orangemen of Belfast may well upbraid the noble Lord for that determination, for he himself is the really guilty party in the matter. The noble Lord told the Orangemen of Belfast that they had privileges worth fighting for. He told them to "charge with all their chivalry." He told them to fight, and they would be right; and, no doubt, when the Ulster Orangemen went out to sack a public-house, they thought they were carrying out the mandate of the noble Lord, and charging with all their chivalry. "Charge, Ulster, charge; charge with all your chivalry," was the command of the noble Lord. The Ulster men have carried out that command; and now the noble Lord, instead of commending their action, has actually the ingratitude, in reference to what has occurred in Belfast during the last two months, to threaten them with the consequences. I sincerely hope that some effort will be made to produce the noble Lord before the Belfast Royal Commission, and make him explain his conduct six months ago, when he went down to Belfast and incited the Orangemen there to engage in the riots that have lately taken place, so that it may be thoroughly known that no man, even if he be a Minister of the Crown, may in future endeavour to accomplish political objects by inciting others to commit crime. We have heard to-night something about the rents in Ireland, and the noble Lord made an astonishing assertion that there was nothing whatever in what we have heard about the fall in the price of produce, and that all rents will be paid if the landlords are afforded adequate means for their collection. I do not think the noble Lord can have read the evidence which has been given upon this subject; and I should like to refresh the memories of hon. Members by recalling to their recollection the testimony given by a very high authority only a few months ago. I mean Sir James Caird. The Times, anxious to back Sir James Caird up, described him as a man whose authority upon agricultural questions was universally recognized. In his letter to The Times, dated March 20, 1886, Sir James Caird says— The land in Ireland is held by two distinct classes of tenants—the small farmers, who pay rent from £1 to £20; and the comparatively large farmers, who pay rent from £20 upwards. Of the first class there are 538,000 holdings, averaging £6 each; of the second class, 121,000 holdings, averaging £56 each. The rent payable by the first class is £3,572,000; and by the second class, £6,845,000. Five- sixths of the Irish tenants thus pay about one-third of the total rental, and one-sixth pay nearly two-thirds. If the present price of agricultural produce continuo, I should fear that, from the land held by the large body of poor farmers in Ireland, any economical rent has for the present disappeared. So said Sir James Caird, whom The Times acknowledges to be a very high authority on agricultural questions, and whom The Times backed up by saying— It is not too much to say that the rental of the 538,000 holdings is practically irrecoverable by anybody, whether landlord, English Government, or Irish Government. We do not go PO far as this, but if Sir James Caird's assertion were of any value some months ago, it ought not to be utterly discredited now. Sir, the tenants of Ireland are anxious to pay their rents, no matter what may be stated to the contrary. They know that unless they do so notices of eviction will be the result, and that they will be forced to quit the holdings which they love, and be deprived of the homes which they have inherited for generations from their forefathers. There is no other industry they can pursue than the industry they are now following. It is impossible, however, to get blood out of a stone, and you cannot exact from tenants what they are unable to pay. Therefore, no matter what means the Government take to exact these rents, failure will be the result, and you will only create the same state of things which prevailed in 1881 and 1882, when turbulence, disorder, and crime reigned throughout the country, and was made the pretext for the passing of a stringent Coercion Act. Probably this is the end at which the Government are now aiming. If it is, they may possibly succeed in their object; but they will not succeed in bringing the question any nearer to a solution, nor in making British rule better liked by the Irish people. By the time they have done they will find that they have made the situation much worse, and they will eventually feel themselves compelled to return to a policy of coercion, which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition so strongly denounced. The House has been told that the decision of the country on Irish matters is final. I certainly fail to see where the finality is. We have often heard it said with regard to other Irish questions that the end of the Irish movement has been reached. We have been told on every occasion on which we sought to remedy the grievances of Ireland that the country had decided against us, and that this House had decided against us; but we have lived to see this House reverse its own decrees and become converted to the views of the minority. Having some personal experience in the matter, and participated to some extent in the contests which recently took place in the South of England, I have no hesitation in declaring that I do not believe one single word of this declaration about finality. We have had in favour of the policy of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) the support of nearly 2,500,000 of the electors of the United Kingdom; while hon. Members opposite, with their finality, have only had the support of 280,000 more. If only 80,000 Liberals had voted against the Tory Party, and had not deserted their own colours by assisting to return Tories to this House, it is we who would have been entitled to say that the decision of the country, taken finally and irrevocably, was in favour of self-government for Ireland. [A laugh.] I see that an hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House laughs at that statement; but I believe that he is one of those who have been entitled to take their seats in this House by virtue of the help which they received from the Liberal Party. I firmly believe that the electors of the country voted in ignorance of the true state of the case. I never went anywhere without seeing the most enormous lies put forth everywhere; published in placards and in newspapers, and shouted from platforms, not only by speakers of the Orange stamp, but by the candidates themselves. On the other side, in too many instances, not one word was spoken or written to explain the true nature of the Irish Question. The Irish Question has been grossly misrepresented. I believe that as soon as the true state of the case is explained and the truth is made apparent to the minds of the English people we may look with confidence to the early triumph of our cause. In the meantime we are prepared to struggle on to the end, working sincerely and heartily for the establishment of a National Parliament in our country. All I can say to hon. Members opposite is this—that, so far as the Irish National movement is concerned, we are deter- mined to extend our movement to England, in order to instruct the English people and tell them the truth, which has hitherto been obscured from their vision by lies and misrepresentation. I have listened with attention to the speech of the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but I have been unable to discover in it any germ of a policy which honest men can support. The sole object of the Government seems to be to stick to their places and enjoy their salaries. They hope to be able to do that the more readily by placing the Irish Question in the hands of Royal Commissioners. I presume they will take as long a time as possible before they appoint these Commissions; and if only six months elapse thousands of pounds will have been pocketed by Tory placemen, and large additions will have been made to the pensions on the Civil List. Probably, after their long servitude in the shades of Opposition, we ought not to grudge them a short period of power and enjoyment; but their reign will come to an end, and that sooner, perhaps, than they expect.

MR. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)

Sir, it is the characteristic of Queen's Speeches in general that neither in form nor in substance are they productions at all worthy of the lofty source from which they purport to emanate; and I think that on the present occasion the Queen's Speech to which we have listened has not proved an exception to the general rule. I do not think that it is a circumstance altogether to be wondered at. Queen's Speeches have reference rather to the pledges of the past than to the promises of the future. They are given to the world at a period when the policy of the Government to which they belong is in a condition of incubation rather than of maturity; and it is not to be expected that any Government would put forward at such a time a policy yet in an inchoate state, and allow it to appear with any distinctness or detail. The circumstances in which the Government which has just been returned at the polling booths came into Office are circumstances of exceptional difficulty, and make the condition of things to which I have just referred, in regard to the Queen's Speech, far from unnatural. We have reason to believe—indeed, we have heard it from the noble Lord the Leader of this House— that the Government have to grapple with no difficulty of any great magnitude excepting that which faces them in Ireland. Certainly, that is a difficulty before which the courage of any man might well pale. It is a difficulty which is said by some of the political opponents of the Party to which I belong to be a difficulty of our creation. I believe that it is a difficulty of our creation. I glory in the fact. I believe that the policy initiated by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) is a policy which has brought about a complete change in the spirit of our treatment of Irish questions. I do not glory in that fact because it has produced embarrassment to hon. Gentlemen opposite; but I glory in it because it has, once for all, put an end to that policy of dawdle—that policy of do-nothing—which has hitherto characterized our treatment of Irish questions during the present century. At last we have come to a point at which it is absolutely necessary to take a stand. The policy inaugurated by the right hon. Gentleman may have been a bad one—I say nothing at all about that—but at all events it was a policy. The country has rejected it. However sorry we may be on some grounds that it has been rejected, there are circumstances connected with the matter for which, on other grounds, we have no cause to be sorry; and we should not be true to our trust if we did not rejoice that the people have had an opportunity of expressing, in a Constitutional manner, their opinion on the policy submitted to them. Now, Sir, I do not believe that that opinion has been finally expressed. I venture humbly to differ from the Prime Minister and the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to think that the verdict of the country has been given in a partial manner only, and has reference merely to the particular policy then before the country. I doubt very much whether the country, or even those voters who recorded their votes at the last Election, had distinctly made up their minds against the principle of a Home Rule policy. Probably, if ever a policy of Home Rule is again brought forward in this House—and I believe that it will be before very long—it will assume a form differing somewhat from that in which it was submitted by the late Government; but it will embody and adhere to the principle of a separate Parliament for Ireland. It may be that in the particular form of the provisions of the Act which is to create that separate Parliament, taught by experience, something may be devised for the better conciliation of the prejudices of the English people. In the meantime, we have to face the fact that such a policy is not the policy of Her Majesty's Government now. That line of thought is one which the country has ordered us no longer to seek to pursue; and those of us who are in Opposition—at any rate, a large section of those who sit around me—who think with myself will, I am sure, seek as far as we can, consistently with our opinions, conscientiously to support Her Majesty's Government—a Government chosen by the country to carry on the important business of directing the affairs of the country. I have stated that the Queen's Speech, does not tell us much about the Irish Question; but we have had an amplification of the statement contained in the Speech from the lips of the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The noble Lord certainly did not tell us very much. In a number of important particulars the only proposal of the Government seems to be a desire to devolve the responsibilities of Her Majesty's Government upon a series of Royal Commissions. It does not even appear that we have heard the last of these Royal Commissions. There may be more of them. It is quite reasonable that Her Majesty's Ministers should take time to consider the policy they ought to adopt, and undoubtedly it may be that the plan of inquiry which has been foreshadowed is a plan which would not only give Ministers time, but give them access to sources of information which they would not otherwise possess. That may be the case; but, undoubtedly, these references to the policy of the future point to a course very different from any scheme which might be laid down now for the settlement of the Irish Question on the lines of the Bill which was before the country at the last Election. There can be no doubt that the mandate given to the Liberal Party in December last has been withdrawn; but on what lines are the present Government to pursue the policy which has been vaguely indicated to-night? There are several difficulties in their way. There was very little that was definite given by way of instruction to their followers during the Election, and probably their followers will find that they have committed themselves to all sorts of inconvenient pledges. Within the limits of the noble Lord's speech three provisions have been foreshadowed. The Government propose to deal with the question of social order in Ireland, with the question of land, and with the question of local government. Now, taking these as their standpoint, it is perfectly plain that by local government, having regard to the pledges which the noble Lord has allowed his followers to give, it is impossible that he can mean anything more than a policy of parochialism. It is impossible that he can mean to give any large measure of control of affairs purely Irish to Irish hands. If the noble Lord meant to do that he would find himself fettered and hampered by the pledges which he has allowed his followers to give. Thon there is the question of the land. How is the Land Question to be dealt with on anything like a large scale? I venture to say that two-thirds of the hon. Members who sit opposite to me have given pledges to their constituents which preclude them from consenting to any of the public funds being invested on the security of Irish land. Nevertheless, I gathered from the speech of the noble Lord that it is contemplated, at some future day, that the Imperial Exchequer shall make large advances on the security of the Irish land. Then, as to the third question—namely, that of social order—it is evident that Her Majesty's Ministers mean to separate it from the two other questions. The noble Lord spoke of social order as if it could be disassociated from the question of local government. But it was a cardinal principle in the treatment of the Irish problem by the late Government that the question of social order was so inextricably bound up with the other two questions that it was only upon the principle of dealing with the three together that they could effectually grapple with the question of social order, and get fairly at its root. It may be that the late Government were wrong; but at all events the noble Lord, in proposing to separate the question of social order from the other two questions of the land and of local government, gives a distinct negative to the policy of the late Government. Allow me to glance at the question of local government. It is all very well to talk of local government; but if hon. Members will go to the South of Ireland, and especially to the county of Kerry, they will find that the discontented peasantry are making use of those weapons of local government which they have already in their hands for the purpose of embarrassing the classes which are obnoxious to them. They are making use of those weapons to punish landlords on the one hand, and to assist evicted tenants on the other. If, with the limited powers of local government they now possess, they can do that, what will they do if you put in their hands the more extended powers which the noble Lord states will, in the course of a few months, be given to them? As regards the question of the restoration of social order, the noble Lord proposes not to go to the root of the matter, and to treat the question as a political and an agrarian one, but to deal with it as one of police; and he seems to have persuaded a gallant officer, well known to the public, to undertake the post of Chief Inspector of Local Constabulary in the county of Kerry. When Sir Redvers Buller gets there, is it intended that he shall institute martial law? If he is not going to do that, what is he to do? Her Majesty's Government may say that they are sending him there for the purpose of inquiry; but what about the state of social order in the coming winter; what about the condition of those unfortunate landlords who will have to bear the brunt of the inaction of the Government? Whatever may have been the demerits of our policy, it was one which sought to give the landlords the power of getting themselves bought out. But the policy of the noble Lord proposes nothing of the sort, at least for some time to come. I venture to think. Sir, that in the present state of the public mind, and in the condition in which it was at the last Election, those electors who cast their votes in the Conservative interest would have been willing to strengthen the hands of the Prime Minister had he courageously announced that he proposed to carry into effect the intention shadowed forth in his Opera House speech, but afterwards explained away in the House of Lords. You may explain away the existing state of things as much as you like; but if you are to undertake a policy of repression you may depend upon it that you will require all those powers of coercion which were alluded to by implication in the speech of the Prime Minister in the Opera House. I believe that if the Conservative Party had had the courage of their convictions at the last Election they could have secured a majority in this House. As it is, they are fettered by the pledges they were induced to give, and by the declarations which they have made against coercion, and by the refusal on the part of hon. Members who sit on these Benches to allow the public money to be spent in buying out the landlords. In consequence of the course they were induced to take then they now find themselves placed in a position which must in future prove a position of great difficulty. No doubt, it is a characteristic of the Conservative Party that they always hold more together, and are more obedient to their Leaders, than the rank and file of the Party to which I have the honour to belong; and it may be that in the course of time the policy denounced upon the hustings will be acknowledged as the necessary and only policy of the Conservative Party. It may be that the Royal Commissions may report in favour of the absolute necessity of a system of land purchase, and also of some system which could only be described as one of coercion; and no doubt, if they did so, it might be found possible for Her Majesty's Government to secure a large amount of support to that policy. For my own part, I cannot altogether regret that the Liberal Party are now out of power, and compelled to fall the office of critics. That is a duty which becomes the duty of every patriotic Opposition. At the same time, it is likewise our duty to give what support we can, consistently with our opinions, to Her Majesty's Ministers in carrying on the Government of the country. There were signs before the last General Election that the confidence of the country was being withdrawn from the Liberal Party; and I do not think that its defeat at the last General Election was entirely due to the Home Rule policy. There were signs that the confidence of the country was being withdrawn from us just as it was withdrawn from us in 1874, and as it was withdrawn from the Conservatives in 1880. It has always been found that after a certain period of the enjoyment of power a political Party loses popularity. That popularity is gradually on the wane until it culminates in defeat; and it was due to causes such as this that we have now lost those East End of London constituencies, which appear to be adapted, by their indifferent and easily influenced tendencies, for recognition as a kind of political barometer. Until we have regained the support of such people I, for my part, do not desire to see the Liberal Party again in power; but when they do come back, I hope they will come back with sufficient strength once for all to settle the Home Rule Question on the lines indicated in the recent proposals. I believe that we shall come back before very long, and when it will have been abundantly proved that the policy of those who now sit opposite to us has altogether failed. In the meanwhile, we have no desire to inaugurate a factious opposition. We shall seek to do our duty to the country. We accept the opinion which the country has expressed, and we are prepared to support the Government wherever we can conscientiously support them, always provided that the votes we give are in accordance with the opinions we have expressed, and in harmony with the pledges we have given.

Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Mr. T. P. O'Connor,)—put, and agreed to.

Debate adjourned till To-morrow.

House adjourned at Twelve o'clock.