§ (1.) £542,153, to complete the sum for the Constabulary, Ireland.
§ MR. GILHOOLY (Cork, W.)
I wish to make an appeal to Her Majesty's Government to take some steps to discourage harsh and cruel evictions on the part of the Irish landlords during the coming winter, and I should like to read to the Committee an opinion which has been expressed in regard to the cruelty of evictions of this kind by an old and respected Member of this House—Sir Eardley Wilmot, He says—As an old and staunch Conservative, as a cordial supporter of Lord Salisbury's Administration, as an earnest well-wisher to its success, and last, but not least, in the cause of peace and prosperity in Ireland, I hope that the Government will see its way to accept, subject to modifications, the 3rd clause of Mr. Parnell's Bill, dealing with evictions. Among rational and calmly judging men in Ireland there is but one opinion—namely, that evictions should be temporarily suspended, subject, of course, to investigation by the local Court as to the capability of the tenant; and because the proposal emanates from a Home Ruler whose political doctrines we abhor, if it is a good proposal, in God's name, why should we reject it?I trust that such an appeal from an esteemed Member of the Conservative Party will have some effect in inducing the Government to discourage evictions in Ireland during the coming winter. I will not be so unreasonable as to suggest that, in cases where the tenants are able to pay the rent, the Government should refuse the assistance of the forces of the Crown, in order to see that the law is carried out; but we know how advantage can be taken from the employment of the forces of the Crown for the extermination of Irish tenants, and where there is no rent to be derived from evicting poor people, I think it is the duty of any Government having the slightest consideration for the lives and well-being of the population, not to be so cruel or so harsh as to employ the Constabulary in driving these unfortunate people from their humble, though happy, homes. I would further urge 790 upon the Government the danger of putting too severe a strain upon the Royal Irish Constabulary. I would ask them to consider whether the time may not come when, rising to the level of the occasion, the Royal Irish Constabulary will refuse to aid grinding and oppressive landlords in exterminating the Irish peasantry, who are their own kith and kin? I warn the Government that a time may come when the Constabulary will refuse to be instruments in the hands of the Executive for carrying out the cruel and oppressive procedure of the exterminating landlords of inflicting ruin upon the people, and of bringing about destitution and possibly murder. We have every reason to expect that thousands of the Irish people will be driven from their homes during the coming winter. Both the Government in this House and the Prime Minister in "another place" have declared that it is their intention to see the law carried out in Ireland without regard to the cruelty or oppressiveness of evictions, and if they propose to lend the assistance of the Constabulary Force to carry out this nefarious work, it is to be feared that the condition of social order in Ireland will not be in a very healthy condition in the coming winter. I would also call the attention of the Government to the uselessness and absurdity of spending money on the protection of men who seek the protection of the Government without really requiring it. In my own neighbourhood there is a man who obtained police protection some time ago, and the duties performed were to convey this gentleman from one public-house to another. At length they became so tired of that duty that one of the constables, acting with the escort, actually arrested the man, and brought him before the stipendiary magistrate for drunkenness. It was not until then that the police escort was dispensed with. I know of another man in my neighbourhood who has police protection, but who, nevertheless, frequently goes round transacting his ordinary business without requiring the assistance of the police at all. This very person is, in point of fact, receiving pay for conveying his own police escort about with him on cars. In another case—that of a man who was escorted by two policemen—Inspector Maguire, the late County Inspector for the Division of West Cork, came to the 791 conclusion that the man was actually making a profit out of the police escort, by accommodating the men with seats on his own car, and charging them for it. The Inspector, therefore, made an arrangement that the police should not, in future, be supplied with seats on the car that the man was himself accustomed to travel by. Accordingly, the police escort hired a car from a posting establishment; but the protected man purchased a horse for two or three pounds, and when the Inspector left the district, he hired out the horse and rode in front of the police escort on the car. The car, I believe, is still driven by his own driver. There are numerous other cases of this kind which might be mentioned, and I would ask the Chief Secretary to inquire into them, and also that he will take steps to prevent evictions from being pushed to extremity in the coming winter. Where it is evident that a man is unable to pay his rent through no fault of his own, and the landlord proposes to deal harshly and cruelly with him, I trust the right hon. Gentleman will refuse the assistance of the Royal Irish Constabulary in carrying out the eviction.
§ SIR THOMAS ESMONDE (Dublin Co., S.)
I wish to call attention to the case of Mr. Tilly, who, as Sub-Inspector of County Cavan and. King's County, has for the past six years been in reality performing the duties of County Inspector without even the rank or pay of County Inspector. Attention has, on several occasions, been called to this case, and the reason which has been alleged for the non-promotion of Mr. Tilly is, that he has an impediment in his speech, and is, therefore, incapable of performing the work of a County Inspector. Now, as Sub-Inspector, he is required to attend cases at Petty Sessions, and to give evidence before the magistrates; whereas, as County Inspector, he would not have as much work to do, and it would be of a character which would not require so much viva voce exertion on his part. I believe that Mr. Tilly has received medical certificates that he is perfectly fit to discharge the duties of County Inspector, and under these circumstances I think there is no reason why he should not be promoted. He has proved himself to be a highly efficient officer. I wish also to call attention to the case of Mr. Molloy, 792 who was arrested in November last. He was arrested at the instance of the Board of Works, because he had thrown down a wall which had been built by the Board of Works on his own property. He was taken to the police barracks, and, although bail was offered for him by several most influential inhabitants, bail was refused, and when the case was brought before the magistrates next day, it was at once dismissed.
Order, order! The case now being referred to by the hon. Baronet does not appear to be connected with the Constabulary.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON (Armagh, N.)
I wish to support the views which have been expressed by the hon. Baronet opposite in regard to Sub-Inspector Tilly. As Chairman of the Quarter Sessions and Foreman of the Grand Jury in the county of Cavan, I have been able by personal knowledge to acquire great esteem for Mr. Tilly, and I desire to bear testimony to the admirable way in which he discharges his duties. I believe that it is a case of great hardship to Mr. Tilly that he should have been passed over for promotion. I know it is the universal feeling among the magistrates in the county that Mr. Tilly is one of the most efficient officers they have ever had in the county, and I believe the only objection to his promotion has been that he suffers from a slight stammer. Gentlemen who have been present when Mr. Tilly has been discharging his duty and giving evidence in the trial of prisoners, have borne testimony to the fact that the disability which prevents his promotion did not interfere with the performance of his duties. I know it is a matter of surprise and regret to the magistrates of County Cavan that this gentlemen's services should have been so long overlooked. I am sure that I am expressing the opinion of the magistrates of the county—their unanimous opinion—when I say they believe that no officer in the county has ever been more deserving of promotion or of recognition of his services, than Mr. Tilly. I, therefore, sin- 793 cerely hope that Her Majesty's Government and my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary will give him that promotion which his admirable services for so many years have so completely deserved.
§ MR. COX (Clare, E.)
I am glad that the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel Saunderson) has taken up this subject. I was not aware that he proposed to address himself to it. It will be in the recollection of some Members of the Committee that on two occasions in the last Parliament I addressed Questions to the then Chief Secretary for Ireland on this subject, but I did not receive what I considered to be a very favourable reply. A few days ago I addressed a similar Question to the right hon. Gentleman the present Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, and I received a somewhat similar answer, whereupon I gave Notice that I should raise the question on the Estimates. I am sorry I was not in my place when the question was raised by the hon. Baronet (Sir Thomas Esmonde); but I have no doubt that the hon. Baronet, as well as the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, have presented the case to the Committee in a clear and proper manner. I have only to add my views to theirs, and to express a sincere hope that the Government will be able to see their way to give promotion to this gentleman for his long and faithful services. The pretext for depriving Mr. Tilly of promotion—namely, that he has a defect in his speech—is one that will not hold water for a moment. How any defective speech can affect a County Inspector further than it affects a Divisional Inspector, I fail to see. During Mr. Tilly's long term of service—now close upon 25 years—he has for six years discharged the duties of County Inspector, and there was no complaint of him during that time on account of any impediment in his speech. He was examined frequently as a witness before the Quarter Sessions, before the Judges of Assize, and before the magistrates sitting in Petty Sessions. No complaint whatever was made, and I think that it is preposterous to urge that a defect which does not attach to a Divisional Inspector is sufficiently serious to prevent the same man from being promoted to the position of County Inspector.
§ MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
I desire to add my voice to that of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for 794 North Antrim (Colonel Saunderson) and the hon. Members opposite, in favour of District Inspector Tilly. I am not personally acquainted with that gentleman; but I am informed that previously to being stationed in Cavan he was stationed in the county of Antrim, and I have received the strongest assurances from all classes of people in Lisburn as to the admirable manner in which he performed his duties. I am not aware that any allegation was made against him while he was employed in that county, nor was it considered that the defect which has been mentioned incapacitated him from performing his duty as District Inspector in an efficient manner. I am, therefore, of opinion that if he were promoted to the position of County Inspector, he is admirably qualified to perform the duties of the office.
§ SIR JAMES P. CORRY (Armagh, Mid)
In connection with this Vote I wish to bring under the notice of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary a matter of some importance in connection with the inquiry about to be held in Belfast, as to the conduct of the Constabulary in the recent riots. It is generally reported that some of the Constabulary will be summoned to give evidence, and that they are afraid that if they state fully and clearly all that happened in the course of the riots they may probably suffer personal injury as the result of their testimony. Now, we wish to have it distinctly understood that any member of that Force who is called upon to give evidence will be protected against anything which may happen to him afterwards. I am sure now that the attention of my right hon. Friend and of the Inspector General of Constabulary has been drawn to the matter, that adequate protection will be afforded. I will only add that the Force themselves are extremely anxious that in a case of this kind they should be protected from suffering injury in consequence of the statements they may feel it their duty to make.
§ MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)
I wish to draw the attention of the Chief Secretary to the constant increase which has been going on from year to year in this Vote. There are two items in the Vote this year which show a very large increase. The first is the increase in the pay and pensions of the Constabulary. The increase in pensions alone 795 amounts to £10,000. The Vote last year was £40,000 in excess of the Vote for the previous year; but that may be reasonably accounted for by the passing of a Bill when Mr. Trevelyan was Chief Secretary to increase the pay and pensions of the Force. I should have thought, however, that it was almost impossible for that Bill to have produced so large an increase in the pensions as £10,000. This is a matter upon which I think the Committee ought to receive an explanation. Then, again, I notice in Sub-head R, at page 317, that the Constabulary Transport Service last year cost only £1,500, but this year the sum put down is £5,000. That is a very large increase indeed, and I should like to have an explanation from the Chief Secretary as to the reason of the increase which has taken place in that item. There is another question I should like to put to the right hon. Gentleman—namely, to ask him to explain to the Committee the conditions under which the police are deputed to give personal special protection. The police are sent to escort persons in Ireland who make allegations that their lives are in danger, and I want to know whether, in any case, the persons who ask for this police protection pay any portion of the expense? There are many cases in which it is a public abuse to have the police following persons ostensibly for the purpose of protecting their lives when their lives are in no danger at all. Mention has already been made of a case in which a man rode on a horse in front of a car of his own, for which the two policemen told off to protect him had to pay. I have been informed that this man, as the owner of the car, gets 18s. a-day for car hire, in addition to which the two policemen placed at his disposal will throw, at the very least, a charge of £200 a-year upon the ratepayers of this country. I should like, therefore, to know whether there are any instances of persons so protected who do not really require protection, or, if they do ask for it, should be called upon to pay a portion of the cost? There is the further question as to the distribution of the Police Force throughout Ireland. There is scarcely a county in the South and West of Ireland which is not called on annually to pay a considerable sum for the cost of extra police. Some time ago I had an opportunity of raising that question in 796 this House, and I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman can give the Committee some information as to the number of extra men stationed in the different counties, and as to the cost thrown on the local rates of such counties for the maintenance of the men? I should also like to know what ground there is for drafting a large extra force of constables into counties where there has been no outbreak of crime whatever, and practically no outrages? For instance, the county of Waterford has, in recent times, been very badly treated in this respect. The ratepayers of Waterford have been taxed to a very considerable amount for extra police, and yet there has been no such thing as an outbreak of crime, and peace could be preserved by one or two constables stationed in each village as easily as in England. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give some information upon the points which I have placed before him.
§ MR. DEASY (Mayo, W.)
I am glad that my hon. Friend (Mr. M. J. Kenny) has raised the question of the employment, in various counties in Ireland, of an extra police force, the cost of which is thrown partly upon the Consolidated Fund and partly upon the county. My hon. Friend has mentioned the fact that successive Governments have been in the habit of sending out in Ireland large detachments of extra police under the 12th or 13th section of an Act of William IV., which authorizes the cost to be levied on the rates and Consolidated Fund. So far as I am able to make out at the present time there is no justification whatever for the maintenance of this extra police force in any part of Ireland. As to the county of Mayo, although I have been unable to see the last Return of the state of crime, I gather from the charges of the Judges at the Assizes, and the speeches which have been delivered by the Chairmen of Quarter Sessions, that the county has been in a most favourable condition for a long time past. And here let me complain of the very inadequate means placed at the disposal of Members for obtaining satisfactory information with reference to the position of the Police Force in Ireland. I have searched the Library from end to end for a Return which ought to have been supplied to the House, stating what has taken place under the Constabulary Redistribution 797 Act of August, 1885. It will be in the recollection of the right hon. Gentlemen the Chief Secretary that in consequence of a very long and important debate which took place in this House on the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), the Government of the day were compelled to bring in a Bill authorizing the Lord Lieutenant to redistribute the Police Force in Ireland, and to reorganize the position of the force in each county. I have endeavoured to find out what alterations have been made in the numbers of the Constabulary stationed in various districts in Ireland; but I have been unable to obtain any information on the subject, owing, I believe, to the fact that the Police Authorities in Ireland steadily set their faces against making any Return of their doings to the House of Commons. I hope that when this question, is next brought before the House we may have some better data to go upon. We ought to know exactly where we stand, and not be compelled to bother the right hon. Gentleman night after night for information as to the number of policemen in different parts of the country. In North Mayo there is an extra force of police, under the 12th or 13th section of the Act of William IV., at a cost of £1,530.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH) (Bristol, W.)
The section is the 12th.
§ MR. DEASY
And, roughly speaking, £1,500 is the sum which the ratepayers of the county are mulcted for the enjoyment of this luxury. The right hon. Gentleman has informed me that the extra police are sent down under the 12th section of the Act of William IV. That section empowers the magistrates, sitting in Petty Sessions, to petition the Lord Lieutenant to send down an extra force to any particular division of the county, and there is no authority in the Act enabling them to present also a petition for the withdrawal of such force. How long this extra police force may have been stationed in the county of Mayo, or elsewhere, I cannot tell. We endeavoured to extract information from Mr. Trevelyan, two years ago, but without success; and no Chief Secretary seems to be able to inform us how long these men have been quartered upon this part of Ireland under Section 12 of the Act of William IV. 798 The inference is that for 12, 15, or 20 years this county has been burdened with a heavy expense, wholly uncalled for, and without having the power to petition for a removal of the grievance. I would ask the Chief Secretary to find out who the magistrates were who petitioned the Government to send down this extra force, and then to ascertain if they are still of the same opinion as they were when they presented the Memorial to the Lord Lieutenant. There might have been some necessity for extreme precautions under the Crimes Act; but this force was not sent down under the Crimes Act, and be it remembered that the Crimes Act authorized the Lord Lieutenant to send down any number of men, of his own free will, to any disturbed district, and to charge the cost to the locality. Therefore, there can be no excuse for retaining this extra force in the county of Mayo, or, indeed, from anything I can learn, in any other part of Ireland. I have carefully looked into the Police Returns of crime for the present year as far as they go, and I do not think there is any justification for the continued retention of this force. The ordinary force at the disposal of the Lord Lieutenants of counties ought to be quite sufficient to preserve order. I find that in Mayo there have been 100 men, under the direction of a County Inspector and Sub-Inspectors, sent out to enforce evictions. I think it is high time the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary should take the practice of utilizing the Royal Irish Constabulary for the purpose of carrying out evictions into his serious consideration. A hundred men have been sent where five or six constables are quite enough to preserve order, and I fail to see why the taxpayers of the country should be annually robbed of a very large sum of money which might well be disposed of in another way. On the West Coast of Ireland the poverty and destitution of the people is notorious, and they are at present altogether unable to pay rent. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will give these matters the attention they deserve. I would also point out to him that some of the evictions now taking place are being carried out in cases where the unfortunate tenants have actually been obliged to receive relief from the Guardians. Therefore, I ask the 799 right hon. Gentleman, in the case of the county of Mayo, to withdraw the extra police, and to refuse to lend the assistance of the ordinary police to the landlords in carrying out these cruel evictions, leaving them where it is apparent that the victim is unable to pay to carry them out as best they can. There is a widespread fear that in the coming winter the destitution of the people will be far more severe than it has ever been before, and that they will be obliged, in many cases, to enter the workhouse in order to prevent themselves and their families from being actually starved. Another matter to which I wish to direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman is the appointment of medical officer to the Constabulary at Castlebar. The usual practice, when a vacancy has arisen, has been for the police authorities to appoint the dispensary medical officer. In this case, the dispensary medical officer was Dr. Jordan. That gentleman applied for the appointment, but, being a Nationalist, he was passed over. There is no other reason, as far as I am able to make out, that the Government can have for refusing to make the appointment. I understand that the excuse made by the Police Authorities is that Dr. Jordan is a very young man, and has not had sufficient experience to undertake the responsible duty of looking after 20, 30, or 40 persons; whereas the Local Government Board consider him quite competent to take charge of the dispensary district of Castlebar. If he is qualified for that duty, surely he is a proper person to look after the health of this police establishment. This is a matter which has given rise to a good deal of irritation in Castlebar, and the general impression is that a Nationalist has not the least chance of being promoted or preferred. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will, in this case, adopt the example set by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stirling (Mr. Campbell-Bannerman) in the last Parliament. The attention of the right hon. Member for Stirling was directed to a case which was exactly similar to the present, in the county of Cork, and the gentleman who was appointed over the head of another actually filled the office for some months. But as soon as representations were made to the Chief Secretary, he ordered the County Inspector to have the gentleman 800 who then held the appointment dismissed, and appointed the medical officer of the dispensary. In Castlebar, the appointment to which I refer has only been made within the last few weeks, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite will find it an easy matter to rectify the mistake which has been made, and to give the appointment to the man who has the best right to it. In conclusion, I will only say that I have found it most difficult and, in some instances, altogether impossible, to obtain reliable information as to the police arrangements. The payment of the extra police falls upon the county rate, and the magistrates who are the means of bringing them into the county care very little what sum the unfortunate local ratepayers and the county are called upon to pay. I sincerely hope that the matter will receive full consideration at the hands of the right hon. Gentleman, that he will direct the withdrawal of the extra police in the county of Mayo, and that he will secure the appointment of Dr. Jordan as medical officer to the Constabulary at Castlebar.
§ MR. P. J. POWER (Waterford, E.)
The county of Waterford has been remarkable, for many years, for its peaceful attitude. Both the Judges of Assize and the Chairmen of Quarter Sessions have constantly congratulated the county on its satisfactory condition. Nevertheless, we are taxed very heavily for the maintenance of extra police; and what makes the position more intolerable is that until the last few months the county did not possess the actual number of police which was fixed for it by Act of Parliament. Nevertheless, at the same time, it was required to maintain an extra police force without any allowance being made for the fact that the regular police force in the county was less than it ought to have been. If they really had the interests of the people at heart, I maintain that the magistrates ought to bring pressure upon the Government to withdraw the extra police. But, as has been shown by my hon. Friend the Member for West Mayo (Mr. Deasy), the Grand Jury, as a class, do not pay the rates out of which this extra police force is maintained. They are paid out of the county rate, which is not levied on property, but upon the occupying tenants. I believe the magistrates would 801 be very chary as to the steps they take for the introduction of an extra police force into an Irish county if the expense of maintaining it was levied upon them instead of the holdings of the tenants. In consequence of the mode in which the expense is met the landlords are quite indifferent to it, and are perfectly willing that we should be called upon to pay a large annual sum for the maintenance of these extra police. With regard to the Constabulary Force itself, as a rule we make no complaint of the men, as far as individuals go; but we complain strongly of the system under which they are governed. We maintain that it is a system which is calculated to degrade the men, and one under which any man who holds views which do not accord with those of the powers that be is immediately "Boycotted." We had an instance of that in the treatment which Sub-Inspector Murphy received at the hands of the authorities. At the Presentment Sessions for the County Waterford attention was called to the charge for the extra police, and a unanimous protest was made against it. But the Grand Jury have not taken up the same position, and the only way in which the ratepayers can rid themselves of this intolerable burden is to make a strike against the payment. I fully recognize that that would be an extreme step; but I think that such a peaceful community would be justified, at any rate, in taking some step in that direction. In speaking upon the Vote for the Local Government Board the other day I was told by you, Mr. Courtney, that any question in relation to the working of the Explosives Act would come more directly under the present Vote. At present the appointment of Inspectors under that Act is in the hands of the magistrates, who are accustomed to appoint civilians; but we are of opinion that, owing to the nature of the duties, they would be better discharged by members of the Constabulary. At present the appointments are made at the different Courts of Petty Sessions, and in due course a charge is presented to the local Boards of Guardians for payment of the Inspector's salary, and the Boards of Guardians have no alternative but to pay it. In fact, they must pay it, whether they like it or not. There is a strong feeling that the Constabulary would be a 802 far better means of inquiring where these explosives are kept and how they are kept; and I maintain that the Executive Government of Ireland ought to make it the duty of the Constabulary to perform the work. I do not say that a heavy taxation is imposed upon the Boards of Guardians in connection with this matter; but where the Board of Guardians comprises six or seven petty sessional districts the tax amounts in some cases to £60 or £70 a-year. When I raised the question on the Vote for the Local Government Board, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary made no reply. I have now called his attention again to the matter, and I hope he will see the reasonableness of our complaint, and that he will be able to give us some satisfactory assurance. I am glad to say that the treatment which the Royal Irish Constabulary have received in the last few months in the North of Ireland has had some good effect upon them, and that they now see that the system under which they are governed is radically wrong. They have found out that the Orangemen in the North may break the law with impunity as far as the Constabulary are concerned; while, in the South, such conduct would not be tolerated for a moment. Some of the constables have told me, since they returned from Belfast, that if anything like the same disturbances as have happened in that city had occurred in Cork or Waterford, the police would not have been 20 minutes in quelling them; but that in Belfast they were made the tools of the Orange magistracy, and exposed to fire and insult that was downright degrading to them. I am sorry to say that the Head Constable, who lost his life in those deplorable riots, came from my own county; and his death has created a strong feeling among the local Constabulary, together with the treatment which the Constabulary themselves received at the hands of the Belfast Orange magistracy. I may also mention that, in connection with this matter, they draw a contrast between the treatment they received at the hands of the Coroner's jury at Belfast and that which they received at the hands of a Coroner's jury in Kilkenny some years ago, when a verdict of a Catholic jury against them was altogether set at nought by the authorities. We trust that we may receive some satis- 803 factory assurance from the right hon. Gentleman as to the withdrawal of the extra police force, and that something will be done to get rid of the strong feeling of irritation which their continued maintenance in peaceful Irish counties produces.
MR. CHILLY (Mayo, N.)
I have no wish to detain the Committee for any length of time. On the contrary, I desire to assist the Government in obtaining the speedy passing of these Estimates; but it must not be forgotten that this is a Vote which affords more opportunities for the criticisms of Irish Members than any other. There is not a county in Ireland which has not got some scandalous record in regard to the action of the police. The existing system is most unsatisfactory; and it is the duty of the Irish Members to raise a constant protest against it. I entirely join my hon. Friend the Member for West Mayo (Mr. Deasy) in the appeal he has made to the Government to take into their serious consideration some remedy for the condition of affairs which has been shown to exist in that county. I maintain that there is no necessity whatever, in the first place, for the employment of this body of 22 police at all; and, further, I contend that the people of that county are quite unable to pay their quota of the expense of maintaining that force. The unfortunate inhabitants of that county are either actually starving, or nearly so. The Unions of the county are themselves almost bankrupt, and many of them have been scheduled under the Advances Act passed last Session. Moreover, the land of the county is going out of cultivation, and large bodies of the people are leaving it. Therefore, to impose an extra body of police upon this unfortunate county, where the people, in the first place, are almost starving, and, in the next place, quiet and peaceably disposed, seems to me to resemble very much the action of a former Czar of Russia, in sending a number of troops to garrison Warsaw when order reigned in that unfortunate city. I have gone over the records in the Library of the evictions which have taken place in Mayo for some time past, together with the number of agrarian outrages, and I find that the number of agrarian outrages does not justify the maintenance in that county of this force 804 of extra police. I hold, with my hon. Friend (Mr. Deasy), that the ordinary police of that county would be quite able to cope with the condition of affairs which exists there at present. In 1883 there were 45 offences reported to the police in Mayo, a great portion of which consisted of the sending of threatening notices; but in 1884 that number of 45 dwindled down to 24; and the record of 1885 shows that the number was only 27. According to the latest Return, which was issued on the 31st of March, 1886, only nine offences have been reported to the police; and of these nine, six consisted of the sending of threatening letters. I maintain that, in this condition of affairs, it is not at all necessary to station in the county of Mayo an extra body of 22 constables, and to place on the people of that county, who are in a condition of suffering themselves, an unnecessary burden of £700 per annum. Doubtless, evictions in the county of Mayo, as my hon. Friend pointed out, are increasing very largely. I regret the fact myself, and I am quite sure that right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Front Ministerial Bench will share my regret that evictions are so largely increasing in the county of Mayo. I find that while in the last quarter of last year ending the 31st of December, 1885, only 22 evictions took place in Mayo, and in the previous quarter, ending the 30th of December, they were only 20, unfortunately that record has been very much increased during the first quarter of this year. I find from the last Report which has been issued that instead of only 22 or 20 evictions having taken place there have been the appalling number of 129. I certainly protest against the maintenance of the extra police in the county for the simple purpose of enforcing evictions. As regards the state of crime in Mayo, the people are quiet, peaceable, and orderly, and there have been no instances of resistance to the Forces of the Crown, while the landlords have been engaged in carrying out these evictions. Therefore, I hold that the Government have no justification whatever for maintaining this extra body of police in the county. Under these circumstances, I join with my hon. Friend in his appeal to the Chief Secretary to see whether it is not possible to make arrangements for the immediate withdrawal of 805 the extra police force at present stationed in the county of Mayo.
§ MR. TUITE (Westmeath, N.)
I feel it my duty to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the enormous police force stationed in Westmeath, and specially in the county town of Mullingar. In that town there are at present 29 men, although the population is only 4,700. I think it is a scandal that we should have 29 constables posted among a population of 4,700 persons. The statistics of crime show that Westmeath is one of the most peaceable counties in Ireland; and, therefore, it is an insult to the inhabitants to maintain a large force of police there. In Mullingar itself there are two police barracks, and there was an estimate submitted for the erection of a new one. No steps, however, have been taken, although the money was voted to erect the barracks, and at present the police force occupy two private houses, and there is an item for the rent of these hired offices in the present Estimate. Surely an item of that nature ought not to be continued, when Parliament has voted the money for the erection of a new barracks. I also desire to call attention to the system adopted of charging the expenses of the Medical Officer who attends the members of the police force upon the local rates. In most cases the Constabulary Medical Officer is also a dispensary officer; and I think he ought to be bound to attend the police for the same fee as that which he receives in his other public capacity. At any rate, as the members of the Constabulary are well paid, they ought to be in a position to pay for their own medical attendance in the same way as the general public.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Fermanagh, N.)
I wish briefly to enter my protest against this Vote. I think that the sum of £1,397,153 is altogether exorbitant for the maintenance of a police force in a small country like Ireland. I agree with the objection of the hon. Members for West Mayo (Mr. Deasy) and North Mayo (Mr. Crilly) and the hon. Member for North Westmeath (Mr. Tuite) in the representation they have made that those counties are afflicted with far too many police. But what applies to the cases of Mayo and Westmeath applies also to every county in Ireland; and of the 85 Irish Repre- 806 sentatives who sit on these Benches there is not one who could not rise in his place and make the same declarations with regard to the county with which he is connected. We do not object to the employment of the police in the country in a moderate manner. No doubt, every country employs a police force—and an efficient police force is beneficial to all classes of the country. Therefore, I do not, by any means, wish it to be understood that, in protesting against this Vote, we are protesting against the existence of a police force. But what we are protesting against is the existence of an excessively exorbitant police force, particularly when it is not employed for the preservation of law and order, but in reality to curtail the privileges and power of the majority of the people in accordance with the will of a small class of people called landlords. There is no country on the whole face of the earth which is more free from crime than Ireland; and, that being so, I think it is extraordinary to find so large a police force equipped in a military manner. For be it remembered that our police are soldiers, and are not police at all. Year after year a large amount of money is expended in maintaining this force. The people of England and Scotland cannot realize to themselves what the Constabulary of Ireland is. It is not merely a Police Force, but an Army, drilled like Regular soldiers, equipped in every respect like soldiers, and accustomed to patrol the country armed with bayonets and loaded rifles. Therefore, it is not a Police Force we are protesting against, but we are protesting against an Army that is kept in the country for the purpose of maintaining the privileges of the landlord class. I should like, if it were possible, to see a Return showing the different kinds of duties performed by the Irish Constabulary. I should like to ascertain how much work they have done in Ireland that has been unconnected with the agrarian question. I should like to see how much crime they have detected and checked which was not entirely caused by the Land Question. I am satisfied that if a Return could be placed on the Table of this House, showing the different cases in which the Irish Constabulary have been employed, it would be found that out of every hundred instances in which police interference has 807 been invoked 99 have had a direct connection with the Land Question in Ireland. Therefore, in protesting against this Vote, we protest not merely against the Constabulary itself, but also against the land system, which, in the opinion of the Government, renders such a force necessary in Ireland. Now, Sir, we do not at all adopt either the language or the action towards the Constabulary which the Orangemen in the North of Ireland have adopted. In the chief Orange quarters of Belfast, at the recent riots, when the Constabulary were engaged in quelling the disturbances they were assaulted, shot down, and attacked in every conceivable way in the exercise of their duty. We have no wish to pursue the same course. We have nothing to say against the force collectively, although, no doubt, it is composed, like any other force, of bad men as well as good men. I know there have been numerous cases where members of the Constabulary, from their over-eagerness for promotion, or from some other cause, have acted in a barbarous manner towards the people. In many places where the police have come into contact with the people of Ireland they have used violence that was altogether uncalled for; but, at the same time, I believe that there are a great many men in the Royal Irish Constabulary who are fair-minded men, and in protesting against the system I protest collectively against the force, and not individually against the members of it. I have spoken of a Return I should like to see laid on the Table of the House, showing what the Constabulary have done, and what this sum of more than £1,300,000 is paid for. I do not know whether it is practicable to lay such a Return upon the Table; but there is one thing which the Chief Secretary, when he rises to reply, may tell me. Under the letter F. I find a sum of £3,000 charged as extra for election disturbances, in addition to a sum of £29,000 for transport. Now, I want the right hon. Gentleman to say how much of the £29,000 is spent every year in Ireland in conveying large forces of police to and from the scenes where unfortunate tenants are being cast out on the road-side, because they cannot pay the rents demanded from them. Although the Government have carefully put down in the Estimates a sum of £3,000 for election disturbances, I do not find 808 any item to show how much money it has cost the country in travelling expenses for the police in connection with evictions in Ireland. I think the right hon. Gentleman should give that information. It would go far to prove what I stated at the commencement of my remarks, that the Royal Irish Constabulary is nothing more nor less than an Army of Occupation in Ireland, and that its sole duty is to protect the landlords in their unjust proceedings against the people. I sincerely hope that the day is close at hand when it will be unnecessary to apply to a Committee of this House, or of any House, to ask for a Vote so large as £1,300,000 for the maintenance of an Army of soldiers in Ireland for the purpose of protecting the landlords. Let us have an adequate force of police by all means. We shall not protest against that; but we are prepared to acquiesce in such a demand. But let us not be asked, under the name of police, to vote such a large sum of money for au Army for the protection of the Irish landlords. I protest altogether against the Constabulary Institution in Ireland. I believe that the police have very little genuine work to do. What they do is in the interests of the landlords, and is detrimental to the good of the country; and for that reason I object to the Vote, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to say whether it is the intention of the Government, during the coming winter, unreservedly to place the police in the hands of the landlords? The hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) stated some time ago, in one of his speeches, that he had as good a right to get his rent as the butcher has to get the money due to him for beef; but would the Government place at the disposal of the butcher, or of any other person, an armed body of men to enforce the payment of the debt? What we ask is that the landlords shall not be given what is not given to any other debtor in the country—namely, an Army of men to prosecute his claim for an unjust debt; and we shall be thankful to the right hon. Gentleman if he will state that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government not to allow the police to be placed at the disposal of the landlords during the coming winter. That is a most important point. The evictions which now take place in Ire- 809 land are strongly deprecated by us; and I do not suppose that there is any right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench who is so lost to all the instincts of humanity as not, also, to feel regret at their frequency, and the mode in which they are carried out. What I wish them to understand is that the number of evictions in the coming winter will be largely regulated by the fact whether they give facilities for carrying out wanton evictions or not. If the landlords are made clearly to understand, before the winter comes on, that they will not be allowed to order the Constabulary and the soldiers about here, there, and everywhere—that they will not have the forces of the Crown unreservedly at their disposal, but that they will only be employed in extreme cases—if the Government make that clearly understood by the landlords, the Government may depend upon it that much will be done towards checking evictions. But if, on the other hand, you give the landlords in Ireland the idea that whenever and wherever they want to carry out an eviction they have only to scribble a line to the County Inspector in order to secure the services of a small array of men to assist them in driving the people out of their homes these cruel evictions will continue. If you allow the landlords to retain the idea that the forces of the Crown will still be unreservedly at their disposal you will simply encourage evictions. I ask the right hon. Gentleman, in the name of common humanity, and on behalf of these extremely unfortunate people, for the peace not only of Ireland, but of this country also, to state in his reply that the landlords of Ireland must not expect to have complete power over the police for the purpose of carrying out evictions. I make this appeal to the right hon. Gentlemen most earnestly and most sincerely, because I know very well what has occurred in Ireland in the past. I know the distress which has occurred through placing the police at the disposal of the landlord in cases where the evictions were notoriously unjust; and it is because I desire to see all these things avoided in the coming winter that I beseech the right hon. Gentleman to say something now which will have the effect of moderating the action of the landlords, and showing them that they can no longer use the soldiers of the British Crown and the citizens of 810 Ireland as instruments for working out their wicked will.
§ MR. COX (Clare, E.)
Before the right hon. Gentleman replies there is just one question I wish to put to him, and that is, whether he will take into consideration the propriety of fulfilling a promise given by his Predecessor, that a certain police hut in the county of Clare should be removed? The hut in question was erected there four or five years ago, and there are four policemen there to protect four acres of land—one policeman for each acre. What business the police can have in the place at all I fail to understand; and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the continuance of the police in that hut is not calculated to get rid of the feeling of irritation which exists among the tenants against their landlord, Mr. O'Brien, a brother of Mr. Serjeant O'Brien, a prominent gentleman in Irish politics. All I ask of the right hon. Gentleman is that he should fulfil the pledge and promise made by his Predecessor in the last Tory Government to my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Tyrone (Mr. M. J. Kenny).
§ MR. P. O'BRIEN (Monaghan, N.)
I would also press upon the right hon. Gentleman the advisability of withdrawing the extra police force now stationed in the Northern Division of Tipperary. As far back as 1874, when the right hon. Gentleman filled the same position he now occupies, evictions were carried out with great cruelty in that part of the county, and scenes of disorder were of frequent occurrence. Happily that state of things has long passed away, and an entirely different state of things now prevails. I may add that the Grand Jury have been pressed, although without avail, not once, but frequently, to bring under the notice of the Government the great abuse which prevails in North Tipperary by the retention of an extra police force which is entirely unnecessary. I trust that the right hon. Gentleman will take steps to get rid of the grievance.
§ MR. BIGGAR (Cavan, W.)
I wish to say a word in favour of a gentleman whose case has been recommended to the notice of the Government by hon. Members on both sides of the House—namely, District Inspector Tilly, who is now stationed in the county of Cavan. I have no personal acquaintance with him; but I know that, by some means 811 or other, he has made himself extremely popular with all classes. I have received representations from many of my constituents, and hon. Members opposite have also spoken in his favour. I believe that Mr. Tilly suffers from a slight impediment in his speech; but I am told that if he were promoted to the office of County Inspector it would be of much less consequence than it is in the position which he now occupies. At present he has to drill the police and give the word of command to thorn; and, in addition, he has to appear in the Petty Sessions Court, and, in his official capacity, to address the magistrates. If he were promoted to the position of County Inspector he would not be required to speak at all, but would carry on all his business in writing. Under those circumstances, it could do no possible harm if the right hon. Gentleman would call the attention of Mr. Tilly's superior officers to his merits—some of them having already given him a high character.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH) (Bristol, W.)
The hon. Member for North Fermanagh (Mr. W. Redmond) seems to think that the Government, in dealing with evictions in Ireland, are in the habit of placing the Constabulary unreservedly under the control of the landlords, and that their only function in that country is to protect the property of the landlords. Nothing can be further from the truth. All that the present or any other Government have done in the matter of evictions has been, as I have already stated to the House, to afford adequate protection to the Sheriff's officers, when engaged in carrying the law into effect. It must be remembered that cases of eviction frequently have nothing whatever to do with the relations between landlords and tenants, and may be due to debts, owing to a moneylender or tradesman, to whom reference has been made; but if, in any case, the Sheriff has difficulties imposed in his way, he is entitled to protection as an officer of the law engaged in the execution of his duty, and the Constabulary Force is sent, not for the purpose of evicting the tenants, but of protecting the Sheriff in the discharge of the duty which the law imposes upon him. There is no foundation whatever for the supposition that the Government would 812 act in such a matter with unfairness towards any particular class.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me to make it perfectly clear what it was that I meant? I say that in the cases of eviction which take place in Ireland it is a notorious fact that the Constabulary have frequently been employed, not merely for the protection of Sheriffs' officer?, but that large forces of constables, altogether beyond the necessities of the case, have been employed really for the purpose of intimidating and overawing the people, and driving them to desperation and despair.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
If that has been done in any case, it must have been done by the Predecessors in Office of the Government. The only case which occurs to me recently where a large force of police was employed to protect the Sheriff's officers was that of Woodford.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
I want an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that the Constabulary will not be used for that purpose in the future.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS - BEACH
Then I can give the hon. Member no assurance that an efficient force of Constabulary will not be always sent to protect the Sheriff and his officers in the execution of their duties. Hon. Members opposite have referred to various matters connected with the Irish Constabulary, and I will endeavour to deal with them as well as I can, and I hope that I shall omit nothing. If I do, I trust that my attention will be called to the omission. The first matter that has been referred to by several hon. Members is the charge for extra police in certain counties in Ireland. No doubt, as time goes on, it is possible that the necessity for an extra police force may diminish in certain counties; and in that case such extra police force, although very much required when they were sent down, may be no longer required, and ought to be withdrawn. Any Government is bound to look into this subject at frequent intervals, in order to see whether such extra police force is maintained in any county for a longer time than it is absolutely necessary to maintain them. The force of extra police in the county of Mayo which has been referred to was sent there some years ago; I do not know the circum- 813 stances under which they were sent, but in that and in many other cases in which extra police have been employed my first duty, after I am freed from the necessity of attending in my place in this House, will be to examine into the circumstances of Mayo, Westmeath, Waterford, and North Tipperary, which have been referred to, with the object of withdrawing the extra police force from those districts where it is not necessary to maintain it. I am pretty certain that each of those counties have benefited in this matter by the alteration which has been made in the amount of free force allocated to each county by the Act of 1885, and are now charged with fewer extra men than they were before. It does not follow that in no case is it possible to still further reduce the extra number of men charged; but it is only fair to say that the force charged is less, in each case, than it was two or three years ago. At the same time I do not think it is an infallible test of the condition of a county and the possibility of withdrawing the extra police that there is at present no large record of crime and outrage. In those cases where a large extra police force has been maintained, and in which it is alleged that but few outrages have taken place, it may fairly be assumed that the presence of such extra force has, in a large degree, tended to check outrages. An hon. Member has referred to the large increase in the Vote for Pensions to the Constabulary. That, no doubt, is a very formidable question. The expenditure for pensions in 1882–3 was, I find, £239,000, and it has sprung up in the Estimate of the present year to £280,000. I am not aware that there has been any large increase in the number of men who have retired; but the increase in the amount of expenditure is due to recent legislation in favour of the Constabulary, and therefore I cannot hold out any hope to the Committee that this item of expenditure will be reduced. The increase under the head of "transport" is due to extra travelling expenses occasioned by two Elections having been held during the last 12 months, and to the difficulty of procuring transport cars for the Constabulary, owing to the intimidation of the owners of such cars, and their consequent unwillingness to allow them to be used for Constabulary pur- 814 poses. The last 12 months may be specially regarded as a year of Elections, and I hope we may not soon have such a year again. No doubt, a large portion of the expenditure has been incurred in conveying the Constabulary to the North of Ireland, where Party feeling was strong and disturbances were apprehended. With regard to the increase in the Estimates due to the practice of affording special protection to individuals in certain cases, that is, no doubt, a very expensive matter. The number of men so employed is considerable, and I will undertake to make very careful inquiries into the matter with the view of guarding against abuse. As the hon. Member for West Cork (Mr. Gilhooly) has pointed out, there is temptation in such cases for those to whom special protection is afforded to make a profit out of the circumstance. I will, however, have the matter carefully sifted, and will do my best to secure that those who receive protection shall not be able to put anything in their pockets, but, on the contrary, shall be called upon to make a small contribution towards the cost. At the same time, however, the Government are bound to protect the lives of persons who are in danger. The hon. Member for East Clare (Mr. Cox) referred to the Constabulary huts. This point has not been specially brought under my notice; but, no doubt, it is also a subject which it is incumbent upon the Government to review frequently, and I will undertake that the necessary inquiries shall be made. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid Armagh (Sir James Corry) has asked me to give some promise—I do not know of what nature—with regard to the consequences likely to follow upon the evidence which may be given by members of the Constabulary before the Belfast Commission. I should hope that the members of the Constabulary would give their evidence in this important inquiry completely and fully; and although it is impossible for me to say that no person will suffer on account of that inquiry, yet I should not wish to see any person suffer on account of evidence given by himself before the Commission. Several hon. Members have referred to the case of District Inspector Tilly. It is pleasant to find that there is an Irish official who is approved of by hon. Members behind me, and not less warmly by hon. Mem- 815 bers opposite, and. whom my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) and the hon. Member for West Cavan (Mr. Biggar) cordially unite to praise. The only allegation against Mr. Tilly, appears to be that he suffers under some impediment of speech, but I should have thought that would rather enhance his capacity for filling some posts in Ireland. Of course, there may be positions in which a Constabulary officer could not do his duty unless he was able to speak rapidly and intelligently; but I am told that, with the exception of this unfortunate impediment of speech, Mr. Tilly is an excellent officer. I do not think that a physical defect which does not prevent an officer from remaining in the force should interfere with his merited promotion. I have no desire to prejudice the case. I find that the decision against the promotion of District Inspector Tilly was taken by the Government of Lord Carnarvon, and that it was ratified by their Successors. Therefore I can only say that I will carefully keep in mind all that has been said in regard to the good qualities of District Inspector Tilly; and I will be glad indeed if I can, consistently with the public interest, secure his promotion. With regard to the question raised by the hon. Member for West Mayo (Mr. Deasy), as to the recent appointment of a Constabulary Medical Officer in the district of Castlebar and the passing over of the Dispensary Officer, it appears to me that the reason given by the Inspector General of Constabulary which I have stated in answer to questions put in this House, is quite satisfactory, There is no rule requiring the Dispensary Surgeon to be appointed, and the Executive, in the exercise of their discretion, appointed the person whom they considered to be most eligible. The whole matter must be one of choice, and that choice must be exercised in reference to the medical qualifications of the practitioner. No facts have ever been brought under my notice to justify the assertion of the hon. Member that Catholics are debarred from obtaining these appointments. I believe that there are in Ireland quite as many Catholics appointed to the post of Medical Officer to the Constabulary as Protestants. [Mr. DEASY: I said "Nationalists," not "Catholics."] I 816 was rather thinking of my previous experience in Ireland; and in those days the present Nationalist Party did not exist. I can only repeat that the desire of the Inspector General is to obtain the services of the best medical practitioner. I have been asked by the hon. Member for East Waterford (Mr. P. J. Power) whether it is proposed to make any change in the working of the Explosives Act, so as to place the local inspection in he hands of the Constabulary. For my own part, it would give me much pleasure to see the duty of inspection entrusted to the Constabulary. The late Government sent out a Circular on the subject to the Local Authorities—the magistrates who make the appointments. I have made inquiry as to the result of that Circular. I should be glad to further the appointment of the Constabulary by every means in my power; but in Ireland, as in England, I have no power to interfere with the discretion of the Local Authorities, who are perfectly free to appoint whom they choose. I hope, after the practical discussion which we have had, the Committee may now be disposed to agree to the Vote.
§ MR. SHEEHY (Galway, S.)
The right hon. Gentleman says that the duty of the police at evictions has been confined to affording protection to the Sheriff's officers in the execution of their duty. I think the right hon. Gentleman is very much deceived, and that, instead of confining themselves to that duty, there have been many instances in which they have taken upon themselves the duties of the Sheriff's officers, and have broken in doors and evicted the tenants. I have heard of one case where the police violently ran down a poor woman, and the result of the treatment she received was that she was confined for some time to her bed. It is not the fact that they confine themselves simply to the protection of Sheriff's officers in the performance of their duties; and I want the right hon. Gentleman to give a promise that their future employment at evictions shall be really confined to the protection of the Sheriff's officers, and that they shall not become Sheriff's officers themselves.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS - BEACH
My answer to that question is to ask what happened, at Woodford? In that case the houses were regularly garrisoned; the doors and windows were 817 built up, holes were made in the roof, and persons were stationed at them to pour boiling water upon the heads of the bailiffs, who were assaulted in every way, and seriously injured. The Constabulary only did their duty in defending them; and it must be borne in mind that the persons by whom the bailiffs were assaulted were not only the occupying tenants, but persons who had been brought in to garrison the houses, and do their best to hinder the officers in the execution of their duty.
§ MR. SHEEHY
Attention has been called to it on more than one occasion. The right hon. Gentleman says that the amount of the Estimate is large this year in consequence of the employment of the police at elections, and I presume that it will be large also in the next Estimate from the same cause; because I am afraid that unless something is done to prevent them evictions will continue to be carried out on the same costly scale as hitherto to the British taxpayer. At the Galway eviction referred to there were something like 1,000 men collected for a week; and in the end six poor farmers were evicted at a cost to the Crown of something like £6,000. If, during the winter, evictions throughout Ireland are to be carried out on the same costly scale, costing £1,000 for every poor person evicted, I think the British taxpayer will have an ugly bill furnished to him by the innocent Tory Government now in power—a Government elected mainly for the purpose of saving the pockets of the taxpayer. Economy was made one of the points of the Election, and this is a method by which it is proposed that a saving shall be effected. There is another point to which I wish to draw the particular attention of the right hon. Gentleman; and that is the manner in which the bailiffs, evicting agents, and evicting landlords contrive to draw a profit out of the police protection afforded. I am myself acquainted with a gentleman who has a large establishment of cars, not merely for his own use and for the conveyance of his bailiffs when engaged in the business of eviction, but for the conveyance of the police; and I believe that instructions have been 818 given to the Inspector of Constabulary to employ the cars of this agent on every possible occasion, and especially, of course, when the work in hand is eviction. The result is that this gentleman will try to carry on the campaign as actively as he can, and he will drive the police over the country as much as possible, in order that he may do a roaring trade. Having called the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the case, it is only right that I should give the name. The gentleman who has a regular establishment for this purpose is Mr. Hargreave, of Thurles.
§ MR. BIGGAR
I should like to say one word in regard to the appeal which has been made by my hon. Friend the Member for North Mayo (Mr. Crilly) in reference to the employment of the police in the execution of decrees for the recovery of debt by tradesmen. No doubt he is perfectly right in theory, that the two cases are the same; but in practice they are entirely different. What occurs in the case of the recovery of a small debt is this—the Sheriff sends one or two of his bailiffs to levy the decree, and in a considerable number of cases the bailiffs act in collusion with the debtor, and receive a small bribe from him, to induce them to declare that there are no goods upon which the decree can be levied. That is a very common state of things; and even if the creditor succeeds ultimately in recovering his money it is handed over to the Sub-Sheriff, and the unfortunate creditor has as much trouble to get it from the Sub-Sheriff as he has from the ordinary debtor. That is the original mode by which debts are collected in Ireland; but if the landlord desires to evict a tenant the case is very different, and for this reason—the Sub-Sheriff is an employé of the High Sheriff, and as the latter is one of the landlord party he gives the assistance of the police to the landlord to carry out any business the landlord may have in hand. So far as the recovery of small debts in Ireland is concerned, I can assure the House that I have had very painful experience of not being able to get the amount of a debt after I had obtained a decree against a debtor. The collusion which exists between the debtor and the Sub-Sheriff renders it practically impossible to recover the money at all. Unless the creditor is a person in the favour of the Sub-Sheriff his task is a hopeless one. 819 The landlords, however, are in a very different position; they are hand and glove with the High Sheriff, who takes good care that they are backed up by the Constabulary in enforcing evictions.
§ MR. DEASY
The expectation of the right hon. Gentleman that the debate upon this Vote will be a short one will certainly be realized so far as hon. Gentlemen who sit on these Benches are concerned. We have no desire whatever to prolong it. I have only risen now to call attention to an error which he has made as to the number of men employed in carrying out evictions. Since the commencement of the Sitting in this Parliament there were, in several instances, more than 100 men employed in evicting tenants in the county of Mayo and other counties, and the only people who have not received protection are those unfortunate persons who have suffered at the hands of the police. In a case which occurred recently at Castlebar, in the county of Mayo, more than 100 policemen were employed to carry out evictions, and they made a savage attack upon defenceless people, and the Medical Officers of the district had to attend both women and children who had suffered from ill-usage at the hands of the police. In order that something may be done to prevent similar occurrences in the future, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman and the Government to put a stop to evictions, or, at any rate, take steps to prevent brutal assaults being made by the police upon women and children. I entirely dissent from the opinion the right hon. Gentleman has expressed in regard to the non-appointment of Dr. Jordan as Medical Officer to the Constabulary at the Castlebar Police Barracks. I do not propose to enter into a controversy with the right hon. Gentleman upon the matter, because he cannot be expected to be acquainted with it now; but unless it is set right between this and next Session I shall certainly avail myself of every opportunity of bringing this and kindred subjects under the notice of the House. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the grievance as a Catholic one, and when I informed him that it was a Nationalist grievance, and not a Catholic one, he replied that Nationalists were unknown when he last filled the Office of Chief Secretary. No doubt; but I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that we have made con- 820 siderable advances in Ireland since he occupied the position of Chief Secretary some years ago. Religious differences are not so strongly marked as they were formerly, and so far as I am personally concerned I have never regarded a man's religion as a bar to his preferment. No matter what may have been the case in the past, the people of Ireland nowadays never take into account what a man's religion is. The only thing we inquire is, whether a man is a Nationalist or not; and I maintain that Dr. Jordan was not appointed to the position of Medical Officer of the Constabulary at Castlebar simply because his politics were not looked upon with favour by the Police Authorities at Dublin Castle. There is one other matter upon which I do not expect to get an answer, because I know that it has not been under the attention of the right hon. Gentleman before. I will, however, furnish him with full particulars of the case, so that he may consider it between this and the re-assembling of Parliament. I am afraid he has had no personal knowledge of it until this moment. I refer to the appointments of Medical Officers to the Constabulary in the city of Cork. Some years ago the position of Constabulary Medical Officer in that city became vacant owing to a death, and Dr. O'Callaghan got the appointment; but Inspector Barry, who was in charge of the division, recommended the appointment of a second medical gentleman, and the division of the city into two parts. This recommendation was adopted, and Dr. Curtis was appointed. The two medical men agreed that the salaries and emoluments should be equally divided between them, and this arrangement was actually carried out for a month. Inspector Barry then suggested that Dr. O'Callaghan, who lived in the southern part of the city, should take charge of the north district, while Dr. Curtis, who lived in the north, should take charge of the south. Anything more absurd I cannot conceive. The more reasonable course would have been to have allowed Dr. O'Callaghan to take charge of the district in which he resided, and Dr. Curtis to have charge of the other; but the Inspector had his own reasons for the suggestion, seeing that the emoluments of Dr. Curtis would be about £240 a-year, while those of Dr. O'Callaghan would not amount to 821 more than £85 or £90. In addition to that fact, the extra police who went to the Cork Assizes for the purpose of giving evidence, &c, were stationed in the south district, and the fees and emoluments Dr. Curtis would receive from attending them would raise his salary to £300 a-year, whereas Dr. O'Callaghan would not get a single shilling for the quartering of any extra constables in his district. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, if he is furnished with full particulars, he will take them into consideration, so that Dr. O'Callaghan shall not be placed in an inferior position to Dr. Curtis? I may add that Dr. O'Callaghan has been for 40 years in practice, and is recognized as a most able and efficient Medical Officer.
§ MR. HARRIS (Galway, E.)
In a former debate I alluded to some local matters in connection with the employment of the police, and I propose now to allude to some further local questions in connection with the same subject. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not, as he did on a former occasion, censure my conduct in alluding to local matters, because I can assure him that, although they may be of very little importance to him, they are of the highest interest to my constituents. The condition of the poor in Ballinasloe is a matter of vital importance to my constituents, because it is by the poorer class of the constituency that I have been sent here. The right hon. Gentleman may not be aware, in reference to the police force in Ballinasloe and the neighbourhood, that if you take a circle of six miles round the town you will find no less than 11 police barracks included within that circle. In one direction—towards Shaunonbridge—including the Ballinasloe and Shannonbridge Barracks, there are four police barracks. What I wish to call the particular attention of the right hon. Gentleman to is the fact that, in addition, there has now been a temporary police barracks erected for the protection of Mr. St. George, a law agent, who was intimately connected with the Woodford evictions. I am pleased to hear that the right hon. Gentleman proposes to place a portion of the expense incurred in giving police protection upon the persons who ask for such protection. This Mr. St. George receives a large amount of business as a law agent mainly on account of the 822 severity with which he is in the habit of treating the tenants; and if he demands police protection it is most desirable that he should devote a portion of his ill-gotten gains to the payment of it. His residence is situated little more than half-a-mile from the Ballinasloe Police Barracks. Ballinasloe Barracks are the head-quarters of the County Inspector; there is a considerable force of police stationed there; and it does seem absurd that, with another police barracks on the other side of him, Mr. St. George should require the protection of a temporary barracks. The result of the arrangement, however, is that Mr. St. George gets all the advantage of a police force of his own. It is a strange thing that any landlord can have a police barracks erected near to his own house; and I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that, above all things, it is necessary in Ireland that the men appointed to control the Constabulary should be men entirely free from landlord influence and prejudice. The landlord, no doubt, is a strong man; he may be the Lord Lieutenant of the county, and where that is the case the police are altogether in his hands; and if a man receives the enmity of these gentlemen, as I do, because I have denounced the action of most of them in the county of Galway, he is soon made to feel it. Of course, I expected their hostility, and I have not been disappointed in my expectations. I have not, however, acted from any vindictive motive, but simply by a desire to promote the public interests. But what did these men do? They gave "the tip" to the sergeant of police or Sub-Inspector, and the consequence is that whenever I show myself I have two men on my track. [A laugh.] Hon. Members may laugh; but I can assure them that I have had two policemen constantly following me for two years. It is a notorious fact that in Ireland the road to promotion for the police is not by doing their duty properly, as men ought to do; it is simply by acting strongly, energetically, and very often criminally, against the people. I have known policemen who were reprimanded by the Judges themselves, and yet, notwithstanding that, they were promoted; and it may be said that a policeman is sure of promotion in Ireland if he acts against the law. This is not a proper system for the police them- 823 selves, and I am only surprised that the men are as good as they are. The police are exposed to temptations which might be supposed to have a demoralizing effect upon them; they are well clothed, well-found, and with money in their pockets; but I am bound to say I do not think these things have had that effect upon them. They are a well-conducted body of men; and if they were taken away from the evil influences by which they are now surrounded, they might become better and more efficient than they now are. With regard to the increase of the police, I would also bring this matter under the notice of the right hon. Gentleman, and I have pleasure in appealing to him on this subject, because he is always ready to give his best attention to representations put forward by hon. Members on these Benches. I wish to point out that the decrease of crime in Ireland is more apparent than real. Before the Land League was established in 1878 agrarian crime had begun to manifest itself in the county of Cork, and it went on to such an extent that there was a tax of 10s. in the pound put upon the people for extra police. I went to the first meeting ever held in connection with the Land League, and there was a police hut upon the road then. I say that it is a mistake to suppose that agrarian crime arises from political causes. I believe that investigation would show that it arises entirely on agrarian grounds. At the time I speak of the Land League was not in existence, and yet the people of Cork had to pay 10s. in the pound as a tax for the extra police. After that agrarian crime travelled over the county; it permeated the agricultural classes; the police were increased in such quantity until there were 150 policemen in the town, and agrarian crime reached a higher point then than it has ever reached since. These are very important matters for consideration when you are trying to preserve peace and harmony in Ireland; and I say that at the head of the police throughout Ireland there should be an impartial, fair-minded, and good man, having no favour or bias towards one person or another. The subject is one on which very much might be said; but as there is a disinclination on these Benches to protract the discussion I shall not now trouble the Committee with any more remarks.
§ MR. W. ABRAHAM (Limerick, W.)
We all know that during the coming winter the Irish Representatives, when they return to their country and constituencies, will have before them a very serious task. While Gentlemen who sit on other Benches in this House will be able to return to their various employments, we shall have to go to Ireland, to stand by our people, and advise them as much as possible to keep within legal bounds, and endeavour to meet what we believe to be the pressure of the coming winter in a proper manner. That being so, great care should be had by the Police Authorities not to interfere with our people, who, within the limits of the Irish National League, should be allowed to take counsel together and form their plans for the future. I have received a letter from the Secretary of a local branch of the National League, to say that at one of their meetings in the neighbourhood there were three policemen armed with rifles, and that policemen were engaged in taking down the names of the members who attended the meeting. Now, I can inform the Committee that if that course is to be pursued, and if the people get it into their heads that they are to be prevented by the police from meeting in a legal way, there is reason to suppose that they will enter into those illegal organizations which we, the Irish Representatives, have no power to prevent. I trust, now that I have called attention to this matter, that the Police Authorities will instruct their Inspectors throughout Ireland that the people are not to be intimidated or prevented from meeting for the purpose of taking counsel under the National League with the view of meeting the difficulties which are coming upon them during the winter. In the years 1881 and 1882 there were private Circulars issued to the Constabulary, instructing them how they were to deal with the matter of the detection of crime. I trust there will be no attempt made to introduce again into the Irish Constabulary a system of police espionage, a system which would be disgraceful to any despotism in Europe. Perhaps I may call the attention of the Committee to the nature of some of the Circulars which have been issued during the White Terror of 1881 and 1882. In that period Circulars were issued to the Irish. Constabulary to this effect—that every 825 effort should be made by constables in charge of stations to get some person, on consideration of a substantial reward, to give private information of outrages about to be committed; that if such constable should succeed in making arrests the reward would be paid by the constable, and no mention made of the fact, and that the reward would be proportionate to the seriousness of the offence. It went on to say that the most likely persons to give such information were those in the confidence of the rioters; the Sub-Inspectors were to communicate with the police force in the district, with the view to carrying out this order; persons were to be told that they would not be required to prosecute, and that no mention would be made of names, and the reward for the discovery of felony would be from £20 to £100. I do not know whether this Circular is authentic; but it appeared in The Freeman's Journal at the time I refer to, and was not contradicted. However, we trust that during the coming winter there will be no such attempts made to procure testimony by unworthy means. We all recognize that it is necessary for the police to be present at evictions for the purpose of protecting the bailiffs. It is clearly the duty of the authorities, if they believe that protection is required, to take care that police are present on these occasions; but we do insist that the police should not be demoralized, but used for the purposes for which they were ever intended—namely, for the preservation of law and order. I cannot refrain from expressing my sense of the courteousness and fairness which has characterized the answers of the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland; and I believe that if he will get himself free from the permanent officials who control these matters in Ireland, and look at the question in an impartial way, there will be no reason to complain of the way the Constabulary are used in the coming winter.
§ MR. E. HARRINGTON
I wish to add my testimony to the fair and sympathetic manner in which the right hon. Baronet has dealt with this subject. If the Government will inquire into the existing abuses connected with the extra police system I believe that much good will result. I confess that in Kerry there is need of extra police at the present time, and I heartily regret it; 826 nevertheless, I hope that the causes of the present state of things will be removed. I must also point out that, much as this extra police force is required in Kerry, there is considerable abuse in the way in which these men are distributed. There is the notable instance of a lady in Kerry who has nine policemen in her house. The representative of The Morning Post, who went down to the neighbourhood the other day, described the superior get-up and smartness of these men, to whom he properly applied the term "Herculean." It appears that this lady is continually making use of the policemen in various ways. I do not know whether she uses them in the capacity of shoeblacks; but they are used in various ways about the establishment. They have bicycles, and are most adept cyclists; and it is only a few days ago that this lady took it into her head to go boating, when she was accompanied by two of these policemen, with the result that when they were a short distance from the shore the boat was upset and the lady went into the water. Now, is it not perfectly absurd that the police should be used in this manner—that they should conduct this lady about the streets carrying band-boxes? It is absolutely ridiculous to say that this lady requires eight or nine policemen for her protection at, perhaps, the cost of £1,000. Then, again, on one portion of her property, a stretch of meadow and swamp, she has actually five police huts, and these have been there ever since 1879, at an enormous cost to the country. Why do you not say to this lady—If you require these police you can have them; but, of course, you must pay for them? Then, on another part of her property there are six policemen similarly occupied, making on all her property in the county a total of 50 policemen. I do not at all object to there being protection of human life; that is absolutely necessary, and I admit that it is too true that many persons in Ireland require police protection; but I say that the Government ought to move on the lines indicated by those who say that, as far as possible, the police should be reduced within economical limits. There are 300 extra police in the county of Kerry at the present time, besides the normal force. We contend that the police should not be used except for the 827 legitimate purpose of protection. I mentioned a case the other day where two heifers were missed from a certain farm in charge of the police, who really act as caretakers in Ireland. It was reported as an outrage. These heifers were missed, it is true; but where were they found? They were found in the custody of the police and the bailiffs—and the police were protecting this stolen property. These are matters which I say should be inquired into, for it is preposterous that the police should be used for such purposes as I have described. I shall not dwell upon this subject longer. I feel that in dealing with it, and in trying to prove that there is no need of such an abnormal force in the county, I am handicapped by the state of a particular portion of the county; but there is an immense number of police in the county, most of whom are simply engaged in taking care of farms, and for whom we have had to pay for the last six or seven years.
§ MR. J. NOLAN (Louth, N.)
I wish to allude to a case which occurred in my county, of the forcible entrance of a chapel by the police in the neighbourhood. I fully recognize the fact that matters like this are hardly such as should be brought before the Committee; but that points to the fact that the sooner the Irish people get the control of their own affairs the better it will be for Ireland and for the dignity of this Imperial Assembly. I want to show, however, that the action of the police in my county might possibly have led to a very serious riot. The peasantry there are not very excitable; but when their feelings are outraged they are not easily quieted. If anything would excite them, it would be the violation of their places of worship. I feel with my hon. Friends around me that this debate has gone on long enough, otherwise I should like to direct further attention to the Constabulary Force in Ireland, and to show how absurd it is to suppose that the people of Ireland could ever be satisfied with such a system as the present. I am bound to say that I believe that the people in this country would not submit to such a system for six months; and certainly, if the people of Ireland had the control of their own affairs, one of the first things they would do would be to effect a sweeping reform in the Constabulary Force. [Laughter.] 828 Hon. Gentlemen opposite laugh at this. In this country, when a murder is committed, the Local Authorities communicate with the Home Secretary, and some experienced officers are sent down to investigate the case and endeavour to collect evidence. But what takes place in Ireland? A whole body of police are sent down to the locality. I remember that in my native place a gentleman was murdered; the authorities at Dublin Castle were communicated with, and they sent down a large force of police to patrol the district. No one can say anything against these police as men. They are fine specimens of humanity, strong, broad-shouldered, deep-chested, sinewy fellows; but let the Committee imagine the absurdity of these men sneaking up and down the country roads at night during a period of six months. While the authorities were doing their very best to hang innocent men who had a very narrow escape the police were patrolling the district. I hope the time may come when it may not be necessary to introduce matters of this kind into the House of Commons.
§ Vote agreed to.