§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. JOHN MORLEY) (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said: It will probably be convenient that I should preface the short statement that I shall have to make with a brief explanation of what the Act which we propose to 1531 continue provides for and effects. The Peace Preservation Act, which our Bill proposes to continne, was carried, as hon. Members are aware, in the year 1881, and what it does is to impose certain restrictions upon the carrying and having of arms, and restrictions upon the importation and the selling of arms. It imposes restrictions on the carrying and possession of arms in the districts which the Lord Lieutenant, by an Order in Council, has proclaimed. The proclamations may be of two characters. They may either extend to both carrying and having arms, or they may be limited to the carrying of arms only. No person in a proclaimed district can carry or have arms without a licence, and any person carrying or having, or reasonably suspected of carrying or having, arms without a licence may be arrested without warrant by a constable and brought up before a magistrate. The Lord Lieutenant may by warrant further direct two persons named in the warrant to search in a house specified for arms; but the search must be made in the day-time, and the warrant is only good for a period of 10 days. The warrant is to be countersigned by the Inspector General, or the Deputy Inspector General, or by any Resident Magistrate within the proclaimed district. The Act also extends to ammunition. But I should like to point out, in reply to the Question of the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Mitchell Henry), that the more formidable kind of explosives, such as dynamite, nitro-glycerine, and so on, have long ago been amply provided for by the general law. The general law gives perfectly sufficient powers and authority for regulating the importation, manufacture, storage, and possession of these explosives. I am referring to the Explosives Act of 1875.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
Yes; importation is one of the things provided for in that Act. So much, Sir, for the restriction on having and carrying. But there are also restrictions of much greater value and importance upon the importation and the selling of arms. The importation of arms and explosives is prohibited save at certain specified ports, and there, of course, their importation takes place under the supervision of the 1532 Custom House officers; and the consignees of arms and ammunition can be compared with the lists of persons who in proclaimed districts are entitled to deal in arms and possess them. The importation and sale are not regulated by the sections of the Act itself, but by the Order of the Lord Lieutenant, and the principal provision in that respect is that a licensed dealer is to return every month an account of his stock; also he is obliged to keep a register of the persons to whom he sells arms, and the date at which he sold them. That is obviously a provision analogous to an Act of our own for the regulating of the sale of poison. Licences to sell are granted by the Inspector General, the Deputy Inspector General, and by Resident Magistrates. I should, perhaps, explain that the reason for the 2nd sub-section of the Bill before the House is that, supposing this Bill not to pass before the 1st of June, it would not operate without this clause to revive or continue proclamations, licences, and orders which would then expire, and accordingly it saves the trouble of issuing fresh proclamations and fresh licences—trouble, I mean, not only to the Government authorities but to holders of licences. That sub-section enacts that proclamations, licences, and orders already in existence shall be of the same force as if there had been no interruption in the Act. We have already under a not commonly known Act of Geo. III. a provision that in the case of Bills for continuing Acts which would expire during the Session, such Acts shall be deemed to continue from their expiration; we have, however, inserted an express provision to that effect in the Bill. There is one change only which we propose to make in the Peace Preservation Act. That is in the 4th sub-section of Section 4. That sub-section was introduced on the Motion of a well-known Member of this House—Mr. Callan, late Member for Louth. It provides that any occupier of one or more agricultural holdings, provided he can get a certificate from two Justices, shall be able to claim a licence to have and carry arms, either specifically or generally, as of right, from the Resident Magistrate or other authorities. That sub-section was accepted at the time; but it was found during Lord Spencer's administration of this Act to 1533 work with considerable inconvenience; and, therefore, in Committee I shall propose to repeal that sub-section. It was a sub-section borrowed, I believe, from the Act of 1875. That is the only change we propose to make in Committee in the Peace Preservation Act. I will now say a word or two as to the operation of the Act. There are 28 counties which are either wholly or partially under proclamation; 32 proclamations—only proclamations against carrying—are in force.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
The excepted counties are Antrim, Londonderry, Louth, and Wicklow. The cities of Belfast and Londonderry are proclaimed.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
I will answer the hon. and learned Member in a moment or two. The number of prosecutions have not been very considerable. In 1881 there were 75 prosecutions and 58 convictions. In 1882 there were 127 prosecutions and 102 convictions. In 1883 there were 86 prosecutions and 73 convictions. In 1884 there were 73 prosecutions and 56 convictions. In 1885 there were 74 prosecutions and 56 convictions; and so far in the year 1886 there have been 51 prosecutions and 44 convictions. In reply to the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Healy), Belfast is proclaimed partially, only for carrying and not for having arms.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
I shall be able to tell the hon. and learned Member before the debate closes. That is all I have to say as to the working of the Act. What is there to justify a continuance of it? There is a vast difference between the general state of things in the country at the present moment, and the state of things in Ireland in the year 1881, when this Act was first brought before Parliament. In the first four months of 1881 the agrarian outrages of the more serious kind were 556. In the first four months of 1886 the number of serious agrarian offences was only 184; and if we take the comparison in another way, the figures are still more striking and still more satisfactory. In the four months before the introduction of the Peace Preservation Act of 1881, the serious 1534 agrarian crimes were 881. Therefore, we have to compare 881 with 184. So far as offences go, during the present year, I think, in a previous debate, the House was placed in possession of the number of outrages, excluding threatening letters. In August, last year, the serious offences were 59; in September, 51; in October, 60; in November, they were 48; in December, 64; in January, they fell to 46; in February, they fell to 33; in March, I am sorry to say, they rose to 56, but in April they fell again to 49. The figures, therefore, at the present moment have nothing in them of an alarming kind, or to excite great apprehension. But even if the figures had been worse, I am not sure that, viewing the serious agrarian offences alone, we should have felt bound to continue the Act, because it has been found that deliberately planned murder and outrage have not and cannot be prevented by the provisions of an Arms Act. The Arms Act, as I ventured to say the other night to the hon. Member for Glasgow, was in full force when sanguinary offences against the person and violent attacks upon houses were most frequent. If a murder is planned and arranged for and premeditated, we may be quite certain that it will not miscarry for want of a weapon to execute it. That is not my view only. It is the view of all those who have been most directly responsible for peace and order in Ireland. If, therefore, the prevention of violent and terrible crime had been the only justification for this Act, I repeat we might very well have allowed it to expire. Well, then, Sir, what is the cause for the continuance of the Act? Now, I gave that cause the other day in reply to the hon. Member for Derry (Mr. Lewis) in words which, I regret, at the time gave some offence—offence which was not for a moment in my intention, and which I cannot admit to have been at all justified by the words which I used. What I said was that, according to my information, the Arms Act was believed to be, as I have already stated, of very little use in preventing deliberate outrages and crime. But I said it was believed to be of considerable use in preventing—and these were my exact words, and I do not wish to flinch from them—to be of use in preventing men in the North of Ireland and elsewhere—and I am obliged to the hon. and gallant Member 1535 opposite (Colonel Waring) who recognized that I used these words—men in the North of Ireland and elsewhere coming to public gatherings with arms. These are the words which I used, and they are words to which I adhere. I was asked the other night, by way of interjection, why I mentioned the North at all. ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. Member (Mr. Lewis) says "Hear, hear!" The reason is perfectly obvious. It is in the North principally that, owing to the intermixture of religions, and owing to the tradition of faction fights, large bodies of men would be likely to come into conflict in times of considerable excitement and when political feeling ran high; and, as we know, they have been accustomed to come into conflict in such times in years past. That was my reason, and I think it was a very common sense reason, for mentioning the North as well as other parts of Ireland. I submit with great confidence to hon. Gentlemen opposite that there was nothing in that observation properly calculated to hurt their susceptibilities. I say again, all this is no discovery of mine—this special use and advantage of the Peace Preservation Act. When I was in Dublin during the Easter Recess I had the opportunity, of which I availed myself, of discussing the working of this Act and the desirableness of its continuance with those who, as I have said, are directly and immediately responsible for the preservation of order and peace in Ireland. All these high and responsible authorities set a very great store by the provisions regulating importation. They regard those provisions as having been, and as likely to be, of very great value. But it is felt that the true use of the Arms Act is that it prevents the growth of the practice which in days of political excitement might be likely to grow to very formidable dimensions—the practice of carrying arms at fairs, races, markets, and processions, and other gatherings. It is feared that if this Act were to drop, there would be a risk, the times being what they are, of that practice growing to very formidable dimensions. I do not believe that men would go deliberately to gatherings of this kind with the premeditated intention of carrying on violence on a great scale; but any hon. Gentleman will perceive that, being in the possession of arms, they would be tempted in a moment 1536 of excitement to give emphasis to their political views, whether green or orange, by the discharge of these firearms, sometimes loaded, and which are, perhaps, often much more dangerous to their possessors than to anyone else. Sir, we not wish to exaggerate the danger to which I have been referring; neither do I wish, on the other hand, to be stupidly optimist as to the condition of Ireland, either North or South. It has been my endeavour during the short time that I have been in Office to look at the facts of Ireland as regards the conditions of social order with a perfectly fair and impartial eye. The Irish Government keeps itself constantly and vigilantly informed—as well informed as the circumstances of the case allows—as to the state of feeling in the country both North and South, as to all that is going on in the country so far as we can ascertain it; and while we see in the state of things in the country nothing to justify anything like alarm or apprehension regarding that kind of conduct which the Arms Act is designed to prevent, we feel that there is a general state of suspense and expectancy. [Ironical laughter.] Why, of course, to deny that would be childish. There is a general state of suspense and expectancy, and in some parts, no doubt, the tide of political feeling does run exceedingly high. Under these circumstances, I do not argue the question whether the state of feeling in Ireland is such as would have justified us in bringing in a Peace Preservation Act if it were to be done afresh and for the first time. But what I submit to the House is, that as we find this Act in existence and in working order, we have come to the conclusion that it is only consistent with prudence and common sense to retain it for the purposes I have mentioned; and I cannot believe, Sir, that in any quarter of the House any use has been made, or is likely to be made, of the provisions of that Act which can be reasonably objected to by any friend of peace and order in Ireland. I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. John Morley.)
§ MR. PARNELL (Cork)
I had intended, Sir, to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary whether he 1537 would not agree to the omission of Subsection 4 of Section 4 of the expiring Act, which he described to the House; and I also intended, in addition, to ask whether he would not agree to take power for the Licensing Authority to revoke any licences that may have been issued to have or carry arms in any district?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. JOHN MORLEY) (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
We have those powers already by the Lord Lieutenant's Proclamation.
§ MR. PARNELL
I did not understand that the Proclamation could empower the Licensing Authority to revoke the licence himself, but that it could be revoked only by the permission of the Lord Lieutenant, a very roundabout and difficult thing to bring about. A Proclamation has to be advertised in The Dublin Gazette, and, of course, has to depend more or less on the knowledge of the Central Authority in Dublin Castle, rather than on the knowledge of the Local Authority, who had given the licence. I would not propose, of course, to interfere with the power of the Lord Lieutenant to issue such a Proclamation; but I think the power should be extended to the Licensing Authorities themselves, and that they should have power to revoke licences when once given. Why do I ask this? We complain, apart altogether from the general principle of the right to bear arms—we complain that powers such as these have been injuriously and unfairly used in two different directions—they have been used, in the first place, to harass and annoy the Nationalists of Ireland. They have been used unnecessarily to deprive respectable farmers of their shot-guns, which were intended for the purpose of scaring birds away from growing crops, and which they would not use except for that purpose. Any practical agriculturist will bear me out in saying that nothing is better for scaring away rooks from crops than firing a shot-gun. It is much better than any kind of scarecrow, even such as the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Major Saunderson) has been endeavouring to set up during the last few days or weeks, so as to intimidate the House of Commons in reference to the passage of another Bill. But this power of the Lord Lieutenant has also been used 1538 generally to the annoyance and to the promotion of discontent among the population in different parts of Ireland. It has been used in a wholesale way. I do not speak exactly of the past or the existing Act, but of similar Acts used in a wholesale way to the annoyance of most respectable people in Ireland. The understanding we wish to come to is this—that since the Government have used the Act to disarm the Nationalist people of Ireland, so you should also use it to disarm the Orange population—at all events, that section of the population which have shown by its frenzy and the frenzy of its Leaders, and by its acts, that though it is not willing to take to the open field and fight, yet it always is willing, whenever it can do so with impunity, to assassinate, or attempt to assassinate, those who happen to differ from them in political opinion. Well, Sir, it cannot be contended for a moment that considerable need does not exist at the present moment for some precautionary steps on the subject. We have had incitements coming from high quarters, and from both sides of the House. I will not say that the three chief Leaders of the Orangemen—Lord Salisbury, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), and the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), really intended to promote assassination and murder. I am sure that that was not the intention of any of these Gentlemen; but certainly their words can have no other effect. To suppose for a moment that any section of the population of Ireland will ever, under any ordinary circumstances, take the field against the British Government and the armed Forces of the British Government, is to suppose an absurd impossibility. To suppose that it should be possible to incite the Orangemen of Ulster, numbering, certainly, not more than 15,000 or 20,000 men, all told—[Colonel WARING: Oh, oh!] Well, certainly in some of the estimates recently made some of their spokesmen seemed to have counted all the women and children, and even the very young children, as well as the men. To suppose that the Orangemen of Ulster, who, though they swore and have threatened several times to rebel, have never yet rebelled, but who have very frequently, as I have already said, indulged in the 1539 pastime at different periods of the year of murdering and attempting to murder their Catholic fellow-countrymen and neighbours, to suppose that it is possible for these people to rebel is the very height of absurdity. We all know now that the science of war has been brought to such a pitch of perfection that in a country like Ireland—why, it would be almost the same thing for John Bull to go out and fight a pitched battle in his back garden as it would be for him to carry on a war in Ireland. It would be utterly impossible for any body of men, no matter how warlike, if they were even as courageous as the hon. and gallant Member for Armagh (Major Saunderson), to hold out for 24 hours against the Irish Constabulary, much less against the strength of the British Army. So that we may put out of our heads altogether the notion of Orangemen rising, or that there is any necessity for passing this measure for the purpose of preventing open and armed resistance to the Forces of the Crown. But, undoubtedly, experience has shown us that there does exist indeed an apprehension at the present moment that there may be murder and assassination committed by Orangemen in Ulster, possibly at the next General Election—probably at any time. These threats have been published to the world. But they do not mean fight—they mean murder.
§ MR. PARNELL
The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh has spoken on the subject—his words are on record as stating that he would beat the Nationalist Members when they came canvassing the Ulster constituencies, and that it would be done by the bullet, and not by the ballot.
§ MR. PARNELL
The hon. and gallant Gentleman certainly did say, prior to the last Election, that that Election would be decided in Ulster by the bullet, and not by the ballot.
§ MAJOR SAUNDERSON
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman; but I never said anything of the kind.
§ MAJOR SAUNDERSON
Perhaps the House will allow me to state what I did 1540 say. The speech referred to was one I made in County Monaghan in commenting on a speech made by the hon. and learned Member for South Londonderry (Mr. T. M. Healy) that the Orangemen of Ulster would not be overcome by the ballot, but by the bullet.
§ MR. PARNELL
I can only say that I have a distinct recollection to the contrary—[Cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. PARNELL
And that my statement of what the hon. and gallant Gentleman said is correct; but I do not wish to insist on it in view of the disclaimer of the hon. and gallant Gentleman; but I will ask the hon. and gallant Member whether, in seconding a vote of thanks to Lord Salisbury of Saturday last, he stated that there would be plenty of customers for the gunmakers shortly?
§ MR. PARNELL
We have heard of the hon. and gallant Member carrying the war into Carthage; but I did not know that the hon. and gallant Member was going to extend his warlike operations to the larger field of London. For, apart from the hon. and gallant Member, some time past we have had examples of riotous and tumultuous meetings in Ireland on the part of the Orangemen of the North, where thousands of them have come together armed with revolvers—where sackloads of revolvers have been taken from them, according to the statement of a late Chief Secretary, and where they have kept up a fire from these revolvers into the air by hundreds and thousands for many minutes. I do not apprehend that demonstrations on such a large scale as that will be repeated by the Orangemen of Ulster at the coming General Election; they did not attempt anything of the kind against us at the last General Election; but it is possible there may be isolated attempts on a small scale to create riot and disturbance, and that they may result in the taking of the lives of some in-offensive Nationalists. But, however this may be, from the point of view of equal justice we think that before we are asked to agree to the second reading of this Bill the Chief Secretary should tell us that he intends to see it fairly and justly administered as between the two sides, and that as the Orangemen under 1541 the operation of the 4th sub-section of Section 4 of the expiring Act have power to arm themselves, and Catholics are prevented from doing so, that that will be undone, and that in every case where arms are known to be in the hands of dangerous people, by licence previously given or otherwise, that licence will be taken away. That is a fair and reasonable request to make, and it is one that ought not to be refused. It is a mockery to introduce the Bill and say it shall only be applied to three-fourths of the country. If this law is to pass at all, it ought to be applied equally against all sections of the people. When I first entered the House of Commons, 11 years ago, an Arms Act was under discussion, and I felt humiliated at the feeling that came over me that I, who had just come from my constituency, then full of hope, that the right of making her own laws would shortly be restored to Ireland, and no other feeling, that I should find the House of Commons of that day was only willing to devote its attention to a Bill to disarm the people of Ireland. We are now entering upon better days. I do not feel depressed because the right hon. Gentleman has introduced this Bill. I admit there may be some reason why at present, and considering the condition of a portion of the country, the hands of the Government might be fortified by some such measure as this. But that reason is not one created by anything on the part of the Nationalists; it is not the fault of the Nationalists that it has to be done. I do not feel depressed or alarmed at the prospect before us. The present House of Commons is composed very largely indeed of Gentlemen who have shown themselves desirous of seeing how far they can go in the direction of giving power of self-government to Ireland; and I am convinced that when the time comes when this House shall have entrusted to all sections of Irishmen the power to make their own laws, the necessity for passing an Act like this to be used against any section of Irishmen shall have disappeared, and disappeared for ever.
§ MAJOR SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
said, after the remarks which had been made, he thought it necessary to offer a few words in explanation of what he said at the meeting on Saturday last. He then tried to explain to the audience 1542 the exact position that the Loyalists should be placed in in Ireland if the Bill now before the House was carried; and he pointed out that, from the character given of a certain section of Irishmen by the Prime Minister himself, the Loyalists were forced to look upon the advent to power of the section to whom he referred from the same point of view as a London shopkeeper would look upon the substitution of the present London Police Force by a force consisting of the murderers, thieves, burglars, and pickpockets of London—a change which he anticipated would impel the peaceable citizens of London to buy arms for their own defence, and so make the fortunes of the gundealers. He considered that he was justified in stating this, because the Prime Minister himself, some four and a-half years ago, described the Party led by the hon. Member for Cork as a Party who preached the gospel of plunder, whose steps were dogged by crime, and who were marching through rapine to the dismemberment of the Empire. He (Major Saunderson) therefore considered his illustration as a very happy and appropriate one. It was not his intention to oppose the Bill. The reason why the Act did not apply to one part of Ireland was that that portion was not under the domination of the National League. The hon. Member had accused Orangemen of murder; but he had not supported the charge by mentioning a single case, and for the reason that such an instance could not be found. [An hon. MEMBER: Philip Maguire.] He did not wish to rake up the list of crimes for which the National League was responsible. He wondered, however, that when the hon. Member for Cork spoke thus of Orangemen he did not embrace the opportunity of denouncing the horrible and brutal murders which were taking place in other parts of Ireland. He had said that they had arrived at happier times. He (Major Saunderson) thought in one sense they had, for he believed they were approaching a settlement of the Irish Question, and a settlement which would be final, and the settlement would be this—that the constituencies of England would decide by an overwhelming majority that the authority of the Queen should be permanently maintained in Ireland, and 1543 that the authority of the hon. Member for Cork and his Friends should never be substituted for it.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL (Paddington, S.)
Perhaps the House will allow me to make a few remarks, which I think will have strict reference to the Bill before it, upon the manner in which the Bill has been approached, and also in the nature of a personal explanation, in answer to the attacks made upon myself personally from more than one quarter of the House. I very much regret I was not in my place when the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) was speaking, having been called out of the House on business. I understand the hon. Member for Cork stated that, in his opinion, I had been guilty of unintentionally inciting to murder and assassination. Of course, that is an opinion which the hon. Member is entitled to hold. At the same time it is a very serious accusation; and I think that any Member of the House, sitting upon one Front Bench or the other, having held Office or holding it, who even unintentionally incites to murder and assassination is quite unworthy to have a place in the House of Commons. And for a Member who intentionally incites to murder and assassination, the proper place for him would be a Court of Justice. The right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir Henry James), speaking the other day, without any possibility of mistake as to whom he was alluding, stated that in consequence of language I had used I was half a traitor. The Chief Secretary also holds, I know, that this Bill is necessitated, to a considerable extent, by the feeling of a certain portion of the Irish people in the North, and by the preparation they may be making for forcible resistance in certain circumstances. I understand from what he said the other day, in answer to a Question put to him by the hon. Member for Londonderry, that the Bill was specially intended to apply to the prevention of armed bodies in the North of Ireland.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
If the noble Lord had been in the House, he would have heard the explanation I have given of that observation, and the defence I have made for it.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
I am very sorry, and I apologize to the right hon. Gentleman. I understand, 1544 then, that the Government does not mean to apply this Bill to armed bodies in the North of Ireland. But I would ask the House to give me permission to do my best to clear myself of a very serious accusation, and at the same time, if possible, for the purpose of this debate, to eliminate this question to a considerable extent from future discussion. What I said was this—I have not my words before me, but I have a very clear recollection of them—that in certain circumstances, and in the event of a certain portion of the Irish people being placed under the legislative control of another Legislative Assembly than this Imperial Parliament, the Loyalists of Ulster, or that portion of the Irish people to whom I alluded, would, in all probability, resort to forcible resistance.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
I did not. Hon. Members in that quarter of the House will please understand that I am not desirious of shirking the question. What I said was that in circumstances such as they apprehended they would be right in resorting to arms. I maintain, and I defy contradiction, that what I have laid down is the Constitutional doctrine accepted in this country ever since the days of the Revolution of 1688. Before I come to that point let me say this—that in the language I used I have the most distinguished Predecessors. In 1833, Lord Althorp—a name which will not be received, I think, with derision by hon. Members opposite—declared that if he had to choose between Repeal of the Union and civil war he would choose civil war. Lord Althorp was a great Whig statesman, who exercised an influence over the House of Commons which has never been equalled by anyone previously or since. Sir Robert Peel, if in the same debate, declared that in maintaining the Union the Government might have not only to rely on the scaffold, but to drench the plains of Ireland with blood. These, at any rate, are two great authorities as to the effects which would be produced on Ireland by the Repeal of the Union. At any rate, I think the House will admit that my language was certainly within the limits laid down by Lord Althorp and Sir Robert Peel. Hon. Members will, I hope, endeavour to exercise a judicial 1545 function in this matter. Which is the stronger? To say if, in certain circumstances, a portion of the Irish people were to be placed under a domination to which they could be called upon to owe no allegiance rightfully, and they use force, they would be right in so doing; or, on the other hand, to say, like Lord Althorp, that, having to choose between civil war and repeal, he would choose civil war; or, again, to say, like Sir Robert Peel, that in maintaining the Union we should not only have to use the scaffold, but deluge the plains of Ireland with blood? I appeal to the honesty and generosity of hon. Members below the Gangway to say whether I was not right in doing so? [Home Rules cries of "No, no!"] It is no use making an appeal to hon. Members below the Gangway; but, at any rate, I appeal to the general body of the House, and certainly to the general body of the public outside. The right hon. and learned Member for Bury declared that in the language I used I was half a traitor. [Sir HENRY JAMES dissented.] Oh, yes, you did; there is no doubt in my mind, or in that of anyone else, as to whom the right hon. and learned Gentleman referred. The right hon. and learned Gentleman professes to be a distinguished Whig lawyer. [Captain VERNEY: No, no!] I am glad the hon. and gallant Member for Buckinghamshire sees, as I do, the impropriety of that profession. The right hon. and learned Member for Bury preached to the House the other night what I can only call the unmitigated doctrine of Divine right. To defend myself and to meet the right hon. and learned Gentleman's charge, I will turn to the highest historical authority in this House, the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The Chief Secretary has written many historical essays of immense interest, and I may say of literary beauty. Of all those historical essays none is more interesting than that on Robespierre. In that essay occurs this decisive passage—Modern publicists have substituted the Divine right of Assemblies for the old Divine right of Monarchs. We confess ourselves unable to follow this transfer of the superstition of sacro-sanctity from a King to a Chamber. No doubt, the sooner a nation acquires settled government the better for it, provided the government be efficient. But if it be not efficient the mischief of actively suppressing it may well be fully outweighed by the mischief of retaining it.1546 Now, I am under the impression that the Ulstermen hold that the Government of Ireland will be transferred from one centre to another; and they will also hold that the Government, as so transferred, will not be an efficient Government. That doctrine is widely held in Ulster; and what I want to know from the Party opposite is, do they mean, by their adhesion to the argument of the right hon. and learned Member for Bury, that Divine right—a doctrine which I thought was entirely exploded in this country—attaches to the acts of this Parliament any more than it attached to the acts of a despotic Monarch? I am trying to show the House that I did not transgress the lines of accepted Constitutional doctrine in this country. Will hon. Members in any quarter of the House deny that allegiance is conditional? The allegiance of Ulster is given to this Parliament on condition that it affords to the inhabitants of Ulster protection. ["Hear, hear!" and "No, no!"] Certainly; that is the condition, and if this Parliament transfers the lives and the liberties of the inhabitants of Ulster to a Body over which this Parliament will have no control—absolutely none—then I hold that no Divine right attaches to such acts of legislation; and if such legislation should lead to civil war it is impossible to contend that the inhabitants who took part in that civil war would be guilty of treason. That undoubtedly is the view which I hold, and I shall never be ashamed of expressing it. If hon. Members think so badly of it, why have they not brought forward the Motion of Censure which the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) gave Notice of, and which has since been taken off the Paper, and we have not heard anything about it? I believe that view is held not only by myself, but by two other persons held in considerable respect in this country—I mean Lord Salisbury, and by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain). Not only do I believe that these doctrines are held by the persons I have mentioned, but I believe they are also held by the Prime Minister of this country. In the Autumn of 1884 a debate took place on a subject which many hon. Members will recollect—the Aston riots. It will be recollected that I had a contest with the right hon. Member 1547 for West Birmingham on that point. There was an animated debate and a division, and I believe that in that division my views were supported by the then Irish Party. ["No!"] I know that we had a strong division, and I think that Party went strongly in my support. In that debate I accused the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham with inciting to violence, and I quoted a passage in which he said that 100,000 men from Birmingham could be got to march on London. The Prime Minister defended the right hon. Gentleman, and seemed rather to sympathize with the contemplated march. ["No!"] At any rate, there was nothing in his speech disapproving of it. But in that speech there occurred this most remarkable passage, which singularly bears out what I have stated, showing that the right hon. Gentleman holds very much the same doctrine as Lord Salisbury laid down. The Premier alluded to the statement of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham as to the march of 100,000 men on London, and he said—That statement is treated by the Marquess of Salisbury as an incitement to violence.… Do you think, Sir, that under these circumstances it is the duty of Ministers, or of anybody else, to go to the people of this country, when they have the formidable obstacles in their front that they have now, and say to them— Love order and hate violence?" It is certainly one's duty to advise the people to love order and hate violence; but am I to say nothing else? Am I to make no appeals to them? Am I never to remind them of the dignity and the force that attach to the well-considered resolutions of a great nation? Are we to cast aside all the natural, legitimate, and powerful weapons of our warfare? I would go all lengths to exclude violence, and on that ground I object to the speech of the Marquess of Salisbury.Now, let the House mark what follows. The right hon. Gentleman says—But, while I eschew violence, I cannot—I will not—adopt that effeminate method of speech which is to hide from the people of this country the cheering fact that they may derive some encouragement from the recollection of former struggles, from the recollection of the great qualities of their forefathers, and from the consciousness that they possess them still. Sir, I am sorry to say that if no instructions had ever been addressed in political crises to the people of this country except to remember to hate violence and love order and exercise patience, the liberties of this country would never have been attained.It is perfectly easy for me, addressing 1548 the Loyalists of Ulster, to substitute the Ulster controversy for the Reform controversy, and so to come within the doctrine laid down by the Prime Minister. Under these circumstances, I consider that I am in no way whatever liable to the charge of having, intentionally or unintentionally, incited to murder and assassination. I have said before the country, as I thought it was my duty to do, what I believed would be the consequences of such legislation as is proposed by the present Government. I believe that those consequences would be civil war; and if the consequences of that legislation were such as to lead to civil war those who took part in resisting those consequences would be right. [Cries of "Oh, oh!" and "Shame!"] And no exclamation or denunciation from hon. Members below the Gangway will make me recede one inch or one iota from that opinion. I have shown that the language that I used was language which fell short of that used many years ago by authorities far greater than any that the House can boast now; and fortified by those authorities and by the Constitutional doctrine, as laid down by the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, I regard with equal indifference either the censure of the Irish Members, or the censure of the right hon. and learned Member for Bury.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES (Bury, Lancashire)
I am not, Sir, about to enter into any discussion with the noble Lord as to whether or not the abstract doctrine which he has laid down to-night is deserving the sanction of the House. I shall only refer to the personal matter which he has introduced. He has said—and said in a tone which I must regret, as it seemed to me to be a very bitter tone—that in the course of the debate I had spoken without any mistake as to whom I was referring, and that I had called the noble Lord "half a traitor." Now, I really do not know why the noble Lord should have applied my words to himself. I am in the recollection of the House when I state that I referred to no one in the course of what I said; I endeavoured to remove what I addressed to the House as far as I could from the atmosphere of any personal attack or animadversion; and I assure the noble Lord—and I ask him to accept the assurance—that when I 1549 was speaking the noble Lord was not in my mind. I can state to the noble Lord that when I so spoke I had not read the letter of the noble Lord. It was brought to my attention afterwards. I had not found time to read it, or many other things in the newspapers; and if I had intended to attack the noble Lord I would certainly have given him personal notice of it previously. He is aware that I made no such communication to him; and I say in his presence that I was not referring to him. The noble Lord says that I quoted his words. Will he say what words of his I quoted? For I did not know what his words were on Thursday, and I could not have quoted them. Having given the noble Lord that assurance, I wish to state to the House now that I have not one word to withdraw. I am anxious that the Loyalists of Ulster should fight their battle, but that they should fight it within this House, and by Constitutional methods, and I thought that I was strengthening them by pointing out that those loyal men who wished strongly to protest against the proposed legislation would fight better, and would have more allies, if dangerous language were not used so as to weaken their cause, and if they would confine themselves within the bounds of Constitutional discussion. I will not follow the noble Lord in his remarks. I am afraid that what I am about to say is somewhat opposed to what he has said; but I believe there could be no greater calamity to this country than if we were to see men fighting—I say nothing about the question of the Divine right of Kings or of Parliaments—but to see them fighting against the Throne, and fighting, as at last they might have to do, against the troops of the Queen, of whom they are, as I believe, most loyal subjects. I would say, without wishing to offend the noble Lord personally—that I would do a great deal to prevent the possibility of such a lamentable state of things occurring. I confess that I cannot agree in what I have just heard fall from the noble Lord; but I pass away from the subject, remarking that it is a most dangerous discussion. The words which the noble Lord used may be misunderstood; and I would venture to suggest to him that if he would throw his great abilities, his great energy, and his great influence into the struggle on behalf of 1550 the Ulstermen by endeavouring to protect them by Constitutional means, instead of using language of a doubtful character which may be misconstrued, he will act, as I am sure he desires to act, as a loyal supporter of order.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has misunderstood me. What I referred to was action after all Constitutional means had been exhausted.
§ SIR HENRY JAMES
I was only indicating the difficulties that might arise if some men should draw the inference that the time has come when Constitutional means are exhausted, and others should draw a different inference. But my object is not to enter into the controversy. I hope I have satisfied the noble Lord that I intended no personal attack upon him; but, at the same time, I do not withdraw anything that I said the other night, having then said only what I believed it to be my duty to say.
§ MR. LEWIS (Londonderry)
said, he had strenuously supported the renewal of the Peace Preservation Act of 1881, because he regarded it as necessary to good government, peace, and order. From that position he did not flinch. It was important, however, that the House should understand what the Government meant by coercion. He had understood that the programme, the leading principle of the Liberal Party and of the present Ministry, in dealing with Ireland, was that under no circumstances whatever would they ever have anything to do with repressive legislation or coercion; but the Bill did not bear out that idea. That night they had a Coercion Bill put down as the first Order of the Day, and the second Order was what was intended as a measure of conciliation. They had heard much of "judicious mixtures" with regard to Irish legislation; but the Government now proposed an injudicious mixture of coercion and conciliation. From what had passed that evening it was clear that an agreement had been arrived at between the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell) and the Government, on the one hand, that the Bill should be allowed to pass, and, on the other, that the obnoxious Sub-section 4, in Clause 2, should be struck out, although he (Mr. Lewis) admitted that he added the words "and elsewhere." Why did the Chief Secretary name the North of Ireland 1551 at all for? Why need he have named Ulster, except the Act was to be used for the purpose of oppressing them? The right hon. Gentleman had not explained the pertinence of his reference to the North of Ireland. The facts were that the Act had hitherto been used in parts of Ireland where different creeds and different politics were not mingled; and they were justified, therefore, in viewing with some amount of suspicion the peculiar way in which the Act was to be amended in order to meet the views of the hon. Member for Cork, and in order to use it for the purpose of oppressing the Orangemen and Protestants in the North of Ireland, who had hitherto been free from the restrictions of the Bill, which had only applied to the disloyal portion of the community. When the present Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced this Bill in 1881 he observed, referring to language which had been used by the chief lieutenant of the hon. Member for Cork—To-morrow every subject of the Queen will know that the doctrine so expounded is the doctrine of treason and of assassination."—(3 Hansard,  160.)That was the reply which the right hon. Gentleman then made, in the presence of the whole House, to the observation of the chief lieutenant of the hon. Member for Cork that—It was lawful for the tenant to shoot his landlord if he would not reduce his rent.Forsooth, it laid in the mouth of the hon. Member for Cork to make charges against the Orange and loyal portion of the community of Ireland as he had that night. He could not but wonder at the intrepidity, not to say the audacity, of the hon. Member. The hon. Member had declared that Orangemen were very willing to assassinate, or to attempt to assassinate, those who differed from their political opinions—that they were accustomed to the pastime of murder and attempting to murder, and that murders and assassinations might be expected from the Orangemen at the next General Election. Hon. Members, however, would recollect the old fable of the wolf and the lamb; and he left it to the House to ascertain from the history of the last five or six years which Party in Ireland was most likely to play the part of the wolf and which that of the lamb. In which parts of Ireland had murders and assassinations been 1552 most rife and most vigorously defended? Had they been perpetrated by the loyal and Protestant inhabitants of the North of Ireland, or by the wicked emissaries of the National League, under the immediate superintendence, protection, and assent of the hon. Member for Cork? ["Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
The language which the hon. Member has used is not Parliamentary. He has said that murder and assassination were done under the immediate superintendence, sanction, and direction of the hon. Member for Cork. That is not according to the Rules of the House, and I call on the hon. Member to withdraw.
§ MR. LEWIS
said, they were arrived at this point—the Government on the one hand, and the hon. Member for Cork on the other, were content to have a measure of coercive and repressive legislation for Ireland. The Government had been very backward in coming forward with the Act. They now proposed that it should be continued for two years. He (Mr. Lewis) protested against that mode of dealing with the law for Ireland. They had better pass a general Act, and repeal it when it was no longer required. The position of the Government was one of absolute inconsistency, for in proposing this measure of coercion they cut right at the root and principle of the other measure for Ireland that was before the House.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Londonderry, S.)
said, that some of the explanations made to the House, so far as some Members were concerned, were hardly necessary. The quasi-apology of the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir Henry James) to the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) was scarcely required. He thought that those Gentlemen might have allowed matters to remain as they were, and let everybody draw his own conclusions. When he heard the speech 1553 of the noble Lord in regard to the remarks of the right hon. and learned Member for Bury about "half a traitor," he was reminded of the term once applied by the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Sir Robert Peel) to an hon. Member, whom he called "a mannikin traitor." If the right hon. and learned Gentleman had used that phrase, he would, perhaps, have been nearer the mark. Now, it appeared to him that the noble Lord was under some necessity of giving a long explanation to the House of the Constitutionalism of his views. If he had been so long-winded, if he had been obliged to give at such length his meaning to the Orangemen in the Ulster Hall, Belfast, he was afraid that the Orangemen of Belfast would have been rather dissatisfied with their champion. There were, no doubt, some other Gentlemen who would have been obliged to explain their language, were it not that the noble Lord and his Friends had seen the necessity for putting a certain amount of bridle rein upon hon. Gentlemen from Ulster sitting beside him. They had noticed a very considerable change of tone in the speeches of those Gentlemen of late. Complaints had been made of the change of tone of the Irish Party; but what was much more remarkable was the silence of hon. Members from the Orange Lodges in Ulster. The noble Lord did not consider that the speeches which they would make to the House would be very effective at present. They had not been so moderate elsewhere in their language. Those hon. Gentlemen were now "cooing like sucking doves" in the House, and stating that they did not mean what they had previously said at all. Perhaps that was done with a view to an early appearance at the polls. They were lambs in fact, for the hon. Member for Derry (Mr. Lewis) had said that "it is the case of the wolf and the lamb," he being, of course, one of the lambs. He would ask the attention of the House to some of the speeches of the hon. and gallant Gentleman below the Gangway who now tried to explain the statement—that they intended to resort to arms. The noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill) thought it now necessary to make an apology for his Belfast speech——
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said, he would say that the noble Lord had found it necessary to make not an "apology," but an "explanation." He would quote from a speech by the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Major Saunderson) made at Portadown, which was reported in The Lurgan News of February 27 last, which would, perhaps, be interesting to the noble Lord. He said at the beginning of his speech—When I was at Chester and attended the meeting, I looked around and saw that when reference was made to Lord Salisbury half the audience cheered, and whenever Mr. Gladstone was mentioned the other half cheered. By these means I found the audience was pretty evenly divided, and I spoke accordingly.So he (Mr. T. M. Healy) presumed that these Gentlemen found that, opinion in the House being pretty equally divided on certain questions, it was necessary for them to arrange their language accordingly. In a further part of his speech he said—Before I sit down I wish to say that this English meeting, composed of Liberals and Conservatives, went their way with great enthusiasm. When I said that before we allowed Gladstone and his Party to hand us over to Parnell and his gang we were resolved to resort to arms.The hon. and gallant Gentleman was further on reported to have said—I was speaking to Lord Randolph Churchill.What would the right hon. and learned Member for Bury, who spoke of "half traitors," say to this?
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I must call the attention of the hon. and learned Member to the fact that these remarks bear very remotely upon the Arms (Ireland) Bill.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said, he, of course, bowed to the ruling of the Chair; but he thought that as the noble Lord had been allowed to refer at great length to the Aston riots, he (Mr. T. M. Healy) might have referred——
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I allowed the noble Lord a certain latitude because the noble Lord was meeting a charge made against him. The matter is for the judgment of the House; but I put it to the House whether there should be a continuance of these personal recriminations?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said, that the quotation was strictly in point, and had reference to arming, which this Bill was intended to prevent. The hon. and gallant 1555 Member, in the same speech, went on to say—Speaking of Lord Randolph, he asked what force we could raise if it came to civil war?That was strictly pertinent to the question.I said—'Come over and see.' He came over, and goes back, knowing that Ulster is at least prepared to strike a blow for Ireland.[Opposition cheers.] He was quite satisfied if hon. Members were; but he should like to ask the Government whether an Act of this kind was sufficient to deal with the instructions issued to the Orangemen? The words of the instructions issued to the Orangemen made it clear, as he maintained, that the provisions of that Bill were not suitable to the North of Ireland, and required considerable amendment. The hon. Member for Derry (Mr. Lewis) thought that he and his Party were "lambs," and that this Act was necessary in Ireland, but not for the Orange Society. The Irish Party were accused of speaking recklessly; but he would defy anybody to quote from the speeches of Nationalists on many platforms, and in the many Proclamations which were signed on behalf of the National Leagne, passages which were at all comparable with the Proclamations issued by hon. Members above the Gangway, and he asked what steps the Government proposed to take to put them down? A great many foolish things might be said in the heat of the moment; but these Proclamations were deliberately written, and issued by the heads of the Orange Party, and he wanted to know what protection from them the people of Ireland were to get by the Bill? To give an idea of the state of things that prevailed in Ulster, he might say that, at a meeting reported by The Daily Express, Lord Rossmore said that the soldiers and police were the friends of the Orangemen. A voice in the crowd said that there were 400 Orangemen in one regiment—a statement which was received with cheers. They were further told that—At this point shots were fired, and immediately hundreds of revolvers were produced, and it was no exaggeration to say that for fully ten minutes a steady fusilade was maintained.There were several shots fired off in his (Mr. T. M. Healy's) hearing. These 1556 "law-abiding lambs" of the hon. Member for Derry were badly in want of a shepherd. Cries were freely uttered of "Shoot Biggar and Healy," although in the South it was regarded as a terrible thing for there to be a cry of "Shoot the landlords." At a meeting at which the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh was present, the Orangemen were told to be ready with their "sweethearts," meaning revolvers, and plenty of "stuff," by which ammunition was intended. In a Proclamation issued by the Deputy Grand Master of Armagh, it was said that the meeting was to be "of a semi-religious kind"—that meant that weapons were to be concealed. It was also said that the Grand Master was anxious to give no offence to their opponents, and Orangemen were to observe the sanctity of the Sabbath. The Proclamation went on to say that Orangemen were to do their utmost to keep together, and that no man was to wander from his friends—that they were to bring colours, and, if possible, a copy of Sankey's Hymns. The meaning of Sankey's Hymns was well understood in Ireland, and among the Orange Body. It was well understood by the "lambs." He need scarcely say that it meant revolvers.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said, that if the hon. and gallant Member did not know it he must be badly acquainted with the vocabulary of the Orange Lodges.
§ MR. JOHNSTON
I most emphatically deny the meaning placed on the words by the hon. and learned Member.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said, he was glad that, even at the eleventh hour, the Orange Party saw the necessity of denying the real meaning of these Proclamations. He maintained, however, that the language used was understood by the brethren in the way he had indicated. Why should Sankey's Hymns be brought to a political meeting? There was, however, another phrase which he hoped the hon. Gentleman would explain—the recommendation to the Orangemen to bring to the meetings "their sweethearts and plenty of stuff." Did the Orange Order issue a special dictionary to read these expressions by, or had they a special glossary of slang? The point was—How were these words understood in Ireland, and by the Orangemen? Obviously "sweethearts" 1557 meant rifles, and "plenty of stuff" ammunition. It would also be difficult to explain how it was that after some of the meetings "sackfuls of revolvers" were found by the police. He would take another speech of the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh, which he would quote from the ever-faithful Daily Express of the 11th of January, 1884. In that speech it was stated that unless the Nationalists, who were spoken of as having devoted their lives and talents to undermining the authority of the Crown, had not been protected during a visit to Ulster by soldiers and police they would have left it in a different state to that in which they entered it.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
"Hear, hear!" If the hon. and gallant Member was satisfied, so was he; but if that was the spirit in which hon. and gallant Gentlemen, magistrates and Deputy Lieutenants, acted, they ought not to be placed in the position of issuing orders under this Act. The granting of licences for arms was, in the North of Ireland, to a great extent in the hands of Orange magistrates. He should like to know how many licences for "sweethearts" the hon. and gallant Member for North Down had granted?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said, that, no doubt, was due to the fact, which he had forgotten, that the district in which those hon. and gallant Gentlemen lived had not been proclaimed; and the people did not, therefore, require licences to carry arms. The most inflammatory language had been used by Orange magistrates, and men such as the son of the late Duke of Abercorn, and the brother of a Cabinet Minister. In 1883, when the Parnellites were addressing meetings in Ulster, Lord Claud Hamilton, in a speech, said that if the Government did not prevent Ulster being invaded by a horde of ruffians (the Parnellites) they would take the law into their own hands. That was the language which the noble Lord was not ashamed to use in Derry; but, notwithstanding all the noble Lord's opposition and his brave words, he (Mr. T. M. Healy) now represented Derry County in that House. The Nationalists had made their raid into the county, and they had only been beaten in the city where the noble Lord delivered his 1558 speech by 29 votes, 20 of them having been given by soldiers. What he wished to impress upon the House was this—that they were not afraid that the incitements of the noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill) and the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) would lead to civil war—they were all a sham; they had heard them all before. They only feared that individual murders and outrages would be the result of them. He challenged any person to produce from the speeches of the Irish Members any language equalling in violence the language now used by persons in high positions. It was in consequence of language such as that that they had Philip Maguire murdered after the Monaghan Election, and a priest shot at some time ago by certain gentlemen under the pretence that they were shooting at a target. But he would remind the noble Lord (Lord Randolph Churchill) that it was not Orangemen alone who read this language. It was read also by Fenians and Extremists. The noble Lord's language with regard to Ulster might well be seized by the Fenians, and who, adopting the noble Lord's argument, might say—"The Irish Parliament was taken away by bribery and corruption; the Act of Union never had any moral sanction; and armed resistance to it was merely a question of expediency." The noble Lord had, by such words, lighted a fire which, if it were not for the appeasing measure of the Prime Minister, might very easily be kindled into a big conflagration, which would astonish the noble Lord. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham also wrote a letter—and written words had always more seriousness attached to them than spoken words—which was as strong a Proclamation as to the rights of resistance as anything that Emmett could have issued. He wrote—The fate of this Province is in the hands of its own people, and if they are really in earnest—how well chosen, but how barbed, every one of those words was—in refusing to intrust their liberties and fortunes to the control of a Central Parliament in Dublin it is not likely that their fellow-subjects in England and Scotland will suffer them to be coerced into submission.But let that language be translated into the Fenian dialect, omit Ulster and substitute Ireland, and in the place of 1559 Orangemen put in Nationalists, and the argument would run—The fate of this nation is in the hands of its own people, and if they are really in earnest in refusing to intrust their liberties and fortunes to the control of a Central Parliament in London, it is not likely that their fellow-countrymen in America will suffer them to be coerced.Declarations such as that, though they certainly would not lead to civil war, would certainly lead to outrage. When they were told that "crime dogged the steps of the Land League," he answered that crime would dog the steps of the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. Chamberlain); and he challenged either of them, in the very worst of the Land League speeches they considered to have been delivered, to find any declarations more directly leading to bloodshed and incendiarism than speeches and declarations such as those they had just listened to. The Arms Act, as it was drawn, was not calculated to put down that mischief. The Lord Lieutenant had power to proclaim any portion of the country which he considered necessary, and yet he had not proclaimed Down, Antrim, or Deny; and although every other port in Ireland was proclaimed Belfast and Derry were not.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
said, the importation of arms into Belfast was now only permitted under the terms of the Lord Lieutenant's recent Proclamation.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
said, the number of convictions in proclaimed districts in the year 1883 was only 73 throughout Ireland, and yet it had been asserted that sacks full of revolvers had been seized. Hon. Members were acquainted with the case of John M'Carthy, of Loughrea, in whose house the rusty half of a Queen Anne pistol was found. M'Carthy was had up before two magistrates, who gave him three months' hard labour. That occurred immediately after the passing of the Act in 1881. No doubt he would be told, by way of explanation, that M'Carthy was a suspect. The Act was practically allowed in the North of Ireland to be a dead letter. The law, to be of use, ought not to be an Act which required to be enforced by the Lord Lieutenant; but an Act applying to the whole of Ireland, without invidious distinction of counties. The effects of the present state of the law were mainly perceptible during harvest 1560 time in the South of Ireland. In one field last year you absolutely could not see the ground for the crows and rooks. He stated that positively. There were tens of thousands of rooks gathered on the unfortunate farmers' corn-fields. Such was the effect of the law in the South of Ireland, while Gentlemen who used language like that of the noble Lord and the hon. Member for North Armagh could get what licences they wanted. The Act was vicious in principle. It let the big fish escape through the net, and did not mesh the real criminals. He invited the Government to consider whether the measure, as at present framed, was one tending for the wished-for ends, or whether some important improvements upon it could not be made? As far as the three Southern Provinces of Ireland were concerned, such was the feeling of pacification and appeasement brought about by the measure of the Prime Minister, and such was the feeling of sincere friendship and desire to bring about a better state of things, that this Bill would affect them very slightly indeed; and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would live to see the day when, under the operation of his beneficent measure, no other Arms Act would be required for Ireland.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, that the remarks of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) in relation to this Bill were of so grave a nature that he could not pass them by without notice. He understood the noble Lord to say that he only advised resort to arms in Ulster when all Constitutional means had failed; and that was said, not in heat and excitement, but in calm explanation to the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir Henry James) as a sufficient justification of language used in Belfast. He took leave to say that no doctrine more dangerous, no doctrine more intentionally treasonable, could possibly be preached, and he regretted that the noble Lord was not now in his place. It was a threat intended to influence the decision of that House. Why that threat? Did the noble Lord, and those with whom he worked, feel that the measure submitted to the Legislature was a measure which would command the assent of both Houses of Parliament and which would also receive the Royal Assent? If the noble Lord did not think so there 1561 would be no necessity for such a threat at all. The noble Lord was one of the Leaders of a great Party; he had been recently one of Her Majesty's principal Secretaries of State; he was "by Her Majesty's grace, one of her own Privy Council;" and yet, anticipating the time when Her Majesty should give her Royal Assent to a measure passed by the House of Commons and endorsed by the House of Lords, the noble Lord prepared for a contingency from which any lover of the State must shrink in any event, and encouraged people to adopt the notion that when petition had ceased, when speech in Parliament had ceased, when every Constitutional method was exhausted, civil war was the fitting answer to what had then become the law of the land. If the noble Lord did not mean that, all the greater the crime of his language. If he did mean it, of what use was it to proceed with Parliamentary discussion at all? But he would pass from criticism of the statesman—and that was not passing from much—to add a few words on the immorality of this incitement to, of the threats of, use of arms. Might men without the noble Lord's position make such threats? Might some demagogue who thought he had some grievance with Parliament resort to the use of such language, or was that privilege left to the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington? Was the noble Lord's threat what the French called mere blague? Was it a dangerous incitement to violence, intended to rouse the worst passions? Was it the voice of despair of men who had no reasonable answer to a measure of justice, and who tried to provoke violence? He regretted that the noble Lord was not in his place, for he would like to appeal from Philip after dinner to Philip earlier in the day. He had a few years ago heard—under circumstances which only enabled him to listen—the noble Lord denounce one who had peacefully assembled large bodies of men in provincial towns and in that city in order to formulate resolutions on a question then before Parliament, as seeking by force to overawe the House, and as in this guilty of conduct destitute of any excuse. And yet now to influence the decision of Parliament the noble Lord used words of incitement to civil war. If those words were used, and if blood were shed, on whose head would be the crime? He 1562 could understand that men who had not the advantage of listening to debates in that House might take the noble Lord's words au pied de la lettre, and might deem it their duty to fight for their Queen and their country by taking up arms against their Queen and their country, against the Parliament of England, and against its Statutes. If language had not lost its meaning, no more terrible doctrine had ever been preached than that of the noble Lord, when he said that he had only meant that the sword was to be drawn when petition had proved ineffectual, when speech in both Houses failed—when the Bill had received the assent of Parliament and the Queen. He failed to see that any words could more strongly condemn the noble Lord than those uttered in the House that evening.
§ MAJOR GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
said, that he was in a dilemma as to what vote he ought to give on that occasion. He was generally desirous of supporting the Government of the day in any measure stated to be necessary for the safety of the country or the due canning on of Government; but, from many of the speeches which had recently been made in that House and "elsewhere," he had no confidence in the present Government, and had doubts as to how the law would be administered. The people of the North of Ireland were strongly opposed to civil war, and so was he; and he blamed anyone who incited to civil war; but he believed it was absolutely necessary that people who perhaps were, in a measure, withdrawn from the protection of law should be able to protect themselves. At the present moment there was a dread—and he believed a just dread—that the Loyalists of Ireland, in certain eventualities, might not be protected by law. In the South of Ireland he knew the people went about armed, and he had that day received a letter from a lady telling him that she was obliged to keep loaded firearms. The country should not be in such a state, and it was a disgrace to the nation. He wished for an impartial administration of the law, and for all people to be protected who had a right to be protected.
§ MR. O'KELLY (Roscommon, N.)
said, he thought that if it was desirable that a law of this kind should come into force 1563 in the existing condition of Ireland, it should be a law that promised to be both just and effectual, and applicable to the whole country. The working of the existing law had been such as to encourage violence from that part of the population, from whom they now feared disorder. The Orange Party in Ulster had been allowed to supply themselves with arms, and it was notorious that arms were now being supplied to them all through Ireland, especially in Ulster, while the National Party were deprived of their means of defence, and thus subjected to danger. That was why the Orange Party were anxious that the Bill should pass. The class of arms distributed was not that which would be used in warfare, but for murder. In Ulster those arms were for the purpose of intimidating the Nationalists. The change of front amongst the Ulstermen was very instructive. The Orangemen found that as they had friends among the magistracy they would not be disarmed, while the police would be employed to disarm the Nationalists. He admitted that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had introduced the Bill with good intentions; but had they any security that it would be locally carried out in the same spirit as that which animated the right hon. Gentleman? No; they had no guarantee that the law would be equally applied. If they wanted disarmament, disarm universally. Do not let them disarm parts only of Ireland, but let them apply it to Ulster as well. They only knew Orangemen in that House from their loyalist declarations; but in Ireland it was known that the Orange Society began in murder and continued in murder. They, therefore, objected to the power of giving or denying arms being placed in the hands of the unpaid magistracy. Who were these men? The landlords, and the Orange landlords, who armed their own satellites, and left the others unprotected—men who were interested in the maintenance of every abuse, both Governmental and social, in Ireland. Such powers should only be in the hands of a paid magistracy. What was wanted was that the law should be applied universally in Ireland. Unless the strongest measures were taken there would be bloodshed in Ulster. He himself had been fired at in Ulster. If a landlord had been fired at 1564 there would have been a great noise made; but it was otherwise with an Irish Member of Parliament. He objected to men being allowed to incite to murder. Why should not the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) and the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) be prosecuted for inciting to murder?—for, unless Government took the strongest measures to preserve order, before the end of the year blood would be upon the heads of those right hon. Gentlemen.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE) (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
I have, unfortunately, been absent from my seat during a portion of this discussion, and I will not now refer to that portion with which the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down has dealt. All I would say with regard to that is, first, to give my assent to the principle that a law of this kind ought to be applied with the strictest impartiality. I think you will excuse me from endeavouring, at the present moment, to develop my meaning in the use of that language. It will be for a future stage, as far as the Government are concerned, or for opportunities when my right hon. Friend near me may find it necessary to go more largely into it, and to describe the particular steps which, under this Bill, the Government will find it their duty to take. I intend to advert to that portion of the evening's discussion which was touched in a speech of great force by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh). I regret extremely that I did not hear the declarations made to-night by the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill). But although I have not heard those declarations I have not only collected their effect, but I am distinctly cognizant of the language used by the noble Lord on recent occasions in speech and writings, and I understand it to be beyond doubt that the purpose of his address to-night was to justify that language. I believe that the use of such language by the noble Lord, added to the language which has been used by several Irish Members giving themselves the designation of Loyalists, must constitute a very singular event, most unusual in our proceedings and our history, and apparently calling for some distinct and specific notice from those 1565 who are intrusted with the charge of the Government of the country. I wish to explain very briefly to the House why I have distinctly and carefully avoided taking serious notice of any of these declarations. It is not because I undervalue the doctrine taught, as I understand, by the noble Lord. I will refer now, not to Ulster Members, one of whom to-night has, I believe, made some well-intentioned attempts to extenuate a portion of what he had previously said elsewhere—I refer to what has been distinctly taught by the noble Lord, a late Secretary of State, a Privy Councillor, one bound to advise the Crown when called upon to do so, a Representative of law, and charged with a special responsibility with respect to everything that touches public order and the obligations of obedience. The doctrine of the noble Lord, if I understand him—and I shall not use a single epithet if I can avoid it in the little I have to say—is distinctly and unequivocally this—a portion of the people find themselves in circumstances when a law to which they entertain strong and vehement objection, considering it unjust and oppressive, is under the consideration of Parliament. We are told that in these circumstances the duty of these persons is this. First of all, they are to exhaust Constitutional methods of opposition—that is, they are to make their sentiments known through their Representatives, through Petitions, through public meetings, and the various means that are afforded to all subjects of the Queen for unfolding in the fullest way their sentiments with regard to the intended and meditated law. But when these Constitutional means have been exhausted, then this portion of the people—so we are told by the ex-Minister of the Crown, the ex-Secretary of State, the Privy Councillor of to-day—with his approval and support, are to resort to armed resistance to the law. I am glad the senior Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) has come into his place, because he will hear the description which I am endeavouring to give—to give without epithet, without heightening the colour—of the opinions which it appears to me beyond dispute are promulgated by the noble Lord the Member for Paddington. Ulster was the portion of the people to which the noble Lord referred. 1566 But if his doctrine is true of Ulster, it is equally true of Leinster, Munster, and Connaught—that after Constitutional means are exhausted, then arrives the period when some portion of the people, believing itself to be aggrieved by a law that the Legislature has adopted, may resort, and should resort, and should be countenanced in resorting, to the use of physical force for the purpose of resistance to the law. This reminds me, Sir, of a scene truly historic—one of the most remarkable among the many remarkable scenes which I ever witnessed in this House. It is, I think, about 35 years ago when the occasion to which I refer happened within the walls of the Commons House of Parliament, but before we had been domiciled in this great building, and when we were in what was considered a temporary House after the fire in 1834. Mr. Smith O'Brien on that occasion rose in his place; he set forth, if my memory serves me rightly, the position in which, as an Irishman, he stood. In his view all Constitutional means had been exhausted. It was a short time after the termination of Mr. O'Connell's career, and what was called justice to Ireland in the language of those days had been sought, but had not, in the view of these gentlemen, been obtained. Mr. Smith O'Brien set forth to the House of Commons in the plainest language his intention of quitting the House to repair to his country and to levy war upon the Queen by the use of every means that he could put into action. The House of Commons listened in absolute silence, with very strong but perfectly restrained feelings, to this extraordinary declaration. I will not refer to what followed. Everyone knows what was the sequel. But I want now to compare the position of Mr. Smith O'Brien with the position of the noble Lord. I really know no other parallel with the position of the noble Lord. The noble Lord does not say that Constitutional means have been exhausted. In that respect he differs from Mr. Smith O'Brien. But he agrees with Mr. Smith O'Brien in that which is really material—namely, that when the means furnished by the Constitution have been exhausted by any portion of the people disapproving any particular law, that portion of the people may take the law into their own hands and offer to it armed resistance. The other great 1567 and glaring difference besides the difference I have pointed out is this. Mr. O'Brien was a Representative of the people, but had never been an Adviser of the Queen or a Minister of the Crown; though he had upon him the obligations of a loyal subject, against which, in my opinion, he grievously transgressed, he had not upon him the special obligation which attaches to every Privy Councillor and to everyone who has had the honour of serving the Queen in a responsible position. Well, Sir, this is an extremely grave series of facts. We have the speech made in Ulster, and that speech followed by a written exposition and a written commentary, and we have to-night, as I understand—and I believe there is no question about the fact, which I am as far as possible from wishing to exaggerate—we have laid down the doctrine to which I referred, and which I will not characterize by epithets to the House. I merely state that such occurrences as these are occurrences of the utmost gravity. It may be asked why has not the Government of the day taken notice of these circumstances in debate? Why have I waited until the direct challenge of the noble Lord himself in this House, until the notice taken of these circumstances by independent Members, has, I may say, compelled something to be said from this Bench? Now, Sir, I will give such justification as I can for the silence, which I fully admit requires some justification. The reasons which have decided me to avoid all notice of these grave and painful circumstances have been these. In the first place, I well know the strength of the law, and the strength of the love of law, and the determination to maintain it in this country, to be such that no rash or culpable assault upon it, come it from whom it may, however lofty be his position, be the responsibility however great, can, in truth, do anything to weaken the foundations of public and national obedience. If we were a weaker country with less solid institutions, such occurrences as these would, in my opinion, have called for severe as well as for immediate notice. Another reason, I must say, which has encouraged me in this policy of abstention has been the fact that the language of the noble Lord has received no extenuation or apology from any of those who sit near him in the 1568 House and who have been associated with him in Office. That is a circumstance which fills me with gratification, and I will take the opportunity of saying that I am convinced, as regards those whom I now see opposite, that an overwhelming majority of the Gentlemen who occupy those Benches opposite I am perfectly convinced—while I appreciate the delicacy of the position in which they stand towards a late Colleague, and can therefore understand their silence—that, the case arising, they would give proof that their sentiments with regard to any tampering, in whatever form, with the principles of loyal obedience are precisely the same as those which prevail on this side of the House. A third reason that has governed my conduct, and as far as I have been able to make it a subject of communication I am speaking for my Colleagues, has been this—we have felt, with regard to the measures we have before the House touching the future conciliation of Ireland, that we were making large demands not only on the patience of the House, but large demands upon its generosity, upon its foresight, upon its sense of justice, and upon all those great qualities of statesmanship to which we look for the acceptance of our measures. That being so, it has been a prime duty on our part to avoid, in the discussion of those measures, the introduction of any subject likely to create angry controversy—a studious banishing, if it were possible, of whatever might stir passion, or whatever might give offence. For that reason I have felt it was right, and I think my Colleagues have felt it was right, that we should take no notice of circumstances which are undoubtedly to be considered in themselves as much marked by very great gravity of character as they are happily by the extreme rarity of their occurrence in the annals of this country. Sir, having given these reasons by way of justification for having waived what might appear to be some degree of duty imposed at all times upon persons who are responsible for exercising special watchfulness in regard to whatever touches the sanctity of the law and the undisputed prevalence of the principles of obedience, I will only say that I shall further adhere to that method of proceeding, unless an overruling necessity should compel me reluctantly to depart 1569 from it. I trust we may be spared that necessity. I believe if we came to debate any such question as that, and if we came to mix such debate with questions of passion and excitement—with questions above all things requiring the calmest and most deliberate statesmanship, then our best hopes of ministering to the future peace, prosperity, and union of this country will be seriously weakened. To avoid whatever might weaken and to pursue whatever course is best calculated to maintain them is the primary duty—incumbent, I think, on them at this moment—of the Ministers of the Crown.
§ MR. PLUNKET (Dublin University)
I should not have thought of taking part in this debate had it not been for the way in which the Prime Minister, on my entering the House almost accidentally in the middle of the hour ordinarily assigned to dinner, appealed to me personally. Of course, I cannot refuse to answer such an appeal; but before I say anything more I wish to state distinctly that the very few observations I shall make have been extorted from me, and have not been in any way volunteered. When I left the House a short time ago I was under the impression that you, Mr. Speaker, had laid it down from the Chair that this matter could not be gone into in a debate on the Arms Bill, and that you interrupted the speech of the hon. and learned Member for South Derry (Mr. T. M. Healy) on that ground. Therefore, when I came back and found the Prime Minister speaking, and speaking very gravely on this subject, I was amazed. I do not think I ought to say anything more on that subject. I do not know whether the Prime Minister was in the House when the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington was speaking. [Cries of "No, no!"] He was not in the House, and, not having been in the House, he has taken upon himself to read a lecture of the most serious kind upon the course which my noble Friend has pursued.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
My "lecture" had reference to the speech of the noble Lord in Ulster, and to the letter written recently by the noble Lord; and as to the speech of to-night, I understand it did not involve any recession on the part of the noble Lord.
§ MR. PLUNKET
I must say that I understood the right hon. Gentleman was replying to the speech made by my noble Friend in this debate. Had I thought otherwise, I should have felt it to be my duty to rise to Order. I must say, Mr. Speaker, subject to your correction, that a more irregular thing than to quote a speech on a totally different subject in a debate on the Arms Bill I never heard of. I have no right, Sir, to say more on that point. I can well understand that it may have been thought to be of advantage, in the political battle which is now going on, that such a scene as this should have taken place; but I will tell the right hon. Gentleman how this matter arose. The noble Lord did not volunteer the observations he made. He was directly challenged by the hon. Member for Cork. The right hon. Gentleman has expressed a hope that the Colleagues of the noble Lord would disclaim the observations he has made. He referred to the conduct of Mr. Smith O'Brien and to the celebrated doctrine as to the circumstances under which it is or is not unconstitutional and disloyal to appeal to the ultima ratio of civil war when, as he said, all other appeals have been exhausted. The noble Lord has never, as far as I can recollect his speeches, laid down any general principle of that kind at all. He has pointed to certain circumstances that might arise, and said that if the authority of this Parliament were transferred to another Assembly to which a certain portion of the Irish population would not willingly have their allegiance transferred, events might happen in the midst of what would be practically a great and far-reaching revolution, in which one part of the people of Ireland might unfortunately be placed in a position in which it would be necessary for them, in defence of their rights and liberties, to have recourse to force. For my part, I decline to follow either the noble Lord or the right hon. Gentleman into such speculations. I say there is nothing in the speeches of the noble Lord that I have read, as far as I can, at a moment's notice, recollect them, that I am prepared to recede from. But I must point out that it is very irregular for us to be challenged under these circumstances to give an abstract opinion on the most shifting and uncertain proposition that could be submitted 1571 to one's judgment. I do not wish in the least to dissever myself from my noble Friend in the action he has taken in this matter; but, as I have been challenged, I will just say this much in addition, that I trust the Arms Act may not in the future have to be put in force in Ulster any more than it has been in the past. It has not been put in force hitherto, because there has been no occasion for it. ["Oh, oh!"] Yes; I appeal to history. The Government of the right hon. Gentleman and other Liberal Governments have not been obliged to apply the provisions of the Arms Acts to Ulster, because the people in those districts are a law-abiding people. I believe it will not be more necessary to put it in force in the future than it has been in the past. Furthermore, I trust that the possible contingencies referred to by my noble Friend will never arise, because I cannot bring myself to believe, and I will not believe until facts establish what now seems to be an absolute impossibility, that the people of England and Scotland will consent to impose on the free and loyal inhabitants of Ulster a yoke which they think will be inconsistent with their liberties, their lives, and the safety of their property. I believe that when an appeal is made to the country the answer of England and Scotland will be that they will stand by their loyal fellow-subjects in Ulster.
§ MR. HASLETT (Belfast, W.)
said, he would not have trespassed on the time of the House had it not been for observations reflecting on the character of a Body of which he was not ashamed to avow himself a member. He was not aware there was anyting in the principles of Orangeism that any respectable man of the Protestant faith should in any way be ashamed of. Yet they had been charged with crime of the most odious character, though without any proof, save that one hon. Member asserted he had been fired at by Orangemen, but when and where did not transpire, nor where he had made application to have justice done. Upon such bare statement were founded charges against an Association numbering many thousands of respectable, hard-working, and earnest men, whose character would be established by a reference to the records of crimes in Orange districts, which showed how small a proportion of indictable 1572 offences were committed by Orangemen. The Society had its origin in murder, it was said. Yes, the murder of Protestants at the Diamond, for whose protection the Society was originally instituted. A large series of extracts had been read setting forth what had been done by Orangemen; but what had been done by Nationalists? The hon. Member who had addressed the House from the Nationalist Benches had stated some time since—What first induced Mr. Gladstone to give attention to the demands of Irishmen? And, as far as could be gathered, it was the outrages committed in the country; and they were, therefore, to understand that the British Parliament was absolutely deaf to argument, and that the beat speaking-trumpet to reach its deaf ear was the mouth of a blunderbuss.What could the people do after hearing that statement from one of their most respected Nationalist Leaders but take up the weapon pointed out to them to get redress for their supposed wrongs? If he did not wish to weary the House he could give quotation after quotation to show the system of loose speaking and outrageous advice to ignorant men which had been indulged in on both sides. He deprecated this in the strongest manner; for while he was not ashamed to own himself an Orangeman, he never uttered a word to counsel the humblest man in society to adopt other than peaceable and law-abiding demeanour, and he never allowed a word to escape from his lips advising the population to have recourse to arms except under circumstances absolutely desperate—in fact, desperate beyond anything he could conceive at present. He owed to his Sovereign loyal obedience to law and order, and he also owed it to his own higher sense of religion that which led him to deal out to his fellow-men all the liberty and all the protection he sought for himself. It had always been the practice in the town of Belfast, at any rate, for licences to carry arms to be granted by the Resident Magistrate. [An hon. MEMBER: No; two local magistrates.] It had been said that Act was not put in force in Down and Antrim, and yet that it had been put in force in other counties. In Kerry and Cork the number of serious crimes reported to the Judge of Assizes at last Assizes was 550; while, at the last Assizes for Down and Antrim, the serious crimes reported were 20 in Antrim and 1573 15 in Down. Looking at these figures, he thought the Government must exercise a very wise discretion as to the places in which they put this Act in force, and the places they did not think it necessary to proclaim at all. The Act was one capable of being made one-sided. It was, he admitted, capable of being made so. It was possible that a magistrate might recommend a party for a licence who was unworthy of confidence, and that under this recommendation, thus improperly given, that party might get the licence. That might be so. He did not, for his own part, know what other magistrates might do, but he (Mr. Haslett) never gave a recommendation to a man that he did not first inquire into his character or his religion. [An hon. MEMBER: Orangeman or not?] He inquired first into the man's character as a citizen, and unless he was satisfied as to his character on these points he did not give him a recommendation. Then, for his own part, he always and under all circumstances refused to give a certificate to a man who was under age or to a man who was of dangerous habits in society. He did not, in deciding whether he should give a recommendation, care at all whether a man was a Roman Catholic or was a Protestant. He did not care for that. If he found that a man was a good citizen, that he was a religious man, that he was a steady man, who was not likely to abuse the possession of arms, he would then give him a certificate; and he had great satisfaction in saying that, to the best of his belief, and according to all the information he had been able to acquire, he had never in a single instance had reason to regret that recommendation he had given a man for a licence to carry arms under this Bill. He would not detain the House by going further with this subject at that hour of the evening. He might, however, say that he intended to vote for the second reading of the Bill. He should take that course, although he thought that some of the provisions it contained might be susceptible of amendment. But, although he was about to take this course, he, for his own part, hoped that the day was not far distant when men of good sense and good bearing in society would not need to be restrained with respect to the possession of arms. He regretted, and he did not 1574 hesitate to say so, that decent men in a good position should have such difficulty in getting a licence to carry arms in the counties of Down and Antrim—arms which were never used for committing murder. They generally secured a game licence, and kept their muzzles a little lower or a little higher; but they had never been guilty of murder or shooting. He regretted deeply that in other districts it was not so, and that some parts of Ireland had been brought into disrepute by men—if they were men—by people almost below the dignity of being called men, but who, as a matter of fact, were mere machines excited to these acts by the unguarded expressions of those in whom they unfortunately trusted, and from whom they ought to have received better counsel.
§ MR. W. O'BRIEN (Tyrone, S.)
said that they had nothing very particular to quarrel about in the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and they would leave him to settle accounts with the hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. W. Johnston). He should like to ask the hon. Member, however, if he had forgotten that when an ex-Member of that House—a late Lord Mayor of Dublin (Mr. Dawson)—went down to Derry to deliver a lecture on the household franchise, he was fired at by an armed party of Orangemen occupying the City Hall? On that occasion a man's eye was shot out when he was standing within two yards of the Lord Mayor, and shot out, not by a Nationalist, but by one of the armed party who were holding the Corporation Hall, under the command and at the instigation of the noble Lord the Member for North Tyrone (Lord Ernest Hamilton). At the time of the last Election he had to encounter a ferocious Orange mob, who waylaid him and the hon. Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner), who was accompanying him, on leaving the polls. The mob numbered over 200 men. They lined a wall which he had to pass, and every man of them had his hand in his breast pocket, and he well remembered the police running after his car when he approached the mob, and crying out—"Look out, they are going to fire." The police rushed at the mob and collared a lot of the men. His hon. Friend happened to have a revolver which he manifested his perfect readiness to use if the worst came to the worst; and but for 1575 this he doubted very much whether he should be there in the House that night to tell the tale. It was all nonsense for Orange Members to pretend to have this virtuous indignation about facts which were as notorious as the daylight. Everybody knew that there was a large number of men at every Orange meeting in the North of Ireland who carried revolvers in their breast pockets, and who used those revolvers just as much as it was safe for them to use them without risking their necks. They generally drew the line at that. Some of his friends who attended the demonstrations at Rosslea and Dromore knew that at those demonstrations, while some were content to cheer the sentiments of the speakers, the Orangemen expressed their applause by rounds of revolver shots. With regard to the Bill before the House, he was sorry that they had had no indication of a desire on the part of the Government to close with the very moderate proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell). For his own part, he regretted that the Government could not see their way to discard this very hateful coercion system altogether. If the Chief Secretary for Ireland could have consulted his own feelings in the matter, he believed that he would have discarded it. It was really stupid and humiliating to deprive a whole people of firearms. It was just like the forbidden fruit—it only increased the desire. When he was a young fellow the attraction which such a Bill had for him was that a man might get two years' imprisonment if he were discovered breaking its provisions. There was an air of romance or adventure about the thing. If an Irishman had a weapon concealed about him, or under his thatch, he had very much the same sort of romantic and adventurous regard for it as the old Bonapartist in one of Béranger's famous poems had for the tattered old flag which he had under his mattress. The Chief Secretary was right when he said that outrages had not been and would not be prevented by the mere difficulty of obtaining arms. Each man who was disposed to commit an outrage would get arms to do so in spite of all their restrictions. All they did by such legislation was to wound the self-respect and manhood of the people and to deprive them of a right which other people in the world enjoyed. Its 1576 effect also was to disarm five-sixths of the Irish people and to arm one-sixth, and that was the reason why his hon. Friends were pressing the Government, if there was to be a disarmament, to make it a real and not a sham and one-sided one. He reminded the Government, however, that the damage which it was sought to repair by this Bill had, to a large extent, been already done. Arms were already in the hands of the rowdies of the country; and unless some measures were taken to revoke the licences of those persons they would continue to be armed to the teeth, being perfectly persuaded that they could commit any outrages with impunity, so far as the magistrates were concerned, and, indeed, so far, he was sorry to say, as the superior police officers in the North were concerned. The class of dependents and ne'er-do-wells who were possessed of revolvers had a conviction that even if they got into trouble with the police through riots they would be brought before a Bench of magistrates who were sworn Orangemen, and before men who were making speeches inciting them to the use of firearms. All that they asked was that the Government should not make this legislation one-sided in its character. The Nationalists wanted nothing but peace, and they approached the question in this spirit. He hoped that the Government would give some intimation that they considered that the request of the hon. Member for Cork was not an unreasonable one.
§ LORD ERNEST HAMILTON (Tyrone, N.)
said, he desired to make a few remarks on the last speaker's allusion to Derry. It was true when Mr. Dawson, a late Lord Mayor of Dublin, went to Derry for the purpose of sowing the seed of sedition, a purpose in which he was thankful to say he failed, he did not meet with the cordial reception which he expected. It was also true that revolver shots were fired, and a man's eye put out; but those shots were not fired by Orangemen, and therefore the statement which had been made was absolutely without foundation. There were, no doubt, Orange and Nationalist processions; and he was sorry to say that he was foolish enough to take part in an Orange procession. As it passed down the street he saw a man at a window fire a revolver at the procession. He left 1577 the House, therefore, to judge whether it was likely that an Orangeman would fire a revolver at his own procession. There was one significant fact in connection with these proceedings to which he should like to draw attention. An inquiry was instituted in Derry to ascertain the cause of the shots being fired. This inquiry lasted three days. The police and the Loyalists came up in large numbers to give evidence. He himself gave evidence; but from the beginning to the end of the inquiry not a single Nationalist was forthcoming. He left the House to judge of the facts as he had stated them.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
said, there was good reason why no Nationalists appeared to give evidence before the Commission of Inquiry at Derry. It was because the investigation was ordered by the authorities of Dublin Castle. The Nationalists declared that they had no confidence whatever in the persons holding the inquiry, especially when the Government refused to give power to administer an oath which was demanded by the Nationalist Party. It was only an unsworn inquiry, composed of what the Nationalists considered to be gross partizans. Personally, he was strongly opposed to this Bill. As an Irish Nationalist Member he would never leave it on record, to be hurled as a reproach against him, that he concurred in, and voted for, a Bill to deprive his countrymen of the first right of all free men, the right to carry arms if they thought fit. He disbelieved in the efficacy of the Bill; and, though he admitted the opposition of the Irish Party to-day was different from that of the past, yet he thought he was justified in saying that he had no faith in Coercion Bills of any kind for the people of Ireland. He believed that the Chief Secretary (Mr. John Morley) was the first Minister holding Office who had made the declaration that for the purposes of crime, outrage, and assassination, Arms Acts were simply valueless in Ireland. The Irish Members had told the House the same thing for a long time; and the long experience they had obtained from the administration of 15 or 20 Arms Acts which had been passed and enforced in Ireland in almost unbroken continuity since the Union might have proved this fact to the House. At a time when Ireland was convulsed by 1578 outrages—from 1825 to 1835—Arms Acts of the most stringent kind were enforced; but they did not prevent the commission of agrarian crime. The man who wished to revenge himself for what he considered to be a wrong, or to commit any crime with firearms, would obtain those arms despite all their police detectives and Arms Acts. The only argument which could be used as a justification for this legislation was the preventing of men going about the country in open day and under the eyes of the police with arms in their hands. He had attended probably no less than 150 public meetings in Ireland, and he asked those who had watched the course of public meetings in Ireland, especially in the three Southern Provinces, if the people had been seen at those assemblies with firearms in their hands? At no National League meeting which he had attended, large and tumultuous as they were, had the police had occasion to take arms out of the hands of the people gathered there. But in the Northern Province, the so-called Loyalist Province, this particular offence was to be found there. In Ulster the Orangemen had continually come to meetings called for free discussion with arms in their hands, a proceeding which would not be tolerated in England. In the three Southern Provinces, where no such offence was committed, the Arms Act was enforced with the utmost rigour, whereas in Ulster, where it had been constantly violated, the Arms Act was not in force at all. As to the threats of civil war, he did not believe in the threats of the Orangemen. If a wall were drawn round Ulster to-morrow the Nationalists would be a good match for the Orangemen. He did not believe in these threats for another reason, and that was because the Orangemen who talked thus were but a very small minority of the Protestants of Ulster. If the Bill were passed at all, it should be made applicable to the whole country. He had been hunted by 200 men with arms in their hands through the streets of a town in the County Down, until he escaped by means of the Royal Irish Constabulary. He would vote against an Arms Act; but if the Government were determined to pass one, then let it be a real Arms Act—an Act to disarm every man in Ireland, not only the peasant, but the gentlemen; until they 1579 learned to talk and act like sensible men—so long as it might be necessary.
§ MR. DE COBAIN (Belfast, E.)
said, he asked the indulgence of the House while he made some observations with regard to the Orange Institution, which had been seriously impeached by hon. Gentlemen sitting below the Gangway. The statements made by hon. Gentlemen in regard to the Orange Institution were of the most reckless and untruthful character. He had the honour of being the Grand Master of the Orange Institution of Belfast for a period of five years, and he had the honour at present of being Deputy Grand Master of the Orange Institution for Ireland. He had presided at meetings of the Orange Body, the largest meetings that had ever been held in Ireland, some of them attended by over 100,000 people. [Laughter from the Home Rulers.] Yes; attended by over 100,000 people, and he had never yet been present at an Orange meeting, or had taken part in an Orange procession, where the Orangemen were armed. He had never yet taken part in an armed Orange meeting, nor had he known members of the Orange Body march in procession when armed, and therefore he denied most emphatically the statements that had been made by hon. Members below the Gangway. A short time ago the hon. and learned Member for South Londonderry (Mr. T. M. Healy) interspersed some observations in the midst of a grave debate in relation to Imperial matters about "sweethearts," and the hon. and learned Member appeared to assume that, as the word was used on the platforms of Orange meetings, it was figurative in its character, and amounted to an instruction to the men assembled to come armed. The statement was purely visionary. In some parts of Ireland, where Protestants were in a minority, and being in a minority were exposed to outrage, it was necessary for the Protestants to arm themselves; it was necessary for the Protestants attending public meetings for loyal purposes, meetings at which the name of the Queen of these Realms was received with respect, and at which attachment to Imperial rule was expressed in no indefinite way, it was necessary for the Protestants in districts thickly populated with their opponents to carry arms for their own protection. It was not only once in the 1580 history of Ulster that a Sunday school going out in the summer weather for a holiday excursion had been attacked by men differing from them in religion with weapons and firearms—["Where, where?"]—and for these reasons, where Protestants were in a minority, he admitted that Protestants might carry arms. ["Where, where?"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, he hoped hon. Gentlemen would allow the hon. Member to proceed uninterruptedly with his speech.
§ MR. DE COBAIN
said, he was much obliged to the Speaker for his intervention. He had often noticed that the surveillance which the Speaker exercised in the Chair was largely hampered by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and that, therefore, many hon. Members had to claim the Chair's protection from interruption. What he was about to observe was that where the Protestants were numerous—in Belfast and in those parts of Ulster which had been assailed by hon. Members below the Gangway—when Loyalists met together they did not do so armed. It was not necessary that they should. During the time he was Grand Master of Belfast, certain disturbances occurred in the town, which were referred to by the London papers as "Orange riots." Being then at the head of the Orange Institution in Belfast, he felt himself charged with a very weighty responsibility, and he felt it was his duty to inquire how far actual members of the Orange Institution had in any sense participated in the riots. During the lengthened investigation that occurred in the Police Court consequent upon these riots, there were just two instances in which actual members of the Orange Institution were impeached. In one of these instances a man who had mixed in the crowd did so for the purpose of rescuing an aged Roman Catholic woman who had been exposed to molestation; and in the other instance a man's house was entered by the police without a warrant, and he considered himself justified in resisting the encroachment. Hence his being brought before the authorities. These were the only two instances in the lengthened police investigation consequent upon the riots at Belfast in which members of the Orange Body were impeached. The debate this evening had drifted into so many subjects that it was 1581 very difficult to follow them all. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister appeared to consider that it was relevant to a discussion upon the renewal of the Arms Act to comment upon some political observations of the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill). If the right hon. Gentleman had only been in the House when the noble Lord justified his observations, and quoted his true precedents to warrant the use of those observations, it was possible the right hon. Gentleman would not have made the attack. At all events, the noble Lord was well able to defend himself against the attacks of the Prime Minister. An observation was made with regard to the investigations at Derry consequent upon the visit of Mr. O'Connor and the riots that ensued. An hon. Gentleman below the Gangway said the Nationalists did not appear to give evidence out of contempt for the authority by which that investigation was set on foot. But that authority was the present Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman was then in Office as he was now.
§ MR. DILLON
What I stated was that the Nationalists refused to give evidence because it was not a sworn inquiry, and because we had no confidence in its impartiality.
§ MR. DE COBAIN
Whatever the cause might have been, reference was made to the Executive, and that Executive was precisely similar to the present one, only he thought they had at that time a Chief Secretary who had a more general respect for the whole population of Ireland than the present holder of the Office. They had then to deal with Gentlemen who had not undergone a process of conversion, and who were animated by a spirit of confidence in the Protestant population. So far as the renewal of the Arms Act was concerned, he had no objection to the partial enforcement of the provisions of that Act. With regard to an observation, which appeared to him to be very irrelevant to the discussion before the House, as to what the Chief Secretary called "contingent sedition," and the attitude the loyal Irish population might adopt if the Bill of the Prime Minister became law, it was not for him (Mr. De Cobain) to say. He thought there was not the slightest probability of that 1582 Bill becoming law, and until its prospects assumed a different aspect from what they were at present, they would give no indication of the attitude that would be adopted; but when the time came the Loyalists would be able to protect their own interests and to defend their imperilled liberties and lives. (Ironical Irish cheers.) He was much obliged for those cheers. [An Irish MEMBER: Do not mention it.] It did not at all discompose him. What he was going to say was that no matter what policy might be adopted by that House, or any House of Commons, the Loyalists of Ireland would always be animated by a spirit of devoted and loyal submission to the reigning Monarch of these Realms.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Fermanagh, N.)
said, the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, being the Grand Master of an Orange Lodge, had indulged in a vein of lofty eloquence more befitting the "'prentice boys of Derry" than the arena of the House of Commons, and had sought to depict the Orange Societies as all that was pure and immaculate, and the Nationalists as all that was demoniacal and odious. The Prime Minister had borne up very well until that night; but after that dreadful and impressive pronouncement of the "Grand Master" of the Orange Lodge, no doubt the right hon. Gentleman would fall down defeated and abashed. The Representatives of the Ulster Orangemen always tried to make Englishmen and Scotchmen believe that "Orangeism" and "Protestantism" were absolutely synonymous terms in Ulster, and were really one and the same institution. Nothing more absurd, ridiculous, or untrue, and more grossly misleading could be imagined. There was as much difference between the honest and straightforward Protestantism of Ulster and rowdy corner-boy Orangeism as there was between the two sides of that House. It was ridiculous to say, as had been said, that the Orangemen had no arms. At Dromore the Orangemen assembled at the rate of 7s. 6d. a-day, and the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Trevelyan) stated that sackfuls of revolvers were taken from them. Was it not, therefore, indecent, dishonest, and hypocritical for an hon. Member to sneer down, and with smooth-faced coolness—
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
I will withdraw the words "dishonest and hypocritical;" but at least it was indecent—very indecent—for an hon. Member to come down and tell the House that the Orangemen did not carry arms. None of the Nationalists wished to see Protestants any more than Catholics deprived of the proper use of arms; but they asked that if an Arms Act was passed it should be employed to prevent the reckless members of Orange Lodges from coming into the possession of revolvers. The last speaker said he had never known an Orange procession that was armed, and he had likened those demonstrations to the processions of school children; but how then came it that when the noble Lord the late Conservative Leader in that House went to Belfast and led the way to the subsequent mission of the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) he told an Orange gathering that he addressed there to be sure not to fire off their rifles in the gaiety of their hearts. The noble Lord, knowing how undesirable and dangerous violence of any kind would be, advised the Ulster Orangemen, in a spirit very different from that of the noble Lord the Member for Paddington, not to fire off their rifles. He would ask, if the Bill were again passed, that it should be administered fairly. The result of its recent adminstration, which was anything but fair, was that the Ulster Orangemen were the only people in Ireland who had arms; and it was only because of the disadvantage under which they were thereby placed that the Irish Members were willing that such a Bill should become law. Another point to which he wished to refer was to the circumstance that the administration of the Act was manifestly opposed to justice. This resulted from having sworn Orangemen acting as magistates. In the county he represented there could be but little confidence in the administration of justice with a Bench constituted as it was. His opponent at his election was a magistrate, and just after the election that magistrate appeared before the people with a bright yellow sash, and was greeted by the crowd of his followers as the latest recruit to the great Orange 1584 Society. How, he asked, could confidence be felt in magistrates of that character? He (Mr. Redmond) represented a very large number indeed of Protestants, and he believed that not one of them would deliberately or in any way do an injury or an injustice to his Catholic brethren. The Government would find themselves in this difficulty—that, whereas other Arms Acts had been passed to prevent the Irish people from procuring arms, this was an Act to disarm them. If the Government intended to carry out the Act fairly, they most revoke the licences already issued, and they would have to set the police to work to seize the arms of every Irishman. He objected to a measure that would disarm one section of the Irish people, and would leave arms in the possession of their opponents.
§ MR. HENRY CAMPBELL (Fermanagh, S.)
, as representing the Southern Division of Fermanagh, so often referred to by hon. Members above the Gangway as loyal and patriotic, wished to lay his protest against an Arms Act of any description, were it not that contingencies had arisen, and might arise rendering an Arms Act necessary. He was aware that in Enniskillen revolvers had been delivered at the rate of 150 per week, and for what purpose? Was it for the purpose of taking the field? Certainty not. No; but it was for the purpose of creating riots at the coming Election. The Catholics and the Nationalists of the County Fermanagh, who were represented in that House by two hon. Members, and were very numerous, had not yet two Catholic magistrates on the Bench. How then was it possible for the Catholic farmers who desired to obtain a gun to frighten the rooks off their farms, to hope to do so, seeing that the whole of the magistrates were Orangemen and sworn partizans? He urged the Government, if they desired to pass an Arms Bill, to bring in a measure which would be enforced against all parties alike, and not a Bill such as this one, which would only be enforced in regard to one particular section of the community.
§ MR. EDWARD CLARKE (Plymouth)
said, he regretted that this discussion upon the renewal of the Arms Act should have degenerated into a quarrel between the Orange and Green. A division on this question now appeared inevitable, 1585 and if it took place he would vote with the Government for the re-enactment of the Bill; but he would do so with great reluctance and regret. In 1881 he voted for the Coercion Bills of the Prime Minister, and he did so under the conviction that the Government of that day might be trusted only to ask for coercion when its powers were necessary for immediate use. That belief was disappointed. The Ministry used its powers of coercion in 1881, not for the purpose of restoring order, but of forwarding a political action in this House; and he then felt and said publicly that he believed he should never again be able to support any measure of coercion proposed by a Government similarly constituted; and in 1882, when a very strong Coercion Act was brought in, he steadily declined to vote in favour of any one of its provisions. If at this time he voted for the present Arms Act it was not with any view of its being exceptional with regard to Ireland, or of its being put into exceptional operation in one part of that country. As far as the Arms Act itself was concerned, he thought it would be a useful thing if in this country we had an Arms Act, and if we had some check upon the carrying and improper possession of arms. He, for one, would never vote for this Bill for Ireland if it were not to be equally enforced in regard to all parts of Ireland. The proposal thrown out by more than one hon. Member that evening for the disarmament of the whole of Ireland was a very serious proposal. It was one very different from carrying into effect the provisions of this Act; but, so far as this Act had to be put into force by the authorities responsible for the protection of law and order, he hoped they would put it in force with perfect equality, and they would restrict, with regard to the possession of arms, people in one part of Ireland just as much as in another. He hoped never again to vote for a measure of this kind applicable to Ireland which could not be equally applied to the country in which he lived. He was afraid the necessity for it in Ireland was deeper than even the Chief Secretary himself would be willing to admit. Things had been said that had increased the dangers against which the Arms Act was intended to provide. Whatever those dangers, it was only the assurance of the responsible Government of the Crown that this 1586 Act was necessary for the purpose of preserving order that he, as an English Member, would give his vote for the second reading.
§ MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
said, he should not have interposed in the debate if it had not been for the remarks that had been made by the hon. Member for North Fermanagh (Mr. William Redmond). He did not think the statements of the hon. Member should go uncontradicted, and he felt that he could not sit silently by when he heard such atrocious actions attributed to the Orangemen by the hon. Member. At no time in their history was it a pledge on the part of Orangemen to "wade knee-deep in Catholic blood." That was a calumny which had been refuted time after time by Gentlemen who were Members of that House, and their words, as Christians and gentlemen, ought to be taken. He contradicted most emphatically that statement. The basis of the Orange Society was a union of Protestants for maintaining the Legislative Connection between Ireland and Great Britain, and the Succession to the Throne of Her Majesty's most illustrious House being Protestant. It was part of the principles of the Orange Society to injure no man on account of his religious opinions, and no persecuting spirit of any kind against persons on account of their religion was tolerated in their Lodges. The documents of the Orange Society were open to the Chief Secretary and to the House. Their Organization was not secret. In Ireland, the Society was not regulated by an oath; and they met as a Body to maintain the integrity of the Empire, the Legislative Union, and the honour of the Crown. This the Orange Institution intended to do, and 500,000 Orangemen were bound to use every means to do so. In the ranks of the Orangemen not all the Protestants of Ulster were to be found; but if the views of hon. Members below the Gangway were carried out, every Protestant in Ulster would find himself compelled to join himself to the Orange Institution.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN (Dublin, College Green)
Sir, we have had many Arms Acts in Ireland during the last 86 years; and an undeniable proof that they have not been satisfactorily worked is to be found in the fact that, while the Orangemen of Ulster are armed in one 1587 way or another almost to a man, the Catholics of Ireland are certainly unarmed. I should be very much surprised if the Orangemen of the North of Ireland deny that statement of a plain fact, because it has been with them a matter of continual boast that they have arms, and that they know how to use them. Now, Sir, it is because they are armed, and because their Catholic neighbours are unarmed, that we have had from time to time in the North of Ireland so much Party rioting and so much bloodshed. In the South, where Protestants and Orangemen are comparatively few and the Catholics form a great majority, Party riots and bloodshed are things which have been absolutely unknown. The recent meetings in the North of Ireland were attended by armed Orangemen; but the Nationalists went unarmed to their demonstrations until matters had progressed a very long way. We have the testimony of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan) to that fact. The right hon. Gentleman stated last year in this House that it was not the habit or the custom of the Nationalists in the North of Ireland to go to political meetings armed until they found, over and over again, that the Orangemen, who were holding counter-demonstrations, attended them armed almost to a man. It will be remembered by some hon. Members that one of the statements made by the right hon. Gentleman was that at one of these meetings, in regard to which the Government thought proper to take action, the Orangemen, arriving at the railway station from distant parts, were stopped by the authorities, and sacks full of revolvers were taken from them. The Orangemen boast, at the present day, of the magnificent fusillade they fired at Rosslea and Dromore. I had the pleasure of hearing part of that fusillade myself. I am quite prepared to grant that there are others besides these violent Orangemen who are possessed of arms, although I believe that there could not have been found among the Catholic Party one revolver for every five carried by the Orangemen. It has been remarked by my hon. Colleague that these revolvers are of no use for military warfare, but only for purposes of rioting. They are worthless as against the arms of the Constabulary 1588 or the military; but they are very effective weapons in a riot or disturbance, because they can easily be concealed; and it is the man who knows that he has this weapon in his pocket who is always ready to give offence and to create riot and disturbance. The Orangemen have two reasons for taking that course—one is that they think it very likely that they will get the best in the conflict, being better armed than their opponents; and the other is that they know that, if any legal trouble comes out of their performance, they will by-and-bye have sympathetic juries and sympathetic magistrates trying their case. This is not at all a new condition of things; it is a matter which has been inquired into by the House of Commons more than once. These Orange troubles and these armed demonstrations are not a matter of to-day or yesterday. I have here two volumes of Reports from a Committee of this House which sat on this subject in 1835; and if any hon. Member wishes to learn something about the peaceable character and love of law and order which distinguish the Orange Party, I would refer him to these volumes. We have just heard from the hon. Member for East Belfast (Mr. De Cobain) that the Orange Society, if it is distinguished for anything at all, is noted for the love it has for loyalty to the Crown, and the cause of law and order. Now, there was a time in the county of Armagh when these gentlemen had matters very much their own way, and let us see to what extent the description given by the hon. Member of that Society is borne out by the record of their doings in the county of Armagh at that time. On the 28th of December, 1795, certain magistrates and gentlemen were convened in Armagh at the special instance of Viscount Gosford, the Governor of the county. The noble Viscount opened the business of the Convention by delivering an address, from which I will only read a very small extract; but what I shall read is a fair sample of the entire document. Viscount Gosford was a Protestant Nobleman who lived in days of unchecked Protestant ascendancy in Ireland, and who had more than once declared that he loved that ascendancy and would stand by it to the last gasp. Still, he was a man with some sense of humanity, of honour, and of justice in his composition, and the state of things 1589 in that county had become so frightful that he considered it his bounden duty to call the magistrates together in order that he might speak to them of the horrible state of affairs which then existed. In his address on that occasion, Viscount Gosford said—Gentlemen, having requested your attendance here to-day, it becomes my duty to state the grounds upon which I have thought it advisable to propose this meeting, and, at the same time, to submit to your consideration a plan which occurs to me as the one most likely to check the enormities which have already disgraced this county, and may soon reduce it to the greatest distress. It is no secret that a persecution, accompanied with all the circumstances of ferocious cruelty which have in all ages distinguished that dreadful calamity, is now raging in this county. Neither age nor even acknowledged innocence in regard to the late disturbances is sufficient to excite mercy, much less to afford protection. The only crime which the wretched objects of this merciless persecution are charged with is a crime easy of proof; it is simply a profession of the Roman Catholic Faith. A lawless banditti"—that is the name which Viscount Gosford, a Protestant Nobleman, gave to this law-abiding Orange Society—A lawless banditti have constituted themselves the judges of this species of delinquency, and the sentence they pronounce is equally concise and terrible. It is nothing less than the confiscation of all property, with immediate banishment. It would be extremely painful and surely unnecessary to detail the horrors that attend the execution of so wide and tremendous a proscription, that it certainly exceeds in the comparative number of those it consigns to ruin and misery every example that ancient or modern history can afford.As I have told the House, that is a sample only of the address of Viscount Gosford in reference to the doings of the Orange Society in the county of Armagh. Nevertheless, it is perfectly true, as the hon. Member for East Belfast (Mr. De Cobain) just told us, that if you will only let the Orangemen paint to you their own portraits, you will find them a charming class of people. Sweetness and light, and everything that is amiable and lovable in human nature, are to be found concentrated in an extraordinary degree in the Orange Lodges of the North of Ireland. The principles and practice of the Society, as I have just shown, and could show further by numerous references to historical examples, conflict very much with that view. I should like to read to the House the qualifications—the admirable and delightful qualifications—which are 1590 set down for members of the Orange Society. I take them from the volume I have already quoted. In the first place—Every Orange member must have a sincere love and veneration for his Almighty Maker; a firm and undying faith in the Saviour of the world; a full conviction that He is the only Mediator between a sinful creature and an offended Creator.Now, under the circumstances of the case, I must confess that that language seems to me something very like blasphemy. The next qualification is—That he shall be a man of humane and compassionate disposition.These are the men who compose the "lawless banditti" referred to by Viscount Gosford as having been engaged in carrying out in the county of Armagh and elsewhere these tremendous and cruel persecutions. They were all of them to be men of humane and compassionate disposition. Further, they are to beOf a courteous and affable behaviour; utter enemies to savage brutality and un-Christian cruelty.And, moreover, they are to beLovers of society, and of improving company.Finally, they are to haveA great regard for temperance and sobriety.We all know that these are qualities which eminently distinguish the Orangemen in the North. As to their feeling of loyalty, and their love for law and order, let me read, for the edification of the House, another passage from this volume, which recites some of the obligations that the Orangeman is required to undertake. One of them is that he isTo keep his brethren's secret as his own, unless in the case of murder, treason, and perjury.Thus, every other offence in the whole category of human crime is exempt from this condition. He isTo keep his brother's secret in everything except murder, treason, and perjury.But, very wisely for their own purposes, the Orangemen have left out the crime of arson, probably because house-burning was one of their favourite occupations. Even within the last few years a distinguished member of that Society was sent to prison, and I believe is there still, for endeavouring to set fire to a 1591 Land League hut in the North of Ireland. Arson, it seems, runs in the blood, and the old habits have not yet been extirpated from the members of this Society. It must also be noticed that robbery, rape, and other crimes too numerous to mention are omitted, and a free tongue only is given in cases of murder, treason, and perjury. I think I shall be able to tell the House something more of this loyalty. Judge Fletcher—a Protestant Judge, of course, for in those days there could be no Catholic Judge—in his Charge to the Grand Jury in the county of Wexford, in 1815, spoke of the loyalty of these Orange gentlemen. He said—'I am a loyal man,' says a witness; that is, 'gentlemen of the petty jury, believe me, let me swear what I will.' When he swears he is a loyal man, he means, 'Gentlemen of the jury, forget your oaths and acquit the Orangeman.…. The truly loyal man is peaceful and quiet, he does his utmost to prevent commotion.…. But what says the loyal man of another description, the mere pretender to loyalty? 'I am a loyal man in times of tranquillity; I am attached to the present order of things, as far as I can get any good by it.'That is the limit of the loyalty of the gentlemen of the present day. For what do they tell us? What do they avow in this House, and out of it? They say that if a law be passed which is displeasing to them—if a law be passed by the Queen, Lords and Commons of this Kingdom from the operation of which they apprehend the slightest discomfort, then they will feel themselves entitled to set it at defiance, and resist it, if necessary, with arms in their hands. That is the measure of the loyalty of these gentlemen. They call themselves the Loyal minority, but I call them the Disloyal minority. Allow me to proceed with the quotation from Judge Fletcher's Charge to the Grand Jury. He went on to say—'I am attached to the present order of things as far as I can get any good by it. I malign every man of a different opinion from those whom I serve. I bring my loyalty into the market.' Such are the pretenders to loyalty, many of whom I have seen, and incalculable mischief they perpetrate. It is not to their interest that the country should be peaceable. Their loyalty is a sea of troubled waters.That is a correct picture of the loyal Orangeman, not drawn by an Irish Nationalist or Papist, but by a Irish Protestant Judge of the land. It is an old custom of the Orangemen to bring 1592 arms with them to their meetings, even when it is not a counter-demonstration at all, but a meeting of their own. It has been customary for them to engage on the 12th of July in a sham battle of the Boyne. They divide themselves into two parties, one representing the Williamite Army, and the other the Jacobite Army. I need not tell you that the Jacobites always get the worst of it. An Orangeman mounted a tremendous charger, represents King William, while another, striding a much less dignified steed, represents King James, who invariably comes to grief. I find, in this record, a curious incident mentioned as having occurred at one of these sham fights in the county of Tyrone. The rival parties of Orangemen got so eager and warm, that they conceived they were real enemies, and one of them fired at King James as he was jumping over a ditch, and blew out his eye. Now, Sir, what do these people want with arms at all? They are about the most comic set of people we have in Ireland, and I can assure the House we have some very queer people there. But for the fact that the comedy sometimes becomes a tragedy, it would be a very laughable matter indeed. We pity these men and we do not despair of them. They have been made what they are by a long course of very special and peculiar treatment extended to them by the Parliament and the Government of England. They have been kept apart from the masses of their fellow-countrymen; they have been taught to mistrust them; they have been put over their heads, and have obtained power, place, privilege, and everything that the Government could give to them. Of course, to that order of things, they have been, in a certain sense of the word, loyal. But the moment that order of things is attempted to be interfered with, their loyalty goes to the wind, and is substituted by threats and protestations. That is no new thing. No single reform was ever passed in Ireland for the benefit of the people at large, from the date of the Union, that has not been denounced by these men and threatened to be resisted. Take the case of Catholic Emancipation. That was to have ruined Ireland and England also, and to have broken up the Empire. Municipal Reform was regarded as another tremendous evil. I 1593 need not go through the list of similar measures which were looked upon in the same light, because every reform which has tended to secure equal justice, equal rights, and equal privileges in Ireland was denounced by these men, who, in their opposition to it, threatened the most fearful things that could be imagined. But, notwithstanding all that, we do not despair of them; we have no enmity towards them. We do not like the insults and outrages they perpetrate; but for the men themselves we wish them well, and we do hope that a time will come when, although they may continue Orangemen if they choose, they will, at the same time, be Irishmen. They are nothing of the sort to-day. They have no country—they are not Englishmen, and in heart and spirit they are not Irishmen. They are the enemies of their native land. I do not imagine that that order of things is to continue for ever; and I think the effect of such a measure as that which has been brought before the House of Commons by the Prime Minister will, in the course of some reasonable time, allay their apprehensions, and draw the sting of that hatred which causes them to say and do so many foolish things, and by-and-bye they will settle down as members of the Irish nation, and become a useful and prosperous community.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
At this hour of the evening I propose to be very brief in the remarks which I intend to make. My apology for intruding myself upon the House is that I have had some little personal experience of these Orange Gentlemen, who have spent a considerable portion of the evening in repudiating actions which every sensible Orangeman and every sensible Protestant know to have occurred. I can tell the House, from my own personal experience, dating from a very early age, that the words and actions of the Orange leaders have always tended to set class against class. The Orangemen have done everything in their power to promote the ascendancy of their religion, and to set up in Ireland a standard of hatred between man and his fellow-man. I well recollect, in my earlier days, having been requested to become a member of this Orange Society. I asked the friend who desired to nominate me as a member of that distinguished Order what I was 1594 supposed to do. The answer was that I was to do everything in my power against the Roman Catholic religion; that I was to vote against the Catholics; that I was to prevent the Catholics from getting place or power; and that I was I to oppose them by every means at my command. I would ask hon. Members in this House if men with principles like these are proper persons to intrust with the care of arms? I have been astonished and amazed this evening at the expressions which have fallen from hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway. They have told us that these men are meek, mild, gentle sucking-doves. Let me give my own personal experience. During the last Election I paid a visit to the North of Ireland, and before I went there I met a few of my friends in the City of Cork who belong to an Orange Lodge. They told me—"It is all very well to mix among Orangemen in Cork; but in order to find out what that Society really is you must wait until you reach the North, from which, in all probability, you will never come back alive." I never believed that there was any truth in those statements; but when I went to the North of Ireland I found that there was much more reality in them than I had conceived. I recollect the day when my hon. Friend the Member for South Tyrone (Mr. W. O'Brien) drove to one of the small towns in that division of the county, where he met with a somewhat hostile reception. We were warned by the police officers that our lives would be sacrificed if we left the town that day. The police were drawn up in the square facing the hotel at which we were stopping, and there were a large number of Orangemen outside the hotel brandishing their revolvers in our faces. I will defy hon. Members to deny that, because I saw it myself. When we came down through the streets of the town, we were pelted with stones over the bayonets of the police, and when we reached the bridge leading out of the town, we found men gathered there armed with revolvers. The police told us to draw up, which we did; and I firmly believe that if we had not had the protection of the police that day, we should not have come out of that town alive. That is not all. I recollect the morning which preceded the day of polling. I was in the town of Dungannon, and I recollect going 1595 down to a little shop which faced a gunsmith's shop. I saw a constant stream of men coming out of that shop handling small revolvers—"sweethearts," I think, they are called—which they had been obtaining for the purpose, I suppose, of preserving law and order. I would ask the House if that state of things ought to continue? For what purpose were these men getting revolvers? Was it not for the purpose of intimidation and interference with, free election? Would such a state of affairs be tolerated in the South of Ireland? If it had occurred there, hon. Gentleman above the Gangway would have made a great to do about it; but because it was done at the instigation of Deputy Lieutenants, of magistrates I could name, and of Deputy Grand Masters of Orange Lodges I could name also, if I chose, these men were protected against that law which would surely have overtaken them if the acts had been perpetrated by any of the people of the South of Ireland. Let me give one further instance of their method of carrying on free election, aided by revolvers, in the North of Ireland. On another day I happened to go out with my hon. Friend the Member for East Tyrone (Mr. Reynolds) to Stewartstown, in the Northern part of the district which he represents, and, while we were on the point of addressing the Nationalist electors, a man stepped out from the Orange ranks and drew a revolver, which he levelled at several persons. The name of that man was John Dunseath, and I have already drawn the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the circumstance. When the man presented his revolver, seeing that danger was imminent and that injury might possibly ensue, I jumped down, when this heroic Orangeman immediately ran away, and, I believe, took refuge under a bed in a neighbouring house, from which dignified position he was extracted by the heels by a constable. This man was brought before the magistrates who had granted him the licence to carry arms; and what was their action? They stated that the man had presented, not a revolver, but a pipe-case. A pipe-case, Sir! It was presented at me at no greater distance than the Table on the floor of this House, and I was able to see quite clearly what it was. The circumstance was sworn to and distinctly proved by 1596 three other witnesses. But what did the unpaid magistrate say on that occasion? He said that, at any rate, whether it was a revolver or a pipe-case, it had had the desired effect of frightening the people. That is what is considered to be the right of free election in the North of Ireland. If these revolvers are being obtained in great quantities at the present moment, will not the right of free election be endangered at any ensuing Election? I maintain that it is really wrong to allow these men to have and obtain, at the instigation of the magistrates, arms which will interfere with all the circumstances that go towards building up a free election and obtaining the true verdict and opinion of the people.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. JOHN MORLEY) (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
I am aware, Sir, that I have no right of reply; but, with the indulgence of the House, I may perhaps be allowed to make one or two extremely brief remarks on some of the points which have been raised in the course of this debate. The suggestion of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) was that we should take powers to revoke licences; not merely such as we have now in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant, but that we should give those powers of revocation to the authorities who now have the power of granting licences. That is an administrative question which I should like to have further time to consider before deciding whether the Licensing Authorities are authorities to whom the power of revocation might properly be confided. Before coming to any decision on the point, I should like to have time to confer with some of my Colleagues in Dublin. Another point raised, I think, by the hon. Member for the City of Cork—or, if not by him, by some other speaker in that quarter of the House—was as to extending the operation of the Act to the two counties where at present it does not run. That change, of course, needs no legislative action on the part of Parliament, because the Lord Lieutenant has nothing to do but to use the powers already conferred on him and to proclaim those districts which at the present moment are not included. Whether the Lord Lieutenant will think fit to use those powers to proclaim the districts which are now exempt is a question 1597 we have under our very careful consideration. More than that I cannot at present undertake to say. The hon. and learned Member for South Derry (Mr. T. M. Healy) put a question as to the regulations affecting the importation at the ports. The state of things as regards the importation of arms and ammunition is that there are 12 specified ports by which alone it can be effected—namely, Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Limerick, Londonderry, Waterford, Galway, Sligo, Dundalk, Wexford, Drogheda, and Greenore. The importation takes place under regulations which are specified in the Order passed and issued by the Lord Lieutenant in Council. As to the general point raised by the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. E. Clarke) and others in regard to an assurance being given by the Government that it is our design and purpose to administer this Act, if it is passed, with impartiality, and to use its powers with discrimination as between one set of Irishmen and another—Orangemen and Catholics—I should have thought it hardly necessary for me to give an assurance of that kind. However, as I have been asked, and as it has been made a sort of condition of approval of our measure, I have no hesitation in repeating what I intended to say at an earlier period this evening—that it is our intention to continue the very careful inquiries we have already instituted as to the carrying and possession of arms in an illegal manner, and to apply and exercise the powers we are now asking Parliament again to confer in an entirely impartial spirit.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH (Bristol, W.)
I certainly have no wish whatever, Sir, to cast any doubt on the concluding words of the right hon. Gentleman. I cannot believe for a moment that he, or any right hon. Gentleman who may be intrusted with the Government of Ireland, would wish to administer such an Act as this, except in the most complete spirit of justice as between the different classes and sections of society in Ireland. And, Sir, in supporting the second reading of this Bill, I do so with the most complete belief that the right hon. Gentleman—should it be his fate to administer the measure now proposed, if it should become an Act—will carry out the words he has addressed to the House. With regard 1598 to the Amendment suggested by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) as to the power of revocation of licences when granted, my recollection is this. I think in former Bills of the kind it was always considered that the act of revocation was a more serious matter than the act of granting a licence, and that the power of revocation should be retained in the hands of the Central Authority, in order that there should be a greater difficulty in the way of revocation than in granting the licences. In fact, it was desired that these licences should be granted as far as possible, and should not be revoked, unless it was shown to the satisfaction of the Chief Secretary, or of the Lord Lieutenant, that there were special circumstances existing which rendered such revocation absolutely necessary. I do not wish to dwell upon that matter, because it is a point which it will be more fitting to discuss in Committee. Certainly, if the right hon. Gentleman thinks it right to extend the powers of revocation, there may be some reasons why such powers should be extended; but I do not wish at present to express any opinion on the subject. There is, however, one point which occurs to me, having listened to a great part of this debate, to which I should wish to call attention, and it is this. Sir, this is a Bill of exceptional character, applying to Ireland certain regulations as to the possession and use of arms which it is not thought necessary to apply to other parts of the United Kingdom. It is remarkable that at the very moment when we are asked to give Ireland exceptional powers of local self-government, such as the Government do not propose to apply to any other part of the United Kingdom, we should be simultaneously asked to continue such an Act as this. Such a proposal might lead to some doubt whether Ireland is precisely in such a state as that in which it ought to be if it is to receive the powers of local self-government which Her Majesty's Government desire to confer upon it. The observation has been made that Ireland is not one nation, and that observation has been received with very considerable dissent, not only on the part of hon. Members below the Gangway, but also on the part of Her Majesty's Government, and hon. Members sitting behind them. But all who have 1599 listened to the debate this evening, and who have heard the comments which have been freely made by hon. Members below the Gangway, and made with obvious sincerity with regard to parts of Ireland which are represented by hon. Members behind me, must feel that Ireland is not one nation, or, at any rate, that it is a nation in which the most vital differences exist on the most important subjects. The right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of Dublin (Mr. T. D. Sullivan), when addressing the House, observed, I think, that there was no enmity on the part of hon. Members below the Gangway towards the Protestant minority in the North of Ireland, who are largely represented by the Orangemen. I do not say that there is any enmity on their part towards the Protestant minority; but I do say that if it were possible for them to make hostile comments in reference to the past and present history of Ireland which would excite the Protestant minority and aggravate them to the highest degree, those very comments have been made to-night. And, more than this, Sir, is there no mutual feeling of the kind? The hon. Member for the County of Cork (Dr. Tanner), who spoke last, told us of some of the experiences of his youth; and he said, if I heard him aright, that on one occasion the two opposing factions of the North of Ireland, represented by the Orangemen on the one hand, and the Catholics on the other, were only kept apart by the interference of the police.
§ DR. TANNER
The right hon. Gentleman is under a complete misapprehension. I never said that it occurred in my youth. It occurred the other day, in the course of the last Election, and in the course of the candidature of my hon. Friend the Member for South Tyrone (Mr. W. O'Brien).
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
I am deeply obliged to the hon. Member for his interruption, because it adds very much to the force of the argument I intended to use. What we have to deal with, therefore, is not a matter that occurred 20 years ago, when probably the hon. Member was a young man, but a state of things existing only the other day, and with which Her Majesty's present Government have to deal in Ireland. They have to deal with all these Party differences, and with all 1600 these deep divisions, which, if we are to believe what has been said by hon. Members below the Gangway upon another measure, have no existence at all. This very Bill, and the debate upon it, are the best arguments which can be adduced against the very next measure which is on the Paper as a measure which can possibly be applied with any hope of a peaceful or successful issue to Ireland. I believe it is absolutely necessary, in the name of common sense and prudence, as the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland has stated to the House this evening, that the Bill before the House should be proceeded with and become law but for that very reason I say that the Government themselves, in proposing and in pressing forward this measure as one of exceptional urgency, have condemned the policy which they have presented to the House of treating Ireland as one united country, and of trusting in the honeyed words of hon. Members below the Gangway, as if no such difficulties as this Bill is intended to meet would ever occur again.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman has displayed on this occasion a want of memory—a fault which he is not often guilty of. He would induce the House to believe that the introduction of the Arms Act is a very abnormal proceeding in the present state of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman must have a very bad memory, or he would recollect that he himself introduced a similar Bill for five years; and that during the last 86 years countless Bills of a similar character have been passed. In the early part of the evening the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) made a speech in which he practically declared that under certain circumstances, of which they were to be the judges, the Orangemen of Ulster would be perfectly within the Constitution in resisting the law and having recourse to arms. No doubt, the language of the noble Lord was qualified; but it certainly meant that. Under these circumstances, I can very well imagine that if there was any moment which would justify the introduction of a measure of this kind, this is that precise moment, especially after such speeches as those delivered by the Marquess of Salisbury and the noble Lord the Member for 1601 Paddington. I am altogether opposed to measures of disarmament, and I will give my reason briefly. If we permanently disarm a country we must inevitably lower the character of the inhabitants. ["Oh!"] Can hon. Members give me any case in history where a country has not had its character lowered, if not destroyed altogether, by being permanently disarmed? But I say that you cannot completely disarm Ireland. There will always exist a certain quantity of surreptitious arms in the country. I maintain that that is much worse than the licensed possession of arms, because men get possession of them in defiance of the law, and are taught to act in defiance of the law. That, therefore, constitutes another reason why, in my opinion, it is unwise to pass these disarming Acts. Then, again, they not only interfere with sport, but with agricultural operations, in consequence of the inability of the farmers to use firearms for the destruction of birds and other creatures which injure their crops. I do not believe that the passing of any measure of this kind will have the slightest effect in diminishing murder and outrage. As a matter of fact, surreptitious arms will remain in the hands of the worst class of people, and you will only be disarming the best part of the citizens, and the most deserving. Certainly, when a great change of this kind is pending over Ireland, and such inflammable speeches are delivered as that which has been made by the noble Lord the Member for Paddington, I cannot attach any considerable amount of blame to Her Majesty's Government for introducing such a Bill.
§ MR. REYNOLDS (Tyrone, E.)
No hon. Member in this House can doubt that Her Majesty's Government would not have thought it necessary to introduce this Arms Act had it not been for the inflammatory speeches of the noble Lord the Member for Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) in Ulster, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain). The noble Lord is notorious for his high principles and political consistency, and also for his courage; and I am sure that if a civil war should under any circumstances take place in Ireland, and an army be enrolled in Ulster, the noble Lord will not hesitate to exercise his hereditary right to go over to Ireland in charge of the Commissariat. My hon. 1602 Friend the Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) has stated to-night that he is sure the noble Lord has unintentionally incited to violence and disorder on the part of the Orangemen of Ulster; but can any man, after listening to the speech of the noble Lord to-night, say that the incitement is unintentional? The noble Lord has been perfectly consistent. What was the language he used before the passing of the last Reform Act? On that occasion he said that the labourers of England were not in earnest, for if they were they would march to London in their thousands, and pull down the Hyde Park railings. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: No!] I would ask the noble Lord whether, in speaking in this way, he is not laying down a most dangerous doctrine for the large mass of the working classes in England? If he finds that this House passes the Bill; that it is ratified by the House of Lords, and receives the Queen's Assent—should he find that it is displeasing to the people of the North of Ireland; that it is held by them to contain provisions which are oppressive and disagreeable, will he be justified in telling them to oppose the Bill by force? It cannot be said that the noble Lord acted without an example in regard to what might occur in Ulster, because the Earl of Iddesleigh made a speech of the same kind in Belfast, and the result was that a convent was wrecked and a nun died. What is the object of the noble Lord to-night? I am sure that he cares very little, in his secret heart, about the Orangemen of Ulster. The real object of his speech was to embarrass the Government, and to incite to outrage in the North of Ireland.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not entitled to impute motives of that kind to a Member of the House.
§ MR. REYNOLDS
I beg to withdraw the observation. What I meant to convey was this—that the speech of the noble Lord will have that effect in Ulster. I should not have risen to-night if it were not that I desire to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant to a matter of some importance. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid Cork (Dr. Tanner) has informed the House that he accompanied me to a meeting in Tyrone at the last election, 1603 and that we addressed a large crowd of Nationalists, when an Orangeman presented a revolver. That man was prosecuted under this Act for carrying arms without a licence; three witnesses of unimpeachable veracity swore that they saw the revolver in this man's hand, and they were not contradicted by any witness who was called on behalf of the man himself. The solicitor who conducted the defence confined himself to one or two questions of this character—"Were you at this meeting of itinerant spouters?" and the witnesses having stated that they had attended my election meeting, the magistrate thought the evidence was sufficient, and dismissed the charge for carrying arms without a licence. I presume that tribunal was constituted in accordance with the provisions of the 5th section of the Peace Preservation Act of 1881; but what occurred was this—the Resident Magistrate was there, and there were four or five Orange magistrates on the Bench also. Ample proof was afforded that the man had a revolver in his possession; and when the unpaid magistrates refused to convict the Resident Magistrate retired from the Bench, intimating that he could not sit there and take part in the injustice which was about to be perpetrated by the other magistrates. Now, Sir, having had considerable experience of the way in which Justices' justice is administered in the North of Ireland, I would respectfully suggest to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that the jurisdiction under this Act should be given to two Resident Magistrates, and that the local Justices should not have anything whatever to do with the administration of the Act. No matter how the right hon. Gentleman may protest that this Act will be fairly administered—and I am sure that, as far as he is concerned, it will be fairly administered—yet if this power is still left in the hands of the local magistrates the purposes of the Act will be defeated, and no good will come out of it.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I should not have risen at this hour if it had not been for the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach). I feel bound to congratulate him upon the discretion he has manifested. He has exhibited an 1604 extraordinary degree of discretion in not having made any allusion whatever to the speech of his noble Colleague the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill). That speech, remarkable as it was, he neither condemned nor approved; and that, too, in spite of frequent challenges from various parts of the House for an expression of opinion from him, as an ex-Minister of the Crown, as to whether he agreed with his noble Colleague in the strong and suggestive expressions he had used. I also congratulate him upon the considerable courage he has displayed. The right hon. Gentleman turned round to these Benches, from the place where the noble Lord spoke a few hours before, and charged hon. Members below the Gangway with having used provoking language. I do not think we ought to allow the right hon. Gentleman to escape so easily from his position. We want to know if the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington expressed the joint opinion of the Leaders of the Conservative Party when he encouraged treason against the Crown? The other day I ventured—being slightly out of Order, I admit—to interpolate a question to the Secretary of State for War as to some extraordinary statements which have been circulated, to the effect that high military authorities have indicated a disposition to take sides in the civil war which is said to be impending in the event of a certain measure becoming law. The question I asked was how many Irishmen, soldiers in Her Majesty's Army, who had acted on the principle suggested and proposed by the noble Lord, have been sentenced to death, or have served long periods of penal servitude? I would remind the noble Lord that the Office which he held in the last Government was that of Secretary of State for India, and that this principle of "contingent treason" and of armed resistance to the authority and force of the Crown is a doctrine that may find its way into the Vernacular Press of India, and produce effects upon millions of our fellow-subjects in that country, the consequences of which, I think, nobody can contemplate with equanimity. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said that there were two nations in Ireland. Now, Sir, that is not the true state of the case. There is an overwhelming mass of Nationalists 1605 on one side—Catholics principally, but to a large extent Protestants also. An hon. Member who made a most effective speech to-night, in showing how Irishmen understand the duty of preserving law and order, is a Member of the Protestant Body. It must not be forgotten that in the North of Ireland there is a small section of Protestants who oppose themselves to the will of the masses of their fellow-countrymen, and who, when the occasion offers, are ready and willing to resort to measures of violence, because they are encouraged by vain hopes of assistance and countenance by such men as the noble Lord. It is such speeches as that of the noble Lord—and a policy like that which the noble Lord has pronounced to-night—very different from that which he advocated five or six months ago—it is speeches and policies like that which produce the bitter passions which are excited between different sections in Ireland. When Orangemen know that they have no ex-Ministers of the Crown to condone treason, and that acts against law and order will not be sustained, they will throw in their lot with the rest of their fellow-countrymen, and they will be as peaceable and orderly as the rest of the country. [A laugh.] I understand that laugh to mean that hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway deny the possibility of Orangemen ever being peaceable. What do these incitements mean? There are some hon. Members above the Gangway who make speeches which I think no one can agree with. The hon. Member for South Belfast (Mr. Johnston) makes speeches which none of us can agree with. But I respect the hon. Gentleman because, although his convictions are to my mind profoundly wrong and false, the hon. Gentleman believes them. The first time I ever saw the hon. Gentleman was at an Orange meeting, which I attended for purely professional purposes. The hon. Gentleman, at that time, had just fulfilled a sentence of imprisonment for breaking the laws of his country. If I were to imitate the language of some of the hon. Gentleman's Friends, I would say that the hon. Gentleman has been a "gaol bird" in his time. But I do not wish to make such an observation with regard to him in that spirit. The hon. Gentleman went to gaol for his convictions, and he sacrificed what in Ireland 1606 would be considered a well-paid position under the Crown for his convictions. Therefore, however much we may condemn his principles, we must admire the courage and honesty with which he has stuck to them. But what of the cold-blooded, cynical, and unbelieving politicians who use these profound political convictions and these terrible religious dissensions for the mean and despicable purpose of advancing their own personal and paltry Party prospects? I "would rather be a toad, and live upon the vapour of some foul dungeon," than rise to Office by such means. An hon. Friend has suggested that if there were to be civil disturbances in the North of Ireland, and the noble Lord were to be there, having encouraged by his speeches, both in and out of this House, recourse to violent means—if disturbances were to take place, and were not unattended by fatal results, my hon. Friend has asked—and I think it might be some compensation, because no man has a right to incite other men to violence without taking the risk himself—[Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: Hear, hear!]—would the noble Lord be there? The noble Lord cheers that observation. Am I to understand from it that when the fight begins the noble Lord would be there, and not in charge of the Commissariat? Sir, there will be no civil war in Ulster. The Orangemen in the North of Ireland will be kept down by the Constabulary; but what may take place in the North of Ireland consequent upon the disturbed feeling which exists is this. Hon. Members who are unacquainted with the North of Ireland cannot well understand the state of feeling which exists there. The Act of Catholic Emancipation never came into force there until within the last few years, and it is not in full operation in the North of Ireland even to this day. I have heard hon. Gentlemen who come from the North of Ireland describe the modus operandi. Persons supporting the Nationalist cause attend a meeting for a Constitutional purpose; Orangemen appear at it armed with revolvers—sometimes bringing sacks full of revolvers. ["Oh!"] I am only quoting the words used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Burghs (Mr. Trevelyan), who was Chief Secretary for Ireland at the time he used them. The Orangeman fires, or attempts to fire, his 1607 revolver at the Nationalist, and he is able to do so with perfect impunity, because, if arrested, he would be brought before Orange magistrates, who, even if they had themselves seen the revolver fired, would hesitate to convict. If, by a miracle, an Orange magistrate sent him before the Grand Jury, and if by another miracle he was sent to trial by a Grand Jury of Orangemen, good care would be taken to empanel a petty jury of Orangemen that would acquit him. When we have a hierarchy so complete as this, and when killing is no murder, there is sure to be murder. What, then, will take place in the North of Ireland? There will be no civil war; but in going home at night from fairs, in going to the Registration Courts, and perhaps to the elections, some poor Roman Catholics who may stray away from their companions will be set upon by Orangemen and murdered, as Philip Maguire was, and no one will be brought to justice, because the Orange magistrates are behind the culprits. That is the reason why the Chief Secretary is compelled to bring in a measure like this. It is the encouragement from England which causes the bitterness and lawlessness and the turbulence of the Orangemen; and when they are freed from this contaminating and demoralizing influence I am sure that Ireland will become as orderly and as law-abiding a country as any in the world.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
(who was received with great interruption) said: I have listened, Sir, with some amusement to the remarks which have been made by the hon. Member who has just sat down. The hon. Member would have been described by the Prime Minister, four years ago, as one who marched through rapine to the disintegration of the Empire. [Interruption, and cries of "Divide!"] I have listened attentively to the speech of the hon. Member. I am not surprised at the interruption which proceeds from this side of the House. I have observed the tactics which have been followed before by the hon. Member, and I have neither been intimidated by them, nor do I object to them. I had not the opportunity of hearing the remarks which were made by the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill), and I gather that they were remarks of a courageous and resolute 1608 character. A great deal of strong language has been used by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. He has accused Members of the Conservative Party of making statements which they are not prepared to support by action. [Interruption.] I have only two sentences to say upon that subject, and those two sentences I shall say in spite of the unmannerly turbulence of hon. Gentlemen opposite. We have heard that the disloyal and revolutionary Party in Ireland are likely to receive large support. I can only say there are in two of the Northern counties of this country—Yorkshire and Lancashire—100,000 men, and fighting men, too—who will know the reason why, before the cause of loyalty and order goes down in Ireland. I have the honour to be a humble Member, not only of this House, but also of a regiment of Militia, and I am confident that the whole of that regiment, and many others besides—[Mr. T. M. HEALY: What regiment?]—will volunteer for service before the cause of order and loyalty goes down in Ireland. ["Oh!"] I am amused by the mechanical ridicule with which that statement is received. I listened with great admiration the other night to the speech of one of the oldest, best known, and most respected Radicals in this House—the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham), who made remarks practically identical with those which I myself am now making, and which were also received with shouts of interruption from the same Benches. I will not repeat the hon. Member's words; but I am repeating the same sentiment as they expressed, and it is one which the bulk of this House and three-fourths of the people of Great Britain will endorse—namely, that the first shot of repression which is fired against the Loyalists of Ireland will be the cause of such an outburst of indignation in this country as will sweep Her Majesty's Ministers from their places, and perhaps mete out to them even a worse doom. There is plenty of spirit in the country yet, Sir, and I do not envy the Party that arouses against itself the national feeling of this country, nor do I envy the Ministry who go to the polls on a policy of disruption.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 303; Noes 89: Majority 214.1611
|Acland, C. T. D.||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Agg-Gardner, J. T.||Crawford, D.|
|Agnew, W.||Crompton, C.|
|Allsopp, hon. G.||Cross, rt. hn. Sir R. A.|
|Amherst, W. A. T.||Cross, H. S.|
|Arch, J.||Crossley, E.|
|Armitage, B.||Crossman, Gen. Sir W.|
|Asher, A.||Currie, Sir D.|
|Baily, L. R.||Curzon, Viscount|
|Baker, L. J.||De Cobain, E. S. W.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. A. J.||De Worms, Baron H.|
|Balfour, rt. hon. J. B.||Dillwyn, L. L.|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Dimsdale, Baron R.|
|Barbour, W. B.||Dixon-Hartland, F. D.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Douglas, A. Akers-|
|Baumann, A. A.||Duckham, T.|
|Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks-||Duff, R. W.|
|Duncan, Colonel F.|
|Beadel, W. J.||Duncombe, A.|
|Beckett, E. W.||Edwards-Moss, T. C.|
|Beckett, W.||Egerton, Admiral hon. F.|
|Bective, Earl of|
|Beith, G.||Elliot, hon. H. F. H.|
|Bethell, Commander||Ellis, J.|
|Bickersteth, R.||Ellis, J. E.|
|Bickford-Smith, W.||Esslemont, P.|
|Biddulph, M.||Evelyn, W. J.|
|Birkbeck, Sir E.||Everett, R. L.|
|Blake, T.||Fairbairn, Sir A.|
|Blundell, Col. H. B. H.||Farquharson, H. R.|
|Bolton, J. C.||Fergusson, right hon. Sir J.|
|Borlase, W. C.|
|Brassey, Sir T.||Ferguson, R.|
|Brinton, J.||Field, Admiral E.|
|Bristowe, T. L.||Finlay, R. B.|
|Broadhurst, H.||Finlayson, J.|
|Brocklehurst, W. C.||Fisher, W. H.|
|Brookfield, Col. A. M.||Fitzgerald, R. U. P.|
|Brown, A. H.||Fitzwilliam, hon. W. J. W.|
|Bruce, hon. R. P.|
|Brunner, J. T.||Fletcher, Sir H.|
|Bryce, J.||Flower, C.|
|Buchanan, T. R.||Forwood, A. B.|
|Buckley, A.||Fowler, Sir R. N.|
|Burt, T.||Fowler, H. H.|
|Caine, W. S.||Fry, L.|
|Campbell, Sir A.||Fry, T.|
|Campbell, Sir G.||Gardner, H.|
|Campbell, R. F. F.||Gathorne-Hardy, hon. J. S.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, right hon. H.|
|Gibb, T. E.|
|Cavendish, Lord E.||Gibson, J. G.|
|Chamberlain, rt. hn. J.||Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.|
|Chamberlain, R.||Gladstone, H. J.|
|Chaplin, right hon. H.||Glyn, hon. P. C.|
|Charrington, S.||Goldsmid, Sir J.|
|Childers, right hon. H. C. E.||Goldsworthy, Major-General W. T.|
|Churchill, rt. hn. Lord R. H. S.||Gorst, Sir J. E.|
|Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.|
|Clarke, E. G.||Gower, G. G. L.|
|Cohen, L. L.||Grant, Sir G. M.|
|Commerell, Adml. Sir J. E.||Green, Sir E.|
|Grenfell, W. H.|
|Compton, Lord W. G.||Grey, Sir E.|
|Cook, E. R.||Grey, A.|
|Cook, W.||Grimston, Viscount|
|Coote, T.||Haldane, R. B.|
|Corbett, J.||Hall, C.|
|Corry, Sir J. P.||Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. F.|
|Courtney, L. H.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J.||Mason, S.|
|Hamilton, Lord E.||More, R. J.|
|Hamilton, Lord F. S.||Morgan, rt. hon. G. O.|
|Hamilton, Col. C. E.||Morley, rt. hon. J.|
|Hamley, Gen. Sir E. B.||Mulholland, H. L.|
|Hankey, F. A.||Muntz, P. A.|
|Harcourt, E. W.||Newark, Viscount|
|Hardcastle, F.||Norris, E. S.|
|Hayne, C. Seale-||Northcote, hon. H. S.|
|Heaton, J. H.||Norton, R.|
|Herbert, hon. S.||O'Neill, hon. R. T.|
|Hervey, Lord F.||Paget, T. T.|
|Hibbert, rt. hn. J. T.||Parker, C. S.|
|Hill, Lord A. W.||Paulton, J. M.|
|Hingley, B.||Peacock, R.|
|Hoare, S.||Pease, A. E.|
|Hobhouse, H.||Pease, H. F.|
|Holden, A.||Pelly, Sir L.|
|Holland, rt. hon. Sir H. T.||Pickersgill, E. H.|
|Picton, J. A.|
|Holmes, rt. hon. H.||Pilkington, G. A.|
|Hope, right hon. A. J. B. B.||Playfair, rt. hon. Sir L.|
|Howard, E. S.||Plunket, rt. hon. D. R.|
|Howard, H. C.||Pomfret, W. P.|
|Hughes-Hallett, Col. F. C.||Portman, hon. E. B.|
|Powell, F. S.|
|Hunt, F. S.||Powell, W. R. H.|
|Hutton, J. F.||Price, Captain G. E.|
|Isaacs, L. H.||Price, T. P.|
|Jacks, W.||Pugh, D.|
|James, rt. hon. Sir H.||Quilter, W. C.|
|James, hon. W. H.||Rathbone, W.|
|James, C. H.||Reed, Sir E. J.|
|Jardine, Sir R.||Rigby, J.|
|Jenkins, Sir J. J.||Roberts, J.|
|Jenkins, D. J.||Roberts, J. B.|
|Johns, J. W.||Robertson, E.|
|Johnson-Ferguson, J. E.||Robertson, J. P. B.|
|Johnston, W.||Robson, W. S.|
|Jones, P.||Roe, T.|
|Kay-Shuttleworth, rt. hon. Sir U. J.||Ross, A. H.|
|Rothschild, Baron F. J. de|
|Kenny, C. S.|
|Ker, R. W. B.||Round, J.|
|Kilcoursie, right hon. Viscount||Russell, Sir C.|
|Kimber, H.||St. Aubyn, Sir J.|
|King, H. S.||Salis-Schwabe, Col. G.|
|Kitching, A. G.||Sandys, Lieut-Col. T. M.|
|Latham, G. W.|
|Lawrance, J. C.||Seely, C.|
|Lawrence, W. F.||Shaw, T.|
|Lawson, H. L. W.||Sheridan, H. B.|
|Lefevre, rt. hon. G. S.||Shirley, W. S.|
|Lethbridge, Sir R.||Sidebottom, T. H.|
|Lewisham, Viscount||Sidebottom, W.|
|Llewellyn, E. H.||Sitwell, Sir G. R.|
|Long, W. H.||Smith, rt. hon. W. H.|
|Lubbock, Sir J.||Smith, A.|
|Lyell, L.||Smith, D.|
|Lymington, Viscount||Smith, S.|
|Macdonald, right hon. J. H. A.||Spencer, hon. C. R.|
|Stanhope, rt. hon. E.|
|MacInnes, M.||Stanley, rt. hon. Col. Sir F. A.|
|Maclean, J. M.|
|M'Arthur, A.||Stanley, E. J.|
|M'Calmont, Captain J.||Stansfeld, right hon. J.|
|M'Iver, L.||Stevenson, F. S.|
|M'Lagan, P.||Stewart, M. J.|
|Marton, Maj. G. B. H.||Sturrock, P.|
|Sutherland, T.||Westlake, J.|
|Swinburne, Sir J.||Weston, J. D.|
|Talbot, C. R. M.||Whitbread, S.|
|Talbot, J. G.||White, J. B.|
|Taylor, F.||Whitley, E.|
|Temple, Sir R.||Will, J. S.|
|Tennant, Sir C.||Williams, A. J.|
|Thomas, A.||Williams, J. P.|
|Tipping, W.||Wilson, C. H.|
|Tomlinson, W. E. M.||Wilson, J. (Ednbrgh.)|
|Tottenham, A. L.||Winterbotham, A. B.|
|Valentine, C. J.||Wodehouse, E. R.|
|Vanderbyl, P.||Woodall, W.|
|Vivian, Sir H. H.||Woodhead, J.|
|Walrond, Col. W. H.||Yeo, F. A.|
|Walsh, hon. A. H. J.||Young, C. E. B.|
|Watkin, Sir E. W.||TELLERS.|
|Watson, J.||Marjoribanks, rt. hon. E.|
|Wayman, T.||Morley, A.|
|West, Colonel W. C.|
|Abraham, W. (Glam.)||Leahy, J.|
|Abraham, W. (Limerick, W.)||Leamy, E.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||M'Carthy, J. H.|
|Biggar, J. G.||M'Donald, P.|
|Blake, J. A.||M'Kenna, Sir J. N.|
|Blane, A.||Marum, E. M.|
|Boyd-Kinnear, J.||Molloy, B. C.|
|Byrne, G. M.||Morgan, O. V.|
|Campbell, H.||Murphy, W. M.|
|Carew, J. L.||Nolan, Colonel J. P.|
|Chance, P. A.||Nolan, J.|
|Cobb, H. P.||O'Brien, J. F. X.|
|Coleridge, hon. B.||O'Brien, P.|
|Condon, T. J.||O'Brien, P. J.|
|Connolly L.||O'Brien, W.|
|Conway, M.||O'Connor, A.|
|Conybeare, C. A. V.||O'Connor, J. (Kerry)|
|Corbet, W. J.||O'Connor, J. (Tippry.)|
|Cox, J. R.||O'Connor, T. P.|
|Crawford, W.||O'Doherty, Dr. K. I.|
|Cremer, W. R.||O'Hanlon, T.|
|Crilly, D.||O'Hea, P.|
|Deasy, J.||O'Kelly, J.|
|Dillon, J.||O'Mara, S.|
|Esmonde, Sir T.||Parnell, C. S.|
|Fenwick, C.||Power, P. J.|
|Finucane, J.||Power, R.|
|Flynn, J. C.||Pyne, J. D.|
|Fox, Dr. J. F.||Redmond, W. H. K.|
|Gilhooly, J.||Reynolds, W. J.|
|Gill, H. J.||Rogers, J. E. T.|
|Gill, T. P.||Russell, E. R.|
|Gray, E. D.||Sexton, T.|
|Harrington, E.||Sheehan, J. D.|
|Harrington, T.||Sheehy, D.|
|Harris, M.||Stack, J.|
|Hayden, L. P.||Sullivan, D.|
|Healy, M.||Sullivan, T. D.|
|Healy, T. M.||Tanner, C. K.|
|Hooper, J.||Tuite, J.|
|Jordan, J.||Verney, Captain E. H.|
|Kelly, B.||Wilson, J. (Durham)|
|Kenny, M. J.|
|Lalor, R.||Redmond, J. E.|
|Lane, W. J.||Sheil, E.|
Bill read a second time.
§ Bill committed for Monday next.